Tuesday, July 17, 2007

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Jews Today - Part 1, The New Jew

by Reb Gutman Locks of the Old City, Jerusalem, Israel at Mystical Paths

In this week’s portion of the Torah (Devarim 1), Moshe tells us again that Hashem promised to give us the Land. Hashem said that it was the Land that He had sworn to give to our forefathers “and their children after them.”[i]

This was thousands of years ago. Who could really expect a people to maintain their family that long? After all, using today as an example, in America the third generation of non-observant Jews are intermarrying at the astonishing rate of 95 percent! Since the assimilated Jew feels absolutely no spiritual or social restrictions as to whom he marries, the intermarriage rate simply becomes a matter of what percentage of the population is Jewish. Also, it is very common today to find people who consider themselves Jewish despite that their mother is not Jewish, but their father is. In fact, so many non-Jews have immigrated to Israel that one year, recently, the majority of men drafted into the Israeli army were not Jewish. They have come from Russia under the civil law of return, which allows them full immigrant rights if they have a close relative who is a Jew. So with this rampant intermarriage and mixed-up lineage, how could it possibly be that the Jewish people have survived? How is it that there are any known Jews today to inherit the Land that God had promised to us thousands of years ago?

A “New Jew”

A while back someone brought a tall guy over to the tefillin booth and asked me to put tefillin on him. He really didn’t look Jewish, so I asked him if he was a Jew. He said that he was. I asked if his mother is Jewish. He said, “Yes.”

I said, “Okay. Let’s take your Jewish blood pressure.” I started to lead him in the blessing, and he knew the first few words himself. He read the prayers in English, and I showed him how to close his eyes and pray for his loved ones. He did a very good job.

We spoke for a while before I took the tefillin off. He told me that he was living in Spain with his wife and kids and was working for the US Army in anti-terrorism. Looking like he did and being in the Army and living in Spain, I knew for sure the poor guy had married a non-Jewish woman and had non-Jewish kids. I didn’t want to say anything, as I was afraid that I would ruin what had just been a very positive experience for him. Then he dropped a bombshell.

He said, “I am a new Jew.”

“Uh oh!” I thought, “I just blew it. I put tefillin on a goy!” (a non-Jew). The only person who would say such a thing would have to be a convert, but if he was a kosher convert, he would have been putting on tefillin by himself, or at least he certainly would have known the blessing. Then he dropped another bombshell.

“I was adopted,” he said.

“Oh no!” I thought. “That’s even worse, if there could be such a thing. He wasn’t even a non-kosher convert. He was just somehow recently adopted by a Jewish family!”

He went on, “I recently found out that I was adopted when I was a baby. And just now I found out who my real parents are, and my real mother is a Jew.”

“Wow, that’s great!” I said. But in my head, I was thinking whether or not I should tell him that as a Jew he cannot be married to a non-Jew. That’s all the guy needs to hear, that he has to divorce his wife and kids! I didn’t know how to say it gently enough that he wouldn’t get angry. I tried, “You know, now that you know that you are a Jew, you have to have a Jewish wife and make a Jewish family.”

“You don’t understand,” he went on. “Somehow, God made me marry a Jewish woman, so my family is already Jewish.”

Wow, was I relieved. The guy really was Jewish, and he had a Jewish family.

He was beaming. He asked, “How was my Jewish blood pressure?”

I hit him on the shoulder and said, “Great. Welcome home, brother.”

When God wants to work it out, He works it out. We do not have to worry whether there will be a Jewish People in the world to inherit the Land. We will be here one way or another.

[i] Deut 1:8

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