What’s Bothering Picklestein?

Gav1

And so, once again, a Jew is criticizing me for what I teach, this time saying I’m a hypocrite. Although I have had plenty of criticism over the years (ever since my first book, The Noahide Code, came out), this is the first time I’ve been charged with hypocrisy. I’ve had rabbis I have never heard of calling me up out of the blue (how on earth did they get my phone number?), telling me they do not like my teachings on the Noahide Law. I always had the same response: Exactly what am I teaching that is a violation of halakha? And every time—EVERY TIME, mind you—the rabbis would stutter and stammer and say, “well, erm, no, your teaching is not against halakha…we just don’t like what you’re teaching.” Yep. Not one rabbi has told me that what I teach is against halakha. And now, after years of unfairly criticizing my work and undermining what I’ve been teaching, I’m a hypocrite. Well…

war bugs

The argument started when I read about how the gerrings were celebrating Pesach. I pointed out, once again, that observing Yom Tov was no business of the Noahide, and outside the purview of the Noahide Code. Then this Jewish man, whom I had never spoken to before, chimed in, telling me that it was perfectly fine for Noahides to take on extra responsibilities that were not part of the Noahide Law, and that I obviously had inferior knowledge about the subject. He went on to explain that he had been studying Torah much longer than I have, that I had never studied in a yeshiva, and blah blah blah. I looked at his profile, and told him that my youngest son was older than he was, and explained to him that I was studying in a kollel when he was just a gleam in his daddy’s eye. His response you can read above.

I have told the story before, but I will tell it again. In June of 1988 I called Rabbi Emmanuel Feldman at Beth Jacob in Atlanta, and told him I was a Noahide and wanted to learn Torah. He put me in contact with Rabbi Deutsch at ASK, and after I explained to him my predicament (a Noahide who wanted to learn Torah) he admitted me into the Kollel. That was in 1988. By the time I had left a few years later (they told me I had learned the extent of what they thought they could teach me), the Kollels were closed to the non-Jews.
I was the first, and as far as I know, the only Noahide that has been allowed to do this. Years later, as my dissatisfaction with what the rabbis were teaching the Noahides grew, I asked a friend of mine (a rabbi who was sympathetic to my cause) to do a little undercover work for me. He did, and confirmed my suspicions. It turns out the rabbis did come to a consensus sometime in the late 1990s to limit what they would teach Noahides; to stay away from Talmud and halakha and instead feed the Noahides a steady Torah diet of kabbalah and Rambam, limiting Torah for the Noahides in order to keep them under control. Yes, Noahides are not allowed into kollels or yeshivas. I managed to slip in before the ban.
So now let’s look at the charge of hypocrisy.

hypocrite-1

I have never tried to represent myself as Jewish (except for obvious satirical purposes, i.e., Rabbi Picklestein). In fact, I have gone out of my way to preserve my goyishness. I do not wear kippahs. I do not keep kosher. I do not observe Yom Tov. I no longer “hang out” with Jews or go to shuls. I make it clear in everything I do that I am not Jewish.

But let’s talk about the real problem with hypocrisy.

I have heard, over and over, that since I’m just a dumb goy, I do not have the knowledge or training to teach Noahide Law to Noahides. I tell them that I indeed do have the knowledge and training. I have asked the rabbis, “why not teach Noahides how to make halakhic decisions for themselves?” They hem and haw and tell me that it has never been done, they don’t know how to approach it, etc. In other words, they keep coming up with excuses as to why the Noahides should not be self-sufficient, so the Noahides can remain under rabbinic control. I have pointed out that the one work that the rabbis refuse to teach Noahides is the Talmud, particularly Sanhedrin 56a–60a, the part which deals with Noahide Law. The rabbis say that the Talmud is off limits to Noahides since it has been misinterpreted in the past to create religion. I understand this argument. What I don’t understand is why the rabbis turn right around and teach religion to Noahides: prayers, keeping Shabbat, Pesach, Succos and other Yom Tov holidays, and eating kosher. It is the rabbis who are turning the Noahide Law into a religion, not me. And then they have the unmitigated audacity to criticize me for telling Noahides to quit trying to keep Jewish religious practices. What I am wanting to teach is a legal system, a philosophy; the Torah sans religion. I have been pointing out for years that there is no positive commandment for non-Jews to believe in Hashem, only the prohibition to refrain from worshiping any other god(s).

In a surprisingly well written and insightful article [CLICK HERE], Rabbi Chaim Clorfene touches on the problem of Noahides and Judaism. It seems that there is a rabbinic loophole about Noahides keeping the parts of the Torah which are for the Jews and the Jews only. But here is the part I have an issue with:

Now, perhaps this Noahide feels unfulfilled by the Seven Laws, which are seven prohibitions, and contain no rituals or traditions. The Seven Laws are really meant for governing societies more than guiding the souls of individuals or families.

What’s bothering me is that the rabbis make absolutely no provision for the many Noahides who are not interested in Judaism at all, but who are instead interested in how to “govern societies” as well as the overall philosophy of the Torah. In other words, those who are interested in a “secular” approach to the Noahide Code. This is something the rabbis are unable and unwilling to do. Yet the rabbis have stymied all attempts to let us teach the Noahide Law in this manner. For many years, I have seen countless people who are interested in this approach turned away, told that “unless you believe in Hashem and submit to rabbinic authority, you cannot become a Noahide.” Instead of presenting the Noahide Code as an all-inclusive teaching for both the spiritual and the secularist, the rabbis insist that only a very narrow demographic, those who are interested in Judaism, can be Noahides. Until the rabbis relent and let us teach the Noahide Law ourselves, teaching it outside the paradigm of Judaism, there will be war.

I would also like to point out one other issue.

Every Gentile can accept upon himself or herself belief in G-d and lead any holy Torah lifestyle he or she chooses – without converting. The Rambam calls them Hasidei Umot HaOlam, which technically means a non-Jewish Hasid, a pious person in the eyes of G-d and the Torah of Moses. Mazal tov!…And  this Hasidic Ger Toshav is included in the Torah’s commandment not to taunt the Ger (Exodus 22:20).

Thirty years ago, I went before three rabbis to proclaim myself a Noahide. I had to do this in order to get into the kollel. I met all the criteria of what these rabbis say is a “Ger.” I was the very first one to do this, as far as I know, for the nascent Noahides at the time were still immersed in studying the New Testament. So if I am a “Ger,” according to their own criteria, why are they violating halakha by taunting me? Talk about hypocrisy…

Selah.

 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “What’s Bothering Picklestein?

  1. Hrvatski Noahid says:

    I have no interest in kollels,yeshivas, Talmud or kabbalah. The Talmud is more like the Jewish encyclopedia. It is not a practical guide for observing the 7 Noahide Commandments. You may well be the only Noahide who learned in a kollel. But you are not the only one who had a formal education in the 7 Commandments. There are many Torah academies and courses that teach the 7 Laws. I doubt that any of them would reject a Gentile who wishes to learn.

    • That is because you’re not going to find a “practical guide” for observing the Seven Laws in a kollel, a yeshiva, from the Talmud or the kabbalah. The Jews simply do not understand what it is to be a Noahide any more than you know how to be a Jew.

  2. Hrvatski Noahid says:

    I agree with you. I too suffered rabbinic audacity. If we learn and live the 7 Commandments, surely we know them better than Jews.

  3. My impression of people who are “unfulfilled” by the Seven Laws is that they haven’t actually learned it in any great detail or with diligence. I’m new at learning it myself, but I’m always amazed at the depth and breadth of Sheva Mitswoth every time I learn something new. Sadly, for some people it is a mnemonic used as a gateway to ritualism rather than a gateway to righteousness.

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