Sometime ago I appealed to the rabbis to acknowledge mutual spiritual foundation of Judaism and Christianity in an article “Priests recognized spiritual unity with Jews – the time for Rabbis to follow”. And the rabbis responded – of course, not to my appeal but rather to their own urge to correct spiritual mistakes of the past.
Indeed, recently some orthodox rabbis responded positively to the Vatican’s statements acknowledging Judaism as the foundation of the Christian Church and the Jews as the elder brothers of the Christians. On December 3, 2015, Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation issued the Orthodox Rabbinic Statement on Christianity where the following was emphasized:
After nearly two millennia of mutual hostility and alienation, we Orthodox Rabbis who lead communities, institutions and seminaries in Israel, the United States and Europe recognize the historic opportunity now before us. We seek to do the will of our Father in Heaven by accepting the hand offered to us by our Christian brothers and sisters. Jews and Christians must work together as partners to address the moral challenges of our era. …
Both Jews and Christians have a common covenantal mission to perfect the world under the sovereignty of the Almighty, so that all humanity will call on His name and abominations will be removed from the earth. We understand the hesitation of both sides to affirm this truth and we call on our communities to overcome these fears in order to establish a relationship of trust and respect.
We Jews and Christians have more in common than what divides us: the ethical monotheism of Abraham; the relationship with the One Creator of Heaven and Earth, Who loves and cares for all of us; Jewish Sacred Scriptures; a belief in a binding tradition; and the values of life, family, compassionate righteousness, justice, inalienable freedom, universal love and ultimate world peace.
So what are the mutual values of life, family, compassionate righteousness, justice, inalienable freedom, universal love and ultimate world peace?
First, we have to recognize we are looking for the values we have to promote and strengthen in the public place where the Jews and the Christians are working together for creating a better world for themselves and the others. The values, which are important for the internal Church/Synagogue life, should be left for various religious denominations to deal with without interference of the others. These internal Church/Synagogue values could be found in thousands of commentaries made by the rabbis for the last two millenniums, and undoubtedly by the priests in Christianity.
The mutual Judeo-Christian values, which are crucial in the public place, could be derived from the Ten Commandments.
Belief in Hashem
Here the most important is to believe in His Ten Commandments as the guidance for addressing the contemporary spiritual, social and political challenges. Both the Jews and the Christians have to be guided by the Hashem’s Ten Commandments – not by the politically correct Human Rights or Social Justice made to replace the Hashem’s Ten Commandments.
Do not have other made-for-yourself gods
The most common “other god” in the contemporary public life is a government. Our politicians have elevated themselves to the position of a god by replacing the Bible-based laws by the human-rights/social-justice laws invented by the politicians themselves to cement their own god-like power. We have to dethrone the government from the position of a god by forcing a government to compete with private sector in various areas of public services.
Do not use Hashem’s name in vain
When we say “God bless America” we are not asking God to bless America replacing the Biblical laws by the human-made laws – we are asking God to bless our work of implementing the Biblical laws.
One day a week should be devoted to a sort of spiritual refreshment to analyze whether the past week accomplishments have been along the lines of Biblical guidance, and how to deal with the next week challenges along the same lines. For the Jews and some Christian minorities, this day is Saturday; for the Christian majority this day is Sunday.
Honor your parents
Honoring your parents means preserving and applying to always changing life circumstances the core spiritual values of your parents – that is what the true Jews and Christians have been doing from the very beginning. Replacing the spiritual values of your parents, which your parents were trying to instill in you, by human-made politically correct values, is dishonoring the parents.
Do not murder
Do not murder for any economic gains as was common and even honorable in the pre-Biblical era. However, do not hesitate to defend you spiritual space and values even if such defense would require killing the enemy who is trying to do so.
Do not commit adultery
The adultery is a violation of the values of traditional family. The traditional family is at the core of our Judeo-Christian civilization. However, remembering the Biblical Free Will, the faithful of the traditional families should not persecute the non-traditional families assuming the non-traditional families are not trying to change the Biblical status-quo through government legislative actions.
Do not steal
Theoretically, Do not steal is at the core of any contemporary judicial system. However, the stealing is wildly acceptable and even encouraged under the social justice slogans – it is done through government redistribution of wealth from those who are earning their wealth to those who do not earn enough and are considered less fortunate. Of course, we have to help the less fortunate but this help should be provided through Biblical mitzvah/charity actions – the government may create legislative incentives to do so.
Do not testify falsely
That is already at the core of Judeo-Christian morality – “I do you solemnly swear that I will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God”.
Do not covet
Do not covet the wealth and possessions of the others who have more, and even much-much more, than you have. Theologically, everybody would agree with this. However, the Biblically forbidden coveting appears in many different forms such as condemning the wealth inequality, regulating the minimum wage, excessively taxing the wealthy people, accusing the Wall Street of robbing the Main Street. Asking the government to fix all that is using the government as the cover for your coveting.
If the Jews have so much in common with the Christians, many people ask, what fundamentals spiritually separate them?
What separates religions of Judaism and Christianity? One “simple” thing separates them – the Jews are the Chosen at the God’s order with the mission of helping the others to follow the God’s laws of creating a better world for everybody. Of course, they are separated by many theological dogmas and hostile history but that is not fundamental as compared to what unites them spiritually.