Musings of an Orthodox Jew

Thoughts on Torah and the Jewish world today.

Atheists vs Converts to other religions

A frequent argument raise by “messianic jews” as to why they should be accepted is “Jews accept atheists and people that do not accept the Torah as divine as being Jewish, therefore they should accept us!”  The obvious difference here is that the atheist and people who do not believe in the divine origin of the Torah are not following Judaism, but they are NOT following another religion either.  The Torah makes this distinction quite clearly.

To show this, let us look at the place where we see the convert from Judaism to another religion being removed form the community:

Shmot (Exodus) Chapter 12 v43

מג. וַיֹּאמֶר יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֶל מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן זֹאת חֻקַּת הַפָּסַח כָּל בֶּן נֵכָר לֹא יֹאכַל בּוֹ: 43. The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the statute of the Passover sacrifice: No estranged one may partake of it.

and later in the same chapter:

47. The entire community of Israel shall make it. מז. כָּל עֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל יַעֲשׂוּ אֹתוֹ

Who is the estranged one here?  The Torah uses the term בֶּן נֵכָר Ben Nacher.  Now a nacher is any non-Jew.  Now obviously the “Ben Nacher” here is not the actual son of the non-Jew, after all, they are not allowed to eat it because they are a nacher themselves!  Thus the meforshim understand the “Ben Nacher’ to be the Jew who has converted to another religion, as the person who converted the Jews is considered to be their “father”, thus making the Jewish convert the Ben (son of) the non-Jew.  Thus the Jewish convert to another religion is not allowed to eat from the Korban Pesach.

The later verse emphasises the point that the person who does not eat from the Korban Pesach is not a member of the Jewish community- the ENTIRE community of Israel will make it- thus the fact that the Jewish convert to another religion cannot make it means that they are no longer a part of the community and are thus not considered to be part of the Jewish people!

When it comes to atheists, they would be guilty of violating the commandment to recognise that G-d is One and the creator and ruler of the heavens and the earth.  But, where that commandment is stated, it is not stated that somebody who does not so believe is outside of the community.  The Torah forbids idol worship, forbids the making and creating of idols, forbids Jews from following other religions- but we don”t see a specific punishment or removal from the community of the person who denies the existence of G-d and all other divinities as well!

So, an atheist will hjave to account for their disbelief when they die and face the heavenly court, but their is requirement that we seperate them from the community while alive.  If they try to get others to abandon their belief in G-d- then we have grounds to act against them- and against such people there have been Rabbinical bans (cherem- a form of excommunication) in the past- such as was enacted on Spinoza.

Thus we can see why Jewish communities act to remove “messianic jews” and other Christian missionary groups who deceitfully try to portray themselves as Jewish from the community, but do not act against members of the community who are atheists.  For one their is a Torah requirement to remove them form the community- for the other, no such Torah requirement exists

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August 31, 2009 - Posted by | Messianic, Other Torah, Torah

7 Comments »

  1. Obviously, your scriptural reference was taken from the first Passover. Please explain the Atheist option from this context from which it was written instead of the context in which we live today.

    Back then, if one didn’t put the blood of the lamb or goat on the door, there was no way to tell the death angel to pass you over based on the fact you meant to or didn’t believe. No, those didn’t follow G-d’s command for any reason was included with the unbelievers…which atheists are.

    Likewise, if the death angel did not come that night, Pharoah’s army would be able to tell which ones followed the G-d of Moses and which one followed Pharoah. As making mothers drown their own new borns in the Nile and making bricks without straw indicate, cruelity of Israel slaves was regularly practiced. Anyone putting the blood of the lamb on their door could expect something horrific in the morning.

    So when Moses gave the passages you quoted in Exodus 12, there were only two choices. There was not a third atheist option to opt out of this conflict.

    Nor do I find a third opt out position ever being given in scripture to justify the ***we don”t see a specific punishment or removal from the community of the person who denies the existence of G-d and all other divinities as well!***

    During the exile, there were only 2 choices: 1. Bow down and worship the pole when you hear the noise or 2. burn. There was never the third option that if you didn’t believe in any god you were exempt.

    Therefore, there would be no ***specific punishment or removal from the community of the person who denies the existence of G-d and all other divinities*** because this option didn’t exist.

    G-d does not stop being G-d and His commands don’t become any less valid when people say they don’t believe.

    Where else in G-d’s creation does your concept actually work? If a person says, they don’t believe in gravity, does this mean that the laws of gravity are suspended so they can walk off 5 story buildings and not get hurt?

    No, knowing the laws of G-d allow us to do what the Creator of the Universe created us to do. As everything that has been made is made with a purpose, then G-d gave us the law describe our purpose.

    We are either accomplishing the purpose God gave us or not. There is not a third option that says G-d’s law is suspended because the person doesn’t believe in God.

    Comment by DS M | September 7, 2009 | Reply

    • No- the command there is given FOR ALL TIME, not just for the first Pesach. How do we know this? Read the ENTIRE passage:
      43. The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the statute of the Passover sacrifice: No estranged one may partake of it. מג. וַיֹּאמֶר יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֶל מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן זֹאת חֻקַּת הַפָּסַח כָּל בֶּן נֵכָר לֹא יֹאכַל בּוֹ:
      44. And every man’s slave, purchased for his money you shall circumcise him; then he will be permitted to partake of it. מד. וְכָל עֶבֶד אִישׁ מִקְנַת כָּסֶף וּמַלְתָּה אֹתוֹ אָז יֹאכַל בּוֹ:
      45. A sojourner or a hired hand may not partake of it. מה. תּוֹשָׁב וְשָׂכִיר לֹא יֹאכַל בּוֹ:
      46. It must be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the meat out of the house to the outside, neither shall you break any of its bones. מו. בְּבַיִת אֶחָד יֵאָכֵל לֹא תוֹצִיא מִן הַבַּיִת מִן הַבָּשָׂר חוּצָה וְעֶצֶם לֹא תִשְׁבְּרוּ בוֹ:
      47. The entire community of Israel shall make it. מז. כָּל עֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל יַעֲשׂוּ אֹתוֹ:
      48. And should a proselyte reside with you, he shall make a Passover sacrifice to the Lord. All his males shall be circumcised, and then he may approach to make it, and he will be like the native of the land, but no uncircumcised male may partake of it. מח. וְכִי יָגוּר אִתְּךָ גֵּר וְעָשָׂה פֶסַח לַי־הֹוָ־ה הִמּוֹל לוֹ כָל זָכָר וְאָז יִקְרַב לַעֲשֹׂתוֹ וְהָיָה כְּאֶזְרַח הָאָרֶץ וְכָל עָרֵל לֹא יֹאכַל בּוֹ:
      49. There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who resides in your midst.” מט. תּוֹרָה אַחַת יִהְיֶה לָאֶזְרָח וְלַגֵּר הַגָּר בְּתוֹכְכֶם:

      Now verse 45 refers to the sojourner as one who could not eat it. Who is the sojourner? A non-Jew that observes the Seven Noachide laws and is allowed to live in Israel amongst Bnei Yisrael. So, if this commandment were only for the first Pesach, this person could not be amongst those listed as the status of sojourner only started 57 years later; after Joshua had conquered most of the land that Bnei Yisrael were given by Hashem! So, while these laws were given at the time of the first Korban Pesach, they were eternally binding!

      As for my comments about them noit referrig to atheists, they don’t. The fact that those who oppressed Jews later do not differentiate between atheists and other Jews is irrelevant to Torah law. As for atheists in the first Pesach- they would have had their first born killed by the Malach haMavet along with everyone else that didn’t put lamb’s blood on the door. In fact, their is a Midrash that 2/3s of Bnei Yisrael had become so assimilated into Egyptian culture they never left Egypt!

      However, subsequent to that we do not find a specific command aimed at the punishment of atheists. Though we have plenty of commands about not committing idolatry and about acting against those seeking to entice Jews into other religions!

      And if you bother to read my post I stated clearly “So, an atheist will hjave to account for their disbelief when they die and face the heavenly court, but their is requirement that we seperate them from the community while alive”. Hashem will judge them, as he did on the first Pesach- but there is no law or requirement that we judge them or act against them unless they try to get Jews to stop obeying Hashem

      Comment by marcl1969 | September 7, 2009 | Reply

  2. If it was ***FOR ALL TIME, not just for the first Pesach***, then we would be eating a sacrificed lamb at Pesach as commanded.

    If it was ***FOR ALL TIME, not just for the first Pesach***, then we would be listening to God speak as He spoke.

    Everything has to be ***FOR ALL TIME***…not just the bits and pieces that are easy to talk about.

    There is only ONE Creator and One God, there is only One choice. The leper was commanded to dip 7 times, it was only on the 7th time that he was healed. It was only when the Gentile widow gave the prophet a share first that she was fed for 3 years during the famine. And those who believed Moses and followed his command did not lose their servants and cattle to hail.

    What the scriptures do not describe what unbelief looks like as there are billions of unbelief responses.

    So we agree the atheist should be counted with Egypt and not as Jews, right? …not part of the community as you first stated.

    As you said,

    ***As for atheists in the firt Pesach- they would have had their first born killedby the Malach haMavet along with everyone else that didn’t put lamb’s blood on the door.***

    and

    ***In fact, their is a Midrash that 2/3s of Bnei Yisrael had become so assimilated into egyptian culture they never left Egypt!***

    and therefore there was no need to state a special instruction about what to do with atheists as obedience to G-d is what mattered. Logically, atheists would and never will be obedient to God as an atheist, right? So as it was at the first Passover, so it should be ***FOR ALL TIME***

    Therefore, you have to throw atheist in with Egyptias as they would have rejected the the Korban Pesach as the Eqyptians….but like the hail, it isn’t as if the Egyptians / atheists didn’t know what to do to keep the death angel away.

    ***A non-Jew that observes the Seven Noachide laws and is allowed to libe in sirael amongst Bnei Yisrael***….just not according to the text that you are quoting.

    This is an assumption you would need to prove as Moses would have simply mentioned it by name eliminating the need for any further explanation. As the explanation is given, one has to assume Moses meant what he actually said.

    Comment by DS M | September 7, 2009 | Reply

  3. Of course it is for all time WHEN IT IS POSSIBLE, so without the Temple, no Korban Pesach since it cannto be offered. Also, learn something about Judaism before coming here with rubbish. Tzaraas was NOT leprosy. It is an atrocious translation to try and equate tzaraas with leprosy. Tzaraas does nto exist anymore since we are not at a spiritual level necessary to merit that kind of corrective action. When Mashiach comes, tzaraas will come as well – and the laws will be applied.

    Nope- you deliberately misinterpret what I said. (Not very surprising consiodering your track record for lying and distorting what people have posted on Yahoo! Answers). In this case the atheists would have put THEMSELVES outside of the community through their lack of action. The community did not do anything to them. However, with the Jewish convert to another religion, the community actively out them outside of the community- they actively stop them from offering the Korban Pesach or from eating from the Korban Pesach. In short- the law states that we have to reject the Jew who converts to another religion, not allow them to be members of the community- the atheist, on the other hand, we do NOT have to act against, their is no commandment to stop them from participating; instead, they will be punished through their own inaction- not through anything the community does!

    As for the sojourner- it is defined in the Torah, but elsewhere. I just expained what it was because somehow I dount the priest in charge of your “messianic jewish” community would ever dare to explain what these sections of the Torah mean for the few Jews that may be amongst all you Christians there!

    Comment by marcl1969 | September 7, 2009 | Reply

  4. ***Tzaraas was NOT leprosy.***

    Correct, but Naaman was a leper as ANYONE familiar with Elisha would know.

    ***Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and held in esteem, because by him HaShem had given victory unto Aram; he was also a mighty man of valour, but he was a leper***
    http://www.hareidi.org/bible/2_Kings5.htm#1

    You can start your apology with a confession of not knowing the Jewish scriptures and continue to addressing your baseless slander.

    ***3.Of course it is for all time WHEN IT IS POSSIBLE, so without the Temple, no Korban Pesach since it cannto be offered.***

    Please stop pretending that the second destruction was really the first time the Temple was destroyed. I recognize your lack of knowledge of the scripture is greatly getting in your way of understanding so I will walk you through it slowly.

    Do try to keep up and actually think this time before you speak.

    1. At least the first 40 Korban Pesach were made outside of Israel and the first several hundred were made outside of Jerusalem. There is no scriptural mandate ever written requiring sacrifices done in a Temple or the Temple was mandated to be located in one place. Should you want to be consistent, and you don’t, you would have to follow the same logic here that you follow with Atheists ….except here there are several hundred of scriptural examples to support the belief while you couldn’t produce ONE.

    2. Sacrifices were made before the reconstruction had started. In other words, sacrifices were first and the Temple was last. You have the wrong order when you say, ***so without the Temple***.

    3. During the first rebuilding of the Temple, they were afraid to start their sacrifice….but they overcame their fear. So what is your excuse? Don’t you believe HaShem for your protection like those at the first Pesach or the first Pesach after the return from exile?

    4. At no time did HaShem ever mandate a place. In fact, HaShem didn’t want a Temple.

    So you can’t conclude that HaShem brought us half way so that we are a nation again by the hand of HaShem but because Israel wasn’t clear of Gentiles, He didn’t want us make sacrifices. That is no different than listening to the bad report of the spies when 40 years later, the people still have their city locked up for fear of what the God of Israel can do. The only difference is that 40 years later, Israel believed God.

    Comment by Dan | September 8, 2009 | Reply

    • Hmm- your post did get through (both times- I’m just going to put the one through since they are identical, though I will delete the other after removing it from the spam filter), but ended up in the spam filter for some reason! Use something other than rows of stars for separators, I think the filter might pick that up as part of its spam management.

      “Correct, but Naaman was a leper as ANYONE familiar with Elisha would know.” Wrong- Naaman was a metzorah as is clearly stated in the Hebrew. The translation you are using is the 1917 JPS one which is bad (I have gone from seeing it as neutral to seeing it as lousy as I find more and more errors in it.) A better translation (though still not perfect) is the one at Chabad.org from Judaica press “1. Now Naaman, the general of the king of Aram, was a prominent man before his lord and respected, for through him had the Lord given victory to Aram; and the man was a great warrior, and he was a mezora.” http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/15911

      Feel free to apologise for claiming I don’t know what I am talking about!

      And nobody is pretending that the destruction of the second Temple was the first time it was destroyed- it is very clear that it was the second time. But the sacrifices stopped in the period between the two temples as well- remember the line form Tehillim “By the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart”- the direct reference to prayer replacing sacrifice after the destruction of the first Temple!

      As for the first 40 Korban Pesach’s- they weren’t made at all! The Korban pesach was only started from when they entered Israel and were not made in the desert (there is a discussion if there was a symbolic sacrifice for the entire nation or not, but it is clear that in the desert they did not have the necessary livestock to offer the Korban Pesach). When they came into Israel, until the time of the building of the Temple, the Korban Pesach was offered in front of the Mishkan. People were required to go to the Mishkan and be there- and that was true for the other two of the pilgrimage festivals as well (Sukkot and Shavuot.)

      As for making sacrifices before the reconstruction-they made them in the area of the Mizbeach, in the designated place. The fact that there was no building there is immaterial, especially as the Aron Kodesh was not present and thus the Mishkan and mizbeach were set there purely because of the PLACE, rather than what it contained! Today the same does not apply since we cannot offer sacrifices in the correct place without sparking off a war. Since there are other issues involved as well (such as lacking the ashes of a red heffer to remove tumat hameit from us thus making us tahor to offer sacrifices), there is no need to start a war on something which it is questionable we are allowed to do anyway since we are in a state of Tumah (those who say we can rely on an opinion that states that when the entire nation is in a state of Tumah then the Kohanim can offer sacrifices).

      And of course Hashem wanted a temple. He told David he was pleased with the decision to build the Temple, but he did not merit to build it. He told Shlomo he was happy with the temple and would make it the permanent plac eon which the shekhina would rest, invalidating anywhere else to be the place for the mishkan. The Rabbis in the Talmud state that the Jews were actually remiss in not building it sooner since it is a halakha mi’Sinai that we should build a temple!

      Do try to learn some Judaism, instead of your Christian interpretation of Judaism before trying again!

      Comment by marcl1969 | September 14, 2009 | Reply

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