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Not to Mention Any Names

By Tzvi Fishman
11/12/2008, 12:00 AM

I went to high school at Phillips Andover Academy. At the time, it was probably the finest prep school in America.

Phillips Academy

Out of its 800 students, there were about 50 Jews. One of the things I remember is the shower room after sports. Back in those days, before it became a standard maternity-ward practice, gentiles weren’t circumcised. So I was the odd man out. Often, the heathens would point and stare and laugh at the circumcised Jew.

Ever since the time of Avraham, the brit milah has been a sign on our bodies, distinguishing us from the gentiles. We are not only physically different in this aspect, the brit milah calls upon us to be different in our spiritual and moral behavior as well. Safeguarding the brit not only means performing the brit milah on our sons, just like Avraham did, it means guarding the laws of sexual holiness as well. For instance, according to halachah, a Jew is to refrain from pre-marital sex, from masturbating, from watching Internet porn, from having sexual encounters with gentiles, from homosexuality, from adultery, from cunnilingus and the like.  A Jew is to keep the laws of family purity (taharat hamishpachah) and to conduct marital relations in a holy fashion, at the times and in the manner that Jewish law and our Sages prescribe.

Because G-d has chosen us to be His unique holy people on earth, the Jewish People have many other practices that are to distinguish us from the gentile peoples of the world. For instance, we are to wear a kippah or some other head covering; we put on tefillin, wear tzitzit, eat special kosher foods, observe the Shabbat and unique Jewish holidays. And, like our forefather Avraham, we are to distinguish ourselves by living in a special Holy Land, which is a commandment equal in weight to all of the rest.

So if you find yourself tucking in your tzitzit strings and taking off your kippah outside of the house because you are worried what the goyim will say; or if you go for a cheeseburger with the guys in the office because you don’t want to stick out; or if you bring home a Christmas tree so that your kids don’t feel different from everyone else; or if you live in a gentile country and try to be as patriotic an American or Australian as Cindy and Bill, or if you are married to a non-Jewish mate, than your something is the matter with your understanding of Torah, and your Jewishness clearly could use a serious rehab.   

Heathen or Australian Jew?

Not to mention any names, of course.