Rabbi Rabbs writes on his Facebook page: Today’s Controversial Statement #1: G-d, His Torah, and His children the Jews form a trinity. We are One. Thus, anybody that hates us Jews, hates G-d. Anybody that hates G-d or trashes Judaism is a full-blown anti-Semite.
Today’s Controversial Statement #2: Judaism is unapologetically bigoted, ethnocentric, and sexist. As a follower of Judaism, I am an unapologetic ethnocentric, sexist bigot. Anyone that has a problem with that has a problem with Judaism, and is thus anti-Semitic.
Today’s Controversial Statement #3: Being Jewish is extremely exclusive. Most of Judaism is for members only, and outsiders are discouraged from joining us. If Judaism were a country club, it might be labeled as restrictive or an apartheid. Anyone that says Judaism is inclusive must be ignored.
GREG EMAILS: Hi Luke,
I keep up with your blog and have a somewhat sketchy knowledge of your many entertaining misadventures.
I’ve thought of dropping you a line on a number of occasions, and I don’t know why I’m choosing to respond to your post about Rabbi Rabbs’s controversial statements.
Except that as it happens, I’m in a unique position. I’m a goy who lives smack dab in the middle of an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood here in Texas. Also, I’m one of those people who “get” Rabbi Rabbs and would find his comedy routine very funny.
However, my response to his statements is that Orthodox Jews don’t ask to be disliked; they demand it.
Today there is a lot of discussion surrounding the idea that many people dislike Jews. My experience would suggest that the Orthodox communities provoke dislike, whereas Conservative and Reform do not. My best friend in college was a Conservative Jew, and our religious differences were merely interesting and entertaining.
The exclusivity and cloisteredness of Orthodox Jews in addition to their conspicuous display in dress and standoffishness are bound to be provocative to those who enjoy being friendly and who are open to the idea of religious differences. “I show you my hand, and you slap it away,” a line from the Sopranos.
Now Rabbi Rabbs, a good guy and a funny guy, tells us that if a Jew loves another Jew there is a blessing, and yet if he loves a non-Jew there is no blessing. And he makes the three controversial statements in your post.
So I must say, as a sort of comparative religions guy with a Dennis Prager-like view of the relations between Jews and Christians, I have to say that Orthodox Jews seem to work harder at provoking dislike from people outside of the community than any other group I have lived around. It seems to me that it would be profitable to consider the old axiom, “If you want to have a friend, be a friend.” But apparently this would be stepping outside of the limitations and parameters of this very insular community.
RABBI RABBS EMAILS: Thank you, Greg, for your feedback and thanks for your wonderful compliments. I am flattered that you “get me” and find me funny.
It seems to me that you have misidentified what you find unfriendly about “Orthodox Jews”, when in reality, you have a problem with Judaism itself.
Everything you complained about was what I merely quoted from the Torah. I am telling it like it is about Judaism. If you find some of what I say unfriendly, then that’s because you find Judaism itself unfriendly. In other words, your complaints should not be against Judaism rather than those of us that follow it.
You say the Conservative and Reform movement are more friendly. Well, fine. But that’s because they don’t follow Judaism and do not represent it. So, you have no problems with those that don’t follow Judaism, but find those of us who do follow it to be unfriendly. And, the reason the followers seem unfriendly is because they are following an unfriendly religion.
I write that so as to clarify your complaint. Now, let us examine what else you wrote.
You place yourself amongst those that you claim “enjoy being friendly and who are open to the idea of religious differences”. But, I don’t see how someone who has strong complaints against Judaism and finds it unfriendly, and is offended by the mere sight of the clothes that us Jews wear *GASP* which you criticize as “conspicuous”, and is offended by our customs which you slam as “standoffishness”, can actually be considered “friendly and open to the idea of religious tolerance.”
Quite the opposite. Those who are offended by our clothes, and are offended by our customs, and who criticize Judaism and those of us that follow it, demonstrate religious INTOLERANCE.
Contemplate that for more than just a few moments.
Finally, the suggestion that we should water down our religion or sugar coat it so as to make it more palatable for others not only runs smack against the core values of Judaism which we have preserved in its authenticity for thousands of years, even at the threat of death, but history has taught us that when Jews do try to assimilate with the non-Jews, it doesn’t help us at all, in fact, it brought us the Holocaust.
In other words, your complaints should be against Judaism rather than those of us that follow it.
Greg responds: Rabbi Rabbs,
It’s exciting to read your post. This is the closest I’ve ever been to show business. I’ll bet you have friendships with some very well-known people in comedy.
I am trying to decide whether you would assign me to category 2 of your anti-Semitic list, but I am unsure.
Actually, Rabbi, if all of the frummie dress were accompanied by overtly friendly behavior, like “Hey Greg, how are you doing? …won the lotto?” I would associate the garb with friendliness and benevolence. Regrettably, my experience is the reverse. Let’s face it, Rabbi, it’s a hard group to warm up to.
The truth is that if everything you quoted is from the Torah, then my comments would not be about anyone; they would be about the Torah itself. However, this is a problem because I have an abiding respect for the Torah, and I appreciate the way Jews interpret it. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have some disagreements. A neighbor lady screamed at me the other day, because I said that when Moses came down from Mount Sinai it was a revelation from God, but I did not believe that Jonah lived for a period in the belly of a whale and that this would need a metaphorical or allegorical interpretation.
Yes, I said that Conservative and Reform Jews were a lot friendlier to be around. I find this to be true. I think Dennis Prager made a good move when he decided to go to a Reform temple. This was not a remark about Judaism, but simply about the level of friendliness that I find forthcoming in the Orthodox community. I have no qualifications to arbitrate about Judaism and would not try to do so.
I am frequently dismayed that Jews look at “the goyim” and wonder if they would be holocaust persecutors or liberators. I believe there is a confusion between Germans and Americans here. As a VietNam vet I believe I can safely say that Americans would be holocaust liberators, as in fact we were in World War II.
This constant conflation between Germans and Americans is a ridiculous vexation.
And incidentally, Rabbi, I normally don’t go schlepping for Jews so that you can continue your learning and frown on work. However if you’re in town I would be happy to carry your bags for a few free tickets.
RABBI RABBS EMAILS: Greg,
LOL @ carrying my bags for a few free tickets. Funny stuff.
Thank you for your reply. I shall respond.
I would not necessarily assign you to any category of anti-Semites, but I do think that you should examine some of your statements, because they smack of bigotry and intolerance. Just for example, let us substitute African Americans for Jews and read your statement:
“If the Blacks expressed overtly friendly behavior, like