Bread And Butter Orthodoxy – Rabbi Barry Gelman

February 16, 2010

Modern Orthodox Jews have a tendency to offer pronouncements on controversial issues. Some of those issues are the definition of orthodox, the ordination of orthodox women and the place of homosexuals in the orthodox community.

As I have noted before, it seems that these issues and other “hot button” items exercise the emotions of many within the modern orthodox camp. These issues are important; my concern is that they tend to overshadow the “bread and butter” of Orthodox Judaism.

There are many who are quick to make bold statements on either side of the big issues, but who are silent and absent when it comes to Tefilla B’ Tzibbur (davening with a minyan each day) and regular Torah study.

There are two things about this pretense that concern me.

  1. It does not ring true: Our brothers and sisters to our right mock us (rightfully?) when we pronounce on issues while we do not “walk the walk” of Orthodoxy. What good is all the talk if our Modern Orthodox statements are not backed up by Orthodox living?

 

  1. We believe our own hype: Spending our time making declaration on these issues blinds us from the more important fundamental aspects of Orthodox life and leave us believing that as long as we are on the correct side of the argument on the cutting edge issue, even as we fail to excel in the primary and essential aspects of Judaism, we are OK.

We need to redirect our energies so others will take us seriously and so we can take ourselves seriously.


International Rabbinic Fellowship – Press Release

November 26, 2009

Contact: Rabbi Jason Herman, Executive Director Phone: 917.751.5265 Email: jlherman@jlherman.net FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 9 A.M. EDT, November 20, 2009

NEW ORTHODOX RABBINICAL GROUP ESTABLISHED

Rabbis from across the United States, Canada, South America, Israel and Hong Kong came together last week to officially establish a new and long awaited organization of Orthodox Rabbis. The International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF), several years in the making, is the brainchild of Rabbi Avraham Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in Riverdale, the Bronx, New York, and founder of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, and Rabbi Marc D. Angel, Rabbi Emeritus of New York’s oldest Jewish congregation, Shearith Israel, and director of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.

A board and officers was elected consisting of the next generation of Orthodox Rabbis who have shown themselves to be at the forefront of modern Orthodox leadership. The organization’s 120 or so founding members elected Rabbi Barry Gelman, Rabbi of the United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston, Houston, Texas, as the IRF’s first President, Rabbi Hyim Shafner, Rabbi of Bais Abraham Congregation, St. Louis, Missouri, as Vice President of Education and Communication, Rabbi Nissan Antine, Rabbi of Beth Sholom Congregation and Talmud Torah, Potomac, Maryland, as Vice President for Membership and Conferences, Rabbi Joel Tessler, Rabbi of Beth Sholom Congregation and Talmud Torah, Potomac, Maryland, as Vice President, Rabbi Saul Strosberg, Rabbi of Congregation Sherith Israel, Nashville, Tennessee, as Treasurer, and Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky, Rabbi of Congregation B’nai David-Judea, Los Angeles, California, as Secretary. A code of ethics that will bind the new group was provisionally adopted.

This first conference of the International Rabbinic Fellowship included the voting into reality of several new initiatives that promise to transform the Orthodox community and perhaps the Jewish world. A committee to formulate new procedures for Orthodox conversions, so much in the news in Israel and the United states as of late, was appointed. The committee is tasked with presenting to the IRF a final outline of requirements and processes for Orthodox conversions to be adopted by the membership in June at its annual meeting. The committee’s chairs are Rabbi Dov Linzer, Head of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in New York City and Rabbi Joel Tessler, Senior Rabbi of Beth Sholom Congregation and Talmud Torah, Potomac, Maryland.

Though Orthodox Judaism does not ordain women as rabbis, several Orthodox women who serve in a handful of Orthodox congregations in rabbinic capacities were present. A long discussion was held at the conference on the question of admitting women acting in a rabbinic capacity as full voting members among the Rabbis. The group voted to task the membership committee with creating criteria for the potential consideration of admission of women. If the IRF votes to admit women, criteria for membership will also be voted on in June. The IRF recognizes that there are highly capable women serving in rabbinic roles and as such the group might benefit from their presence, ideas and guidance.

This heralds the first time that an Orthodox rabbinical group has entertained the possibility of admitting women as full members into its ranks.

For more information about the International Rabbinic Fellowship and the proceedings of its seminal inaugural conference held this past Tuesday and Wednesday November 17-18, please contact any of the following members: Rabbi Barry Gelman, tel. 713.723.3850, email rabbi@uosh.org

Rabbi Hyim Shafner, tel. 314.583.4397, email rabbi@baisabe.com

Rabbi Nissan Antine, tel. 301.279.7010 x 209, email rabbiantine@gmail.com

Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky, tel. 310.276.9269, email ravyosef@bnaidavid.com

Rabbi Marc D. Angel, tel. 212.724.4145, email mdangel@jewishideas.org

Rabbi Jason Herman, IRF Executive Director, tel. 917.751.5265, email jlherman@jlherman.net


Being Machmir (stringent) about being Meikil (lenient) – Rabbi Barry Gelman

November 10, 2009

Being Machmir (stringent) about being Meikil (lenient) – Rabbi Barry Gelman

What is the value of lenient Halachik decisions?

Issues of monetary expense, shalom bayit and kavod habriyot (human dignity) are well documented as factors in applying lenient halachik rulings. This blog entry begins a discussion on applying lenient Halachik decisions as a way to open the gates of observance to as many people as possible. I argue that once a person is shown that they can live a halachik lifestyle in certain areas where they may have been challenged, they will be more able to adopt halachik living in other areas. Rabbi Chaim Hirschenson stated that: “If the rabbis in America fifty years ago were as great as today’s halakhic authorities, able to see clearly and anticipate developments, they would have found ways to permit, on the basis of the Shulhan Arukh and the decisors…and we would not have come to the sorry situation that prevails today. “

In this passage Rabbi Hirschenson is pleading for Poskim to Halachikally ease the situation of those who find it difficult to observe Shabbat as it had been understood in his time. I understand this approach to be in the spirit of what Hillel taught in Pirkei Avot: Hillel says: “Be like the students of Aaron. Love peace and pursue peace. Love humanity and bring them close to Torah.”

One responsibility that religious leaders (but not exclusively religious leaders) have is to bring people closer to Torah. One way of doing that is by interpreting Halacha in a way that makes Halachik living accessible to as many people as possible.

Here is an example from my experience. A few years ago I met with a couple who were slowly but surely adopting an observant lifestyle. During the course of our conversation this couple mentioned that they had a set of china dishes that were a family heirloom. The dishes were given to them by a family member who did not keep kosher and were most probably used with either treif food or interchangeably for both dairy and meat. They then told me that they were under the impression that the dishes could not be “koshered.” They told me as well that the dishes had important sentimental value to them, and that they were saddened by the notion of not being able to use them. After seeing how difficult this decision was for them, I shared with them the view of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein who allowed kashering china in circumstances very similar to theirs and told them that I thought that they too could kasher their dishes. At that moment the wife turned to her husband and said with a gleam in her eye, “See, I told you we could do it.” She went on to explain that they had been bombarded with so many strict interpretations of Orthodox Judaism that her husband began to doubt whether or not they could pull off a total assimilation into orthodoxy.

In hindsight, I could have tried to convince the couple that their attachment to the dishes should not serve as a barrier for further religious growth and counsel them how to best integrate themselves into orthodoxy –just without the dishes! –but instead, I simply removed the barrier. Removing barriers to religious growth can be a very effective tool towards increasing religious observance and we see that this method has, in fact, been used by great poskim. This is being a student of Aaron.

In the response that records Rabbi Feinstein’s permissive ruling about china he invokes the idea of takanat ha-shavim, regulations or enactments made in order to help those who wish to repent (literally: return). Rabbi Feinstein understood that the use of permissive rulings in cases such as this would make the road to observance easier to navigate for those who wish to embrace an orthodox style of religious observance.

A related phenomenon is the common occurrence that halacha guidebooks often offer the more stringent opinions as the only or highly preferred options. One example of this is the issue of making egg salad or tuna fish on Shabbat. There is an impressive list of poskim (Rav Shlommo Kluger, Rav Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg, Rav Avraham Borenstein, known as the Eglei Tal and Avnei Nezer), who rule that the prohibition of mixing substances into one mass only applies to items that grow from the ground, therefore excluding tuna fish and egg salad from the prohibition entirely. Notwithstanding this, the contemporary shabbat halacha guides reject such an option. This may seem like a small issue but it is precisely rulings like this that make observance very hard to accept. Marginalizing positions like these is an error that will ultimately lead to less observance.

When discussing leniencies and stringencies, we should not focus on the spectrum of less stringent or more stringent, but rather on the strategic use of leniency to encourage greater observance. Put differently, when rendering halakhic decisions, rabbis should not focus on whether or not a decision is in line with the most stringent approach or is in accord with as many opinions as possible, but rather on the long term affects the particular decision will have on an individual’s level of observance.

 


Innovation in Halacha – Rabbi Barry Gelman

November 3, 2009

Our tag line – Morethodoxy: Exploring the Breadth Depth and Passion Of Orthodox Judaism means different things to different people. For me, it is a call to educate the Morethodox public, and others, about the fundamental ideas of Modern Orthodox Judaism. One of the foundations of Modern Orthodoxy is that the Torah does not have a limited warranty. The reform movement essentially clams that the rituals of the Torah does not speak to the modern Jew and are unnecessary to live a full Jewish life. On the other hand, certain segments of the Orthodox community believe that (or act as if) when it comes to ritual and practical halacha there is no room for the Torah to expand to incorporate modern sensibilities and concerns. Read the rest of this entry »


Morethodoxy and Health Care – Rabbi Barry Gelman

August 25, 2009

There have been very few public statements from Orthodox groups regarding the Heath Care debate that is raging in this country.

Agudath Yisrael of America recently stated that President Obama’s efforts to “make health care more accessible to the uninsured and underinsured should be applauded” and that “promotion of good health and well being are religious imperatives.”

The Agudath Yisrael should be commended for stepping into the debate and making a statement based on Jewish values.

Where are the other Orthodox groups….especially the Modern Orthodox? It seems that we are comfortable letting the Jewish position on Health Care reform be staked out by the right wing and let wing of Judaism.

For so many, Orthodoxy remains irrelevant because in our shuls and schools we hear about the minute details of how to keep kosher and debate how long a woman’s sleeve must be and ignore serious discussions on societal and moral issues of our day. Here was our chance (maybe there is still time) to appear relevant by formulating an approach on the most significant issue facing America and we have remained silent. Read the rest of this entry »


Man In Search Of Heschel – Rabbi Barry Gelman

August 18, 2009

If you understand the title of this post you are ahead of the game.

I wonder why the Modern Orthodox community does pay more attention to and study the works of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Aside from his book The Sabbath, much of his work goes unnoticed and certainly unstudied in our community.

Rabbi Heschel wrote and spoke about so many of the challenges of religion in a free society. He concentrated the need and difficulty of balancing the regularity of Jewish religious practice with spontaneity, referring to these to contrary principles as kevah and kavanah, the religious ideal of living a life of, what he called, “wonder” and “radical amazement” by never taking God’s world for granted and fundamental importance of Halacha as an ingredient of the life of a spiritually healthy Jew.

While many are familiar with Rabi Heschel as the rabbi who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma Alabama, many are unaware his focus on Halacha. I sometimes wonder if the popularity of the picture of Rabbi Heschel with King in Selma has diminished focus on the other aspects of his career.

Part of the reason why Heschel goes unnoticed in the Orthodox community is because he spent most of his career at the Jewish Theological Seminary – the flagship institution of Conservative Judaism. As such he is deemed “treif” by large segments of our community. To my mind this is a terrible shame and we continue to ignore his writings and teachings to our own peril. We should be teaching Heschel in our schools and in our shuls. Read the rest of this entry »


Guilty As Charged – Rabbi Barry Gelman

August 11, 2009

Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who bestows good on the guilty, who has bestowed upon me much good.

The above is the text of the Birkhat HaGomel, a blessing traditionally recited by one who has survived a dangerous situation. The Talmud teaches that one who is released from captivity, recovers from a serious illness, crosses a wilderness or crosses an ocean is obligated to recite this blessing of thanksgiving. The Aruch Hashulchan and Mishna Berura conclude that survival of any dangerous situation requires the recitation of this blessing, not only the four mentioned in the Talmud.

The text of the blessing refers to God bestowing good upon the guilty. Reciting and hearing this blessing has always challenged me as I was bothered by the need for the public declaration of unworthiness. Of course, no one is perfect, but for our rabbis to paint with a broad brush everyone who says this blessing as guilty of some sin always seemed a bit harsh.

After learning the interpretation of this blessing offered by  Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook I am no longer bothered.

Rav Kook notes that this Bracha is meant as a reality check. All of the four situations mentioned by the Gemara take a person out of their routine and thrust them into unnatural and uncertain circumstances.  Only upon returning to the routine does one recognize just how remarkable routine life is. It is that recognition that creates the need to thank God.

So Rav Kook teaches that the seafarer who is torn from dry land and confronted with the power of the sea comes to recognize the wonder of routine life, the one who crosses a wilderness learns to appreciate the beauty of living in a society, a person who recovers from illness has a new appreciation for simple health and a person released from jail who presumably was incarcerated because of a moral failure, experience the horrible conditions of and learns a new appreciation of law and order.

Now we can understand what we are “guilty” of. We are guilty of only appreciating the order and routine of life that God has arranged after we suffer a jarring experience.  Life should be lived with a constant recognition of the good God bestows on us, but because we are so used to it, we forget.

This is a very important idea of the morethodox. We live a very normal and routine life. We, because of our unique hashkafa, do not spend the majority of our day in the rarified spirituality of the beit midrash. We live in communities that may not have a large orthodox population that may serve as a reminder of God’s presence and goodness. We are out and about the society and part of the routine workings of the world. It is that very routine way of life that Rav Kook warns us about.

I hope that I can live up to Rav Kook’s call.


Torah Alone does not a Mench Make –By Rabbi Hyim Shafner

August 7, 2009

A congregant of mine was confounded by the reports of Rabbis who were arrested for illegally trafficking in human organs. One person in the group said that some might justify their acts claiming the money would be used for yeshivahs and other important Jewish organizations. They turned to me and demanded to know if there really is a way to justify such things through the Torah?

I answered that Judaism, whether the Torah or the Talmud, contains many diverse ideas, not just one opinion and not just one way of thinking about God or the world.  For instance, regarding the question of how we should view non-Jews and how we should act toward them we could look at Abraham. Abraham left a conversation with God, the Torah tells us, in order to run out into the desert and welcome three nomads who were not Jews. Abraham was the first Jew and these nomads, as far as Abraham knew, were idol worshipers. This would be one way to answer the question of what our attitude could be toward non-Jews. On the other hand, one might look at the book of Deuteronomy in which Moshe commands the Jewish people to destroy those who are idol worshipers.  (No doubt the two cases can be seen in different lights and many lomdishe hairs be split, never the less it is the divergence in general attitude expressed by both sides that I am calling attention to.)

Another example of the variety of theological stances within Judaism is with regard to the question of asceticism. A statement in the Talmud tells us one will have to give an account for every pleasure they did not take advantage of in this world (Tal. Jer. 4:12). Additionally there is an opinion that the Nazir (Nazerite) brings a sin offering at the end of his Nazarism to atone for the sin of forbidding upon himself that which the Torah permits.  On the other hand there is a second opinion in the Talmud that the sin offering of the Nazir is due to his leaving behind a higher ascetic state.  The rabbis tell us, “Sanctify (separate) yourself even from that which is permitted.”  In Jewish history there were of course whose central practice was extreme asceticism such as Chasidey Ashkenaz in the 12th century.  Which direction should we take?

Direction can not come only from reading the Torah or even the oral tradition, these are varied and can be used to rationalize anything, including selling human organs for gain.  In the end Torah, written or oral, (at least in their written forms), are not enough to guarantee that we will live a life that is right and good in the eyes of God or others, -our own moral worldview and personal theology must be brought to bear upon Torah as a meta guide.  And this too must be part of the Torah and mesorah (oral tradition).  What we quote from the Torah will be filtered based on who we are and what our world vision is, so we must thoughtfully cultivate a correct worldview.   In Judaism today there are many world views: Zionist/non-Zionist, Torah u’Madah/Torah Im Derech Eretz, Open Orthodoxy/Insular Orthodoxy, etc., etc.

Morethodoxy does not claim to change anything in Torah (God forbid), rather to help present a set of glasses through which to see the Torah, a guide for balancing the varied approaches which are within the Torah.  It is a path accentuating an attitude of rachum v’chanun, first and foremost merciful and loving.  When faced with two approaches within Judaism it is a guide and path for choosing the approach that is, (within halacha), more inclusive not less.  It is not, God forbid, a path of molding the Torah to our selfish desires or to the vagaries of modern life and low brow chapters of western culture, but of opening our eyes and souls to the Torah in ways that Torah alone may not allow us to see.

The Ramba”n said it long ago (v’etchanan and k’doshim) . It is not enough to keep the Torah. If one only keeps the law one may still be a disgusting person.  Jewish law demands that we go beyond the law to do what is right good at the eyes of God and people.  Ours is a religion that is quite legally based yet if one were to just keep the law that would not be enough in our relationship with others or in our relationship with God. V’asita Ha’yashar V’hatov –“Do what is right and good”- go beyond the letter of the law with regard to how you treat others and Kidoshim Tihiyu, -“You shall be holy”-sanctify yourself beyond the letter of the law in your relationship to God.

The Torah alone does not a Mench make. It requires also spectacles through which to see the Torah, ones ground from the glass of things like moral training, philosophy and musar, learning the great ideas of other religions and moral and philosophical systems, chassidut and kabbalah, reading the great secular books, seeing the great works of art, appreciating the natural world God has made and its aesthetic and scientific beauty, exploring the important human ideas and insights -within humans in general and within ourselves in particular (usually through psychotherapy)- so that we can move beyond their own needs and see those of others more clearly.

In the end if our glasses through which to see the Torah and the world are placed correctly and our filters though which to sift the torah and our experiences are honed well we will achieve the goal of being Jews, to be merciful and gracious in imitation of the Divine One and to be a “light unto the nations”; we will not be selling illegal goods to further spiritual life.


Chessed Begins At Home – Rabbi Barry Gelman

August 4, 2009

Olam Chessed Yibaneh – the world can be built through kindness”.  This statement sums up the great potential inherent in acts of kindness.  
We live in a community where many are deeply involved volunteer organizations of some sort or another. These activities fall under the category of chessed – acts of kindness that we do for others. Our tradition puts a high value on chessed. In fact, the well known rabbinic statement – “Derech Eretz Kadma L’Torah – Good Character comes before Torah” teaches that before the Jewish people could receive the laws of the Torah, the importance on good character, including chessed, had to be taught. According to some, this is why the Torah starts with the stories of our foremother and forefathers, stories that, by example, teach right from wrong. 
At the same time, chessed that we do for those outside our immediate circle may impede our ability to do chessed for those closest to us. 
The following is a question posed to Rabbi Shlomo Aviner regarding the balance required between doing acts of chessed for the general community and one’s responsibilities towards ones family.

Question: “My husband devotes many hours each day to learning Torah, communal activities and spreading Judaism at stands. At home, he is spent. When I am speaking with him, he falls asleep… He does try to stay awake but without success. “

Answer: “Tell your dear husband in your name, in my name, in the Name of the Master of the Universe, and in the name of human conscience that “the poor of your house takes precedence.“ Even though you bring great benefit to humanity, and it is your glory, your wife takes precedence over the rest of humanity. Remember the story of King David, who refused to accept the kingship, as long as not everything was arranged with his wife Michal. All humanity is important, but it has other saviors. There were those who were concerned about it before you and there will be those who will be concerned about it after you. But your wife only has one savior: you. She therefore takes precedence. She relies on you. Do not betray her. All of this is written in the Ketubah, which is read under the chuppah, that you will cherish her and all sorts of other things. Before we add stringencies, one must fulfill his basic obligations. This is the general rule: your wife takes precedence. And, of course, I also say to you: your husband takes precedence.”

The examples given in this particular instance are simply those that relevant to the questioner. There are other family related responsibilities that should take precedence over our communal action. Making spending time with children a priority over communal responsibilities is one that comes to mind very easily.

There are many good reasons to be involved in communal affairs. In fact, if our community did not have so many dedicated volunteers we would simply not be able to function. This is why it is so important to find the proper balance to make sure that while we do volunteer our time for our community; our family is not being neglected. It goes without saying that communal responsibilities should never be taken on or extended as a way to avoid family obligations.

The Torah does not wish our love for those in the wider circles of our life to be built up at the expense of our omission of our obligation to those nearer to us. Nechama Leibowitz, writing about the biblical commandment to give Tzedakah, teaches: One who goes beyond his natural circle, into which he was born (family, birthplace, nation) and flies to distant climes to heal the misfortunes of humanity, the downtrodden and wretched of remote communities, whilst his own home, neighborhood, city and homeland cry out for assistance, ignoring them in the conviction that their plight is too circumscribed and petty for him to bother about… – charity begins at home.”


Gentiles and Kiddush Hashem – Rabbi Barry Gelman

July 28, 2009

I have spent the last week in Camp Moshava in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Being here has been a real treat. Camp Moshava is a living breathing “kiddush Hashem”. One of the many outstanding aspects of my experience thus far has been the wide variety of orthodox Jews that work here.

I mention Kiddush Hashem because, except for my experience here this week, my thoughts have been on the tremendous chillul Hashem created by the Rabbis arrested last week for offenses ranging form money laundering to human organ trafficking.

I have no doubt that the actions that these rabbis have been accused of have done enormous damage to the perception of Torah. I am deeply concerned that these actions will create doubt and cynicism in the hearts and minds of young people towards religious leadership. One way to combat these outcomes is for the Modern Orthodox community to clearly state that these actions were wrong and that the greed that led to them is not in keeping with a spiritually sensitive Judaism.

Rabbi Aaron Lichtenstein coined the term “glatt kosher hedonism” to refer to the belief (desire) that observant Jews can have it all. Our communities, the Modern Orthodox, pride ourselves on appreciating what is good, wholesome and spiritually fortifying in general culture. In doing so, we run the risk of letting our guard down in the pursuit of having it all. So as not to allow this tragedy to go without any positive outcome, our communities need reiterate the importance of Zniut – modesty in the way we live.

 

I will conclude with two brief notes that were emailed to me recently in reaction to the scandal.

 

Rabbi Riskin mentioned a number of times that when he still lived in New York and was starting his own yeshiva high school (“Mesivta Ohr Torah” in Riverdale), he interviewed 17 candidates for the job of Rosh Yeshiva.   After ascertaining all knew how to learn, he asked them, “Suppose you ordered by mail an electric shaver from Alexander’s Department Store.   And instead of one shaver being delivered, 3 shavers were delivered.   What would you do with the other two?”   Rabbi Riskin reported that sixteen of the seventeen insisted that they keep the other two shavers because stealing for a gentile is permitted.

 

The last applicant (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Sosefsky who is now the Rosh Hayeshivah of Yeshivat Ohr Yerushalayim) insisted on returning the shaver quoting Bava Metzia Perek 2 Yerushalmi: Rabbi Shimon Ben-Shetach bought a donkey from an arab. When RSBS was removed from the seller, he noticed there was something in the saddle: a valuable diamond whose sale would have put RSBS on easy street for the rest of his life.  But RSBS insisted on returning the diamond to the arab as it would be better for the gentile to bless the G-d of Shimon Ben-Shetach than for Shimon Ben-Shetach to obtain any financial benefit such as this.

 The following, written by Rabbi Moses ben Jacob of Coucy, authoer of the Sefer MItzvot Gadol on positive Mitzvah # 74 is very timely.

And I have already expounded to Galus Yerushalayim in Spain (Sefarad) and the other Galuyos under Christianity (Edom), that now that the Galus has lasted too long a Jew must separate himself from the frivolities (Hevlei) of the world and grasp the seal of Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu, which is Truth, and not lie, neither to Jews nor to non-Jews, nor to deceive them in any matter, and to sanctify ourselves even in that which is permissible to us, as it says

(Tzefani’a 3:13): “The remnant of Israel will not commit foul deeds nor speak falsehoods, nor will there be found in their mouths treacherous tongues.” And then, when Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu comes to redeem us the non-Jews will say that He is just in doing so, for we are men of truth and Toras Emes is in our mouths.

But if we conduct ourselves towards the non-Jews with deceit (Rama’us), then they will say: “See what Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu has done, that He has chosen as His portion thieves and cheats.”

Furthermore, it is written (Hoshe’a 2:25): “And I will plant them in the earth.” Why does a person plant a measure of grain in the earth? In order to cultivate several measures. So too Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu planted Yisroel in the various lands so that converts would join us. As long as we conduct ourselves amongst them with deceit who will cling to us? And, we find that

Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu was upset even by theft from evildoers, as it says(Bereishis 6:11): ” And the land was filled with theft (Chamas).”

Further, I bring proof from the Yerushalmi Chapter Eilu Metzi’os (Halocho 5), where it says: “The elder rabbis (Rabbanan Savi’ai) bought a measure of grain from non-Jews and found within it a bundle of money. They returned it to them, and the non-Jews said: ‘Blessed is the G-d of the Jews.'” Many similar stories of lost items that were returned to non-Jews because of Kiddush Hashem are related there.