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May 08, 1987 - Image 26

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-05-08

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PURELY COMMENTARY

Insecurity And Fear

Continued from Page 2

had to offer. No people has been
more fertile in enriching pov-
erty or humanizing wealth, or in
turning misfortune to creative
account. This capacity springs
from a moral philosophy both
solid and subtle, which has
changed remarkably little over
the millennia precisely because
it has been seen to serve the
purposes of those who share it.
Countless Jews, in all ages,
have groaned under the burden
of Judaism. But they have con-
tinued to carry it because they
have known in their hearts, that
it carried them. The Jews were
survivors because they pos-
sessed the law of survival.
Hence the historian must
also bear in mind that Judaism
has always been greater than
the sum of its adherents.
Judaism created the Jews, not
the other way round. As the
philosopher Leon Roth put it:
"Judaism comes first. It is not a
product but a programme and
the Jews are the instruments of
its fulfilment." Jewish history is
a record not only of physical
facts but of metaphysical no-
tions.
The Jews believed them-
selves created and commanded
to be a light to the gentiles and
they have obeyed to the best of
their considerable powers. The
results, whether considered in
religious or in secular terms,
have been remarkable. The
Jews gave the world ethical
monotheism, which might be
described as the application of
reason to divinity. In a more
secular age, they applied the
principles of rationality to the
whole range of human activi-
ties, often in advance of the rest
of mankind. The light they thus
shed disturbed as well as il-
luminated, for it revealed pain-
ful truths about the human
spirit as well as the means to
uplift it.
The Jews have been great
truth-tellers and that is one rea-
son they have been so much
hated. A prophet will be feared
and sometimes honoured, but
when has he been loved? Yet a
prophet must prophesy and the
Jews will persist in pursuing
truth, as they see it, wherever it
leads. Jewish history teaches, if
anything can, that there is in-
deed a purpose to human exist-
ence and that we are not just
born to live and die like beasts.
In continuing to give meaning
to creation, the Jews will take
comfort from the injunction,
thrice repeated, in the noble
first chapter of the Book of
Joshua: 'Be strong and of good
courage; be not afraid, neither --
be thou dismayed: for the Lord
thy God is with thee whither-
soever thou goest.' "

That's the point aimed at and
thus arrived at: that the worst of
threats and fears is fear itself. Panic is
inexcusable in Jewish life. Our experi-
ence warns us not to panic. When any-
thing as horrid like. a charge of double
allegiance is applied to us it is outrage-
ous. Submission to it is inexcusable

26

Friday, May 8, 1987

panic. The lesson of all times is: FEAR

NOT!

Proselytizers
And Cults Are
Rejected Ecumenically

Rev. James Lyons

Ecumenism will always need
prompters and supporters. Fortunately
the cause that seeks exchange of re-
spect by faith for faith is not aban-
doned. Even in most critical times,
when bigotries acquire adherents, there
are the ecumenical idealists who are
not apologetic and who insist on just
acting and common sense in faithful-
ness.
In this age of peculiar cultisms, of
a "fundamentalist prosperity," there
are annoyances for Jews as well. There
are cults who flaunt claimed Jewish
idealism and offer temptations in their
efforts at proselytizing that should of-
fend all Christians.
They do offend them. Rev. James
Lyons of the Ecumenical Institute for
Jewish-Christian studies, in unhesitant
declarations, repudiates the hypocrisies
and the apparent self-benefiting that
can never be hidden. They won't admit
that they hardly ever gain a convert to
their "cheating in faith." To the tradi-
tion that rejects them they are always
the meshumadim.
Rev. Lyons has made it clear, and
he has spoken for his fellow
ecumenists, in the movements he heads
here and on a far more extensive scale,
that responsible Christians will not
condone anything approaching what is
baselessly called "Jews for Jesus" or
any other cult akin to it.
It is urgent that non-Jews should
repudiate the religiously fraudulent.
Fortunately, responsible Christians
and eminent theologians reject cultism
and disrespectful proselytization. The
following account about one such rejec-
tion of religious irresponsibility, quot-
ing one of the most eminent Christian
theologians, supports the hopeful ap-
proach to the issue. The Religious
News Service makes known the follow-
ing important facts about this painful
issue:

Episcopal Bishop John T.
Walker has urged Christians not
to support such "Hebrew Chris-
tian" groups as Jews for Jesus.
Speaking at a meeting on

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Christian-Jewish relations at
Georgetown University, the Rev.
Walker said that "aiding these
groups is demeaning to both
Christians and Jews. If we truly
believe that Jews are the people
of God, we should not lend sup-
port to groups that seek to con-
vert Jews to Christianity.
Tracing the history of
Christian-Jewish relations, the
Episcopal leader said the two
faiths "began their agenda in
the acknowledgment of Ab-
raham as our common father,
but over the years of Chris-
tianity our paths diverged and
became inimical toward each
other."
The Rev. Walker acknowl-
edged that centuries of "mutual
distrust" had been "largely
fomented by Christian. anti-
Semitism." But, he added, in re-
cent years "great strides have
been made toward a reconcilia-
tion."
The Rev. Walker hailed
"those American Jews who
have historically been at the
forefront of the civil rights
struggle in this country" and
Jews in South Africa "who are
protesting apartheid in the
streets of Johannesburg and
Cape Town."

Therefore the rejection of all
cultisms, which aggravate all faiths,
which must be respectfully treated. It
is a factual and realistic condition
properly applauded.

When Nonsense
Interlocks With
Common Sense

Joseph Telushkin

Quotations have an unending ap-
peal. They are the anthological tempta-
tions for reminiscences and compari-
sons between events and peoples.
Sometimes quotations are non-
sense. Most often they make common
sense. Joseph Telushkin proves it in
Uncommon Sense, subtitled "The
World's Fullest Compendium of Wis-
dom" (Shapolsky Publishers).
Telushkin has lectured in many
countries, it addition to the United
States and Israel, and was for several
years the educational director of the

Brandeis-Bardin Institute in California.
In his preface to his collection of say-
ings by the world's notables he asserts,
"Much of what most people call 'com-
mon sense' may well be nonsense. In
any case, I think it's high time we took
a hard look at some common 'truisms'
to see if they have held up over time."
He has the additional comment on his
collected sayings, stating:

In addition to being a credo,
Uncommon Sense is also a com-
monplace book. Included within
it are many quotations that,
while deeply insightful, are
leavened with the humor of the
human comedy. Some are just
plain funny, some fly in the face
of traditional notions of wisdom
— but when you look a bit
closer I believe you'll be able to
discern the seeds of profound
truth. As Freud said, jokes come
from the deepest levels of our
unconscious.
I've divided Uncommon Sense
into sections that are based on
the traditional categories of the
Jewish commandments, "be-
tween man and man," and "be-
tween man and God." I've also
found it useful to add two
categories of my own: "between
man and himself," and "be-
tween man and the world."
These are, of course, merely
permutations of the original
categories.

The importance of Telushkin's
book lies in its informativeness, the
application of all the sayings to every
conceivable event or personal experi-
ence. It is entertaining and there are
many laughs in the quoted wisdom. For
instance, in a group labeled "Who Is
Rich?" is included this one from the
medieval Jewish philosopher Solomon
Ibn Gabirol who wrote. in "Pearls of
Wisdom":
"Many men hoard for the future
husbands of their wives."
Also from Ibn Gabirol: "Told that a
certain man had acquired great wealth,
a sage asked: 'Has he also acquired the
days in which to spend it?' "
Telushkin has compiled so many
sayings under a multitude of subtitles
that to describe his achieved task com-
pels referring to only a limited number.
He has a section on "Anti-Semitism"
which commences with the Jewish pro-
verb: "An anti-Semite is a person who
hates Jews more than is absolutely
necessary." There are quotations from
Chaim Weitzmann, Leo Tolstoy, Albert
Einstein and other notables and in-
cluded are the following:

The world is divided into
two groups of nations — those
that want to expel the Jews and
those that do not want to re-
ceive them.
Chaim Weizmann
(in the late 1930s)
It was this worldwide un-
willingness to offer refuge to the
Jews that convinced Hitler he
had international support for
his anti-Jewish acts.
Not long ago I was reading
the Sermon on the Mount with a
rabbi. At nearly every verse he
showed me very similar pas-
sages in the Hebrew Bible and
Talmud. When we reached the
words, "Turn the other cheek,"

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