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Fear the King. Do Not Treat him With Disrespect

I'm Trying Not to Like the Rabbi, but I Can't Do It

“By the way, the rabbi’s [Tovia Singer] not buying this ‘love the Jews’ slogan, either. Doesn’t this Lutheran character know about Luther? Rabbi Singer writes:

Among all the church fathers and reformers, there was no mouth more vile, no lips that uttered more vulgar curses against the children of Israel than this founder of the Reformation whom you apparently revere. Even the anti-Semitism of the New Testament and the church fathers pales in comparison to the invectives launched by Luther’s impious tongue during his lifetime. Have you not read his odious volume entitled ‘Of the Jews and Their Lies’?’ Although evangelicals repeatedly declare that true believing Christians love the Jewish people, the annals of history clearly do not support this slogan. With few exceptions, the tormentors of the Jewish people emerged out of the fundamentalist genre of Christianity. Remarkably, denominations that evangelical Christians regard as heretical, such as Mormonism or the Jehovah’s Witnesses, do not have a strong history of anti-Semitism.

And while we’re at it, the rabbi also takes a swipe at Trinitarianism, which he wrongly equates with Christianity. Psalm 22 opens with “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” If these words are to be attributed to a Trinitarian Jesus on the cross, asks the rabbi, (Matthew 27:46) can it really be that God has forsaken himself? This is the sort of nonsense you have to buy into repeatedly when you accept the Trinity doctrine. It’s nonsense that clears up instantly once you appreciate that Jesus and his Father are two separate beings, just like any other son and father we can imagine. Indeed, that’s why the Bible uses that bit of personification: so as to highlight the closeness and harmony existing between them, while all the time making clear they are separate beings.

I tell you, it’s hard not to like the rabbi. Maybe it’s a ‘foe of my foe is my friend’ kind of thing. I’m trying my best not to like him. After all, if you get too fast and friendly with the other team’s quarterback, he’ll clobber you, like on the TV ad: “o yeah, baby, Geico’s as fast and friendly as it gets!”

But I can’t do it. I heard once that the Hasidic Jews in New York City aren’t nice to our people when they come calling; it doesn’t matter. I’ve heard the rabbi on the radio being interviewed by snarky religionists trying to crucify him. They interrupt him when he scores a point, they break for a commercial as he threatens to score another. He nonetheless treats them with deference. I respect his sincerity in safeguarding the ‘children of Israel.’ Besides, I like Jews. They are our origin. Everything about their worship is clean.

How can you not love Jewish folk humor? It’s irresistible. How can you not love Isaac Bashevis Singer’s short story friend whose metaphor for life was that of a chess against God. He’d get slaughtered with every move. But it wasn’t all bad. Nobody wants to waste their time on an unworthy opponent and it was a great honor playing against God.

The friend, a fixer, was called to fix a window casing. He was relieved to find the vile, jealous brute of a husband not at home, but his drop-dead gorgeous wife was there ill, bedridden. The fixer had to use a stepladder and reach over the woman to work on the casing. He slipped! He fell on top of the woman! Belt buckles locked and they couldn’t separate! At that moment, the door flew open; the husband had returned from work! His eyes and nostrils widened! He charged with fists clenched! Our hero had time for one thought only: “Masterful move, God! Absolutely brilliant!”

How can you not love it? Imagine - playing chess against God, but always in the spirit of devotion on the one side, fondness on the other. And when he grinds you into powder for the umpteenth time, he says:

 “Fine game, Tevye. You’re improving! Care for another match?”

The rabbi won’t like it that Judaism is our origin only; he’ll be mad it’s not our destination as well. Maybe put us into proximity someday and we will fight like cats and dogs. But today’s not the day. Isaac Bashevis Singer has seen to it.”

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