Dear Rabbi, Why Can't I Marry Her?
A Dialogue on Intermarriage
By Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov

Judaism & intermarriage is honestly addressed in this powerful dialogue between a rabbi and two non-Jews. A must-have for any Jew considering intermarriage & for any Jewish outreach professional.

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Chapter 13

From: Eliezer
To: Juan
Date: July 24, 2003

Dear Juan,

Thank you for your last e-mail.

If you remember, from the very beginning I told you that I would not answer you as a spokesman for Paulina’s family, but, rather, I would share with you my personal thoughts on the matter.

Regarding the arguments presented in the booklet about intermarriage, it is true that it does not reflect the opinion of the majority of Jews today. But that was precisely the objective - to educate the people (both the parents as well as the kids) regarding the true reasons why Judaism opposes intermarriage.

The main point is not so much why not marry someone who is not Jewish, but that there is really no such thing as marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew, just like there is no marriage between siblings.

Besides, I firmly believe that even though the majority of Jews are against intermarriage for the wrong reasons, this is really nothing more than the conscious manifestation of subconscious feelings and convictions that they are not themselves even (yet) aware of.

Freudian psychology speaks a lot about the subconscious. The Talmud spoke about it thousands of years ago! Our Sages teach us that the connection that the Jew has with G-d is unbreakable. Anything that a Jew does against this connection is due to ignorance or weakness. In other words, if he or she were to be fully aware of the true, negative consequences of his or her actions and would be in control of him or herself, a Jew would not go against G-d’s wishes and commandments.

The same is true regarding our relationship with the Land of Israel.

Perhaps the youth think that they are enamored with Israel because of the good time that they had... I think that it is much deeper than that, even though they may not be consciously aware of it...

The reason that I am concerned about the level of Jewish education today is precisely because the students are not being given the tools with which they might discover and become conscientious Jews. The final product of the existing education is a Jew with conflicts who does not know how to reconcile his conscious (acquired) values with his natural, subconscious convictions and intuitions.

A Jew is a natural believer. The formal and informal Jewish education that is being given in this country tends to deny this condition of innate faith. The education that they receive nourishes itself from sources and criteria that are foreign to Judaism. They deny the special condition of the Jew. It aims to “normalize” the Jew, redefining him as a universal “citizen of the world.” “We are the same as everybody else, although we have our own customs, language, and land.” It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because we are not the same as everyone else. We are essentially different. We have a life mission that is totally different. We have a soul that is totally different. We have totally different spiritual needs. We have totally different spiritual conflicts.

What happens is that many Jews openly deny that they are different because they do not know how to defend it or because they do not want to assume the responsibilities that it implies. But this does not change the fact that they are different.

Many Jews live their lives attempting to convince themselves that they are identical to their non-Jewish neighbors. They fight against their special condition as Jews...until they see that their children take them seriously and take this philosophy to its logical conclusion...they want to marry a non-Jew... All of a sudden, the parents realize that they were fooling themselves. Hey! We are different! We didn’t really mean it!

Many times, it is already too late.

So, I think that our differences about this subject are due to the fact that you are looking at the symptoms and outward appearance, whereas I am judging the situation by what it really is and not by what it appears to be. A Jew does not (really) want to, nor can s/he, sever his or her connection with G-d, even though s/he may not be consciously aware of it.

Best regards,

Eliezer

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