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Sunday, 16 August 2015

G-d is colour-blind

Daf Yomi Nedarim 82

‘Rabbi, you need to talk to our son,’ said Sandy and Frank, ‘he refuses to date Jewish girls.’
I met with Stevie to ask him what was going on.
‘I dated Jewish girls, Rabbi,’ said Stevie, ‘they’re all the same.  I’m not interested.’
‘Really?’ I responded, ‘How many Jewish girls did you date already?’
‘Two,’ he replied, ‘but same story, different face.  I’m done with Jewish girls.’

Rava asked Rav Nachman: Is a vow of abstention from marital relations made by the wife considered self-affliction or a relationship concern?
He replied: We learned about this in a Mishnah: If a woman declares, ‘I desire no further relationships with Jewish men,’ her husband may annul the vow with regards to himself and continue to live with her and she remains forbidden to all other men, should they get divorced.

What’s happened here in the Gemara?  This husband and wife have had some conflict in their marriage and instead of just blaming him, she goes and blames all Jewish men!   Why would she swear off all Jewish men because her husband is being difficult?

Unfortunately, that’s what many people do.  They have a bad experience with one type of person and they paint every other individual with similar characteristics with that same brush!  Maybe it’s the young man who won’t date another Jewish girl because of one or two dates that went sour.  Or maybe it’s the foreign worker you hired who doesn’t show up for work on time and so you decide that all people of that ethnicity are lazy.

It’s time to start judging individual people on their own merits and not brush-stroking people who look the same or belong to the same group as all the same and all guilty of whatever issues you’ve experienced with the one person you dealt with that didn’t work out.  If only we were as quick to judge groups of people favourably when we had a positive experience with an individual.  Instead, many of us will look at that person as the exception!

G-d is colour-blind.  G-d judges each individual person on their own merits without ascribing group qualities or attributes to them.  If you desire to be G-dly, stop brush-stroking.  If you haven’t had luck with the Jewish boys you’ve dated so far, it just means you haven’t met your bashert, not that they’re all bad.  Keep looking, the right one’s out there! 

And certainly that’s the case when it comes to different peoples.  Just because you didn’t like the way the person next to you smelled on the subway yesterday, it doesn’t mean all her co-nationalists smell like that!  Just because your colleague from some strange part of the world is a little difficult to deal with, doesn’t make all people from that country difficult. 

Judge every individual on their merits.  The Almighty doesn’t separate people according to colour, creed or gender.  May you merit giving every individual in your life a chance, no matter where they come from or what colour their skin is!  

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