Sunday, July 03, 2011

// // 5 comments

Jews Are No Better…

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true stories from the Western Wall by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

     A tourist from Colombia walked over to me at the Kotel. He didn’t look Jewish, but he was wearing tefillin. “They said that you could answer my questions,” he said.

     He told me that he used to be religious and that he put on tefillin every day for three years, but then he “stopped believing in it,” and he hasn’t put them on since. I asked him if his mother were Jewish. He said that she was a convert. I asked if she converted before he was born, or after. He said that she had converted after he was born.

     “Did you have an Orthodox conversion?” I asked.

     You have to wonder when someone says that they are a convert, and they are not keeping the mitzvahs, whether or not they had a kosher conversion. After all, it was the Torah that made the person a convert. He assured me that it was a kosher conversion, but I had no way of knowing if he even knew what “kosher conversion” meant.

     “What are your questions?” I asked.

     “How do I know that the Torah is the true religion and that the other religions are false?”

     “Because it works,” I answered. “If a Jew would follow any other religion, he or his children would almost certainly intermarry and his descendants would not be Jews. When a Jew follows the Torah, he will not intermarry, and most likely his children won’t intermarry, either, so he will have Jewish descendants. This is one of the main functions of a Torah life today. It almost guarantees that there will be a vibrant Jewish people in the world.”

    “But Buddhists marry other Buddhists and have Buddhist children, so according to you, that means that their religion is true,” he answered.

     “There is no such thing as a Buddhist person,” I tried to explain. “There are people who believe in Buddhism, but then when they change their belief, they are no longer Buddhists. Following the Torah guarantees that there will be a Jewish people. Jews are a people, not a belief.”

     “But it works for them. So how do I know that the Torah is true?” he asked again.

     “I already told you.” I could see that he did not want to listen to me no matter what I said, but I went on anyway. “Myprimary concern is my religion and my people… that we should flourish. Whether that religion of many deities is true or not is not my question. I know that there are no real deities.

     “All of my enemies have always wanted to destroy my people. When a Jew follows a different religion, he ends up not having a Jewish family which helps my enemies. This proves to me that those religions are not true.”

     He was unmoved by my answer.

     “Jews are no better than anyone else.” he said, without a smile on his face. “All people are the same. It is like the sunshine. It was created for all people and shines equally on all people.”

    “All people are not the same,” I told him. “We are all one, but we are not the same. It’s like my hands,” I said, as I spread my hands out in front of him. “They are one, but they are not the same.

     “The world is like a human body,” I continued. “There are many organs in the body. Each is different, each has its own function, each is precious, and each is needed for the body to be healthy. But, they are not the same, and they are not equal. The heart has its function, and the kidneys have their functions. You need them both, but they are not equal.

     “Each person on earth has his own special function. When anyone does what he was created to do, he will succeed. He will become a righteous person. We are all one, but we are not all the same.”

     He remained unmoved. He sadly took off the tefillin and walked away. I knew that he did not want to change. But, if and when he wants to change, the information will be in his head waiting for him.

5 comments:

Chaney said...

Yes, in the wise and timeless words of Bono: "We are One, but we're NOT the same, we get to carry each other, carry each other-ONE!"
Additionally, "I've got one love; we get to share it."
My little sister was this way, it was more about the getting to share the experience and memory of having done a thing as a family; than doing the thing itself. Somehow, I know our souls will remember these lifetimes and all of the ups and downs of trying to bring Israel into its correct and rightful place. And they will remember each other, the Gilad Shalit, the Jonathon Pollards and the B.O.'s and we will be better at avoiding these situations at the hands of our enemies in the future.
I will leave you with my favorite, most forgotten quote from Bono; as it applies to the often failed marriages in America, "We've got one love, we get to share it; it leaves you Baby, if you don't care for it. One."

Anonymous said...

I really admire the phenomenal work that you, but I don't think that your response to the question "How do I know that the Torah is the true religion and that the other religions are false?” was very good. You already have meaning in your life and are seeking to ensure Jewish continuity. But this person and others who you meet are seeking meaning. People want meaning in their own lives. There will only be a Jewish future if there is a Jewish present, and Jewish meaning in the present.

The best answer is that of revelation to a multitude as opposed to every other major religion that claims a private revelation to one individual.
You can also mention the many Torah prophecies that have come true thousands of years later. Which other religion can claim anything like that?

Assi said...

I have never heard a Jew or a true convert speak the way the tourist from Colombia was speaking. But, I have heard many non-Jews speak the way he was speaking. I seriously doubt whether this tourist received a kosher conversion.

Riki said...

I agree with Assi. The tourist may actually be a gentile and that's why he had no feeling for Yiddishkeit.

Anonymous said...

Im living a religious orthodox life and I wonder the same questions like him. The rabbi's answer didn't have any deep meaning to me either. So our religion has a sophisticated way of claiming and enforcing a continuing presence. That's the structure of the religion. But that in no way can address his question how do I know its a true religion.

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