Monday, October 10, 2005

What is a Goy?

Let's start off with the literal meaning of the word "goy," which means "nation." Let us also start off with the very heart of the matter; how has this word been used and how is it being used? To understand this, we'll have to understand, even if just generally, the context of the place and time when the word was being used to understand what it intended. In certain times, the word was absolutely derogatory, other times it was neutral, a word used to describe the nations of the world, and yet in other times hope, respect, and faith was placed in the nations, that the goyim would one day live up to their full potential of being G-dly people. We can't forget that the Torah refers to Israel (the Jews) as a "goy kadosh," a "holy nation." The famous verse from Isaiah, in Hebrew, states, "Lo yisa goy el goy kherev ve lo il'medu 'od milkhama," which means, "Nation will not lift sword against another nation and no longer will they learn war."

In times that were bad for Jews, "goy" was a derogatory term used to denigrate the people directly responsible and generally associated with these overwhelming hardships, such as in the time of the destruction of the Second Temple, and perhaps the first - a matter that I am only somewhat educated in.

Goys will be Goys

Judaism is firmly placed in the belief that one day the entire world's population will come to a knowledge of G-d, proclaiming Him publically and unashamedly, and the goyim will be instrumental in this, as they have a positive and highly respectful role to play (by keeping the Seven Laws of Noah) in the "Divine symphony" that will lead up to the coming of the (real) Messiah, i.e., not Jesus.

The Goyishe Usage of "Goy"

How do Gentiles use the word "goy?" There are many Gentiles in the world, and among them there are goyim that love Jews, those that are (supposedly) neutral, those that hate Jews, and many shades of gray in between. The Jew-loving brand are offended by the usage of the word, although many of them find it more convenient to come to hasty and abrasive (and equally, if more, offensive) conclusions about it (and therefore Jews); I am specifically referring to some religious Christians here. There are others, the Jew-hating brand of Gentiles, that use the word "Protocol of the Elders of Zion"istically, in order to prove that Jews see themselves as a superior race that is plotting to Orwellianly take over the inferior "goy" populations of the world. Then you have religious Muslims that scream and shout and, through mindless Islamic hysteria (which is really guilty of what they preach), try to pinpoint some secret racist Jewish hateful agenda inherent to the Talmud as the underlying and unpublicized cause of the "Israeli annihilation of the Palestinian people." The word "goy" will continue to be defined as wished in order to create the most convenient picture, but "goy" just means nation, and we are all goyim.
I was sitting and eating my lunch during my break at work, and pieces of tuna fish from my (self-made) tuna wrap fell to the floor. I was watching a row of ants doing their thing, and realized that, as an analogy, the way I was watching them work is the way that G-d watches us. I realized, of course, that I was not aware of what the ants were thinking, neither as a group nor as individuals, but realized that G-d is cognizant of what each human being is thinking at every moment of his or her life. This is one element of the nature of the relationship between humanity and G-d.

This thought then drifted into another thought, and I realized that this is the Jewish conceptualization of the relationship between G-d and humanity, per the Torah. If this is the Jewish understanding, I wondered, then the Christian understanding would be that G-d Himself made Himself into one of the very ants which He presides over, and interjecting Himself among them into their society. At the same time, however, the ant which He made Himself into is not just Him, but is regarded as a separate being from Him which has an understanding of Him deeper than any of the surrounding ants. Therefore, it is Him and not Him at the same time.

What could a bunch of ants possibly learn from G-d who puts Himself into their form in order to communicate with them? It seems that His original manifestation, the Torah, and subsequent manifestations, the monarchy, the prophets, the entire body of Oral Law, and every subsequent insight (all who uphold the Torah), don't seem to do the job for them; they need a "more intimate" G-d than the G-d of the Torah. Nothing that Jesus said or did could, if we care about pragmatism, be on par with what G-d said. A G-d that speaks to them from a mountain but does not show Himself to them is too distant for Christianity, they want a G-d that will speak face to face with them, even though every instance of the Torah's mention of "G-d's face" or "G-d's hand" is anthropomorphism. I am shocked that I have met seemingly intelligent Christians who believe that when Moses spoke to G-d face to face as "one does with a friend," that he really saw G-d's face; I wonder what color His eyes were. The Torah says that G-d has no physical image and that no human can see Him directly and live, but apparentally G-d was born in Bethlehem, Israel (or was it Nazareth?) sometime in the 1st century, was murdered when He was 33 years old, and looked like a Jew named Josh. Apparentally He also like to build tables.

Christianity desires a direct communion with G-d and therefore rejects the Torah's viewpoint of a G-d that only speaks to some in a direct form (the prophets), through kings (the monarchies) and through a text of instruction (the Torah) but speaks (spoke actually) to all through the choice of death (actually, the death of a separate being), even though that distinct being only revealed himself to some twelve people (or more, based on the belief of his resurrection). Nevertheless, some 33% of the world (which is the world's Christian population) has not spoken to Jesus personally, yet they believe in him with full faith as if he revealed himself to them through direct prophecy at the foot of an obscure mountain in the middle of a bleak desert.