Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Neither naive nor paranoid

The Torah tells us (Deuteronomy 7:22) we could not kill the through-and-through wicked Seven Nations of Canaan quickly because G^d only will deliver them piecemeal. Then it says something amazing. The slow pace is because a fast removal of all of them would make that wild animals would take over the created vacuum before we could settle the Land ourselves.

In other words: You’d think this is unfortunate, but it’s really for the best.

G^d didn’t need to tell us. He could have demanded trust in Him. But He explains why this is the best possible scenario. G^d doesn’t demand from just everyone blind trust.

In fact, it says (Deuteronomy 7:17) that when you’d worry about a stronger enemy, don’t be scared. Just remember what G^d did to Pharaoh and all the Egyptians. It could have said: Don’t consider the strength of the enemy. But it says: If you are among those scared, I’ll reassure you out.

Similarly, G^d says to those worrying about what we’d eat the Sabbatical Year, I’ll give you a threefold harvest (Leviticus 25:20). He doesn’t say: Just trust in Me. He spells out guarantees to those who worry. (Those who don’t worry don’t have three times as much to carry home, store, and kook. For them, food will have thrice the normal nutritional power.)


Introduction: The Torah is not a history book. Events it describes could have happened precisely or not exactly as told. What is certain is that the lessons contained are perfect, eternal, and to be taken to heart.

So, these genocides may never have happened and are neither recommended. Rather, for the Jewish ear, it means: Don’t be too naive.

Jews are mostly nice naive people who dislike murder and violence and assume that everyone is as benevolent as us. We had to be, to be able to show the world what G^d expects of humans. Perhaps, therefore, we are told to have no mercy on the most wicked. Niceness will not always cut it, and projecting our peaceful mindset onto others could be dangerous.

(Alternatively, one rabbi suggests, we have the worst character of all and need the Torah to make humans out of us. It’s always nice to stay humble. We do see Jews who threw off the yoke of Heaven behave worse than terrible Atheists. But that might not reveal our initial wickedness. Rather, it could show that a vacuum in holiness is quickly filled up with evil.)

This idea of going slow to prevent wild animals from taking over might also have a less literal meaning, I’d suggest. Maybe this also comes to tell us not to be too forceful, or the opposition will be fierce, like wild animals.

Just similar to the idea of the Rabbis (on Deuteronomy 20:19) that we should allow citizens of beleaguered cities to flee. So that they will not fight to the death no matter what and to save as many lives as possible.

It could even mean we’ll meet our enemies slowly so that they can learn to be our friends. To give up being our wild, vicious haters.

I’m not saying that’s how we should always act. First of all, let’s not be naive. But we might keep in mind that potential friends could be among the most wicked. Don’t sweat making new friends in strange places.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. He doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 1400 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * 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. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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