Speaking to Kings and Others

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10 Responses

  1. Ori says:

    Rabbi Meyer May: And anytime you run into an assimilating or disaffected young Jew or Jewess remind them that they are the newest and finest fruits from our tree of life. Tell them that they have it in their hands and in their hearts to sacrifice to insure that our ancient and enduring tree will never die.

    Ori: This is well written and inspirational. Unfortunately, it’s also the wrong message. You’re telling people who aren’t interested in Judaism that they have the ability to sacrifice what they do care about for Judaism’s sake. That’s like telling a young Neturey Karta man that he can leave Yeshiva and go into the military to ensure the survival of the state of Israel.

  2. chaim says:

    wow, kmoisoi yirbu byisroel.

  3. Shua Cohen says:


    Following are three statements from Rabbi Adlerstein’s introduction:

    ~ a successful presentation to a non-Orthodox audience

    ~ co-sponsored by iACT (SWC’s campus outreach wing) and the European Center
    for Jewish Students

    ~ the speech was met with rousing and sustained applause

    JEWISH students journeyed from around the world to attend this conference in Dublin, a conference sponsored by two JEWISH organizations, and you surmised that, just because the audience was non-Orthodox, they weren’t “interested in Judaism?” Whoa! I think you missed something.

  4. rachel w says:

    The students who were in the audience will be going back to their respective campuses with a greater pride in being Jewish. And for that we must all be grateful to Rabbi May.

  5. Yitzchok Klein says:

    “Dovid HaMelech prided himself in speaking enthusiastically and unabashedly to foreign royalty about Hashem’s Torah (Tehilim 119:46).”

    How this was possible, considering the Halachic prohibition against teaching Torah to Gentiles? (See Rashi on Shemot chapter 21 verse 1, Chagigah 13A, Gittin 88B and Sanhedrin 59A.)

    Rashi has no comment on on Tehillim 119:46, Ibn Ezra comments that people are normally afraid of kings, and Metsudah David seems to say that Torah is righteous, so there is nothing about it to be ashamed of.

    Of course these commentaries are very important, but they do not answer my question.

    The only solution I can think of is: King David was discussing the Seven Noachide Commandments, which Gentiles are permitted and required to study.

    If anyone has an authoritative answer to my question, then please contact me at: [email protected]

    Yitzchok Klein

  6. Ori says:

    Shua Cohen, I know some non-Orthodox Jews care about Judaism. I know it by being one of them. However, Rabbi Meyer May suggested a certain response to be used by his audience when they talk to Jews who are disaffected or assimilated. That was the response I consider inappropriate.

    I apologize for not making myself clearer.

  7. Shua Cohen says:


    I understand your syntax now; I’m sorry I didn’t get it the first time.

    Even so, I believe it can be assumed that the average “assimilating or disaffected young Jew” will not respond to a kiruv effort with talk of G-d, Torah and mitzvot. Some thirty years ago I became a ba’al teshuva and, as an avowed agnostic, I certainly wouldn’t have responded to such an approach.

    So is there an alternative? Well, I know that I DID find persuasive the approaches that Rabbi May suggests: (1) a respect for the intellectual accomplishments of the Jewish people, figuring that they had to have been enable from something in the tradition, (2) subsequent to the Holocaust, a recognition of my responsibility to my ancestors to survive as a Jew, and (3) as a (then) recent graduate of law school, a fascination and respect for a people who attempt to create a society based on justice and moral law, without (at the time) being concerned with the source of that law, man or G-d.

    In other words, I was comfortable becoming a ba’al teshuva while not having to believe in G-d, because the system allowed me to do so. I recall learning with great relief (in “Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism”) that Hashem Himself encourages one to observe the Torah for its own sake, even while denying that it comes from Him; the corollary of this limud eventually become true for me, in that I came to recognize Hashem’s existence and authorship of the Torah.

  8. Ori says:

    Shua Cohen, I used to believe Judaism is worthless, and I stopped doing so long before I lost my Atheism. So I understand your point. OTOH, I was ordered to sacrifice for the sake of the Jewish people, or at least those of them that live in Israel. I resented my three years of government labor so much I ditched the country afterwards.

    If you want to reach disaffected Jews, you need to explain why they should want to be Jews, not why Judaism could use them. We are not obligated to our ancestors to continue what they did, any more than Abraham was obligated to follow in his father’s footsteps as an idol maker. If we are obligated to somebody, it is to our descendants to leave them the best legacy we can.

  9. tzippi says:

    Ori: “If we are obligated to somebody, it is to our descendants to leave the best legacy we can.”

    I am sure you’re not talking about a legacy in terms of $$$. What are the foundations of said legacy?

  10. Ori says:

    Tzippi, you’re right – the legacy I meant is everything that counts as culture: ideas, ideals, behavior patterns, etc. The foundation of such legacy is what we judge best out of what we know, and decide to teach our children.

    However, there is no a-priori reason to assume one’s ancestors had better ideas than anybody else’s. Even if I were to assume that, it wouldn’t necessarily imply that my Orthodox great grandparents were wiser than their children who rejected Orthodoxy.

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