Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is a slobbering, slurping. self-promoting fool. He proved that many times over during his 'debate' last week against Christopher Hitchens. Shmuley did so poorly that literally more than a dozen bloggers in attendance, some of whom are religious, left with utter contempt for Shmuley's intellect.
So what's new since last week? This …
…Unable to make a cogent point with Christopher Hitchens there in front of him, Shmuley resorts to making a disingenuous point behind Hitchens back, so to speak
In his Jerusalem Post column (and if there ever was proof the Jerusalem Post is not much of a newspaper, giving a regular column to Shmuley Boteach would be it) Shmuley makes several incorrect claims.
Here they are:
1. In an attempt to refute a point Hitchens makes in his book, Shmuley claims Jews always save the lives of non-Jews, even on the Sabbath, as if that is a priori the halakhic position –but it is not.
The halakha works like this:
- The Sabbath should never be violated to save anyone's life, Jew or Gentile.
- However, we will make an exception to this ruling in the following way. We can save a Jewish life on the Sabbath because by doing so the person saved will keep many more Sabbaths. Non-Jews are left out of the picture.
- Real differences in how Jews and non-Jews were treated with regard to this existed from antiquity through early modern times.
- Rabbis ruled that Gentile life should be saved like Jewish life because of 'darkei shalom,' promoting the ways of peace. This is explained many times to mean that, if we do not save Gentile life, Gentiles will refuse to save Jewish life. Further , they may even kill us outright.
- This became a very real problem with the Enlightenment, when Jews went to Euopean medical schools for the first time.
Shmuley simply quotes blather about the righteous of the nations meriting the world to come, etc., without mentioning the actual halakha or its history, going so far as to write:
In further of refutation of Shahak's libel, Jakobovits cited lengthy responsum by Isser Yehuda Unterman, the late chief rabbi of Israel, who stated unequivocally that "the Sabbath must be violated to save non-Jewish life no less than Jewish lives."
Yes, Rabbi Unterman ruled this way. What was the case? Who questioned the saving of non-Jewish life on the Sabbath? What is the history of the halakha?
Shmuley ignores all this, hoping his generally gullible readers will not notice.
Shmuely does not like the source Hitchens relies on to make the claim that doctor and soon to be mass murderer Baruch Goldstein refused to treat non-Jews on the Sabbath and he does not like Hitchen's remark that,
"As it happens, he was obeying rabbinic law in declining to do this, as many Israeli religious courts have confirmed…"
Shmuley is apparently not familiar with the courts headed by Dov Lior and other right wing religious extremist rabbis.
But be that as it may, Shmuley totally ignores the actual halakha and its history because that history proves him wrong.
2. Shmuley then writes:
[Hitchens's] also accuses Jews of plagiarizing "shamelessly" from Christianity to have a holiday that "coincides with Christmas," even though Hanukka precedes the birth of Jesus by 250 years.
Of course, the Hanukka celebrated by Jews before Jews lived in heavily Christian lands has little resemblance to the holiday as it is celebrated today in America and the West.
Even more so, how Jews celebrated Hanukka before the rabbinic age has little resemblance to how we celebrate it during that age.
Hitchens is aware of history; Boteach is not.
Beside that, kiruv rabbis have for years decried the average American celebration of Hanukka, calling it an imitation of Christmas.
Yet somehow Hitchens is to blame for seeing and commenting on the same thing?
Boteach's column is one long ad hominem attack on Hitchens, a man Shmuley could not stand up to when given the chance.
Boteach fights like the fool he is.
[Hat Tip: JBM.]