100%

Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Share

Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

The University of Michigan Library provides access to these materials for educational and research purposes. These materials may be under copyright. If you decide to use any of these materials, you are responsible for making your own legal assessment and securing any necessary permission. If you have questions about the collection, please contact the Bentley Historical Library at bentley.ref@umich.edu

November 18, 2010 - Image 60

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2010-11-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

T:Sp rituality

TORAH PORTIONN

Changing The Way
We View Gentiles

Parshat Vayishlach: Genesis 32:4-
36:43; Obadiah 1:1-21.

W

COME IN NOW AND

ADD NEW LIFE TO YOUR

HARDWOOD FLOORS.

DUSTLESS SAND AND

REFINISH OR

SCREEN AND COAT.

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL

iVNERS

FAMILY OWNED AND OPERATED SINCE 1971

HARDWOOD

REFINISHING

LAMINATE

MARBLE/GRANITE

VINYL

3021 ORCHARD LAKE ROAD

KEEGO HARBOR, MICHIGAN 48320

248.681.6460

WWW.HARBORFLOORS.COM

HOURS: M-F 8 AM - 6 PM, SAT. 9 AM - 5 PM

OR CALL TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT

56

November 18 • 2010

CARPET

CERAMIC

CORK

AREA RUGS

COMMERCIAL

RESIDENTIAL

hen I was in high school, I
had a Jewish friend whose
mother forbade him from
inviting a non-Jewish boy over to their
house. "He's just not your cup of tee
she explained, but we all
knew that it was because he
wasn't Jewish like the rest of
us. I think of that situation
often on Saturday nights
as I pronounce the final
Havdalah blessing, giving
thanks to God for separat-
ing the People of Israel
from the rest of the nations.
Some liberal Jews, uneasy
with that statement, have
erased it from the blessing
altogether.
Is the official Jewish ide-
ology regarding our relationship with
non-Jews at odds with our social and
ethical beliefs? Do we maintain one
viewpoint regarding non-Jews in our
liturgy, laws and lore, but actually fol-
low another viewpoint in reality?
This week's Torah portion,
Vayishlach, begins with Jacob's prepa-
rations for his impending reunion
with his estranged brother Esau. Jacob
is frightened to learn that his brother
is advancing with 400 men and pre-
pares accordingly. Commentators are
divided about Esau's intentions when
the two brothers reconnect and Esau
falls on Jacob's neck and kisses him.
The Hebrew word vayishakehu ("he
kissed him") has six dots over it indi-
cating something unusual.
Some commentators are unwill-
ing to credit Esau with giving Jacob
a loving kiss and instead look to the
midrash that says he tried to bite
Jacob to death. Others are motivated
by the midrash in Avot d'Rabbi Natan
stating that "everything Esau ever did
was motivated by hatred, except for
this one occasion which was moti-
vated by love which is sort of a back-
handed compliment.
For us, we can look at the reunion
of these two brothers as an allegory
for the relationship between Jews and
non-Jews with Jacob serving as the
archetypal Jew and Esau as the "other."
The way we interact with non-Jews on

a daily basis is much different than the
way our Jewish tradition understands
that interaction. From the Torah's first
introduction of these quarreling broth-
ers in the womb, we are told that Esau
is the rough-and-tough
hunter while Jacob is the
calm shepherd.
This divide has been
promoted throughout
Jewish history, but nowhere
as much as in the rabbinic
amendments to the kosher
laws. The original intent
of the Jewish dietary laws
according to the sages of
the Talmud was to main-
tain a separation from our
non-Jewish neighbors to
prohibit Jewish sons from
marrying their daughters. Jews were
instructed to keep specific foods, like
wine, milk and bread, from ever being
touched by "gentile hands"
Because of intermarriage, some
of the most dedicated leaders in our
synagogues and community organiza-
tions are Jews by choice. The divide
between Jew and gentile has abated.
Some Jews will see this as problem-
atic, while others will embrace the
changing outlook.
Let us all remember that regardless
of how Jacob and Esau were repre-
sented by the rabbinic sages of yes-
teryear, these two men were brothers
who shared a womb. Perhaps Jacob's
nighttime wrestling match prior to his
meeting with Esau was a struggle with
himself in search of how he should
relate to his brother. Maybe we should
all do a little soul searching, too. El

Rabbi Jason Miller is the founder and

director of the Kosher Michigan cer-

tification agency. He is also the rabbi
of Tamarack Camps and Congregation
T'chiyah in Oak Park.

Conversations

Do your interactions and
relationships with non-Jews
differ from those of your parents
or grandparents?

Back to Top

© 2021 Regents of the University of Michigan