Re: Helping non-Jews
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Re: Helping non-Jews

March 24, 2005 05:00AM
Dear Reb Binyamin,

Recently I asked two major poskim whether it is permitted to send an unsolicited donation toward tsunami relief. In the case I posed to them, the recipients would not know a Jew was sending the donation. There would be no Kiddush HaShem if it were sent nor would there be a Chilul HaShem if it were withheld. Both eminent authorities ruled that in such a case it was clearly a violation of the negative prohibition of "Lo Sichonaym", we are not permitted to do a gratuitous act of kindness for a non-Jew.

I'm sure many of your letter's readers are deeply disturbed by this answer. Many of them are well learned and can quote extensively about God's love for all his creatures and Abraham extending himself on behalf of Sodom, etc, etc. (See Compassion for Humanity in the Jewish Tradition" by David Sears.) Sadly there is also a dark side to Judaism that we prefer not to confront or even acknowledge. That is the relentless disrespect and devaluing of goyim that permeates the Talmud. (For a discussion of this see www.talkreason.org/articles/gentiles.cfm [www.talkreason.org] .)

Many of us live in denial and avoid the pain of confronting these issues honestly. To our credit, most thoughtful Jews benignly neglect those Talmudic and Halachic teachings that encourage us to demean and dehumanize the “other”. After all, we like to think of ourselves as rachmanim bnay rachmanim. Unfortunately, our enemies throughout the centuries have been all too aware of our attitudes and this has cost us dearly. Medieval disputations focusing on our attitudes toward gentiles led first to the burning of the Talmud and eventually to the burning of Jews.

More recently, 19 members of the Russian Duma threw their support behind a letter to the country's prosecutor general calling for all Jewish organizations in Russia to be investigated and banned. Citing the Shulchan Aruch they claim Judaism is an extremist religion that incites hatred and violence toward non-Jews. Are they totally wrong?

I was sitting at the Siyum HaShass in Madison Square Garden recently as speaker after speaker dedicated the Siyum to the memory of the six million. I was wondering if I was the only one in the audience who was asking himself, “To what extent did the hatred toward goyim contained in Shass contribute to the death of the six million?”

I look forward to hearing from others in our community on how we can work our way out of the sad situation we now find ourselves in. Clearly we need to reexamine how we Jews need to fulfill our mission to be God’s messengers to the rest of humanity.

Sincerely,

Menachem Daum
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