Monday, 29 January 2018

Why Some Catholics Still Defend the Kidnapping of a Jewish Boy

Please see

I would not go so far as the caption beneath the title states about the article, that "It’s not about the Church’s relationship with Jews." Obviously it's about the Church's relationship with Jews for, by definition, Christianity must maintain somewhat of a negative perspective on traditional Judaism for its very purpose was to supplant this Judaism. This kidnapping, as such, must be seen within this context.

Yet the second line of the caption may still be more significant -- "It’s about the culture war inside the Church" -- especially to us and not because of any particular interest in this narrow, specific subject in regard to the Church. The article is stating that there is tension within the Church because there is and has been on-going conflict between "revealed doctrine" and "what some would call 'universal human values'.” The fact is that -- and this is not stated in any manner to imply any validity to this Catholic revealed doctrine -- there is a similar issue within the world of Torah observance today. To be blunt, we often ignore -- especially to its full extent -- the tension that can exist between the ethical principles revealed at Sinai and the ethical principles that emerged from human thought which we may share with all humanity.We often do not even see the issue.

For example, the value of freedom of religion would seem to be embedded within our consciousness -- but what is its basis? In that the Jewish People have greatly benefited from the application of this ethic, we would clearly see it as a Jewish value -- but is it? What does Sinai state about freedom of religion? Do we even ask this question? If it is a value, however, which emerged from human thought, how then does it relate to Sinai? Do we perceive, or even contemplate, an issue? (On the issue of freedom of religion, please also see my Freedom of Religion (with Comments on Halachic Tolerance)

The issue is that, even as we assert this value in the promotion of our place within Western society, have we thought about it within the context of Torah thought? The fact is that I believe that there is a concept of freedom of religion within Torah -- somewhat different, though, than the secular, Western articulation of this value -- but the question is whether we have even thought about this. Living within the dichotomy of values in which we do in Western society, this should be an important undertaking within our Torah studies. What is further significant within Torah thought -- and this would clearly distinguish it from the Catholic discussion -- is that there are many T)orah sources that gives value to ethics developed from thought (see, for example, Hakdama to Shas, Rabbeinu Nissim Gaon). To consider the interaction of the ethics of Sinai and the ethics developed by human thought is a Torah topic. It, however, is not a simple one.

This is why I am directing people to this article in the Atlantic. It raises issues that we should see and contemplate l'havdil within our perspective and the realm of Torah. Given the various issues that we presently are experiencing within Orthodoxy, I would say this is a most important undertaking.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

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