‘...It is sometimes better to leave the ignorant to their ignorance...’ EN, November 2009.
The quote above was written by a good friend of mine with whom I’ve corresponded for a few months now. He brings much wisdom and humor into my life. His name is Enyi and he’s so much a brother to me, even though we don’t share the same parents. The word “Enyi” is African for “friend”. Well, this dear friend of mine has taught me a lot, including the wisdom of not discussing religion with people who intend on being adversarial about the topic.
I remember along the path of reading about the Jewish plight in history of rabbis and other learned Jews being required to go before courts to defend and even prove the validity of Judaism. This happened countless times in the courts of European Christian countries whose very Bibles held the sacred books of the Jews, books that were almost three thousand years older than their “new testament”.
I had a bright young man come into the store where I work, take one look at my kippah and decide to engage me in a kind of religious court, so we batted things back and forth for about 15 minutes in between customers.
“So Jews don’t believe Jesus is the messiah...?” He stated more than asked this question.
“No, we don’t,” I replied simply. “The messiah isn’t a focal point for mainstream Jews. We really are more centered on the here and now, trying to mend the world for our children and grandchildren rather than storing up goodies in the hereafter.”
He nodded and continued. “I became a Christian about a year ago and my life has been changing for the better ever since.”
I congratulated him on his success and spoke of a few of my own and how life requires a leap of faith and action out of each of us and how I’ve been more at peace as a Jew than I ever was as a Christian, that the fear I used to walk around with has been removed. He nodded once again and told me that was a good thing, although I could tell a part of him was a little shocked at the idea.
We parted ways because the night got busier and I’ve thought about this conversation for over a week now. The wisdom I’ve learned from this situation is that people are simply going to disagree and that’s the way it is. I told this kind young man that there are some things Jews and Christians will never agree on. And that’s the truth but why do we have to agree? I’d like to see us arrive at a place where we can cultivate where we do agree and leave the rest for private and communal practice.
There’s a country music song that says three things can’t be discussed, “politics, religion and her...” Well, there’s good reason politics and religion cannot be discussed - because we’re all so different in our perspectives it’s best left at the synagogue, church, or ballot box, especially if discussion only stirs animosity and breeds more misunderstanding. I have a lot of respect for the young man and how he’s embraced his “new life” with such vitality and pray he has a happy life filled with a lot of spiritual happiness.