Beinstein column: Why Christians should love Jews
Go deep into scripture and you’ll see the need for faithful Christians to love Jews.
“Whoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. … For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
To this very day, ultra-Orthodox Jews are extremely faithful to the 613 commandments. Keeping shabbos and kashrut, putting up a mezuzah, wearing tzizit to always be reminded of keeping Hashem’s commandments — the religious fervor of the old pharisees exists presently.
And there’s another verse in scripture suggesting the same need to listen to religious Jews, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatever they bid you observe, that observe and do.”
It’s only when a Christian is faithful to all these laws can he have a conversation about the other side of Christ; the Christ who spoke of the hypocrisy of the pharisees, of the need to split hairs over the tiniest of laws while not observing those laws themselves.
But how can that conversation happen when so many Christians are dismissive, if not outright contemptuous, of the many demands found in the Hebrew Bible?
Contrary to some anti-semitic literature out there, Christianity demands endless love for Jews, especially the most pious Jews.
In the same way that it would be impossible to understand the U.S. Constitution without reading the Federalist Papers or James Madison’s Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787, so too is it impossible to understand the Old Testament (referred to as the Torah or Hebrew Bible by Jews) without the Talmud.
The Old Testament doesn’t make explicit how to observe the Sabbath or the exact dietary restrictions one must take. In the way that so many Americans look up to leading constitutional scholars like the late great Antonin Scalia to understand what the Constitution actually means, so many Americans should also seek out the counsel of the most learned Jews to truly understand the Bible.
According to Samuel Goldman’s wonderful work, “God’s Country: Christian Zionism in America,” philo-Semitism existed from the very beginning of America. Some puritans went so far as to say that the main purpose of America was to one day help reunite Jews from all over the world back to Israel.
This love of Jews carried over to the beginning of our Republic as well. Alexander Hamilton said, “Discredit [the Jews] and you destroy the Christian religion.” And John Adams once wrote, “I will insist the Hebrews have [contributed] more to civilize men than any other nation.”
The desire to help reunite Jews back to Israel carried over to the 19th and 20th centuries, as well, with leading proponents like John Quincy Adams, William E. Blackstone, Henry Cabot Lodge and Woodrow Wilson taking up the cause. FDR and his administration, very generously, saved the life of Yosef Schneerson, Chabad’s sixth rebee, and subsequently also saved the life of Menachem Schneerson, Yosef’s son-in-law and seventh rebbe, bringing them both to America.
Menachem Schneerson touched so many lives, from lost professionals to drug addicts, from Jew and gentile alike, that his grave is still visited today for guidance and inspiration. And much more recently, President Obama was so respectful of Jews he insisted his Orthodox Chief of Staff Jack Lew leave early on Fridays to ensure he wouldn’t break the Sabbath.
And, over the years, both President Donald Trump and his late father, Fred, have given to countless Jewish charities, including to Chabad.
Lastly, in his beautiful book, The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of Sabbath, former Sen. Joe Lieberman recounts once, when traveling with the late John McCain to Bosnia, McCain woke up only to see Lieberman wearing tefillin. McCain said, “Where am I. … What is going on!” To which Lieberman replied that he was simply saying his morning prayers. McCain then said, “Oh good, for a moment there, Joey, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.”
In many ways we live in one of the most beautiful periods in human history. There’s a great and growing love for G-d, Jews, and peace. Let’s pray it continues.
Alex Beinstein is a millennial who grew up in Aspen, lived in Carbondale for a while and now writes from Washington, D.C. His column appears monthly in the Post Independent.
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