Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Is the Torah racist? Yes, no and no.

Many times the Torah talks about Nations as if they are races. Just as we talk about the different races of dogs. A Labrador is forever very friendly and happy to help. A Rottweiler is always strong, fearless and aloof.

Similarly, some Peoples are not allowed to convert to Judaism because of their horrendous character traits; some only after three generations.

Nations were often named after a geographical site or forefather but also frequently after their language (the Hebrews).

The prominence of language makes sense as that may determine how we think, what we are aware of and what our character traits could be.

So, all-in-all, the Holiest of Jewish Scripture seems through-and-through racist. However.

***

Maimonides tell us, based on the Talmud (Yoma 54a), that Sennacherib, King of Assyria, mixed and exiled all the nations he conquered to confuse their identities as to discourage them from rebelling.

From this, our Sages conclude that we can’t anymore tell one People from another in the original sense. Therefore, luckily and (I believe) deliberately, none of the national stigmas in the holy Torah can be applied.

This way, G^d shows that racism is nonsense and takes the wind out of racists’ sails if they wanted to point out differences between groups of people. We still have more in common that what divides us.

But in any case, for Jewish Law, there are only two kinds of Nations: Jews and Gentiles. And this is not racism either since anyone who wants to become and is capable of becoming a Jew is allowed to convert. This shows that Jews aren’t a race but rather a Nation — with a special calling.

***

That the wife of Moses is called Black (Kushit) (Numbers 12:1) is not referring to her skin color. Kush is the name of her Nation, Ethiopia.

And easily, she could have been not from Kush (per Exodus 2:16-21, she was a Midianite) but rather was having the piety as women from there. She wouldn’t say her piece about her own issues and then Miriam felt compelled to speak up for her sister-in-law — perhaps.

This all has nothing to do with Europeans 400 years ago, downgrading Africans to animals to feel free to hunt, sell, abuse, rape and kill them. Or with White people being obsessed with skin color.

Not one negative thing is shared about Moses’ wife. She is also not exotified. So, how could this be racism? Heaven forbid. And assuming that Moses himself must have been White is racist to begin with.

If already the Jewish tradition has anything to say about black then it’s that black is beautiful. In the Hymn Annim Zemirot (Shabbat morning, Ashkenazic) we sing that G^d must have [gorgeous] black curls! And Rashi says that Tzipporah’s blackness meant that she was beautiful.

So, no, the Torah and Judaism are not racist. The rabbis clarify that we received the story of Adam and Eve to teach us that we all come from the same parents. No one needs to put on any airs about our origin.

Just what modern science tells us. NB: Whites are an adaptation to climates with little sun to still get enough Vitamin D. The detriments are big. Brittle hair hanging for your eyes, easier skin burns and skin cancer.

***

Let me end by quoting – from memory – a poem that a teenager about 45 years ago sent to the leftwing VPRO gids, a Dutch TV guide (whodonit).

When you feel good, you are pink.
When you are cold, you are blue.
When you are angry, you are red.
When you are sick, you are yellow.
When you are dead, you are white.

When I feel good, I am brown.
When I am cold, I am brown.
When I am angry, I am brown.
When I am sick, I am brown.
When I am dead, I am brown.

And they call me a person of color.

About the Author
The author is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (DES - Diethylstilbestrol), born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a vegan for 8 years now. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science, Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. * He likes doing age-appropriate and age-inappropriate things and looks forward to getting to know his timeless mature out-of-the-box soul mate. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. To see other blog posts by him, a second blog - under construction - can be found by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture.
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