Daf Yomi Yevamos 45
Racial harmony activist Raleigh Washington says the following:
When I was born, I was black. As I grew up I was still black. When I go out into the freezing cold, I’m black. When I go out into the hot sun, I get blacker. When I’m sick, I’m black and when I die, I’ll be black. White folks, when they’re born, they’re pink. And only as they grow do they become white. When they go out into the freezing cold, they go blue. When they go out into the hot sun, they go red. When they get sick, they go green and when they die, they go purple.
Why then do they call us coloreds?
Once a man appeared before Rav and asked him, ‘What is the legal position of the child where an idolater or a slave had intercourse with a Jewess?
‘The child is legitimate,’ the master replied.
‘Give me then your daughter,’ said the man.
‘I will not give her to you,’ he replied.
Said Shimi bar Hiyya to Rav, ‘People say that in Media a camel can dance on a kab. Here is the kab, here is the camel and here is Media, but there is no dancing!’
‘Had he been equal to Joshua the son of Nun, I would not have given him my daughter’, the master replied.
‘Had he been like Joshua the son of Nun,’ the other retorted, ‘others would have given him their daughters, if the master had not given him his. But with this man, if the master will not give him, others also will not give him.’
Why does Rav offer the example of Joshua as a potential suitor, to whom despite his greatness, he would not have given his daughter’s hand in marriage? After all, Joshua, was only our second greatest leader, the successor to Moses! He should have mentioned our great teacher, Moses, himself!
Who did Moses marry? Tziporah, the Cushite. Moses wouldn’t have been a good example, because the truth is that Moses saw beyond the pettiness of skin-deep differences. If this person was legitimate, he would have considered them. He looked at the person themselves and judged them on their own merits. While Rav was prepared to accept the child of a non-Jew as legitimate, it was a classic case of ‘he’s kosher, but not kosher enough for my family!’ Moses was willing to look beyond prejudices and love every person for who they were, even when it came to his own marriage choices. Even if it meant that his own family looked askance at the skin-color of his wife.
The irony, of course, is that Joshua too married a woman of tainted lineage. Following the conquest of Canaan, he married Rahab. She was the harlot that had provided cover to the two spies Joshua had originally sent. But how many know that? Some people have an attitude that you’ll accept others who are different as long as nobody else knows about it and it doesn’t affect your own social status.
Did you know that even differences in skin-colour are only one-sixteenth of an inch deep? Basically, we are all the same. You need to get past your prejudices and learn to love everyone the same G-d loves all His children equally. The same way that Moses loved every human being. The same way that Joshua was prepared to forgive even the most heinous sinner and accept her into his family.
The Almighty loves all his children equally. He has no preference for colour or family. And he certainly knows that nobody gets to choose their parents. It’s time to start loving and accepting everybody just like Moses and just like Joshua!