How to wake up an organization.
This blogpost was originally published on April, 23, 2017. But in light of recent events, is worthy of re-posting, as follows:
This is a good time to say something I have held back for a long time. I have held it back because it is touchy and involves some friends of mine, but it needs to be said. As some of you may know, I co-authored the book, The Path of the Righteous Gentile, with Rabbi Yakov Rogalsky. And we asked Rav Mendel Feldman, alav hashalom, a Talmid Chacham and old-school Lubavitcher Hasid, to check our work and give us his endorsement. He agreed, and worked closely with us, and put his name on the book.
After The Path of the Righteous Gentile came out, Rav Feldman went to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, alav hashalom, and informed him that B’nai Noach were seeking his counsel, and he wondered if the Rebbe had any advice for him concerning this.
The Rebbe said, “Stay away from the organizations.”
That was it. One sentence. “Stay away from the organizations.”
What’s so wrong with the organizations? Great things on behalf of mankind are accomplished through organizations; organizations save lives and feed starving children and cure disease.
But there is a dark side to many organizations, particularly religious organizations. It was obvious that the Rebbe saw that there was a dark side to some Noahide organizations.
And he was right. We have seen it, and the B’nai Noach have suffered for it, and the truth of the Torah has suffered for it.
From this perspective, there are two major problems with organizations...politics and dogma.
And remember, every church is an organization and every government is an organization, and so is Monsanto and Starbucks. An organization is nothing more than a group of people officially working together for a particular purpose, whatever that purpose may be.
The first problem with organizations, particularly religious organizations, is politics. One of the dictionary’s definitions of politics is: debate or conflict in the pursuit of power. The primary business of every organization is to stay in business and thrive.
Rabbi Avraham Isaac Kook, alav hashalom, taught that forming an organization is the opposite of learning Torah. When a person begins to learn Torah, he does it shelo lishmo, not for the sake of heaven, but to satisfy his own personal wants and needs. But as he learns more, he sees the greatness of Torah and comes to learn for the sake of heaven. Building an organization is the exact opposite. Here, a person begins for the sake of heaven – he has a cause – but soon he realizes that in order to survive, he must have money, and in order to grow, he must have power and influence, and soon he is working for his own personal needs.
And what is even more problematic, sometimes money and power need to be sacrificed for the sake of truth. It takes an enlightened person to do this. An organization? Rarely. Most organizations put money and power ahead of truth. An organization is more likely to change a wrong idea because of financial considerations than because of truth. As a result, running an organization, particularly a religious organization, often leads to manipulating people for the financial benefit of the organization. There are rabbis, pastors, as well as CEO’s of big corporations who use NLP, Neural Linguistic Programming, and other mind control techniques to get people to give their money and loyalty. Even Dale Carnegie’s classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People is really nothing other than a manual on how to manipulate people. It is presented in a wholesome manner, but it is manipulation nonetheless. All of this is rabbinically forbidden as ganevat da’at, the Hebrew term for deception. It literally means to steal a person’s mind. But very few pay attention to this. The Rambam forbids doing magic tricks unless you reveal how they work. Why? Because occult practitioners sometimes use magic tricks to warm up people to believe in actual witchcraft.
The second problem with organizations, specifically religious ones, is dogma. Dogma is the by-product of politics. Just like a political party needs a platform, a religious organization needs a dogma to define itself.
The dictionary defines dogma as principles laid down as absolute truth by an authority such as a church or a political system.
Okay, so now we have an organization with a need for money and power, and a clearly defined set of principles – dogma.
And here is its dogma: Noahides are permitted to learn only the Seven Laws of Noah. They are forbidden to learn Torah beyond the Seven Laws and they are forbidden to keep Shabbat.
This dogma says that if a Noahide wants a greater share of the Torah than the Seven Laws of Noah, his or her only option is to convert and become Jewish, and then they can have all 613.
Now, this organization knows that G-d has given the Noahide Ger a great share of the Torah even without converting. They know that the limitations they place on B’nai Noach do not apply to the Noahide Ger of today, but were meant for times past and for people who were subjugated in war and forced to accept the Seven Laws or face capital punishment. They know today's righteous Gentile comes to the Torah because he searched for G-d and found Him. It is a relationship of love. The righteous Gentile of today fulfills prophecy and is a certain sign of Geulah, the Final Redemption.
So what does the organization do? It twists around the law and develops a dogma that says there is no Ger Toshav today, even though the halacha is that, “for the sake of doing mitzvoth, there is always a Ger Toshav,” today and yesterday and tomorrow. G-d holds no one back from the Torah except an idol worshipper before he renounces his idolatry.
When a religious organization manipulates the truth in order to support its dogma, for the sake of its own esteem and power, it no longer factors G-d in its decisions. It has either forgotten about G-d or explicitly rejects Him. It has gone dark.
This is why the Lubavitcher Rebbe told Rabbi Feldman to stay away from the organizations – for the simple reason that he did not want a Talmid Chacham tainted by corruption. How can a corrupt organization taint a Talmid Chacham? As an example, one of the better known Noahide organizations fired its rabbinic advisor because he became involved with the ad hoc Sanhedrin in Israel. And this particular Noahide organization was politically aligned against the Sanhedrin. Firing a rabbinic supervisor damages his name in the community. That is one way of tainting a Talmid Chacham. There are others.
This does not mean to say that all Noahide organizations are bad. Some of them are good and some are even very good.
Here is how you can tell a good Noahide organization from a not-so-good Noahide organization: The good organization has a redemptive Geulian mentality and wants to strengthen and enlighten the Righteous Gentile. And the not-so-good organization has a repressive Galutian mentality and wants to manipulate and degrade the Righteous Gentile.
Any non-Jew who has accepted the Seven Laws of Noah and believes in the G-d of Israel, and has been told by an organization that he or she cannot keep Shabbat, has been lied to by an organization that is working against Israel and the Torah. Most of all, the organization is working against the Righteous Gentiles, the Noahide Gerim.
It is well-known that what the Lubavitcher Rebbe wanted was a practical guide for the B’nai Noach. And for that reason, with the Lubavitcher Rebbe's blessing, Rabbi Yakov Rogalsky and I wrote The Path of the Righteous Gentile, a Practical Guide to the Seven Laws of the Children of Noah.
The long and short of it is that if the group of self-styled "leading" rabbis who have banded together to discredit the "Ger Movement," wants to genuinely help the Noahide Gerim, they should find a more suitable line of work, one that does not involve G-d or people. Perhaps taxidermy.