Israeli Missionaries Spread Historic Christian Hate
by Rabbi Yisroel Chaim Blumenthal
When the Christian Scriptures try to convey the moral teachings of Jesus, they are not satisfied to do just that; convey moral teachings. It is important for those authors to defame the teachers who went before them and they did so with a vengeance. The Christian Scriptures presented the Jewish teachers to the world as a criminal band of murderous hypocrites. And this venom is reflected in the way Christian Europe treated her Jews.
The Christian missionary organization: One for Israel, has taken a page out of the Christian Scriptures and posted a video attacking the way Orthodox teachers view women. They have gathered quotations from various sources that seem to denigrate women. Many of these sources have been misquoted. Some have been quoted out of their local context and all of them have been quoted out of the broader context of the scope of Orthodox Jewish literature.
Jewish Law recognized the rights of men and women as equal in matters of law. This ancient code of law saw women as equal to men long before the Christian and Moslem societies even took any steps in this direction. The Talmud teaches that a husband should honor his wife more than himself (this teaching is repeated twice; Yevamot 62b, Sanhedrin 76b). The Medrash teaches; "a gentile or a Jew, a man or a woman, a slave or a maidservant, according to their actions that they do, the holy spirit rests upon them" (Tana D'vei Eliyahu 10:1). Teachings such as these form the basis of the Jewish attitude towards women and towards all human beings.
According to One for Israel, Orthodox Jewish teachers allow for the rape and murder of women. To say that this is a baseless lie would be saying to little. The fact of the matter is that the statistics for violent crime are significantly lower for the Orthodox Jewish community than they are for any other group, religious or secular. Mark Twain wrote the following concerning the Jews: "In the statistics of crime, his presence is extremely rare in all countries. With murder and other crimes of violence, he has but little to do." This was written in 1898 when most Jews were either Orthodox or children of Orthodox. As Jews began to stray from their heritage and in communities where Orthodoxy went into decline, the statistics for violent crime rose proportionately.
(Editor's Note: Although injustice and violent crimes exist in Orthodox communities the Torah and rabbinic Judaism unequivocally condemns this behavior. Additionally, not everyone who calls lives up himself a rabbi lives up to the Torah’s values. The true face of Judaism is tolerance, respect “loving one’s neighbor as oneself.” These Torah values have inspired Jews and non-Jews to live moral lives.)
From Tanach to contemporary poskim, we are taught to live by this rule. While one for Israel preach hate and attempt to turn secular Israelis against the Orthodox Jewish people around them, the true face of yahadut is tolerance, respect, דרך ארץ. The missionary way, aggressive, manipulative, divisive, is not our way.
Books never harmed anyone it is people who hurt other people. The community who read and revered the Talmud and Rabbinic writings honored and respected women as human beings while the Christian and Moslem populations around them lagged far behind. Contrast this with the community who read and revered the Christian Scriptures. The Christians who believed in those writings saw in them the religious license and mandate to persecute the Jewish people.
Persecution of a people begins with maligning and misrepresenting them to people who do not know them. This is what the Christian Scriptures did to their theological opponents, the Jews. They slandered them to the nations of the world. And this is what One for Israel does today. They misrepresent and malign the Orthodox Jewish people to the secular Israelis around them. It would seem that they read the Christian Scriptures and follow its message in much the same way as did the anti-Semitic church fathers.
Some of the misrepresentations of truth contained in the One for Israel video:
- They describe Rabbi Gamliel as conducting an experiment on naked women. The text actually says nothing about the women being unclothed. This detail is a fabrication invented by the authors of the video (or by the anti-Semitic works from whom they "learned" these segments of the Talmud.)
- They describe those studying the Talmud as if the study is all about pornography (they use the term "all day" to describe what Yeshiva students are studying.) This is demonstrably false.
- They quote the Talmud as describing women as a jug filled with waste as if the Talmud is using this description to denigrate women. The Talmud is doing no such thing. When seen in context, the point of the Talmud is not to distinguish between men and women. The Talmud is pointing out the emptiness of lust and immorality.
- They quote the Jerusalem Talmud as if it forbids men to buy jewelry for their wives. This is simply false. The Talmud is discussing the prohibition against wearing jewelry outdoors on the Sabbath. The Talmud actually encourages men to buy jewelry for their wives and criticizes men who fail to do so.
- The Ari is quoted as if he advised men to spit at women. This is again, simply false. The spitting he is referring to is something the man should do in private to help him overcome lustful thoughts. There is no mention of spitting at anyone.