Projection and quid pro quo

It is fascinating to read how some criticisms of Christianity appear to be little more than psychological projection.  Take the common Jewish accusation that Christian evangelicals are helping Jews return to Israel because they wish to immanentize the eschaton and bring about the Second Coming.  Now, this obviously makes no sense because most of those Christian Zionist evangelicals are premillennials, who believe that the hour of the Second Coming is a) unknowable, and b) pre-appointed.

As one who grew up in a premillennial evangelical Baptist church, I always wondered where in the world various Jews and atheists derived that concept, because, despite hearing more speculation about “the Rapture” and “the Tribulation” than I want to recall, I never once heard anyone even suggest that it was even theoretically possible to influence the timing of Jesus’s return.  Quite to the contrary, the primary concern was that the Second Coming might take place next Tuesday, before you were ready, thereby sentencing you to seven years of tribulation in the absence of practically everyone you knew.

However, the concept does sound an awful lot like Lubavitcher theology, which requires the seeding of Chabad Institutions all over the world in order to “to hasten the Messianic Age by spreading Jewish observance”.  I read Chaim Potok’s excellent novel, My Name is Asher Lev, for the second time, and this passage, about the young artist’s father upon his return from a six-month missionary trip to Europe, struck me as not only deeply ironic, but intentionally so:

“He had seen the sketchbook filled with drawings of Jesus and nudes. He had spent half a year of his life creating yeshivos and teaching Torah and Hasidus all over Europe.  Then he had returned to America and had discovered that his own home was now inhabited by pagans. He was in an uncontrollable rage.”

So, the man is quite literally occupied with establishing invasion points all over Europe, then returns “home” to another land he personally invaded from Russia, and reacts furiously to the observation that his son is assimilating the values of that land.  But that’s merely an ironic observation.  The more troubling one is this passage from Chapter 7, as we’ve all heard of Nazi claims that Jews are sub-human, but we don’t often hear of the opposite.

“We studied the meaning of the verse in Proverbs ‘The candle of God is the soul of man.’  The souls of Jews are like the flame of a candle, the mashpia said.  The flame burns upwards; it seeks to be parted from the wick in order to unite with its source above, in the universal element of fire.  Similarly, the soul of the Jew yearns to separate itself and depart from the body in order to unite with the Master of the Universe, even though this means that nothing will remain of its former nature as a distinct and separate entity.  It is in the nature of the Jewish soul to desire this union with the Being Without End, unlike the souls of the Gentiles, which are derived from the Other Side and which strive to remain independent beings and entities.

“We studied about the sitra achra, the Other Side, the realm of darkness and evil given life by God not out of His true desire but in the manner of one who reluctantly throws something over his shoulder to an enemy, thereby making it possible for God to punish the wicked who help the sitra achra, and reward the righteous who subjugate it.”

Now, this is from a novel in which the Hasidic organization bears a fictional name, so I don’t know if the Ladover teachings accurately reflect the Lubavitcher concepts upon which they appear to be based or not.  I’ve asked Chelm Weisman to clarify this for us, but it would certainly be educational to learn how widespread this notion of all non-Jewish souls being derived from the realm of darkness and evil happens to be.  And it would certainly help explain the old political proverb concerning the way in which Jews live like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans.

Chelm notes: “I would say proceed with caution. Potok is a critic of chassidism, not an advocate (although a critic with great respect for and understanding of it).”  So, keep in mind that it may or may not be an accurate portrayal of Lubavitcher teachings, and even if it is, I suspect it is unlikely to be in line with other more conventional Jewish theologies.

The Seven Laws of Noah are a sound and proven basis for a sustainable society, even if the systemic corruption of the US court system appears to render Law number seven a little more questionable than the others.  But I am more than a little dubious about the prospects for long-term survival, let alone success, of any movement that posits more than 99 percent of the world’s population consists of demon souls from the dark side.