How Sweet It Is

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Great ideas speak for themselves. A little PR, though, wouldn’t hurt.

Aish HaTorah’s Project Inspire has floated an idea that I am enthusiastic about. Through a subsidy that allows them to do this at less than cost, you can reach out to non-frum Jews before Rosh Hashana with a jar of honey for as little as $3 including shipping.

There are a huge number of nonobservant Jews for whom the Yomim Noraim are one of the only times that their Judaism is on their minds. A frum rov in LA makes a point of personally going to the Israeli Consulate and inviting everyone to attend his shul, free of charge. A beautiful gesture like that is not only appreciated, but helps counteract the stereotypes some people have about Orthodoxy.

The Aish concept has no halachic complications that I can think of, sends a message that you care, ties in to tradition, and affords lots of opportunity for follow-up. It could be a great ice-breaker that will lead to a deeper friendship, and more opportunity to share Yiddishkeit in the coming year.

The Chasam Sofer says that דבש (honey) is an acronym for דעת בינה שכל. Whoever thought of this idea clearly had some working for him/her.

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10 Responses

  1. Ori Pomerantz says:

    YoelB, I don’t that book. What does Yaffa Eliach base her conclusion on? Are there primary sources from the 1300s (the time Lithuania became Christian) that say it, for example?

  2. YoelB says:

    On the other hand, Yaffa Eliach writes in There Once Was a World that Jews in Lithuania had a much easier time with the locals when Lithuania was still pagan.

  3. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Dovid: This contradicts Christianity’s insanely murderous 1900 year history.

    Ori: That would explain why there are so few Jews living in countries that are predominately Christian, such as the US, as opposed to the thriving Jewish communities in countries that aren’t predominately Christian, such as Saudi Arabia, or that outlaw Christianity such as the late USSR. Sorry for the sarcastic tone, but I think you have a very selective view of history. In the 16th century Poland was not less Christian than Spain, and in the 20th the US was not less Christian than Germany.

    When you evaluate a religion’s effects on a society you have to contrast it with what those people were like beforehand. If you think the Middle Ages Christians were bad, read about the Germanic tribes before they Christianized and the way the (still pagan) Roman Empire suppressed Judaism after the revolts. Christianity did not cure people of being evil, but you’re blaming medicine for being ineffective instead of blaming the actual disease.

  4. Dovid says:

    “Raw Christianity is radical love (for G-d and for His image bearers).”

    This contradicts Christianity’s insanely murderous 1900 year history.

  5. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    The exchange between mnuez and Victoria is instructive. I think the matter is really subjective and based on the core statements that we believe about our respective faiths. I am an Orthodox Jew because I believe in the truth of the Torah, but I certainly recognize that there are some wonderful souls among believing Christians. On the other hand, my experience is that Christians of Jewish origin missionizing Jews tend to be very sick individuals and sensitive people feel it. Those who are not sick have a good prognosis of reaching the Torah after some searching. There are plenty of personal stories like that.

  6. Shlomo Greenwald says:

    “…but helps counteract the stereotypes some people have about Orthodoxy.” Or it could confirm their stereotype that Orthodox Jews sometimes try to push religion on the unaffiliated.
    (I say this as a pro-outreach Orthodox Jew. Just observing.)

  7. One Christian's perspective says:

    There is a passage in the NT many Christians can recite by memory from their heart: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preseveres.” G-d is the focus of unselfish love.

    Raw Christianity is radical love (for G-d and for His image bearers). It means one is able to a) pray in earness for those who persecute them b) forgive those who do moral harm – without their ever having to earn forgiveness c) share the Gospel (often without words) d) give to people in need whom we will never know e) put our lives on the line for people of different faiths or none f) give freely of our time, talent and treasurey – out of wild abandon and with joyous obedience to G-d – LOL, and often on the spot. It also means there is a grave recognition that anything we do of any value that has eternal consequences and eternal worth is that which a) brings glory to G-d b) and can only be done in humble reliance on G-d’s Name c) and can only be done in His strength and through His power and for His glory alone…… and that is very OK.

    I sincerely think people of all faith groups really think theirs is the one true faith. Sharing your faith, then, is giving to someone else what you hold most dear in your heart. Acceptance is always a personal choice ….but…if G-d is not part of the picture, acceptance will fail as an act of human volition alone. When G-d touches a heart of stone and causes it to become a heart of flesh, it is a supernatural act that has eternal consequences. When I refer to G-d, I refer to the One True Sovereign G-d who creates us in His image, calls us to His side, leads us on the path of righteousness and brings us back to Himself in mercy when we stray and Who loves us with an everlasting love from eternity past to now to eternity future. The Holy One of Israel is His Name. I am not a Noahide; I am a Christian.

  8. mnuez says:

    Victoria, I appreciate your indignance and can understand why you feel hurt but I believe that the essence of my comment was misunderstood.

    First off, I was clear to qualify BOTH groups with the term “most often”, I have of course encountered Jewish missionaries (missionizing only among Jews of course owing to traditional Judaism’s view regarding not missionizing outside the faith) – yes, so I have of course encountered Jewish missionaries whose love was only “soul deep”, that is, that they desire to save the soul of the no-Orthodox Jew with whom their conversing but quite clearly care little about his bodily needs. Aswell, I have encountered Christian (and other missionaries) who love all people and who are willing to do whatever is necessarily to aid another person – whether pertaining to that person’s physical or spiritual need – irregardless of whether that person will ever become a Christian.

    My experience however has been (at least in the United States of America and Israel [where I’ve lived]) that, most generally, non-Jewish groups who engage in missionizing believe quite strongly that the “saving one’s soul” takes precedence over every other facet of your relationship with your potential convert to the degree that missionaries are almost entirely “soul focused” and quite clearly so when speaking with people whom they’re attempting to convert. From numerous such conversations it’s been clear to me that (again, in most cases) the love is manufactured and NOT an essential aspect of the mindframe of the person doing the missionizing.

    Again, I’m speaking of people who are actively missionizing me, NOT (at all!) of Christians in general.

    By contrast however, my experience with most Jews actively engaged in missionizing (other Jews, of course) in the United States and in Israel is that they have – as an ESSENTIAL COMPONENT in their weltanschauung – a true love and caring for the Jews whom their “reaching out” to. (Which is why I accept their general use of the term “outreach” over “missionizing” – because the outreach often extends to entirely no-spiritual matters as well.)

    ARE their Jews who “reach out” to other Jews in attempting to bring them into the Orthodox fold who care not a whit for the people whom their missionizing? lol . I know at least a dozen of them personally. HOWEVER, the BELIEF in the mitzvah of AHAVAT YISRAEL (loving one’s fellow Jews) and the ACTUAL FEELING AND PRACTICE OF IT is something that I’ve found to be quite alive and real in the hearts, attitudes, feelings and actions of most Jews engaged in missionary activity among their fellow Jews.

    And THIS, I believe, makes their “love card” far far more authentic from the “love card” I have personally heard from missionaries of other faiths, whose love quite rarely runs so deep.

    mnuez

    P.S. To reiterate: I am not maligning Christians. My experience has been that committed Christians are wonderful people by every standard of goodness that I know. I am specifically referring to the “we really really love you and care about you” that comes with the territory of missionizing someone – and THIS I’ve found to be qualitatively different when dealing with missionaries of other faiths from when dealing with people such as Chabad Shluchim, Aish students, and local “outreach” Kollels. ~ m

  9. Victoria says:

    I take issue with the first comment. Your experience must be seen in relation to the experience of others within those traditions. You made an unfair generalization and you make it seem that the love displayed by people of faith traditions outside your own is cynical.

    I can’t speak for Muslims or any other faith but as a Christian, the love I have experienced by others in my faith and try to show on a daily basis is not solely tied to ministry nor does it have much to do with guilt – or the “love card” as you so kindly put it. I show that love in many ways and it doesn’t stop at the church door. So do many Christians.

  10. mnuez says:

    I agree that it’s a beautiful idea (and not only because it would net me a free jar of honey!) and I’d highly recommend everyone do it.

    Aside for the self-less reasons of wanting to help someone else out (by showing them that you care about their physical and spiritual selves), it also helps deepen your own appreciation of the yom tov as well as improve your own life in the very act of being kind and caring about others.

    Now, I happen to be of the opinion that people join most religious groups (of any persuasion) for reasons other than logic and that often this other reason is that the people whom they’re joining have played their “love” card; their “we care about you” card.

    The difference however between the Christians, Scientologists, Muslims, etc. and Frummeh Yidden is that my (extensive) experience in this field has shown that whilst the others most often “love” you with the singular intent of converting you and thus their “love” is nothing but a tactic – Frummeh Yidden (most often) honestly do care about the people whom they’re interested in being mekarev. Ahavas Yisrael is quite unlike the “love” most generally offered by those with conversion on their minds.

    Mi K’Amcha Yisrael ~

    Kol Tuv, Shanah Tovah and thanks for the honey :-) ,

    mnuez