Thursday, May 05, 2005

Goyim & God

Because of the recent discussions, on and off line about the passing of the Pope JPII, i spent some time thinking about how to evaluate non-Jews, both in public & in private.

Of course, one could fill a library about the roles of non-Jews in the world, God's relationship with them, etc. (For an extentive discussion see this essay.)

But overall one could summarize how to evaulate someone like JPII by three criteria. One can see these themes in the recent Tradition issue about Judaism & the public square:

1) Is it good for the Jews? This was the basic question for most "Jewish" evaluations of the late great Pope.
I can see why people choose this approach, especially after thousands of years as a minority and the tradition role of the shtadlan. However, i think that once you have your basic needs covered and are safe, you really need to get beyond your provincial narrow perspective.

2) Do they increase morality & ethics in the world? Do they make the world a better place?

3) Do they increase Torah in the world? (See the revised version of Maimonides theory of Christianity & Islam in the end of Hilkhos Melakhim). I am deliberately separating this from #2. Using the criteria of Halakha. Do they make the world more monotheistic? Do they increase the observance of Sheva Mitzvos B'nei Noach?

If you play these three criteria off each other, one can create interesting distinctions.

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