Torah Believes In Stereotypes

Torah believes in stereotypes (without holding that they define every individual of a group). As I learn Talmud, I learn stereotypes about Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Christians, Cushim, etc. Torah has no problem sketching out how different peoples, including Jews, tend to have certain qualities. In my study of Torah, I find no prohibitions against the modern moral categories of racism, bigotry, homophobia, Islamophobia, sexism, ageism, etc, but you certainly can’t eat an egg laid on a Jewish holiday.

If I recall correctly, there’s one portion of Talmud that discusses that if you find a puddle of urine on a street, it most likely did not come from a Jew because Jews believe in modesty and they do their business in private.

The leading Ashkenazi rabbis had a different attitude towards Christians than did the leading Sephardic rabbis because Ashkenazim were more likely to live among Christians than were the Sephardim, so the Ashkenazi poskim (deciders of Jewish law) looked for every possible out to not declare Christianity idolatry to make it easier for Jews to live among Christians and to trade with them. On the face of it, from a Jewish perspective, Christianity is plainly idolatry, but if you are going to live in Christians lands, that’s not a position that will make your life easy so you have to twist and turn Torah until you can find an accommodation for Christians.

It is natural, healthy and good to have some fear for those who are different from you, be you a Christian or a Muslim or a Jew or a white or a black. Everybody who practices a religion seriously is going to find other religions at best goofy.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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