“How could a deeply religious man so blithely desecrate God’s Name and defame Judaism by saying that the God of all creation could possibly endorse discrimination against fellow human beings whom God created in God’s Image?”
Last Thursday I brought a carton of old and out of date video cassettes, mini cassettes for video cameras, floppy discs and all sorts of other antiques to somebody recommended to me to transfer them to a more usable format. In some cases, the first task was simply to figure out what they contained. The ultra-Orthodox man took a look at the first film clip, which included aggressive behavior from Itai Zar, the founder of the infamous Khavat Gilad outpost He then looked at me, and asked what I did. I explained that I was a human rights activist, working for the rights of all human beings, Jewish and non-Jewish, because all human beings are created in God’s Image. No amount of recounting what I have done on behalf of Jews living in poverty, or any other argument helped. I was harming the Jewish people. He politely said that he was willing to pay me for the time I had wasted getting to him, but was not willing to work with my material.
Seeing as this man was not wildly shouting and refusing to listen, as so often happens, I chose to engage him. I said that I did not want to make him do something against his conscience, and we proceeded to talk Judaism, theology and halakha. I also explained that, as somebody living not far from where terror attacks had taken place, I feel that I am protecting my children and all my fellow Israelis every time a Palestinian parent insists that their son who wants to be a terrorist meet us. These parents tell me that we can teach their children who want to be terrorists when they grow up that not every Israeli comes with a gun to steal their land, cut t down their trees and/or demolish their home.
Nothing worked. When I pointed out that in Genesis 1:27 not only Jews are created in God’s Image, he insisted that if I properly understood the kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) I would see things differently. While it is forbidden to shoot or attack a non-Jew, it is entirely permissible to discriminate against them. I cited how the medieval Jewish halakhic authority HaMeiri overturned the discrimination against non-Jews in terms of the famous goring ox in Baba Kama 38a and many other cases of talmudic discrimination predicated on the fact that pagans did not observe the 7 Noahide commandments. (The Jewish version of natural law. Unlike most of the commandments, these laws are incumbent on non-Jews.) HaMeiri argues time and again, that according the Talmud’s own logic, these forms of discrimination should be overturned because the people of his time had adopted the “culture of religion.” The response I received was that no halakha is decided according to Ha Meiri. The talmudic discrimination stands.
by Arik Ascherman