Aimé Pallière (1868-1949), born and educated a Christian had been marked by his encounter with Israel, an alive Israel. His itinerary, complex, coherent, and certainly very personal, develops through the continual search for a correct spiritual and religious position towards Israel. It would be a teacher of Italian Hebrew, the rabbi Elia Benamozegh, who would show him the universal aspects of the Israeli Torah, that is, the part of the Torah destined to the Gentiles, the teachings of which Israel has faithfully conserved in her religious tradition. Those teachings which form the noachide doctrine, had in the same rabbi his modern architect. Despite Aimé Pallière never declared himself noachide in the sense that the Italian rabbi intended, he didn't withdraw himself from the task of confronting such a proposal with his own high spiritual demands. Aimé Pallière was a pioneer of the noachinian research legitimate from a Hebrew point of view and authentic from a Christian point of view.
Born in 1879 in Lyons, France, Aimé Pallière grew up from early childhood seeking truth through religious expression, and his surroundings led him to feel a call to join the Roman Catholic priesthood. A man with an inquiring mind, he tried to find the deeper meaning of everything that he encountered. His examination of the basic Christian texts led him to believe that something was amiss. A word like "virgin" bore a different meaning in Christian translation than it had in the Hebrew from which it derived. He looked further, and he found no solution.
He was a religious man, who had been brought up in a Catholic atmosphere, and now fundamental Catholic dogmas were presenting him with problems. What was he to do? His first response was to join the Protestant fold. The Salvation Army, based in England, was beginning to establish small missions in the industrial cities of France. Like many people at that time, Pallière saw the evils of working-class slum existence as the most pressing problem of all, and the Salvation Army was trying to do something. He began mission work in Lyons, but again he was disappointed. The Salvation Army meant well, but he felt there was something about their basic doctrine that left them at a loss when dealing with ordinary people.
What was that "something?" All his observations led him to conclude that it was the "Trinity," the item of belief by which Christianity separates itself from all others. At this time, he became acquainted with Jews from the small Lyons community, and he realized that theirs was a religion with no such concept to distract the mind. There was one God alone, and the only service was that related directly to Him. He studied Torah and, gratified by what he learned, he made up his mind to become a Jew himself. After all, this was the faith in which all the others originated, and it was the meanings in the Hebrew text that had led him to question what he had first been told.
The convert to Judaism had to abandon his previous non-Jewish identity altogether
When he found out more of the details of the conversion process, he became discouraged once more. The convert to Judaism had to abandon his previous non-Jewish identity altogether, acquiring an entirely new personal nature like that of all other Jews in order to approach the fulfillment of the whole Torah.
Pallière did not question the need for this, but he was not at all sure what the effect would be on himself. He was deeply attached to his mother, and he had many other relatives and friends to whom he was closely linked. How could he separate himself from all of this? Was it worth nothing in the scale of truth? And his mind was forming an even more important question, one that placed him on an original level in his own time: Why, indeed, if only the Jewish faith was the true one, had God created him as a non-Jew in the first place?
His Jewish friends saw his dilemma, and they realized the honesty with which he was seeking his true path. They made inquiries on his behalf, and they came up with a name and an address which gave hope of solving the problem. Over the southern border of France, at Leghorn in Italy, there was an ancient community of Sephardi Jews whose ancestors had fled there from the Spanish Inquisition. The rabbi of that community, Elijah Benamozeg, was a senior scholar and writer with a wide education and a liberal mind.
Pallière wrote to him, asking for a meeting. On arriving in Leghorn, Pallière received a note saying that the rabbi was coming to greet him at the small hotel where he was staying. This personal approach, far removed from hierarchy or protocol, made a great impression on Pallière, who knew he was much younger than the rabbi. This was confirmed when a knock on the door of his room announced a most ordinary-looking old man, bearded and stooping, with conventional clothes and a ready smile.
The Unknown Sanctuary
In The Unknown Sanctuary, written many years later, Pallière described what followed. The rabbi listened to him explain his doubts about becoming a Jew, and the rabbi acknowledged them all. He told Pallière that there was no duty on anyone's part to become a Jew, and that the anguish his mother might feel on being parted from her son was certainly not misplaced. He went On:
- We Jews have in our keeping the religion destined for the entire human race, the religion to which the Gentiles are subject and by which they are to be saved, as were our Patriarchs before the giving of the Law. Could you suppose that the true religion which God destines for all humanity is only the property of a special people? Not at all. His plan is much greater than that. The religion of humanity is no other than "Noachism," not because it was founded by Noah, but because it was through the person of that righteous man that God's covenant with humanity was made. This is the path that lies before your efforts, and indeed before mine, as it is my duty to spread the knowledge of it also.
Rabbi Benamozeg explained that the present non-Jewish religions acknowledged their origins in Judaism but were not prepared to admit that Judaism was still what it had always been, preferring to insist that the Jews should convert out of their ancestors' faith.
- "They are founded on the principle of the abolition of the Torah even for the Jews," he told the Frenchman, "and they ignore in the Jewish prophets all that you yourself have known so well how to find in them."
Discovered Noahide Teachings
A great and far-reaching concept existed
Pallière was transfigured by what he had heard. The elderly rabbi had told him that a great and far-reaching concept existed where he had thought there was nothing at all. There was a place for the non-Jew who realized Jewish truth but could not become a Jew. He had never heard of a religion which offered something to those who were not entirely a part of it, and he realized imme ... \n
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