Judaism: Believe in God

If you view religion as something subjective, then with that goes its meaning. When you take G-d out of the equation, there really is nothing to keep someone in one religion over another. Religion becomes simply another lifestyle choice, like sports teams or political affiliation. Someone can think that parents are being hurtful and irresponsible when they hold a child to only one religion. But you can only think that if you view religion as a lifestyle choice. If the parents viewed religion as an absolute truth, then it would be foolish to present alternatives to their children. I could teach my kids that 1+1=3, but that wouldn’t help them at all and would probably be quite detrimental when they actually want to learn math.

Religious truth comes well grounded in Jewish tradition. The Chovos Hal’vavos points out that every Jew has two obligations when it comes to belief in G-d. The first is to believe that G-d exists. The second is to know that G-d exists. Every Jew is obligated, in whatever way works for them, to prove to themselves beyond a shadow of a doubt that G-d exists. Obviously, there is not a proof out there that is readily true to everyone. If there was, everyone would believe in G-d and there would be no human test in the matter. But every Jew is obligated to find something that proves to them that G-d exists.

Still, how Judaism interacts with other religions is an important point to discuss. How does Judaism actually view other religions? The childish answers we all hear from our teachers are just that, childish. They are what a child needs to hear to preserve their Jewish identity. So, in reality, how do we view non-Jews?

There are two landmark Supreme Court decisions that we all know and that can help us better understand how to view non-Jews from G-d’s perspective. The first is Plessy v Ferguson. In this 1898 decision, the Court ruled that segregation was constitutional so long as the separate facilities were equal. (This decision often gets a bad rap; it did not decide that separate was equal, rather that being separate was legal so long as the facilities were of equal quality.) In 1954, the Court decided in Brown v. Board of Education that separate facilities were inherently unequal.

But this is only true in regards to flawed, racist man. People cannot implement separate institutions out of a racist ideology and still make them fair. But G-d is different. G-d is perfect. Therefore, G-d created non-Jews with whatever purpose He had in mind and will reward or punish them accordingly.  So we, as human beings, have to treat non-Jews with the same respect that every human being deserves. We have to associate with them when Halachah proscribes it and avoid them when Halachah prohibits association. But it is not because of a sense of “we are better than them”. That is a perspective that the education system feels is necessary for children. As adults, we don’t need to think like that. We can just realize that “we are” and “they are” and that we each have our different obligations and purposes. The rest up to G-d to decide.