Is It Really True That We Should Be Wary of Goyim?

by Tova Joy | March 24 2021

I didn’t know many Goyim growing up in the Jewish suburbs of Boston during the 1950s and ’60s. Sure, there was Mr. Zedakas, who came twice a week and filled our refrigerator with the freshest fruits. And there was Norma, who helped my mother with the house and took care of us whenever my parents went away. Yet, there were mostly only Yiden in my neighborhood with only one non-Jewish girl in my elementary school; I felt sorry for her not having a place to go for Pesach or Hanukkah. When I entered junior high where there was a more mixed population, I remembered being warned that as a Yiddishe maidel, I was somehow not safe around non-Jews and should be very wary of them.

Is it true that most of our troubles as Jewish people are rooted in the actions and attitudes of the Goyim? Additionally, is it true that it’s best to simply stay away from them? It might sound like a good idea, but it’s not always so simple. It is probably wiser to stay away from anyone who has clear evil intent. Nevertheless, what if the Aibishter’s plan was to establish the Jewish people in order for us to be a blessing to the Goyim, and they in turn would be a mutual blessing to us?

After all, isn’t that what we see in the parsha about Joseph and Pharaoh; without the other, neither Israel nor Egypt would have survived the famine and hunger! I am reminded of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon, Esther and her Gentile king in Persia, Ruth, and others who deeply impacted the survival of Am Yisroel. I thank the Bashefer for using them to be His instruments of blessing to our nation.

Recently, we have recognized and honored many of those among the “Righteous Gentiles” like Schindler and others who took a stand against Hitler and risked their very lives to save many of our Jewish people. I will never forget how intensely grateful I felt when I first visited Yad Vashem (the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem) and walked through the “Garden of the Righteous.” Nor will I forget the many tears I shed as I read some of the stories of those who risked their lives for us, and even lost their lives alongside us, in the fight against the Nazis.

I was thrilled to discover one of my heroes, Corrie Ten Boom and her family, listed among them. In 1989, I read their story in her book, The Hiding Place, just a few months after I had come to believe that Jesus was the Jewish Moshiach. That was the beginning of my recognition of two falsehoods I had learned growing up: (1) the Goyim aren’t the root of our problems —evil is, and (2) Christians aren’t the enemy.

It also confirmed to me that in turning to Jesus as my Messiah, I didn’t become a Goy. In fact, I finally gained an understanding of what it really meant to be Jewish. I desire to see all of my Jewish people (and everyone else) come to know what I know, and to experience the life he died to give us; that’s what I believe God desires. But I also recognize that, with or without faith in Jesus, we need each other to fulfill the Ribono Shel Olam’s purposes for this world.

Recently, I spent some time watching the captivating YouTube series by Peter Santenello as he and his Chasidic Jewish friend, Shlomie, explored his community in Boro Park. I found the information they shared about the community in Boro Park informative and enjoyable. My favorite part of the series was at the end of the Shabbos meal in Monsey video, where Peter concludes by saying, “‘They aren’t what I really expected.” And then, in a more surprised tone, he added, “I really liked these people.”

If you are Jewish, especially if you are frum, you are probably smiling right now. It was just a few days earlier that I was talking with a friend who had been raised in a Hasidic community and said almost the exact same thing about the Goyim—even Christians—we met outside the community. In fact, she said, “The community was wrong when they warned me about the Gentiles; every one of them I’ve met has been wonderful.”

So, maybe the next time you have the opportunity to be a blessing to someone outside the community, you will remember my words and ask Hashem to make you a blessing; and don’t miss the blessing you might receive in return!

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