Monday, January 16, 2012

Can a Jew have Gentile friends ?


May a Jew befriend non - Jews ? 

Diaspora Jews probably regard this kind of question as something odd. How can you not have Gentile friends when a Jew lives in the Diaspora unless you are a Haredi from Brooklyn, Kiryat Yoel, Monsey or Crown Heights ? The same with Israel's frum population: No religious child would see a need for having Gentile friends because its entire world consists of a Jewish kindergarden, a Jewish school, Jewish classmates and friends. 

The Torah itself states that a Jew should not be too friendly with a Gentile. One of the reasons may be that when Jews and Gentiles befriend each other, they will sit together and eat and drink. Example: A Jew sitting in the house of his Gentile friends and eating. The problem occuring is that the food won't be kosher. It is not sufficient when a cooked meal consists of kosher ingredients but a Jew has to turn on the stove in order to start the cooking process. In case he doesn't, he can still stir the food while cooking. Another problem is that the dishes in a Gentile home are not kosher.

The Torah teaches that G - d created Jews + Gentiles. Each of them has his own task in life. If Jews and Gentiles were one unit, G - d would have created only one people but He didn't. Meaning, there must be a difference between the two. Jews are able to cause a "Tikkun - Soul Rectification" by keeping Mitzvot and Gentile, on the other hand, should follow the "Seven Noachide Laws". 

The Torah commands us to be nice to Gentiles. There is no reason why we shouldn't. Not every great person in this world has to be Jewish, and there are many great non - Jews in this world. Furthermore, we have to keep our contracts with them and be fair business partners. 

I have a lot to say about my own experiences while living in Germany. All of my friends were Gentiles. Well, except for some members of the local Jewish community I knew. However, I wouldn't really call them "friends" but rather acquaintances. 

When you live at certain places in the Diaspora where there aren't too many Jews around, you won't have too many chances of finding Jewish friends. Hence, most of your friends will be Gentile. Although you may think that Gentile friends are great people to have and that nothing can keep you apart - reality looks different. There is always a certain point in life when you feel alone. Abandoned and misunderstood by your Gentile friends. The times when your beloved friends step away from you can occur at different times and as a result of various events. For instance, when you insist on "a Jew should marry a Jew". My Gentile friends probably felt left out when I made this kind of statement. Another point is that Germans are easily offended by telling them that they are guilty of the Holocaust. Germans from the younger generation don't see any reason for taking the responsibility for the Holocaust and also point out that not every German was a Nazi but also a resistant fighter. 

It doesn't matter whether you are a German, American, British or any other Jew: We all know the feeling of how it is when suddenly our Gentile friends start criticizing us because we are Jewish. The reasons differ but suddenly we are becoming aware of how terribly alone we are. Furthermore, we feel the need for a Jewish friend. Kabbalah is calling this effect a "special need for a soul connection". Jewish souls are connected and there are times when we feel the desire for having this connection. For someone who feels like us and does unterstand. Someone we have something in common with.

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