What is the problem with “free love”?

T. Belman. On Mar 26/17, I posted  a book review of Harmony over Peace: Eternal values of the Hebrew Bible by Michael Derfler. In light of my posts today on Counter Culture and Jihad he suggested that the following chapter from his book would be very interesting to my followers. I think he is right.

By Michael Derfler

How can we explain the partnership of the Left with fundamentalist Islam against Israel?

Balak: Numbers 22:2 – 25:9

“Israel dwelled in Sheeteem, and the people began to commit harlotry with the daughters of Moab.” (Numbers 25:1)

Israel fought several nations before arriving at the border of the Land of Israel. The nation of Israel was never a threat to these nations; Israel only wanted to pass through their lands. In our reading, Balak, the leader of Moab, realized that military force alone would not stop the people of Israel from reaching the Land of Israel, so he enlisted Balaam to use his supernatural ability to curse Israel. When Balaam’s words failed, Balaam advised using “love” to accomplish Balak’s goal.[1] From these events we see that as Israel approaches the Land, there arises a drive to stop them, whether through force, words, or “love.”

How is it that “love” would work? The simple reading is that it would arouse punishment from God for misbehavior. But there is a more important idea here. It would lure them from their loyalty to the Jewish family, the basic building block of the Jewish nation. The promotion of “free love” in this case was designed to cause the nation, at least part of it, to voluntarily cease to exist, to be “swallowed” by another nation.[2]

[American Jews are experiencing “free love” and acceptance and as a result are assimilating out of exsistence.]

This theme is not only in our reading. The encounter with “free love” recurs with Joshua[3] who prior to Israel’s entrance to the Land, sent spies from Sheeteem. In Israel, the spies encountered a prostitute named Rachav. Her name can be translated as “broad.” That is to say, the entrance way to Israel is through overcoming the temptation for widespread, shallow affection, otherwise known as “free love.”

“Free love” is an appeal to the lowest common denominator: our physical and emotional needs. “Free love” aspires to achieve peace by highlighting this sense of similarity. Everyone is essentially the same and so there is no need for separate groups, and certainly not separate nations – nations are likely to go to war. “Imagine there’s no countries… all the people living life in peace.”[4] “Physically, emotionally, and mentally, we are all equal. We all share basic needs for food, shelter, safety, and love. We all aspire to happiness and we all shun suffering.”[5] For people who aspire to the goal of “nation will not lift sword against nation,” this view is tempting,[6] but it will not lead to success. The Hebrew Bible’s path to world peace requires the recognition not just of what people have in common, but of that which makes people unique.

[Thus the left argues that all cultures are equal and there is no need for nations. They want Israel to yeild to this idea.]

However, recognizing others’ differences presents a problem. The “other” is easily seen as a threat. The classic case in which the Jews are seen as a threat is in Egypt. The Egyptians viewed the Hebrews as a threat and in response to that threat they enslaved the Hebrews. A closer look at some of the Hebrew words in the story highlights this as an example of seeing the other as a threat and the disbelief that harmony can be achieved.

The “threat” that Israel posed to the Egyptians is expressed with the phrases, “The nation of the children of Israel is more numerous and stronger than us. Let us deal wisely with them… lest they go to war against us….”[7] The existence of “the other” (in this case, Israel) as a threat is not incidentally based on Israel being numerous and strong. Rather, “the other” intrinsically creates a threat. The Hebrew words for “numerous” and “strong” contain other meanings that help explain the issue.

The Hebrew word for “numerous”  can also mean “rabbi” or “master/chief.”[8] It is difficult to accept that the Jews were more numerous than the Egyptians; rather, they had their own “master” distinct from the Egyptians – they had their own source of moral purpose. The Hebrew word for “strong” is made from the root word meaning “bone” and “essence.”[9] The Jews were not literally stronger than the Egyptians; rather, their essence, their sense of self was distinct from the Egyptians.’ [10]

This distinction between the two peoples caused the Egyptian fear.[11] The Egyptians concluded that “the other” was a threat to their security. The classic answer to this threat is to destroy the other by erasing his unique identity. This can be accomplished by forcing the “other” population to work incessantly, to be completely pre-occupied with “paying the bills” for generations until they forget their original identity.[12] [13]

In Egypt we see (again) a bad approach to the problem of “the other.” Using Egypt as the paradigm, we can say that those who oppose Israel represent some variation of the position that the other is inherently a threat, that diversity undermines peace. (The standard, “official” criticism of Israel is actually a deception. “All war is deception.”)

The supporters of the various types of “free love” do not believe that people can respect the “other,” that they can do better than the Egyptians and not see the other as a threat. They do not believe in the Exodus of Egypt.[14] Their universal love is really universal contempt: people cannot be truly respectful of differences, so they must be made to identify primarily with what they all have in common: in the most base case of “free love,” their desire for affection.

This is the uniting factor between the Left and Islamism: both groups aspire toward a world of uniformity in thought, for without uniformity, they believe there cannot be peace. (The same is true for elitists. The call for pluralism is often a deception.)

Israel does not accept this approach. The goal of humanity is to create a world in which the other is valued. The achievement of peace through erasing the identity of the other is not success – it is failure. Diversity is essential to humanity’s success.  This is what Israel represents, harmony over peace. Morality before God is to respect all the “others” that God created (including ourselves).

[I have trouble with this. How can one acheive harmony with the “other” who wants to kill you?]

Universal love only has enduring value when it is based on the ideal of the harmony of humanity’s diverse families. True universal love, as opposed to promiscuity, is based on the recognition of the other’s unique value before God.

The highest ideals give the lowest aspects of life eternal value: “…a spring will go out from the house of God and water the valley of Sheeteem.”[15]

[1] Numbers 31:16

[2] The name “Balaam”  can be seen as a contraction of two words: “swallow”  and “nation.” (See Targum Yonaton.) The name “Balak” is from the Hebrew root word meaning “destroy.” (See Isaiah 24:1)  The goal of Balak and Balaam is to destroy Israel by causing Israel to assimilate with other nations. (See footnote later in this article.) (God took the Jews out of Egypt “one nation from the insides of a nation….” Deuteronomy 4:34)

[3] Joshua 2:1

[4] John Lennon

[5] 14th Dalai Lama. Animal lovers would include animals in this pronouncement. Would they be wrong?

[6] At first, Abraham worked alongside with the builders of the Tower of Babel. (Ibn Ezra) See essay on p. 39.

[7] Exodus 1:9-10

[8] See Jonah 1:6, Jeremiah 41:1, Proverbs 26:10, Daniel 1:3. See also II Kings 25:8 and other verses where the Babylonian general is the “chief of slaughterers.”

[9] See Psalm 139:15.

[10] See also Esther 3:8.

[11] Exodus 1:10

[12] See essay on the first attempt to create an ideal society. (p. 39)

[13] Why did the Jews not say the exact same thing the Egyptians said, which would be more acceptable literally – they are more numerous and stronger than us – let us deal wisely with them, lest they drive us from the land? It is because the Jews don’t see the world this way. They have no need to diminish the other. Instead, classically Jews who feel that otherness is a threat are inclined to erase their own distinct identity rather than the other’s identity.

The prototype for this is Laban the Aramean. Laban was Nahor’s grandson and Rebecca’s sister. He was a Hebrew, but is described as an Aramean. (Genesis 31:24. See Genesis 28:5,11:26,29) Why? He did not believe in continuing the existence of the Hebrew people as a separate nation. He believed with great fervor that the correct thing to do was to assimilate with the people of Aram. This is why he was opposed to Jacob bringing his family back to the Land of Israel, the land of the Hebrews. (See Targum Yonaton Numbers 22:5 – “Balaam is Laban the Aramean whom Balak called to swallow the nation of Israel.” (Perhaps Balaam was a descendant of the original Laban.)) This way of thinking persists today. A famous example is the owner/editor of the New York Times, Arthur Sulzberger, who opposed the formation of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, because he believed the Jews are not a nation, but a religion. (See Genesis 12:2) He is better known for his editorial policy of paying little attention to the holocaust.

[14] Our holiday celebrating the Exodus, Passover, is from a Hebrew word that can be broken down and explained to mean, “…mouth speaks.” Speech is useful because of the existence of others who are unlike us, who do not instinctively understand our perspective and will. The Hebrew word Pharaoh can be broken down and explained to mean, “… mouth evil.” To Pharaoh, speech is evil in its foundation, because it requires the recognition that there are “others” and this recognition, Pharaoh believes, leads to violence. (See essay “What good intention can be found in Pharaoh’s refusal to release the slaves?”  (p. 103)) Today, some would restrict speech for this reason.

[15] Joel 4:18

May 14, 2017 | 3 Comments » | 109 views

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3 Comments / 3 Comments

  1. In response to Ted’s last comment:
    “It should be understood, but unfortunately is not, that putting aside ideology in favor of peace, does not apply to those who seek our physical or spiritual destruction. In the story of Joseph, the point is made clear that his brothers deeply regretted their action. Joseph was able to be at peace with his brothers when he saw that regret and he understood that they would not attack him again. So too, we cannot make concessions to an enemy that seeks our destruction. We can live together only with people who will not attack us.”
    -Harmony over Peace

    “If one comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first” (Talmud)

  2. I think the Torah distinguishes between types of strangers and types of enemies. It also prescribes different approaches to different situations:


    596. Destroy the seven Canaanite nations–Deuteronomy 20:17

    597. Not to let any of them remain alive–Deuteronomy 20:16

    598. Wipe out the descendants of Amalek–Deuteronomy 25:19

    599. Remember what Amalek did to the Jewish people–Deuteronomy 25:17

    600. Not to forget Amalek’s atrocities and ambush on our journey from Egypt in the desert–Deuteronomy 25:19


    Deuteronomy 25:17-19: 17 Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. 18 When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. 19 When the Lord your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!

    Deuteronomy 20:10-20

    Exodus 23:5: If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it.

    exodus 23:4: “If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it.


    Numbers: 33:55

    “‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live.

    10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. 15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

    16 However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy[a] them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God.

    19 When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees people, that you should besiege them?[b] 20 However, you may cut down trees that you know are not fruit trees and use them to build siege works until the city at war with you falls.

    Deuteronomy 20:10-21


    “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. – Exodus 22:21

    Rabbis always say these passages no longer apply because Amalek and the five nations of Canaan no longer exist. But, this is one of those passages where the command is not arbitrary but an explanation of why is given.

    “…When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. ..”

    and so is

    “…those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live…”

    Remind you of anyone?

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