Supplement, August 2018
Speaking of other religions, let’s try again - a few days ago, we sent out “Blasphemy,” about NOT insulting other religions, as the second article of the August/Av issue (“Eternal Life”). Alas, it came out pretty negative. This time, maybe, we can give you something more positive, and worthy.
All the Torah’s ways are ways of sweetness, and all its paths are peace. – Talmud, Sukkot 32a, Yevamot 87b
Her ways [the Torah’s ways] are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. – Proverbs 3:17
When he got to some criticism of Christianity, one reader and good friend threw our book, Rainbow Covenant, against a wall. And, as we mentioned in that recent article, “Blasphemy,” one long-time reader and good friend, reacting to the prior issue’s treatment of the same subject, quit on us.
Whoso guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.
– Proverbs 21:23
The Biblical prophets didn’t roam the world insulting other peoples’ religions. Jonah didn’t go to Nineveh to denounce the Assyrians’ infantile theology but to admonish them for the violently immoral way they led their lives. (Jonah 1:2, 3:8). We, too, shouldn’t go around insulting other religions. It’s better to try to show people how great our way is than tell them that their ways are lousy.
Some people hate falsehood – lies – very intensely: sometimes more than they love truth. But we all generally do better when we focus on the positive than on what’s false and deceiving. We live in a darker world when we get all wrapped up with the negative side of things, instead of celebrating what’s true.
For instance, take these teachings from the Torah, from the Book of Psalms:
Happy is the people whose God is the LORD. – Psalm 144:15
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD. – 33:12
Obviously (to us), the Deity Who is being referred to here is HaShem. The Hebrew, which is the language of the entire Bible – that is, what Christianity calls the “Old Testament” – couldn’t be clearer. The word translated as LORD is the ineffable four-letter Name of God, what Christianity calls “God the Father.”
Christianity generally - as frought as it is to speak about other religions, especially given their myriad sects and viewpoints - teaches that the God here – “the LORD” - is Christianity’s nominee for Messiah, its Savior.
That’s quite a falsehood, but indiscriminately pointing that out to Christians is probably not the way to do things. No matter how much stuff like that irritates or offends us.
We can’t point to any invariable rule here. Everything depends on specific circumstances. Surely the best thing to do is to focus on the positive: on the greatness of HaShem, His humility, accessibility, loving-kindness, and infinite capacity for forgiveness, particularly; and on the greatness of His commandments, laws and statutes.
As we used this to finish the last issue – which, we believe, was one thing we did right – let us mention, once more, the non-rational, at least partially unfathomable “statutes” included in God’s Instructions to Israel:
Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
- Deuteronomy 4:6
By Michael Dallen
I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by My name Y-H-V- H I made Me not known to them.
- Exodus 6:3