Reciprocity and Specialness

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10 Responses

  1. Miriam says:

    What were the observations?

  2. Baruch Horowitz says:

    Because we have an opportunity that we have not had in the past, we should indeed be outward-focused, and try to realize “s’hyhei sheim shomayim misaheiv al yadcha”; there are different ways of doing that for different people. I agree that “those who can handle it, should be handling it. There are plenty around who can.”

    Even those who can not interact as intensely as others with the non-Jewish world, at the very least, should concentrate on indirectly giving people reason to appreciate Judaism, and be concerned about kiddush Hashem and chillul Hashem.

    Practically, it is easier to be aware and concerned of the effect of one’s actions on the outer environment if one views the world at large in a positive way. Because many of our communities emphasize insularity and inner-focus, we need to be careful not to forget the outward goal of giving the world reason to respect Hashem’s nation. As one gadol has recently stated, “Our philosophy asserts that every human being is created in the image of the Lord and the primacy of integrity and honesty in all dealings without exception”.

  3. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “I can immediately think of at least one place where the Chovos Halevavos points appreciatively at aspects of Sufi religious conduct”

    Can Rabbi Adlerstein give the perak(im) where this is mentioned?

  4. SM says:

    Good post. If you are publicly Jewish – kippah, hat, tzitzit, sheitel, etc then inevitably people judge your community by your conduct.

    Talking to sincere people sincerely is always helpful and I agree that you don’t have to move towards their beliefs (or they to yours) in order for such talks to be fruitful. We have to ask ourselves what we want from talking. Understanding, respect, an appreciation of what we share and a comprehension of what we disagree about? All of that is achievable.

    I think the time to walk away is when they want to convert you or undermine you. People have to recognise that conversation only goes so far As my Rabbi says, you have to know where it’s at – the minute you don’t then conversATion becomes conversion.

  5. Shawn Landres says:

    Let me push a bit. The academic study of religion can trace its routes, inter alia, to applied research in the service of Christian missionary work. The argument was that they couldn’t convert them unless they first understood them (whoever “they” were). And much that is good and bad resulted. An example of the more or less good: SIL International, formerly known as the Summer Institute of Linguistics, has cataloged and preserved nearly 2,000 languages (many hitherto unknown) all for the ultimate purpose of printing Christian New Testaments in those languages. But in the meantime, SIL has saved countless indigenous languages and dialects, and its staff have contributed in major ways to the field of linguistics.

    So knowledge acquisition can be justified if the purpose is proselytizing. Clearly, one can justify quite a bit in the name of religious outreach. But the vast majority of Jews have abandoned proselytizing. So on what other basis can we justify the acquisition of knowledge about other religions? From a sociological perspective, I doubt that anyone seriously would question the value of familiarity with multiple faiths, ethnicities, traditions, etc. But what about a Torah perspective, as understood by R’ Adlerstein and others?

    This is not about practicality or diplomacy. This is about whether there is a clear positive moral value to knowing the religious other.

  6. Steve Brizel says:

    I think that this is a great post. The more that one reads on this issue, the more evidence supports the conclusion that those who argue the loudest and the longest for wide open ecumenical dialogue simply are not just uncomfortable with chosenness-they deny it outright.

  7. Chaim says:

    Chovos HaLeVavos is full references to Sufism. See Diana Lobel’s recently published “A Sufi-Jewish Dialogue.”

  8. Yoel B says:

    I’ve been wondering lately if, particularly with evangelicals, their religion isn’t getting pretty close to the Sheva Mitzvot b’nai Noach and whether describing the USA as “Noachide” might not be more accurate than as “Christian.”

  9. akiva says:

    > Chovos HaLeVavos is full references to Sufism

    Not surprising — a lot of early Jewish Philosophy drew VERY heavily on earlier Islamic philosophical/sufi texts.

    When exchanges of ideas take place the end result is usually a better, stronger, more thought out and defendable position.

  10. One Christian's perspective says:

    I’ve been wondering lately if, particularly with evangelicals, their religion isn’t getting pretty close to the Sheva Mitzvot b’nai Noach and whether describing the USA as “Noachide” might not be more accurate than as “Christian.”

    Comment by Yoel B

    Yoel I would venture to say that all evangelicals are Christian but not all “Christians” are evangelicals. There is a very specific verse in the NT that identifies who are Christians. The scope is very specific and very narrow. BTW – Christianity is NOT something one is born into or attained by church attendance. The church visible is made up of authentic Christians and those who simply call themselves Christian – which is what I did for years. In all honesty, I had never heard of a Noachide except from Jewish sites. Most of my Christian friends have not heard of Noachides. To say the USA is a Christian nation is wrong. We may have been founded on Judeo-Christian values but we are a nation of many faiths/beliefs of which Christianity is but a part.

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