Show thanks to water and dust November 25, 2010Posted by Ezra Resnick in Ethics, Religion.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach thinks that Jews who do not show immense gratitude towards Christians for donating money to Jewish and Israeli causes are not living up to Jewish values:
So great is the emphasis on appreciation in our religion that our greatest prophet, Moses, is commanded by G-d not to strike the Nile River and turn it into blood in the first plague against the Egyptians because that same river had saved his life when he was a baby. Later, in plague number three, G-d will again warn Moses against smiting the dust of Egypt and turning it into lice because the dust had saved his life when he had to bury the body of a murderous Egyptian taskmaster.
Imagine that. A man who speaks to G-d face to face is told he must show thanks to water and dust. But such is the extent to which Jewish values demands gratitude.
Imagination aside, what these absurd examples actually show is a severe case of misplaced priorities. After all, we are told that God did in fact turn the Nile into blood (killing all the fish and depriving the Egyptians of drinking water), and did smite all the Egyptians with lice — it’s just that the waving of the magic staff in these cases was done by Aaron instead of Moses. The entire bloody Exodus was merely Yahweh’s way of demonstrating his awesome superiority: “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. . . . And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth My hand upon Egypt” — including killing every Egyptian firstborn. According to Jewish values, then, showing gratitude to inanimate objects is far more important than the suffering of innocent people.
By the way, why does Boteach think evangelical Christians donate so much money to Israel?
To say they do this merely to convert us, or because gathering Jews to Israel will usher in the apocalypse, is to perpetrate a sacrilegious act of character assassination. Christians support Israel out of deep love and brotherhood. . . . I have traveled . . . on Christian relief missions to Zimbabwe, the poorest country on earth, and have listened as they have told me that their first commandment as Christians is to love and protect the Jewish people for no other reason other than G-d commanded it.
But doing something “for no other reason other than G-d commanded it” is nothing to be proud of (grammatically or morally). The corollary is that if you believed God wanted you to kill your neighbor for being gay, or kill your daughter for not being a virgin on her wedding night, you would do that too. This does not make you a moral person — it makes you a mindless slave, and a danger to us all.