Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Talmud on pagan gentiles

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Immoral, Weak, Abusive, Untrustworthy, and Murderous. What Talmudic sages thought of the pagan gentiles of their day is disturbingly paranoid and hostile.
Should Jews be afraid of non-Jews? To the rabbis of the Talmud, the answer was obvious: They should be very afraid, since every pagan could be expected to seize any opportunity to harm a Jew. For instance, in Avoda Zara 25b, the Gemara says that, if a Jew encounters a gentile on the road, he should make sure to walk on the gentile’s left side. This way, the Jew’s right hand is closer to the gentile, so he can more easily draw a weapon to defend himself if necessary. In addition, the Jew should never “bend down before him,” because this would give the gentile the chance to “break his skull.”

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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