Sunday, January 18, 2009

So... non-Jewish

My great-grandmother would say “Ribboinu shel oilam! So goyish! Feh!”, had she read this article. There is something very non-Jewish about estimating what would happen if (or when) a certain man died¹, G-d forbid.

Is it politically incorrect to say this? Probably. My politically correct artist friend, who is sensitive to other people’s (and creatures’) feelings would possibly get upset. But it’s still true. This level of eidelkeit is a Jewish characteristic. I don’t think it’s genetic — it derives from culture, which is (turtles all the way down) based on Torah, but there you are…

On the other hand, I believe this is an aspect of not so much non-Jewish culture as secular culture, which (whether shared by Jews or non-Jews) is, of course, also non-Jewish — i.e., “anti-Torah”. I would hope that a ben or bas Noach (a non-Jew following the aspects of Torah for non-Jews and Torah’s general ethical and spiritual principles) wouldn’t speculate on results of somebody’s death either.

* * *

This is more of a rambling than a post. I just read somewhere a Russian person writing angrily that Tanya says that all non-Jews are “akin to filth and worse than animals”. I answered that first of all, he is a liar. Second, he is an idiot. Third, for the masses reading our exchange, one needs to look at the context (not just the immediate context of a quote, but general context of where the author is coming from) before drawing rash conclusions. (For the masses reading this, Alter Rebbe speaks about something entirely different from what that guy said, thought and meant — but this is not the place to discuss this. For reference, see Chapter 1 of Tanya, including the note from Reb Hillel Paritcher’s siddur at the very end of the chapter.)

But after that, I remembered to myself what the Alter Rebbe did when asked about this line (not the one above, but the actual line) in Tanya. He smiled.

And then I saw the article about Steve Jobs.

* * *

Speaking of hashgacha protis, what are the chances of leaving your lab’s building at 7 pm on a Sunday night, walking to animal facility, standing in front of the door, realizing that you forgot the wallet (with the ID necessary to get into the Foster) at home in your Shabbos pants, and then seeing a co-worker walk out of the vivarium’s door and holding the door for you? Right when you need him. On Sunday night. On a long weekend. After the lights-off (for mice). While listening to Rabbi Paltiel’s shiur on Frierdiker Rebbe’s ma’amor (OK, that’s not such a big deal, since I am doing that most of the time anyway).

An atheist would say: “luck”, “chance”, etc. I say: in the argument with my artist friend regarding ethical appropriatness of what I am doing with animals, Hashem is on my side. :)

* * *

On the other hand, this all may be not about Jews vs. non-Jews, religious people vs. secular, Torah vs. klipah, but in fact about normal people vs. journalists.

¹ My rabbi once said that he had been included by someone in a will. He told that person’s lawyer that it would be better if the person gave him the money right away — that way my rabbi would be able to do mitzvos with that money in the honor of the person’s health (and pray for it), instead of waiting for him to die and the money to go over. :)


Anonymous said...

Now thatI think of it doing that (predicting outcome - ... - someone's death...) does sound very not-Jewish. I like the sound of the word "eidelket" lol.

The Real Shliach said...

Why do you have against actuaries?

shmulie said...

This point is moot, but what I rarely hear in the Tanya discussion from the beginning of your post is that the Alter Rebbe quotes a posuk and then a gemorah to illustrate.

Not that this would matter to a gentile, but I always find it curious to hear frum Jews make this argument.

Crawling Axe said...

Well, it’s true that A"R explains a posuk and Gemara, but it could be explained in sociological or psychological terms. He explains it in mystical, “anatomical” terms — so, it’s much more difficult for goyim to accept.

In general, it’s a difficult concept to explain if one wants to go beyond saying “yep, that’s how it is”.

shmulie said...

Goyim, it seems, are the last to take exception with this type of talk.

As the Rebbe would often say, it's the Jew afraid of the "Goy" inside.

Crawling Axe said...

This was a goy. But he was very confused in general. He seemed to think that acc. to Judaism, Jews’ purpose is to eradicate the world from evil — i.e., goyim.

When I try to explain why I don’t listen to secular music, only Jews get offended. Although here it may be different — they may be offended for themselves.

Crawling Axe said...

Since I have a hearing in half an hour, I remembered how someone I knew in NO, a Jewish lawyer, once told me that the only time he was told to take of kippah in court was by a reform Jew.