Leaving Islam




Another Rebuttal: Born Again as an Infidel

By Matthew Cohen 


It is definately not Eleanor Green's leaving Judaism that is offensive, for that is certainly her right in a free and open society, but it is rather her distortion and misrepresentation of what Judaism says and believes to her readers (who, unless they already have a background to the issues at hand, don't have a reason to doubt her) in order to justify her being "born-again". There is absolutely nothing wrong with being an atheist, and Green will find that a vast majority of Jews tolerate them, but she should please learn more about Judaism before telling half-truths and untruths about it. From reading her testimony I found it very hard to believe that she ever was really a follower of the Orthodox. 

First of all, she notes that "Free thought and honesty of opinion are unwelcome in most religions." This statement is certainly true for Islam (of course) and traditional (Middle Ages) Christianity, but I would say that "most religions" does not include Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. 

No, I am not saying that the Orthodox are liberal or progressive. What I am saying is that the Jewish intellectual tradition, as typified in the Talmud and other rabbinical writings, emphasizes individual thought and analyses based on logic and reasoning, even to the point of questioning and challening one's own teacher. "Faith" means much less in Judaism than the other "Abrahamaic" religions, so the comparison lacks understanding. 

The most absurd part of Green's article is her claim that the rabbis and Judaism teach that all Jews go to heaven no matter what. As a person who has been raised Jewish all my life, that is absolutely ridiculous, because it is the opposite of what Judaism teaches, while it is the language that is usually used by Christianity and Islam. I would like to ask Green which rabbi actually said this, as I suspect that it is merely a lack of understanding. 

On the contrary, as opposed to Christianity and Islam, Judaism doesn't believe that faith brings "salvation" (which we would rather say "redemption" in Judaism) but rather good deeds do, as shown by obeying G-d's commandments. Judaism does not teach that evil Jews are rewarded in the afterlife, it teaches that Jews are liable for following their commandments just as Gentiles are liable for following theirs. While Judaism doesn't have very much doctrine as opposed to the other religions and is more based on one's own opinion, some things are without a doubt not part of Judaism, and Green's rabbinical "quote" is one of them. 

Indeed, it seems most likely to me that Green is confused with a different quote, from Maimonides Mishneh Torah Hilchot Teshuvah 3:4 (based on Babylonian Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin 105A and Tosefta Sanhedrin 13:1), which states: 

"The righteous of all nations have a place in the world to come." 

This actual rabbinic quote clearly disproves Green's claims because it underscores the belief of Judaism: that humans (both Jews and Gentiles) are judged by their actions (obeying or violating G-d's commandments) and not by faith. This is where Judaism is totally different from Christianity and Islam. The reason Jews don't try to convert other people is not because we don't want them to go to heaven; it is because we don't think that they need to be Jews to go to heaven. With the exception of the Gospels' quotes of Pharisees, which we can easily doubt their credibility because we know that their writers had a need to devalue and dehumanize Judaism in order to legitimize their own beliefs, there is no written claim existent in Judaism that says that all Jews go to heaven. 

Green's statement that Judaism says that all Jews are "genetically worthy of eternal bliss" also shows me that she never really understood Judaism at all. Non ethnically-Jewish Jews are considered 100% Jews. Even if a Jew has no relation to the ancient Semitic tribes whatsoever, he or she is still without a doubt Jewish. 

As Ivan Lang pointed out, the commandments that Judaism believes that Gentiles must follow are the Noachide Commandments, which Green offensively calls a "inferior religious system". She claims that "we" (I presume she means "we Jews"?) invented it, but I dunno, the logical deduction of the laws from Genesis in Tracte Sanhedrin of the Babylonian Talmud (56A) is pretty convincing to me. 


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