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  Born Again as an Infidel- II

In an article titled Born Again as an Infidel Eleanor Green explained her disenchantment with religion and why she left Christianity for Orthodox Judaism and eventually left Judaism as well. 

Her essay was rebutted by two Orthodox Jews   

Rebuttal: Born Again as an Infidel Ivan M. Lang 2005/04/21  

Another Rebuttal: Born Again as an Infidel  Matthew Cohen  2005/04/22

 

This is Eleanor's Response to Mr. Lang 

 Dear Mr. Lang, 

I am surprised that you would suggest I am not a real Jew, when we both know that the old adage applies still, "If you have 2 Jews in one room, you have 3 opinions." I know ultra-Orthodox Jews who can clearly explain the laws of Kashrut, for instance, but others who tell me that "Kosher" means food blessed by a rabbi. We have those who wear only white shirts and black hats and those who wear modern, modest clothing and a small kippah. There has never been, nor will be, uniform agreement among us as to how we interpret halachah. Your rebbe tells you it is this, mine it is that, and each community retains its own local chumrot.

Thus, my argument is born from my observations on the inside of the very religious right. If you do not live in Crown Heights , or a similar community (and I assume by your English name that you were not born into a Chassidic sect), you will see the very behaviors I spoke against, should you ever visit. If you are unfortunate enough to be a baal teshuvah, you will see the stratification that drives many of them away after many hurtful experiences.

You did not deny that our rabbis taught that all Jews have a place in the WtC. We may have local ideas about exceptions to that rule, but no such exceptions are given in Pirket Avot. You also know that by halachic standards, I am not a heretic, as I worship no other god and never would. As I was taught the Noachide laws, "no idolatry" is a part of the monotheistic command, and Mother Theresa could not be classified as obeying either that or monotheism. She prayed to statues of the Virgin and other saints. The general rule on homosexuals is "no sexual immorality," which the Torah does classify as an abomination. Those who split hairs say it is the act of sodomy that is forbidden, but the need for the Orthodox homosexual community to create the film, "Trembling Before God" about their struggles is evidence enough that the message is clear.

I suggested nowhere that anyone was "doomed forever." Being ineligible for the WtC does not mean "doomed forever." You also know that in spite of the eleven-month maximum, our rabbis teach that some people are so evil that they will be exterminated during this process, much like a worn-out garment in a washing machine.

Of course, Moses would not lose his place in the WtC for killing the Egyptian because he became a Jew at Sinai and killing was perfectly fine in those days, so long as the victim was either a Gentile or a Jew who disagreed with some matter of religious opinion. We ignore the Torah allowances that we know are not moral, but our ancestors had limitless license to kill ignorant savages for worshipping idols, even though they had no Torah to tell them not to. You may also know that many Orthodox Jews do not believe in hell at all, since there is no mention of it in the original Hebrew in our Bible...only the grave or vague "abode of the dead."

You're right; the European continent, beginning with Constantine , used our Bible to establish their systems of government. That is why untold numbers of people were killed for the impossible crime of witchcraft, Jews were killed for things such as stealing bound devils and using them to catch fish (you can check Harvard.edu's archives for confirmation), the Crusaders warred against the Muslims and any Jews on the way there, raping, pillaging, and plundering. All because our Torah said, "Your eye shall not pity him" and "leave nothing alive that has breath."

Our Bible is also where the European monarchs found the justification for the king to rule as both political and religious dictator. Our Bible's description of us as deserving exile is why we were expelled from nearly every nation in which we lived.

I agree with you on another thing. Our religious ancestors did give the males at least, the gift of literacy in an age when it was rare. Einstein didn't drop a bomb on Japan . America did. Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine. Furthermore, if you believe that we invented a system of justice, you need to read the code of Hammurabi, which has many laws verbatim like our Torah, but was written centuries earlier by Gentiles. If you believe we invented the concept of mercy, you need to read the works of the far East that also predate our Torah. If you believe that our country was founded on religion, I would refer you to "Freethinkers: a History of Secularism in America " by Susan Jacoby, also paternally from Jewish stock. Our nation was founded as a system divorced from religion by agnostics and Deists who rejected the inspiration of the Bible. We did not establish human rights, nor make women better off. While we were implementing Torah, our neighbors had women priests. The Egyptians had women on the throne, and married Pharoahs are depicted with their queens in the same chair as they. Many heathen gods were female.

Our ancestors did not get their brains from the rabbis, nor from religion, but from the values still held by secular Jews like myself. And yes, I was born a Jew by any halachic standard. My mother is one. Those values are the importance of literacy and a love of learning. Those who ventured outside our religious books to utilize those values were indeed brilliant thinkers in the end. Yet, ultra Orthodox Jews today will not read any book, even a Jewish one, without the page in the front certifying it by a rabbi they approve of.

I've not only read many Jewish works, but spent hundreds of dollars on lessons and schooling. I read Maimonades' "Guide for the Perplexed" on my own time. There would be no brilliant Jewish scholars today without the love of literacy, born out of fear that we would lose our cultural identity in exile. As for that argument, may I direct you to two other groups? The Christians began with Jewish values as the Nazarenes, who originally did not believe Jesus was divine, but were instead like the modern Lubavitch group who await the time when they believe God will raise their Rebbe to be the Messiah. Paul changed that. Yet, their religious zeal eventually resulted in the Dark Ages in the end and stultified man's progress for a thousand years. The tide turned when the persecuted Christians seized the throne of Constantine . They then were more cruel persecutors than they oppressors had been.

 

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