The Unintentional Shabbos Christian

Shabbat candlesIf a non-Jew lit a candle [for himself], a Jew may also benefit from it. If the non-Jew lit it for the Jew, this is prohibited.

-Shabbos 122a

The Mishnah discusses the case where a gentile lit a candle on Shabbos. If he lit it for himself, the Jew may sit in that illuminated area and benefit from the light. However, if the gentile lit the light for the sake of the Jew, the Jew may not benefit from the light.

There is a variance among the Rishonim in explaining the reason why it is prohibited for a Jew to benefit from labor which a gentile performed (on his own) on Shabbos for the sake of the Jew. Tosafos ( ד”ה ואם ) and Rambam (6:18) explain that if a Jew would be allowed to have this labor done for him, we are concerned that the Jew would then give outright instructions to the gentile to do the labor for him. Rashi and Ran (Beitza 24b) write that it is simply prohibited for the Jew to benefit from labor done for him on Shabbos.

Ritva writes that according to the understanding of Rambam and Tosafos, it might seem that we have arranged a rabbinic precaution (not to benefit from labor done by a gentile) to safeguard another rabbinic injunction (lest we come to give instructions to a gentile outright). This seems to be in violation of the general rule that we do not establish גזירה לגזירה . Nevertheless, the correct explanation is that this is simply a one-staged enactment. The sages set into motion protective measures to ensure that the Shabbos remain special. In order to set it aside and different from the other days of the week, it was necessary to disallow benefiting from the labor performed by a gentile, either when he does it for us by himself without being asked, or whether he does it when asked to do so. These guidelines are all part of the same approach to preserve the sanctity of Shabbos.

Daf Yomi Digest
Distinctive Insight
“Preserving the sanctity of Shabbos – through speech”
Commetary on Shabbos 122a

It’s been a particularly cold and icy winter here in Southwest Idaho. Fortunately, it’s warmed up some lately to near normal temperatures for this time of year, but in the past two weeks, lows have been in the single digits and into negative numbers while highs never got anywhere near above freezing. Ice on the roads and sidewalks has been particularly hazardous, and I know of many people, including several in my family, who have fallen and become injured.

But most winters, it’s just the typical matter of shoveling snow off the driveway and sidewalks and being cautious when driving to and from work. I was remembering a typical “snow shoveling” winter of a few years ago that was like the one I just described while reading the above-quoted commentary. It was on a Sunday morning (before I went back to church) and I had some time on my hands. I had finished shoveling the snow off of my own drive and sidewalks, but on Sunday, it can be a chore for some of my “church-going” neighbors to shovel and get ready to go to services. So I decided to just keep going and to clear the driveways and sidewalks of a couple of other houses near me. I know one neighbor in particular whose family goes to church early and generally has a full day of it. I shoveled off their drive and walk while they were gone.

One of the things about me doing such things is that I don’t like to be noticed (kind of hard when you’re standing in the middle of someone’s driveway with a big, orange snow shovel, I must admit). But I thought I’d gotten away with it. I thought no one would figure out it was me. That is, until my neighbor came over later that afternoon to say “thanks.” He was appreciative because Sunday is indeed a very busy day for him and he didn’t know when he’d be able to get around to shoveling his snow. It was a big help.

I don’t say all this to make myself sound like a big deal, though, but I do have a point. Be patient.

Now imagine my neighbor is an Orthodox Jew and all this is happening on Saturday instead of Sunday. Further imagine that my neighborhood is within walking distance of an Orthodox synagogue (it’s not, but let’s pretend). Now let’s say I know my neighbor and his family are Jewish and I know that they walk to shul on Saturday morning. They’ve probably already left for services and I know they won’t be shoveling snow on Shabbos. As a Christian, it would be a nice thing for me to help them out and shovel their driveway and sidewalk.

But will they see it that way? Sure, they didn’t ask me to do it for them (which would be forbidden), but technically, they can’t benefit from my labor if I did it to benefit them. Could they even walk on the sidewalk and the driveway I shoveled for them upon their return from shul? Frankly, I don’t know, but in my eagerness to be “a good Christian neighbor,” I may have actually caused more of a problem than a help.

Why am I saying all this?

shoveling-snowLast week, I wrote a large number of “meditations” that addressed how Jews who are Messianic may view a life of halachah in relation to their discipleship under Messiah Yeshua, Christ Jesus. It’s a controversial topic, certainly for Christians and even for a number of Jewish people, but it’s one that needs to be discussed. In reading the commentary on Shabbos 122a just a few days ago, I started to wonder how “Christian generosity” and Jewish observance of Shabbos could unexpectedly collide, producing undesirable results. Granted, the Christian in my imagination was just trying to be a good neighbor and lend a hand, but especially an Orthodox Jewish neighbor might have a fundamentally different way of looking at such “help.” This is what happens when we don’t understand each other.

Granted, in this day and age, people who live in the suburbs next to each other or across the street from each other, don’t get to be friends or acquaintances the way we did when I was a child. Often people don’t even wave “hi” to each other when they are both out in their front yard or passing each other on the street.

But if part of being a Christian is loving your neighbor as yourself, and chances are you know a little bit about yourself, how can you be sensitive to your neighbor’s needs if you don’t know what those needs they are. Snow on a driveway and a sidewalk may seem to tell you want your neighbor requires, but you can’t really go by superficial appearances. Who is your neighbor? How can you help him?

If you, as a Christian, have a Jewish neighbor, and you want to be a good neighbor, it might help if you got to know him a little bit. However, we Christians have other Jewish “neighbors” who may not live near us, but who are connected because our “salvation comes from the Jews.” (John 4:22). Whether your Jewish neighbor is someone who lives near you or, in a more expansive sense, is your “neighbor” because he is a child of God like you, how can you become aware of his needs, and of Israel’s needs, if you don’t know what those needs are?

Addressing my last question, Boaz Michael recently posted a new blog article called Three Kinds of Churches pt.2. It includes a section called “Churches that align with Israel” and the description of such churches (and Christian people) may well be part of the answer we need.

Do not judge your fellow until you have stood in his place.

-Pirkei Avot 2:5

Adapting Hillel’s famous statement, we also can’t be a good neighbor, until he have stood in his place, or perhaps just started a conversation with him.

37 thoughts on “The Unintentional Shabbos Christian”

  1. Thank you, James. This goes very well with thoughts connected with Boaz’ blog. To “love” and to “know” are so similar, but to “know” often takes some patience and perhaps some study and perhaps alot of listening. This is a great instance (candle lighting) of “not knowing” possibly leading to ignorance leading to a perception of “not loving.” Thanks for the great applied lesson. ~ Dan

  2. It would seem that the aware Christian neighbor should deliver a note to the orthodox Jewish neighbor, perhaps before the season even begins, citing his awareness of Shabbat 122a and announcing that any voluntary clearing of snow from neighboring premises (bli neder) is solely for its own sake and not for that of anyone specifically, therefore it should be permitted also for observant Jews to benefit from it.

  3. I had to chuckle, James. Years ago we lived next to a Messianic couple (whom you know, actually). They were out of town one December when it snowed, and I hired a man with a blade on his truck to plow their very steep driveway. Trouble was, he didn’t plow it all the way down to the concrete. We had several days of freezing temps, and that inch or so of snow turned into an inch of solid ice before they returned. They had to park on the street and walk up that very steep, icy driveway for a week or so, including the night they arrived home with their luggage.

    Graciously they forgave me. We eventually even became friends before they moved to a somewhat warmer climate a couple of states away. But it just goes to prove what the Sages say: “Derech Sheol” is paved with good intentions.

  4. @PL: True, but most Christians aren’t aware of 122a or much else related to Talmud and can make this “mistake” quite innocently. Hence the point of today’s “meditation.”

  5. This is really thought provoking.

    Imagine someone seeing you do every driveway EXCEPT the Jewish home. The message they would interpret isn’t that you were being gracious.

    I understand the concept you’re writing about and how, sometimes, our helping someone really isn’t helping, but making things more difficult. And, that trying to meet someone’s needs requires getting to know what they really are.

    But James, wow. If you decide to do an act of kindness or sharing…. And I do have examples of my own, but if one doesn’t receive the intended kindness with gracious thanks, then how in the world are we to live together?

    We bump into each other. It’s life. God allows us to intersect paths.

    Imagine going to your neighbor as an act of kindness to share some fish that you just caught. But they’re now offended because they’re vegan!

    Then, you see your neighbors out repairing a fence in the heat of summer and decide to take them a ice cold coke, but now their pissed because they happen to be Mormons.

    And, don’t dare wish a happy birthday to your JW neighbor!

    What do we end up with?

    I think the example you gave shows an unfortunate lack of perception on the part of the fictional OJewish fam. And is how NOT to be.

  6. While I imagine it would be very ‘difficult’ to find ” A” Orthodox family living in a setting where all of the neighbors are of another ‘faith’….Community of like-minded observant fellow Jews is probably where they would be living……..your Meditation is very thought provoking.
    Good deeds, calm loving words…misunderstandings….are all part of life. While the Gentile, in his own mind thinks he is doing a good deed The fictional Orthodox Jewish family may see it as Intrusion into the privacy of His Faith Observance…….on the other hand, if in friendship you don’t succeed the first time around….try try again!

  7. Actually LW, I’m trying to illustrate how the world as we perceive it isn’t always the same world other’s perceive. My guess is that the fictional Jewish family in question would probably realize that the Christian was just trying to be nice and perform a mitzvah, but that they just had no understanding about Orthodox Jews and Shabbat.

    I remember when my wife told me about that the Chabad Rabbi’s wife had her baby on a Friday night and her husband walked from the hospital to shul so he would be present for Shabbat services the next morning. I understood that he wouldn’t drive on Shabbat, but my first thought was that I would have gladly given him a ride. Then my wife said that he wouldn’t even be able to accept a ride because of Shabbos.

    Once the Chabad Rabbitzin came over to our place to look for some ski clothes for her kids (we’re storing some of their stuff because they had to “downsize”). Only my daughter and I were home at the time. While Jamie went to get the necessary items, I tried to engage the Rabbitzin in some polite conversation. She seemed kind of put off and non-responsive and only later was I told that it was poor form for me to even try to talk to her.

    But I didn’t know. Part of me still feels embarrassed and I know I put her in an awful spot, but how was I to know?

    The world is full of trap doors when different cultures (and that’s what we’re talking about really) collide (see My Big Fat Greek Wedding for my favorite example of this). A friend of ours (who converted to Judaism not too long back) took the Chabad Rabbi’s kids to the local public library. As they were looking through books in the children’s section, one of the girls inadvertently pulled out a book about Christmas. When she realized what it was, she threw the book away from like it had suddenly burst into flames and exclaimed, “It’s goyishe!”

    I have to admit feeling a little annoyed when I heard that story. It’s not that I expect any Orthodox Jews to compromise their principles and conscience, but if you’re Chabad and you’re can be sent to any part of the world, it wouldn’t hurt for the parents to explain to the kids there they are the ones surrounded by the rest of the world. If they’re going to go to a public place like a library, they’re going to encounter “goyishe” stuff.

  8. While I imagine it would be very ‘difficult’ to find ” A” Orthodox family living in a setting where all of the neighbors are of another ‘faith’….Community of like-minded observant fellow Jews is probably where they would be living……..your Meditation is very thought provoking.

    Actually Pat, the Chabad Rabbi and his family who live in my area are a perfect example of this. They’re renting a home in a typical, older Boise neighborhood. I can’t imagine they have many (if any at all) Jewish neighbors.

  9. Good stuff, I must say that I found some of the comment commentary as interesting and enjoyable / educational as the writing itself. Was she (neighbor) not allowed to speak with you because your a gentile or a male? Or both?

  10. Actually Jimm, the comments are sometimes the best part of the blog.

    No, the woman I referred to is the wife of the local Chabad Rabbi. My wife has a relationship with them and has helped out with the food for some of their events (my wife is a chef). When the Rabbi and his family had to downsize their living space, we agreed to store some of their stuff in our garage.

    Orthodox women don’t typically enter into casual conversations with men who are not their husband or relative (or I assume close friend of the family) for modesty reasons.

  11. James, thanks for your clarification. I guess this is an example of what’s wrong with religion, in my opinion.

    If I was to go into someone else’s country I should understand the people and their customs. Like it or not this is a country founded on a Christian ideal and that is to love your fellow man and we think of acts of love in a way that it would be highly rude and selfish to do everyone’s driveway except the Jewish one. It would express anti Semitism and disrespect, not the other way around.

    In both the fictional and real life examples, it’s just BAD BEHAVIOR to treat others this way. A persons religion isn’t a good excuse for bad treatment of others. Yes, I’ve been refused contact (hand shake) by Chabad in a home full of people when he threw his hands in the air and acted like I had cooties. It was embarrassing. What am I gonna do, take him in the other room and have my way with him? I mean really.

  12. Additionally, it’s this (originally) Christian nation that allows them to be here and worship as Jews. It’s that “goyishe” freedom that should be respected, even another’s faith traditions.

    Can you imagine if a “goyishe” child inadvertently pulled out a book with a Star of David, or about Hanukah, and then threw it the same way hollering “it’s Jewish!”

    Can you even imagine?

  13. Yes, I’ve been refused contact (hand shake) by Chabad in a home full of people when he threw his hands in the air and acted like I had cooties. It was embarrassing. What am I gonna do, take him in the other room and have my way with him? I mean really.

    You aren’t the only one who has had awkward or annoying situations with Orthodox Jews. I talked to a local Jewish gentleman some years back who moved here from L.A. He discussed how uncomfortable he was around Orthodox Jews. One time he and his wife were invited to a social gathering where a lot of Orthodox men were present. Apparently, they weren’t too subtle about looking at his wife with some disdain because what she was wearing didn’t fit their standards of modesty.

    That would probably annoy me too if I felt my wife were being judged but what are we going to do about such a thing. Expecting some person or group with very strong feelings about dress and behavior to change probably won’t happen. The Rabbi’s wife here wasn’t rude to me as much as she was just in an awkward situation. She was raised this way and it is her frame of reference. If I had known sooner what the restrictions were, knowing that she wasn’t going to adjust her behavior to accommodate me, I would have behaved differently toward her (probably by excusing myself and going in the other room, letting my daughter help her out).

    Even if we decide someone else is guilty of “bad behavior,” we can still take the moral high road and continue to display “good behavior.”

    Can you imagine if a “goyishe” child inadvertently pulled out a book with a Star of David, or about Hanukah, and then threw it the same way hollering “it’s Jewish!”

    Can you even imagine?

    I’m not going to blame the kids. Kids say and do all kinds of things that they learn at home. From what my wife says, they’re not perfect kids anyway, but most kids aren’t. While it was unfortunate and dismaying, I don’t know what there was to be done except for my wife’s friend to tell the parents and hope they’ll explain to the kids to have a less demonstrative response to “goyishe” books in a public library in Boise.

    In a way it’s a little ironic that a group like the Chabad, who tends to be pretty insular, to also be required to travel to the four corners of the world where they are going to encounter virutally every culture, nation, and religion that happens to be around any Jewish people at all.

  14. Hey James,
    You’re right, the kids are only a reflection of their parents, and I’m sure their parents do such things in a way to prevent their kids from being attracted to Christianity, which is all around them and its attractive, what are they gonna do? I get that. But still, if the reverse happened as I mentioned, you would immediately write a post on how horrible it is to have kids being taught that Jews and Judaism are something to hate and disdain. I’d be so worried because I want to (and am, in my own way) doing everything I can to stop that kind of baseless hatred that leads to things likes Kristallnacht, and worse. Not saying that Jews are going to take over and harm or kill all the non Jews, by any stretch, but if a behavior is wrong for one group, it’s wrong for another too.

    “Even if we decide someone else is guilty of “bad behavior,” we can still take the moral high road and continue to display “good behavior.””

    Actually, we are required to as believers. As I prepare my group to be more tolerant and welcoming of the Jewish people, things like this make it hard. As their hearts soften, they typically want to *show* their kindness, and yet, they will often times be met with a cold shoulder.
    Difficult, but then, were called to love, not be loved.

  15. were called to love, not be loved.

    This is true. But in the end, because we have loved, we will also be the beloved of God.

    A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.

    -The Wizard (Frank Morgan)
    The Wizard of Oz (1939)

  16. People feel uneasy around or resentful of those whose dress, standards or customs are very different from ours. Orthodox Jews rarely intersect with those of other communities and keep to themselves both in their work and leisure, but are being stereotyped, mocked and expected to be perfect, not just by Gentiles but by secular Jews as well. A few OJ bad apples are used to paint all OJ as ‘Jewish Taliban’. I think that it is just as wrong to stereotype Christians or Muslims (as the media likes to do).

    LW – handshaking issue. Orthodox Jews, men or women, do not touch members of opposite sex who are not related to them, period. Ever. It’s considered very immodest. I’ve seen OJ women refuse handshake from men, so it’s not just OJ men who are observe this standard of modesty. However, in circumstances where refusing handshake from someone who doesn’t know this may cause severe embarrassment (as it apparently did in your case), one is required to cause as least embarrassment as possible to that person but gently explain. (Some Jewish authorities say that one SHOULD shake in that case to avoid embarrassing the person, but then explain it to that person to avoid this situation in the future.)

  17. @LW – Your attempt to make an evenhanded comparison of a hypothetical Christian child reacting against a Jewish book and a Jewish child reacting against a Christian book illustrates a failure to understand a very important difference between the two. Christians have never been persecuted by Jews trying to destroy them religiously, culturally, and physically, but Christians have, in fact, treated Jews and Jewish literature with exactly that sort of destructive hatred. Jews have been the recipients of such Christian attempts to destroy them over the course of centuries, generation after generation, and therefore have a justification for defensiveness against Christian literature. What could possibly explain a Christian child rejecting a book merely because it is illustrated with Jewish symbols (other than inculcated hatred of Jews or Judaism)? On the other hand, a Jewish child who has been taught to reject Christian literature and artifacts is reflecting cultural self-defense. I hope you can see the difference.

    In recent times, I have seen some Christians react defensively against a sort of Hebrew Roots perspective, because they do feel that it threatens the religious environment with which they grew up. While Jews have never denied Christians their rights to worship in any particular way (except where antisemitism or supersessionism threatens Jewish legitimacy), it is true that a deeper biblical perspective derived from resurgent Jewish understanding cannot avoid challenging certain traditional Christian errors. This sort of conflict must be handled gently and with compassion, even as Christians are grappling with long-suppressed truths and possibly an entire paradigm shift that rediscovers their somewhat-humbled position as grafted-in branches on a Jewish olive tree.

  18. This sort of conflict must be handled gently and with compassion, even as Christians are grappling with long-suppressed truths and possibly an entire paradigm shift that rediscovers their somewhat-humbled position as grafted-in branches on a Jewish olive tree.

    It’s my hope PL, that at some point, through communication and learning mutual respect, Christians and Jews can get past this juncture in our relationship and enter a post-supersessionist era where we don’t have to respond to each other based on our history. Especially within the Messianic movement, where we acknowledge having one Messiah, is is extremely important.

  19. I want to acknowledge the importance of the perspective that “Proclaim Liberty” brings to the fore. It is my (not so) humble opinion,that if more Christians made aware of that unthinkably violent and enduring history of hate that the institutional Church foisted upon the Jewish people for some two thousand years, that it would soften Christian critiques of the Orthodox Jewish community, in spite of its foibles, at least a little. How does one measure the collective damage to the collective memory of a people who’ve experienced the systematic extermination of six million members of its community while the Europe Christian population sat paralyzed and observed as the ashes fell from the sky all around all around them? How can we Christians possibly understand how one reacts to such an epic sorrow? Would Christians who knew of the two millennia of evil perpetrated upon the Jewish people by those “representing Jesus” on earth be as harsh toward Orthodox Jews than those who look on in ignorance? Or would Christians, rightly burdened with the truth of “their own” history toward the Jew, be more patient and understanding toward the Jew? It is with a heart that at least tries to fathom, though it never can, the immeasurable burden of grief that “Christianity” has inflicted upon all Jews as either perpetrators or bystanders, through direct persecution or indifference, over the course of history, that we, as Christians, must work to understand the Jewish people, both individually and collectively. Until that variable is solved-for in this equation, I don’t see how the Christian will never, ever be able to fathom the depths of grief and mourning that color the Jewish heart with a certain indelible darkness that can only be erased by HaShem, through His Messiah; the Jewish Messiah that “Christianity” took and hid from the Jewish people so many centuries ago. I am open to hearing otherwise, but until the time that such a position arises to change my point of view, unless we willingly choose to pick-up the filter of Christian anti-Jewish history and hold it up to our own eye to see, we’ll never understand what it’s like to be Jewish, be it Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or unobservant-secular. And we’ll continue to misunderstand, continue to mis-connect and disconnect and otherwise continue to see through a glass darkly.

  20. Dan, I remember many years ago sitting in our local Reform/Conservative synagogue on Shabbat. The discussion turned to the film “The Passion of the Christ,” which had just been released in the theaters. There was real fear in that room of the repercussions of the film and a “lived memory” that after every passion play in history, there’s usually a pogrom. I don’t doubt everything that you say, but I still can’t stop calling for communication and understanding between our two worlds. If some Jewish people will always judge me as a Christian by the history of the Christian church, then I don’t know what to do about that except continue to be who I am and promote what I’m promoting. It’s interesting to reflect on my being intermarried at times like this.

    My daughter sometimes teases me that “You’re just a goy, Daddy,” but other times when the topic comes up, she’ll say something like, “You’re not like them.”

    To be fair, the door swings both ways. It’s not just Judaism’s reaction to Christianity. There are some Christians who, when this topic comes up, react with a great deal of defensiveness and denial and try to refocus the conflict back on the “sins of the Jews,” calling them to repent and accept the Lord Jesus Christ into their hearts.

    It’s at moments like that, I realize we have a long way to go.

  21. You’re right, James, I agree that the door does swing both ways. I try to speak only from my side of the fence, which is the Christian side. I see that as my duty. On the day of a bomb threat at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in LA, I told Livia, a survivor of Auschwitz, as we stood in the hot sun of the parking lot after being evacuated from the building, that though I knew I was not personally responsible for what occurred during the Shoah, that I nonetheless I felt a responsibility to take up the obligation of what “my people,” so to speak, for lack of a better way of putting it, that is, the Christian people of Europe, failed to do at that time. In order for there to be real, deep dialogue, I believe that, though the door swings both ways, the ball is in our court, so to speak. It’s our move, and that move must be one of understanding leading to sincere repentance. Then, I think, more Jewish people would be able to truly see the clear love of Messiah in our hearts, when that man-made veil made of the need for repentance, is removed. Thanks for this great opportunity to think out loud and “pray with our keyboards…” 🙂

  22. @James — As I pondered your expressed hope to be able to get beyond the past history that colors relationships between Jews and Christians, I had to consider that we Jews cannot escape history. It is part of who we are as a people to remember, to record, and to respond to history. Hence the only hope is not one of trying to move beyond history, but perhaps one of writing new history that “speaks better things than the blood of Abel” (viz: Heb.11:4, 12:24). Numerous Christians have made efforts to write a better history since the Shoah, but, as you know, there are also many reactionary ones who still insist upon placing false demands upon Jews — due to their continued misreading of the Rav-Yeshua writings (and/or those of the Church Fathers). At least one of them has been an occasional contributor to this blog. So we may ask, how long a period of better history may be required to provide some degree of relief to Jews who still carry the justified skepticism informed by more than 15 centuries of specifically Christian anti-Judaism? We may hope that fewer centuries will be required to improve matters, but regrettably, anti-Judaism is still thriving among Christians (and in post-Christian societies) and is currently expressing itself in calls for disinvestment against Israeli commerce and a variety of political sanctions to deny the Land of Israel to the People of Israel, and in a too-enthusiatic readiness to believe Islamic calumnies regarding a supposedly-oppressed so-called Palestinian people who did not even exist as such as little as a century ago. Such efforts undermine even the best of well-meaning “righteous gentiles” who would try to write this improved history. I would agree that some of the best hope may exist within the MJ framework, where there is at least already some understanding of these dynamics. I wonder, though, whether our particular position in the stream of history leaves too little time to overcome the past as the tides sweep us into the future and the Messiah’s return. Nonetheless, it is not for us to finish the work, nor can we ignore it; therefore let each one do whatever he can to the best of his ability — that the world may be repaired and maintained until our king is enthroned.

  23. PL, I don’t imagine we will finish the work before the Messiah returns…but we can start it. Only the enthoned King can truly bring peace and rebuild our fallen world.

  24. @Gene: “LW – handshaking issue. Orthodox Jews, men or women, do not touch members of opposite sex who are not related to them, period.”

    Yep, and I knew this but in the moment of meeting him for the first time I did reach out to shake his hand as that’s the polite thing to do here in America, it’s habit. When he threw up his hands and did a little jump backwards and said “NO!” I was indeed embarrassed, however, I was as gracious as possible trying to cover for him embarrassing me so I apologized, telling him I forgot.

    @Dan: You have a very tender heart and I agree with you on many levels. I too have a deep pain within for the history. It doesn’t make it any easier when we know it’s just a matter of time until the next go ’round either.

    @ProclaimLiberty: “@LW – Your attempt to make an evenhanded comparison of a hypothetical Christian child reacting against a Jewish book and a Jewish child reacting against a Christian book illustrates a failure to understand a very important difference between the two. Christians have never been persecuted by Jews trying to destroy them religiously, culturally, and physically, but Christians have, in fact, treated Jews and Jewish literature with exactly that sort of destructive hatred.”

    PL, my POV is not evidence of “failure” since I actively work to bring this issue of Christian history to light every chance I get in my own sphere of influence. Anyway, I contend that if a behavior is wrong for one person, it’s wrong for all. I’ve personally (as opposed to the experiences of my collective gender, been abused horribly by men in my life. Does that give me a right treat them with disrespect and hatred?)

    But I’d like to ask you, is your position that as the adult in the situation, you go tell the “goyishe” children who are in the vicinity and hurt over the display of hatred, that it’s just too bad, it’s what you get for being a “goy”? Or that Jews can act that way and it’s ok because “we’ve” been horrible to them? Really? Because I taught my kids that you must be polite no matter what. And someone else being rude or nasty doesn’t give us the right to be that way. This concept has permeated our society (until recently).

    1. @LW — I’m afraid you did not quite understand the critical difference between an expression of hatred and one of fear. You may have been mistreated occasionally as a woman, but not as an example of all women mistreated by multitudes of men over the course of many generations. The dynamic is not the same, and never can be so, because women can never be threatened with genocide by men without the men being aware that such a course means their own destruction as well. Jews have no such deterrent protection. Nor can women be threatened credibly with a denial of “permission” to exist as women. The subject of individual fears of individual mistreatment is a matter much too detailed to discuss here, so at present we must discuss only the justification of collective fears. If I were tasked to explain to non-Jewish children why a particular book was so threatening to a Jewish child, I would have to tell them that books just like that one have been used to justify the violent murder of entire Jewish communities of many families and many children; and therefore Jewish children may sometimes over-react in order to stay away from something they believe may be dangerous. Subsequently telling the whole story without inducing nightmares in the non-Jewish children would require great care, but it might be very beneficial for them to learn what may make some people “very afraid”. When the subject is physical genocide, or even merely cultural genocide, there is no “polite” response. Hannah Arendt wrote an entire book on the subject of “the banality of evil”, whereby the most horrendous actions were glossed over with euphemisms because the actual horrors could never be discussed in “polite” society. This does not apply solely to German society or to the era of the Holocaust, but over a much longer period and wider geography.

      The “failure” I cited is actually a very common one, whereby things that are quite different are mistakenly assumed to have parity, to deserve the same treatment, and to demand the same responses. Some depth of analysis is generally required to evaluate why such errors occur.

  25. @ PL “You may have been mistreated occasionally as a woman, but not as an example of all women mistreated by multitudes of men over the course of many generations.”

    Are you even serious?

    Thank you for instructing me on my own life experiences, unfortunately being raped as a young, naive teenager and sexually attacked a number of times in addition, as well as being physically attacked by my father and ex-husband do not constitute “occasional.” And again, they aren’t “stories” but my own lived experience. Additionally, I know far too many woman with the exact same story and worse. YOu have no understating or wisdom of this because you’re not female, so you can easily pass over the issue since you didn’t, and don’t live it.

    Good for you.

    Women have been subjugated by men for a very long time and if you look at the crime statistics, women are CONSTANT victims of men. They lose their innocence and LIVES at the hands of men on a disgusting and disproportionate scale, you ought to wake up.

    No matter what you say, the scenario in the library is rude and would be considered hateful in reverse. Additionally, having separate laws for Jews (in the negative) is a horrible example in history all over Europe, of not considering Jews as equal, fellow human beings. YOu want special treatment in reverse, in a Country where not everyone knows the horrific past.

    I personally would understand the issue if I witnessed it, and would try to soften the ugly blow it would cause those who saw it. But I’d also be thinking how this behavior is n example of shooting themselves in the foot. It doesn’t help the cause.

  26. @ P L “and therefore Jewish children may sometimes over-react in order to stay away from something they believe may be dangerous.”

    Don’t you think it’s rather ridiculous to enter McDonalds and be horrified to find a cheeseburger there? If I don’t like fast-food, I should stay away from the place. If there’s something I find redeeming about McDonneld’s, say, their coffee, and chose to go in to get a cup, then I just have to accept the fact they have other things that are offensive to me, on whatever level.

    It would be wrong of ME to go in there and loudly protest my fear, disgust, or whatnot.

    OJ who chose to live here in America. Is it really that shocking that we are (or have been) a Christian country? Has there been any ambiguity on that?

  27. “OJ who chose to live here in America. Is it really that shocking that we are (or have been) a Christian country? Has there been any ambiguity on that?”

    LW, I am not sure what point you are trying to make. Most Jews living in America today (including me) or most likely their grandparents or great-grandparents had to flee to America to avoid persecution from their “Christian” neighbors. The bulk of American Jewry are descendants of those who fled pogroms in Eastern Europe, including nearly ALL Ashkenazi Orthodox Jews. Not exactly a “choice”.

  28. Gene, I am not happy with a lot of what’s happening in my country, but I am proud that while not a perfect record regarding Jews and Judaism, it has certainly been a blessing for millions and millions of Jews. Are you denying the fact that America has been a blessing for Jews and many other nationalities and religions? Or are you just being smug in the face of blessing?

    You know it isn’t just Jews who can be harmed by off handed, rude, and inconsiderate comments. We “goys” have feelings too and Christians have, and are, being persecuted and murdered throughout the world. I’m (usually) the first to criticize my religion for the horrible blunders and atrocities that have occurred, but the vast majority of us don’t even know our culpability Gene.

  29. “Or are you just being smug in the face of blessing?”

    LW, I think America is great. I have not had to personally suffer just for being Jewish ever since I came here. I certainly hope that it stays this way for my children.

  30. Gene: “I have not had to personally suffer just for being Jewish ever since I came here. I certainly hope that it stays this way for my children.”

    AMEN Gene, I hope and pray the same thing, to be sure. And it’s one reason I’m quite passionate about the topic. I want my fellow Christians to become aware that to remain ignorant of the issues Jews have is not acceptable anymore. We have to understand the bible as it’s intended, as Isarael’s story and us “goys” have a beautiful, God-given identity to live out for the Kingdom.

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