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Eureka: Answering pending questions on Judaism
by Jay Gutman
2018-03-30 08:38:41
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Having shared a fair portion of my life with Muslims and Christians and others, myths seem to have formed around the Jewish community. I'll try to respond to the myths here.

Question (from a Muslim): why do Jews cry when they pray?

jud00001_400This is a question I get a lot from my Muslim friends. In Islam, prayer is set in stone, set in its ways, five times a day, can be done individually or collectively, follows a rigid set of ways including bending over and back up while reciting a set prayer. Most religions don't work like that.

In Judaism as in Christianity, Buddhism and other religions, prayer is a flexible thing. In Judaism prayer is usually a collective deal, depending on what synagogue you belong to. Some Synagogues pray three times a day and the prayers vary from prayer to prayer. Perhaps some recited passages might make those who pray cry, but it's not always the case. Some cry, as in all religions, when they desperately want something.

Question (from different people): is it true that Jews still practice human sacrifice and put blood in their matza?

In Judaism as in most religions eating human flesh is an abomination. You don't eat human flesh, be it that of a Jew or a non-Jew. No flesh, no blood, nothing.

Question (from different people): the protocols of the Elders of Zion clearly state that Jews want to dominate the world. Why is that?

Now if the Protocol of the Elders of Zion were true, what point would human beings, some of them Jews, have in advancing technology and making life more comfortable for a lot of us. Maybe you can go back to travelling 8 hours a day to fill your jar with water of use heating in the form of burning wood in chimneys. Maybe you can go back to waiting for yearly sacrifices to get your dose of meat and protein. It just doesn't make sense that people who are trying to make your life better are also trying to control you and turn you into their slave.

Question (from different people): the Talmud has several questionable passages on Muslims and Christians. Is there some truth to that?

First of all there were no Muslims and Christians when the Talmud was written. There may be some questionable passages, including punishment by death for violating the Sabbath and very harsh punishments for stealing an ox. Of all people, many Jews would be dead thousands of times over if life were regulated according to the Talmud. Plus the Talmud is hard to follow to the line, as for housing arrangements for example, even for Orthodox Jews. As for those things you find in the internet, some of them are false, others put out of context. There are sections harsh with non-Jews, in the section relating to trials. But no one follows that in this day and age.

Question (from a Muslim): Is it true that Jews keep a golden calf at home, practice their faith without telling anyone and wink at each other to recognize each other? Is it true that Jews pretend to be Christians with Christians and Muslims with Muslims and that you couldn't tell them apart?

No Jews don't have a golden calf at home and the golden calf has not been a symbol of Judaism since the times pre-dating Moses. Some Muslims have a golden calf at home thinking it's a Jewish symbol. Most Jews will tell you they are Jewish although discussing religion in general is not a favorite topic for many. In some countries like France, it's rude to ask someone what religion they hail from. In Muslim countries it's probably not a good idea to discuss religion, although you could probably recognize a Jew, not by looking at him, but if you hear him talk long enough, you'll know he's not a Muslim. Some Muslims claim to be Jews prehaps because they like others to think that they are rich or something, but you could tell that they are Muslims just by hearing them talk. And no Jews don't wink at each other, although I've had my fair share of Muslims winking at me thinking that's how Jews recognize each other. That's in the Quran, not in the Torah or anything.

Question (from different people): Why don't all Jews move to Israel if they're so keen on keeping their faith?

Well a lot of Jews are comfortable in their country of residence. They have their career plans and life plans and in some cases Israel means nothing to them. Why would a career teacher or nurse change tracks to move to Israel when they're set in their own ways. Usually, even for those practicing Jews, religion doesn't conflict with their country of residence.

Question (from different people): Is it true that the Americans follow pretty much what the Israelis tell them?

If you know anything about politics, you know Israelis need a visa to go to the US when, say, Koreans or French people don't, among many countries. The US does not have a military presence in Israel, but Americans tend to read UN Security Council resolutions with more logic, and have more experience dealing with the conflict. But it's not like Netanyahu calls Trump and Obama and says 'do this” and they'll do it.

Question (from different people): Why don't Israelis return the West Bank and Gaza to Palestinians? Why are they still building “colonies” there?

When Israel freezes construction in the West Bank, Palestinians still carry out terrorist attacks. When Israelis left Gaza, Palestinians were still carrying out terrorist attacks. Palestinians were not more eager to come to the negotiating table and still had radical views on Israel. Let's say that Israelis freeze construction in the West Bank and that Palestinians start behaving more dovishly, of course things would change, and everything would be on the table. In some cases, as when there were periods of calm, Israelis were perhaps too keen and eager to put things on the negotiating table when they really shouldn't.

Question (mostly from Muslims): Why don't the Jews liberate Palestine and move back to Europe or to Alaska or Argentina?

Because Jews have life plans and career plans in Israel. Plus a lot of Arab and Muslim countries have narratives on colonialism which are a mix of patriotic, liberation songs and of paying tribute to the martyrs. Israel is there to stay, as Israelis have no other country. 

Question (from different people): Why are Jews so rich but so stingy with money?

Not all Jews are rich, in fact an overwhelming majority of them are not. And Jews like to give and are helpful when they can.

Question (mostly from Muslims): Why are there Jews everywhere?

For people from countries where there are no Jews, they are under the impression that they see a lot of Jews when they travel to cities with sizeable Jewish communities like Paris or New York City. Some cities have sizeable Jewish communities like London, Paris, Buenos Aires or New York City, others like Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul or Mexico city have very few Jews living in them.

Question (mostly from East Asians): Why are Jews so rich and educated?

There's a myth in East Asia that was created by private education groups that said that education leads to wealth. Part of it is a Conflucian belief, part of it is historical because up until 1910 education did lead to wealth in China and Korea. So those private schools and education groups said “look, the Jews are educated, and they are rich!” That was partly drawn on the myth that Jews are rich.

Final question (from different people): Why do Jews dominate politics, the media, banking, academia and Nobel Prizes? 

The truth is go to any political institution, media institution, banking institution, university you will see Jews and you will see a lot of groups represented as well. Those Jews who are in politics tend to be assimilated, they would not have been elected otherwise. Same goes for the media and those in academia. Banking has people from all over the world and no single group dominates. But other than that Judaism is a complex religion, which encourages complex thinking among Jews, a trait that few other religions have.

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