From time to time we are informed by the media about DNA research which allegedly will reveal finally who is who?
Results of such research will not tell as about person’s merit or character, his accomplishments or spirituality, it may inform us however about which
DNA pool he comes from. But
will Jews use this data, to determine who is a Jew?
The Torah teaches us about the 70 descendants of Noah. These descendants were the protoplast of all nations of the world. Due to the adaptive character of DNA through the years peoples skin color and other natural characteristics changed. Different genes allowed for variety of populations to adapt to diverse environments.
DNA allows these changes to
happen. These changes are also called ‘micro evolution’ within the specie. The
same DNA however doesn’t allow one specie to
change into another specie because DNA
mutations are always harmful to the new organism that come to existence with the
mutated/broken DNA. The changes that do
occur within the specie only happen by using and combining different, healthy
‘ingredients’ of DNA, received from common ancestors.
This rule applies to fauna and flora as well.
Within the last 4000 years most of the nations of the world mixed and intermingled one with another. The tradition of the Jewish sages tell us, that after King Sancheriv resettled entire groups of people within his Assyrian empire, there remains no trace of those original nations. Even our “cousins” the Ishmaelim or Edomim have no distinct connection to their original ancestors. Their lineage is more a matter of agreement, tradition and certain cultural and religious aspects characteristically common to those two civilizations rather than real lineage as descendants of their ancestors.
Is Jewish lineage and its connection to their ancestors different then the other nations of the world? Much different. Due to the fact that a Jew was defined not only by his national membership in the Jewish nation but due to his faith that prohibited him to marry a non Jewish person there exists to a much greater extent the possibility to talk about something which we can call - Jewish
It is necessary however to remember that this ‘Jewish DNA pool” has overflowed or drained into the bigger “World DNA pool” through our history by voluntary and compulsory conversions to other religions. Maybe it will be possible with future advances in science to actually discover how many non Jews are in fact descendants of the four emahos (Sarah, Rivka, Rochel and Leah) but will it change anything regarding their Jewishness, will it make them Jewish?
According to Halacha – the Jewish code of law it will not. Jewish Codex of Law defines who is Jew and who isn’t from the time of Moishe Rabeinu i.e. the establishment of the Jewish nation until the beginning of XIX century. However since the time of Haskala – the so called Jewish enlightenment’ there is a lot of confusion regarding definition of who is a “Jew” or “Jewish”
The theory of race is not a new invention. Already in ancient history there were people who maintained superiority over other parts of humanity. In the XIX century however modern racism was reinvented especially after the publication of Charles Darwin’s book. It became popular to believe that different people stepped down from different trees at different times, and their undergoing different evolutions made them naturally more talented and capable or less talented.
Racism does have however, great supporters among the adherents of the Bible including the Bible’s own people –the Jews. As was said above, there is such a thing like a ‘Jewish
pool’ but does it make the Jewish people into a Jewish race? Such a theory was promoted
by some of the scientists of racism in that crucial XIX century, some of them
Jewish some of them not. Among the people believing in racial theories were
such luminaries of existential philosophy as Emanuel Kant and Friedrich Hegel
But it was their adherent Martin Heidegger who was a member of the German Nazi party who believed in the practical application of those theories. And we all know how harmful these practical applications of race were for the Jews.
Now new theories of race are emerging based on DNA. The Jewish Newspaper claming to be orthodox asks in its title “Who is a Jew? DNA can hold a key.”
Just stunning! A so called orthodox newspaper!
DNA be a key to
find about the Jewishness of Moishe Rabainu sons? Or Pinchas ben Eleazar who
(Eleazar) married Moishe Rabenu’s wife sister?
Pinchas who is is Eliahu HaNavi as our
tradition tells us, is the grand son of Yisro the ger? How many of us could
even imagine that, Eliahu Hanavi is a son of person who was not born with
complite Jewish DNA!? What about the mitochondria
of King’s David’s great grandmother Ruth?
Shemaya, Avtalion, Onkelos, Rabbi Meir bal HaNess, Rabbi Akiva, Abraham baal Ha Toisfos…
Again and again in these types of discussions I mention the names of a few of the greatest Jewish sages just to shock people into thinking and not just regurgitating ideas completely strange to their ancestors, ancestors who perhaps also have some of the DNA from out of the “pool”.
The Bobover Rebbe, Reb Shloimie Halbershtam once said to Jewish convert – “I also have blood of Gerim in my veins. I can trace my ancestry all the way to King David and his Great grand mother was a Moabite.”
We will continue this topic in a future essay.