Monday, November 10, 2008

Chutzpah and Heaven

The head of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants has announced that he is called off talks with the Mormon Church over posthumous baptisms performed by the sect for Holocaust victims. Survivors are upset that names of Holocaust victims have been added to a list of baptisms- including thousands lifted from Yizkor books of Jews massacred at Berdichev in Ukraine. Over 380 000 Holocaust victims, including Ann Frank, have already been baptized by the Mormon Church.

The Mormons believe that by baptizing the dead, they give them an opportunity to go to heaven. It is anti-semitic in the extreme to suppose that the murdered victims of the Holocaust need any help from a 150-year old cult in getting to heaven. However, such a belief is not unique to the Mormon Church. Many Evangelical missionary movements which target Jews threaten eternal hellfire and brimstone if Jews do not accept Jesus.

Before Adolph Eichmann, may his name be accursed, was to be executed, Israel permitted him to meet with a Christian minister. After he was executed, reporters asked the minister whether or not Eichmann had accept Jesus. The minister explained that having accepted Jesus, Eichmann would surely be forgiven of all of his sins and go to heaven. And as for the poor Jewish boy gassed at Auschwitz, disbelieving in his "saviour", hell would surely be his eternal reward. According to this perverted belief system, the evil architect of the Final Solution would be welcomed at the Pearly Gates simply for accepting Jesus while the 6 million victims of the Holocaust would be condemned to hell for being Jews.

This story goes to show the perverseness of exclusivity on heaven. For a cult less than two centuries old to presuppose that it has the key to the eternal salvation of the martyrs of the Holocaust is the ultimate in chutzpah. Even more than that, for anyone to claim that his is the only path to heaven and salvation invites hatred, persecution and intolerance. Such a belief only propagates the reasoning behind burning Jews at the stake, and other such atrocities, in order to "save their souls". Surely, the inquisitors and Church officials reasoned, that whatever they did to the Jews was nothing in comparison with eternal salvation. They believed that they were saving them from a far worse fate.

So let's get this straight, for every single Christian or any other cultist who is concerned about my soul: Jews don't need you to be saved!. For a Jew to be saved, he must observe G-d's commandments, follow the Torah and serve HaShem with his entire heart and soul. G-d gave us 613 commandments with which to perfect and refine ourselves so that we may enjoy the World to Come. No cult or sect can offer us anything of value in terms of salvation. As for non-Jews, the sacrifice of Jesus is worthless as well. G-d demands of non-Jews that they renounced man-made idolatry, worship HaShem and lead moral lives. No man can atone for another. Only by keeping G-d's Torah, the 613 mitzvot for Jews and the 7 mitzvot for non-Jews, can we be holy in HaShem's eyes.

The Mishna (Sanhedrin 90a) teaches that " all of Israel has a share in the World to Come, as it says: 'And your people are all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever. They are the branch of My planting, My Handiwork, in which to take pride.'" (Isaiah 60:21) So just a head's-up to anyone who wants to save us: we Jews don't need any help in that department.