The Golem of Straw that Katz built – AskNoah’s statement

So Katz published his article which can be found here. In that article, he put his own spin on an Torah ruling by Rema in such a way that he then inferred from it that AskNoah International (which had quoted from that ruling by Rema) is identifying all “Noahides” as “akum.” That false accusation by Katz is an offense called “motzei shem rah,” a law Jews like Katz are supposed to keep.

Note: “Akum” is an acronym found in the Talmud and in legal writings by the “Rishonim” and “Acharonim,” Torah authorities from different parts of Jewish history. It literally stands for “Avodai Kochavim U’Mazolos” (worshippers of stars and planets). But as you will see later, contextually, it often is not limited to that meaning. But Katz does not explain that, something that can be seen as deceptive. Katz added his spin by claiming that “akum” as it appears in that ruling by that rabbi called “Rema” only means an idolator, implying that no other categories of Gentiles are included in Rema’s ruling.

As I wrote my previous article, I chose to look at AskNoah’s posts to see if “akum” there really had the limited meaning that Katz not only applied to the word, but that he also imposed upon Ask Noah.

Let me quote what is posted in that discussion thread on Asknoah.org – the words of rabbi Moshe Weiner, the author of the Divine Code (with my highlights added).

It is known that Gemara (Talmud) and Halachic (Torah Law) authorities used an over-all term for all Gentiles (non-Jews) as AKUM (acronym of “Ovdei Kochavim Umazalos,” I.E. “Idol-worshipers”).

Examples: Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 124:6: “Any ‘Akum’ that does not worship idols…” [in regard to laws of wine touched by a non-Jew] – it is obvious that a Gentile here is called “Akum” as a general name, and not because he is indeed an idol worshipper.

Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 2:1: “The slaughter by an ‘Akum’ that does not worship idols…”

Therefore wherever “Akum” is mentioned in Talmud and Halachic literature, it means every Gentile (non-Jew) (unless explicitly said otherwise!)

Radvaz (gloss on Rambam, Laws of Kings 10:10 – in regard to observant Bnei Noach (not idol worshipers!) clearly writes the BN should not put on tefillin or affix a mezuza!

Therefore, although the Rema uses the inclusive term “Akum,” one cannot understand this as a permission for a non-Jew that is not an idol worshiper to affix a mezuza.

To claim otherwise is playing games with semantics.

A “Noahide” in modern terminology is not an idol worshiper – indeed he is forbidden to do so (Rambam, Laws of Kings, ch. 9); nevertheless, he is not a Ger Toshav either.

According to AskNoah’s correct explanation of Rema: Both a Noahide (I.E. a Righteous Gentile) and a Gentile idol-worshiper may not affix a mezuza to his doorpost. (from response #10 in the AskNoah forum post called “Mezuzah” at https://www.asknoah.org/forum/showthread.php?tid=96)

I chose to set the teaching of AskNoah apart from my article because my article may be strewn with mistakes and views that AskNoah may not share. But at least here it can be made clear the following:

Rabbi David Katz doesn’t speak for AskNoah, nor does he have the authority to impose his (mis)interpretations upon their words.

AskNoah’s understanding of akum in those words by Rema is not negative towards any non-Jew as it is simply understood in the context there as “non-Jew,” as rabbi Moshe Weiner proved.

If I feel like it, I’ll critique rabbi Katz’s next blogpost. But then again, if I don’t, I won’t.

Thanks for reading this.

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2 Comments

  1. Hrvatski Noahid

    It is interesting that Katz brings up Hebrew. The implication is that greater knowledge of Hebrew equals greater knowledge of Torah. A Gentile is permitted to learn from books in a language he understands. We have no need to learn Hebrew. And we do not care what Katz thinks akum means.

    • I think there are people that care and that Katz’s impositions on asknoah should be exposed. But I agree with the rest of what you said.

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