According to the Talmud Avodah Zarah 2b , G-d offered the Torah to all the nations of the earth, and the Jews were the only ones who accepted it. The story goes on to say that the Jews were offered the Torah last, and accepted it only because G-d held a mountain over their heads! Another traditional story suggests that G-d chose the Jewish nation because they were the lowliest of nations, and their success would be attributed to G-d's might rather than their own ability.
Clearly, these are not the ideas of a people who think they are better than other nations. Because of our acceptance of Torah, Jews have a special status in the eyes of G-d, but we lose that special status when we abandon Torah. Furthermore, the blessings that we received from G-d by accepting the Torah come with a high price: Jews have a greater responsibility than non-Jews. While non-Jews are only obligated to obey the seven commandments given to Noah, Jews are responsible for fulfilling the mitzvot in the Torah, thus G-d will punish Jews for doing things that would not be a sin for non-Jews.
The Seven Laws of Noah According to traditional Judaism, G-d gave Noah and his family seven commandments to observe when he saved them from the flood. These commandments, referred to as the Noahic or Noahide commandments, are inferred from Genesis Ch. These commandments are fairly simple and straightforward, and most of them are recognized by most of the world as sound moral principles.
Any non-Jew who follows these laws has a place in the world to come. The Noahic commandments are binding on all people, because all people are descended from Noah and his family. The mitzvot of the Torah , on the other hand, are only binding on the descendants of those who accepted the commandments at Sinai and upon those who take on the yoke of the commandments voluntarily by conversion.
In addition, the Noahic commandments are applied more leniently to non-Jews than the corresponding commandments are to Jews, because non-Jews do not have the benefit of Oral Torah to guide them in interpreting the laws. For example, worshipping G-d in the form of a man would constitute idolatry for a Jew; however, according to some sources, the Christian worship of Jesus does not constitute idolatry for non-Jews.
Goyim, Shiksas and Shkutzim The most commonly used word for a non-Jew is goy. The word "goy" means " nation ," and refers to the fact that goyim are members of other nations, that is, nations other than the Children of Israel. There is nothing inherently insulting about the word "goy. Because Jews have had so many bad experiences with anti-Semitic non-Jews over the centuries, the term "goy" has taken on some negative connotations, but in general the term is no more insulting than the word "gentile.
I gather that these words are derived from the Hebrew root Shin-Qof-Tzadei, meaning loathsome or abomination. The word shiksa is most commonly used to refer to a non-Jewish woman who is dating or married to a Jewish man, which should give some indication of how strongly Jews are opposed to the idea of intermarriage.
We laughed a lot together, his head tipped back, long blonde locks tangled with chlorine and sweat. And sometimes when I would breathe, I could detect a faint note of Polo Sport, or some other typical manly cologne. He was occasionally mysterious or melancholic, sitting alone, away from our loud group of friends during our time off, and I liked to imagine that he was bemoaning the fact that we had only a few days left in each others' presence, or that we were too different to end up together.
There was a visible spark of attraction, flirtation, a mutual obsession. People were constantly asking if we were a couple. We were sitting close together on a grassy patch, our legs almost touching. I longed to inch closer, but held back. I wanted to say that I already was, but couldn't divulge that truth. If I didn't formulate the words, maybe it wouldn't really be true.
Words have a way of giving a moment credibility, of bringing a thought into reality, and I couldn't admit that to myself, much less to him. I can't," I said, more to convince myself. I wondered if he believed my words, because I didn't. And I knew he was asking because he felt the tension between us. I felt his radiant green eyes on me all day long during our lectures, and the way he paused in between the sentences he whispered to me, visibly memorizing every aspect of my face.
I thought about him all the time. We are a summary of the choices we make As humans, we are a summary of the choices we make, of every action and positive deed performed. Colin and I were composed of different elements and stood continents apart. If I did attempt to bridge the gap, to ignore our impenetrable differences, I knew I would never feel connected in a very deep way. He would never shudder in humility on Yom Kippur or cry until his soul was wrung dry on Tisha B'av, the greatest day of mourning for the Jewish people.
And yet I knew I could never start a family in a veil of conflict, or bring children up in a home where Judaism was not viewed as infallible, and the center of their lives. I thought of my grandmother who, decades earlier, lay motionless on a wooden bunk in a concentration camp and prayed for salvation using the very same words I was praying. Tradition, culture, I am blessed.
I was disappointed but also relievedI was disappointed, but also relieved, when the week drew to a close, and it was time to say goodbye to Colin, and the other friends I had made. I knew that our heartfelt and tearful "goodbyes" were forever. I would have to silently allow my feelings to shrivel and wane, to cradle the broken pieces of my insides. But at least I hadn't done anything I would regret.
Interfaith marriage in Judaism
In Reckless Waters: Falling in Love with a Non-Jew
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