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Proselytizing
11-12-2018, 01:33 AM
Post: #1
Proselytizing
11/11/2018

Responsibility to inform vs. proselytizing



Dear Rabbis,


I feel I have to balance two needs: I feel that I should probably take the responsibility to inform individuals I had previously associated with that I no longer worship idolatry, but I also want to make sure that I am not proselytizing. How can I do this?

I can give some examples:

#1: I used to attend a church, back when I was an idolater. I was not technically a member of the church but was a regular. Now that I am a Noahide, thanks to Rabbi Tovia Singer's two-volume book Let's Get Biblical, should I write to the leadership and inform them that the religion which has been known as ch'ristianity has been idolatry and that I now believe the same way Orthodox Jews believe? Or would that constitute proselytizing? (which I feel has been very important to avoid)

#2: What about people (i.e. friends and family) I had previously told that I believed in ch'ristianity? Is it best that I should now inform them that I am a Noahide, say, with minimal explanation? For instance, I could tell them, “I did a small amount of the right kind of studying and recognized that the Orthodox Jews have had it right all along. In Judaism two possible paths exist: a person could either convert or remain a righteous gentile by scrupulously following the 7 Noahide Laws (Abraham was a Noahide). Let me know if you ever have any questions and I'll do my best and direct you to the proper sources.” Would that be ideal? Or would it be proselytizing?


Thanks for your help,


John
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11-28-2018, 10:56 PM
Post: #2
RE: Proselytizing
(11-12-2018 01:33 AM)John Wrote:  I feel I have to balance two needs: I feel that I should probably take the responsibility to inform individuals I had previously associated with that I no longer worship idolatry, but I also want to make sure that I am not proselytizing. How can I do this?

You seem to be confused as to what is forbidden. In the Torah-based perspective, there are two forbidden actions that need to be clarified, that are correctly referred to in English as "proselytizing."

First, it is necessary to understand that there are two branches of the true, Torah-based faith that were given by G-d through Moses at Mount Sinai:

1) that Jews are to accept the fundamental principles of faith that Torah teaches for Jews, and they are to observe the Torah's Jewish commandments in accordance with the traditional Torah law for Jews.

2) that Gentiles are to accept the fundamental principles of faith the Torah teaches for Gentiles, and they are to observe the Torah's Noahide commandments in accordance with the traditional Torah law for Gentiles.

Here are the two actions that are forbidden as "proselytizing."

1) When someone tries to convince a Jew or a Gentile to accept a *non-Torah* religion or doctrine, that is called proselytizing to a false (i.e. man-made) religion/doctrine. For example, if someone tries to convince a Jew or Gentile that (G-d forbid!) G-d does not exist, he is committing the sin of trying to proselytize the other person to the false doctrine of atheism (G-d forbid).

2) Without going into any rare exceptions in individual cases, it is an accepted principle in Torah-true Judaism that one should not try to convince a Gentile to enter into the process of conversion to become a Jew, which requires a commitment to take on full Jewish faith and observance. Trying to convince a Gentile to change his essential identity to become a Jew is called proselytizing the Gentile to Judaism. Instead, such a decision by a Gentile should be left up to the person's own sincere inner desire to become a member of G-d's covenant with the Jewish people, without being actively persuaded to do so by another person or on account of any ulterior motive.

A corollary to the above is that there is no such thing as "proselytizing" a Gentile to accept the Truth of Torah and to observe the Noahide commandments. Both of those things SHOULD be done, if and when it is possible to do so in a manner of peaceful and respectful verbal persuasion. That is because (a) it is a fact that the Torah is G-d's Truth, so the person is only being educated and informed about the truth, and (b) the Gentile is *already* commanded by G-d, and therefore *already* obligated to observe the Noahide commandments, so he is only being informed of the real truth of his current existence. Upon learning this truth, the Gentile can then make his own informed decision about whether to continue on a false path, or to correct himself by going onto the right path.

The same principle applies for Jews and Jewish observance. There is no such thing as "proselytizing" a Jew to observe a Jewish commandment that he is already obligated and required to do, or "proselytizing" a presently non-Orthodox Jew to become a "baal teshuva" observant Jew. Rather, one only helping the Jew to RETURN to the truth of his current and life-long existence.

(11-12-2018 01:33 AM)John Wrote:  I can give some examples:

#1: I used to attend a church, back when I was an idolater. I was not technically a member of the church but was a regular. Now that I am a Noahide, thanks to Rabbi Tovia Singer's two-volume book Let's Get Biblical, should I write to the leadership and inform them that the religion which has been known as ch'ristianity has been idolatry and that I now believe the same way Orthodox Jews believe? Or would that constitute proselytizing? (which I feel has been very important to avoid)

a) That does not constitute proselytizing. Rather, it would only be informing the leadership of the truth. You may do that if you wish, but you are not required to do so as a matter of Torah law. I recommend for you to discuss this personally with your mentor/mashpia or with your Orthodox Rabbi (who may or may not be your mashpia), for advice as to how or whether it would be wisest to do that, based on the specific details of the particular situation.

(11-12-2018 01:33 AM)John Wrote:  #2: What about people (i.e. friends and family) I had previously told that I believed in ch'ristianity? Is it best that I should now inform them that I am a Noahide, say, with minimal explanation? For instance, I could tell them, “I did a small amount of the right kind of studying and recognized that the Orthodox Jews have had it right all along. In Judaism two possible paths exist: a person could either convert or remain a righteous gentile by scrupulously following the 7 Noahide Laws (Abraham was a Noahide). Let me know if you ever have any questions and I'll do my best and direct you to the proper sources.” Would that be ideal? Or would it be proselytizing?

Again, it would not be proselytizing. It would be informing them of the truth. And again, whether or not it would be ideal to tell that to any particular person is a matter that needs to be contemplated with good judgment and discretion, and it would be advisable to seek objective advice from your mashpia or Orthodox Rabbi.
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