Casting Stones into the Well

“If people cast stones into the well from which they drank, the well will not be hurt in the least, because it is an inanimate and insensitive object. The act, however, might impact negatively upon those who do it: they might subsequently behave with a lack of gratitude to people as well.”

-Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski
“Growing Each Day, Adar 10″

James just posted a “Morning Meditation” that I just re-blogged for this reason: like all of his work at “Morning Meditations,” James’ gentle-yet-firm approach to finding pathways of peace in the tumultuous world of the Messianic Esther.HadassahJudaism/Hebrew Roots/Traditional Christianity blogging triangle of conflict is a genuine hint toward the way of finding actual peace between all believers in Jesus of Nazareth as the long-awaited Jewish Messiah.  I see a kind of coalition of forces appearing in the blog-sphere of Messianic Judaism, etc., a coalition tethered together in strong bonds of gentleness and love formed in the likeness of thoughts and words; a coalition that lives more closely to the concept behind Messiah’s teaching of the commandment to love one another than those who speak in heated terms of defensiveness and criticism.

That being said, my take on this statement by Rabbi Twerski has to do with the idea that we who have long been Christians figuratively cast stones into the well from which we drink in a slightly different way than that expressed by the good rabbi: by disparaging Judaism we hurt ourselves – be it knowingly or unknowingly via anti-Jewish Christian theology embedded in our minds surreptitiously –  when we corrupt the spring of life flowing into us and through us we block the pure waters of Torah-centric Judaism that Jesus loved and observed and taught and died to fulfill as the once-and-for-all-time atoning sacrifice for mankind’s sin. This self-inflicted form of spiritual dehydration has a double-whammy effect, so to speak, in that we: a) behave with a lack of gratitude while simultaneously b) dehydrating our collective spirit due to the cutting off of the flow of the spring of Judaism from which Jesus drank, and, I believe, intended for us to drink and be quenched of theological thirst.

It is the season of Purim, for instance, and this dramatic narrative of the unsuccessful attempt to annihilate Persian Jewry is at best, obscure, and at worst, completely unknown, to most Christians. Through the faith-filled behavior of Mordecai and Esther the document teaches the proper assertive faith-based reaction to an imminent, malevolent, genocidal existential threat. I dare say that, as Christians, even if we are aware of the historical narrative, we do not rightfully understand the place that it should occupy within our hearts. It was, it seems, just another Jewish problem, not ours.

30-05-05/18Translate that into terms of the Holocaust and the same dynamic appears. The retiring Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, Benedict XVI, said this on his historic trip to Auschwitz: “I could not fail to come here. I had to come… It is a duty before the truth and the just, due of all who suffered here, a duty before God, for me to come here as the successor of Pope John Paul II and as a son of the German people… To speak in this place of horror, in this place where unprecedented mass crimes were committed against God and man, is almost impossible – and it is particularly difficult for a Christian, for a pope from Germany.”

I could not agree with him more.

And yet, he also spoke these words: In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there can only be a dread silence – a silence which is itself a heartfelt cry to God: Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate all this?”web_YemeniteBeg_91_408_2

With all due respect to his Excellency, I could not disagree with him more.

It is a fairly well-known matter of interest that the Book of Esther is the only book of the Bible in which God’s name does not appear even once. Some say this demonstrates that He was silent during the Persian threat to Jewish existence led by Haman the Amalekite; that He turned His back on His people. But was He silent? I don’t believe so. He is God and simply chose to work through human intervention to thwart Haman’s “hitlerian” hatred. Likewise, God was not silent during the Holocaust—mankind was—and “mankind” in Europe was represented almost completely by one form of Christianity or another. Just for starters, the God of Israel had given the world—to include the entire European Christian world—the teachings to love our neighbor as ourselves and to be like the good Samaritan. In doing so, He’d instructed and spiritually equipped the world – most specifically, and pointedly, the Christian world – to rise up and defeat the long, bitter night of darkness known as the Shoah, Hebrew for “catastrophe.” It was not Adonai Tzava’ot, the LORD of Hosts, who failed the Jewish people. It was, in fact, “us.”

We saw the Nazi Final Solution, it seems, as yet just another Jewish problem to be left to the Jewish people to figure out for themselves.

It makes me wonder how familiar Pope Benedict is with the Book of Esther.

It would be ironic to end this missive here on such a condemnatory-sounding note; oddly similar to the idea of casting stones into a well. I do not mean to poison the well of dialogue and I am not of a mind to condemn anyone, but am merely compelled to point out, to call to attention, perhaps, to cry out with compassion to Christians everywhere: please realize that casting stones into the well that supports your spiritual life is not good for all who drink from the well. To include yourself and I. We must all begin to approach the well that represents the Jewish soul of the Jewish Messiah as if it was the touchstone of all understanding, the gateway to all intimacy with Jesus himself. Because that is simply what it is.