Everett: I received the following email from Rabbi X. Does he present truths?
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: Everett, I will quote Rabbi X piecemeal, and insert my replies in line below…
Rabbi X: All the righteous people of the world will have their share in the world to come.
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: Provided a gentile follows truths of what God is and all fundamentals, one need not be born Jewish to earn the afterlife. Conversely, born Jews who reject or don’t know or don’t agree with fundamentals can forfeit the afterlife. It’s not about who your parents are, but how you think and live.
Rabbi X: In Judaism, we are not judged on our thoughts, we are not judged on our beliefs, but rather we are judged by God on our actions, on what we do, on our behavior, our acts. It does not matter that one is in a false religion, in idolatry, even. One will be judged on the behaviors that would be required to worship in those idolatrous faiths, but that is still the behaviors that are judged and not the idolatrous faith.
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: As you know, the 10 Commandments are split into two sets of five; five commands on each one of the two tablets. The first set of five (God’s existence, idolatry, using God’s name in vain, sabbath and honoring parents) are laws between man and God, while the second set (murder, adultery, kidnapping, swearing falsely and desiring a friends possessions) are laws between man and his fellow. Within both sets, Saadia Gaon explained that man acts in only 1 of 3 capacities: thought, speech, and action. There is nothing else that man can perform. Within each set of 5 laws, there is a hierarchy of greater importance to lesser importance. Thus, regarding laws between man and God, we notice that the first two laws deal with human thought (accepting God’s existence and idolatry) the third law is relegated to speech, and the last 2 are relegated to action. This is because what we think is more vital in our relationship to God than our actions. This must be so, as our relationship to God—a metaphysical being—is not a physical relationship but a mental relationship. In contrast, laws between man and man commence with murder and end with desire. Again, this is because our relationship with man is physical and how we act is more vital than what we think. It is a greater crime to kill somebody than to think about killing him. We learn from here that thought it is vital, and this can determine whether we have the afterlife or not. For if we believe in idolatry, we forfeit the afterlife.
To be clear, when a law governs our thoughts, like laws prohibiting idolatry which primarily is the belief in a power other than God, action is only an expression of a corrupt thought. Our souls are more primary than our bodies, and when we corrupt our souls with false notions, it is a greater crime. In terms of the court’s ability to punish, this is where behavior comes into the picture: one can be punished for idolatry only through action, but one can forfeit his afterlife through thought. Rabbi X is incorrect and has no Torah source to defend his position.
Rabbi X: As you may have heard me say, our God is not so petty and small that He only answers the prayers of those who name Him in their prayers, or who have the right faith, the right Belief System. Yes, even the Buddhist and the Hindu get prayers answered, get a Yes from God, even though these faiths are not Judaism, and, certainly in Hinduism, there is idolatry, their adherents get their prayers answered by God.
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: King David disagrees with Rabbi X: “God is close to all who call Him, to all who call Him in truth” (Psalms 145:18). This means that God is not close to those who pray to false gods. “Not being close” can only be demonstrated in a lack of relationship, meaning, God not reacting to an idolater’s prayers. We also read, “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have a mouth but do not speak; they have eyes but do not see. They have ears but do not hear; they have a nose but do not smell. Hands, but they do not feel; feet, but do not walk; they do not make a peep from their throat. Like them will be their makers, all those that trust in them” (Psalms 115). Here, King David states that idolater’s receive no reply. Furthermore, the idolaters are “like their idols.” This means the idolater is as deaf, dumb and blind as his stone god. Again, this teaches God does not relate to the idolater, but he remains in his ignorance, silence and blindness.
The Book of Job also teaches that even a Jew (monotheist) with basic true concepts of God will not receive a response from God, if he harbors false ideas of God’s justice. That is why God did not speak to Job until Job agreed with Elihu’s correct teachings (thereby increasing his intellectual perfection which then enabled God to reach him). So, it's not just the idolater who receives no reply from God, but even the Jew who is missing certain information of how God operates, this too blocks any communication from God. This is sensible, for if one prays to an idol or a false god, and God responds, this will endorse the idol.
Again, Rabbi X is incorrect and again, has no Torah source to defend his position.