To fully understand any cult, one must study the primary text of the religion. In this case, the primary text of the gerring movement is the book co-authored by Rabbis Chaim Clorfene and David Katz, The World of the Ger[ring].
The gerring movement is touted by its members as something “new” and “revolutionary.” Many Noahides are flocking to the gerring banner and disassociating themselves from the “Noahide” movement. To understand the gerring phenomenon, let’s take an in-depth look at The World of the Gerring.
Note: the quotes below are taken directly from Rabbi Clorfene and Rabbi Katz’s book, and in the spirit of the character of the book, will all be in red.
The book starts out, “The World of the Ger represents a departure from the usual Noahide literature in that it consists primarily of Aggadot. These are the parables, stories and historical narratives that form the character and world view of a people. With Hashem’s help, these holy Jewish teachings will lead to a strengthening of the cultural and spiritual identity of B’nai Noah, the Children of Noah.”
From the very beginning, Clorfene & Katz’s book tells you that it is approaching the legalistic Noahide Code from an aggadic [non-legal] perspective. This doesn’t represent a departure as much as it does a discontinuity. The “parables, stories and historical narratives” are the condiments of the Noahide Law, not the meat and potatoes, and this aggadic diet is meant to gorge the “spiritual identity” of the gerrings, leaving the more important legal aspects to wither from malnutrition.
The book then describes the gerrings.
“These Gerim are a people, as distinct as any other on earth, except that their existence is defined exclusively to their relationship to the God of Israel, the Torah, and the Jewish people.”
So we see that the Gerring is about a relationship. This is the same language the Christian uses to describe Christianity, saying that Christianity isn’t a religion, but rather a relationship.
The book then delves into the meaning of the word “ger.” The book claims that the word “Noahide” is unbiblical, and that “there is a more correct term…the term that the Torah itself uses for the B’nai Noah.” It is true that the word “Noahide” or “Bnai Noah” is not found in the Written Torah (with a few exceptions regarding Noah’s sons.) But the term “Bnai Noah” is certainly found in the Oral Torah, particularly in the section that deals with the Noahide Law, Sanhedrin 56a–60a. It is clear that the Talmud talks about the Bnai Noah, the children of Noah (all non-Jews). This part of Sanhedrin does not make any special distinction between the Noahide (Bnai Noah) and the “ger Noahide” that they attempt to make in this book.
After a narrative about Avraham, Moses and David, the book then starts quoting the Zohar, an important text of Kabbalah. In a quote from “the Sulam’s preface to the Zohar,” it says, “To be worthy of redemption, one must be pashut free of external connections. The purity of being pashut renders a person fit as an instrument of redemption.”
This is the first of many references in the book to the Zohar. The World of the Gerring also references other kabbalistic works such as Sefer Yitzirah. In comparison, the book only mentions the primary text of the Noahide Law, the section of Sanhedrin mentioned above, a few times. Clearly the authors want to present the Noahide Code in a mystical and spiritual light rather than the legal framework as it is in the Talmud. Another problem is the theme of redemption, which, as we shall see below, the book ties in with salvation. “The Noahide laws guarantee stability, continuity and permanence to any society that follows them. And the promise the individual a life blessed by God in this world and in the World to Come.” The focus is on the salvation of the individual, not the society.
The book then proceeds to talk about Israel’s slavery in Mitzrayim, matzos, and freedom. “The prerequisites for the Ger to maintain freedom are three: 1. The Ger must use wisdom to avoid the traps that may be spread for him and that he spreads for himself. Therefore, he must learn wisdom. 2. The Ger must have the courage to break every yoke other than God’s. This begins with breaking the yoke of idolatry, but continues throughout life as a protection against trading in one trap for another. 3. The Ger must learn to trust his Teacher.”
Here we see the mechanics of the cult mentality at work. The gerring is to “trust” his teacher (i.e., the gerring rabbis or those approved of the gerring rabbis to teach Katzianity.) Only an approved gerring teacher can steer the gerring past the traps set before him by wily unbelievers. Only these “approved teachers” have the wisdom and knowledge enough to interpret the Torah.
The book goes on to say, “Rabbi Joseph Gikatilia, z”l, taught that…the Shechina rests upon him and he does not need to learn from a person of flesh and blood, for the Spirit of God (Ruach Elokim) teaches him.” [“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.”—Romans 8:9]
The book then goes into a slew of kabbalistic teachings:
“Unlike the laws of the Torah which are meant for everyone, the mystical teachings are given only to souls worthy of receiving them. People who shun the Kabbalah are in reality being shunned by the Kabbalah.”
“God sent a scroll by the hand of the angel Raziel to Adam. The scroll is known as Sefer Raziel…After the conclusion of Adam’s prayer, Sefer Raziel continues with a narrative: After three days of prayer, the Angel Raziel came to him [Adam] and sat by the side of the river that comes out of the Garden of Eden…As Adam took the scroll, a flame shot up from the river bank and the angel ascended in fire to heaven. And Adam knew that he was an angel of God.” This sounds a bit too much like Acts 1:9, “After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.”
The Book of the Gerring goes on to say, “Four generations later, the book was given to Enoch who used its wisdom to purify himself until he was like an angel…and [he] continued purifying himself until ‘he was no more’, for God had taken him into heaven and transformed him into the angel Metatron.” Compare this with Matthew 17:1–3, “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.” Like the New Testament, the Book of Gerring relies heavily on mysticism and kabbalistic symbolism.
One of the things the gerring rabbis are critical about the “ordinary” Noahides is that Noahides are only concerned with a short list of “don’t do this and don’t do that.” However, the Book of Gerring does have some of its own prohibitions: “The Zohar teaches, ‘Whoever stares at a rainbow is as though he stares at the Shechinah. And it is forbidden to stare at the Shechinah.’ Since the rainbow has such radiant beauty as to be compared to the revealed Presence of God, there is concern that a person might fix his gaze upon it and experience such ecstatic joy that his soul would leave his body. Therefore, we are warned not to stare at a rainbow for long periods of time and not to call a friend to look at a rainbow.” And in lieu of teaching the halakha of social justice, [Note 179] “Some Kabbalists teach that cut flowers are not a positive thing and do not belong in the home. Live flowers are much preferred.”
If you think I’m cherry-picking some of the more outrageous parts, I can assure you that’s not the case. The Book of Gerring is full of things like the above quotes. There are plenty of stories from the Tanach sprinkled throughout, to be sure, but they hardly do anything to instruct one in Noahide Law. Most of them are in the “Oh! Look! A ger in the Tanach!” variety, vainly trying to reinforce the gerring rabbi’s interpretation of gerring.
But now we come to one of the more serious issues with the Book of Gerring, a subject mentioned above: salvation.
“Salvation” is a major theme in Christianity, in fact, in all Gnostic religions. The gerrings also put a tremendous emphasis on “faith” and “salvation,” and are critical of the “No-No hides” who simply follow Noahide Law. Again, this echoes the teachings in the New Testament: “If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” [Philippians 3:4 –9]
This sentiment echos what so many of the gerrings say, that the “No No Hides” (their term) simply follow the legalistic Noahide Law while the gerring is “free in ger” to pursue faith and spirituality.
Let us now turn to the Book of Gerring.
“Salvation means being rescued from evil.”
“The Kabbalists teach that tzedaka brings man to perfection, merging salvation with redemption…Wisdom has no other purpose than to accomplish tzedaka.”
“Shem taught the whole Torah to Abraham including the mystical teachings of Sefer Raziel…Most important of all, Shem taught Abraham the mitzvah of tzedaka. Abraham was lovingkindness clothed in a human body.” Again, this sounds a bit too much like John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Also, in Rav S. R. Hirsch’s The Nineteen Letters, p. 77, Rabbi Joseph Elias makes this observation: “An indication of a later revelation to the sons of No’ach was preserved for us in the seven No’achide commandments, from which we can deduce some basic principles, i.e.:
- acknowledgment of God as the One Alone
- justice, as guided by the inner revelation of man’s conscience
- control of bestial drives and self-protection against bestial degeneration. Demands based on the principle of lovingkindness are, however, missing (Sanhedrin 56a).”
The writings of Rav Hirsch on the Noahide Laws are logical and sensible, and quite different than the Book of Gerring which talks about Noah like so: “The Midrash says that Noah was mauled by a hungry lion that was not fed on time. And so, Noah’s son Shem ran to the Garden of Eden to get a cure for his fahter’s wounds. While in the Garden, he ate from the Tree of Life and drank from the wellsprings that water the Tree of life.” This might not have much to do with the Seven Laws as presented in the Talmud, but it certainly agrees with New Testament teachings: “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” [John 4:14]
The Book of Gerring attempts to teach moral lessons, but these lessons are tied into salvation as well: “Every coin that a person gives to tzedaka is an investment in the World to Come.”
“The Rambam teaches that giving tzedaka is the identifying mark of a righteous person. Therefore, we should be more concerned about tzedaka than any other positive mitzvah in the Torah.” The problem with this is that the foundation of Noahide Law is a series of prohibitions, not positive commandments. The Book of Gerring, owing to its aggadic nature, does not emphasize this detail.
And of course, the Book of Gerring makes it clear what the ultimate tzedaka is: “Making Gerim is the ultimate tzedaka, for it gives life to the poor in spirit.” “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” [Matthew 5:3]
The Book of Gerring also uses a good bit of theological binary logic in its teachings. “Noahide Torah is different from Israelite Torah insofar as Israelite Torah is a physical Torah and Noahide Torah is a spiritual Torah…Noahide Torah is a spiritual Torah in that it stands apart from the physical world…and he [Noahide] gets a share of Eternal Life as a reward.” “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” [John 3:6] “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” [Galatians 6:8]
The Book of Gerring goes on to give a series of parables. Parables are all well and good, and often helpful in teaching moral lessons, but the problem is that the gerring rabbis substitute parables for true halakhic teachings. There is also the problem of this being Jesus’s favorite teaching method. “He replied, ‘Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables.’” [Matthew 13:11–13]
The book gives a long discourse on how a gerring should keep the Sabbath, including the lighting of Sabbath candles, Sabbath blessings, etc. Since the gerrings claim that their gerring cult is not a religion, Houston, we have a problem.
“Resting on the Sabbath is the most venerable of all religious observances.”
“The Ger Toshav is expected to rest in some manner on the Sabbath.”
“The Rabbis who forbid all Gentiles the right to observe Shabbat are focused on the Gentiles of earlier generations…This is in contrast to the Rabbis who focus on the righteous Gentiles of the present day.”
There is also a long discourse about why the gerring should eat kosher, even though, like keeping Shabbat, it has absolutely nothing to do with the Noahide Law: “The prohibition against eating the limb of a living animal is one of the Seven Laws…not eating the limb of a living animal merely opens the portal to the refinement of intellect and emotion that man can attain through his eating habits and by practicing kindness to God’s creatures. With this in mind, it is appropriate that B’nai Noah learn the basics of Kashrut, the Jewish Dietary Laws.”
The Book of Gerring explains this small problem (that kosher law has nothing to do with non-Jews): “It is written in the Ben Ish Chai…The soul of man absorbed zuhama (spiritual filth) by eating the forbidden fruit. Thus, the zuhama will be expelled by means of eating in a permissible, sanctified and spiritual manner. Therefore, the yetzer hara (evil inclination of man) and the satan and the nachash (primordial serpent) which are all one, provoke and battle a person with matters of food consumption. And so, a person must purify and sanctify himself in the way he eats, for example, with berachot (blessings) recited with full attention, and by taking care that the food is unspoiled by forbidden substances such as…the presence of even a small amount of forbidden types of animals, birds and fish, or nevelah, or traifah or forbidden mixtures such as meat and milk.”
And the Book of Gerring ends with: “So now, brother Ger and sister Gioret, you have a written invitation to enter the Kingdom of God.” “Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” [John 3:5–6]
To sum up the book: The World of the Gerring is neither new nor revolutionary. It teaches very little about the Noahide Law, but a lot about kabbalistic Judaism. The structure of the book closely resembles that of the New Testament; lots of parables and mystical teachings along with a re-interpretation of the Tanach to bolster their point of view that the “gerring” is the loophole the goyim need to turn the Noahide Law into a religion of personal salvation, eschewing halakhic observance in favor of “faith,” “spirituality” and “salvation.” The attitude of the gerrings sounds too much like “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” The growing involvement of Chabad in the gerring movement seems to be wanting to give it its new Messiah, Schneerson H. Christ, with Rabbi Katz filling the role of the Apostle Paul. The gerring movement is nothing more than a religious cult, and this book is proof that the rabbis are simply turning the Noahide movement into a sect of Judaism, a sect which is in very real danger of turning into Christianity 2.0. If this is indeed the gerring’s path, this book goes a long way towards that goal.
I rate this book only one-half matzo out of five on my Noahide scoring system.