Of the many comments the recent post have generated, I wanted to focus on one. Kollel nick was kind enough to point out that while my current practice is to use only mevushal wine (cooked wine) when I have guests, he asserts that practice is really too stringent. That is, because under Jewish law when a non-believer pours wine, that wine is prohibited to Orthodox Jews unless the wine is cooked. Thus, to ensure that my guests don’t violate any of their own beliefs, when I have guests, I generally go with mevushal wine. [This is also the “prax” element of my orthoprax, for the most part, outwardly I keep the laws.] Kollel nick helpfully pointed out sources that would allow me to go back to the generally better flavor non-mevushal wine.
The background is that the wine was used in pagan ceremonies and to ensure that Jews don’t drink wine that was actually used in a pagan ceremony, all wine that is poured by non-Jews is prohibited (unless mevushal).
In my path to my current beliefs (or more exact, non-beliefs), the Jewish view of non-Jews was troubling. Let’s take a look at the flip side. You are planning a wedding/bar mitzvah/bat mitzvah and you decide to invite a select few of your co-workers. You have been at “The Company” for 10 years and are friendly with a few co-workers. You have had them over for bbqs or the like maybe gone to their kids’ birthdays. Now, you are having your own party. You make sure to personally invite them and also explain how the ceremony will work, maybe point out why the particular event’s symbolism. The co-worker responds “I would love to come, the event sounds beautiful – so much meaning – but it is going to be in the synagogue and, please don’t take offense, but my religion believes that Jews are idolators or pagans and your temples are those of pagan deities. Thus, I cannot attend as the event in question is going to take place in the synagogue as I cannot enter such places, I hope you understand it’s nothing personal.”
To me, a person who considers themselves “modern,” that sounds offensive, but that is how, for the most part, we view other religions. Yes, I am a rabbi and a MO one so I know the Meiri and I know that there is some wiggle room but how many orthodox Jews would attend a wedding in a Catholic Church? Or would walk into a church to look at the building or even say “wow, that is a beautiful church!” My experience has been most, no matter how “modern” will not do so.
I certainly don’t view my non-Jewish neighbors and friends as pagans or idol worshippers and thus can see no reason not to go into their houses of worship just as they frequent ours.
What I particullary find galling is when one of my very modern liberal congregants asked me if he could attend a wedding in church. Here is a guy who professes to be a left wing liberal, voted for Obama, in fact he stopped working to help out on the campaign, subscribes to The Nation and was asking me if he could go into a church. I explained both sides of the issue and the guy wouldn’t let it go, he called me multiple times to discuss and in the end didn’t attend the wedding. He said he isn’t comfortable in a church with all its iconography.