Monday, November 19, 2018

בין ישראל לאומות

This is a post I recently made on Facebook:

One of our group’s respected members wrote me directly (lightly edited):
“After just reading about the gentile who gave away the prize money I attempted to write a comment three times. Each time I erased it before posting. This needs to stay private. How many of us would do anything remotely close to this for gentiles, other than Jewish federations? Instead we write articles about the failure of the Tikun Olam direction of the non-Orthodox, which has some truth but also creates confusion about being an Ohr LaGoyim. And then there's the actual issur of Lo Sechanem. And in light of things like this, what exactly is meant by Chesed Leumim Chatas? RSRH writes in many places of the light of the Torah influencing the rest of the world. Would he say that such kindness is proof of that and that Chesed Leumim Chatas isn't a blanket statement, but the way it often is, which will ultimately change by the Torah's influence? And what can be said about Lo Sechanem? And while I'm asking questions, if we are an Ohr LaGoyim, why is it assur to teach Torah to gentiles (without creative heterim)?”
These are excellent questions that must be aired and considered. I will leave any answers to these questions to the comments or to later posts. First I would like to include here a recent discussion in which I participated. I believe it is self explanatory, and very pertinent. All names are changed and the conversation is lightly edited.
The concept of “Esav sonei Es Yaakov”, is the root where all the hatred of the non-Jews toward the Jews stems from. Throughout my life, I never really felt the hatred. The tension was always in the news, in countries not close to home. The text messages would come through saying “please daven for…. Major attack on the Jewish community in the shul in France…” I would stop, say my Tehillim and move onward with my day. Until one day that all changed. It was an ordinary Tuesday morning in ABC Seminary in Jerusalem. The teacher who was teaching began to wrap up her lesson a couple of minutes early and she said that Rabbi X the school principal would like to speak to the entire school together before the class is dismissed. We all sat in our seats patiently. What can Rabbi X want from us all today? We were anxious to get out and go enjoy our lunch break outdoors. That plan changed during Rabbi X’s speech. “Girls the Arabs are out to get us Jews, this is a serious situation. Stabbings are occurring left and right in our neighborhood to our neighbors. No girl is to leave the school building without my permission. Just this morning in front of the supermarket about three minutes away from our school an Arab stabbed a young Jewish man who is now in critical condition and the Arab was not yet found.” This is when it hit me hard. “Esav Sonei Es Yaakov,” this time it wasn't just in the news or far away. It was my neighborhood where I was currently living, and my fellow neighbors being stabbed. This shook all my classmates and I tremendously. The persecution was felt enormously. All we could do at that point was say Tehillim and daven for the salivation of the Jews.
It seems that Rabbi Bechhofer would disagree with the basis of your post. He writes that Esav sonei es Yaakov is not a Maamar Chazal and that Rashi brings it solely to explain the relationship between the brothers....
However I would agree with you. Rashi uses the expression "Halacha Beyadua" that Esav sonei es Yaakov. If Rashi was just mentioning a hatred that was not for generations but just between Esav to Yaakov he would not have gone out of his way to add "Halacha Beyadua." Also the Term Halacha makes it sound like its a binding statement. For example we say Halacha Moshe Misinai, these Halachos are not said for one generation but rather for all generations!
That being said I still believe your use was not entirely correct. The Arabs are not descendants of Yishmael, not Esav. So although they also hate us that use would not be the way to bring it out.
These are diyukim for Rishonim to make. Not for us. Especially since the "Halacha" is in all likelihood a typo. I don't find the diyuk particularly compelling in any event...
Thank you for the comment.
After doing a little bit of research I was delighted to find that Reb Moshe Feinstein in Igros Moshe CM 2:77 makes the diyuk I wrote earlier.
In a responsum to the Jews of England who asked whether or not they should take money for their institutions from their government, Reb Moshe quotes this Rashi. Reb Moshe is troubled by the use of the word "Halacha." Reb Moshe explains that Just like Halacha is binding and never changing so to the actuality of Esav hating Yaakov is binding and never changing!
He cautions the questioners from bringing a lawsuit against the government so as not to spark their hatred for us.
Although It is interesting that this is not something that is found earlier than Reb Moshe, It seems their is some merit to the other side...
Nice find. Now, tell me, is that what you believe?
הרב יוסף אליהו הענקין תקף בחריפות גישה זו כפי שמובא בספר תשובות איברא סימן קט"ז. "ועוון פלילי מצד אותם המטיפים הפטפטנים שדורשים תמיד 'הלכה הוא שעשו שונא ליעקב', והשנאה עולמית. זה נגד האמת ונגד חז"ל והמקרא, שעשו גופא לא הי' רשע תמיד ושנאתו פסקה על ידי הנהגה מתאמת וכמו עשו הראשון כן הם ג"כ דורותיו שהכנעה מביאה לשלום, וזהו שאמר בן זומא (אבות פ"ד מ"א) 'איזהו מכובד המכבד את הבריות', כונתו גם נגד האומות, כשמכבדים אותם ואומרים להם אוהבי אתה הם נעשים לאוהבים על ידי זה ולהפך כשאומרים שונא אתה נעשים לשונא וזהו מעשים בכל יום". כלומר, לדעתו אין לראות במדרש זה קביעה כאילו ששנאתו של עשיו היא נצחית, אלא עשיו שינה את יחסו ליעקב לאורך חייו, ובאופן דומה גם צאצאיו של עשיו יכולים לשנות את יחסם לישראל מתקופה לתקופה.
BTW, the original is:
וישקהו, שלא נשקו בכל לבו. ר' שמעון בן יוחיי או' והלא בידוע שעשו שונא ליעקב? אלא נהפכו רחמיו באותה שעה ונשקו בכל לבו. (ספרי במדבר סט, עמ' 167 במהד' כהנא)
It is clear that the הלכה is an incorrect expansion of וה that some scribe or printer made in transcribing the Rashi.
Wow that is an incredible piece!
Building on the diyuk I made above I do believe there is an inner hatred that many non-Jews have for us. In the Holocaust many friendly Germans turned on their Jewish neighbors once the Nazis came into power. The fact that they are nice today doesn't mean that will continue in the future. I am not saying that all gentiles fall under this category. However I do believe we always have to be suspicious and careful. As we saw in Germany, most friendly Germans either turned on the Jews or did not defend the Jews when they were being mass murdered.
One of the disadvantages of Galus is that we are under the control of the non Jewish nations. We yearn for the Geulah so that we can return to being under the wings of Hashem.
Two points:
1. If Goyim have an intrinsic hatred for Jews, how exactly is "Ohr laGoyim" supposed to work?
2. Here is a question that disturbs me immensely when I come across Esav sonei l'Yaakov literalism: Suppose the tables were turned and Goyim were being annihilated by some Jewish pseudo Nazi group: How many Orthodox Jews would put their lives on the line to be "Righteous Jews " and save Goyim?
Thank you for your questions. I am enjoying this discussion immensely.
As to your first point, I am not so familiar with the sources of "Ohr laGoyim." I understand your question and I hope to do further research over Shabbos.
I do not agree with your second question at all. In the times of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash the Talmud in Gittin (55b) tells us that the Romans laid siege on Jerusalem. The Talmud relates that there was a group of people who wanted to wage war and destroy the Romans.
The Jewish people listened to the sages of those times and did not join the Baryonim. The Baryonim burned all the Jewish supplies in order to push the Jews into war. However this did not change the trust that the Jewish people had in their leaders. The war never came into being. The Orthodox Jewish people will always follow the direction of their leaders, and not follow the lowly people that want to destroy life.
in Germany we saw the opposite.
How could a civilized nation turn into a death machine?
How could a lowly man like Hitler become a role model for a prosperous country?
How could a lowly group like the SS become the accepted law enforcement of an entire country?
I would suggest that this is only possible because of this inner hatred that non-Jews have for us. All they need, is someone to bring that hatred to the surface. Millions of people joined the Nazis in killing the Jews.
The Jews are privileged to be a nation that strives for morality. We care for all people regardless of their religion. We would never allow a lowly group like the Baryonim take control of the morality and ideals that we believe in!
The mashal is faulty. You are talking about a case where there is an intact sagacious and righteous leadership. I am talking about a case like Nazi Germany where the leadership consists, just for the parallel's sake of, say, an array of Baruch Goldsteins...
The point I was trying to make earlier is that Klal Yisroel would never have such a group.
Hitler was a low life that was in prison. The original group of the SS were uneducated gangsters.
Rashi calls the Baryonim lowly individuals. they also were a small group of lowlives. Klal Yisrael would never let a group like this turn into a government of the people!
There would never be a government of Baruch Goldsteins that would want to kill out a country.
In my opinion the fact that Germany let a group of low-lifes turn a country of educated decent people into monsters is an indication that there was a hatred that was brought to the surface...
I don't blame you for trying to evade the question. It's not easy to come to grips with it.
You don't need to have a government of Goldsteins to face the question. Resistance fighters and other Righteous Gentiles who were governed by hostile invaders risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. The question is whether we would stick out our necks to save Christians similarly.
This became a more disturbing question for me a couple of weeks ago when I saw that the Oz v'Hadar and Artscroll Shas'in had eliminated the Shittah Mekubetzes in the name of the Meiri and others printed on 38a and 113a in the bottom left hand corner that had appeared in the Vilna Shas'in. Evidently the notion that Goyim should be treated well was too irksome...
The answer to your question is simple.
Although as I explained it would never happen...
If it were to happen I would ask my Rav what the appropriate Halachic thing is to do..
However as I explained earlier even if Jews wouldn't help the gentiles, you would never see thousands upon thousands of people actively helping the Goldsteins in committing mass murders...
In Germany thousands of Germans, Poles, and Ukranians joined arms with the Nazis.
Still evading...
And if people had no Rabbonim they could reach, or their Rabbonim said there is no chiyuv to place yourselves in sakkonoh...
If they said not to put my life in danger than I wouldn't... But as I said I would never join forces with these people....
In Germany they did.
Not sure what you mean that I am evading the q..
Forget Germany for a minute. Every Pole, every Dutch, every Dane, every Belgian, every French, etc. individual who risked his or her life saving Jews without asking their pastor for a ruling on the issue would seem, by your lights, to be a fool. And those who did not risk their lives were totally justified. The Avenue of Righteous Gentiles at Yad Vashem might as well be called The Avenue of Foolish Gentiles…
Rabbi, with all due respect, please do not talk about past Jewish leaders in such a demeaning fashion. To compare Baruch Goldstein zt"l Hy"d to the Nazis is an atrocity in itself. I ate a meal at Harav's Goldstein's best friend who was his neighbor in Chevron at the time, and he spoke very highly of Harav Goldstein. Harav Goldstein fought righteously for the well-being of the Jews in Chevron, (who were under constant attack by the Arabs,) and stepped up as the "Ish" in the place where there was no Ish. May his memory be a source of merit for us all.
Not for me. Baruch Goldstein has much Jewish blood on his hands. But if you can give him the appellation of zt"l, then we come from very different perspectives that cannot be reconciled.
I must say a very interesting topic. Thank you, Rabbi, for educating us about the different approaches to "Esav sonei es Yaakov."
Here are some comments I have about your opinion.
1. Yes as you wrote it is not a Halacha that Esav sonei es Yaakov and everyone has the ability to change there approach. It seems like that they all start with hatred too us.
2. In regards to the talk about the Nazis, how could you compare the massacre that Baruch Goldstein performed to the Nazis? As Shimon wrote the Nazis had many followers and supporters and were slowly making there way to capture the world.
Baruch Goldstein was a psychopath whose acts were condemned by all!
Here is a question I do believe should be discussed. With all the rage about the Nazis, they had beliefs. Many would disagree but they had explanations for there acts. If we were to know who Amalek was today we would have an obligation to murder all the nation of Amalek. So why are we any different than the Nazis ?
1. I don't think so. I don't think my cleaning lady hates us. I actually think she likes us.
2. I did not draw such a comparison. I posed a hypothetical question.
3. Baruch Goldstein's acts were supported by at least one participant in this discussion.
4. It is a common misconception that there is an automatic obligation to annihilate Amalek. It only pertains if and when we ask them and they refuse to accept sheva mitzvos Bnei Noach. See the Rambam in Hilchos Melachim.


  1. Let us examine a number of famous and not-as-famous references in the Meiri:

    הרואה בתי כנסיות של ישראל ביישובן אומר ברוך מציב גבול אלמנה בחורבנן אומר ברוך דיין האמת בתי עובדי האלילים ושאר בעלי האמונות הקדומות שלא היו גדורות בדרכי הדתות והם הנזכרים בתלמוד תמיד בלשון אומות העולם כל שראה אותם ביישוב ובשלוה אומר בית גאים יסח ה' בחורבנן אומר אל נקמות ה':

    עם הארץ פעמים שמותר לנחרו אף ביום הכפורים שחל להיות בשבת שהרי אינו יודע טיבן של מצות ודרכי הדתות ונמשך אחר טבעו כבהמה ופעמים שימצאוהו רץ אחר הזכור או אחר נערה המאורשה ויהא מותר להרגו אף בשבת כמו שהתבאר במקומו

    נגח שור שלנו את שלו פטור שכל שבהמות שלנו מזיקות לעובדי האלילים אין אנו חייבין לשלם ששמירת בהמות מדת חסידות וגדרי הדתות ואין גמילות חסדים למי שאינו גדור בדרכי הדתות

    אין ממחין ביד עניי גוים אפי' אותם עממין שאינם גדורים בדרכי הדתות בלקט שכחה ופאה מפני דרכי שלום וכן אמרו בגמרא שמפרנסיו עניי גויים עם עניי ישראל ומבקריו חוליהם עם חולי ישראל וקוברין מיתי גוים עם מיתי ישראל ולא לקברם בבית הקברות של ישראל אלא שאם מצאו ישראלים וגוים מתים משתדלים בקבורתם כדרך שמשתדלים במיתי ישראל:

    שאם מוצאו בשוק נותן לו שלום ואף זה ביום אידם מיהא לא בסבר פנים המראים חבה והתדבקות שמא מתוך פנאי שלי ותשוקתו בספור כח גליליו ימשך עמו ומכל מקום אומות הגדורות בדרכי הדתות ומאמינים במציאותו ית' ואחדותו ויכלתו אף על פי שמשתבשין בקצת דברים לפי אמונתנו אין להם מקדם בדברים אלו:

    ומ"מ באותם הגדורים בדרכי הדתות לא נאמר כן אלא אם באו לפנינו לדין אין מעבירין להם את הדרך כמלא מחט אלא יקוב הדין את ההר אם לו אם לשכנגדו:

    כל שהוא מעממין הגדורים בדרכי הדת ועובדי האלהות על איזה צד אף על פי שאמונתם רחוקה מאמונתנו אינם בכלל זה אלא הרי הם כישראל גמור לדברים אלו אף באבדה ואף בטעות ולכל שאר הדברים בלא שום חלוק:

    כבר בארנו על אבדת עובדי אלילים שאינו חייב עליה ולא סוף דבר שאינו צריך להשתדל עליה בהחזרתה אלא שאף אם הגיעה לידו אינו חייב להחזיר בפירוש אמרו ומצאתה דאתא לידיה משמע ואעפ"כ לא נאמר אלא אבדת אחיך והוא כל מי שהוא גדור בדרכי הדתות:

    כבר ידעת כמה החמירה תורה להרחיק עובדי האלילים מארצנו ומגבולנו ומבינותינו ובכמה מקומות האריכה להזהירנו להתרחק ממעשיהם מכאן אמרו לא תחנם לא התן להם חן ר"ל לשבח ענינם ומעשיהם ואפילו יפי צורתם ותבניתם וכן דרשו מכאן שלא נתן להם חנייה בקרקע כדי שלא להתמיד ישיבתם בינותינו וכן דרשו ממנו שלא ליתן להם מתנת חנם שלא לגזלה למי שאנו חייבים לה ביותר כגון גר תושב והוא בן נח הגמור לקיים שבע מצות כמו שאמרה תורה לגר אשר בשעריך תתננה ואכלה או מכור לנכרי ומ"מ פי' בתוספתא דוקא לגוי שאין מכירו או שהיה עובר ממקום למקום אבל אם היה שכנו או חברו מותר שהוא כמוכרן לו הא כל שהוא מן האומות הגדורות בדרכי הדתות ושמודות באלהות אין ספק שאף בשאין מכירו מותר וראוי וכבר אמרו שולח אדם ירך לנכרי:

    וכבר התבאר שדברים הללו נאמרו לאותם הזמנים שהיו אותם האומות מעובדי האלילים והיו מזוהמים במעשיהם ומכוערים במדותיהם כענין האמור בקצת כמעשה ארץ מצרים אשר ישבתם בה לא תעשו וכמעשה ארץ כנען וגו' אבל שאר אמות שהם גדורים בדרכי הדתות ושהם נקיים מכעורים שבמדות הללו ואדרבה שמענישים עליהם אין ספק שאין לדברים הללו מקום להם כלל כמו שבארנו וכבר נכפל זה הרבה בדברינו כדי שלא תצטרך לכמה דחקים שאתה מוצא בחדושין ובתוספות ללא צורך:

    הגוים והרועים בהמה דקה ישראלים שסתמם מתמידים בגזל ומשוקעים בו עד שנעשו בכך כפורקים מעליהם עול תורה אלא שלא מחמת פיקור הם עושים אלא מחמת ממון ומ"מ כל שבא להם ההיזק מאליו אין אנו מצווים להשתדל בהצלתם ואף בזו של גוים צריך אתה לבחון מה שהקדמנו באיזה גוי הוא אומר כן ר"ל שבעובדי האלילים נאמר שלא היו גדורים בדרכי הדתות ואדרבה כל עבירה וכל כיעור יפה בעיניהם וכבר אמר ראש הפילוסופים הרגו מי שאין לו דת הא כל שהוא מעובדי האלהות אף על פי שאינו מכלל הדת אינו בדין זה חלילה וחס וכבר ידעת בגר תושב והוא שקבל עליו שבע מצות שאתה מצווה להחיותו:

    וכל דבר שאינו יודע מה הוא וחולי שבתוך הפה הרי הוא כמכה שבחלל הגוף ואסור שמתוך שהם עובדי האלילים לבד ואינם מאמינים באלהות אינם גדורים בדרכי הדתות וכל עברה וכל כעור יפה בעיניהם ואין חוששין לכלום:

    1. The marei mekomos:

      (1) המאירי על מסכת ברכות דף נח/ב
      ברוך דיין האמת ברוי עובדי האלילים ושאר בעלי האמונות הקדומות שלא היו גדורות *בדרכי* *הדתות* והם הנזכרים בתלמוד תמיד בלשון אומות העולם כל שראה אותם ביישוב ובשלוה אומר בית גאים יסח ה' בחורבנן אומר אל נקמות ה':
      (2) המאירי על מסכת פסחים דף מט/ב
      עם הארץ פעמים שמותר לנחרו אף ביום הכפורים שחל להיות בשבת שהרי אינו יודע טיבן של מצות *ודרכי* *הדתות* ונמשך אחר טבעו כבהמה ופעמים שימצאוהו רץ אחר הזכור או אחר נערה המאורשה ויהא מותר להרגו אף בשבת כמו שהתבאר במקומו ואף על פי
      (3) המאירי על מסכת כתובות דף ג/ב
      ואתה למד מסוגיא זו שאף בנבעלה לגוי כן אפילו היה מאותם הקדומים בעבדת האלילים שלא היו גדורים *בדרכי* *הדתות* שביאת גוי שמה ביאה לפסלה לבעלה והתמה ממקצת רבותינו הצרפתים שכתבו שביאת גוי אינה אוסרת לבעל ממה שאמרו רחמנא
      (4) המאירי על מסכת כתובות דף טו/ב
      מקום אין מחזירין לו אבדה נגח שור שלנו את שלו פטור שכל שבהמות שלנו מזיקות לעובדי האלילים אין אנו חייבין לשלם ששמירת בהמות מדת חסידות וגדרי *הדתות* ואין גמילות חסדים למי שאינו גדור *בדרכי* *הדתות* ומעתה כל שמוציא אומרין לו הבא
      (5) המאירי על מסכת כתובות דף טו/ב
      לעובדי האלילים אין אנו חייבין לשלם ששמירת בהמות מדת חסידות וגדרי הדתות ואין גמילות חסדים למי שאינו גדור *בדרכי* *הדתות* ומעתה כל שמוציא אומרין לו הבא ראיה שלא מעובדי האלילים אתה נגח שור שלו את שלנו משלם מחצה כישראל ומגופו
      (6) המאירי על מסכת גיטין דף נט/א
      נראה ממעשה שהוזכר בגמרא ברב כהנא דהוה אזיל להוצל כו': אין ממחין ביד עניי גוים אפי' אותם עממין שאינם גדורים *בדרכי* *הדתות* בלקט שכחה ופאה מפני *דרכי* שלום וכן אמרו בגמרא שמפרנסיו עניי גויים עם עניי ישראל
      (7) המאירי על מסכת גיטין דף סב/א
      פנאי שלי ותשוקתו בספור כח גליליו ימשך עמו ומכל יקום אמות הגדורות *בדרכי* *הדתות* ומאמינים במציאותו ית' לאחדוקו דיכלתו אף על פי שמשתבשין בקצת דברים לפי אמונתנו אין להם מקדם בדברים אלו:
      (8) המאירי על מסכת קידושין דף יז/ב
      הגוי אף על פי שהוא מעובדי האלילים ומן האמונות הקדומות שלא היו גדורות *בדרכי* *הדתות* הרי הוא בכלל ירושה של תורה ויורש את אביו ושאר מורישיו ואין אומרין שיהא כל המחזיק בהן זוכה בהן אלא כל המחזיק בהן צריך להחזיר וכל שהוא מעכב
      (9) המאירי על מסכת בבא קמא דף קיג/א
      מאליו ושאין לו קצבה על הדרך שבארנו: היה המוכס מעובדי האלילים הקדומים שאינם גדורים *בדרכי* *הדתות* והבריח ממנו את המכס הואיל ואין כאן גזל גמור ולא חלול השם אין מקפידין על כך וכן אחד מאלו

    2. (10) המאירי על מסכת בבא קמא דף קיג/א
      דינכם ואם לאו הואיל ואינו מוצא לפטרו בצד טענה יחייבהו ויכריחהו לשלם שלא יאמרו נושאים הם פנים לעצמם ומ"מ באותם הגדורים *בדרכי* *הדתות* לא נאמר כן אלא אם באו לפנינו לדין אין מעבירין להם את הדרך כמלא מחט אלא יקוב הדלן את ההר
      (11) המאירי על מסכת בבא קמא דף קיג/ב
      נמצא שאף עובדי האלילים ושאינם גדורים *בדרכי* *הדתות* אסור לגזלם ואם נמכר לו ישראל אסור לצאת מידו בלא פדיון וכן אסור להפקיע את הלואתו ומ"מ אין אדם חייב
      (12) המאירי על מסכת בבא מציעא דף ב/א
      חייב להחזירה שהרי ומצאתה הנאמר במקרא שהגיעה לידו משמע ואעפ"כ נאמר שם לכל אבדת אחיך ואין אחוה לעובדי האלילים שאינם תחת גדר *הדתות* עם האומות הגדורות *בדרכי* הדת כמו שבארנו בפרק הגוזל:
      (13) המאירי על מסכת בבא מציעא דף כז/א
      ומצאתה דאתא לידיה משמע ואעפ"כ לא נאמר אלא אבדת אחיך והוא כל מי שהוא גדור *בדרכי* *הדתות*:
      (14) המאירי על מסכת עבודה זרה דף כ/א
      ומ"מ פי' בתוספתא דוקא לגוי שאין מכירו או שהיה עובר ממקום למקום אבל אם היה שכנו או חברו מותר שהוא כמוכרן לו הא כל שהוא מן האומות הגדורות *בדרכי* *הדתות* ושמודות באלהות אין ספק שאף בשאין מכירו מותר וראוי וכבר אמרו שולח אדם ירך
      (15) המאירי על מסכת עבודה זרה דף כב/א
      במעשיהם ומכוערים במדותיהם כענין האמור בקצת כמעשה ארץ מצרים אשר ישבתם בה לא תעשו וכמעשה ארץ כנען וגו' אבל שאר אמות שהם גדורים *בדרכי* *הדתות* ושהם נקיים מכעורים שבמדות הללו ואדרבה שמענישים עליהם אין ספק שאין לדברים הללו מקום
      (16) המאירי על מסכת עבודה זרה דף כו/א
      לבחון מה שהקדמנו באיזה גוי הוא אומר כן ר"ל שבעובדי האלילים נאמר שלא היו גדורים *בדרכי* *הדתות* ואדרבה כל עבירה וכל כיעור יפה בעיניהם וכבר אמר ו'אש הפילוסופים הרגו מי שאין לו דת הא כל שהוא מעובדי האלהות אף על פי שאינו מכלל
      (17) המאירי על מסכת עבודה זרה דף כז/א
      וחולי שבתוך הפה הרי הוא כמכה שבחלל הגוף ואסור שמתוך שהם עובדי האלילים לבד ואינם מאמינים באלהות אינם גדורים *בדרכי* *הדתות* וכל עברה וכל כעור יפה בעיניהם ואין חוששין לכלום:
      (18) המאירי על מסכת הוריות דף יא/א
      ליה זיל לא שבקי ליה דאפרוקינך אלמא שאלו היה אוכל לתאבון היו חייבים בפדיונו ואף במסכת ע"ז כ"ו א' יראה כן ששנו שם הגויים ר"ל שאינן גדורים *בדרכי* *הדתות* כמו שביארנו שם ורועי בהמה דקה לא מעלין ולא מורידין ואלו היה משומד לתאבון

    3. RAYHK writes אגרות ראי"ה, איגרת פט:

      העיקר הוא כדעת המאירי שכל העמים שהם גדורים בנימוסים הגונים בין אדם לחברו
      הם כבר נחשבים לגרים תושבים בכל חיובי אדם.

    4. The Be'er HaGolah writes in CM 266:

      וממה שכתב הרמב"ם הטעם מפני שהוא מחזיק ידי רשעי עולם, נלענ"ד דס"ל דלא אמר
      רב בסנהדרין אלא בעכו"ם עובדי כוכבים ומזלות, ולא בעכו"ם שבזמן הזה, שמודים
      בבורא עולם ונימוסיהם להחזיר אבידה.

      and in 425:

      שלא אמרו חז"ל דבר זה אלא על העכו"ם שהיו בזמניהם, שהיו עובדי כוכבים ומזלות,
      ולא היו מאמינים ביציאת מצרים ובחידוש העולם. אבל אלו הגויים אשר אנחנו האומה
      הישראלית חוסים בצלם ומפוזרים ביניהם, הם מאמינים בחידוש העולם וביציאת
      מצרים ובעיקרי הדת, וכל כוונתם לעושה שמים וארץ, כמ"ש הפוסקים והביאו הרמ"א
      באו"ח סי' קכו בהג"ה ... אנו מחוייבים להתפלל לשלומם.

    5. See

  2. also

    1. Indirectly related, but fascinating!בדרכי+הדתות&pgnum=286

    2. For anyone who has proceeded to here. ;-)   ... We shall bring all this together in a new post, IYH, within the next few days, BLN.

    3. But, it is of the utmost importance in this regard to see my essay at pp. 34-36 (in the pagination of the periodical).

    4. Pls include an english translation I'm kinda lasy and reading all that Hebrew will make my head hurt.

  3. 'Baruch Goldstein has much Jewish blood on his hands."
    Good Rabbi it's called war. There is a war with occasional truces between the jews and the arabs in Israel and Falasteen which has been going on for over 60 years.

    1. "4. It is a common misconception that there is an automatic obligation to annihilate Amalek. It only pertains if and when we ask them and they refuse to accept sheva mitzvos Bnei Noach. See the Rambam in Hilchos Melachim."
      Rabbi Bechofer, here's a perfect test case to test the truth of that. Get me either a pasuk (or hell even a remez will do) in Shmuel Aleph Chapter 15 that there was an offer which they turned down to accept the sheva mitzvos bnei noach.

    2. "Wars are between warriors..."
      Ha. Tell that to Temujin.He has the blood of millions on his hands due to his wars.

    3. In case you don't know Temujin is Genghis Kahn.

    4. 1. The case in Shmuel was one of horo'as sho'oh based on nevuah.

      @. Stalin too. So?

    5. 1.You still have a navi receiving a message from God in some fashion to commit genocide. Admittedly, this is a tough moral issue and it makes me queasy.

    6. Rabbi Samet has an interesting diyuk from which he infers that Shaul was korei l'shalom even here:

    7. Interesting, I'll check up on the etymological origin of yarev when i can find something on it.

    8. I strongly suspect the Rambam tried to re-write history because he was kind of queasy at the whole genocide thing. I looked at sources as late as the Gemara and I couldn't find anything to that effect (The cut-off point is the end of the Tanaiitic period, get me a statement to the effect of what the Rambam says, it may be from any source you want)

    9. I'll even be meikil and allow statements to that effect by Amoraim.In other words 1 and a half Millenium after the event WAY more than any historian would allow for.

    10. It also must be a clear statement and not an interpretation.

    11. A statement like "zagt Rav Yehuda: Before entering eretz Yisroel Yehoshua sent messengers to the kenaanim..." would work.

    12. It is R' Shmuel bar Nachmeni in Yerushalmi Sheviis 6:1.

  4. I agree with you that the "It'll never happen among the Yidden" notion is rather naive.

  5. Here's a map of who controlled which parts of Yerushalayim during the Roman siege it seems like the Biryonim did in fact take over

  6. Rabbi Bechhofer,

    I'm looking forward to where this discussion leads. What is the most precise definition of דרכי הדתות? How would the Rambam define warning? Are there Rishonim who explicitly disagree or agree with the Rambam on this? More generally, what exactly is the metaphysical nature of the non-Jew in your favored stream or synthesis of Jewish thought? Along these lines, I've been pleased and troubled by the following excerpt from an interview R'Mayer Schiller gave with the Jewish Review ( and am curious as to your thoughts on the issues it raises (the more elaboration and sources, the better!).

    1. It's refreshing to see someone learned bothering to articulate these questions and trying to be meyashev.

      What troubles me? Well, I too suspect your cleaning lady doesn’t hate you and certainly doesn’t want to kill you. Not only that, but the person dearest to my heart is a non-Jew (hi Avi!). My experience with non-Jews, while admittedly anecdotal, leads me to believe that their commonplace demonization across the observant Jewish spectrum is misplaced. In my experience, those Jews who don’t see non-Jews as inherently inferior more often than not are lacking in basic halachic practice (present virtual chevra excluded, of course!). Now, why would that be? Hopefully it doesn’t have to do with Torah.

      Invoking Ohr LaGoyim (remind me what this is again?). Citing unique Meiris. Deeming contemporary non-Jews being distinct from those discussed in the Gemara. Maybe I’m being overly cynical, but sometimes these seem more like cliches that avoid more hard questions than real answers. This article on R’Hirsch, the hakdamos of Haemek Davar and Shaarei Yosher, and R’Dessler’s piece on giving can be comforting (I have yet to read your HaMaayan article or any of B'Ikvos haYira in its original). Jarring Chazals aside, what can be said for the apparent lack of concern for (or active disparagement of) the metaphysical nature of the non-Jew in the Torah of millennia of Tzadikim and Baalei Machshava? How, then, can Jews be an Ohr LaGoyim (seriously, what does this really mean?). How could a merciful God want millions or billions of earnest frum non-Jews to burn? That bit about the dominant approach towards non-Jews validating anti-semitism isn’t so comforting either. If we shouldn’t care (or care minimally) for their wellbeing, why should they care about us?

      Oh wait. I forgot that there’s no psak in hashkafa. Nevermind! :)

      Anyhow, dwelling on these matters is surely bitul Torah. I should resume preparation for morning seder.

    2. Mostly questions. I don't think I've learned enough yet to have the right to complain.

    3. Then sort out for me a list of questions to address. Preferably one at a time. ;-)

    4. Fair enough. Since Anonymous and Der Bochur reraised it, let's start with your definition of darchei hadasos, who it includes, and why.

    5. The simplest explanation is that they have rudimentary respect for, and application of, Sheva Mitzvos Bnei Noah, although not necessarily to the extent that we would like to see deployed.

    6. Of course they must also accept that they need no hasroah,only require 1 witness and 1 judge both of whom can be ANYONE and that they may be executed for any violation
      רב הונא ורב יהודה וכולהו תלמידי דרב אמרי על שבע מצות בן נח נהרג גלי רחמנא בחדא והוא הדין לכולהו
      אשכח ר' יעקב בר אחא דהוה כתיב בספר אגדתא דבי רב בן נח נהרג בדיין א' ובעד אחד שלא בהתראה מפי איש ולא מפי אשה ואפילו קרוב משום
      as opposed to all the due proccess for a Jew. How is this supposed to be fair? In other words equality under the law doesn't seem to exist whatsoever (Gezeilah and Ever min Hachai are not capital crimes for Jews)

    7. They don't have to accept anything of the sort. Especially in our day and age. They can legislate any system of dinim they like. These parameters apply to us when we have a sanhedrin and judge them, or impose our system on them - and there is no necessity to assume that we would.

    8. I meant in Eretz Yisroel.
      I assume we would in Eretz Yisroel.
      What I said only applies there, sorry for not making that clear from the start

    9. או שכן או שלא. הלכתא למשיחא.

    10. What if a Medinat Halacha is set up in Israel tomorrow (guided by say Kahanist parties) and Moshiach hasn't yet come. What do you do then?

    11. RYGB, answer the question.

  7. Jewish Review: Is it your commitment to chasidus that brings you in touch with the issues you approach with respect to mankind as a whole apart from the Jew?

    Rabbi Schiller: I would say that chasidus heightened my awareness of other human beings, and although chasidim generally do not apply that awareness to non‑Jews there is a certain empathy that chasidim possess for all people that did heighten my awareness of the gentile.

    Jewish Review: I think for anyone who has had considerable exposure to secular philosophy and culture, when you confront chasidic thought or Jewish thought, for that matter, on the subject of the dignity of man and respect for the person, you can't help, but somehow, apply it to all people?

    Rabbi Schiller: Right. Although the Jewish texts themselves are not always doing that exactly.

    Jewish Review: In your article on ?The Forgotten Humanism of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch? you ask a series of questions about how Jews ought to relate to the predominately gentile societies in which they live. How Jews ought to relate to gentile and secular culture, traditions, customs and art, and also how Jews ought to relate to individual gentiles. Without necessarily answering ?yes? or ?no? to these questions, what is some of the wisdom which the Torah tradition has had with respect to these issues. What are some of the approaches that have been taken?

    Rabbi Schiller: The approaches have been very divergent. The approach that we've seen throughout the Eastern European experience was largely one of isolation both imposed by the gentile society and also self‑imposed. That approach has been, by and large, continued in western societies by significant numbers of Orthodox Jews. They view gentile society simply as the arena in which they can pursue their own Jewish agenda, and they have very little interest in that society except insofar as it can help them pursue that agenda in indirect ways. Now there have been other approaches throughout historyGerman orthodoxy attempted a different approach, as did Italian Jews during the Renaissance and the Spanish Jews, although they too fell prey to certain provincialisms...

    Jewish Review: Fall prey?

    Rabbi Schiller: That's a wrong term. I don't want to pre‑judge the issue and say that it is necessarily the wrong approach to be parochial. I'm talking essentially about an approach that would have Jews weigh all societal questions on one scale of ?how will this effect Jews?, and should have very little, or a vastly secondary, concern for the wider society in and of itself.? This parochial view is found in both religious and secular Jews, but it originally stems from the notion that the gentile is himself secondary in the eyes of the creator.

  8. Jewish Review: So parallel to our sociological questions of how the Jew should behave in gentile society is a metaphysical question about the very status of the gentile. What is the nature of the gentile's soul?

    Rabbi Schiller: I'm afraid that not enough attention has been paid to this question. There is, for example, a machlochis rishonim, on whether a Christian is oved Avodah Zorah (an idol worshipper), whether the trinity is Avodah Zorah (idol worship). Now the Meiri maintains that it isn't and others say that for a gentile it's not Avodah Zorah, but whatever our answer, we're not really facing what our answer entails. If Christianity is, as many maintain, Avodah Zorah, does this mean that the millions and millions of Catholics and Protestants who have lived for the past 2000 years have no share in haolam haba (the world to come)? Is that what we're saying about these millions of sincere, pious people? In reality we often don't assess the status of the gentile as if he himself had any intrinsic value. We always seem to be applying to him criteria that are relevant to us, but do not define either his objective or subjective status. Let's say, for arguments sake, that Christianity is Avodah Zorah, does that then mean that God judges the gentile as an idol worshipper or is he at least a tinok shenishba (a captive, innocent child)? In other words, why should the Christian be any worse than the tinok shenishba that the Rambam talks about in perek gimel of Hilkhot Mamarim where he says that the Karaim (Karaites) descendants are all like ?captive children.? Now seemingly the Protestant and the Catholic shouldn't be any worse off than the Karaim, but again, there has been very little attention paid to these questions .

    Jewish Review: Some people would say that there is no need to pay attention to such questions.

    Rabbi Schiller: Well, in what sense to do you mean ?need?. If you mean ?can I live my daily life without answering this question?? the answer is ?yes,? but it's not that simple, because the answers we give to these questions have tremendous political and social implications. In other words, can we live ethically in societies while not caring about them? What are the implications for anti‑semitism? If we hold to the notion that the gentile is secondary for God are we not in fact embracing a philosophy that is the fulfillment of every accusation that the anti‑semites have made about us? We might respond that the upshot of this view is that we should all leave our host societies and become Zionists, but even that doesn't help us because once you arrive in Israel you have to deal with the Palestinians and the Arab people. So you really can't escape the question of ?who are these gentiles and what are they doing here??

    Now, take the question of military service: should a Jew serve in the armies of the gentile nations he is living in? Should he try to get out of such service? try to get into it? If the answer is that he should try to get out of it or refuse to serve or lie his way out of it, then is the Jew a citizen? Should the gentile view him as a citizen. Should the Jew be granted equal rights if he is unwilling to make equal sacrifices? So I think you can't escape the practical implications of these questions.

    His article on R'Hirsch is at

  9. On Amalek compare Quran Sura 9:5 to Shmuel 1:15:3 and 1:15:18
    Sura 9:5 - But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
    Shmuel 1:15:3 - Now Go and smite Amalek and utterly destroy all that is theirs and do not pity them. And kill man and woman,infant and suckling,oxen and sheep,camel and donkey alike.
    Shmuel 1:15:18 - And Hashem sent you on the way saying Go and annihiliate (hecheramta) the chotoim(Amalek) and fight them until you've destroyed them.

    On the topic of Gentile-Jewish relations, Rabbi Schiller has a good point.

    Just curious, do you think my translations of Sefer Shmuel are better or worse than Artscrolls?

  10. More to point,
    Only the heads of the cities would have a say in the offer anyway, how can the population be reasonably held accountable for it?

    1. I don't think there is any reason to assume such. Gerei Toshav can be accepted individually.

    2. While it is possible I doubt that they'd do that in practice.
      Just to be clear, this would be far from unique to the Yidden. For example, Mesha Melech Moav says in the Mesha Steele that he (my translation of the Hebrew-Aramaic thing he wrote in) lines 14 - 17
      And Chemosh said to me:Go and take Nevo from Yisroel. I went at night and fought with [the Yisraelim] from the break of morning to the afternoon and I took [Nevo] and I killed all of it, 7 thousand men in total. I didn't kill the women and maidens as I had consecrated them to Ashtar-Chemosh.

  11. It would seem the Meiri won't help for atheists. Where would the many secularist post-christians fall, halachically speaking? How about your local Buddhist neighbor? Not sure how helpful the Meiri is in the long run...

    1. I think most contemporary atheists are observant of darchei ha'dasos. Also post-Christians and Buddhists .

    2. I don't know anything about the Meiri on Christianity besides that he doesn't think it's Avodah Zara.
      How exactly are people who deny God's existence observant of darchei ha'dasos (which not being educated on this can only assume means what people call basic morality), when they deny the ikar of it all.

    3. I think deep down they don't reject the existence of God. "No atheist in a foxhole."

    4. About "No Atheist in a foxhole" since 2013 Atheists have outnumbered Southern Baptists in the US Military for further refutation see "Notable counter-examples" in the relevant Wikipedia article
      I'm curious by what means you would test this more than the statement that "deep down the Yidden don't reject the divinity of Yoshke." (To give just one example of turning that on its head)

    5. See

      Gas chambers are the natural and logical outcome of nihilistic atheism. A non-nihilist atheist is a contradiction in terms. Ergo, the prevalence of non-nihilists is indicative of a deeper non-atheism.

    6. "Gas chambers are the natural and logical outcome of nihilistic atheism. A non-nihilist atheist is a contradiction in terms. Ergo, the prevalence of non-nihilists is indicative of a deeper non-atheism."

      May I ask how Atheism=Nihilism exactly? How does atheism prevent someone from having meaning in his life because of his work,family etc?

    7. If there is no ultimate purpose, then nihilism is the only philosophy that makes sense. Work, family, etc. are deceptive meanings, as they are only meaningful as expedient.


    9. OK, so even IF I granted you're right have you demonstrated that such meaning actually exists and isn't a figment of our imaginations. The answer is NO.

    10. That was not the question. But... have you read yet "Man's Search for Meaning?"

    11. Don't have the money. I'll see if the library has it.

    12. No wonder you have so many issues. You haven't read Viktor Frankl!!! ;-)

  12. I've begun resorting to trying to not think about these things. It's painful enough as is no need to amplify if avoidable.

    1. This is what R' Schiller was saying in the quoted interview. Lucky that you can avoid it, some of us just cannot. The topic attracting so little interest might stem from the fact that those who have the sources and knowledge to explore it efficiently don't care, and the people for whom the issue is central lack the training to put things together and explore it in a Jewish way.

    2. Obviously you are, to an unusual extant. I was answering to Der Bochur.

  13. My understanding of the Meiri is that mere civilized behaviour is not enough - it needs to be backed by a moral ethical belief system. If so, I'm unsure that the existence of ethical atheists would affect anything.

  14. As a convert, this all looks like a non-issue. Whatever any text says, I do not see how HaShem could command me to believe that I used to hate am Yisrael, while by experience I can tell that I certainly didn't.