Old Jew I know gestured at the local tennis courts this morning, as we were walking past, and said: "That's the difference between a Jew and a Gentile. On Easter they play tennis. On Yom Kippur we go to shul."
This is a common Jewish sentiment. It pops up everywhere. In fact, every time one of us finishes a tractate of Talmud we pay tribute to our own sense of exceptionalness, saying "he’anu mashkimim v’heim mashkimim. Anu mashkimim l’divrei torah, v’heim mashkimim l’devarim biteilim…Anu ratzim v’hem ratzim. Anu ratzim l’chayei haolam habah, v’heim ratzim l’b'air shachas.” = We wake up early and they wake up early. We wake up early to learn for words of torah, and they wake up early for idle words….We run and they run. We run to the life of the Next World, and they run to the well of destruction.
But today I found myself wondering if this was a fair or true thing to say, and if the underlying premise has any basis in reality. After all, many Jews skip shul on Yom Kippur, too. And many Jews wake up early for idle words and run to the well of destruction.
If we were to compare percentages who would come out ahead? As a percentage of the whole, do more Jews skip shul on Yom Kippur or do more Christians skip church on Easter/Muslims skip mosque on the YK/Easter equivalent? As a percentage of the whole, do more Jews dedicate themselves to the study of our law and theology, or do more Christians/Muslims dedicate themselves to the study of their law and theology?
My hunch, I confess, is that we lose this one.
Search for more information about spy vs spy at 4torah.com.