Respect All Religions?

Moshe Ben-Chaim


The following is an actual conversation with a former orthodox Jew ("Anon") defending her position of "Respecting All Religions"


Anon: I understand your passion for Judaism...that is wonderful! Are you interested in other faiths as well or believe the Jewish way is it? I don't mean that offensively in any way, it is just something that is important to me.
Mesora: I have studied other religions, but would not say I am open to them. I am open to truth, not what is false. Other religions are baseless, built on the word of one person, and require faith, since they are bereft of proof. Science and math are based on proof, so too religion must be based on proof. All natural and philosophical sciences are creations of God, so all must be permeated with His wisdom. As much as I don't affirm 2+2=5, I don't confirm any falsehood, including Christianity and the others. It also makes no sense that God would give more than one religion. As there is only one type of human, there can be only one best life style for mankind - one religion.


Anon: No I don't feel a person "must be" anything accept for who they are. I appreciate all cultures and religions and I like learning from all of them. That is who I am.
Mesora: You make two points, I will address them in order:
1)Yes, we can learn from all religions, but what exactly can they teach us after God has already given a complete Torah system including all knowledge we require for the best life? What we can learn from religions is their errors. We can learn how not to repeat their mistakes. By studying their tenets, we will uncover their corruption, and where they deviate from God's true religion.

We must not let our need for our self image demanding approval from others, be more important than admitting fallacy. "Learning" from other religions, means you act with honesty, enough to discount those which are false and certainly destructive. Just as we study all plants and avoid poisonous ones, we must also flee from destructive ideas. We do not ridicule the adherents, only the false notions of a religion. We are discount false, religious ideas, not people.
2)If someone said "who they were" was a ruthless murderer, is this acceptable behavior to you? Your quote, "that is who I am", is an attempt to justify any belief people hold in their hearts. It is clear that you do not mean that "to each his own", regardless of consequences. I therefore see no reasoning in your position, as it leads to disastrous results.

What is your estimation of a culture where killing humans for sport is an accepted practice? Would this register as a 'good' or an 'evil', and would you condone such a culture? Please bear with my curiosity. You mean you feel a person must be open to all religions? Isn't it true, that if you were the victim of such a savage culture, your wish would be that this culture is not allowed to continue killing, as you would be the next statistic? Wouldn't you agree that only a culture following a set of "objectively good" morals be allowed to function freely?


Anon: I say this with deep respect for you as a fellow human being and one who has obviously thought and experienced many things to find a place for himself in the world....I suggest to you that perhaps the answer to the world's problems are not in your thinking but buried deep within the goodness and generosity that lies in your heart... Be well.
Mesora: But does not "goodness and generosity" need to culminate in some action, so that the answers to the "world's problems" are addressed? I mean, my internal goodness does nothing for the world unless it is expressed, and that means either actions, or expression of thoughts. If this be the case, then my actions need to be in line with the good for man.

We must now define what is good for man. Seeing so many religions which oppose each other, but seeing only one "human species", we are forced to say that either one religion is the correct religion, or all religions are false. We cannot suggest that all opposing religions are correct - this is against reason. We must then study man and determine his makeup, and decide which religion best aligns with man's design as a psychological and philosophical creature. If I were to prove conclusively that the Creator gave to man just one religion, would you agree to follow such a religion?


Anon: I reiterate: Perhaps the answer to the world's problems are not in your thinking but buried deep within the goodness and generosity that lies in your heart... with respect.
Mesora: I do not understand what you mean. Could you please clarify, and also explain why 'respect' is an issue?


Anon: At one time there lived a man who thought that only his ideologies were correct and true. He blamed the world's problems on a group of people. He sought them out, corralled them, humiliated them and slaughtered them...all because he thought he had all the answers.
Mesora: So you make me the analog, and feel I will slaughter people?


Anon: A battered and needy community followed him blindly.
Mesora: So you feel only those in need will agree with me, but not those whom think?

Anon: Our friends, family and ancestors were buried in mass graves. Mother Theresa was once asked why she spent her life administering to the needy and sick and her reply? "I could have been Hitler". Adherence to one ideology is dangerous.
Mesora: According to you, I must not adhere to yours.

Anon: I have met people before who discover Orthodoxy and Judaism later in life and many come with your attitude.
Mesora: So you feel I only have an attitude, but no substance. Isn't it true that you have the attitude? You do not answer any questions, you do not use reason, and therefore all that is left in your words, is emotion, an attitude?

Anon: This is not a judgment just an observation...I was born into Orthodoxy. I have had 34 of experience, my mother, 69 years. She studies Torah and davens everyday. She has become a peaceful woman and I strive to be like her. We all have the potential to be Hitler or Mother Theresa or if you please, Sara, Rachel or Rivka. There are great Rebbes out there who know the great value, that respect and love and have, over blind adherence to principles.
Mesora: Then you must study, so your adherence is not blind.

Anon: In addition to your studies seek them out...above all else nurture love in yourself. You ask why respect is important...without respect we tend to hurt each other and more importantly our children. Your neshama is the greatest gift you have...In the Talmud it says that for every living creature there is an angel up in heaven whispering "grow".
Mesora: True love of people is expressed only by those who are honest, and who have knowledge of truth, verified by conformity with reality, i.e., God's Torah. Such people care for others, and wish to open the eyes of the blind. But this you cannot do so with emotions of 'accepting all religions". You help others by first learning the truth yourself. Good emotions cannot replace truth.

Returning to my initial point, God Himself in his Torah says we must not only withhold our respect for all other religions, but we must slay certain individuals because of the greatness of their crime.

Your ideas oppose God's. God's will is that man is to be lead by His correct ideas, and not simply "respect" other religions out of a false desire to be nice to all of humanity. God's idea of being kind to all humanity was to wipe out corrupt civilizations - more than once - so the rest of mankind may not fall into their error.

In your attempt to view yourself as a good person, you strive to discover the good in all other religions, but this is not God's will. You may read of this in the Torah yourself. The error you make is a common one, and may stem from emotions seeking unanimous approval. But you have gone without the guidance of God's will expressed so clearly in His Torah. Without an objective morality - only possible by God's word - all members of mankind are free to develop their own religion. And someone else's' religion may include mass murder, as was the case with the Crusades. So I ask you again: Does your wish that we respect all religions also demand that we respect the Christian Crusades?

Without admitting to God's objective system, 'everything goes', and you must condone all religious expression, including those who wish to slay you in the name of religion. Your position is riddled with contradictions, and will shorten your life.

God knew man has these types of "accepting" emotions. He therefore gave a single system, only once, as the Torah says, Deuteronomy, 5:19, "These matters (the Ten Commandments) God spoke to your entire assembly from amidst flames, cloud, and thick darkness, a great voice not to be repeated..." This was done with clear proof for all generations via that great event of Sinai.

Now, you must first prove the event to yourself so you realize that God condoned only Judaism. Secondly, you must study His Torah with great care, so you subjugate your mind to His will, not your baseless position.




At this point, the other party ceased from the conversation, either out of a realization of her absurdities, or as an admission that she did not really wish to arrive at a conclusion. In either case, the other party fails to be enlightened to an essential component in her life, i.e., which religion to follow, and how to reason, so to arrive at such a conclusion.

Our goals must be pure, and our objective - the truth, regardless on how many points we are proved wrong. As a Rabbi once said, in learning, even when you are wrong, you have not "mistaken", as the true act of learning also includes all the times you err. Each error is an opportunity to realize a new truth, and that too is learning!


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