A Tale of Two Schools

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Imagine two schools of medicine. Let us call them “x” and “y”. Each of these schools has their own approach to medicine and each of these schools puts forth students who put their respective school’s theories into practice. As you probably guessed, these two schools disagree on many elements of the study and practice of healing people. Disagree is actually too mild of a word. Each of these schools earnestly believes that the other school is not teaching medicine, but murder.

One day, the faculty of school “x” admit that they made a mistake. Not just a one-time mistake but a mistake that had continuously been taught as truth for years and years. Not just a minor mistake, but an error about one of the fundamental concepts of medicine. Let us say that they had been teaching that the liver and the heart are useless organs. May I remind you…

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The Shema

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

The Shema

“Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.”(Deuteronomy 6:4)

Generally, we tend to focus on the last point of the passage: the oneness of God. I want to call attention to the second phrase in this verse: “the Lord is our God”. What do we mean when we say that He is OUR God? In what way is do we possess Him? Is He not the God of all creation?

When God sent Moses to take us out of Egypt, He told Moses that the purpose of the exodus was that He will take us unto Himself for a nation and He should be to us for a God (Exodus 6:7). This theme is repeated often throughout the Scriptures (Leviticus 11:45, Numbers 15:41, Deuteronomy 26:17, Jeremiah 32:38 – to mention a few). How are we to Him for a nation? And how is…

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Trust and Repentance

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Trust and Repentance

Rabbi Shlomo Ibn Gabirol describes the process of repentance as escaping and fleeing from God to God. When we realize the weight of God’s judgment and the evil of sin we recognize that we need to escape. But there is only one place to run and that is to take shelter in God Himself. And God promises to protect and preserve those who trust in Him and only in Him (Nahum 1:7; Psalm 18:31).

Trusting in God means trusting in no one and in nothing else. Not in our works, not in our merits, not in our strength or wealth, not in the blood of any sacrifice and certainly not in the works of someone who claimed to be sinless. God told Moses that he will have compassion on whom He will have compassion (Exodus 33:19). If someone looks to God and to God alone for compassion…

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The Gentile Perspective on Jewish Suffering

A continuation of my response to Dr. Brown’s article – https://askdrbrown.org/library/how-rabbi-blumenthal-missed-forest-trees-–-part-3

The Gentile Perspective on Jewish Suffering

In my article entitled “Diminishing References and Dr. Brown’s
Staggering Mistake, part 3” I put forth the claim that the gentile
nations believe that Israel is suffering because they bear testimony to
a corrupt message. Dr. Brown countered with the following paragraph:

“Who told him that? Where does the Bible state that? To the contrary,
Scripture states that when the nations see the Lord’s Temple destroyed
and His people in exile, they will ask, “Why has the LORD done thus to
this land and to this house?” What will the answer be? “Then they will
say, ‘Because they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers who
brought them out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods and
worshiped them and served them. Therefore he has brought all this
disaster on them.’” (2 Chr. 7:21-22) This is what Scripture says; Rabbi
Blumenthal must rewrite the Bible to fit his narrative.”

Indeed, in this passage in Chronicles, the Bible gives us one facet of
the Gentile perspective on Jewish suffering. But this is only a part of
the picture. The more common attitude attributed by the Bible to
Gentiles who witness Jewish suffering is described by Joel, Micah and
the author of the Psalms (Joel 2:17; Micah 7:7-10; Psalm 42:4,11; 79:10;
115:2). The nations taunt Israel with the words “where is your God.” The
nations see Israel’s suffering as a sign that the God that they are
following is a powerless God. In other words, the message that Israel
carries about One God, is faulty.

Interestingly, Dr. Brown himself confirms that this is the Gentile
attitude towards Jewish suffering. He writes: “in the ancient world,
the pagan nations thought that the god of an exiled nation had been
defeated. The deity was powerless to stop the enemy!”

But it is not only ancient pagans who believe that Israel suffers
because her God is powerless. Modern Christians like Dr. Brown believe
the same thing today. According to Dr. Brown, God without Jesus cannot
forgive sin, cannot redeem His people and cannot have a meaningful
relationship with His own creations. Judaism worships God without Jesus,
and according to Christianity, this is a powerless God. Christians have
been telling Jews that if they would but worship Jesus together with
God, their troubles would end. And the Jewish response has always been
and will always remain; “Our God is all-powerful and does not need your
Jesus to help Him in any way shape or form. We are suffering because of
our sins and when we repent He will restore us as He promised through
His prophets.”

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Redeemed, Redeemer and Priests

A continuation of my response to Dr. Brown’s article – https://askdrbrown.org/library/how-rabbi-blumenthal-missed-forest-trees-–-part-3

Redeemed, Redeemer and Priests

One of the central themes of Dr. Brown’s most recent article is the
recurrent question; “redeemer” or “redeemed?” The premise behind this
question is that Isaiah 53 describes a “redeemer” and since the
righteous of Israel are “redeemed” and not “redeemers” they cannot be
the servant of Isaiah 53.

I responded by pointing out that while it is true that the righteous of
Israel are “redeemed” but they also play an active role in God’s plan
for humanity and as such they are also redeemers. The point of my
argument is simply that contrary to Dr. Brown’s assertions, Scripture
assigns an active role to the righteous of Israel in the redemption process.

In his effort to refute my argument, Dr. Brown misrepresents my
position. Dr. Brown tells his audience that Rabbi Blumenthal
“consistently points to Israel rising through its own efforts to lead
the way in redemption.”

Needless to say I never said anything of the sort even once let alone
“consistently.” I clearly explained how the prophets described
Israel’s role in God’s process of redemption and I encourage the readers
to read what I wrote to understand my position and not trust Dr. Brown
who has consistently misrepresented my position.

In this article I will take the opportunity to expose how the underlying
premise of Dr. Brown’s argument is not rooted in Scriptural reality.

Dr. Brown’s question as to whether Israel is a “redeemer” or “redeemed”
is rooted in the assumption that Isaiah 53 describes the work of the
redeemer. But this is simply not true. Isaiah 53 describes the
consternation of the enemies of God’s servant when that servant is
redeemed. The arm of the Lord intervenes on behalf of the servant in
order to redeem him and that is what the nations of the world are
witnessing.

This should come as no surprise to Dr. Brown who insists that Psalm 22
describes the same scenario as Isaiah 53. Psalm 22 describes how a
suffering individual is saved and how his salvation brings glory to God.
The Scriptural theme which describes God saving a righteous individual
or nation while the nations of the world who witness this salvation gain
understanding and light, is repeated in Isaiah 52:10; Joel 4:16,17;
Micah 7:7:15,16; Psalm 69:36; 98:1-9; 102:16-23. Isaiah 53 is describing
a servant who is being redeemed. The prophet is not describing the work
of a redeemer.

Furthermore, Dr. Brown insists that the servant of Isaiah 53 is granted
the role of priest for the world in the Messianic age, interceding for the sinners and
bearing the responsibility of their sin and I agree with Dr. Brown in
principle, although I do not agree with his application. But what Dr.
Brown failed to realize is that if another word for the servant of
Isaiah 53 is “priest of God” then the prophet left us with no doubt who
it is that bears that title. Isaiah 61:6 clearly teaches that the
righteous of Israel are the priests of the world in the Messianic age.
It is clear that the function of priesthood is a function assigned to the
redeemed and not a function that identifies a redeemer. And it is also
clear that Dr. Brown’s vision for the Messianic age has no basis in the
reality of Scripture. According to Dr. Brown’s vision of the future,
Jesus fulfills the role of priest for the world. What priestly functions
will Jesus leave undone that the righteous of Israel need to fill in for
him?

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Challenge

 

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Who Do You Say Israel’s Opponents Are?

A continuation of my response to Dr. Brown’s article –  https://askdrbrown.org/library/how-rabbi-blumenthal-missed-forest-trees-–-part-3

Identifying Israel’s Opponents

In the chapters leading up to Isaiah 53, the prophet speaks of the shame
and consternation of Israel’s opponents.  One example is in Isaiah 41:11 which states “Behold all those incensed against you shall be ashamed and confounded; those who quarreled with you shall be as nought and be lost.”    In an effort to identify these
opponents and to understand how the words of the prophet apply to
historical reality I wrote the following:

“If you are familiar with the history of God’s nation you will know
that it was the Church and the Mosque that were the greatest obstacles
in the path of the Jew who tried to stay loyal to Israel’s covenant with
God. If you studied the history of Israel you would have read about her
willingness to suffer and die for her message of loyalty to God. It
would then follow, that when God consoles His people by telling them
that their opponents will be confounded (41:11, 12; 49:25, 26; 51:7, 8,
22, 23; 52;1), He is talking about these theological entities that set
themselves up as opponents to the Jew’s loyalty to God.”

Dr. Brown completely misunderstood what I wrote and misrepresents my
position. I quote:

“Remarkably, rather than agreeing with the Tanakh and stating that that
our people have primarily suffered because of our own sins (whatever
those sins might be), he blames Christianity and Islam: “If you are
familiar with the history of God’s nation you will know that it was the
Church and the Mosque that were the greatest obstacles in the path of
the Jew who tried to stay loyal to Israel’s covenant with God.” So, it’s
not our fault, it’s everyone else’s fault. This sounds eerily similar to
Adam blaming Eve and Eve blaming the snake back in the Garden of Eden.
To repeat: The entire testimony of the Tanakh is against this kind of
thinking.”

I did not “blame” the Church and the Mosque for our suffering. I
acknowledged and continue to acknowledge that the root cause of our
suffering is our own sins. If not for our sins, our enemies would have
no power to harm us or to stand in our way. It is only our sin that
allows our enemies to persecute and fight with us. But I was not
discussing the spiritual cause of our suffering. I was focusing on the
words of the prophet and trying to identify Israel’s opponents that the
prophet mentions so many times.

Amazingly, Dr. Brown has already written 3 lengthy articles about the
chapters leading to Isaiah 53 and he has yet to identify Israel’s
opponents who figure so prominently in the passages leading up to Isaiah 53.

His silence speaks volumes.

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