Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
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Seven major ways in which Judaism is not Christianity and never will be

These are some crucial (pardon the pun) insights for Jews from the West

I’m going to contrast classical Christianity with Orthodox Judaism.

Home Sweet Home

The center of Christianity is the Church. It’s holy inside, mundane outside. Christians prioritize their relationship to G^d and the Afterlife. Being holy means minimizing physical pleasures. Most of their leaders are men.

Receiving the Ten Commandments was a major highlight in our history. But afterward, Moses sends the men back ‘to your tents.’ The rabbis explain: that’s a euphemism for go to your wives, resume intimacy.

The center of Jewish life is at home. There, we light the Chanukkiah. There (or in someone else’s house), we hold the Seder Pesach. There, we have our Shabbat and Festival meals. Jews prioritize people and the now. The good of life must be enjoyed, within limits, as presents of G^d. Jewish men must marry. The woman is more than just leading the traditional home. She’s entitled to respect, help, having her needs met, and support for her leadership. A higher social eminence gives more religious obligations. No nepotism. And, all the time, all of life, everywhere, Jews practice Judaism.

It’s a big mistake to assume that the center of Jewish life is at the synagogues, the Temple Mount, or the Kotel.

Deeds Speak Louder Than Words

Christianity is a religion of the heart, a system of belief. It sees humans as inherently sinful and hopeless and the sublunar world and life as flawed.

Judaism is not even a religion and certainly not a belief. It is the culture of the Jewish People. It has many aspects: a humanist side toward people, and a supernatural side toward G^d; a broad general interpersonal side, and a narrow sectarian Jewish side. All these are intrinsically connected.

Good Deeds generate good feelings, good intentions, and holiness. Mere good feelings may never come, and when they arrive, they are feeble.

Judaism is optimistic about humans and life in this world. Free Will works here. Though perfection is only His, striving to improve is worth our effort.

Christians, ambitious to convert everyone, should separate Church and State. But, as any People, Jews need a Nation State. Because humanism and equality are part of Judaism, it can safely spill over into politics a bit.

Chosen Teacher, a Light unto the Nations

Christianity believes that all people—ideally—should be Christian.

Wise people learn from everyone. But certainly, for historic reasons, Christians could profit greatly from having knowledgeable Jews review their religion for them since some aspects that Christians lent from the Jews got needlessly and uselessly out of whack, twisted, or out of balance. Christianity overstresses love, leading to outbursts of hate and cruelty. On top of that, it claims to be a religion of love, and Judaism to be revengeful. Hurt Jews tend to be or naïve or paranoid, but Jewish Law is very clean. If someone sets out to kill you, you kill him first—to protect (your) life. Our health is a present He gave us, and we have no permission to squander it.

Often misinterpreted, Jews are chosen, which means a sample. They don’t hold that all or most or many should be Jewish. Jews are to teach wisdom, not convert Gentiles. G^d uses one tiny People close to Him to teach everyone. Jews must help set the world straight and bring Redemption.

Every Jew has the capacity to be a perfect Jew on their level. For Jews, it is a most grievous sin to sell themselves short and accept a watered-down version of the real thing. Also, Christianity has things forbidden to Jews.

It is a mistake (and a chutzpa) to equate Jews and Gentiles. Jews are the teachers; Gentiles are the students. The former better be humble (but not too much), and the latter better be respectful (if not in awe) of Jews.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Christianity copied much of the Jewish texts and customs and simplified it all. That doesn’t mean it’s inferior. You may say that it’s purified from side issues and perfected in that it just contains the essence for Gentiles.

Judaism came first. Moses only forgot to take out a copyright. No Jew is an island. They are all links in a chain of the tradition. They need to celebrate and honor their past and prepare and help create everyone’s future.

Judaism is a complicated and laborious lifestyle. Many contradictions need to be balanced. Jews can see equality, also while holding we have uneven obligations from others (men/women, Gentiles/Jews, smart/stupid).

Christians teach to agree with authority, while Jews promote debate to sharpen everyone’s mind and making the curriculum deeply one’s own.

Jews generally don’t memorize Scripture. That’s because they have a very extensive Oral Law that better reflects the subtleties of life than just the main Text in isolation from its con-text. Christians may impress with quick quotes, but to learned Jews, they appear to have just read the headlines.

It’s wrong to speak of a Judeo-Christian tradition. There never was or will be such a thing. Christians, don’t misappropriate Judaism. The same word may mean very different things in the Christian and Jewish mind (Israel, Redeemer, sex, love, the Law, the Talmud, Hell, the Satan, Faith, etc.). Pesach isn’t just Jewish Passover; Rosh Hashanah is not just Jewish 01.01.

Stay True to the Tradition

Christians’ worst fear is when their children, students, or close ones would stop believing. Will they still be Christian and saved in the Afterlife?

Jews’ worst fear is when their children or students stop being Jews, either by assimilation to the outside world, being proselytized, or intermarriage. Sadly, many Jews know the name of the mother of Jesus but not of Moses. Will they help preserve the Tradition and pass it on? Not believing is not such an issue. Humanism, Agnosticism, and Orthodox Judaism are close.

Some rabbis won’t oppose Gentiles talking to Angels, Saints, Jesus, Maria, etc. Yet, all rabbis say that to Jews, this is strictly forbidden, idol worship.

Gentiles who have the ambition and ability to live as a Jew are welcome to start learning to see if it really would fit them overall and forever. However, it is better to be a fine Gentile than an unhappy convert.

Seeking Honesty and Life

Christianity teaches morality like most other worldviews and philosophies.

Yet, Judaism has very high standards, especially around honesty and life. Human life is extremely dear. Being martyred makes us holy, but Jews are almost always obligated to try and prevent death. Jews can’t go and hurt people with words of truth. Yet, seldom does the end justify the means. Jews may not lie about Judaism to make it look better to outsiders.

Ironically, Antisemites strongly depict Jews as unreliable and murderous.

Protest and End Antisemitism

Christian doesn’t only mean adhering to the faith. It can equally refer to Christian roots or having grown up in a (formerly) Christian culture.

Antisemitism tends to make Christians feel nervous, guilt-ridden, and passive. They need to prioritize uprooting it. Yet, outside of Germany, that rarely is done. This denigrates their religion and tradition greatly. The Holocaust was the downfall of European Christianity, not Judaism. When will practicing Christians send converted/Atheist Jews home to Judaism? When will Christian communities finally take on antisemitic ones?

Jews don’t need to become Christians (Heaven forbid), and Christians don’t have to become Jews to stop Antisemitism or bring Redemption closer. Some Jews have very close Christian friends. This will not hurt them if the Gentile fights Antisemitism, rejects proselytizing, and intermarriage.

Antisemitism tends to make Jews feel scared, hated, and frantic. As a response, they should make more of an effort to seek Jewish unity and stop infighting. They may cry foul and encourage true Allies but should not tell them what to do as it is really their problem and responsibility.

The height of Antisemitism is probably to persecute Jews and then to claim that proves that they have fallen in G^d’s disgrace. Christians having more people and money doesn’t prove that they are closer to G^d. Christians should make Jews safe and will be doomed forever if they don’t.

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: https://mmvanzuiden.wordpress.com/ 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 (https://diethylstilbestrol.co.uk/studies/des-and-psychological-health/), 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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