Judaism is a Tolerant religion. The Torah teaches the precise definition of tolerance. tolerance is being respectful to people regardless of their views or actions.
Bilaam was a prophet. He was employed by King Balak to curse a nation. The nation never did anything against him. But his hatred drove him to accept the task. G-d made Bilaam’s donkey speak with him in human language questioning the morality of his actions. Bilaam was left speechless. He could not answer the donkey.
Though Bilaam was immoral and evil, G-d sends an angel to kill the donkey. This was to preserve the self-respect of Bilaam. If the donkey had lived, people would have pointed to the donkey saying “Look, there is the donkey that Bilaam could not answer.” This would have been a blow to Bilaam’s self-respect. G-d respects the self respect of all people, regardless of their actions.
The Torah commentaries say on this that one day we will return our soul to our Maker. He will also ask us of the morality of our actions. Bilaam was unable to answer a Donkey. Will we be able to answer for our actions to G-d?
Tolerance is not Decadence
Some think tolerance is respecting or adopting any idea regardless of it being moral or immoral. That is not tolerance that is decadence.
Some hide behind the veil of righteousness, humanitarianism or tolerance but use the terms as camouflage to mask their hidden agenda or hatred of others.
The Torah says be respectful to all, but know everyone will be accountable for their actions. They may be rewarded or punished in this world or the next world. But there is surely an accounting.
America is a country that is called in Jewish circles by Torah observers ” Malchut shel chesed” a government of kindness. The US provides millions of humanitarian aid to countries and people in need.
What is Real Kindness
Kindness must be kept in check, lest it be used to the detriment of others. Giving away free food to those in need is kindness. Is giving away cigarettes to youngsters kind?
Is letting criminals go free kindness? Perhaps, some may say for the criminals, but it is cruelty to the society.
Kindness to one may cause cruelty to others. Thus some hide behind the mask of kindness to hurt others.
The Jewish nation knows this game very well. Countries hiding behind humanitarianism to score points against Israel or the Jews. It is an old game.
The Nazis played this game. The ancient Egyptians played the game. and the UN regularly plays the game to the point that it becomes ridiculous and ridiculed, losing any form of credibility.
But that’s another topic. The real point of this article is that what may seem right or feel right is not necessarily right.
The Jews have an advantage over the world, for when we have questions about ethics, we look not to man to determine what is ethical, we look at what G-d said in the Torah to find what is ethical.
The advantage – G-d is good. What He says is good for the person and good for society.
The Noahide Laws
G-d gave the 7 Noahide laws. The laws include prohibition of stealing, prohibition of killing, prohibition of idolatry, establishing courts of laws to enforce these laws, prohibition of eating a limb from a live animal and prohibition of improper relations – including adultery, incest, bestiality and homosexuality.
Each one of these laws are for the good of society. Meaning with them society will function properly. Without them society will fall.
The prohibitions of improper relations is for assuring the integrity of families. All the four subcategories mentioned will break families either in the short or long term. Adultery breaks families. So do the other three.
It is apparent that G-d wants us to enjoy the world. But there are pleasures that are purposeful and build the world or do nothing to destroy it. there are other pleasures that are destructive – either to the individual doing them, to the family unit or to the society. In the spiritual realm, there are pleasures that build and those that destroy.
A smoker is quick to answer “why does it bother you, i’m not hurting anyone?” Anyone who knows of the effects of second-hand smoke will see through the falsity of his claim.
Repercussions for Society
The motto of ancient Rome was “Live and enjoy for tomorrow you die” This creed ultimately brought their downfall.
I heard an audio called WorldPerfect – the contribution of the Jews to Civilization.
One of the facts he mentions is that the Jews brought the idea of integrity of families to to the world.
In ancient Rome, morality – in terms of relations – as defined by the seven laws was practically ignored. Pedastry, adultery, incest, bestiality and homosexuality was common, even encouraged. Eventually population growth slowed and eventually declined. Their immorality caused the breakdown of the family. Due to this breakdown and low infant births, they were lacking enough men for their army. At a certain time they had to employ mercenary soldiers, employed from other countries to defend themselves. Finally Rome fell. It was due to lack of morality.
The long term repercussions of immorality is clearly seen. the short term repercussions of the breakdown of normal marriage is also seen.
The breakdown of normal family is also a repercussion. People have a mother and father and each one brings a unique aspect of caring to the upbringing of the children.
Some who are sensitive to morals of society will now have another reason to leave the US. It might cause immigration from the US due to disdain of the values of country.
Repercussions for People
People who chose same gender marriage will not have families that will be their successors. They do not gain from the pleasure and challenges of rearing children. They cause society loss of population growth.
The major problem of people in life is not being able to look past their nose. They seem to see what is in it for them, but not what are the repercussions of their interests on the bigger picture. This is close minded and detrimental to society. Unfortunately (or fortunately) short sightedness usually leads to the downfall of a person, a company or and entire nation.
We can now understand that that is good as explained by Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai in Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers
The Path of Good & of Evil
9. He [Rabban Yohanan ben Zackai] said to them – go out & see which is the good path to which a person should adhere. Rabbi Eliezer says: A good eye. Rabbi Yehoshua says: A good friend. Rabbi Yossi says: A good neighbor. Rabbi Shimon
says: One who foresees the outcome of his actions & Rabbi Elazar says: A good heart. He said to them I see the words of Rabbi Eleazar ben Arach from your words – for included in his words are your words.
Built into the Torah’s laws – be the 613 commandments for Jews or 7 Noahide laws for gentiles – is the formula to flourish.
Spiritual Repercussion of Morality – G-d’s protection
In Talmud Hullin 92a – refering to a verse in Zecharia (Zacharia 11:12) it explains:
Ulla said, “These [thirty shekels] are [symbols of] the thirty commandments that the sons of Noah accepted upon themselves. But they only keep three of them! One is that [92b] they do not write a ketubah [i.e., marriage contract] for male partners. One is that they do not weigh flesh of the dead [of either humans or animals] to sell in the market. And one is that they respect the Torah.”
Apparently, following those three laws offers protection to the nation that does follow them. The US motto is “One Nation Under G-d, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All.” Under G-d – meaning under G-d’s protection. A person said to me today – I need all the protection I can get. Nations also need protection.
In philosophy – we learn of the slippery slope argument. Lines must be drawn in order to keep a sane functioning of the world. Our philosophy professor gave the example of Selecting 65 out of 100 as the passing grade. A person may argue, why not 64. It is so close. Another may go further and say 63. And so on until one says what about 0.
Lines must be drawn in society, otherwise the world can tumble into immorality, like in Rome, which caused its downfall.
A logical choice would be the Noahide laws as the basic laws to abide by. These were given by G-d to Adam, then Noah and Moses for the proper functioning of the world. History has shown that those who did not abide by them caused their own destruction, like in Rome.