An Open Letter to a Potential “Ger” – by Jim

Dear Philip,

At the end of our lunch the other day, you excitedly informed me that you had discovered a new group of non-Jews that believe in the God of Israel and in the authority of the Torah, a group that calls themselves Gerim. I must have appeared stunned, for you asked immediately what was wrong, but, as we were about to part, I did not have time to explain. I had time only to issue a brief warning not to become too quickly involved with the Ger movement. I send this missive in order to explain that warning.

It is prudent before adopting any philosophy to investigate it to the limits of one’s ability. This is no less true with the claims made by Katz and Clorfene, the founders of the Ger movement. They claim to be teaching Torah, and since you already know the Torah to be true, it might seem reasonable to accept their teaching. But I would urge the greatest caution. Philip, you know how many claim to represent Torah but do not. The Church from which you extricated yourself misrepresented itself as the authentic interpretation of Torah. Nor is the Church the only group to attempt to cloak itself in the authority of the Torah. That Katz and Clorfene are rabbis does not mean that they represent Torah properly: one can leave the true path.

I must admit that there is a difficulty in analyzing their claims. Katz and Clorfene often rely on oral tradition to establish their doctrine, and neither you nor I are well-versed in the oral tradition. Though they will tell us that they have fairly represented the sources, we have little ability to verify their claims. Even when Katz tells us that we should look up what he has said, we do not have the context. The oral tradition was not meant to be transmitted through writing, and though it is now available in writing, you and I lack the requisite learning to understand the discussions. Admitting this weakness, I would nevertheless urge you to treat their work with the greatest suspicion. Their work is contradicted by the great majority of rabbis. Their redefinition of the term “ger” is out of sync with the accepted halachic understanding, and knowledgeable rabbis have said that, contrary to the assurances of Katz and Clorfene, they have indeed misrepresented the sources. Katz, as the originator of the work, appears to be an innovator in the negative sense of that term.

I would urge you to treat them with suspicion for another reason, as well. Katz and Clorfene flatter their students. The Ger is, according to Katz, superior to the Noahide. The Ger is the non-Jew that has totally stripped himself of idolatry, clinging to God, while the Noahide (of the modern Noahide movements) still retains shituf, acknowledging a power beside God. The Ger is essential for the redemption of the world and shares in the mission of Israel. He is a “fourth house” of Israel, though a non-holy one, and the Ger is attached to Israel. The Ger is not restricted in his observance of mitzvot, able to keep Shabbat—a Ger Shabbat or Krisos 9a Shabbat, as opposed to a Jewish Shabbat—and study the entirety of the Torah. He is allowed, too, to delve into the mystical secrets of the Torah. Moreover, the Ger is to consider God to be his teacher; he does not rely upon rabbis. All of this is flattery and will eventually undermine the development of the non-Jew that wishes to be close to God.

Perhaps the most obvious error is that the Ger is entitled to learn the secrets of the Torah. It is no wonder that people will be intrigued by such secrets. Nevertheless, the desire to know these secrets poses a danger to those that have not mastered the fundaments of Torah. Keep in mind, Philip, that you were raised in a Christian home, not a Jewish one, and that the formative years in your life were spent in doctrines that undermine and pervert the foundations of Torah rather than establishing them. Now that you have rid yourself of Christianity, you must not assume yourself to be an expert in Torah; you are still laying the foundations. Delving deeply into Torah is not for amateurs. This leads to confusion and jumping too quickly to unwarranted and incorrect conclusions. In any field of learning, one works his way up to expertise. Those that do not frequently create bizarre, error-riddled theories due to their ignorance.

The Torah was given to the Jewish people, and they accepted it. The history of the Tanach is their history. The Jewish people passed along their Torah, not just the written words, from generation to generation. The meaning of the written words is part of what has been passed down, and though certain basic things can be understood from the text, you and I do not have the background necessary to understand the Torah on our own. Let us not, then, be presumptuous and pry into the secrets before we understand the foundations of Torah.

Philip, do not be unnerved and discomfited by this notion. Do not take it into your head that you are second class. You will notice that the language of the Ger community will prey upon that— the way they call the Seven Laws a “Bronze Age slave law” being but one example. The temptation is to compare yourself to the Jew. “Why may I not study the Torah fully, as may the Jew? Why may I not keep Shabbos, as may the Jew?”

Shabbos has become a major issue for the Ger community. It is quite understandable that people who have been attending Church all their lives should seek replacement religious observances for those that they have given up. However, the Sabbath is reserved for the Jewish people, a covenant between them and God. To usurp what was given to another is theft. If you wish to keep Sabbath, a path is open to you: you may join the Jewish nation through conversion.

At least be suspicious of Katz’s Ger Sabbath for this reason: he is the only one that found it in the Torah, by which I mean the entire Torah tradition and not merely the Five Books of Moses. For decades, people have been asking if they could keep Shabbos and if not, why not? For much longer than those decades, the answer has been “no.” But now one man, through his own singular interpretation, has contradicted the wisdom of the Jewish people and convinced a second to support him. Katz and Clorfene hardly qualify as even a minority position. Yet, for some, the temptation to follow them will be great, because they present the answer that so many have wished to hear.

But you, if you wish to follow the truth, you must not yield to mere desire. You must not assume the rectitude of their position, because it contains the answer you wish to hear. The truth is not learned in this way. Inquire with other rabbis. Does Krisos 9a teach a Ger Shabbos? Do not accept too readily the answer that tickles your fancy.

Nor should you accept the notion that you can trust Katz and Clorfene, because you sense, pseudo-prophetically, that they have given you the truth. They teach that God is the Ger’s teacher. This is a grave danger, as you must know. Once one begins to follow his inclinations and attribute those feelings to God, he opens himself to deception. The truth is pushed away from the seeker, and he does not know it because he believes himself to already have it in his possession. Self-assuredness blinds.

Was it not just such assuredness that you were being led by God that made it so difficult for you to leave Christianity? You believed that you were being led by the Holy Spirit, so that, even when Tanach said something other than Christian doctrine, you were able to ignore it. You had your own private understanding, given to you by God. So, you could believe that, though Torah openly says that God is one, He was three. And, though it said He is alone, you could believe that He was accompanied by His partners. When you first experienced the cognitive dissonance in recognizing that your beliefs contradicted Torah, you were quite troubled. Two voices competed for your assent, one which you believed to be the Holy Spirit and the other the words that you believed the same spirit inspired. You have experienced the fallibility that comes from believing that one’s feelings are the leading of God.

It would be reasonable to demand of anyone that claims that God is his teacher a sign or a wonder. If God is the teacher of Katz or Clorfene, let him prove it. If he cannot, let him withdraw the claim. Let the Ger test himself similarly. If God is teaching him, let him ask for a communication that can be verified, a prediction. Or let him ask to be able to turn a staff to a snake. If he cannot hear God telling him something he could not know or guess, then let him not accept so readily that he hears God’s teaching on halacha.

But, Philip, even if Katz produces the sign or wonder, this will not give him authority to interpret halacha unilaterally. Halacha is not decided through prophecy: “It is not in heaven.” Rather, it is submitted to the priests, Levites, and judges.

Curiously, Clorfene teaches his own brand of Judaism that excludes the judges, i.e. the rabbis. He writes that the rabbis really have no authority, only the Levites, of which he is one. (One wonders if Katz is a Levite, and if not, why Clorfene then respects his teaching.) Clorfene’s words against Jewish tradition and against the Jewish people are strong. He writes that the rabbis seek to control the lives of others. He writes that they stand in the way of the redemption and in the way of the return of prophecy. Moreover, he writes that the way of the rabbis and the Noahide laws is the way of strict justice, lacking all mercy, while Ger is the way of mercy. And, he writes that Judaism is shituf, while, of course, the Ger has totally rejected shituf.

Also, he literally demonizes his opponents. On his blog, he refers to a “Rabbi Z,” whom he equates to a demon. This Rabbi Z apparently protested this invective as the two fought over the Ger movement. Clorfene goes on to justify his comment, referencing Pesachim 112a, stating that it is the nature of the demon to cause damage.

I do not bring this up to point out that Clorfene is “not nice.” This is not an expression of outrage: “How dare he?!” I bring this up, because the Ger is told that he has an attachment to the Jewish people that is exceedingly strong and sincere. Philip, when their teachers says such things against the Jewish people, how long do you think the Ger movement will cling to them? If the Ger is learning that the Jewish people have kept the presence of God at bay, how long will they love the Jewish people? If the Ger is learning that the rabbis are usurpers, will they not learn to resent those rabbis that object to the newly invented definition of Ger, who teach that the non-Jew may not keep Shabbos, who are supposedly devoid of mercy and are all judgment? And what damage will be wrought by calling oppositional rabbis “demons”? This claim, that the Ger is especially attached to the Jewish people, is nothing but flattery, and whatever love the Ger has for the Jewish people now is likely to erode under the words of Clorfene.

Katz and Clorfene have begun to drive a wedge between their followers and the Jewish people, not bring them together. I would urge you to study this issue most carefully before you adopt the Ger philosophy. The teachers of the Ger movement have appealed to the ego, promising secret Torah, telling the Ger that he is entitled to things that are not his, and that he clings to God more strongly than those that call themselves Noahides. These men have attempted to make a unilateral ruling on halachic matters. They are not to be readily trusted. Take great care in your consideration to become involved with the Ger movement.

Shem

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50 Responses to An Open Letter to a Potential “Ger” – by Jim

  1. Dina says:

    This is such a great post! Good work, Jim.

    I would add, as a footnote, the name Katz denotes a priestly family. Katz is the Hebrew acronym for kohen tzedek. So it’s more likely that Katz is a kohen, not a levite.

  2. hesedyahu says:

    Reblogged this on Seven Laws Blog UK and commented:
    An impressive and better-written article than anything I’ve expressed.

  3. hesedyahu says:

    Thank you for such a brilliant article that is well-expressed and highlights the points very well. Great article!

  4. ger gravy says:

    Devarim 10:19

    • Jim says:

      Mr. Gravy,

      May I ask for elucidation? By listing Devarim 10:19, what do you mean? Has someone shown an unkindness to strangers? Did my comments show unkindness to strangers?

      I cannot understand the purpose of your comment at all.

      Jim

  5. ger gravy says:

    this paper is from someone that has 1. not read the book by Katz 2. katz book only list torah sources 3. has no idea what ger is 4. has probably listened to Rabbis that are not verses in the topic. 5. has absolutely no idea what a B’ nei Noach is, so they use a term ” Noahide that is not found in one single Torah source

    • Hrvatski Noahid says:

      Within Torah Law there are acceptable differences of opinion regarding the details of the 7 commandments. But any non-Jew who follows Jewish commandments as a religious obligation violates the Torah Law prohibition of creating a new religion. There is nothing to discuss.

    • Jim says:

      Mr. Gravy,

      Thank you for your further comments, but may I ask for further clarification? How does your list of talking points relate to Devarim 10:19? And how do they answer the article? For example, the article does not discuss Katz’s book; how does your criticism that I have not read the book answer the article? (You must be aware that the things I reference come from both Katz and Clorfene’s online works.)

      You owe me nothing, I admit. But, I would take it as a kindness if you refuted specific points, rather than bringing up a list of assertions that are merely meant to discredit me. These are not answers to any specific point in the article.

      Please allow me to explain, by using your point number five. You wrote: “5. has absolutely no idea what a B’ nei Noach is, so they use a term ” Noahide that is not found in one single Torah source.” Yes, I do use the term “Noahide” in the article, as a colloquialism. But, I nowhere assert that it comes from a Torah source, so you have not really countered something I argued. You have attempted to make me look ignorant, in order to discredit me, but the argument stands on nothing. No specific point I made has been countered.

      As a kindness to me, then, I ask for you to address specific ideas and not just seek to discredit me with a prepared list of ways to discredit the opposition. And, please, if you are to quote a verse, explain to us what you mean by quoting it.

      As a final point, I think you miss the point when you say that Katz brings Torah sources. The question is whether or not he fairly represents them. The Christian missionary also brings Torah sources, but he abuses them. He does not represent their intended meaning, but he finds a meaning more to his liking within them. The modern Christian missionary does not even restrict himself to Tanach. He quotes the Mishnah, Gemara, Midrash, and rabbinic commentaries. It is not merely a question of bringing the source but representing it fairly.

      I welcome your continued engagement on this matter, but I would ask for actual argument, not the mere listing of a verse without explanation for why it has been brought and not a list of talking points meant to discredit the critics of Katz and Clorfene but do not address the actual content of a piece.

      Jim

  6. Kathleen Graham-Walsh says:

    Whose Jim?

  7. Sharon S says:

    Hi Jim,

    Thank you for posting this letter.Though it is meant for your friend ,this letter is a sound advice for others who might be in the same situation.

    I have read your article “Noachide Worship” earlier .I can identify the void that arise after one leave behind worship and rituals associated with a previous belief system and embracing a new one devoid of rituals. Perhaps your friend is seeking to fill that void .He is vulnerable and is open to any teaching that can fill that emptiness .

    Your letter is a guidance for me to avoid the pitfalls of erroneous teaching .We have already been fed with one major erroneous teaching for 2,000 years and I for one am not up to another one .May G-d guide us to the right path.

    I’m new in this journey ,one advice I can offer is to see this experience as an opportunity to start afresh a relationship with our Creator .Remove false teachings or ideas of Him which was fed to us by the Church .Have a relationship and serve Him based on His revelation and requirements to mankind in the Jewish Scriptures.It will be hard and humbling exercise , spiritual baggages need to be removed but at the end (G-d willing) it will be a relationship established in truth.

    Jim,please correct and guide if I’m in error.Do continue the good work.

    Thank you.

    • Jim says:

      Sharon,

      I am grateful that you found my letter beneficial, and I thank you for sharing both your experience and your advice.

      Jim

    • Dina says:

      Sharon, I can only imagine the difficulty of your circumstances, and I salute your courage and humility. You are truly an inspiration! May God keep guiding you (and all of us!) in the light of His truth.

  8. I was hoping you’d write something about this. I admire your blog, Leaving Jesus. “Bronze Age slave law” is nothing short of a face-spitting insult. It’s an ad hominem, worthy of Hitchens & Dawkins, directed at the authority of the Sanhedrin. In the way “The Elephant and the Suit” constitutes a rebuttal to Dr. Brown (more like a .357 loaded with silver bullets), a similar essay doing a point-by-point analysis of the Gerring position is needed. Does anyone know if one exists? (Do the Gerrings have a 95 Theses posted somewhere?) An open informed debate requires a full explication of their position and why it’s wrong. Good people are taking sides for poor reasons.

    I linked to your essay at Gentiles For Moses: https://www.reddit.com/r/Noachide (we’re 11 days old!)

    • Jim says:

      Donkey of Balaam,

      Thank you for your kind regards, but I am sorry to tell you that “Leaving Jesus” is not my blog; nor am I the author of the book of the same name. Almost everything I have written online appears on R’ Blumenthal’s blog here, and I do not keep my own blog. I am glad, though, that you found this article valuable.

      Please forgive me for this, but I do not believe it good to call the so-called “Gerim” by the term “gerrings.” I think it is important that we express our disagreement and criticisms without using insulting terms. I know that one Noahide blogger who writes about the Ger movement has taken to calling them this and he has relied on insulting Katz, Clorfene, and others, but I do not think this is appropriate. Whatever errors they have made, these are human beings, created in the image of God, and I believe we ought to treat them with dignity and respect.

      Regarding a point-by-point refuation of Ger positions, Rabbi Moshe Shulman has begun a blog for that purpose. He is only two posts in, but this promised to be a valuable resource. You can find it here: https://torasbn.blogspot.com .

      Jim

      • Concerned Reader says:

        I cannot believe that in all this talk of the notion of the Ger movement on Moshe Shulman’s new blog, nowhere (in the entire 1st post) does it mention that the idea of a gentile’s soul emanating from uncleanness has ZERO scriptural basis. ABSOLUTELY NONE
        .

        Abraham was a goy, was his soul of lesser stature before Israel became a nation? No. Was Moses of lesser stature for having a midianite wife? Was Moses wrong for extending an olive branch to a mixed multitude of Jews and Egyptians both?

        Its amazing to me that rabbi Clorfene is accused of being heretical for stepping outside of norms, and yet, the entire premise of the discussion of a ger, and his/her place in Judaism is being argued entirely based on oral sources from this or that rabbi, or kabbalist, without anyone looking at scripture.

        • Jim says:

          Con,

          If you have a criticism of Rabbi Shulman’s opening and introductory post, it seems to me that you should take that to him rather than go off topic here.

          Jim

          • Concerned Reader says:

            You posted the link to his blog Jim. You are the one criticizing these Ger movement rabbis in this post for relying on oral tradition to establish their doctrine while admitting that you yourself don’t fully grasp the sources, and Moshe Shulman has to rely on oral sources of his own, some of which seem to be mystical sources, which themselves cannot establish doctrine.

            The point with anything Ger or Noachide, is that whoever is deciding what goes has to pick and choose which sources to follow rabbis or not, its a hot mess.

            It seems to me that you cannot discuss this concept of the Ger vis the concept’s Halachic place without invoking the oral tradition in some way, or indeed relying on it as the majority opinion does.

            It doesn’t say anywhere in the written Bible that a gentile is spiritually below a Jew, or that they emanate from impure klipot, or that Shabbat is only for a Jew, or that gentiles are not allowed to have a unique sense of spiritual belonging, ritual, etc. or that Ger is only a legitimate catagory if its in the holy land.

            In fact, I would say that the whole Bible up until Sinai demonstrates G-d’s open willingness for connection with everyone in a special way.

            True, the prophets seem to believe that a gentile should have soil from the holy land, but the book of Jonah demonstrates that non Jews can serve G-d wherever they are.

            It is true that G-d commanded only Israel directly to observe the Sabbath, but the sabbath as a day of rest from creation is mentioned way before Sinai.

            I realize that you want the Ger movement not to feel a sense of “flattery” or to feel they are higher than Jews, and that’s a positive thing because it can be dangerous if gentiles feel they are superior. I also think Jews shouldn’t place themselves above gentiles, because the gate of flattery swings both ways.

            However, you are talking down to rabbis who are themselves trying to do a positive thing for non Jews who are leaving the Church, or other religions.

            Rabbis criticize other rabbis all the time with a ton of invective, and its sad. I have seen whole websites dedicated to the notion of abolishing chassidic books because “they don’t emphasize true halacha enough.” This kind of competitive “we are better game” is what destroys religion, whoever practices it.

            Personally, I agree with you that demonizing the rabbis is a bad thing, but its also not much better when the majority opinion seems to be that the Noachide is a lame duck who couldn’t walk through an open door without a rabbi to tell him which way to go.

            Antiquity had whole communities of G-d fearers, so its not unscriptural to think a noachide community can handle certain things. The commandment for the noachide to establish courts would not be there if G-d felt these communities could not be self sufficient.

            I do agree that it is 100% wrong for these men to be speaking ill of the rabbis and putting their own ideas out there as true.

            The sad thing is though, I think both sides do this, hence my original comment.

          • Jim says:

            Con,

            I do not recall criticizing Katz or Clorfene for “relying on the Oral Tradition to establish their doctrine….”

            Jim

  9. Donkey of Balaam says:

    It’s been a CRAZY week of posting links. Sorry for the mix-up. I didn’t know “Gerring” was a slur.

  10. jasonannelise says:

    I didn’t look closely into this movement, but found it odd that someone living outside Israel could be called a ger toshav.

    • Jim says:

      Annelise,

      It’s good to “hear” from you. Katz will answer that the Ger is really “like a ger toshav.” He is not a Jubilee Ger, but a non-Jubilee Ger.

      Jim

  11. Concerned Reader says:

    Ok, I will restate. You accuse them of relying on what you see as an improper contextualization of the oral traditions, as if any other group is better poised to understand the intricacies of these sources more properly.

    The Majority believe in things that I can find no textual basis for. Should I still believe it because its the majority opinion?

    • Jim says:

      Concerned Reader,

      I am not sure I understand your question. You are asking about accepting the majority opinion. But, your question seems to rely upon assumptions of which I am unsure. I shall try to answer whether or not one should accept the majority opinion then, beginning from a couple different assumptions.

      First, let me make clear that when we are talking about majority opinions, we are speaking in regard to halacha, what the law is.

      If a non-Jew knows that the Oral Torah is true, then it appears obvious that he must be suspicious of an extreme minority opinion. He must realize that he does not know enough to accept such an opinion. It is best and safest that he follow the majority opinion of Torah scholars.

      But your question seems to suggest a non-Jew that does not believe that the Torah contains an oral component. In this case, it is obvious that the non-Jew will reject the majority opinion, because he will hold the opinion to be based on an invalid premise from the beginning. But, he will not be able to hold by the minority opinion either, because it too is built on the Oral Torah. And, having rejected the premise already, then he will have no grounds to accept one opinion over the other. He will only be able to ignore the whole argument.

      One thing he cannot say, however, is that it is impossible to misrepresent the sources. Even if the sources are incorrect, that does not mean that one can construe them to mean whatever he wishes. Let us say, for example, that Hillel issues a halachic opinion, based on his understanding of the Mishnah. Hillel’s words will be taken to be incorrect by the one that believes that the Mishnah is not God given. However, that does not mean that Hillel’s words do not have meaning. He has expressed a thought. Now later, a man comes with his own agenda, and he looks for support for his opinion. Let us imagine that he misrepresents the words of Hillel to support his theory. This would be wrong, a kind of theft, whether or not Hillel’s original conclusion was wrong or not. Or, imagine he just misunderstands Hillel. This would not be a theft, but he would not have conveyed Hillel’s meaning. Either case ends in misrepresentation, intentional or not, and one would certainly be correct to point that out.

      A further point in regard to the non-Jew that thinks that there is no Oral Torah, but he believes that the Written Torah is true: his understanding of the Torah is incoherent. He has no legitimate means to believe in the Written Torah, because it is verified by the oral tradition of the Jewish people. The great mistake that people so often make is that they look to the Written Torah to verify the Oral, when it is the other way around. And it must be the other way around. The Oral precedes the Written and testifies to it.

      Moreover, the non-Jew must recognize that he does not have the context of even the Written Torah. It was not given to him. It is not part of his heritage. His fathers did not preserve it. So, he cannot assert his authority to interpret the text. He must rely upon the Jewish people even for the Written Torah.

      So, once the non-Jew knows that God gave the Torah to the Jewish people, it is sensible for him to listen to the majority opinion. He knows that he is not expert in Torah matters, and he must trust to those that have preserved and learned the Torah. It would be senseless to trust himself to one that is ignorant of the Torah, even if that person is himself.

      Jim

      • Dina says:

        Clorfene vilifies all rabbis, including those of the Talmud, but wants everyone to accept his own authority. It amazes me that this does not make his followers suspicious.

        • jasonannelise says:

          Dina, I think that often narcissistic leaders have a sense of woundedness that attracts people who are compassionate and really care about the underdog, or people who are insecure and want to share in the status of a loud personality. Once they are overcome by their connection to a person, they are less likely to feel empathy for the people who disagree with them…the ‘attackers’ in the leader’s narrative of things that they have already empathised with.

          • Dina says:

            Annelise, so nice to hear from you again! I hope you and your family are well. I would think natural empathy would cause one to look askance at someone who sweepingly condemns a whole category of humans–rabbis–and then insists that his own authority be accepted, he himself being a rabbi. This perspective is empathy (toward rabbis) combined with logic.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        So Jim, do you believe that a person cannot read and comprehend clearly that the written Torah does not anywhere speak about Jews and gentiles as different spiritual species?

        The entire book of Jonah also speaks against this idea of percieving one as higher than another.

        If rabbis are deciding halacha for gentiles in a way that tells them they are spiritually a different species, whether better or lesser so to speak, why should these views be followed?

        You are saying that the written Torah (that all religious parties agree was given by the highest level of prophecy,) must necessarily be interpreted and applied through a majority opinion who lack such levels of insight.

        In ordinary daily life issues, I see no problem with halachic traditions that explain how to keep a commandment, but if a rabbi can take other human beings, and define them as part of a different or lesser spiritual quality/reality, that is not interpretation.

        That is plain and simple redefinition based on an oral tradition.

        I understand that one needs a rabbi to say how to observe, but sources of Noachide halacha are telling people how to BE, ie metaphysical status, not just how to act.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          Jim, my point is, if the minority opinion (Katz and Clorfene’s view) rests on an extreme inverse of the majority opinion, isnt it likely that the underlying assumptions of both views are not necisarily reliable?

          You said that Katz and Klorfene were trying to make gentiles feel “special,” and that this can be dangerous and detrimental to interaction. I agree.

          My point was that Katz’ interpretations are only an inverse extreme reaction to the mainstream view that reverses the acceptable view.

          Instead of Jews having a special soul, clorfene and Katz play up the spiritual gifts of their Gerim. Its just an extreme radical inversion.

          Mainstream: Gentiles can study and grow only in laws that apply to them, and in these areas can be as great as a Kohen Gadol.

          Laws pertaining to Jews are only for Jews, because of a special link to G-d. Jewisb souls are more attuned to things like Sabbath, so gentiles shouldn’t observe because they are not as attuned to such spiritually.

          Katz: Gentiles should be able to keep various things due to this or that biblical or rabbinic source, and then he insults the rabbis for having a superiority complex, when He has that same complex in spades.

          These are two views based in premises that I cant see clear support for in the text.

          • Concerned Reader
            Which practical halachic decision is based on the notion that the gentile is “inferior”? This is Katz propaganda to smear his opponents.

          • Jim says:

            Con,

            I understand that you are bothered that some Jews may see non-Jews as inferior. This is not a halakhic position. I do not know that it is a majority position. Certainly, one could read Katz as asserting the same thing, however, inasmuch as the “fourth house” of Israel, that of the Ger, is a non-holy house, according to him. So, this is not the issue separating the Noahide and Ger camps.

            I am working on an article about Noahide identity. Perhaps it will address these issues with which you are concerned.

            However, I would like to point out that you are being quite dishonest in your approach to this conversation in your attempt to take it over and make it not about the Ger question but about your understanding of how the Jew looks at the non-Jew. This is not the first topic that you have attempted to hi-jack. Frequently, you de-rail topics in order to introduce your own general objections to Judaism.

            In this case, you offer an obviously illegitimate defense of your derailment of the topic. You wrote that Rabbi Shulman did not address a point about supposed non-Jewish inferiority. But that was not the purpose of his post, just as it was not the purpose here. Then, when I said that you should ask your question to him, you justified your asking the question here, because I’d posted a link to his site. But neither he nor I were addressing the question that you raised. This was an illegitimate and dishonest move on your part in order to alter the topic. When I linked to his site it was in answer to a question that does not relate to yours.

            It is dishonest for you to represent my linking to his site as an opening to a topic that I did not address, the question did not address, and Rabbi Shulman did not address. I would be most appreciative if you stopped attempting to hi-jack topics under the pretense that something in the conversation invited you to introduce an unrelated topic.

            Thank you,

            Jim

  12. Concerned Reader says:

    Jim, its not that I’m bothered that some people may feel superior to non Jews, that’s just nature and a human failing.

    Its that this attitude inadvertently reflects and dominates discussions of how Noachides as a whole are related to in the laws that pertain to them. This isn’t anyones fault, its a consequence of the time period when G-d fearing gentiles were a category being discussed.

    I’m not purposely derailing the thread. How on earth is the general relationship of Jews and non Jews and how that relates to topics of how laws for gentiles are being enacted not germane to this thread’s topic?

    The topics are thematically interconnected to such a high degree. I would appreciate it if you would not accuse me of hijacking your post. If the rabbi wants to delete my comments, he may do so. This is his blog.

    Noachide as a term simply refers to all non Jews, (everyone knows this, ie sons of Noah or humanity.) A Ger by contrast is the stranger sojourning with Israel and living among Jews while not being a convert.

    Katz and Clorfene are merely re-framing the term Ger into some kind of redemption era theological reality, they are not the 1st, ( its right out of Paul of Tarsus’ playbook, based on texts found here and there from the prophets.)

    The reason that I brought up the topic I did is because it is related to this whole argument between the more mainstream view on Noachides, and Katz and Klorfene’s views.

    You are the person who linked to Moshe Shulman’s blog (which speaks about perceptions of gentile souls.) and that’s why I thought it relevant. Far be it from irrelevant.

    Rabbi B asked what specific ruling is based on the idea that a gentile is inferior. My answer is that Its not so much one ruling as it is the whole approach to the discussion of Noachides because of the time period those laws were 1st discussed.

    If I look at the seven laws (or their categories which more laws get derived from,) they are for the most part, prohibitions, IE what a gentile cant do.

    You don’t find a gentile spoken of as a person who is able to interact with hashem in the same way as a Jew does in the discussions of the proper role of a Noachide, despite the fact that all are made in G-d’s image, the Noachide is presumed to be influenced by idolatrous culture, living a life of old world idolatry.

    The only positive mitzvah for Noachides is to establish courts. A subject that deals with the strict dispensing of justice. When it comes to punishments for a gentile, its the death penalty until the rabbis enact the loophole that treats the Noachide as a captive child who knows no better. (thank G-d for that lol)

    How on earth can you say that these perceptions are not relevant to the topic?

    The reason that I bring up perception is because The few Noachide laws that are mentioned were formulated and explained during a time centuries back when the world was still predominately Pagan (old world polytheist,) which is why the punishments are so severe.

    The reason that you, Jim, need to write a post on Noachide identity at all, speaks volumes as to the problem that is directly germane to this topic. Gentiles are a community at arms length. As the discussions of the laws are presently framed, the Noachide is an outside observer, a former Pagan looking in, Just as it was during the 1st century.

    These laws were formulated before the Christian era. Before a time when gentiles believed in creation out of nothing, providence, prophecy, messiahs, redemption, before a time of cultures influenced by the Bible.

    Today when discussing Noachide issues, we ask.

    Where does a Noachide belong? Is he allowed to have service that extends beyond these seven categories 6 of which are prohibitions?

    Because the framework for those Noachide laws are prohibitions, gentiles are a community at arms length even if they are truly G-d fearing, which leads to issues of identity for them.

    IE when Noachides are asking an important question like “who can a Noachide marry?” The question always needs to be rephrased to be “Who is it legal for a Noachide to marry?”

    Can a gentile observe the Sabbath? turns into a question of “In what areas is it not illegal for a gentile to observe the sabbath?”

    When does a Jew need to relate to G-d that way so as not to be stepping on G-d’s toes?

    The Noachide becomes an external entity that needs to be shoehorned into a discussion in which he is not the subject, nor even an interested party.

    Katz and Klorfene merely feed on the ancient idea that “one day,” ie Geulah the Noachide will not need to be at arms length, but will be a category that isn’t shoehorned who looks to G-d and speaks pure speech.

    The article “Noachide laws, the religion, the danger,” also speaks to this problem.

    What I was getting at is this.The dichotomy upon which Katz and Klophene feed need not be there, because gentiles today are not spiritually where gentiles were 2000 years ago when the discussions started, during a time of polytheistic dominance.

    I wasn’t trying to make an issue out of the fact that some people may feel superior, but was noting that this old perception inadvertently dominates the entire topic of Noachide law, because of the time period when these categories for G-d fearing gentiles were 1st developed.

    When G-d fearing among gentiles was a movement on the rise, it was in a century where the majority of gentiles were not aware of the Bible or G-d. They did not believe in creation out of nothing, they did not understand covenant, or love of G-d. etc.

    So, the laws for Noachides (which rabbis today must work with,) were formulated under a completely different set of circumstances, where the world was totally different.

    • Eleazar says:

      Hi-jack or no, your points are well taken, CR. Self-identifying Noachides are becoming frustrated by their “lot in life”, especially regarding worship, marriage, etc.When they choose to accept that faith/worldview and leave their church, it can become a lonely existence with very little hope of it ever changing. I personally know a Noachide young lady ( 23) who is more depressed over the marriage issue than anything else.She wants to worship according to Torah, but that leaves her with a religion nobody shares, no center of worship ( except visiting shuls as a permanent outsider), no marriage prospects.Can you imagine if Ruth has listened to Naomi and stayed behind? What would her life in Moab have been like? Miserable.
      It is very sad.

  13. Concerned Reader says:

    To put it another way. Noachide interactions in the 1st or 2nd century (when we have Talmud written down,) is during a time akin to just before Abraham talked to G-d, when he was just a gentile.

    Gentiles today (a very huge number) are more like Abraham was after his initial encounter with G-d, though they are still gentiles, still imperfect.

    The problem is, we still frame the discussion in terms of the initial discussion, ie Abraham before his discussion with G-d.

  14. Concerned Reader says:

    I do not believe that the issue is the notion that the gentile is inferior – it is the lack of practical application of interaction with the Gentile for so many years.

    I agree, but I’m sure that you see that it gets expressed in those terms quite often. Again, its not a matter of fault.

    And speaking of practical application, as I said, when there were G-d fearing communities that were self sustaining, it was the 1st century. That was the last time there was systematic practical application.

    Gentile culture underwent a lot of changes since then, so when you are applying laws that haven’t needed to be enacted in centuries, these situations happen.

    My point was, the whole argument seems to be based on outdated premises.

    • Dina says:

      Con, I agree that this is a problem. Like Rabbi B. said, there is no precedent for application of the laws because the last time this was dealt with was 2000 years ago. The predicament for the Noahide is very real and must be approached with compassion but also with respect for our ancient laws traditions.

      For guidance, a Noahide should ideally be in touch with a competent Orthodox rabbi.

  15. Jim says:

    Con,

    A good friend of mine has suggested that I am reading your comments uncharitably. So, I would like to apologize to you for accusing you of dishonesty and attempting to derail the discussion. I am terribly sorry to have misjudged you. And, I ask you to please forgive me.

    Jim

    • Concerned Reader says:

      No need to apologize. I apologize to you if I come on too strong sometimes, or detract from the point of your writings. It wasn’t my intention.

  16. Dolf says:

    Hi,

    What an interesting debate on the Stranger…..

    I am an ex xtian, ex sunday keeper, ex SDA, ex ? Ex..??? and I think of myself as the stranger, like Abraham and those leaving Egypt with Moses, in my country and in my growing faith – where my only wish is to know my Creator (Hashem) and to learn from the Jew as mentioned by Zech 8:23…..

    BUT “almost” every Jew or Rabbi I met tried to box me, warn me or label me – and I were not able to find it anywhere in Tanach…. interesting!!

    Until the “Ger” arrived…

    The original post reminded me of the various warnings my previous pastors gave me and it sounded exactly the same ….beware… beware…. beware…. and baruch Hashem, I found the Hebrew Tanach and the Stranger as I am not a Jew!! I am taking baby steps but are searching for Hashem!!

    As you would have realised by now, I am on the GER “Bus”, I am a stranger (not a convert) and it is not a movement, it is a group op people (call them what you like) who are fed up with all the politics and are only searching for Hashem and need the Jewish people as Zechariah prophesied.

    Thanks to Rabbi’s Chlorfene and Katz and those unnamed who support them and who are helping us!!!

    I am challenging you all to get the books: “I get Ger” and “Laws of the Ger Toshav”. Inform yourself of what have been written inside and either become a first hand witness of what it is and what not! Become a WITNESS…as taught in Tanach

    Remember, the truth are only established by two or three witnesses!! If you rely on someone elses comment on a book, not read/studied by yourself, you are NOT a WITNESS and cannot comment on the so called “Ger Movement”. And then if you dare “..directly address the book…” in a forum like this. Invite the role players and open it up – like you did so many times before with Brown etc.

    The “Stranger in the gates”, are here to stay and if the Jew (with respect) realise it, redemption might be a step closer – for us ALL,

    I thank those who helped me, on this page to come closer to the Truth, as given and intended by Hashem!

    Shalom

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Dolf, if you truly are a Ger, be a Ger. A Ger is not just a stranger, he is a guest. A guest sojourning among the people of Israel. Does a guest claim superiority over his host? Is it not better that a stranger should be gracious in the land that he sojourns?

      BUT “almost” every Jew or Rabbi I met tried to box me, warn me or label me – and I were not able to find it anywhere in Tanach…. interesting!!

      Rabbis are not trying to box you in. They are trying to find gentiles a place to fit. Jews have been flying solo for 2,000 years, because the Christian and Islamic worlds expressed zero interest in being Gerim.

      Now that gentiles are interested in learning about Judaism, its catching some rabbis off guard.

      If Rabbi Katz feels that some rabbis are “boxing people in,” he should no what a difficult situation it is to change gears seemingly overnight.

      Its not a Ger’s job to try and out do a Jew, or to feel superior, but to be like a stranger. Be gentle and kind to everyone you meet. If you go to the home of a Jew (the Torah) as a stranger, try not to tell them how to decorate or manage their home.

    • Jim says:

      Dolf,

      Thank you for your comment. I apologize for taking so long to respond, but I have been suffering from a terrible cold this week, and it has hindered me from accomplishing all I had wished to do.

      First allow me to say that nothing written in my letter was based on hearsay. These comments are regarding from things written or spoken by either Katz or Clorfene. One can certainly respond to their other works without addressing their books. I do not address their books, because I have not read them.

      Second, allow me to address a minor point: I know that the Ger movement has begun to object to being called a movement. However, Katz himself called it a movement in an interview with Will’iam Hall, and this semantic objection popularized by the Ger movement seems to be nothing more than a distraction.

      Third, I do not find it useful to equate those that warn about the Ger movement to the Church for a few reasons. It does not directly answer any of the objections to the Ger movement but sidesteps the issues. Also, because similarities can be found between the Ger movement and the Church (such as the demonizing of rabbis), we might stand nose-to-nose with one another, declaring each other to be more like the Church. This will lead us nowhere. Lastly, the comparison is facile.

      This last point needs some explanation. When one compares two things, the comparison is only meaningful if the similarities are in essential qualities. For example, though a baseball bat and a desk may both be made of wood, it would be rather bizarre for one to declare that a baseball bat is just like a desk. They are not “just alike.” Neither is one that warns others of a danger just like your former pastor.

      Once, a man visited a lake to which he had never been, planning to take a swim. He did not know that this lake contained flesh-eating bacteria. As he prepared to enter the water, a local man saw him and shouted, “Wait! Don’t go in there! People have died from flesh eating bacteria that have been discovered in the water!” The man waved him off, answering, “You sound just like my ex-pastor!” And, in he went. Things did not go well for him.

      I know that Clorfene has equated his opponents to the Church and more broadly traditional Judaism. This is a useful propaganda tool. After all, those that call him Saba, mostly came out of the Church and want nothing to do with her. This empowers them to feel that, when they criticize the Jewish people, they are really only criticizing a corrupt body, a Church like the one they just left. And, the reason those Jews do not understand what the Ger movement understands, is because they have been so corrupted, which means that they can be ignored.

      But, however useful this is as a propaganda tool, it is not useful for discovery of the truth. Let us not busy ourselves with declaration that you are more Churchlike than I am.

      Jim

  17. Concerned Reader says:

    Does anyone have a PDF of “the world of the Ger” so that I can read Katz’ and Clorfene’s work for myself?

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