Our old car died. So, riding in our new used car – which rolls rather like a flying carpet - we went by some old haunts. We were impressed… The beautiful gardens, the outdoor restaurants, the new buildings… President-elect Trump kept saying that everything is horrible but, looking at all this new stuff, and at the sheer busy-ness of these roads and railroads, waterways and skies…. We’ve seen bad times before. These aren’t bad times.
“This,” we thought, “is prosperity in peace-time.” Jihadist terrorism isn’t the petrifying existential threat that World Communism - the enemy we grew up with - used to be; our forces are engaged in several conflicts worldwide, but not in great numbers; race remains problematic in America, 50-years after M.L. King was assassinated, but black and white and red and yellow have come together dramatically, and decisively, since then: American democracy is now, beyond any shadow of the doubt, multi-racial.
Life-spans have increased. Quite a lot in this physical world of ours looks very like progress. Scripture clearly teaches that man is an inherently restless and inventive species, constantly trying to improve things (Genesis 4:17-22), so the natural drift of human history – except when it’s warped by oppression and false ideals and “gods” – is upwards. Accordingly, we submit to you this thought:
Human redemption, or the advent of the Millenium – which is merely the next stage in human history, “when it will be very easy to earn a living,” in the words of Maimonides, and “oppression will cease” – may not be that far-distant, and may even be practically achievable, even absent outright miracles or a wonder-working Messiah.
Yet we definitely aren’t yet there. The intellectual infrastructure of the Millenium is very incomplete. Despite people having acquired great power over many material objects, we still don’t know our Master; we have extremely confused ideas about Who He is and What He wants; AND we mostly don’t even know how to learn more – even were we decently desirous of learning….
“If God doesn’t exist, nothing matters. If He does exist, nothing else matters.”
In fact, He exists. This is something that we all should recognize… if only because (we’re dead serious about this) NOTHING ELSE could account for the story of the Jewish People.
When supposedly advanced countries like Switzerland and Sweden outlaw kosher slaughter, deeming it “too cruel” to be permitted… when UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) declares that Jerusalem and particularly the Temple Mount are world cultural sites that have nothing to do with Judaism… when God’s Name is blasphemed every moment of every day, the Father of holiness cursed as a cruel feckless tyrant… when the holy, brillaint Noahide Laws are regarded as a savage imperialistic tool of “International Zionism” … obviously, we’ve got some way to go.
That doesn’t mean that we can’t advance the process!
Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, was known for saying, “He who doesn’t believe in miracles is not a realist!” Reality, both past and future, is [going to be] miraculous.
Shall a non-Jew claim the name “Ivri”? The man or woman who takes up the Way of Abraham to try to live as a conscious servant of the God of Abraham is, in our time, usually called a Jew, but sometimes she or he may be a Noahide - a No’achide, or No’achite, or gentile.
Remember discussing this in our last issue, back in August? We anticipate that more and more people – non-Jews - will come this way. The Bible guarantees it. The question is, what to call them?
We got generally positive feedback on “Ivri.” We frequently hear encouragement like “your way is the right way,” “I think your way is true,” etc. So it was for “Ivri.” Some people preferred the traditional Hebrew and Talmudic term for gentile, which is No’achide, but more respondents liked “Ivri.”
Some people asked, why change? What’s wrong with No’achide?
Billions of human beings can’t properly pronounce the guttural “ach” of No’achide, so they always mispronounce it. “No” is a negative in our own language, English; the word No’achide sounds, thus, like the opposite of positive. Mainly, though, this is the problem: we still need a word for the No’achide who leaves what our friend Dimitar calls “the stupidity of society” and heeds the call “from the other side,” to “come under the wings of the Divine Presence [the Shechinah],” as the Rabbis say, to love and serve HaShem.
What was Abraham’s mission? “To bring all the peoples – kol ha’amim, the whole human race - under the wing of the Shechinah (Genesis 17:5, commentaries).
Jews are born Ivri and believing Jews are practicing Ivri, pursuing the Way of Abraham, the Way of the Hebrews, but No’achides or non-Jews aren’t Ivri, unless they make the appropriate election. As our friend Dimitar points out, and he, a No’achide, should know, “becoming an Ivri is a personal achievement for a No’achide."
If you’re wondering where all our newsletters have been, since August, we suffered some trials – a death in the family, particularly, and now we’re coping, barely, with a loved-one’s cancer. That doesn’t mean that we stop thinking about these subjects that engage us, but, plainly, it slowed us.
We were just speaking of din, the Noahide “justice” or anti-anarchy mitzvah (commandment/ connection), to establish the rule of law and equity and fairness. Before that, we were discussing arayot, “nakedness,” and the Noahide imperative to maintain a wholesome society sexually.
It may be worthwhile to point out:
1) Lincoln’s “government of the people, by the people, for the people” seems closest of all political theories to the truth that God made man (including woman) b’tzelem elokim, “in God’s image,” but the Torah teaches that it’s the adult males, the men of a country, whom God holds primarily responsible for government – for din. [See the discussion in Rainbow Covenant, pp. 213-14.] This doesn’t excuse women from contributing as they can, to involve themselves with government, to contribute to it (particularly as it may involve themselves or their children!) But, it seems to us, they retain the right, both collectively and as individuals, to abstain or stand aloof from governmental proceedings to direct the ship of state, if they so choose. Men don’t have that choice. Men are obligated, collectively and individually, under din, to establish and ensure good government. They might elect a woman as their delegate or representative, obviously – we always look at the example of Deborah in the Bible (Judges 4-5) – but they can’t delegate away their own responsibility, individually and collectively, to make their county’s government work fairly, justly and effectively.
2) Scripture characterizes the ideal sexual relationship as heterosexual, a genuinely consensual relationship between male and female (Genesis 2:18-24), and anything other than that is less than ideal. A person can’t fully realize herself or himself with a partner of the same gender; it’s impossible to find one’s “other half,” one’s Divinely designated or “intended” partner within the confines of one’s own gender.
We don’t mean to castigate those who choose, or come by, homosexuality. We’re not talking about criminalizing, God forbid, genuinely loving, genuinely kindly, mutually consensual relationships of any kind. The Noahide Law isn’t remotely as as restrictive or harsh as most people think. It’s just that one can go too far, we believe, in “saying yes” to conduct that isn’t actually OK.
We look forward to the time when “gay liberation” has succeeded to the point that people can be what they want and live as they want without needing others to affirm their choices even when those choices aren’t so great.
By Michael Dallen