Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Responding to Zion: Does Torah Allow a Gentile to Inherit Land in Israel?



Recently I was having a discussion with Zion where he stated that a ger in Ancient Israel could not own land:

"The covenant ger also could not own land, further proving that a ger in modern terms, never became a Jew. Now assuming the ger has children, then those children being born into the land would essentially be considered natural born, as that is the most obvious situation, they were born in the nation. But the Ger, who by default was not a natural born citizen, could never hold that title."

Now, I wonder if that's completely accurate.  For one thing, adoption was a common practice in Ancient Israel and the adopted heir could even inherit:

"A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren," Proverbs 17:2

By the way, Rashi has an interesting commentary on this verse:

"A righteous proselyte is better than a wicked person who was home born, and in the future, he will share the spoils and the inheritance among the children of Israel, as it is said (Ezek. 47:23): “And it shall be, in whatever tribe the stranger will live, etc," Rashi, Commentary on Proverbs 17:2
Why didn't Rashi consider this to be a violation of Torah?

I would guess that there are 2 points which should come into play:

(1) the Torah does not prohibited an adopted foreigner from obtaining an inheritance;

(2) Proverbs 17:2 on its face seems to indicate that an adopted son could inherit.

So it does appear that a Gentile can indeed become the legal equivalent of a natural-born member of Israel.  I don't claim to understand precisely how that occurs.  I'm merely taking note of passages that indicate a "ger" can attain such a status.

46 comments:

  1. Peter,

    I don't think you can mix those categories, the ger, the orphan, the widow and the Levites are described in Deut 14, 16, 26 as being at a disadvantage, while their disadvantages range, both the ger and Levites did not own land... they had no tribal allotment of inheritance, this would more than likely include the orphan and the widow in some ways.

    As for the category of an adopted person you would need to present the cases and verses you are referring to. The verses we have been discussing is that of the ger in the category of an adult, and not necessarily an adopted child.

    As for Ezekiel 47, this is an eschatological fulfillment, a singled out, prophetic event, not some new change in Law, and definitely not a contradiction. The Torah says specifically that all of Israel are strangers and sojourners in His land (Lev 25), He calls the shots. What Ezekiel is clear about is the language, that this person being given land is a "ger", maintaining his distinction between the native born and the ger, if a ger had rights to land already, because he magically "became a Jew", there would be no point in Ezekiel saying there will be land allotted for the ger, that has to be mentioned, because that is not the normal protocol.

    So it does appear that a Gentile can indeed become the legal equivalent of a natural-born member of Israel. I don't claim to understand precisely how that occurs. I'm merely taking note of passages that indicate a "ger" can attain such a status.

    The ger in the Torah never attained such a status, as I posted above, they fit in the category of the Levites, orphans and widows, which means they lacked ownership and were generally on the poor or disadvantaged side. There are commandments to take care of these people groups and to treat them as or even better than everyone else, God directly commands Israel to go out of their way to look after these categorical people within their society and to provide for them.

    Paul in Ephesians writes that we have a greater status than that of ger (v. 19), so we don't look to the ger as the bar for our relationship to God, we look to Yeshua, the ger is simply an example of how gentiles related to Israel and God, prior to Yeshua, just like looking at how Noah related to God, prior to Abraham and the promises given to Abraham. Just like in Isaiah 56, we read of gentiles who keep the Torah, obeying God's covenant, will be given a name better than sons and daughters, much like the language Paul uses in Ephesians. Our status in Yeshua, is even better than that of the ger.

    With all that said, we have to be careful how we state this, because it can sound like an ungrateful son, looking for more, not being content with what we are given, so none of this should make us cocky or prideful, we should acknowledge and enjoy the blessings we have received through the Messiah, that God was merciful to extend all of this to us gentiles, we have been blessed immensely and the fact that God will grant believing gentiles an allotment within His Holy Land, is not something He has to do, it is purely His love and blessings that are being given to us, so we should be extremely grateful and not look at it as if it is our right, as if we deserve this or that is not fair, whatever God does, He has our best interest in mind, He is our loving father and we will enjoy whatever He gives us, even if it was not in His land, it just so happens to be that way.

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    1. Zion,

      All excellent points. I have 2 questions for you:

      (1) Caleb was the immediate son of a Kennizite (non-Israelite). In Biblical law, land can only be inherited from one's immediate father. So on what basis did Caleb inherit land in Eretz Yisrael when his immediate father had no right to inherit land in Eretz Yisrael?


      (2) In order for anyone to legally (according to Biblical Law) inherit land according to the Israeli tribal system, he must be able to truthfully state the following, "I am the child of X [Bet Av], of the clan of Y [Mishpochah], of the tribe of Z [Shevet]." If he cannot state this truthfully then he cannot legally inherit land in the Israeli tribal system. For a disqualified individual (i.e. one who cannot state the above) to inherit land in the aforementioned system despite being disqualified would be a VIOLATION of Torah. My question for you:

      If the "ger" in Ezekiel 47:23 is not qualified on the basis of actual physical descent to inherit land in Eretz Yisrael then on what OTHER basis could the "ger" inherit land that would not result in a violation of Torah?

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    2. All excellent points.

      Thanks.

      I have 2 questions for you:

      (1) Caleb was the immediate son of a Kennizite (non-Israelite). In Biblical law, land can only be inherited from one's immediate father. So on what basis did Caleb inherit land in Eretz Yisrael when his immediate father had no right to inherit land in Eretz Yisrael?


      It says it in Numbers 14:24:

      "But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it."

      Because Caleb was faithful to God, God gave him an inheritance for him and his sons. This is an exception to the general rule, just like Ezekiel 47, its similar language to Isaiah 56, those who keep His covenant among the gentiles, He is going to bless greatly.

      (2) In order for anyone to legally (according to Biblical Law) inherit land according to the Israeli tribal system, he must be able to truthfully state the following, "I am the child of X [Bet Av], of the clan of Y [Mishpochah], of the tribe of Z [Shevet]." If he cannot state this truthfully then he cannot legally inherit land in the Israeli tribal system. For a disqualified individual (i.e. one who cannot state the above) to inherit land in the aforementioned system despite being disqualified would be a VIOLATION of Torah. My question for you:

      If the "ger" in Ezekiel 47:23 is not qualified on the basis of actual physical descent to inherit land in Eretz Yisrael then on what OTHER basis could the "ger" inherit land that would not result in a violation of Torah?


      See above, because of Caleb's faith and obedience, God blessed him, also note, it is God's land, and God has set a standard in place, but God can exact an exception, because it is His land. Even native born israelites, are strangers and sojourners in His land, even though they are the natural inheritors. Lev 25

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    3. Zion,

      While Caleb's faithfulness was the merit for inheritance, the law still had to be satisfied which is why Torah declares that Caleb gained a new father: Hezron, the Judahite.

      Here's the passages for reference:

      The Caleb who inherited Hebron is said to be the son of Jephunneh the Kennizite (Joshua 14 & 15). Notice that his daughter's name is Aksah (Joshua 15:16-17).

      Caleb who inherited Hebron is THEN said to be the son of Hezron in 1 Chronicles 2:9&18. How is this the same Caleb? Because 1 Chronicles' Caleb has the same daughter named Aksah (1 Chronicles 2:48) as the Book of Joshua's Caleb (Joshua 15:16-17). Because Numbers 13 reckons Caleb the son of Jephunneh as a Judahite (Numbers 13:6).

      Apparently, the tribal allotments of the Land in periods when the tribal system is in place, function as an Ethnoscape, with ethnicity and geography blending together. Caleb was given Hebron, a piece of the land that was very important to the tribe of Judah (e.g. the tribe of Judah anointed David there). Because Caleb's allotment came from Judah, Caleb became a Judahite.

      So 2 things happened simultaneously: (1) the granting of the land and; (2) the granting of the ethnicity (legally speaking). And it had to happen that way because the tribal allotments function as an Ethnoscape.




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    4. It is similar to the daughters of Zelophehad, who received a tribal allotment (Num 27), which is another exception.

      I only see exceptions in these cases, these are not viewed as the standard rule.

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    5. No, it's not an exception but rather a situation that the Law had not yet addressed.

      By the way, technically, the husbands were the ones who inherited (see the other half of the story in Numbers 36).

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    6. The inheritance goes to the sons, not the daughters, the exception is when there is no sons, then their is a possibility for the daughters to inherit, this is not the normal procedure, the normal procedure is that the son's inherit. That is why, it would be considered an exception, even if a daughter could inherit, she must marry someone who could then take upon the inheritance as a son. So a son was to be the recipient of the land, not a daughter, that is an exception to the rule or the standard.

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    7. Zion,

      The rule was that the land had to remain with the tribe. And the Zelophehad rule ensured that the land remained with the tribe.

      This proves what I've been saying this entire time: the land must stay with the tribe---which is why Caleb was legally written into the tribe of Judah in order to have Hebron (territory belonging to Judah).

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    8. Peter,

      As long as, we understand this is not the norm for a ger, then I completely agree, Caleb being an exception to the rule, it would happen this way. What is going to happen in Ezekiel 47 is also an exception to the rule.

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    9. So you agree that it is possible for a ger (gentile) to become adopted in such a way that he/she is legally written into a tribe's genealogy which results in a legal status that is virtually indistinguishable from that of a native-born.

      That's our common ground.

      But where we differ is the role of the Jewish People (or any tribe) in legitimating such an adoption. Because, while you would recognize the Jewishness of Caleb (which was legitimated via the recognition of the tribe of Judah), you would refuse to accept the Jewishness of, say, Derek Leman who is also a person who arguably has been adopted by a segment of the Jewish People.

      Do I understand your position correctly?

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    10. No, because again this is an exception, magically making gentiles into Jews is not an exception, but a standard practice in Modern Judaism, which as I showed before, is against the Torah.

      Who gave Caleb and his descendants rights to land, if you know the answer, that is the end of the discussion.

      Again, you can't make exceptions the rule. Doesn't work.

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    11. Zion,

      So you would've told Abraham that he had no right to adopt Eliezer? You would've told Rachel she had no right to adopt Bilhah's children ("that through her I too may have children")?

      You can call adoption an "exception" if you want but that doesn't make it illegitimate. Parents adopt a child and that's an exception to natural birth but it doesn't make the child illegitimate. Exception or not, adoption is legitimate and always has been.

      Either Jews have the right to adopt or they don't. And you apparently think that Jews, out of all the peoples on earth, do not have this right because prior instances of adoption are merely "exceptions". Do I understand you correctly?


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    12. So you would've told Abraham that he had no right to adopt Eliezer? You would've told Rachel she had no right to adopt Bilhah's children ("that through her I too may have children")?

      You can call adoption an "exception" if you want but that doesn't make it illegitimate. Parents adopt a child and that's an exception to natural birth but it doesn't make the child illegitimate. Exception or not, adoption is legitimate and always has been.

      Either Jews have the right to adopt or they don't. And you apparently think that Jews, out of all the peoples on earth, do not have this right because prior instances of adoption are merely "exceptions". Do I understand you correctly?


      Again you are mixing categories, the ger is not an adopted child. Caleb was not adopted, he joined Israel, he obeyed God and God blessed him. Its that simple.

      You tried to argue your case on the basis of an exception. Now you are trying to make the understanding of ger in the scriptures to an adoption.

      Peter, just curious, are you hoping to become a Jew one day?

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    13. Zion,

      There were all sorts of gerim in Torah.

      (1) Non-Tribally Affiliated, Non-Covenantal: the Edomites and Moabites were gerim who were included in the Land of Israel and in the Kingdom of David but who were EXCLUDED from the covenant People of Israel because they served other gods;
      (2) Non-Tribally Affiliated, Covenantal Members of Israel: gerim who didn't belong to a tribe but were nevertheless INCLUDED in Am Yisrael because they served the G-d of Israel and kept His Torah;
      (3) Tribally-Affiliated Covenantal Members of Israel: gerim who were adopted into a tribe either as children or as adults. Yes, there are examples of both in Torah.

      Personally, I consider myself to be a non-tribally affiliated member of Israel brought near by the blood of Yeshua. Since the term "Jewish" connotes tribal affiliation, and since I am not tribally affiliated, it wouldn't be a term that I would ever apply to myself. And neither do I seek tribal affiliation.



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    14. "
      Personally, I consider myself to be a non-tribally affiliated member of Israel brought near by the blood of Yeshua. Since the term "Jewish" connotes tribal affiliation, and since I am not tribally affiliated, it wouldn't be a term that I would ever apply to myself. And neither do I seek tribal affiliation. "

      OK, Peter, don't throw a tantrum, I will adopt you, OK my little child?

      It is amazing how you are willing to call yourself any name in the book, but Gentile which is what you are.....

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    15. Lol, Dan, when you have a Messianic Jewish movement, saying that a convert has a greater place in God's kingdom and purposes than a gentile who trust in Messiah, its inevitable that some "dirty" gentiles are going to want to join the exclusive club. :P

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    16. Hi Zion,

      If you could lead your own congregation (with a plurality of other gray haired men), would there be 2 sets of rules (e.g. who can read the Torah scroll, who can marry whom, etc.)?

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    17. Would Gentiles be circumcised on the 8th day? Would there be any distinctive do? What purpose would they serve? Without a prohibition against intermarriage wouldn't Jewishness eventually be lost any how? Is that okay?

      Thanks for the feedback.

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    18. Zion,

      RE: "...saying that a convert has a greater place in God's kingdom and purposes than a gentile who trust in Messiah..."

      I never said that. Quite the opposite. I've said that unless you believe in Yeshua you are going to hell. Going to hell does not amount to "a greater place."

      The folks who trust in Messiah have the highest possible status. You and Dan keep saying I'm jealous of ethnic Jews which I've explained time and time again is NOTthe case.

      I only desire to be included in G-d's People--the Israel of G-d (as Paul puts it). And membership in the Israel of G-d is not contingent on ethnic status.

      So ethnic status can add nothing to what I already have. And there's nothing more I could desire than salvation in Yeshua.


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    19. So why are you arguing about the land, Peter? Aren't you happy with what you have?......

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    20. Jason,

      Dan replied to you in a different section of this thread. To keep things coherent, the following is his response to you:

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      "If you could lead your own congregation (with a plurality of other gray haired men), would there be 2 sets of rules (e.g. who can read the Torah scroll, who can marry whom, etc.)?"

      You need to start studying Torah 101. Torah shebeal peh and Torah shebechtav. If you would have you would not come up with a stupid remark like that.

      "Would Gentiles be circumcised on the 8th day?"

      The gentiles in Abraham's household were...So what is your point?

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    21. Everyone,

      Dan is officially being rude. The commentator "Jason" happens to be a very dedicated and humble follower of Yeshua and a man gifted with a brilliant mind that has provided an incalculable service to the United States military.

      It is EXTREMELY offensive that Dan is calling Jason's remarks "stupid." But I don't censor comments on this blog. But I would hope that others would try to keep their comments civil as befitting followers of Yeshua.

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    22. No worries, Peter. Dan's cheeky responses make me smile, although that wasn't the purpose of my visit. I guess the reader can decide if my questions were insincere or inflammatory.

      Aside: I'm reminded of an article written by a Jewish man in which he recalled that from his youth the older generation always answered questions with questions. The body of the article detailed how the reader could be effective by doing the same.

      While light seems to bend toward Oral Torah, I'm most interested in understanding biblical community. As Zion properly observed, when the ecclesia is bilateral, dirty and exclusive classes emerge.
      However, if the community is totally integrated, how will Dan's descendants lay claim to the land he is trying to keep from you :)?

      In all seriousness, what would a functioning biblical community even look like?

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    23. Dan wrote: "You need to start studying Torah 101. Torah shebeal peh and Torah shebechtav. If you would have you would not come up with a stupid remark like that."

      From the Almighty's (and your) perspective I guess the questions would seem a little silly :)

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    24. "However, if the community is totally integrated,"

      Here is where the donkey is hidden, in what way integrated? Will we all be Jews? will we all be Gentiles?

      Why would I try to keep the land from Peter? All he needs to do to get some land is to tell what tribe is he from, no?

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    26. Dan wrote: ""However, if the community is totally integrated,"

      Here is where the donkey is hidden, in what way integrated? Will we all be Jews? will we all be Gentiles?

      Why would I try to keep the land from Peter? All he needs to do to get some land is to tell what tribe is he from, no?"

      ---

      These are all valid questions, and I'm hoping you'll provide some of the answers. If MJ/BE causes dirty and exclusive classes, is there an alternative? By totally integrated I mean unilateral or Jews marrying Gentiles and producing offspring.

      The whole land discussion is confusing and somewhat irrelevant to me because (1) I'm a U.S. citizen with no land claim (2) Israel is secular (3) most of Israel is arid (4) Israel is perpetually under attack (5) even if one could prove their tribe, Judah and Benjamin together would receive 2/11 of the land meaning that 9/11 of the country would remain unclaimed (6) Israel is a fraction of it's original size and (7) the only ones who seem to know their actual tribe are Levites who don't have a land claim. I look forward to Messiah sorting this out. In the meantime, I intend to elect leaders that ally our country with Israel.

      Young guys raising families like Peter and me just want to live in a like-minded community. It would be great if someone could cast a vision of what it might look like so we can get started.

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    27. Jason wrote: "Would Gentiles be circumcised on the 8th day?"

      Dan wrote: "The gentiles in Abraham's household were...So what is your point?"
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      Scripture seems unclear regarding infant Gentile circumcision. Acts 15:21 implies that believing Gentiles would learn Moses alongside the Jews. Paul taught emphatically against this practice for adult male Gentiles. What about Gentile infants?

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    28. Hi Zion,

      If you could lead your own congregation (with a plurality of other gray haired men), would there be 2 sets of rules (e.g. who can read the Torah scroll, who can marry whom, etc.)?


      Hi Jason,

      They would be fully integrated, they would have to be, in order for it to properly function, if not, one party is going to separate from the other, if jews were treated less than gentiles or if gentiles were treated less than jews, there will be a disconnect, its like a marriage, if one of the spouses decides not to mutually respect the other, things are not going to work out well, its about mutual submission, not one ruling over the other. Some might confuse this with equality, but its more about respect than equality, you can be equal without having respect for each other, respect cares and responds to the wants of the other, much like respecting a wifes needs, she might have the same needs, but they need to be respected in order to have a healthy relationship. Paul envisioned this in his writings. In Ephesians 3, when he describes the Ecclesia as One, one this, one that, one this and one that, the idea of two is not what Paul had in mind, so we can scratch Bilateral Ecclessiology off the list, even if One Law Theology is wrong, BE is definitely wrong, he describes jews and gentiles as one in the Messiah, just like the language of a marriage, we don't lose our literal identity, however we do mutually submit to each other. This does not mean the Torah does not have or define distinctions, however most of these distinctions would narrow down to male and female in a very generalized category, most of the Torah's distinctions, speak to the exceptions, not the rule, the rule would be generalized in all must keep God's commandments, then it would break down into a few exceptions, such as the Levites are different than the other tribes in a very specific way, that is an exception, the rest of the tribes represent the rule, we would refer to them as the lay people. However on the most generalized level, there is the people of Israel, the lay people who were all to keep the same laws, this is what we read of in Numbers 15, where there is one law for the native and the gerim, generalized ruling, for the average joe, the distinctions such as ger not owning land is an exception to the rule of One Law for all.

      In a congregation, most of these distinctions would not exist, since a congregation or community is not the Temple or the land of Israel, but just a building where people come together to fellowship. To treat people in this setting as less than or not fully part of the community because of their foreign status, is disgusting, you could say, "but the gentiles could always do away with their identity and become a Jew", in order to fully participate in the community, which sounds nice, but it further promotes class identity. I don't think there is as big a concern over whether or not Jews will lose their identity, I believe that is fear based. Can you imagine if we put as much energy and thought into our identity as men, when marrying our wives, as Messianic Judaism does in maintaining Jew and Gentile distinction, our wives would have left us already... :P This distinction naturally exist, we don't have to wake up every day and remind our wife that she is different and distinct from us men, lol, as if we are going to forget that we are men and they are women. Or as if we must maintain some status over them as women, however in today's world, they could always magically become a "man"...

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    29. Would Gentiles be circumcised on the 8th day? Would there be any distinctive do? What purpose would they serve? Without a prohibition against intermarriage wouldn't Jewishness eventually be lost any how? Is that okay?

      Yes, gentiles would be circumcised on the 8th day, just as I was and just as I circumcised my son, according to the commandment.

      Distinction: Not in a congregation setting, in the actual Temple in Jerusalem one day, yes.

      Intermarriage exist in the scriptures, in fact, the Messiah came through intermarriage. Ruth was intermarried. There is nothing wrong with intermarriage, as long as, both are in covenant with God. Israel is not to marry those outside of the covenant.

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    30. Very helpful. Thanks, Z.

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  2. So, the moral is, Peter should be jealous of Celab, not the Jews......HI...Hi....HI....

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    1. Dan,

      In all seriousness, I hope for salvation and nothing else. My mind still can't comprehend that Yeshua would ever let a dirty Gentile like me anywhere near the Holy Land even as a visitor. If He saves me, I could live happily in Siberia...

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  3. OK, now let's get back to reality. We live in the 21st century, not in biblical time, and there are plenty of Gentiles who own land in Israel, FYI. And there are a lot of Levis and widows and gerim who own land, wake up.

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    1. Lol, yup... I used to live in Israel with a gentile family who owned land... :P

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    2. Dan,

      RE: "We live in the 21st century, not in biblical time, and there are plenty of Gentiles who own land in Israel..."

      So your argument is this: if lots of folks are doing it then it must be okay.

      DO NOT FOLLOW A MULTITUDE TO DO EVIL.

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    3. No, my argument is that it does not matter. Only to guys like you who wants the whole anchilada. You do not have a right to demand land in Israel, but if you have money and someone is willing to sell...

      DO NOT THINK THAT YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO FREE STUFF, UNLESS YOU ARE A COMMUNIST......

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    4. Dan,

      You're not interested in communication, only in putting words in my mouth that I have repeatedly and specifically said I do not agree with. I've never claimed a right to the Land. I've stated repeatedly and explicitly that I have NO right to the Land.

      This is worse than talking to a wall; this is talking to a wall that puts words in your mouth.

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    5. You could have fooled me.....Why are you arguing with Zion about the Land then?

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  4. " arguably has been adopted by a segment of the Jewish People. "

    What segment of the Jewish people? Half of the people who so called "Converted Derek are not halachically Jews.....SHHHHH....You are starting to get on my nerve...Drop this crap...You cannot put a square peg in a round hole, Zion is trying to tell you that.

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  5. Dan,

    RE: "What segment of the Jewish people? Half of the people who so called "Converted Derek are not halachically Jews..."

    So it would make you more comfortable if there were even more halachic Jews behind this decision? My you sure put a lot of weight on Rabbinic halachah... : )

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  6. Funny.....But I see you got the message.....

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  7. "If you could lead your own congregation (with a plurality of other gray haired men), would there be 2 sets of rules (e.g. who can read the Torah scroll, who can marry whom, etc.)?"

    You need to start studying Torah 101. Torah shebeal peh and Torah shebechtav. If you would have you would not come up with a stupid remark like that.

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  8. "Would Gentiles be circumcised on the 8th day?"

    The gentiles in Abraham's household were...So what is your point?

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  9. "Scripture seems unclear regarding infant Gentile circumcision."

    This is an argument from silence. Do you think that the Gentiles in Abraham household were all childless?

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