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Sunday, December 2, 2007

All We Need is Love


After reading my blog entries so far, you must all be convinced that I hate all Muslims. This is just not the case.

There is a story about a Medieval Rabbi, Rabbi Shmuel Hanagid, who was an adviser to the Sultan. One day, while Rabbi Shmuel was walking with the Sultan, a man started cursing Rabbi Shmuel. The Sultan was outraged. He commanded Rabbi Shmuel to cut out the man's tongue.

Rabbi Shmuel couldn't cut out the man's tongue. So he thought about what he could do to change the man's mind about him. He sent him some gifts.

The next time Rabbi Shmuel was out walking with the Sultan, the man again started shouting at Rabbi Shmuel, only this time he was praising Rabbi Shmuel. The Sultan turned to him and asked, "didn't I command you to cut out that man's tongue?" Rabbi Shmuel answered him, "I did as you asked, your majesty, I cut out his cursing tongue and replaced it with a praising tongue."

I wish we could take all the people who hate Jews and hate Israel and "cut out" their cursing tongues and replace them with praising tongues. But, unfortunately, giving gifts to these people doesn't change their opinion of us for the better. It only convinces them that we are morally weak and that G-d is on their side.

There are Muslims (and former Muslims) out there who support Israel and fight the Islamofascist. Unfortunately, there aren't enough of them yet. I say yet because I see more and more people joining this group. I hear stories of people who knew even when they were young and being taught to hate Jews and Israel knew this was not right. This gives me hope for the future.

Jews say hello and good-bye with the word Shalom which means peace. We crave peace. We desire peace. We fight for peace (as oxymoronic as that sounds). Every day, at least 3 times a day, we pray for peace in the Amida and in every Whole Kaddish or Mourner's Kaddish (said many times throughout the prayer services daily), we say Oseh Shalom BiM'Romav, Hu Ya'aseh Shalom Aleinu -- may the One who makes peace on high make peace upon all of us. If we could have peace by giving gifts to our enemies, we would.

But, unfortunately, it's not that easy. We are dealing with people who are using Israel and Jews as a scapegoat. The leaders want their people to think that Israel and the Jews are the problem when in reality, it is their leaders who are causing all the horrors in their lives. It is their leaders who are keeping the money that the US, Europe and Israel (yes, Israel) are giving them for themselves rather than using that money to help the people. Instead of building schools and parks and hospitals and an infrastructure, they are using the money to build bombs and train terror murderers and spread lies about Israel. What a shame for the world that so many people are falling for those lies. And what a shame for the free world that they are giving in so easily to the enemies of liberty.

Happy Hanuka everyone. May the light of Hanuka spread to the hearts of our enemies and turn them into friends.

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According to my on-line Webster's dictionary, Racism means:

1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2 : racial prejudice or discrimination

The same dictionary defines race as:
a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits

Recently, someone called a Yeshiva (a Jewish religious school) "racist" because they didn't want to admit students who weren't Jewish.

I guess the people who did this didn't know what "racist" means or that a policy of a Yeshiva to not admit non-Jewish students didn't mean it wasn't admitting African American or Eastern Asian or even Native American people. Or perhaps these people were being racist to assume that all Jews are Caucasian. As a matter of fact, at my synagogue this morning, I saw people whom I know who are in at least 2 of those three previous categories.

So why was this school accused of racism? I don't know. It makes almost as much sense as calling Israel "racist". If you were to walk through the streets of Israel, you would see people from every race. Israel has admitted people from just about every country in the world, Jews and Gentiles. Israel makes no distinction when it comes to admitting people. (A list of the groups of people who have made Israel their home would include Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Baha'i -- it would also include Ethiopian Jews and Gentiles, Vietnamese Boat People and Black Hebrews.)

Catholic schools (or other religious schools) would, by contrast, not have an issue with admitting Jewish students. This is because they see their school as a way to convert others to their religious beliefs. Since we as Jews aren't trying to convert others, we see Gentile students in our school as "people who are trying to convert our children to their religion" and this is something we are trying to avoid by sending our children to Yeshivot (plural of Yeshiva).

I have noticed that people, especially people who hate, have a tendency to accuse others of doing what they do, for example, if you are a liar, you think everyone is a liar. There was a basketball player who a few years back made a nasty comment about Jews, accusing us of trying to convert everyone to Judaism! I'm sure that any of you who either are converts to Judaism, have friends (or relatives) who are converts or are in the process of converting would have a major chuckle about that. The ironies of this statement are many, but the two most glaring ironies are:

1) Jews not only don't encourage people to convert to Judaism, we try to discourage them -- we know it's harder to be Jewish and we don't want someone to go from being a good Gentile (who is responsible for the 7 Noahide laws) to being a no-so-good Jew (who is responsible for 613 laws, including keeping kosher, keeping Shabbat and keeping the family purity laws, none of which are required of Gentiles). This, in our world view, is not good for a person's souls and we don't want to adversely affect a person's soul.

2) Over the Centuries, people of other religions have tried to convert us to their religions. This includes the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Roman pagans, the Roman Christians, Muslims, the Catholic Church, the Spanish Inquisition, Martin Luther, Jews for J***s and other fundamentalist Christians nowadays. This list is by no means complete, just a quick overview. Many of the groups on that list used coercion including convert of die! strategies (and many Jews did die rather than convert).

It is the same logic (or lack thereof) that leads people to call Jews (and, by extension, Israel) "racist". They are just reflecting their own prejudices and presuming that we hold these prejudices too.

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