Non-Jewish Judaism: Judaism without the Jew

Before you read this article, I strongly advise that you read the excellent article, “Warning: There is a snake in the garden” at https://emunatrek.com/2017/04/14/warning-there-is-a-snake-in-the-garden/, which deals with what I’m going to go through here in a different approach that I love. It’s full of Torah, humility and a grounded take on things. My article here is going to be long. I’m taking things on piece by piece and I would never say I’m as Torah educated as my friend, the author of the article I just referred you to. So please feel free to read that.

If you still want to continue, welcome. I pray to God that it has enough truth and Torah in it that it honours him.

An article called “Warning: Do not convert to Judaism” (at https://www.chaimclorfene.com/new-blog/2017/4/13/warning-do-not-convert-to-judaism) was shared in a group I am part of. The title caught my eye so I thought I would take a look. I mean, I’m one of the ones saying that there is no obligation for a Gentile to become a Jew. So maybe this article would give me useful information to further equip me.

Should I have been wary when I saw the name of the author of the article, rabbi Chaim Clorfene? He’s become one of the founders of a modern group of Gentiles who call themselves “strangers,” “sojourners,” “gerim.” Despite his great work in the past for teaching non-Jews “the path of the righteous Gentile,” he has chosen a different path to encourage religion for non-Jews, as can be seen in this article.

So let me share my thoughts on it.

He starts with this:

Let us talk about conversion to Judaism. No one should do it. If you converted to Judaism, you were led astray by a well-meaning, but unlearned Jew, probably a rabbi.

This paragraph sets his article on very shaky ground. Why? Because he is a rabbi! Do you get it? Do you know what I mean? Let me clarify.

He has just stated that a rabbi can be an unlearned Jew. A rabbi who talks to a Gentile about converting to “Judaism,” to rabbi Clorfene, is an unlearned Jew. Yet Clorfene, himself a rabbi, wants you to believe that he is not an unlearned Jew and that his article is from a learned source.

But I’m a Gentile. I’ve got this “rabbi” telling me that other rabbis are unlearned. But this guy’s also a rabbi. How do I know that he is not unlearned? He claims to teach Torah and those other ones claim to teach Torah. By making others of his kind untrustworthy, he’s made himself untrustworthy.

At times like this, the words, no, the warning of the Rebbe stands true.

1) B’nai Noah [Gentiles] must themselves study and “acquire Torah” (regarding all the laws and values of Torah that pertain to all mankind);

2) B’nai Noah [Gentiles] must become fully conversant in Torah for themselves, rather than relying on Jewish teachers constantly;

3) B’nai Noah [Gentiles] should understand that Jewish teachers may know less about the laws and principles that apply to B’nai Noah than Noahide themselves;

4) the two systems, the Noahide and Torah systems, often differ in their particulars. (“Noahides and Torah Study,” https://hesedyahu.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/noahides-and-torah-study/)

It is for us Gentiles to learn the relevant laws and principles of Torah for ourselves. I stress relevant, those laws pertaining to all mankind. Because, as I’ll share later, rabbi Clorfene himself is guilty of promoting laws that are not for all mankind, that are irrelevant.

What is interesting to note is that the Rebbe only mentioned two systems, the Gentile (“noahide”) and the “Torah” (Jewish) systems. There is not a third system for “gerim.”

Anyway, after Clorfene has thrown doubt on his own teachings, let’s see how he progresses.

The truth is that when someone converts, he or she becomes grafted onto Kehillat Yisrael, the Congregation of Israel, which has one body and one soul, and a covenant with G-d. The conversion is to the people, not to the religion. And even though the Jewish people have a religion called Judaism … is not a reason to convert. This must be clearly understood and taken to heart.

So according to rabbi Clorfene, there are two distinct aspects of Israel or Jews. There is the people and then there is the religion. When a person “converts,” he joins to the people, not to the religion.

You know what is dreadfully odd and inconsistent with this claim. Just think about it with me. Rabbi Clorfene taught that a Gentile will not see “bnei Noah” in the “Torah,” but he will see this word, “ger.” He encourages Gentiles to become this “biblical ger.”

So remember, to him, “bnei Noah” is not in the Torah, but “ger” is.

Question: where is the word “religion” in the Torah? Where does it say God instituted a “religion?” I can see God making a special nation (Exodus 19), but I don’t see him creating a “religion” and a people. In fact, it should be known to the rabbi, the learned rabbi, that there is no word for “religion” in biblical Hebrew.

So why does he introduce a modern pagan notion to Torah that is not there? I mean, looking at the written Torah, it seems like the Jewish Torah should be part and parcel with the nation. That’s why, in the written Torah, God gives laws specifically to make the nation of Israel distinct from the nations, from Gentiles.

It’s funny how followers of Clorfene (and his colleague, Katz) speak badly of using what they call “post-exile” terms, terms that seemed to come into being during the exile of Israel rather than terms from the formation of the Torah and Jewish Bible which are deemed to be more pure and holy. Such followers deem “ben Noah” and “noahide” to be such a “post exile” term. Yet here we have rabbi Clorfene shoving into the Torah post exile concepts like “religion” and the separation of “religion” and people (like the anti-Torah idea of the separation of church and state).

Remember, there is no “Judaism” in the Torah. There is no “religion” called “Judaism.” There was just a nation of people who were bound to keep the divine laws enjoined upon them, the laws that set them apart.

These laws are also covenant laws, laws part of a special pact and relationship.

Before I get ahead of myself, let me look more into what the rabbi is saying.

So then the rabbi creates a scenario that I’m sure many can relate to.

Take the scenario of a Noahide who has found his way out of the Church, past the Messianics, and all the way up to the Torah of Moses, and has taken on the Seven Laws of Noah, the mitzvoth incumbent upon a Righteous Gentile.

Now, perhaps this Noahide feels unfulfilled by the Seven Laws, which are seven prohibitions, and contain no rituals or traditions. The Seven Laws are really meant for governing societies more than guiding the souls of individuals or families.

And so, this unfulfilled Noahide begins to yearn for the warmth and light of the Torah – Chanukah, Pesach and, most of all, he wants to observe Shabbat and learn Talmud or Kabbalah.

I think this is a problem for certain Jews. Christianity stole and recrafted the rituals and practices of the Torah and mixed it with toxic addictive falsehood. Certain Jews feel that once a person rejects christianity and embraces the seven commandments, the Gentile has nothing fulfilling. Ritual is a significant part of Jewish life. Christianity causes some Gentiles to think that ritual is a significant part of life. And here comes the helpful Jew with his culture saying “hey, you don’t have anything worthwhile, so take freely from our rituals.” “Have the Judaism without the Jew!”

The way the rabbi just described Gentile life, you’d think there was a high rate of suicide due to lack of ritual fulfilment. And he’s not saying “learn the fulness of being just human, made in God’s image, and the responsibility, not just the commandments, that come with that.” No! For this learned Jew, all Gentiles have is seven prohibitions that are purely collectivist and does nothing for the soul of the individual. He invites that Gentile to the warmth and light of Torah rituals as opposed to what? The cold and darkness of simply following God’s commands for Gentiles? The dearth of fulfilling human potential as a Gentile?

I’m so very glad (thank you, Alan Cecil) that I was introduced to rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch. I’m so thankful for all those lessons that were taught to me by Michael Dallen (1stcovenant.com), rabbi Yirmeyahu Bindman, rabbi Michael Shelomo bar-Ron, Elisheva Barre, asknoah.com and the resources online, even the book of Aime Palliere with the words of rabbi Elijah Benamozegh. It is people such as these who have helped me see that the Gentile life is more than the seven laws without becoming a religion with added commandments.

Hirsch really highlights and amplifies a teaching of Rav Nissim Ga’on, that to simply be human obligates one to a better morality even if it is not commanded. I’m not just talking about the seven laws but general morality and decency. There are numerous teachings about “tzelem eloqim” (image of God) and “settling the earth to be inhabited” demand more from a person than what the seven laws state without including rituals or the marking of special days.

And that reminds me. As a number of my teachers have shown me how wide our seven laws are. If we were to plumb the depth of them, as well as their extensions, there would be so much to teach us on how to treat each other. Rather than re-write a blogpost, let me just share it here. https://hesedyahu.wordpress.com/2016/02/15/attack-of-the-no-no-hides/

Look, if a Gentile or Jew, even a rabbi tells you that there is nothing more to being a Gentile than seven basic prohibitions and that they do nothing to guide the inner man, they have sold you short and deceived you. There is much work for us, so much in our law, so many ways we can do things which honour God even though we are not commanded such things, it is narrow-minded and short-sighted to think the rituals are the only way to fulfil a life.

It should be noted that prayer is not a ritual according to the dictionary definition.

Definition of ritual: a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. (noun)

https://goo.gl/search/Define+ritual

It’s not a commandment and, for a Gentile, there​ is no prescribed order. It’s a free communication between creation and Creator, having no ceremony involved. Just as Gentiles don’t have to be commanded about talking to other intelligent agents, such as other humans, there​ is no need to look for a commandment on talking to one’s Creator.

So, again, the Gentile life is one of purpose and fulfillment if a person can realise that there are other ways of honouring God according to His ordained way without ritual, without holy days, without special ornaments, without such dietary stringencies as the Jews have, etc. Once a person can realise that God gives good things, good different things, to all his creation for their different roles, then they can dig for the treasures available for Gentiles.

But for those who either have been so bent by religion that they can’t get past the hankerings created by an addictive worldview, or those that may genuinely have a desire to become a Jew, rabbi Clorfene’s poor description of the Gentile life further poisons the stream. The rabbi’s description is a lie based on an ignorance surprising for a man who is supposed to have written, decades ago, a book helpful to Gentiles.

To continue with his article:

And so, this unfulfilled Noahide begins to yearn for the warmth and light of the Torah – Chanukah, Pesach and, most of all, he wants to observe Shabbat and learn Talmud or Kabbalah.

So he goes to his local Orthodox rabbi or a frum Jewish friend for information and advice. Nine out of ten times, the Noahide will be told that he is forbidden to keep Shabbat and cannot learn Torah other than Torah pertaining to the Seven Laws.

Nine out of ten times, Jews will tell Noahides that if they want more mitzvoth than the seven, their only option is to convert, which gives them all 613 mitzvoth, including Shabbat and Talmud Torah.

Now, let us say that this Noahide does not really want to become a Jew, but for the sake of enhancing his Torah lifestyle, he converts. We now have a problem convert.

Yes, I know I repeated the first paragraph. 

Anyway, it should be noted that this outcome of the “problem convert” can happen regardless of whether a person became a Jew to embrace to “religion” or became a Jew in order to become part of the people. Different things can cause a person to regret the change. Just saying.

The introduction of the sabbath as the target for a Gentile’s desire is a great example of what Clorfene gets wrong.

Rabbi Clorfene pushed a sola-scriptura-like version of the Torah to support his idea about the higher quality idea of “ger” as opposed to that of the non-existence of the bnei Noah. But I invite you to use to same consistency with regards to the sabbath. There is no command for the people of the nations regarding the sabbath. There is no sort of “universal sabbath” notion where total non-Jews would craft candle lightings and a special time of Torah study. The nation of Israel had the command. If you look at the Decalogue, it says the Israelite has the command to keep and remember the sabbath and he had to ensure that his household including hisgerthat lived with him (“the sojourner that is in your gates”) did no forbidden work either. This doesn’t refer to a non-Jew still living in his own land, living mainly amongst his own culture. Exodus 23:12 would show that the Jew is directly commanded about resting on the Sabbath so that the foreign slave and the non-Jewish resident can relax. The Jew is commanded and those not commanded benefit.

It becomes very clear that the Sabbath command is not for non-Jews, for Gentiles, in Exodus 31 where it says the following.

And God spoke to Moshe saying, And you, speak to the children of Israel saying, Only you must still keep my sabbaths because it is a sign between me and you, for your generations to know that I am God who distinguishes you as holy … And the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath to practice the sabbath for their generations, an everlasting covenant. It is a sign forever between me and Israel that God made the heaven and the earth six days and on the seventh day he stopped and rested.

So the keeping of a sabbath, the seventh day sabbath is a special sign in a relationship only between God and the nation of Israel, the Jews. It’s interesting that Rashi understands “to know that I am God that distinguishes you as holy” to refer to the fact that the nations of the world will know that God sets apart Israel.

The keeping of a God-ordained sabbath (as opposed to humanly crafted “universal sabbaths” or seventh day memorials) is part and parcel of being part of the covenant nation of Israel.

A non-Jew, a non-Israelite – including the non-Jewish ger – is not included in the everlasting pact. And one who believes that the keeping of the sabbath is somehow obligatory upon him goes against Torah. Those who teach so also contradict God’s teaching.

This is one of those times that you cannot separate the ritual from the people. One must be a Jew to be part of the sabbath-keeping pact, the everlasting covenant.

The fact is that the nine out of ten rabbis are correct!  The Talmud teaches that a person of the nations, the non-Jew, the “goy” is forbidden from having days of cessation of work.

A gentile/idolator who rest from work (or keeps a shabbat) is liable. (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 58b)

I did use the word “idolator.” It’s important that I do so to kick a certain misunderstanding to the curb. I’ll get to it shortly.

Rambam forbids creation of days of rest and commandments additional to the seven.

An idolator/a gentile who delves into the Torah is obligated to die. They should only be involved in the study of their seven commandments.

Similarly, a gentile/an idolator who rests, even on a weekday, observing that day as a Sabbath, is obligated to die. Needless to say, he is obligated for that punishment if he creates a festival for himself.

The general principle governing these matters is: They are not to be allowed to originate a new religion or create mitzvot for themselves based on their own decisions. They may either become a full convert and accept all the commandments or remain in their Torah without adding or detracting from them. (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings and their Wars, chapter 10, halachah 9)

Again, it’s important that I keep the phrase “an idolator” in the translation as it’s something I am to come back to.

But notice, this gentile, this “idolator,” is forbidden from creating sabbaths for which he received no active commandment.

And to confirm Rambam’s words, the Talmud talks about what should be the focus of the non-Jew.

R. Johanan said: An idolator/a gentile who delves into the Torah deserves death, for it is written, Moses commanded us a law for an inheritance;  it is our inheritance, not theirs.  Then why is this not included in the Noachian laws? — On the reading morasha [an inheritance] he steals it; on the reading me’orasah [betrothed], he is guilty as one who violates a betrothed maiden, who is stoned. An objection is raised: R. Meir used to say. From where do we know that even an idolator/a gentile who studies the Torah is as a High Priest? From the verse, [Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments:] which, if man do, he shall live in them.  Priests, Levites, and Israelites are not mentioned, but men: from here you learn that even an idolator/a gentile who delves into the Torah is as a High Priest! — That refers to their own seven laws. (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 59a)

The teachings are rather clear and are repeated in other books produced by rabbis today. For example,

However, non-Jews must not keep the Jewish Sabbath or other festivals specific to Jews … (Rabbi Yirmeyahu Bindman, The Seven Colors of the Rainbow – Torah Ethics for Non-Jews, pg 94.)

Many others have the same teachings in their books for “noahides:” a restriction on Torah study and sabbath keeping.

So let me get back to a certain point which I haven’t explained yet but which people like rabbi David Katz and his followers use to limit such teachings to the “lesser Gentiles.” They say firstly that these texts use the Hebrew word, akum, which means idolator or, more properly, “worshipper of stars and constellations.” Thus, in the minds of some, it’s not talking to the Gentile who keeps the 7 commandments who, logically, has rejected such idolatry.

The problem with this reading of the Talmud and later works like Rambam is well attested, I believe. See the following:

First, though, a word on the Talmudic term for Gentiles in general, and specifically in its discussions on this topic.  In general, the term that we find for Gentile in our printed Vilna edition of the Talmud is akum, which is an abbreviation of over kokhavim u’mazalot, a worshipper of the stars and zodiac.  However, the term found in all the manuscripts is either goy, ‘the nations,’ i.e., a Gentile, or nakhri, a foreigner.  These changes to the original text came about in the Middle Ages as a result of self-censorship, once apostates began to inform the Church about the Talmudic passages that spoke negatively or issued discriminatory legal rulings regarding non-Jews {source ‎29}.   (source: Unequal Justice? – Does Halakha Tolerate Unethical Behavior Towards the Other? Part 2: Acts Against Property, by Rabbi Dov Linzer (Posted on July 20, 2016), http://library.yctorah.org/2016/07/unequal-justice-does-halakha-tolerate-unethical-behavior-towards-the-other-part-2-acts-against-property/)

As you can see, the word, akum, is a cover for the Hebrew word, goy, which was a neutral term for people of the nations, non-Jews.

THE name akkum … is composed of the initials of the words … (worshipers of stars and constellations), and refers to ancient idolaters. During the medieval period, at a time when Hebrew books could be retained only if they had been examined by the Christian censor (generally a meshummad, an apostate from Judaism), the term akkum was used in place of goy … in the sense of a non-Jew. The censor would tear out pages or black out passages which he regarded as objectionable. The Torah speaks of Israel as goy kadosh (Exodus 19:6), a nation destined to be holy. The plural, goyim, is employed in the Bible to signify the nations of the world. In the course of time, the singular [goy] was used interchangeably with … (nokhri) and kuthi … to designate a non-Jew. (pg 464, En Yaaqov)

As you can see from these quotes, goy just referred to a non-Jew.

But the argument is brought up that goy actually means “idolator” because of what Rambam said in Mishneh Torah, Ma’achaloth Assuroth (“Laws of Forbidden Foods”) 11:8, which says,

When we say goy, simply, we mean one who serves idols.

[An aside. This text is clear evidence that the word akkum is used to hide the word goy. If you go to chabad.org and look at its version of Mishneh Torah which is a later edited version, it says “wherever we say the word akkum, we mean one who serves idols.” Compare that with the mechon-mamre.org’s version of Mishneh Torah, which uses an older, more unedited version. In that same section, it says “when we say goy, …”]

But this claim that goy means idolator has been clearly shown to be wrong in an excellent article by Jacob Scharff called “How Rambam uses the word goy” at http://beingnoahide.com/how-rambam-uses-the-word-goy/. There he shows that the comment was only meant to apply to that certain context, that certain subject that Rambam was talking about in that chapter, but that in other parts of the Mishneh Torah it simply means “one from the [non-Jewish] nations” or simply a non-Jew.

So as has been shown here, the teachings of the Talmud and Rambam applies to non-Jews in general, i.e., bnei Noah, the descendants of Noah.

So the “nine out of ten rabbis” that have been advising Gentiles are right to limit Torah study and the adoption of Sabbaths and holy days and ritual, and Clorfene is one of the few voices attempting to go against what the Torah tradition teaches.

This again goes to show the impoverished nature of Clorfene’s view (and that of his followers) of non-Jews and our obligations. Don’t you see that just by focusing on our seven laws we can be like high priests? That’s because our commandments are much broader than the Jewish commandments. As I’ve mentioned numerous times on this blog, citing the Sefer haChinnuch, Aaron Lichtenstein’s “The Seven Laws of Noah,” and other sources, whereas each Jewish command is limited in scope (but they are numerous), the Gentile Torah command is broad covering many subjects, principles and issues. And both the Jewish and Gentile Torah commands point to related subjects that may not get heavy Torah-ordained penalties but are still beneficial to the inner man.

Wait! I’ve got this weird feeling of déjà vu as if I’ve heard this before, as if there is a strong link between what I just said and what I’m talking about right now. Hmmmm …. What am I missing?

It is incorrect to think that since the Children of Israel have 613 Commandments and the Children of Noah have seven commandments, the ratio of spiritual worth is proportionally 613 to seven. The truth is that the Seven Universal Laws are general commandments, each containing many parts and details, whereas the 613 Commandments of the Torah are specific, each relating to one basic detail of the Divine Law. Therefore, the numerical disparity in no way reflects the relative spiritual worth of the two systems of commandments. The prime difference in the service of the Israelite and that of the Noahide is that the Noahide sees the existence of existence, that is, he refines the world, whereas the Israelite sees the non‑existence of existence, that is, he reveals the Godliness in the world. Of course, refining the world reveals its inherent Godliness and revealing Godliness automatically refines the world. (chapter 3, subsection 14, Path of the Righteous Gentile, written by rabbis Yaqov Rogalsky and Chaim Clorfene[?!?!])

What?!? Even rabbi Clorfene’s own work from the past seems to contradict his preseot stance. OK, I know. People change. I’m not the same man I was. And I say stuff that would contradict my own words in the past. But at least his past work is much more in line with the ancient sources than they are now.

OK, I’ve spent a lot of time on that. Let me continue with his article.

Let’s say that three or four years after his conversion, this new Jew, loses some of his excitement about the Torah and gets pulled back in or around the church, or simply stops being observant and becomes an American-style weirdo and marries a trout. Once a Jewish convert turns away from the Torah, for any reason, it can turn into resentment of himself as a Jew, and this will lead to a resentment of the Jewish people, and even G-d. And it often leads to anti-Jewish behavior, which includes poisoning the minds of their children against anything Jewish.

And the rabbi who steered him to conversion is responsible for the damage caused because he went against the halacha (Jewish Law) by telling the non-Jew that if he wants more mitzvoth, conversion is his only option. This rabbi unknowingly (and sometimes even knowingly) lied to the Noahide and destroyed worlds.

What is important to note is that this “loss of desire” or “loss of excitement” can result whether a person wanted to become a Jew or whether he was enticed by the Jewish commandments. But as I believe I’ve shown before, the nine out of ten rabbis who accepted a Gentile’s earnest wish to become a Jew were going by the clear reading of what has been brought down before. We non-Jews cannot simply add commandments upon the seven. This is not about satisfying ourselves and our own ritual cravings. It’s about living within our role, within God’s system.

I’ve seen what teachings like Clorfene’s can do to a person’s view of God’s system for Gentiles. I’ve seen a follower of Clorfene compare God’s system for Jews and Gentiles to the old American system of segregating where black and white people can drink from, with the whites drinking from a well-kept, polished water fountain, and the blacks drinking from a smaller, structurally inferior, poorer water fountain. That is what I would call a destruction of worlds, where any of God’s systems are compared to second-class citizenry, to slavery, to something feeble to be looked down upon. And when a christian in another group, a christian ignorant of tradition but willing to misinterpret others to insult the “noahide,” put down the Gentile follower of the seven laws as being a slave to Israel, that same follower did nothing to correct the view but rather reinforced it.

This is horrible because it tells to the world that God’s system is fundamentally and significantly lacking, and therefore the God of Torah is lacking. It strengthens the hands of those toiling in contradiction to God’s law because it strengthens their own trust in idols and broken walking sticks.

It is a terrible thing for a naturalised Torah Jew to turn his back on Torah. That doesn’t separate the Jew from the “Judaism” that should be intrinsically part of being a Jew. It just means that that individual “convert” due has destroyed his own purpose for being in this world. God’s nation, its existence, was based on Torah observance, and the individuals in that Jewish nation are subject to that Torah. If the Jew turns away from that Torah, he has, as the Torah states, cut himself off from his people. And just like the many other Jews who unrepentantly turned their back on their reason for being, his name will be lost in the winds of history.

But this gives no licence for Clorfene to separate the Jew from Torah, where a Gentile can join a religion.

To carry on with Clorfene’s article,

The fact is that according to halacha a Gentile can remain a Gentile and take on any or all mitzvoth of the Torah including Shabbat and Talmud Torah. He does not have to convert. He can become a Noahide Ger, a non-Jew who accepts the Seven Laws of Noah and accepts Hashem, the G-d of Israel as his G-d and rejects shituf (sub-deities or multiple godheads).

The Noahide who takes on the Seven Laws and says to Hashem Yisborach, “You are my G-d,” he can do any and all mitzvoth in the Torah without the Jubilee Year, without going to a rabbinic court for acceptance, without living in Israel, and he can do it even according to the Rambam.  That is the halacha.

Ah, so this is halacha. And I can take rabbi Clorfene’s word for it because he’s a rabbi and there’s no such thing as a rabbi being a well-meaning but unlearned Jew, right? Ooops. Looks like he shot himself in the foot with the very first paragraph of his article.

And he provides no evidence. In fact, there is clear evidence to the contrary, as I’ve shown before. There is clear evidence that a Gentile is not free to take any and all commandments of the Torah, especially “Shabbat” and delving into those parts of Torah irrelevant to the non-Jew.

But according to rabbi Clorfene, a Gentile can become a Noahide Ger. A what? A Noahide Ger? Maybe he’s using “noahide” in the sense of non-Jew, I can’t exactly tell. But a ger? I won’t rewrite an article I’ve written before about this. I’ll just refer you to the article, I’m not a ger where I provide quote after quote of what it means to be a ger. To just give one quote from Rashi,

Every expression of a stranger ([Heb. ger]) means a person who was not born in that country but has come from another country to sojourn there. (quoted from Rashi’s commentary on chabad.org http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/9883#showrashi=true)

So the biblical references to ger refers to a person who moves to another country. Yet so many of the “gerrings” still reside in their home countries, normally the non-Jewish, not-Torah-Israel “united states of america.” The Hebrew Bible is even clearer saying “the ger who lives in your gates”. A non-Israel country is not the gates of the Jews!

What has been done here is the reversal of an “is” statement that doesn’t work. For example, the statement “David Dryden is a man.” This means that the specific person “David Dryden” is of the male gender, a man. A man defines or limits what I am. But if I now reverse that and say “A man is David Dryden,” something wrong occurs. A man properly means biologically a person with the XY chromosome arrangement intrinsic to his body and normally has male sexual genitalia. But it’s been wrongly defined as something too specific, i.e. “David Dryden.” The sentence reversal doesn’t work.

The same thing happens with the phrase, “God is love.” Properly understood, it means that God is the epitome of love, he’s the absolute giver! Love defines something that God does. But people nowadays who have lost their moral or intellectual compass say that “Love is God.” They especially do this in a way to promote the sort of sexual attraction and personal relationship that is forbidden by God because it is deemed to be love. But since “God” is a supernatural person who is worshipped, does that mean we can worship love? Can it be properly said that love is the epitome of God??? The reversal doesn’t work.

So people like rabbis David Katz and Clorfene have used a part of the Talmud that says like the following:

Against this is quoted: ‘Who is a ger toshab? Any who takes upon himself in the presence of three haberim not to worship idols. Such is the statement of R. Meir; but the Sages declare: Any who takes upon himself the seven precepts which the sons of Noah undertook; and still others maintain: These do not come within the category of a ger toshab; but who is a ger toshab? A proselyte who eats of animals not ritually slaughtered, i.e., he took upon himself to observe all the precepts mentioned in the Torah apart from the prohibition of [eating the flesh of] animals not ritually slaughtered. (Babylonian Talmud, Avodah Zarah 64b)

Looks bad for me, doesn’t it? Someone will say, “David, you are a complete idiot! Doesn’t it clearly say that a ger toshav is ANY(ONE) who takes upon himself the seven laws? Doesn’t it clearly say that it is ANY(ONE) who, witnessed by three “haberim,” promises not to worship idols? That’s exactly what rabbis Katz and Clorfene are teaching, idiot!”

I’m not the most humble man. It would be easy for be to be insulted and blast back with insults ranging from … errrr …. maybe I should leave out any examples, right? I’m supposed to be writing seriously.

I would have different responses to this, such as the fact that this is in the midst of a conversation in the Talmud and the final authoritative ruling has to be brought out by the suitable Torah expert, or such as asking what about the opinions that mention a ger toshav being obligated to keep all of the Torah commandments except the law about ritual slaughter. But my most important response to the retort would simply be this: what was the question?

Yes, what was the question?

The question was “Who is a ger toshav?” Before we can look at the answers, shouldn’t we understand the question? So what does the word “ger” mean? Well, Rashi already answered that. It’s a person who has moved from his own country to Torah Israel. This is a physical move, like how Abraham was a ger amongst the Canaanites, the children of Heth in Genesis 23:4; he had moved from the country of his birth and had moved to the land of Canaan. And what’s a toshav? It comes from the Hebrew word meaning to sit, remain or dwell in a place. So it’s a dweller or resident. It’s physical residence, like how Abraham was a resident in the land of Canaan in Genesis 23:4.

So the question is, what makes a proper foreign resident, a settling immigrant, in Torah Israel? It has to be “a resident in Torah Israel” because to talk of residing and settling with no real place makes no sense. And the place to reside in that the rabbis must be talking about is Torah Israel. So the answers are limited by the question. So the various opinions given in the Talmud should fit the idea of who is properly classed as a settling immigrant in Israel. We have an “is” statement. Let’s pick one of the options, one of the ones that rabbi Clorfene is using.

“A ger toshav [a noahide ger] is any who takes upon himself the seven precepts which the sons of Noah undertook.”

My question, can this “is” statement be reversed so that it now becomes the following:

“Any who takes upon himself the seven precepts which the sons of Noah undertook is a ger toshav.

I just have to unmask the ger toshav to find out.

“Any who takes upon himself the seven precepts which the sons of Noah undertook is a foreigner residing in Torah Israel.

Before the “spiritual” people step in and say, “hey, I’m spiritually in Israel,” there is nothing that says we’re talking abstractly or non-physically here. Biblically, it’s physical. Although there may be an abstract element, there is no adequate justification for taking it on its own and ripping it from its physical context.

I think it is clear what the problem is with the last statement. There are plenty of people who accept the seven laws and who don’t live in Torah Israel. So because they don’t fit the question – they are neither ger nor toshav – the answer doesn’t apply to them either. Therefore the “is” statement should not be reversed.

Yet I see shades of another Jew in the words of rabbi Clorfene. According to rabbi Clorfene, you just have to believe in your heart, independent of any Jewry, any witness, that God is your God, and make that confession of faith that “God is my God” and you know what? You’ve converted to Judaism without becoming a Jew, you’ve spiritually moved to Israel.

Hmmm … Now which other Jew in history have I seen make similar comments? Hmmm …

… if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shalt be saved. (Saul of Tarsus, Romans chapter 10 verse 9)

Yes, Saul of Tarsus was another Jew who taught Gentiles that you don’t have to worry about circumcision and becoming a Jew to become part of the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16). No, just faith and confession. Then you can access so many of the blessings particular to the Jewish people!

For rabbi Clorfene, without any of Israel involved, a non-Jew can do anything a Jew is commanded to do.

Not only does that cause alarm bells and red flags to come up around Clorfene, but it goes against what is clearly stated by the Torah greats!

More from Clorfene’s article.

Most Jews, even frum ones, even rabbis, learn the Rambam superficially and get it wrong. If they would have looked at the rabbinic responsa on the subject, they would see that when the Rambam said there is no Ger Toshav without the Jubilee Year, he was referring to the complete Ger Toshav (Ger Toshav Gamur), one who is entitled to the same communal support as a Jew.

 As I’ve said in other articles, this is one weakness for Gentiles. A rabbi can make claims saying this or that, and because the documentation is not readily available and it may require expertise to read, we’re left to mercies of the interpreters who may disagree. With rabbi Clorfene saying, “I have the truth and all those rabbis don’t,” and with his own admission that many rabbis disagree with him, all the unknowing Gentile is left with is a claim. 

Clorfene has already put doubt on his veracity when he put down all the others as being unlearned. So there is not much that I, as a Gentile, can do with this except to say this. 

In the introduction or preface to the Mishneh Torah that rabbi Clorfene, the author, Rambam, says this:

40  In our time, severe troubles come one after another, and all are in distress; the wisdom of our sages has disappeared, and the understanding of our discerning men is hidden.  Thus, the commentaries, the responses to questions, and the settled laws that the Geonim wrote, which had once seemed clear, have in our times become hard to understand, so that only a few properly understand them.  And one hardly needs to mention the Talmud itself–the Babylonian Talmud, the Jerusalem Talmud, the Sifra, the Sifre, and the Toseftot–which all require a broad mind, a wise soul, and considerable time, before one can correctly know from them what is forbidden or permitted and the other rules of the Torah.

41  For this reason, I, Moshe son of Ribbi Maimon the Sephardi, found that the current situation is unbearable; and so, relying on the help of the Rock blessed be He, I intently studied all these books, for I saw fit to write what can be determined from all of these works in regard to what is forbidden and permitted, and unclean and clean, and the other rules of the Torah:  Everything in clear language and terse style, so that the whole Oral Law would become thoroughly known to all, without bringing problems and solutions or differences of view, but rather clear, convincing, and correct statements in accordance with the law drawn from all of these works and commentaries that have appeared from the time of Our Holy Teacher to the present.

42  This is so that all the rules should be accessible to the small and to the great in the rules of each and every commandment and in the rules of the legislations of the sages and prophets:  in short, so that a person should need no other work in the World in the rules of any of the laws of Israel; but that this work would collect the entire Oral Law, including the positive legislations, the customs, and the negative legislations enacted from the time of Moshe Our Teacher until the writing of the Talmud, as the Geonim interpreted it for us in all of the works of commentary they wrote after the Talmud.  Thus, I have called this work the [Complete] Restatement of the [Oral] Law (Mishneh Torah), for a person reads the Written Law first and then reads this work, and knows from it the entire Oral Law, without needing to read any other book between them. (Introduction to the Mishneh Torah, http://mechon-mamre.org/e/e0000.htm, emphasis mine)

Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, Moses Maimonides, wrote the Mishneh Torah so that Torah Law could be accessible and clear to all. Therefore when he says there is no ger toshav without a Jubilee year (amongst other things), we’re not supposed to be at a loss to figure out what he means without more commentaries. There are even rabbis who would suggest that the Mishneh Torah is accessible even to non-Jews that don’t keep the seven laws. That’s how accessible the Mishneh Torah is seen as being.

If Clorfene is right in saying that Rambam didn’t say what he meant, that he couldn’t be properly understood, even by rabbis, without “further rabbinic responsa,” then there is strong justification in saying that Rambam failed in his aims. 

I believe that there are a significant amount of people that rabbi Clorfene classed amongst the unlearned yet who disagree with him.

But with respect to the performance of mitzvoth, the halacha is that there is always a Ger Toshav, with or without the Jubilee Year, with or without a rabbinic court, and with or without living in the Holy Land. But to be permitted to keep Shabbat or learn Torah, he has to do one thing that the Ger Toshav does not have to do; he has to believe in the unity of G-d and that Ado-nai Hu    HaElo-him, the Lord He is G-d. He must accept upon himself faith in the G-d of Israel, not merely reject idolatry. And that is what makes the Noahide into a Noahide Ger – he says Shema Yisrael and that is his faith in G-d.

Every Gentile can accept upon himself or herself belief in G-d and lead any holy Torah lifestyle he or she chooses – without converting. The Rambam calls them Hasidei Umot HaOlam, which technically means a non-Jewish Hasid, a pious person in the eyes of G-d and the Torah of Moses. Mazal tov!

Therefore, I repeat the warning and explain it from a slightly different perspective: Do not convert to Judaism. if you are considering conversion, do it only to become a a Jew.
The only one who converts to Judaism is the Noahide who converts to Noahide Ger, which the sages call chetzi giur – half a conversion. He is the Ger of I Get Ger. And he is the Biblical Ger in the Gate, not the rabbinic Ger Toshav. He believes in Hashem.

Yes so with faith and confession, you can accept Jesu … ooops, wrong religion, right? It seems to be so easy to blur the lines when you turn laws and morality into a religion.

I hope you noted the internal inconsistency of his words, i.e., the foreign resident who doesn’t have to leave his home, county or computer desk, the ger toshav that doesn’t have to set foot in Israel at all. This is all so funny when rabbi Clorfene says this “noahide ger,” the non-Jew that hasn’t left his country to move to Torah Israel, is the Biblical ger, the one who sojourns in the gates of the Jew

Sorry, but for me this is like watching a person so convinced that he is right and sane whilst repeatedly slapping himself across his own forehead with his own hand.

How’s this for an internal inconsistency? In one paragraph he says, “Do not convert to Judaism.” And in the next paragraph, he says, “The one who converts to Judaism is the Noahide who converts to Noahide Ger …” 

Now, I agree with his wording but not with his sentiment. Gentiles should not convert to this innovative entity called “Noahide Ger.” Why not? I think rabbi Bindman says it best in page 126 of his book, “The Seven Colors of the Rainbow.

This acceptance restrains the non-Jew from creating a new religion, even one based on the Seven Laws …

It’s OK; Jews aren’t supposed to be creating new religions for Gentiles to become a part of either. This restrains us Gentiles from joining novel religions as well, like already existing christianity or islam. 

Rabbi Clorfene’s insistence that anyone with the right confession can enter his Gerrish religion still is an invitation to a religion: full Judaism without the Jew element. This is a new religion in that, as was shown before, “Judaism” or more properly the covenantal Torah stipulations for Jews and the national Jewish identity go hand in hand. To split one from the other, offering the “religion” to a Gentile without the national, communal identity is a novel thing, one that a Gentile should be wary of.

To continue with his article (almost over),

The Ger in the Gate is established by G-d in the Torah. The Ger in the Gate is mentioned in three verses; one is in the Ten Commandments, where he is told to rest on Shabbat. The Ger Toshav, on the other hand, is a Talmudic construct, a legal fiction established by the rabbis of the Second Temple period.

The Biblical Ger in the Gate is a G-d fearing Gentile, as it says (Deut. 31:12), “the Ger in the Gate shall hear and learn and fear the Lord your G-d.”

Conversely, the Talmudic Ger Toshav does not believe in G-d. That is to say, the rabbinic obligations of a Ger Toshav extend only so far as rejection of idolatry. The obligations of a Ger Toshav do not require belief in   G-d. And since he is not required to believe in G-d, therefore, we say that he does not believe in G-d. But a Ger, who is the Ger in the Gate, is expected by G-d to keep Shabbat, for of the Ger in the Gate the Torah says (Ibid.), “and observe to do all the words of this Torah.”

The “ger in the gates” is told to keep sabbath? Really?

… on [the sabbath] you shall not do any work, you nor your son nor your daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is in your gates. (Exodus 20)

Notice something with me please. In the verse, cattle or domesticated working animals are included. Did God command the animals to keep sabbath? What was their punishment if they were caught doing one of the 39 categories of forbidden work?

No, the responsible Israelite was commanded to remember and keep sabbath, and he had to make sure everyone in his household rested, his irresponsible young children (see Rashi), his servants, his cattle and his ger. [It makes me wonder which Jews the individual “gerring” belongs to in this day and age.]

But then Chaim Clorfene continues to assert a sola-scriptura-like claim, a claim you would expect to here from “Jews for the Yeshu monster.” He says the ger toshav is purely a rabbinic construct, as in it’s not an elucidation of Torah, but rather it didn’t exist in Bible times so the ancient rabbis made it up. (Jews for Yeshu [monster] claim that the oral law itself is a rabbinic invention that didn’t exist in Bible times.)

Once again, there is no evidence of this. Reading the commentaries of Rashi and Hirsch and Artscroll, it seems like a natural explanation of the various usages of ger in the written Torah. But Clorfene says differently. 

So far I have no reason to believe him at all. 

He makes the definitive claim that the rabbinic ger toshav doesn’t believe in God but only rejects idolatry. I can see evidence for only one part of that claim (“rejects idolatry”). But this, the notion that a ger toshav doesn’t accept God, seems to be a claim only from his reasonings, his attempt to differentiate his “biblical ger” from the one taught by rabbis throughout the ages.

It is a strange claim to make and there is no positive traditional evidence given to give it any weight.

Again, rabbi Clorfene makes weak arguments and claims when he claims that a modern “noahide ger” is expected to keep sabbath because “of the Ger of the gate [who he equates with the modern gerring] the Torah says [Deuteronomy 31:12], ‘and observe to do all the words of this Torah.'”

Let’s look at this verse he’s referring to. 

Assemble the people together, men, and women, and children, and your stranger that is within your gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this Torah …

Question: what about this verse would tell a ger that he is expected to keep the sabbath for himself? Is it the part that says “all the words of this Torah?” Logically, it cannot mean that he must keep all the laws in the Torah. Nobody in Israel keeps all of the laws. The men keep the laws for men. The women keep the laws for women. The Levites keep the laws for Levites and the non-Levites keep the laws for non-Levites. And the ger toshav would keep those laws that pertain to him. 

Whether or not that ger keeps the sabbath or not, based on the definition of words, it has nothing to do with the Gentile outside the land of Israel, who has never and will never settle to reside in Torah Israel or at least doesn’t do it right now. We can’t talk about (using the translation from chabad.org) “your stranger that lives in your cities” when the Gentile is living in America or UK! Clorfene is off by thousands of miles. 

I also am strongly convicted that even if the modern Gentile lived in the current state of Israel, there are still important elements missing for the formal institution of the ger toshav. I know an odd group of rabbis have tried it but I don’t believe it is a normative teaching. 

Anyway, let’s finish this off. The last part of his article …

The difference between a Gentile’s  right to keep Shabbat is belief in G-d. If he believes in G-d (and rejects shituf), he can keep Shabbat, and if he does not believe in G-d (and reject shituf), he cannot keep Shabbat.

It is not confusing. 

So after all this, I can say this: wrong! Biblically and based on what I’ve read so far, no! Shabbat is a special sign between the Jewish people and God. It sets apart Israel from the non-Jew. It doesn’t matter if it was set apart from creation. God set it aside for a purpose and then set it on the tablets of stone, in the Decalogue that is not meant for the whole world but are the testimony of the special pact and relationship between the nation of Israel, the descendants of Jacob, and God (Exodus 34:28-29)! 

Israel is Israel! The other nations are the other nations! We all have something to contribute to the kingdom of God in our own way, but not by blurring the lines between God’s priestly nation and the rest of the nations of the world. We all have been richly blessed, some with regards to the inner man, some with regards to the mind, some physically. All these things can come together to make the world the place God wants it to be. Enjoy to the full who you are! If you are a Jew, make the most of those blessings and that inheritance in accordance to God’s law for Jews. If you’re not a Jew, no matter what nation, find your blessing and enjoy it to its fulness in accordance with God’s law for Gentiles.

But let’s not create artificial lines between the Jew and his Torah in order to give the nations a blessing and responsibility not meant for them. You want Jewish responsibility and Jewish commandments? Become a Jew! If not, in the name of what is good and righteous, stop seeing yourself as shortchanged! Stop insulting what God has already given! Stop following the folly of rabbi Chaim Clorfene and rabbi David Katz and their followers and making it seem as if God gave you a desert and no license to find water! To quote a Jamaican phrase, stop accusing God of giving you a basket to carry water!

We Gentiles have a fantastic entrepreneurial opportunity! We have the opportunity to take God’s law for us, plumb its depth, understand our purpose as the nations of the world, and then break ground and plant something fantastic using the blessings God has given our various nations and cultures.

Israel has preserved our Torah law! Let’s take it and prepare the world for change!

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6 Comments

  1. Hrvatski Noahid

    You have my standing ovation! Absolutely fantastic article!
    The biggest Rabbi in the world can have the best academic understanding of the 7 Commandments. But we Gentiles know what it feels like to live them. And that is something Chaim Clorfene will never know. To call us unfulfilled is unbelievably arrogant.

    • I’m very honoured that you enjoyed that post, Hrv! And you are so right with that paragraph! Thank God for the rabbis who HAVE helped us, right?

  2. Hrvatski Noahid

    Of course! Thank God for the rabbis who protect and teach true Torah Law for Gentiles!

  3. James The Idol Smasher

    Question: Do you have a problem being a Seven and Seven only kind of guy?
    When you say things like “lesser Gentiles” you kind of give yourself away.
    You convert to make Jewish babies and become part of the Stalk of Jacob. Don’t see the issue you have. Lots of fire in your belly.

    • I don’t understand your first question. What is a “7 & 7 only guy?”

      What message have you interpreted from the “lesser Gentiles” statement when you read it in context? Are you asking me what I meant or are you imposing the meaning you see in your head onto me? So are you humbly asking for what I mean? Or are you arrogantly asserting what I must mean because you concluded it so?

      Please quote the place in Jewish tradition where the primary and sole purpose in becoming a Jew is to make Jewish babies. I can only take you for the words you use. You’ve said a person becomes​ Jewish partly in order to make Jewish babies. But that seems like an inadequate reason. What if a person doesn’t want to have babies or can’t? Should they not become Jewish? And what do you mean by becoming part of the stalk of Jacob? So you simply mean becoming Jewish and a part of the covenant nation of Israel?

      By the way, I can quote you a place in Jewish tradition where it says you can convert to have additional commandments, if you wish to see evidence.

      I know that the result or outcome of becoming a Jew is that you are now part of the Israel people, but the issue of this article is the motive, not the outcome. Can you appreciate the difference?

  4. Jim

    David,

    I thought you might be interested in Clorfene’s newest articles. He continues to say some very troubling and disturbing things. He has a three-part series contrasting Judaism and Zionism, wherein he calls Rabbinic Judaism the first replacement theology and the Babylonian Talmud its New Testament. I have not yet read parts two and three, but part one can be found here: https://www.chaimclorfene.com/new-blog/2017/5/16/judaism-vs-zionism-resolving-the-differences .

    Jim

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