Posted by JI member Jim Long
As a Noahide who loves G-d, Torah and the people of Israel, I'm wondering if it isn't time to stop referring to Judaism as a religion.
Consider how often we hear Judaism referenced as one of, "the world's three great religions" and how the words---unchallenged----promote a kind of relativism that allows true observance of Torah to be lumped into the same category as Christianity and Islam. The West also promotes this idea, they bring the whole of Torah-belief and practice down to their level, especially here here in America where politicians tout the misapplied doctrine of "separation of church and state". The latter reinforces an idea that there exists a disconnect between the two for any credible nation. In reality, a genuine Torah government would never separate belief and law or faith and everyday life.
Calling Judaism a religion fails to recognize that the Jews constitute a genuine nation, in every sense of the word.
I cannot find any place in the Torah where G-d told Avraham Avinu that He would make him the father of a great religion. The promise was always positioned as nationhood. Four-hundred thirty years after that promise was made to the great patriarch, his descendants stood at Mt Sinai and HaShem told the people they would be a nation of priests.
By debating this issue with Christians and engaging in their faulty understanding of what constitutes a Jew, we allow the debate to continue unabated. Their entire argument is couched in spiritual terms that even they don't understand. They dwell in a world where it's more important to think and feel a certain way. The Jew has always been taught, in essence, what you do is what you believe. At Har Sinai Israel agreed to first DO and then HEAR.
Saying that one is a Jew should be understood as meaning the exact same thing as saying that one is American, Japanese or any nationality. In fact, when a person converts (another unfortunate term) to Judaism, they become a naturalized citizen of a great and ancient commonwealth still thriving today. The convert is subject to all of the laws of that commonwealth. Just as the children born to a naturalized citizen are automatically considered citizens of their parent's adopted nation, children born to converts are considered Jewish. Obviously, there are certain things a convert or children of converts cannot do but, again, there are similar statutes in the American constitution. For example, a naturalized American citizen cannot hold certain public offices. This recalls the Torah commandments in respect to the Kohanim.
A Jew can make the same claim as any nation--they have a set of laws covering every aspect of daily life and they have a land in which to practice those laws. However, there is one elegant and amazing difference: Any law that I observe--for example---obeying a traffic sign, does only one thing--it maintains order. But when a Jew keeps what might be viewed as the simplest mitzvah---that Jew brings down holiness into the world!
Israel is unique in this way and also unique by virtue of the fact that they are the only nation in history that was created by G-d. What a marvelous thing this is. This idea of nationhood is so that it can be seen in the even worst English translations of the Tanakh.
Finally, I would add that being Jew has very little to do with skin color. Keeping in mind that there is a position of leadership firmly established by G-d with the Twelve Tribes and all their attendant rights under Torah
Law. there are a myriad of flesh tones and bloodlines who have become a part of this holy nation.
Clearly, there must come a day when, the State of Israel will have to grasp the concept of true Jewish nationhood. It will happen only when every Jewish family in the galuth boards the nearest plane for eretz Israel.
In the meantime, I really wonder how long any debate would last, if the next time a Christian begins to argue the merits of being Jewish versus being a Christian, if Jews would simply say, "I'm sorry, you are asking me to betray my nation. I belong to the nation of Israel and what you are asking is treason!"