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A Look At the Talmud - Part 1: The Gentile

Discussion in 'Judaism DIR' started by Tumah, May 13, 2018.

  1. Tumah

    Tumah Veteran Member

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    This thread is courtesy of the honorable Charles Crosby who was kind enough to garner a list of sources from Jewish literature about non-Jews.

    I recently had a brush with an anti-semite. He was happy to believe anything about the Jews...but only if it was negative and came from a person who couldn't read any of the source material in it's original language. This encouraged me to do my part and at least provide a resource that may help someone one day. I may also make another thread explaining how the Talmud works and stuff life that.

    Here is Mr. Crosby's message.

    Here is a sampling of quotes from the Jewish Talmud…The Jewish Talmud, which has more religious authority for Jews than the Old Testamnent - The Torah​

    We'll start off with this often heard idea. The Talmud is a compilation of let's call it Talmudic exegetic principles that were already used to work through the text of the Torah, producing a deciphered message. The authority that the Talmud has, is in that it has extracted the message of the Torah. Alone, it's just a bunch of methods of exegesis.

    JEWISH SUPREMACISM

    NATIONS OF BEASTS Baba Necia 114, 6: “The Jews are human beings, but the nations of the world are not human beings but beasts.”

    WHO IS HUMAN? Baba Mezia 114a-114b “Non-Jews are Not Human. Only Jews are human (“Only ye are designated men”)​

    These two are the same passage. The first one is simply a misspelling. It's a common complaint, but is again based on a lack of understanding how Talmudic exegesis works. I'll explain it here:

    The background to this passage is unrelated to our discussion here. The salient point is that the Talmud is bringing an opinion that holds that non-Jewish graveyards don't render a Jewish person ritually impure (as opposed to non-Jewish dead bodies, which do). This has to do with a trait of ritual impurity from dead bodies which according to this opinion only applies to Jewish people. (Bold are the translated words of the Talmud, the non-bold is to explain the context):

    As it is taught in a baraita: Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai says that the graves of gentiles do not render one impure, as it is stated: “And you, My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, are man”(Ezekiel 34:31), which teaches that you, i.e., the Jewish people, are called “man,” but gentiles are not called “man.” Since the Torah states with regard to ritual impurity imparted in a tent: “If a man dies in a tent” (Numbers 19:14), evidently impurity imparted by a tent does not apply to gentiles.

    So the first thing that should be evident, is that the Talmud isn't coming to compare non-Jews to animals. The verse that's brought is a verse where the Jews are compared to sheep. So the claim that non-Jews are compared to animals in a passage where Jews are the ones actually being compared to animals, should already show you that this claim was not well thought through. But we need to understand what is going on here.

    What Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is identifying a key-word. He's saying that whenever you see the word "man (adam)" don't understand it in the literal sense as referring to all of man-kind, but understand it as a reference to Jewish people. It's as if G-d is saying "you My sheep are identified by the word 'man' in Tanach". Once he identifies that keyword, he plugs that into the verse that teaches about a certain Law regarding impurity from dead bodies in the verse that says, "if a 'man' will die in the tent". With this meaning, he learns that only a Jewish person's dead body has that particular attribute of impurity learned from the verse.

    What's not going on here is that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is not classifying Jewish people or non-Jews. He's understands the verse in Ezekiel to be teaching that the word "man" in Tanach refers to Jews.

    In fact, the Talmud quotes this very same statement from Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in another tractate, Yevamos 61a:

    It is taught in a baraita: And similarly, Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai would say: The graves of gentiles do not render items impure though a tent, as it is stated: “And you My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, are men [adam]” (Ezekiel 34:31), from which it is derived that you,the Jewish people, are called men [adam] but gentiles are not called men [adam]. Since the Torah introduces the halakha of ritual impurity of a tent with the words: “When a man [adam] dies in a tent” (Numbers 19:14), this halakha applies only to corpses of Jews but not those of gentiles.

    So far, the same basic concept as described in the other tractate. The Talmud continues:

    The Gemara raises an objection based upon the verse with regard to captives taken during the war against Midian: “And the persons [nefesh adam] were sixteen thousand” (Numbers 31:40), which indicates that gentiles are also referred to as adam. The Gemara answers: They are given this title due to the need to distinguish the people taken captive from the animals that were taken as spoils of war.

    The Gemara raises another difficulty based upon a verse with regard to the city of Nineveh: “Wherein are more than one hundred and twenty thousand men [adam] that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand, and also much cattle” (Jonah 4:11). The Gemara answers: There, too, the gentiles are given this title due to the need to distinguish them from the animals mentioned in the verse.

    Here you see, that the Talmud understands that the Torah uses the word "man" to distinguish non-Jews from animals. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai wasn't trying to suggest that non-Jews are animals, so this distinction makes sense. The word "adam" literally does mean "man" -Jews and non-Jews - and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai doesn't disagree with that. He's only saying that unless the context requires a different explanation, we should understand it as a reference to Jews.

    No, don't leave. We're not done yet. We're going all the way here. Sanhedrin 59a:

    Rabbi Meir would say: From where is it derived that even a gentile who engages in Torah study is considered like a High Priest? It is derived from that which is stated: “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My ordinances, which if a (lit. the) man does he shall live by them” (Leviticus 18:5). The phrase: Which if priests, Levites, and Israelites do they shall live by them, is not stated, but rather: “A (lit. the) man,” which indicates mankind in general. You have therefore learned that even a gentile who engages in Torah study is considered like a High Priest.

    Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai were two of Rabbi Akiva's five main students. They were buds. Here Rabbi Meir learns from the word "man" that non-Jews should study Torah (specifically the parts about Noahide Laws).

    According to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, "man" is a keyword for "Jew" and apparently according to Rabbi Meir, it's not. Rashi, an 11th century major commentator on the Talmud, explains simply that these two Talmudic Sages disagree on whether "man" is a keyword or not.

    However, the Tosafists bring a contradiction to this explanation. They ask from another tractate, Kerisos 6a:

    And it was taught in another baraita: One who anoints with anointing oil on an animal, vessel, or gentile, or dead body is exempt. But if one anoints a king or priest: Rabbi Meir holds that one is liable and Rabbi Yehudah holds that one is exempt.

    Here we see that Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehudah only disagree with regard to kings and priests. But they both agree that when it comes to anointing non-Jews, one is exempt. The Tosafists point out that the logical reason for Rabbi Meir to hold this way seems like it should be because it says in Ex. 30:32, "on the flesh of man (adam) do not anoint". And since non-Jews are not called "man" as Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai teaches, one should be exempt from anointing a non-Jew. The Talmud itself brings this reasoning in an earlier passage that's not connected to Rabbi Meir, but it seems like it should be applicable to him as well. This is in contradiction to what Rabbi Meir taught above in the tractate Sanhedrin.

    The Tosafists provide a number of answers (also quoted by Nachmanides in his commentary):
    The first possibility is that Rabbi Meir holds that only those (ie. Jews) that are commanded to anoint in certain situations, are prohibited to anoint in other situations. Since non-Jews have no commandment to anoint anyone, they likewise have no prohibition to use the anointing oil. The Talmud also uses this reasoning in a later passage. He also points out that some versions of the Talmud have a different Rabbi making that statement instead of Rabbi Meir. Both of these explanations would explain Rashi's position.

    According to Rabbeinu Tam, there is a difference between "a man" and "the man": the former refers to Jews, while the latter refers to mankind. He brings as an example, Ex. 9:9 where it says that the boils were "on the man and on the animal". Rabbi Meir's point above was not that Lev. 18:5 should literally spell out "Which if priests, Levites, and Israelites do they shall live by them" as we originally thought. Instead, rather than writing "Which if the man does, he shall live by them", it should have said "Which if a man does, he shall live by them" if it meant to imply only Jews. Thus he learns, it refers to all of mankind.

    According to Rabbi Meshulam, the Torah only uses the word "man" to refer to Jews, when the subject is something negative for Jews. But in Rabbi Meir's verse, if it intended Jews specifically, it should have specified Priests, Levites and Israelites as it does in other places. Since this is not a negative subject and it used "man", it's not coming to specify Jews, but includes all of mankind.

    What I hope should be a little clearer from all this, is that the statement quoted above wasn't about comparing non-Jews to animals. We saw that the Talmud actually does the exact opposite: learning that the Torah goes against it's normal rule of referring to Jews as "man" to call non-Jews "man" so as to differentiate them from the animals.
     
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  2. Rival

    Rival Inodj har-ek Horu
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    So I came back to this thread after reading some rather nasty comments on a certain Tovia Singer YouTube video that put me in a foul mood. Thanks for taking the time to make this post.
    Yes please.
     
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  3. Harel13

    Harel13 Am Yisrael Chai
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    I was looking into this issue about a month ago for a humorous essay I wrote for Adar (aka "Purim Torah") and I found someone discussing this particular issue and commenting: "How come the gentiles always go and think that the other option is animals? Why don't they ever think it's the other way around? What if they could be considered super-humans instead?"
     
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  4. RabbiO

    RabbiO הרב יונה בן זכריה

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  5. Harel13

    Harel13 Am Yisrael Chai
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    This is the site I was (roughly) quoting from, above.
     
  6. Jake1001

    Jake1001 Computer Simulator

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    What are our thoughts about #BLM ? Btw, I’m a big fan !
     
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