As I surfed the net, I came across several items, from different sources, the pieces appear unrelated, but with a tiny scratch to the surface, some disturbing image begins to emerge:
The first item is a letter by Rabbi Dr. Jacob Immanuel Schochet addressed to his congregation, in which he expresses his “authoritative view” [sic] and joins the global ban on this book written by a fellow Rabbi.
He declares the book to be “heretical” and confirms “It Is Forbidden for Anyone to Buy or Read this book”. The book is called “Kosher Jesus“, yet Rabbi Schochet could not bring himself to even pronounce the name “Jesus” or print it in his letter, he uses instead the letter”J“!
“Regarding the recent controversy surrounding a book released by Shmuley Boteach entitled ‘Kosher J’ I am writing this letter to express my authoritative view in response to those who have sought my opinion on this matter.
While it is not normally my style to write letters of condemnation, having read the book, I feel it poses a tremendous risk to the Jewish community and therefore imperative to state my halachic (Jewish legal) opinion that it is forbidden for anyone to buy or read this book, or give its author a platform in any way shape or form to discuss this topic.”
In this second item however, we read an article by a young man complaining about his experience in a Yeshiva school, he talks about what he calls exposure to non-Jewish sources of information.
The young man starts his article with this comment: “When I was in Yeshiva, my friend was “busted” reading a non-Jewish novel. Guess what was his excuse and what the Director did to him“
Coming from a student, I expected a critical article from a rebellious young person, against that kind of restriction and practice. To my shock and dismay, the young man instead was criticising parents who allow their children to be “exposed” to “schmutz” (filth/ dirt) of non-Jewish sources of information! Worse, in his piece he argues that EXPOSURE to non-Jewish sources is actually a form of abuse !! he goes on further advising parents to be a “living example of what a Chossid is. Even if it is fake“.
His message to Jewish parents was clear:
“Please do your children a favor and bring them up in a warm Yiddishe Shtub (home) that is illuminated by the light of Chassidus (many hear this under the Chuppa and forget that one fast …) and keep the schmutz out“
In the third item, we are confronted with an even more bizarre situation where reading becomes a crime punishable by law: 7 years in prison for reading the Torah !
Then we end up face to face with the absurd; where contradictory laws are fabricated and enforced to permanently oppress and shackle the mind; where even involuntary thoughts that creeps into the mind which does not conform to an imposed narrative, and where modest aspirations of basic human rights would throw the “culprit-thinker” behind bars:
One begins to wonder if the time has come to start watching out our dreams, were last night dreams “permissible” or not? and if not what sort of dreams is “allowed”? and failing to dream the right dream what sort of punishment should one expect? and how best to conceal “forbidden” dreams before ending up in prison?
But the mind is such a naughty thing, curious as it is, it keeps nagging;
where does this attitude towards knowledge and the concept of “forbidden knowledge” come from?
Why is that in this day and age, some still believe that it is their business and divine right to act as Thought Police; to block the flow of information and to classify knowledge as permissible or forbidden?
Why is it that some suffer with such uncontainable ego, that they think they are somehow intellectually, morally or spiritually more able/entitled to decide what is good for people and what is not?
The picture becomes clearer when you start examining some sources to discover that this kind of attitude towards control of knowledge and filtering of information, does not erupt in a vacuum; rather, it has its historic and ideological background. The fire behind the smoke appears to be related to a common belief amongst ultra Orthodox Jews that they are forbidden from taking knowledge from non-Jewish sources, and non-Jews are also forbidden from learning from religious Jewish books.
“While Jews are commanded to learn the entire Torah, Hasidic Gentiles are obligated only in those parts that pertain to the Noahide Laws and related concepts…… A gentile receives great reward for studying relevant parts of Torah, but faces death from Heaven for delving deeply into forbidden parts” source
“Idolaters — those who follow false gods and false religions, such as Buddhism or Christianity — are forbidden to learn any part of Torah at all, except those specific teachings that will bring them to repent and become Hasidic Gentiles. We are therefore forbidden to teach idolaters any parts of Torah they are not allowed to learn” source
“Gentiles who are oseik in Torah related to the Noahide Laws achieve the holy status of the cohen gadol; gentiles who are oseik in other parts of Torah are liable to death penalty“.
Talmud Bavli, Avodah Zarah 3a source
“Idolaters have no business studying any portion of Torah.”
“Torah study is forbidden to idolaters.”
“Indeed, if an idolater were to study Torah, especially Kabbalah, they would place an irrevocable curse upon their souls.” source
“Idolaters will never be able to understand Torah and/or Kabbalah properly all the while that they cling to unclean beliefs and practices. Therefore, such Non-Jewish individuals have no place in Torah study and are thus not welcome here in KosherTorah.com.” source
“A Gentile who engaged in Torah is punishable by death. He should not engage in anything other than their seven commandments alone.”source
“A Gentile who studies Torah is punishable by death, as it is said: ‘Moses commanded us the Torah as an inheritance,’ for us it is an inheritance, and not for them”. source
“The prohibition against teaching Torah to non-Jews is well known to students of Jewish law.” source
“A person unfamiliar with the extensive rabbinical literature devoted to this topic may perceive a certain tension, and perhaps even contradiction, between a recognized need to disseminate religious truths and an almost xenophobic reluctance to share the greatest repository of such truth—the Torah.
Yet even a cursory examination of the relevant sources dispels the notion that while the community of Israel jealously guards its spiritual wealth, it refuses to share these riches with others. On the contrary, it is unique among Western religions in its willingness to share its teachings without seeking to impose its observations. This necessarily involves a vocation of teaching despite the stricture against teaching Torah to non-Jews. The latter, while based on substantive philosophical considerations and of definite halachic import, admits of sufficiently broad exclusions to assure that Israel remains true to its role as a lamp unto the nations. p192″ source
“The Gemora in Sanhedrin (59a) states explicitly that a non-Jew who studies Torah is liable for death.” source
“The prohibition against teaching an idolater Torah is only applicable to the six hundred and eleven mitzvos that Moshe taught us. The other two, I am Hashem your God and the Unity of God; one would be permitted to teach to them.” source
The above would’ve been somehow less disturbing if such exaggerated sense of worth and entitlement, such grandiose image of self, and such delusion of entitlement to censor and withhold knowledge were only confined to ultra Orthodox fanatical groups, or if it were only restricted to the inner circles of the artificial Zionist entity, however, this is proven not to be the case.
This obsession with the entitlement to “educate”, to filter the flow of information and to select intellectual diet for others, this pushy strive for dominance, to be in control of people’s minds, this bizarre trend “we know best” is not limited to some weird rabbinical rulings of some ultra Orthodox Talmudists, Nay, it permeates deep into the secular sphere, even outside the Zionist entity.
Recently, we have witnessed the unfathomable secular manifestation of this obsession, played out in the most crude and ugly manner as events unfold:
When excommunicating and censoring fellow activists is portrayed as normal;
When even concert and cultural events do not escape the heavy hand of thought police of our time.
One is entitled to ask then, since when using one’s own brain and acquiring knowledge needed “permission”?
How can one be expected to exercise his/her freedom of thought, freedom of expression, or any freedom in general when books and sources of knowledge become forbidden fruits?
How can humanity hope to progress or arrive to any understanding of the other, if communication processes are jeopardized and access to information are blocked?
How can some self-appointed Thought-Police and Political-Commissars feel entitled to ban books or forbid others from reading or communicating with each other?
What level of cultural grandiosity and intellectual supremacy one must espouse before they embark on banning books, restricting knowledge or blocking debate?
I conclude with the following:
Those who appoint themselves gatekeepers at gates of knowledge, minders of minds of others, or guardians to grounds of wisdom are no less than Intellectual Supremacists.
In other words, those who consider knowledge as a threat are themselves THE THREAT. period
“Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings“
— Heinrich Heine