Thursday, November 7, 2013

Jewish-Christian Relations

Encountering the other – a halachic exploration

Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple over at is Rabbi Emeritus of the Great Synagogue of Sydney, Australia. He has also been involved with the Australian Council of Christians and Jews. In
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his recent paper delivered to that organisation, Rabbi Dr Apple highlights some of the historic traditions concerning Jewish beliefs and practices towards Gentiles—in particular, Gentile Christians.

   One fascinating point he makes is that originally the term “gentile” referred to someone who belonged to any people, including the Jewish people, since according to the Tanach, even an Israelite was a goy. Rabbi Dr Apple goes on to highlight Jewish trading with Gentiles on their festivals; saving the life of a Gentile; accepting a gift from a Gentile; participating in the wedding feast of a Gentile; pikku’ach nefesh [saving the life in an emergency] of a Gentile. In his conclusion, the rabbi states that one of the key questions regarding relations with the two other monotheistic religions was whether or not they were idolaters—if so, then their religions and theology were false and that would prevent them from engaging in relations with such idolaters. However: “Thanks to Menachem Me’iri and similar teachers, Judaism decided that the other monotheistic faiths fostered morality and uprightness and Jews could work with them.” You can read the whole paper here

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