We the Jews should love the Christians coming to our holy places for inspiration
The Israel Police forcefully evicted scores of Jewish worshipers who had barricaded themselves in King David’s Tomb in an attempt to prevent Christians from conducting a prayer service at the site.
Hundreds of Orthodox Jewish protesters, among them prominent Breslov Hassidic leader Rabbi Shalom Arush, blocked a Christian Mass at David’s Tomb as Christian groups opted here for Pentecost services. The Jewish protesters were blocking a Christian Mass from being held there since they believe the David’s Tomb is a holy place exclusively for the Jews. According to an interpretation of the Jewish law by some Orthodox authorities, foreign prayer services, which may include effigies or idols in Jewish definition, can render a place unsuitable for Jewish prayers.
However, many Christians consider the Tomb of David a holy Christian place as well – it is the site of Jesus’s Last Supper.
The Sunday Mass at the place of David’s Tomb was intended to honor of the Christian festival of Pentecost. Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai. This feast is celebrated in Judaism as Shavuot. In Christianity, this holiday commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, and the Christians consider it as the Birthday of Christianity.
Clearly, the Jews and the Christians consider the David’s Tomb their holy place.
Should we the Jews consider this place the holy one only for ourselves and guard this place from all “spiritual intruders”, or should we rejoice when somebody else, in this case the Christians, believe in the holiness of this place and want to honor this place by their own prayers?
The answer to this question depends on the understanding of the essence of our mission of the Chosen.
If we believe the mission of the Chosen is to be completely separated and isolated from the non-Jews to serve God by the prayers and by the life style structured by the 613 Talmudic laws in the strictly Orthodox interpretation, then guarding all our holy places from all imaginary intruders is the only acceptable service to God.
However, if we believe the mission of the Chosen is something totally different – not to be completely separated and isolated from the non-Jews but to reach the non-Jews and help them organize their life along the lines of Torah’s commandments tailored to unique non-Jewish traditions, then we have to welcome the Christians coming to our holy places. We have to welcome the Christians and work together with them on creating a join approach in building a God’s better world for everybody.
My studies of the Torah
has convinced me that the God’s approach should be to welcome the Christians and build together a better world for everybody. The separation/isolation approach, as Hasidic rabbi Arush implies, cannot be the God’s one because of the following reasons.
- There is no Torah-based reason for God (in any of His possible images) not to like anybody who is coming to His holy place – God created everybody equal in His image and likeness.
- There is no Torah-based reason for not allowing the Christians who consider the Jewish holy place the holy place for themselves as well – the Golden Rule of Jewish morality demands not to do to the stranger what you do not want to be done to yourself.
- While the Christians consider the David’s Tomb place as the place of the Last Supper-Gathering of the founders of Christianity, we the Jews may consider this Supper-Gathering as the gathering of rabbi Joshua and his Jewish followers who were the founders of a new stream of Torah-based Jewish thinking. Moreover, we the Jews should appreciate the fact that this thinking provided the foundation for the Christianity.
- There is no God’s Torah-guided law that says that the foreign prayer services, which include effigies or idols, can render a place unsuitable for Jewish prayers as the Hasidic Jews imply. Just remember, God did not revoke the mission of the Chosen when the Jews at the Mount Sinai were making the Golden Calf while waiting for Moses.
It looks like the same strictly Orthodox Jews, who are trying to preserve the impenetrable separation wall between the Jews and the non-Jews, are trying to remove the chief rabbi of Efrat Shlomo Riskin from his position. The strictly Orthodox Jews led by the outdated Chief Rabbinate of Israel do not like this great Orthodox rabbi for his Torah-guided attempts to build spiritual bridges to everybody in the Judeo-Christian world. Rabbi Riskin builds the spiritual bridges to the Jews who are looking for non-Orthodox spiritual guidance in the Torah, and to the Christians who are trying to strengthen their faith by coming to the roots of their faith, which are in the Torah the Old Testament.
We the Jews should love the Christians coming to our holy places for inspiration.