Monday, June 1, 2009

You're gonna burn!!

I should get some sleep tonight (and every night, for that matter), so here's an encore presentation (edited a bit for clarity) of Moral Equivalency, which was first published on March 3, 2008. Enjoy!
Last night I was reading a book by Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twersky and it reminded me of something that I heard from Rabbi Manis Friedman a couple of weeks ago.

He (R. M. Friedman) was once teaching at Bais Chana and one of the girls, who was a J for J, was arguing with him for hours. Eventually, he disproved everything she said, and was waiting for her to give in. She didn't. He asked why. She responded that she was afraid, because the J for J people told her that if a Christian-type person ever left the faith then they would burn forever in the fiery pits of hell, or something like that. So even though she realized that it was all garbage, she didn't want to chance it.

R. M. Friedman asked her, "Have you ever seen the curses in the Torah?" She hadn't, so he showed them to her. She was shocked. What kind of loving G-d was this? Rabbi Friedman explained, first quoting the the famous story of the Mitteler Rebbe's fainting when he heard the curses read on Shabbos, and later explaining that when his father read the Torah, he didn't hear curses.

What's the reason for this? When a son hears his father speaking negatively, even cursing, he knows that it's really all love. That's why Jews hear all the curses in the Torah, and instead of getting all scared they go and eat by the Kiddush. Why? Because they know that it's their father cursing. Christians though, they read the curses and get scared, because it's not their father doing the cursing, and they're not sure. Maybe he means it?

The girl became Frum.


SZB said...

Would you become frum by virtue of that argument? I know i wouldn't.

Leo de Toot said...

Dear Mr. R.S.: classic R. Friedman (and classic, and classy, R.S.). Keep it up, Leo d T.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

Some classic J4J exchanges.

Did you ever hear about the brit chadasha?
OW!that must hurt

Yeshua loves you.
I'm already spoken for.

Jesus saves.
Moses invests. We are dividends. You are interest (which is assur)

You are going to hell.
AH, all the interesting people will be there. Intellectuals, Jews, sports stars, etc.

Anonymous said...

Not J4J, but sort of related:

"Would you like to be a Witness?"

"Sorry, I didn't see the accident."

Mottel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mottel said...

Cute story. I once got a J4J yid (r"l) to put on tefillin b/c Cheesus did it . . . he had a big Tetragramatton tattooed on his arm.

Mottel said...

Cute story. I once got a J4J yid (r"l) to put on tefillin b/c Cheesus did it . . . he had a big Tetragramatton tattooed on his arm.

Just like a guy said...

SZB: presumably it was apropos.

LtD: we try.

Modeh+anon: nice.

Mottel: even nicer!

le7 said...

Cute story. I think I've heard it, but that doesn't detract.

fakewood inc. said...

you have got to be kidding me did you see what he wrote recently. i dont know why people even bother listening to a word he says.

Just like a guy said...

Forget chrudge's inflammatory and innacurate headline-what manis said was right on the money (if you believe in Torah, that is).

Nemo said...

It would be interesting to see how Rabbi Friedman justifies his ludicrous, non-nonsensical beliefs, which he says are based on Torah. Where in the Torah does it say that there is an obligation to destroy everything? A critical reading of the Rambam indicates that the words Rabbi Friedman speaks are those of an extremist who not only advocates the violation of international law, but are not condoned by the Torah either.

Rambam in Hilchos Melachim U'Milchemoseihem 5:1 says:

ואיזו היא מלחמת מצוה--זו מלחמת שבעה עממים, ומלחמת עמלק, ועזרת ישראל מצר שבא עליהם. "What is a 'mitzva' war? It refers to the war with the Seven Nations [upon conquest of the land of Israel], the war with Amalek (an everlasting commandment), and assisting the Jewish people from the menaces that they face (i.e., defense)."

Now, the Rambam goes on in 5:4-5 and says that the war with the Seven Nations and the war with Amalek require that the Jewish people destroy entire nations. However, the Rambam never gives this explicit Torah instruction for the third kind of mitzva war - a defensive war.

So the Rambam tells us that there are three kinds of mitzva wars but only specifies that in two of them that there should be a wholesale destruction. We, especially as Lubavitchers, must read into this Rambam critically - just as we would with any other piece of Rambam. There must be a logical explanation why the Rambam omitted the details of a defensive war. Perhaps this was because defensive wars have to be fought by what works and what will be in the Jewish people's best interest, not by inhumanely destroying everything in one's path? Perhaps the Torah wanted to leave enough room to politicians (i.e., the king), strategists and military experts to determine what is in the Jewish people's best interest and what will be the proper course of carrying out a war? The Rambam allows for discretion in fighting a battle, and it's arguable from other sources that there is a preference for human life and minimal destruction.

Nonetheless, Rabbi Friedman sees fit to extend the obligations of war to an extreme where even the Rambam didn't take it. Rabbi Friedman is no military expert and he has not provided a Torah-basis for his explanation. The fact that the Jewish people fought one way in biblical times is no indication that it would he appropriate, or even helpful, today. Unless Rabbi Friedman can substantiate his extremist views, I hope he publicly rescinds these inflammatory words.

Joe in Australia said...

"J4J" is a specific organization, not a general term who Jews who worship the Christian deity. This is important: not only do the different groups have different beliefs (though they are, of course, all Christians) but you might misunderstand what someone means when he says that he's not a J4J. If you're in any doubt, just ask them - some missionaries might duck and weave to dodge the question, or say that they are "a completed Jew" or something, but very few will will actually deny being a Christian if that is in fact the case.

Just like a guy said...

Nemo: wow, impressive comment. I do believe though that is his point is not that we should indiscriminately kill men, women, and children, but rather that we should use all force necessary to achieve a lasting peace. This is, by the way, what the Lubavitcher Rebbe believed in.

Joe: impressive too. Next time I'll make sure to ask :)

Nemo said...

That's not the implication of what he wrote.

1. He wants Israel to destroy men, women and children, even if they're innocent.

2. He wants not only to kill, but to eradicate all of Arab existence.

3. He disregards any notion of the sanctity of human (Arab) life.

4. He encourages decimating their religion and beliefs.

5. He calls all of the aforementioned "the Jewish way" all on the premise that that's the way it worked in the Bible. He makes it clear that this isn't just his (misguided) strategy but his conception of a religious obligation, putting him on par with extremist Muslim clerics. Lofty allegations without providing any sources ...

6. He makes no attempt to explain why this is "the only way to fight a moral war" or why, based on Judaism, this is moral. In fact, most military strategists and politicians disagree that this is the correct route.

7. There is a tremendous difference between "necessary" force and complete destruction of civilians. Manis is a fool for not being able to differentiate. I highly doubt that he could substantiate his views in light of reality and I also highly doubt the Lubavitcher Rebbe held this destructive view. People need to develop a bit of nuance in their thinking instead of espousing bombastic views about how wars should be carried out.

8. Even if this was a prudent military strategy (although it's really hard to fathom how this could ever bring lasting peace - more likely to cause a nuclear WWIII), Manis should not be expressing his politics as though they are Jewish dogma. It is deceptive and damaging to Judaism when someone who commands so much respect says something so dumb.

fakewood inc. said...


i thought i was going to have to argue this out thanks.


manis friedman keeps making outlandish statement that he claims are based on torah on a regular basis.

Anonymous said...

Nemo: fair enough on the Rambam's distinction among the different kinds of war. But speaking of reading him critically, there's the fact that with the Seven Nations he mentions that "their memory has been lost" (and therefore the mitzvah of eradicating them can no longer be applied), but he says no such thing about Amalek.

If I recall correctly, Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik comments on that basis that "Amalek" isn't a particular nation, but rather includes any group that aims to destroy the Jewish people (G-d forbid). I think it's fair to say that the Palestinians fall into that category.

So perhaps that's what Rabbi Friedman is basing his position on?

Nemo said...

I can't reply to that without seeing that written. Somehow I doubt that if it was said, it was meant as psak halacha.

The Rambam there says that the everlasting commandment applies to "zera Amalek," which, without further elucidation, would mean the physical progeny of Amalek.

Furthermore, that explanation would make no sense because there would then all defensive wars ever fought would fall under the category of milchemes Amalek, and then the Rambam's third category of milchemes mitzva essentially is no different than his second. Was the Rambam being redundant? Did he give a moot third category?

Nemo said...

Incidentally, the reason why the Rambam doesn't say that "they've already been destroyed, and their memory DESTROYED" about Amalek is quite simple: the mitzva is not completed because Amalek's issues still exist and can still be destroyed, whereas shiva amamim have already been completely eradicated and the mitzva only applied once when they entered Israel in the times of the Bible.

Like I said above, Amalek is an eternal commandment, while Shiva Amamim is only during the first conquest.