Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Friday, 15 May 2009

Reverse Racism is Still Racism

Right on schedule, Rav Avi Shafran has put out yet another piece whose logic is, at best, suspect. The object of his ire this week is an unmentioned columnist he came across who committed the sin of disparaging the Chofetz Chayyim, ztk"l:
Even with the surfeit of silliness passing these days for “Torah commentary”– the manufactured “midrashim,” “original interpretations” and Biblical passages turned on their heads – I was flabbergasted to read a homily disparaging the Chafetz Chaim.
The Chafetz Chaim, of course – Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan – was renowned for his saintliness and sagacity, and for his monumental works on Jewish law, including two on the laws against slander. When the Polish sage died, in 1933, The New York Times’ obituary noted that he had shut down his store when he realized that its success born of his renown was imperiling other local storekeepers’ income.
What exercised the contemporary sermonizer, whose words appeared in an Israel-oriented magazine, was the Chafetz Chaim’s comment on an undisputed halachic ruling, that even a sinner, if Jewish, can be counted as part of a prayer-quorum. The Chafetz Chaim had elucidated the reason behind the ruling: “Even though he is a sinning Jew,” the great rabbi explained, “his holiness endures.”

Now the idea that this unnamed person had a problem with what the Chofetz Chayim wrote is difficult to understand. Too often we hear complaints from our non-religious brethren about how we in the observant community treat them differently, exclude them from feeling like they belong with us and act disparagingly towards them. The idea that the Chofetz Chayim wrote the opposite should be a source of encouragement for them. A Torah observant person who dismisses the importance of a non-observant one can now be reproved in no uncertain circumstances. But this reader did manage to find a dark lining to the silver cloud:
The magazine-homilist, a Jewish educator, found that statement “not so enlightened,” indeed “particularly problematic in an era when racism has fallen out of favor.”
Now, I could comment that this is not entirely unaccepted. Some squeaky wheels can be greased all you want and they'll still find a way to squeak. Tell this non-observant Jew that his place in the minyan is just as important as anyone else's and he moved one step to the left: Yeah? Well that means you're racist against Gentiles!
But Rav Shafran's answer makes no sense at all:
But affirmation of “Jewish election” – the concept that the Jewish people was chosen by G-d to be a holy nation with a holy mission – has about the same relationship to racism as a sizzling steak has to a slab of cold tofu...
The bottom line: Jewish chosenness, from the Jewish perspective, entails no disparagement of others. It is not a license but a responsibility, to live by the laws of the Torah and to set a holy example for others – to shine forth in belief and behavior as the prophet Isaiah’s “light unto the nations” (42:6).
Understand? Negative beliefs - you're inferior to us - are racism. Positive beliefs - we're better than the rest of you - is not.
Maybe I'm just dull about this but I can't really see the difference. While Rav Shafran notes that we have "a responsibility to live by the laws of the Torah and to set a holy example for others", too often this responsibility reverts into a licence to abuse and denigrate those who are different because they're not on the same "high level" as the rest of us.
We are different from the nations around us, but that's not racism, just an noting that the English and French are different from each other is. Drawing conclusions on superiority/inferiority based on that difference is something else and should be avoided.


Shalmo said...


where should I start?

how about the very first chapter of the Tanya which makes it clear that non-jews can never be altruistic

According to the Jewish religion, the murder of a Jew is a capital offense and one of the three most heinous sins (the other two being idolatry and adultery). Jewish religious courts and secular authorities are commanded to punish, even beyond the limits of the ordinary administration of justice, anyone guilty of murdering a Jew. A Jew who indirectly causes the death of another Jew is, however, only guilty of what talmudic law calls a sin against the 'laws of Heaven', to be punished by God rather than by man.

When the victim is a Gentile, the position is quite different. A Jew who murders a Gentile is guilty only of a sin against the laws of Heaven, not punishable by a court. To cause indirectly the death of a Gentile is no sin at all.


Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, 'Laws on Murderers' 2, 11; Talmudic Encyclopedia, 'Goy'.

R. Yo'el Sirkis, Bayit Hadash, commentary on Beyt Josef, yoreh De'ah' 158. The two rules just mentioned apply even if the Gentile victim is ger toshav, that is a 'resident alien' who has undertaken in front of three Jewish witnesses to keep the 'seven Noahide precepts' (seven biblical laws considered by the Talmud to be addressed to Gentiles).

or try this

According to the Halakhah, Jews must not (if they can help it) allow a Gentile to be appointed to any position of authority, however small, over Jews. (The two stock examples are commander over ten soldiers in the Jewish army' and 'superintendent of an irrigation ditch'.) Significantly, this particular rule applies also to converts to Judaism and to their descendants (through the female line) for ten generations or 'so long as the descent is known'.

Gentiles are presumed to be congenital liars, and are disqualified from testifying in a rabbinical court. In this respect their position is, in theory, the same as that of Jewish women, slaves and minors; but in practice it is actually worse. A Jewish woman is nowadays admitted as a witness to certain matters of fact, when the rabbinical court 'believes' her; a Gentile - never.

what about money or loans?

Taking of interest. Anti-Gentile discrimination in this matter has become largely theoretical, in view of the dispensation which in effect allows interest to be exacted even from a Jewish borrower. However, it is still the case that granting an interest-free loan to a Jew is recommended as an act of charity, but from a Gentile borrower it is mandatory to exact interest. In fact, many - though not all - rabbinical authorities, including Maimonides, consider it mandatory to exact as much usury as possible on a loan to a Gentile.

Lost property???? If a Jew finds property whose probable owner is Jewish, the finder is strictly enjoined to make a positive effort to return his find by advertising it publicly. In contrast, the Talmud and all the early rabbinical authorities not only allow a Jewish finder to appropriate an article lost by a Gentile, but actually forbid him or her to return it

I can go on and on all day.

libraries could be filled to the brink with the amount of laws judaism has against gentiles

here is some reading on the matter:

but more importantly, as Israel Shahak pointed
out the "persistent attitudes of classical Judaism toward non-Jews strongly influence its followers, Orthodox Jews and those who can be regarded as its continuators, Zionists. Through the latter it also influences the policies of the State of Israel. "

Garnel Ironheart said...

Uh huh. Sure.

You ever read the Meiri on the subject? Or consulted authoritative modern day poskim?

Because Tanya is nice for Chabad but I don't think anyone else follows it.

As for quotes from the codes, there is clearly a difference between outright immoral idol worshippers and civilized non-Jews nowadays.

Shalmo said...

Alas your apologetic is no more convincing for me then for all the apikores you want to bring back to Orthodoxy

Your defense that there is a difference between idol worshippers and civilized non-Jews won't win you any brownie points.

As the links above just shown, these laws are extended to today gentiles as well. What about muslims they are not idolators and are in fact even more absolute monotheism then Jewry, yet the laws are the same for them.

The problem is this stuff is codified and speaks to gentiles alone, making no difference in what their beliefs are when applying the laws to them.

The Torah and the prophetic books are where the problem begins. There are entire chapters alone in Deutoronomy, Numbers and other books that speak about how great the Jewish people are compared to the rest of the world. Judaism is more about worshipping all things Jewish then Hashem. The problem starts when children are taught this as doctrine and actually start believing they are the chosen people. And we see today with the apartheid state of Israel what such teachings produce in Jewry who adhere to them.

The Tanya was just one such example. The chassids are not the only ones who do this. This is something ingrained in the heart of Judaism itself, which is the problem.

Whether it the dashing of infants against rocks or the often enough repeated instructions to kill little boys, pregnant women and to take virgins for sex slaves (all of which is half the Torah), the position of Judaism towards the non-jew is quite clear.

This is exactly why Orthodoxy needs to be wiped out as soon as possible, because only the Reform and Conservative who don't take these rules literally or accept corruption in them or at least are willing to change what needs to be changed in them must be the future of the Jewish people.

David said...


Speaking as a member of an Orthodox community, and a kippah-wearing, Sabbath-observant Jew, I hate the f-ing Orthodox as much as the next guy. That said, wouldn't it be better if we could dispense with talk of who "needs to be wiped out?" Granted, there's much room for improvement, but I know lots of Orthodox people who don't look down on gentiles, or think it's ok to rob them.