Dec 08, 2021

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Rabbi Greenbaum is the author of over 30 publications on Chassidut and Kabbalah and their practical contemporary relevance in personal growth and wellbeing, preventive healthcare, healing and other vital areas. But his new book, “Who is That Goy?” is based in Jewish law but focused on educating Christians on what their role in the upcoming Redemption will be.

The book begins by defining what a non-Jew is according to the classical Jewish sources. That may sound simple and binary but, as Rabbi Greenbaum delineates, there are many classifications, each with its own implications. 

One astounding application concerns Shabbat. 

“Most Orthodox Jews believe that it is forbidden for non-Jews to keep the Sabbath,” Rabbi Greenbaum explained. “But a proper understanding of the sources shows that there is a specific manner in which the nations are not only permitted but actually expected to keep the Shabbat.” 

Rabbi Greenbaum referred to a Halchic (Torah law) ruling by Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, a highly respected Torah authority. Rabbi Schwartz bases this on the two different version of the fourth of the Ten Commandments. In Exodus, the Bible writes that the Sabbath is to be observed due to God creating the world:

“For in six days Hashem made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day; therefore Hashem blessed the Shabbat day and hallowed it. Exodus 20:11

According to Rabbi Schwartz, this is a universal commandment to remember the Sabbath. The Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy refers to God taking the Children of israel out of Egypt and commands the Jews specifically to ‘observe’ the Sabbath:

“Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and Hashem your God freed you from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore Hashem your God has commanded you to observe the Shabbat day. Deuteronomy 5:15

In Halacha, the two different verbs relating to the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments denote two different ways to relate to the obligation of the Sabbath: ‘to remember’ refers to the positive commandments of keeping the Sabbath and ‘to observe’ relates to the negative commandments of refraining from labor or acts that are restricted on the Sabbath.

Another major implication of properly defining ‘who is a goy’ regards the permissibility of teaching Torah to non-Jews. After properly addressing the Halacha, Rabbi Greenbaum, who was already teaching Torah to Jews, took on expanding this personal mission to include non-Jews, which his studies had defined as having a special role in the return from the exile.

“When I started teaching on the internet in 1994, I assumed that these teachings were for Jews who lapsed form observance. But later, I started gettting contacted by non-Jews who had a compelling interest in Jewish teachings, and certainly not Conservative or Reformed Judaism.”
Rabbi Greenbaum explained that these contacts were not at all of the nature he expected.

“This made me realize that I was encountering what Rebbe Nachman refers to as ‘the captive souls’. These are the sparks of the souls of Israel that were scattered throughout the world during the exile. This is the source of this amazing exponential growth in interest in Torah from these ‘captive souls’ who are often rejected by Orthodox Jewish communities. They are seeking an identity.”

Rabbi Greenbaum’s new book contains a section on the teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslav, the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement. Reb Nachman, born in 1772, was a great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, and his teachings combinie the esoteric secrets of Judaism with in-depth Torah scholarship.

He also noted that as a result of the tragic history of the exile, there are many people who identify as non-Jews who actually have Jewish ancestry.

“It is a supreme act of love on our part to give them the benefit of the doubt in their tremendous effort to connect with Torah,” Rabbi Greenbaum said.”Every human is commanded to learn about God. At the very least, we need to teach them the Noahide laws which are far more complicated than most people realize.”

Rabbi Greenbaum related that another recent project was not so well received. He recently prepared two books explaining the teachings of Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, also known by the Hebrew acronym RaMCHaL, a prominent 18th century Italian Jewish rabbi, kabbalist, and philosopher. After investing time in money in preparing the two books, he submitted them to Amazon to be marketed. The books were being sold when Amazon removed the books from their site woith the explanation that his books on 18th century Jewish mysticism “violated community standards” . Rabbi Greenbaum noted that this approximately coincided with Amazon deplatforming Parler and the deplatforming of President Trump from social media. After reconsidering and reinstating the books for a few weeks, Amazon permanently cancelled Rabbi Greenbaum’s account, shutting down his ability to publish on the world’s largest platform for marketing books.

“I see this as censoring authentic Torah teaching,” Rabbi Greenbaum said. “We need to smash down this edifice of censorship that has really grown in the last few years.”

“Who is That Goy?” is available for free download from the Azamra website.