I Doubt If You’re Charlie; We Don’t Need You To Be (temporarily) Jewish

Blame it on social media, but the latest tokenism of support for victims of various outrages, slaughters and natural disasters has been to hold up a sign (or more likely just copy a ready-made one that’s already gone viral) identifying with the victims. I don’t doubt that these people are sincere and I don’t really begrudge them salving their own shock, but let’s get real.

I strongly doubt you are Charlie. My guess is that you religiously submit to the the latest bullying by the political correctness police and would never utter aloud or write for publication even a tiny fraction of what these cartoonists regularly did. I bet you’re afraid to write or say the word “nigger”, even as you proclaim yourself to be one with those those free-speech warriors who went far beyond that. Rather, I assume that you are a very decent person and, like all decent people everywhere, are shocked by the brutal savagery of Islamic terrorists. I do, of course, wonder where are the signs, “I am Yazidi” or “I am Nigeria” or “I am Syrian/Iraqi/Lebanese Christian”…

When you hold up a sign, “I am Jewish” in solidarity with the people slaughtered in the Paris kosher market just before Shabbat, all I can say is, “No, you’re not Jewish”. You’re Jewish if your mother is Jewish or if you, proactively by conversion, join the Jewish people. Sorry, holding a sign doesn’t count (and would you really like it to, obligating you to observe the laws of Shabbat, Kashrut, Family Purity?).

If that was all, I wouldn’t really mind. After all, the world is an increasingly tough place and if these gestures give you the strength to go on, ma tov u’ma na’im. But what you’re really saying is that “I feel sorry for victims” and “Jews are the eternal victims”. And that gets me very angry.

To be a Jew is not to be a victim. If anything along that parameter, Jews are survivors. We have survived more than three and a half millennia of attempts to exterminate us. We don’t need your, or anyone else’s sympathy. In fact, were this not a “rabbinic” article I’d tell you exactly what you can do with your sympathy.

But being a Jew is infinitely more than being a survivor. (I find the joke that every Jewish holiday is “They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat” the very prototype of self-hate.) Being a Jew is that great privilege/responsibility to be trusted and mandated with the task of bringing the Infinite Light of all creation to everyone’s awareness. To be a Jew is to be entrusted with Eretz Yisrael, the Holy Land, and, even more so, with the Holy Temple, the font which pours that Infinite Light into all physical reality. To be a Jew is to have a very full to-do list which leaves no time for victimhood, for cliché or for tokenism.

Yes, if you want to join us in this, please begin your studies. Commence your conversion process. We will welcome you (or we are mandated to welcome you, current religious/political embarrassments aside) and put you to work at our sides. But if you just want to relieve the pain of yet one more outrageous example of man’s inhumanity to man, better you, as whoever you really are, do something to prevent the next one.

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7 Responses to I Doubt If You’re Charlie; We Don’t Need You To Be (temporarily) Jewish

  1. Mr. Cohen says:

    “Internal Koranic evidence shows that the Jews of Medina [a city now in Saudi Arabia] were steeped in rabbinical tradition. While celebrating him [Mohammed] as an unlearned person, the hadith [Islamic holy books] acknowledges that Mohammed was confounded by the learned questions of these Jews.”

    SOURCE: In Ishmael’s House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands (chapter 2, page 13) by Martin Gilbert, year 2010 CE, published by Yale University Press

  2. Mr. Cohen says:

    “In the 5th century [of the Common Era] Yemen [the land immediately south of Saudi Arabia] adopted Judaism as its religion. King Ab Karib Asad, the ruler of the Himyarite kingdom, introduced the change after converting to Judaism himself under the influence of Jews at his court. Many south Arabian converts to Judaism followed. Jewish rule in Yemen lasted almost 100 years.”

    SOURCE: In Ishmael’s House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands (chapter 1, page 5) by Martin Gilbert, year 2010, published by Yale University Press

  3. Mr. Cohen says:

    “The conquests of Islam made Jews the subjects of Arab and Muslim rulers in a wide swath of land, stretching from the Atlantic coast of Morocco to the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan. Being non-Muslims, these Jews held the inferior status of dhimmi, which, despite giving them protection to worship according to their own faith, subjected them to many vexatious and humiliating restrictions in their daily lives.”

    SOURCE: In Ishmael’s House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands (introduction chapter, page xx) by Martin Gilbert, year 2010, published by Yale University Press

  4. Rabbi! Why are you suggesting that card-carrying liberals beat their placards into ploughshares? Ever since it became popular, people who don’t know what else to do have marched around with signs declaring their support or denigration of one side or the other. Would you prefer that they carried signs saying “better you than me, sucker?” Or is that what those hashtags really do mean, at the end of the day?

    • At least taking the time and effort to print a message on a poster board and to then tack it to a pole, not to mention actually walking around with it, is a couple orders of magnitude more “doing” than taking a “selfie”, which is, in turn slight more effort than just sharing or copying someone else’s social-media “photo”.
      So, yes, I think it’s basically a lazy way to make oneself feel good about oneself. I don’t think it makes the tiniest bit of progress in actually addressing the problems and taking actions necessary to stop this series of savage brutality.
      So, don’t beat your placard into anything. Instead of wasting time making statements, take the time and effort to further the Jewish project of bringing light into the world.

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