Various thoughts; Part 5 – Must I love Israel? Should I love a Jew?
So recently there was a school mass shooting in America. It was highlighted that there were Jews that had died there, 4 students and a teacher. That was amongst the 12 others who had died, and those who were injured. When I questioned the highlighting of the Jewish lives (because I tend to just see lives as generally equal), someone made a statement that make me think.
… any true lover of G´d KNOWS- – HaShem is One with His nation. So if you love G´d you must love His nation, any person who doesn’t does not follow the 7 Laws or honor His Torah. You can’t alter this!
My question is this: is this statement correct?
First, what is it saying? It makes a number of claims:
1) A person who truly loves God knows God is united with or inextricably tied to “His nation.” “His nation” refers to Israel.
2) If a person loves God, that person must love Israel.
3) If a Gentile doesn’t love Israel, he is not “following” (understood as “keeping properly”) the seven laws. This Gentile does not honour God’s Law or Revelation or Instructions because he doesn’t love Israel.
Now one of the things I need to define in this argument is the term “Israel.” What can Israel realistically apply to, especially in light of the fact we were talking about the death of individual Jews, people whose allegiance to or acknowledgement of the truth of God is unknown?
1) The modern state of Israel.
2) Any individual who is Jewish.
3) The historical/ideal nation of Israel who keeps the Torah law in covenant with God.
Must I love any of these entities to fulfil an obligation to the seven laws or to Torah? And if I don’t, have I rejected the seven laws?
Now just to clarify another thing, this is not an either-or issue. It’s not that I either love “Israel” or I hate it. There is also the sense of indifference. There is also the sense of feeling for Israel based on actions rather than label, i.e., I’m not loving Israel simply because it’s Israel, but rather because Israel actually upholds its divine obligations; or I’m not angry or disgusted with Israel simply because it’s Israel, but rather because it is embroiled with or has become guilty of immoralities listed in the Torah.
OK, so let me ponder this.
Let me put the seven laws first. Now the seven laws do not command a person to love anyone at all. So at least where our basic divine obligations are concerned, there is no command to love Israel in any sense, not the modern state, not the individual Jew, not even the ideal Torah keeping nation. So the person who gives the accusation that a Gentile who doesn’t love Israel also doesn’t follow the seven commandments … well the accuser is 100% wrong.
“But, David, don’t we learn the seven laws from Israel?” Ah, the fallacy of equivocation, bait and switch. I didn’t learn the seven laws from “the modern state of Israel.” The individual Jews that did teach them to me are not the same as the atheistic Jew who was quicker to denounce Torah and his heritage than uphold them, genetics isn’t enough of a reason to “spread the love.” And I’ve never experienced the ideal Torah-keeping nation of Israel.
So where the seven laws are concerned, a person can follow them, obey them, and not give a second thought to any version of Israel.
Now, I’ll analyse the claim further.
So a person who loves God is apparently supposed to know that God is “one” with “his nation.”
How is this statement reasonable? Surely there’s something missing from it. I say this because God, first of all, is the First Cause of the universe and its sustainer. If I only knew this and loved the First Cause for it, I would have no conception, no idea, that God has anything to do with a certain nation. So what is missing from the claim is knowledge of the nation or the history recorded in his Torah.
So the claim should be amended to this:
A person who loves God AND HAS LEARNED THE HISTORY RECORDED IN HIS TORAH should know that God is “one” with his nation.
Unfortunately the statement “one with his nation” is ambiguous. What it really means is lost and didn’t get clarified by the person making the claim. As a Gentile who has read and does respect the written Torah, the claim is rather meaningless. Nowhere does God claim to be “one with his nation.” The best possible meaning it can have is that Israel had a special marked relationship with him (they are called by his name) which is heavily linked with its fulfilment of and obedience to the law he gave them.
But then knowledge of this “oneness” would then, for me, be lacking. Hmmm … Maybe I don’t love God, I’d the claim is true. Or maybe the claim isn’t intrinsically true. If it’s not clear in the written Torah, then how can the claim be true? “if you don’t know what I know, you don’t love God.” A bit subjective. Too subjective.
Now it may be true that God’s name is linked to the ideal Torah-keeping nation of Israel (with no God-given obligation to love it), but is this true for the individual Jew, or the modern state of Israel?
In both cases, no, not necessarily. Who knows if the individual genetic Jew keeps the covenant that would link them to God? And the modern state of Israel is not the same as the Israel from the days of Joshua or the one that fell in the first centuries of the Common Era. It can hardly be said to be faithful to the Mosaic covenant either.
So there are questions about the modern condition of the Jew and the state that currently resides in the land of Israel, at least in my mind.
So with this in mind, to cut to the chase, must a Gentile love the Jew?
A principle comes to mind:
LORD, who may sojourn in your tabernacle? Who may reside in your holy hill? He who goes about with integrity, who did what is right, and speaks the truth in his heart, who doesn’t spread tales, and doesn’t do evil to his neighbour … For whom a contemptible man is abhorrent while honouring them that revere the LORD … (Tehillim [Psalm] 15)
Personally, I believe that this is true for any human being, Jew or Gentile. And if the person is a stranger, the safest thing is neither to call them evil or good just based on where they’re from.
Based on this principle, to love a Jew or even to love Israel simply because of the name, simply because of biological lineage is foolish. Of course, I’m not saying to hate them either, but for me, it’s not one or the other, either love or hate. If love and hate is an action, then a person can be simply inactive and indifferent. But to respect humans and love righteousness and the righteous is the main thing.
So hearing about a mass shooting in America and to hear that some Jewish kids died, to simply detest the loss of life without caring much about the genetics, or to not see the Jewish deaths as any different or somehow special shouldn’t be a sin or a crime against God.
It would be interesting to see if there is an argument against that position.
I may not have gone through every detail, through each in and out, about loving a Jew or Israel. But I just don’t want to stretch this any longer.
- Posted in: General