Thursday, December 15, 2011

How Many Religions Are There in the World?
Jew & Gentile: Two Modes of Proper Conduct


Jews must convey to their Gentile peers the requisite for fulfilling the "7 Noahide Laws". We find this statute in Maimonides' paramount compendium of Jewish law, "The Strong Hand" (division "Judges", section "Kings", chapter 8, rule 10).

A Gentile with no faith in God feels free to behave as he wishes, especially in a free country, and, from the moment he rises in the morning, he has no plans for devout activities. For such a person, the 7 Noahide Laws may come as a rude awakening, for suddenly he's saddled with a new set of responsibilities he never would have imagined.

A religious Gentile may find it less traumatic to learn of the yoke he must bear to the Almighty, but he too will certainly be taken aback by this religious commitment he needs undertake, "a set of 7" he never knew about.

As for the Jew who must impart this information to his Gentile peer, this responsibility is extremely distasteful. A Jew never had it in his tradition to proselytize; It's not in his blood to talk religion with a Gentile.

The Jew who lacks faith in God would scorn this task as being ridiculous. So degrading a chore as this - to convince others of fairy-tale machinations - he wouldn't even wish for his enemy.

As for the religious Jew, after a millenial-long tradition of being under Gentile rule, always in fear of being downtrodden and on the defensive, when only recently the phenomenon of racial equality becoming socially palatable, he is not accustomed nor does he relish this now-feasible calling. He must go out among Gentiles and proclaim to them their charge of the 7 Noahide Laws. He'd rather be shackled and told to stay home than actively mimic the Gentile proselytizers he so despises, knowing they want to sell him on pennies so he give up his gold. For him to have to spread this set of laws to Gentile peers will make him feel like some sleazy insurance or used-car salesman.

So - we end up with Jews who shrink back from their responsibility to enlighten, and Gentiles who may well rebuff any new religious liabilities they will learn about.

The metaphor for this situation is the horse and buggy, with a passenger. The horse gallops along, and no matter if the passenger is smart or stupid, king or pauper, the horse, as far as it is concerned, could care less.

Similarly, that a person with obligations may reject or dismiss them - will not change the fact of the matter. The world gallops along its temporal course from one day to the next. One of these days, divine reckoning shall ask each of us if we fulfilled our duty on earth, and, by then, we will not be able to feign ignorance nor cast judgement aside. We'll be held accountable for our deeds.

We were created in God's image, which means we have the ability to think and reason, unlike other species.

So, to understand why disseminating, on the one hand, and accepting, on the other, the 7 Noahide laws is imperative, let's think and reason:

Suppose you host a guest in your home. Wouldn't you expect him to show appropriate manners? Would it not annoy you if he sits on your dinner table, carelessly breaks a crystal, or spits on the carpet? Would it not also offend you if such crass behavior were to occur mindless of your presence?

This anecdote symbolizes our lifetime on earth. We are the world's guests, given this incredible opportunity to live a life, by God our host. Do we disrespect the master of this domain and behave ungratefully?

You might ask, "But what constitutes 'appropriate behavior'? How is one to distinguish between what's really right from wrong?"

Think and reason again. The creator of any complicated gadget always leaves a set of instructions how to correctly operate his creation.

The same is true of the created universe. We creatures too have been given a manual of instructions. It happens to be the most widely read book in the world and the most popular in human history, until this very day! In the whole world, hardly a home exists without one, or at least without the ability to get one immediately!

Thought and reason should also lead you to understand and conclude that this fact is no mere happenstance. It's God's way to make sure we all have access to Him and His expectations of us. God also wants you to fill in the dots of so many more happenings around the world, especially events concerning His representative people, who have always been believers of His monotheistic presence, for that too will reveal important points in the mosaic of truth God wants people of thought and reason to realize and appreciate.

The very existence of the Jewish people is a phenomenon that transcends nature. It is the equivalent of a sheep that survives among 70 hungry wolves. The Torah is the glue that keeps the Jewish people true to their faith and miraculously assures their collective, if not individual, survival.

The book God gave the Jewish people is called Torah. The word means "a book of instruction". That name is deliberate.

The Torah, as it was gifted to the Jewish people 3,323 years ago, in its original Hebrew language, provides all the answers. Torah is your source for truth! As long as you allow others - other than observant Jews - to teach you what Torah says, or, as long as you find reason to follow those who shun the opinion of such Jews, you will never know the truth!

Not one letter has ever been added or removed from Torah since its inception, in 1312 B.C.. It suffered no revisions or modifications, and never will, because divine perfection gets it right the first time and remains eternally perfect. No translation of it can do justice to the original language. Unlike every other language, which is artificial, Hebrew is God's language.

Only observant rabbis profoundly intimate with Torah and Talmud (oral Torah tradition) can provide answers to questions of appropriate behavior.

The Torah prescribes two modes of appropriate behavior in this domain of God; One prescription is for the Jew; The other, for the Gentile. The Jew has 613 commandments (plus ramifications thereof) he must follow. The Gentile has 7 (with its own ramifications); These are the so-called Seven Noahide Laws.

So, what constitutes proper conduct in God Almighty's abode? What behavior befits the King's palace? There are two, depending on who you are. One protocol applies for Jewish people, and one for Gentile people. Each group has its own role in the world. The Jew is the Torah's beacon. The Gentile is the world's colonizer. Each has his own related set of commandments. Anything else falls short of these requirements and lacks divine sanction!

So, how many religions exist in the world? Who knows; There ought to be none! Torah endorses only two modes of proper conduct, one for Jew and one for Gentile, no more, no less. You can't beat this elegant simplicity, nor the inherent synergy.

As for the payoff - righteous Gentiles in this world earn their future ticket into the world of truth.

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