Trust, Gratitude and the Joy of Obedience

Trust, Gratitude and the Joy of Obedience

Various theories have been proposed to explain the pervasive attitude of unhappiness that plagues our generation. I want to propose a new theory that can perhaps explain the negative mindset that is all too common. It is the advertisement industry that is to blame. The underlying message of every advertisement is: “You will not be happy unless you get this product/service/vacation etc.” in other words, since you don’t have what we are selling, you should be miserable.

It’s just a theory, take it or leave it. But it may help us understand the episode described in Genesis chapter 3 where the serpent persuades Eve to eat from the fruit of the forbidden tree. How did he do it? Adam and Eve were in paradise! What were they lacking?

The serpent used several arguments to induce Eve to violate God’s commandments. One argument that the serpent presented was that God gave them the commandment which forbade them from eating from the tree for their detriment. According to the serpent, the commandment was not presented with the best interest of man in mind (Genesis 3:5). Another underlying theme that is present in the serpent’s argumentation is that the system, as it appears on the surface, is flawed. The serpent reasoned that man “deserves” to know the knowledge that could be gained by eating from the tree, and that God is withholding this knowledge from them for reasons that are not in their best interest. The serpent proposes a method of bypassing the system and “rectifying” the situation. Instead of obeying God’s commandment, go and violate it, and that is where you will find your happiness. And finally, the serpent offers an exalted spiritual state, above and beyond the state that God had placed them in – “You could become like God”.

Two of the character qualities that Eve could have used to deflect the arguments of the serpent are; trust and gratitude. If Eve would have exercised a complete trust in God, she would not have been moved by the serpent’s reasoning. She would have realized that the God who created her is not “out to get her”. The God who so lovingly brought her into being, and supplied all of her needs and desires, is not withholding something from her that would bring her true happiness. The Creator of all did not create a flawed system that could only be bypassed with a “trick”. And the Giver of the Law did not give the Law to curse His creations.

If Eve would have exercised the quality of gratitude, she would have been thinking about all of the positive things that God put into her life, instead of allowing the serpent to draw her focus to the one thing that was forbidden to her. The serpent’s arguments magnified the one forbidden tree in Eve’s mind. With an attitude of gratitude, she would have seen that tree in perspective. She would have realized that there is a paradise full with beautiful trees that God allowed me to enjoy. She would have realized that the one forbidden tree was there for her benefit – in the sense of giving her room to express her love and loyalty to her Creator through obedience.

If Eve would have focused on the joy inherent in a created being hearkening to the voice of the Creator of all, she would not have eaten from the forbidden tree. It is only by distracting her from the sense of connection that we feel by obeying our God that the serpent was able to get Eve to eat from the forbidden tree.

The conflict between the serpent and Eve finds an uncanny parallel in the age-old conflict between the Jew and the Christian missionary.

The missionary argues that the Giver of the Law presented a Law which brings a curse down upon the human race (Galatians 3:13). The law, argues the missionary, is not something that can benefit man; it was essentially given for the detriment of man. According to the missionary, the system, as it appears, is flawed. Man “deserves” perfection and immortality, and God is withholding it from them. It is only by circumventing the system, through the acceptance of an unnatural belief, that man will get what he “truly deserves”.

The Jew resists the arguments of the missionary with the same tools that Eve should have used to resist the arguments of the serpent.

We have an implicit trust that God gave us the Law as a blessing not as a curse. We trust that our loving Father did not create a flawed system that requires a “trick” to get what He is “withholding” from us.

Our sense of gratitude towards God has us focus on the joy of life, on the holiness that God breathed into our souls when He originally created us. Our sense of gratitude allows us to enjoy the world that God created and the Law that He presented to us. It does not allow us to concentrate an unhealthy focus on concepts such as: “the impossible nature of the Law”, or “the depravity of man”.

And our joy in obeying God’s command prevents us from being moved by an argument that is utterly devoid of obedience to God. Did you notice, not one of the missionary “proof-texts” can be misconstrued to read as a “commandment” to believe in Jesus.

The prophet Jeremiah encourages us with God’s words – look back at the exodus from Egypt, when God carried us through the wilderness. Were we lacking anything? All of our needs were met both material and spiritual. We enjoyed the embrace of our Creator, what more can we ask for? (Jeremiah 2:5).

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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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590 Responses to Trust, Gratitude and the Joy of Obedience

  1. bography says:

    The curse refers to man – represented by the Jew – in spite of the fact that he is unable to fulfill the law. “It shall come about…if you not obey the Lord to observe to do ALL his commandments and his statutes…that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you” (Deut 28).

    But, if we cannot fulfill the law, if we have no capacity to do all that God commands, why will He curse us? This is hard to understand for both the Christian and the Jew, But, this does not mean that the law was given for the detriment of man; as you say above: “The law, argues the missionary, is not something that can benefit man; it was essentially given for the detriment of man.”

    On the contrary, this is not the Christianity of the New Testament. Here is the Christian position: it is man, not the system (the law), who is flawed. Much more, he is estranged, cut off, from God because of sin. For this reason he does not deserve “perfection and immortality;” what he deserves is judgment and condemnation. Man’s sin is the reason why God withholds eternal life.

    (This is an excerpt from my post at onedaringjew).

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  3. Thomas says:

    Oh lordy bography…

    Firstly, I reject the premise that “we cannot fulfill the law.” I’d love to see the OT source for that. The very fact that not all commandments can apply to one person (ie. some to priests, etc.) negates the “all” commandments issue. Ie- meaning that whatever commandments apply to someone, and can actually be observed, that is what one is judged on- not commandments that are not even applicable or possible (ie. no temple). Not only is that biblically unsupported, it makes your god a trickster god who could easily pull the same trick on you. After all, this G-d said the Law is followable, is sweet like honey, and spends the entire OT chastising Israel for not following it. And then this Deity turns around and reveals that we were never capable in the first place? Well, bography, you’re pretty silly if you believe the words of that Deity if he would be that duplicitous to His own people.

    Secondly, where does the Hebrew Bible ever require perfection as a prequisite to atonement? In other words, where does the OT say that repentance is impossible, that people cannot ever make mistakes, and yet repent from them?

    Thirdly, the death of Jesus would provide no atonement in any case, but that’s an entirely separate issue.

    The commandments are most certainly possible- Ps 119 is a most touching poem about the Law. But this bastardizing of OT theology is much deeper- you are saying G-d requires blood, whereas Scripture says He wants obedience.

    Dr. James McGrath, chair of NT Language at Butler University, sums it up rather well. I’d recommend it to you:

    “First, the Bible regularly depicts God as forgiving people. If there is anything that God does consistently throughout the Bible, it is forgive. To suggest that God cannot forgive because, having said that sin would be punished, he has no choice but to punish someone, makes sense only if one has never read the penitential psalms, nor the story of Jonah. The penal substitution view of atonement takes the metaphor of sin as debt and literalizes it to the extent that one’s actions are viewed in terms of accounting rather than relationship. It is not surprising this is popular: in our time, debts are impersonal and most people have them, and it is easier to think of slates being wiped clean and books being balanced than a need for reconciliation. But the latter is the core element if one thinks of God in personal terms. And for God to forgive, all that the Bible suggests that God has to do is forgive.”

  4. naaria says:

    The “curse” of humankind is one of becoming convinced to follow the cunning theory of the serpent, that disobedience is what gets us closer to God. According to the “serpent”, God’s Law is an evil that is to be rejected, because the “outlaw serpent” can then become the master. But without law (or in the bible it is called God’s Word), people remain or become more barbaric. According to one pagan philosopher, he felt no remorse about persecuting other people or even killing them. Dog eats dog and it is the decent & the innocent that should suffer for the “good of the evil ones”. Somehow this Roman came to believe that God’s Word or law itself was what created his evil. To appease a god of wrath someone had to sacrifice or be sacrificed. Sun god, man gods, dualistic faiths of a good god and a bad god, salvation cults (including those with self-sacrificing gods), are all apart of that mentality. To some people, salvation is only through a narrow gate through an intermediary spiritual being. To gain the “other world” one had to give up this world. Giving up your money & your life in this world and doing the impossible in an effort to be “perfect” was the only hope of escaping not only the “horrible world” that some god created here on earth, but the eternal horror of a torturous afterlife.

    But the God of Israel was different from the Canaanite, Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, etc gods. Law with Justice, fairness. Rule by a Merciful One, who wanted not slaves but faithful servants who worked for justice, who were fair and kind and compassionate. Children of a Holy God who created them as good and in the God’s own “image”. Children who would serve as a Light of God to the nations who lived in the darkness of man’s own creation (not a darkness created by God nor by some retrobate, evil angel somehow created faulty by an omnipotent).

    God is not an evil, unjust, cruel taskmaster, unmerciful, uncompassionate being that is the image of a “devil” (lucifer, “morning star”) and a keeper of a “torturous hell”. According to the bible, God is Justice & Mercy. God can easily forgive. God is Holy and we were commanded to be Holy. Be ye Holy, cause God created you with that ability. Even Cain had the ability. He knew. But he was free to chose the narrow gate that led to another possibility.

  5. simple guy says:

    Great article. You got to wonder if you can blame eve for not feeling gratitude to g-d and not just trusting him.we know what g-d is all about bec we look back at 5000 years and we know g-d did this all for us to enjoy. Back when eve ate from the forbidden fruit,the world was so new. Was eve really supposed to know that g-d was all good intention?

  6. Melanie Stephan says:

    To Yourphariseefriend , as you can see I followed your link. You made some good points in the story above. This is how a view the Eve story :

    God tells his child that there is a cookie on the middle shelf in the cabinet. God then leaves the room. Just as soon as God is out of sight the child gets a chair climbs up and finds the cookie just where God said it was. The child was thinking the cookie can’t hurt me and God is going to let me get away with not doing what he said. Cause he is my Dad and he loves me.

    God comes back into the room and finds the kid hiding in the closet. He says, “Did you eat the cookie.” God knows darn well you ate cookie, but he asks anyway.

    Now if God hadn’t said anything about the cookie or if he hadn’t put the cookie in the cabinet there would’t have been a problem. So why did God put the cookie in the cabinet and then say don’t touch it? Do children always obey their parents? Or do children test their parents love for them by doing things they can get away with?

    After all it’s just a cookie!

  7. Larry says:

    Melanie–Here is another way to view Eve story.
    God tells his child that there is a poisinous fruit in the middle shelf in the cabinet. God then leaves the room. Just as soon as God is out of sight the child gets a chair climbs up and finds the poinious fruit just where God said it was. The child was thinking the poinious fruit can’t hurt me and God is going to let me get away with not doing what he said. Cause he is my Dad and he loves me. The child eats the fruit and eventually dies.
    Now if God hadn’t said anything about the poinious fruit he would have been a neglient father. So why did God put the poinious fruit in the cabinet and then say don’t touch it? Do children always obey their parents? Or do children test their parents love for them by doing things they can get away with.
    After God created many things he told his creation, -man-, because he loved him, that there are some things that are very dangerous for you.
    After all, it was mans very life he was concerned about!

  8. Bography
    The death penalty is the community’s responsibility when two witnesses come forth and testify to the act. Silence in the face of a public sin is tantamount to consent – and with two witnesses testifying the sin is public enough. The Bible does not say that God does not accept repentance – in fact it emphasizes over and over again that God accepts repentance

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  11. Tsvi Jacobson says:

    Bog You are all bogged down by xtian tradition. All Israel violated the law yet Hashem said to us repent and he takes away our sins and places them in the depths of the sea. As far as the east is to the west so he has removed our transgressions from us. Also it is fabulous that when we didn’t bring offerings (like in Babylon, today in America, New Zealand stc etc…He says to us
    the Jew, his people I even I am he that blots out your transgressions, FOR MY OWN SAKE, AND WILL NOT REMEMBER YOUR SINS” (Isaiah 43:23-25) Who did this I will tell you
    Yod Hey Vav Hey The only true God, Not Muhammad, not Jesus, not Buddha,
    Not Kirpal sing Ji (who my friend swears he appeared unto him with a bag of groceries all the way from India by way of teleportation) Come home

  12. bography says:

    Tsvi, I have come home. I believe Christ (you can’t stomach to write that word) who said: “Unless you believe that I AM (he) you cannot have eternal life.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Bography here Is a very small list of people who believed Jesus was “He,” and yet who also stood condemned in the eyes of the Church of your messiah.

      Arian Christians
      People’s temple
      Other Protestant denominations
      And many many more

      Believing in Jesus doesn’t matter at all if you don’t follow living in his example or ethics. Though Jews do not and will never confess to any belief in a divine Christ Jesus ever, they all live their lives in the exact same way that Jesus lived his while he walked on earth, by keeping G-d’s commandments as given by Moses. According to the Christian scriptures the false messiah will claim himself to be G-d and will deceive many (2 Thessalonians 2:4) Therefore how do you truly know who is truly from G-d? Revelation 14:12 “they who keep the commandments and the FAITH OF (note well that it says OF NOT IN Jesus.) Jesus was a Jew, so why do you want to make Jews behave like gentile Christians?

      • bography says:

        I believe the New Testament is the word of God. Jews don’t.

        In John 14 Jesus says:

        1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many dwellings: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. 8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

        • Sharbano says:

          If it’s the “word of G-d”, then one has to conclude your god is full of errors. There are So many errors in the Xtian text it is hard to count them all.

          • bography says:

            Uncountable errors in the NT?
            Pity, you see it that way. You feel differently, Sharbano. Let’s leave it there.

          • Dina says:

            Bography, I see you use the word “feel,” as in to Sharbano, “you feel differently,” or, “most Jews don’t feel the need for a mediator.”

            In the search for truth we must put aside our feelings and use reason.

        • Sharbano says:

          Also, We do NOT need to go “through” some man to come to G-d. As is the definition of “Israel”, which Is “straight to G-d”. The name of Israel defines, by definition, it’s relationship to G-d.

      • bography says:


        when Jesus said “he” who do say he was referring to?

        • Concerned Reader says:

          Bo, I have a question. If it was ok for Israel to be lead under Moses, just knowing and following the father’s teaching before Jesus came, why would it not still be ok for Jews Today? G-d says the Torah is a covenant for “all generations.” Why would G-d change this message later?

  13. Jim says:


    Sharbano’s objections to Christianity are not feelings. Twice you dismiss arguments as mere feeling.

    It is not a feeling that the NT contains numerous. It is verifiable fact that the NT is riddled with errors, including misquotes. Matthew alters Isaiah. Hebrews misquotes Jeremiah. These things have been well-documented. They are not matters of opinion or feeling but verified facts.

    It is also not a matter of feelings whether one needs a mediator or not. No such prescription is found in the Torah. No need for a mediator is found there. Certainly the Torah does not require a human sacrifice for the remission of sin. This is not a matter of feeling but of God’s communication. Sharbano does not need to rely upon feelings, nor need anyone else. One need only study the Torah of Hashem. Feelings lead one astray. Torah does not.

    It is intellectually dishonest to dismiss someone else’s viewpoint as feelings in matter of verifiable fact. It may be true that your faith is based on your feeling that you need a mediator. It may be true that your faith is based on a feeling that the NT is true. But feelings are no guide on how to draw close to God. Inasmuch as the NT contradicts the Torah, we know it is false. Feelings are irrelevant.


  14. Jim says:


    You seem to be saying that these matters are only matters of belief then, without evidence. One just believes or does not. If this is the case, do you agree that the Christian should cease his proselytizing? If he wishes to believe something in violation of the Torah that is his business, but he cannot expect others to put their faith in someone other than God, nor hold any other doctrine that contradicts the Torah. I assume that you do agree that Christians should cease their missionary work, since you told Sharbano that you believe and she does not: “Let’s leave it at that.” Your response suggests that you think she should continue in her faith and you in yours, and there is nothing to discuss.

    Would you go with me a step farther, as well, and agree that the Christian should leave the Torah alone? If the Christian likes, he may develop his own texts, but he should not violate the Torah to justify his belief. He should not rewrite it to suit his faith. He should not claim that his teachings, which contradict Torah, fulfill Torah. Let him develop his own private treatises if he so desires, but let him not rework the writings of God or others.

    I am confident that you will agree with me that the Christian should leave others alone. If he wishes to believe in Jesus, that is his business, but he should not attempt to bring others, Jew or non-Jew to his belief. He should not attempt to convince others to worship a man or to read messages into the Torah. He should leave others alone.

    Are we agreed?


    • bography says:

      Jim, that won’t be possible because it would involve writing out of the Tanach the main character:
      (see v. 27).

      Luke 24:15-27
      came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. 17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? 18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? 19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. 21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. 22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; 23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. 24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. 25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

      • Jim says:


        It is certainly the case that Jesus is the main character of the NT. It is absurd however to quote the NT to prove that Jesus is the main character of the Tanach. (Excuse me. I employ the word “absurd” merely as description and not as a pejorative.) I hope I do not need to explain why this is absurd.

        In fact, even conceptually, the Messiah is hardly mentioned in Tanach, let alone Jesus. Certainly there are numerous references to the Messiah, but he is not the main focus of Tanach or even of the Messianic Age. What greater proof of this can there be than the Church’s manufacture of references to the Messiah? If they had ample passages relating to the Messiah, they would not need to twist so many passages to make them appear Christological.

        The Church is quite audacious in its claims that Jesus is central to the Torah. Observe Matthew turning Isaiah 7.14 into a Messianic prophecy. Not only is it not Messianic, not only taken out of context, not only lacks reference to a virgin, he still has to change the text besides all that to make it a reference to Jesus. This is an embarrassment. From the very beginning of the NT the misuse of Tanach is evident. If Jesus were the main character of Tanach, such inventions and manipulations would be wholly unnecessary.

        I remember a passage in Aquinas where he talks about how the Torah was meant to prepare people for the Messiah. Well, of course, the Torah says no such thing. But that is not the only problem with his supposition. If that was true, then the students of the Torah should have been the ones to recognize the “main character”of the Torah in their midst. Instead, the learned did not follow him. In the main, those who embraced Jesus as messiah, and worse as divine, were non-Jews, unfamiliar with the Torah. Those whose hearts were not prepared by Torah were those who ran to worship a man rather than God.

        No, I am sorry. Jesus is not the “main character” of the Torah. Christian literature is the proof of this. Not only is the Messiah not the focus of scripture, the Church has had to invent ways to put him in there, and not just the Messiah generally but their redefinition of Messiah. They have had to alter the texts. They have had to read him into the texts. They have had to give the Torah an entirely new definition. The Christian testimony that insists that the Torah prepares one to believe in the Messiah is proven false by the history of its believers. Quoting the NT does not prove that Jesus is in the Tanach.


        • larryB says:

          just following

        • bography says:

          The very early body of believers (many thousands) were Jews except for a few Gentiles.

          Jim, if you are one of those people who doubts whether Jesus of Nazareth of the NT ever existed, then there is nothing more to say. If, you’re not one of these, I ask you a question. If Jesus truly truly said: “I am the way, the truth and the life,” would you be prepared to say that he was either a liar, deceived, or mad.” I believe you would not want to say any of these. Then what would you say?

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Bogeaphy there is an option beyond Jesus as some kind of a liar, deceived, or mad. I recommend you read more Tolken, and less CS Lewis 😉 Jesus may have just been exposed to sectarian beliefs, those were common when he lived, very common.

            Jesus lived during the period of Roman occupation when Judaism was much more sectarian, and less uniform as a religion. There were many ideas that were believed by some Jews though they were not mainstream Torah based beliefs among most Jews, because they conflict with the plain meaning of the commandments.

            The Sadducees unique beliefs regarding resurrection are a minor example of this phenomenon

            . If someone reads certain passages in scripture, not accounting the whole, a Sadduceean reading could result in a denial of resurrection. Most Jews believed in resurrection, Sadducees did not. That said, we all know that Just because beliefs exist, it does not make them right. I’m sure you would agree with this in the case of the Book of Mormon and the NT? Ie some Christians believe in it, but they are mistaken, it needn’t ge malicious?

            Jesus’ view of himself as the unique Son of Man, the unique son of G-d, may come from, or be connected to some ideas that we find in Philo, and even in some Pseudepigrapha, (like 1 Enoch,) but like the beliefs of the Sadducees, these ideas were not mainstream Jewish beliefs. These ideas Are like the Jewish equivalent of Mormons.

            Jesus could well be a pious man, but the idea of focussing on a second person in G-d, or a certain manifestation, or work of G-d is problematic when it comes to the commandments, as scripture shows.

            As an example, G-d appeared in the burning Bush, but it would be wrong for a person to make that bush the center of a man’s relationship with the father. Jesus draws a paralell between himself and the brass serpent. That brass serpent was ordered to be built by G-d, but it was later destroyed because many in ISRAEL made the brass serpent the center of their walk with G-d, to the exclusion of others i.e. an idol. An idol is not always a false G-d, but service in a way G-d did not request service. Christians have worshipped G-d apart from his law, which he did not request from Jews in his covenant.

            To put it another way, if Jesus had come, regathered the lost tribes back into the land, rebuilt the physical temple building, and inaugurated peace, (in the context of Moses’s law) he would have been embraced by everyone. He didn’t accomplish that part of prophecy in his lifetime, (so even if he would do it later in the future,) Jews are required to wait until that time, so it can be authenticated. Commandments are the way to tell true from false, so, even if Jesus is he, we couldn’t know it was him for sure.

          • bography says:

            You say “there is an option beyond Jesus as some kind of a liar, deceived, or mad.”

            You seem to be saying that Jesus had a misconception of himself as the only way to the Father. What is the difference between misconception and deception (being deceived).

          • LarryB says:

            If I may ask a question, Why would I believe him saying those things over you? You are both human. If you a human, claimed to be god today, unlike CR below, I do not see a fourth option. You would be to me, a liar, deceived or mad. Christians believe in the Torah so some how god proved who he is to them. I imagine much of their belief is because of his many miracles, the Plagues, Sianai. Clearly Jesus didn’t proved he is god by bleeding to death on the cross. Every single human can perform the same task. At the same time god tells us not to believe a man is god if he performs miracles. God also tells us he is not a man. How do you overcome those hurdles?

          • Dina says:

            Bogrophay, there is indeed a fourth option, and that is that this is legend. Jesus existed, but the people who wrote the NT put words in his mouth. I’m not saying that’s what happened, just that it’s an option. I have no reason to accept anything in Christian scripture as true, being that it contradicts the Torah and is full of Scriptural errors (such as Matthew’s egregious misquote of Isaiah 7:14, his manufactured prophecy of “he shall be called a Nazarene,” and many others).

  15. bography says:

    Dina you said above “In the search for truth we must put aside our feelings and use reason.”
    How do you distinguish between faith (belief) and reason.

    • Dina says:

      Bography, do you not know the difference between faith and reason–is that why you are asking? Faith must be based on reason; otherwise we would have no means by which to conclude which, if any, of the myriad religions of the world are true.

      God granted us common sense and the faculty of reason. He expects us to use them.

      • bography says:

        Dina, so God gave you your reason. Is that a good reason to trust it?

        • Dina says:

          Where do you see that I said to trust your reason? God gave us the ability to discern the truth, and we use our God-given brains to do just that–praying for guidance and clarity all the while because our reason is not the be-all, end-all. Being human, we are prone to error.

          As Rabbi Blumenthal has succinctly written, the path to your heaven leads to my hell (and vice versa). When so much is at stake, we can’t rely on our feelings to lead us right, since emotions so often lead us wrong.

          Reason recoils from Christianity, and here are some reasons (pun intended, as I’m sure yours was too):

          1. According to Deuteronomy 4, we are to worship God according to the knowledge He imparted to us at Sinai ONLY. Knowledge of Jesus was not taught at Sinai; ergo, to worship him is a great sin.

          2. Since Christian Scripture appeals to Tanach for its authority, then if the Torah is true, Christianity is false because it contradicts the Torah.

          3. The Torah categorically prohibits human sacrifice.

          This is one way that we use reason to determine which one of our respective religions is the true one.

          Shabbat Shalom!


          • bography says:

            I trust you believe that God gave you your reason. Do you believe that God gave you your reason or have you reasoned that God gave you your reason?

          • Dina says:

            Bography, I don’t believe in God as a matter of faith; I know He exists because He revealed himself to my great, great (and so on) grandparents. They heard His voice with their own ears. And they received the Torah from Him. And this Torah says that God created the earth and everything that is in it. That includes me and my reason, and you and your reason, and everything else (even Jesus).

            Did I reason this out? In a manner of speaking, yes. It doesn’t take a whole awful lot of thinking to arrive at this simple and obvious truth. But I think you’re distracting from the main issue. You like word games and playing with semantics, I can see that. But don’t lose focus–you’re ignoring the important points I am making. I’m curious how you would answer to the thrust of my arguments.

          • bography says:

            So, reason’s your reason for being a form Jew.

            The following is the reason you know your reason is rational: someone called Moses wrote in the Torah that roughly 3500 years ago your ancestors (lots of them helps, I suppose) saw fire and smoke on top of a mountain and heard a voice they knew for certain was from God, a God, who created all things. Your reason, you reason, is one of those created “things.” God then chose your reason as the means of finding him, knowing Him, loving Him, obeying Him. Nothing else, certainly not faith, is needed.

            So, it is not that you TRUST the correctness of the information passed down to you through the ages, but that you KNOW the correctness of this information.

            I infer that you maintain that all Torah-believing (Torah-Knowing?) Jews have full-proof/fool-proof evidence of God’s existence, and, therefore of the rationality of their noggins.

            And Abram, the idol worshipper? The Torah doesn’t say but this must have happened: he thought long and hard and reasoned the existence of One God. God saw that Abram not only had extraordinary reasoning powers to discover Him but also that he was very upright. The result, he chose Abram to be the father of his future chosen people.

            I don’t believe or know that it was like that at all. This is what happened, surely – and biblically: God of his good pleasure sovereignly, therefore unilaterally, chose to reveal himself to Abram. No one knows why he revealed himself to Abram, to his progeny and later to the Israelites, or to any one else. “And the LORD said, ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion'” (Exodus 33:19).

            No, reason can’t find God, the living God of the Bible, that is. God, for reasons of his own, finds those he wants to find, chooses those He wants to choose; and plants the desire to search for Him into their bosom. It’s called grace; amazing grace. “I will have mercy …”

          • Dina says:

            Hi Bog,

            Actually, God doesn’t expect us to accept Him on faith alone. See Exodus 19:9. And the Torah appeals to us to use our reason to verify its claim (Deuteronomy 4:32-40). If we can’t rely on reason, free choice (Deuteronomy 30:19) is meaningless, because we use reason to choose freely. It is the ability to reason and to choose that sets us apart from animals, after all.

            By the way, the Torah tells us why God chose Abraham and why He chose the Jewish people. You need to read Scripture more carefully–not to find support for your theology but to find out what God wants from you.

          • bography says:

            Dina, you say the Tanach tells us why God chose Abraham and the Israelitesa? Why did He choose them?

          • Dina says:

            Bog, see Genesis 18:19 and Deuteronomy 7:7-9.

            You didn’t respond to the first half of my comment. I’m reposting it for your convenience:

            “Actually, God doesn’t expect us to accept Him on faith alone. See Exodus 19:9. And the Torah appeals to us to use our reason to verify its claim (Deuteronomy 4:32-40). If we can’t rely on reason, free choice (Deuteronomy 30:19) is meaningless, because we use reason to choose freely. It is the ability to reason and to choose that sets us apart from animals, after all.”

            What say you?

          • bography says:

            1. Genesis 18:19
            “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.”

            Dina, as you know, Abram was an idol worshipper. Let me envision a Jewish interpretation (not necessarily Hebraic) of why God chose Abraham. God from eternity (from where else?) decided to choose an idol worshipper called Abraham to be the father of his chosen people. The following is what God knew (from eternity) would happen: “If I approach Abraham and ask him to give up his gods and worship me only, I know that he will choose me.” And after he has chosen me, I know that he will command his children …. Genesis 18:19 above.

            2. Deut 7 “The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 8 But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

            Jewish interpretation: God loved Israel because 1. he foresaw that when He would reveal Himself to them in the fire and smoke of Sinai, they would decide not to reject, as other nations would have done, His indisputable presence, and 2. to fulfill a promise to the patriarchs.

            Dina, any better suggestions for God choosing Israel? Something good in them?

          • Dina says:

            Bog, what’s not good about following God’ commands and accepting Him? The Torah likes obedience to God. It talks about obedience a lot. Apparently that’s a good thing. You don’t think so?

          • Dina says:

            And what about the other stuff, Bog?

          • Sharbano says:

            Where did you learn that about Avram. From when he was a child he knew his father engaged in idol worship, which is why he broke those idols of his father.

          • bography says:


            About Abram smashing his Dad’s idols, that is from the “Oral Torah” – the Midrash. The following about Abram is also from the Midrash. Before I quote it, did you know that the RAMBAM said that much of the Midrash was mishmash? A sample:

            Deuteronomy Rabbah

            “Even before Samael showed himself to Moses, Moses was aware that Samael had arrived. While
            Samael gazed at Moses, trembling and shaking seized him like that of a woman giving birth, and he could not muster the courage to speak to Moses until Moses addressed him, saying, ‘“There is no peace (here probably ‘greeting’), says the Lord, for the wicked” (Isa 48:22). What are you doing here?’ He answered,

            ‘I have come to take your soul.’ He said, ‘Who has sent you?’ He answered, ‘He Who created all
            creatures.’ He said, ‘You will not take my soul!’ He answered, ‘Every one born in this world eventually hands over their soul to me.’ He (Moses) said, ‘I have more power than any other person born in this world.’ He responded, ‘What is the nature of your power?’ He said to him, ‘I am the son of ‘Amram.

            When I emerged from the womb of my mother, (I was already) circumcised, and so it was not necessary to circumcise me. On the very day of my birth I acquired courage, and was able to walk on my feet and converse with my father and my mother, and had no need to be nursed with milk. When I was three months old, I uttered a prophecy, saying that I was destined to receive the Torah from the midst of fiery flames.”

            One has to be careful which AVOT you cling to. Often it’s not like clinging to God.

          • Sharbano says:

            All Midrash aren’t the same. For this reason one learns from a Rabbi.

          • bography says:


            Why do you believe your rabbi?

          • Sharbano says:

            Because he learned it from his Rabbi, who learned it from his Rabbi, who learned it from his Rabbi, etc,etc.etc.

          • bography says:


            So, your reason for accepting some Midrashim is because you have faith in the unbroken transmission from God to Moses to ….. Your rabbi.

            But the Deuteronomy Rabbah you say is a fake. Many pious Jewish would disagree with you. I am reminded of the time when three popes living at the same time claimed to be the true head of the Roman Cathokc Church.

          • Dina says:

            Sharbano said no such thing, what are you talking about, Bog?

          • bography says:

            Oh? What do you know he means

          • Dina says:

            Bog, where did Sharbano say the Midrash is false?

          • bography says:

            Do you regard Deuteronomy Rabbah as “Oral Torah?”

          • Dina says:

            Bog, how is this question relevant to the discussion? I don’t see the point of discussing with you any text that you do not hold sacred, so I propose limiting our discussion to the text we both hold is God’s word, the Hebrew Bible.

            The Hebrew Bible is damning enough to your cause without dragging in anything else, as I have already shown.

          • Sharbano says:

            Bo, where are you getting this distorted view of Jewish texts.

          • bography says:

            Sharbano when you say not all Midrashim are the same, I infer that you consider Deuteronomy Rabbah to be mishmash.

          • Dina says:

            Bog, you’re [pointedly?] not answering my questions.

          • Sharbano says:

            All your comments in regards to Midrash shows explicitly WHY a Rabbi is needed for guidance in such matters. You have a very distorted view of that which you have not learned.

          • bography says:


            Sorry I quoted from Deuteronomy Rabbah about Moses. Here is the source about Abraham breaking idols when a kid.

          • Sharbano says:

            That’s exactly what I was saying. This may be part of the problem; when a person goes to the internet to find answers. The reason a Rabbi is necessary is one needs to understand the point and purpose of a Midrash. I doubt a person would find That answer on the internet. Without knowing the “why” of a particular Midrash it can easily be misconstrued.

          • Dina says:

            Bog, you wrote:

            “No, reason can’t find God, the living God of the Bible, that is. God, for reasons of his own, finds those he wants to find, chooses those He wants to choose; and plants the desire to search for Him into their bosom.”

            This contradicts Genesis 4:7, Deuteronomy 30:11-19; Psalms 145:18; Isaiah 55:6; Ezekiel Chapters 18 and 33–in other words it contradicts the entire notion of free will.

          • rambo2016 says:

            how come scholars have to use their intellect in the science of textual criticism?
            do you not know that scholars who create modern day new testament for you have to use science of textual criticism?

          • Dina says:

            I’m sorry, Rambo, I don’t understand your question. If you would clarify I would be grateful.


          • rambo2016 says:

            the scholars use thier brains to find out what was originally part of the new testament, yet the believers who accept the nt , don’t need to use thier brains? do you see what i am trying to say dina? thanks

          • Dina says:

            Thanks for clarifying, Rambo! I thought you were asking me a question. Now I see you were really making a statement!


  16. Jim says:


    In answer to your comment and question here: .

    First, regarding your comment that the initial believers were Jews, this is true. But look at who they were. According to the NT, largely they were made up of the unlearned. They were not those well-versed in Torah who recognized the Messiah from the scriptures.

    Next, to your question—but before I answer it, I would like to apply the same question to Hashem. When He declares that there is none like Him, that we are to direct our worship to Him alone, that He is the only savior, is He mistaken? Is He a liar or a lunatic? (The answer, obviously is that he is neither; He is true, in a way that no one else is true.)

    You see your question is in one sense irrelevant. Jesus’ claims are in contradiction to the Torah he is supposed to have fulfilled. Therefore his claims are invalid. I do not need to know the motivation for the claim. In Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the Jewish people how they say no form, and he tells them not to worship any god other than their God. The claims of any man claiming to be God must be rejected. I do not need to know his psychology to know that his claims are invalid.

    But I will answer your question, though my answer will be impolitic. I urge any Christian who does not wish to be most sorely offended to stop reading here, because I am going to type something that will be rather hurtful to you. I do this not because I wish to offend, but sometimes, if we are truly seeking for the truth, then we cannot avoid a topic which is rather difficult. I would not approach random Christians and say what I am going to write here, but since we are after truth, I will write what most people, even those who do not worship Jesus as god, will disagree with.

    If Jesus said the types of things that he is supposed to have said in the gospels, if he “truly, truly said: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life…” then he was most likely liar AND lunatic. I will explain this, but first let me just challenge his statement. The Torah gives no indication that the only way to God is through Jesus. In fact, we learn that the way to God is through obedience, and when we wander away from Him, the way back is through repentance and renewed obedience. So, leaving Jesus’ psychology aside, I already know that he is incorrect, if he said these things.

    But what are we to make of a man who declares himself to be the only way to God? What do we make of a man declaring himself to be the Lord of the Sabbath? What are we to make of a man who portentously intones, “Before Abraham, I AM”? I think we can only conclude that he is deluded and/or wished to delude others.

    Lewis, of course, read the NT Jesus as being a very sober person. Jesus is supposed to have taught many great things. He is supposed to have urged that one love his neighbor and that one should “turn the other cheek” and all sort of nice things. And these teachings do not appear to Lewis to proceed from the mouth of a madman.

    However, cult leaders of all stripes teach these things. It is commonplace for cult leaders to teach that one should love others. They often carry messages of peace. The successful ones always have a charisma that makes their messages appear lucid, especially when mixed with unobjectionable ethical teachings.

    But like any cult leader, Jesus could not stand to be questioned. Jesus goes on harangues about those who question him, calling them children of the devil and such things. He insists that people believe him without offering substantial proof. So often, when the Pharisees question Jesus, he does not answer their question so much as he uses their question as an opportunity to publicly humiliate them and declare them to be wicked.

    Consider Matthew 12. Jesus disciples are breaking the Sabbath, and the Pharisees ask him about this. At this point, he goes off on a tear. He begins by discussing the emergency situation of David and the showbread, which lacks relevance, because the disciples are not in an emergency situation. Just by beginning there, we can see that Jesus is not a credible thinker nor expositor of the law. But that is no crime. It would only indicate that he is not the great rabbi he would like to believe himself to be. But then he turns this into an opportunity to accuse the Pharisees: “But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the sabbath” (12.7-8). So he begins with irrelevant commentary, moves to maligning the Pharisees, and ends with a note of self-aggrandizement. This is not the sober-minded man that Lewis thinks he is. I am sure that if you reflect on Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees, the Sadducees, or “the Jews” of John, without taking for granted that he is divine, and imagine yourself as a witness to these proceedings, you will see that Jesus is not the loving figure people imagine him to be. He is quite often rather hateful, as he cannot stand to have his claims questioned.

    People get confused because he did say some rather nice things. He affirmed that the greatest commandment was to love God and the next was to love your neighbor as yourself. How could he possibly have affirmed the Torah if he was not fulfilling it? (One person actually asked me, “How could Jesus have ever lied when he spoke about truth so much, particularly in John?” Obviously, many liars claim that the truth is very important to them.)

    Because Jesus affirmed that the Torah was true, he could not have been teaching anything against it. At least that is what the common thinking asserts. Even those who do not believe in Jesus assume that he was a Torah observant man who taught others to keep the Torah. However, this is far from clear. For one thing, as you have pointed out, he taught that he was the way to God, not the Torah. Secondly, he caused several people to break the Sabbath. He, himself, broke it on at least one occasion.

    Of course, people point out that he declared that he did not come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. What the reader misses is that this is a very strange thing to say. None of the prophets ever needed to declare that they did not come to do away with the Torah. Why should Jesus even have said such a thing? I think the answer is because he was going to be speaking against the Torah, but if he said so right off, it would have dismayed the audience. So he has to assure them that he is not coming to abolish the Torah.

    But then, pay careful attention to what he does. First, he maligns the Pharisees and Sadducees. He gives the people a target to despise. He disarms his critics, not through argument, but by degrading them. But the next part is what is most interesting. He contrasts his own words to that of the Torah. For every “You have heard that it was said…. But I say unto you,” one could replace his words with, “God said…. But I say.” He contrasts his own words to that of the Torah. People usually think that he is merely explicating the Torah, but that is not the case. He is setting up his standard against the Torah. He is implying that the Torah is not actually good, but Jesus is going to give a better law. Now we know why he says that he did not come to abolish the Torah and the Prophets, because he was going to denigrate them. He was going to pretend that he was establishing a better law than the Mosaic law. He is like the man who says, “I don’t want to speak ill of so-and-so….” You know that’s exactly what he is going to do.

    It should be noted also, that he says that one who does not keep the least of the commandments and teaches others not to do the same will be least in the kingdom of heaven. This teaching he could and should apply to himself. As I wrote a few paragraphs back, not only did he break Shabbat, he taught others to do so as well. He also did not honor his parents, and he taught others not to do that either.

    So, what we have is a man who rails against those who question him. In his arrogance, he contrasts Torah law to his own. He makes grandiose statements about his person. All of these are traits one will observe in cult leaders. But that is not all.

    Cult leaders often take people away from their families and insist upon austere lifestyles. This is great for controlling people. Did Jesus do this as well? Of course he did. One man shows insufficient fervor in following Jesus when he wants to bury his dead parents. Another man he tells to sell everything and follow Jesus. His followers, who have their converts selling everything they own and keeping everything in common, take up this teaching.

    It is not because Jesus’ teachings were sober that Lewis presented the Trilemma as an argument. Jesus’ teachings are not sober. If a man were to tell you that he were God or the only way to God, you would not accept that. On the page, however, it reads differently than in person. But I think a careful reading does not show a sober teacher of righteousness. Certainly, he said many pleasing things, some things that were even good. Any successful cult leader has done the same. Jim Jones did not start with the Kool Aid; that’s just where things ended. The cult leader has to say things that appeal to people.

    Jesus also said many appealing things, even good things. But among those good things, there are things that contradict Torah. There are things megalomaniacal. There are paranoid attacks on those who question him. There are breaches of Torah law.

    You thought I would not wish to say that Jesus was neither liar nor lunatic. You are correct that I take no pleasure in saying it. But I do not refrain from saying it, because I think of Jesus as a good teacher. No, I do not think he was a good teacher or even a good man. Nor do you think that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, even though he did say some good things, or Muhammed, or Buddha. Jesus was most likely liar and lunatic, if he said the things attributed to him by the NT.

    To those who are offended, I apologize.


    • Dina says:

      Bography, this comment of Jim’s is an excellent example of using your reason to discern truth from falsehood.

      • bography says:

        Dina and Jim, you’re right; the first elevens in Jesus (all Jews) were – as all subsequent believers – fools for Christ.

        1 Cor 1

        18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

        “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
        And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

        20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks[b] foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

  17. bography says:

    Dina, not “form Jew” but “frum Jew.”

    • Concerned Reader says:

      What is the difference between misconception and deception (being deceived).

      One is a wholehearted unintentional misconception, the other is based in malice and preys on others purposely.

      When Jesus says, I am, the way, the truth, and the life, and nobody comes to the father but by me, Christians have a way of seeing only the last part of his statement, namely, “but by me,” and they see it in only one possible way, (as Jesus speaking of himself, his person, literally ,) neglecting the 1st part of the verse.

      The important part of his statement as a Jewish preacher however, is way, truth, and life, Which in His context and thought are a synonym of sorts for Walking in the literal path of the commandments in the way that he, the rabbi interprets them for his students, ie his halacha.

      When Jesus says things like I am the light of the world, or I am son of G-d,
      be careful to note that he always couples these statements. with a ye (a “you all”) in later verses. He says “I am, I will, but then also, you all are, you all will.” In the ancient world, the king represents the collective. When the King says I, it means we all. Christians are focusing on the man Jesus without giving ear to what he was really trying to teach them to live by.

      • bography says:

        CR I said “What is the difference between misconception and deception (being deceived).”
        You said’ “One is a wholehearted unintentional misconception, the other is based in malice and preys on others purposely.”

        Who is deceiving and who is being deceived?

        • Concerned Reader says:

          Bo, as I tried to explain, Jesus probably saw himself as a messianic figure, but how he understood this role as a messiah was not normative to the Judaism in his day, even according to the gospels. He had an understanding that did not mesh with a plain straightforward reading of the scriptural description of a messiah. Until Jesus showed up, (and still today) Jews were expecting a king who would literally rule like David, and have children,and be a good King, who would bring peace and knowledge of G-d.

          Deceived is not the same thing as being mistaken, particularly in a context where there is immense suffering and persecution present everyday, like under Roman rule in Israel in the 1st century. Did someone intentionally lie to Jesus in teaching him, or did he have a unique unprecedented interpretation about the messiah? We cannot know for sure, because we cannot ask him. If it was a unique view, it’s not suitable as a prophetic proof.

          Think about this. When Jesus first said that he was going to die, what was Peter’s reaction? “Heaven forbid that you should die.”

          This tells us something extremely important. It tells us,

          Everyday Jews in Jesus’ day did not expect a messiah who would come only to die, from their reading of prophecy. They didn’t see it, it just wasn’t in the cards. The NT itself says that Jesus first had to “open their eyes to the scriptures,” before the disciples could even grasp the idea of messiah dying. In other words, Jesus had to explain, to eisogete the Torah, in light of his experiences, to say it was about him.

          This type of scriptural reading cannot be relied on as a sure prophetic proof. Just Look at how many people have come along in history, and done the exact same thing with the bible claiming to be Jesus? Look at what your book says about a false Christ who leads even some of the elect astray. How do you tell the true prophet from the false? You can tell, because a true messiah, a true prophet, relies not on himself, or his experiences, but on G-d, and on compliance to the commandments, and to the establishment of the unambiguous description of the kingdom of G-d found in the Bible.

          To put it another way, What’s the use of giving someone access to a playbook that’s written in types, shadows, and riddles? Or giving a study guide for an exam that doesn’t adequately prepare you for the subject at hand, unless it’s being explained step by step under constant supervision by an instructor? A study guide is useless at that point.

          Think about it like this Bography. The bible is a book that prophecies pudding for all. (We all agree, jews and christians on that premise.) Jesus is like a guy who says, “I have an amazing pudding recipe, that I’ll make later,” but he never gets around to making the pudding!

          • bography says:


            When Peter protested to Jesus saying he. (Jesus) must die, Jesus said to Peter ” Get behind me Satan.” Would you agree with the Jews in the NT who said to Jesus that it was he who was of Satan?

          • Dina says:

            Con, this is good stuff. Totally off topic, but your use of the word “pudding” as “dessert” tells me you might be from the UK originally. Am I right?

  18. Concerned Reader says:

    Biography, your statement in response to Jim’s comment is puzzling, as Torah Jews are not perishing in the face of the gospel, they are thriving in a very vibrant and strong religious tradition. I think you can do better than quoting Paul’s letter in response to Jim’s coment. Just because Jesus and his stiudents were Jews means nothing. Joseph smith was a christian before he found his golden plates, does that mean anything? Off course not!

    • bography says:

      The “Jews” bit is in brackets – not the main point here, which is these Jews were indeed fools – fools for Christ. It means nothing to you, as you say, and which the verse is about, I believe (not not feel) Jesus, you don’t. The passage sums up the Jewish rejection of Christ.

  19. Concerned Reader says:

    Shouldn’t faith be reasoned, and based on a comprehension of the covenant G-d made with Israel? As opposed to just a belief?

    • bography says:


      Your “Shouldn’t faith be reasoned, and based on a comprehension of the covenant G-d made with Israel? As opposed to just a belief?”

      Let’s consider reason without bringing God or religion into it. It is not, logically, possible to use reason to prove that it is rational. Without faith/trust in your reason, you end up in an unreal, relative, random, nonsensical universe. Most human beings refuse to accept this logic. An illogical person will say he reasons well without having faith in his reason.

      With regard to the relationship between reason and belief in the God of the Bible (Tanach and New Testament), this God chooses to reveal Himself to humanity. As with Abram, so with every one who accepts God. As I said in a previous comment:

      God of his good pleasure sovereignly, therefore, unilaterally, chose to reveal himself to Abram. No one knows why he revealed himself to Abram, to his progeny and later to the Israelites, or to any one else. “And the LORD said, ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion’” (Exodus 33:19).

      In the scriptures, reason (thought) is the tool God gives us to understand WHO He is; not THAT he is (exists). The revelation at Sinai was a special gift of God’s generosity (mercy, grace) revealing what reason couldn’t discover. The first verse of Genesis says “In the beginning, God…” God’s existence in the Bible is a given (not a “taken”).

      The following sounds crazy to most Jews. “I believe that I may understand” (Augustine of Hippo). The Hebrew prophets, indeed, all godly people in the Tanach, would agree with Augustine.

      Jews have too much faith in their reason. Many of them believe that reason is all they need to find God. They want to be Jewish Platos (chollile), when in fact they are, as the Tanach emphasises play dough – not play things – in the hand of God.

  20. Yedidiah says:

    How often does the Tanach promote fools or foolishness over reason and wisdom? In my NT, I found 60 occurrences of the word reason and the word fool only 9 times, only 3 of each were in the gospels and they were used in a negative sense. Even Paul says he doesn’t want to seen as a fool. Over 20 times, Paul says “for this reason, I…”, not only for why he did something, but why he believed what he believed (even when it appears he contradicts the teachings of Jesus according to the gospels.

    The gospels appeal to reason quite often, which is one reason it quotes (or at times,, misquotes) the Tanach. Besides some signs and events which appeals to the reasoning of the people, many of the parables are appeals to one’s reason. On the other hand, if one even has a small amount of faith, they can do an unreasonable thing and move a mountain. There are very few who have that type of faith. Even Jesus, when he & his disciples went to a tree to eat of it, had too little faith.

    • Yedidiah says:

      Without reasoning, or rather with faith/trust in your lack of reason, you will end up in an unreal, relative, random, nonsensical universe.

    • bography says:

      Yedidah. the upshot: Paul is a fool? For Christ.

      • Yedidiah says:

        By definition then he was a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense about who the Christ was or who Jesus was. He was like a court jester kept around only to amuse his master; a master who ridiculed and despised Paul’s beliefs. If one wanted to be a fool, one should much rather want be a “fool for God”, but instead Paul rejected the wisdom of God and the glory of God and was content to rely on his own understanding. He created his own Christ in his mind & rejected God like those other Pagans. At least he was not as quite as foolish as the other fools who rejected God.

        • bography says:


          What of what you said of the pupil of Gamaliel would you ascribe to Jesus?

          • Yedidiah says:

            I don’t understand the question. Prove that the “pupil of Gamaliel” even existed, and then if he did exist, show what of the little that he may have learned in a very short time that he understood what he was taught. And if he understood a little & remembered it, show how he used it or ignored it in his own reasoning about a few verses in Tanach to come up with silly & foolish teachings, that in many cases contradicts the Jesus of the gospels and in some cases even contradicts his own earlier teachings. Show how his “personal revelation” is less foolish than those he called foolish because they placed trust in Jesus or they placed (today some people still place great trust in) Tanach, Torah, and the revelation to many people at Sinai.

          • Yedidiah says:

            The last sentence should read more like “…they placed (and some people still do place) great trust & faith in the God revealed in Tanach, Torah, and especially in that revelation given to many at Sinai.

          • bography says:


            On what basis do you accept the Tanach as a revelation, the only revelation, from God?

          • bography says:


            You said “Prove that the “pupil of Gamaliel” even existed.”
            Which is it: a fool (a previous comment) or a non-existent fool.”

            You said you didn’t understand the question. If you believe (based on reasonable grounds such as historiography) that Paul (the pupil of Gamaliel ) existed (as implied in your “Paul is a fool” comment, then would you apply the same description to Jesus (iwho said “before Abraham was, I am), namely that he was, at best, a fool?

          • Yedidiah says:

            Bog. It was you who called him a fool. I quoted him that he did not want to be considered a fool. And I gave you a couple of definitions of a fool and I gave you some of the implications of you calling him a fool. You denigrate reason because of your reasoning. People may attempt to reason, but that does not mean what they conclude is reasonable or true. A con artist, a “devil” can “reason”, and they can make fools of those who don’t reason, but instead use what they call “faith”. Paul could have been a fool and deceived by “the devil”. So a “fool for Christ” could be just as easy be a “fool for the devil”. Paul is often confused and he also confuses many believers. So his confusion may be of the “devil” that he trusted and had faith, if you believe reason is bad because it helps to reject “devils”, false prophets, Christ-hustlers, anti-Christs, etc

            And I showed where attempts at reasoning and appeal to reason was employed by both the writers of the gospels and writings that many considered to be writings of a Paul. Paul was aware that someone was forging his name. Were all the letters that people reasoned that were written by Paul written by Paul? If so, then he contradicted himself and Jesus. And if so, he wrote in different styles and he wrote of things and situations that happened long after he was gone. Confusion is of “the devil”, they say.

            And I said “if Paul even existed”, which you reasoned he must, because you read letters that other people said he wrote. Is the “Loch Ness monster” a real animal? I read comic books and I’ve seen a few TV programs about a man called “SuperMan”? Do you have faith in SuperMan as 100% man who has super powers? Maybe he is a son of God; he is the 2nd coming of Christ. What many people believe is the “2nd coming”, is really the third (which would be in accordance with Trinitarian theology)? You can read about Superman in books, so would you reject him, not have faith in him? He is trying to keep it a secret, just like Jesus in Mark does? John & Mark disagree about who Jesus was. Before Abraham, the serpent or “devil” was or is or it or he might have said “Before Abraham or Noah or Cain, I am”. The term “I am” is a misreading of “God’s name. Watch what you say about Superman, cause God can do anything? Do you deny God’s power? Can’t God manifest himself as Superman in order to win the souls of these modern generations? Watch what you say about him.

          • Yedidiah says:

            Only using sources prior to the 3rd century c.e., what where the dates or periods of time that early church fathers believe that the gospel of John was written and who did they say wrote it?

      • Yedidiah says:

        So the upshot of what CR says below, is that without reasoning (a gift of a merciful God who loves us & wants us to know Him), one relys on one’s own understanding, one’s own reasoning. Thus, one puts faith/trust in “lack of reason”, which results in rejection of God’s Truth and thus one will end up in an unreal, relative, random, nonsensical universe. A nonsensical universe is one lived in by a person who prefers nonsense over reason and prefers rejection of God over rejection of one’s own foolish “reason”. What Paul is saying is that he prefers to be more like an animal, that has little or no reasoning power and that was not created in the “image of God”.

        • Yedidiah says:

          Paul makes clear that he is teaching a different “gospel”, one that was not that preached by those selected by the Christ to hear “the Christ” first hand, in his human life & his “after-life” (which supposedly was the whole purpose of Jesus coming to earth, being a Christ or messiah or messenger to the messenger/disciples).

          • bography says:

            Different gospel? Source please.

          • Sharbano says:

            Since you are quick to discount anything Orthodox and so with the Rabbis then maybe you should take an inquisitive look a your own Xtian texts. Take the words of Stephen, for example, how many obvious factual errors are there in what he said. Considering he was guided by the Xtian holy spirit he should have been without any errors, but this isn’t the case. How many errors and why are there.One doesn’t need Rabbinic teaching to find and understand these.

          • Yedidiah says:

            Source? The NT. Without studying the Word, one can not tell any difference between the words of one man and another. Either a detailed or a simplistic reading of “Acts”, will show a difference between the 1st portion & the latter portion. Reading Acts and comparing it to a “Pauline” letter, like Galatians is sufficient. Paul even rebuked Cephas & likewise, Cephas, Paul.

            Without discernment, heresy resulted among the teachers of the Gospel or the Christ. Without discernment, there is only one Gospel & no heresy or false teachings or false gospels could ever exist.

          • bography says:

            “difference between the 1st portion & the latter portion. Reading Acts and comparing it to a “Pauline” letter, like Galatians is sufficient. Paul even rebuked Cephas & likewise, Cephas, Paul.”

            One example of difference between two portions please?

            Are you saying Peter and Paul preached different gospels?

          • Yedidiah says:

            Are you saying that you are so unfamiliar with Acts that you see no difference?! Or that you lack discernment & are susceptible to false teachings?

            What was Paul’s purpose if he merely preached what Peter preached? Did Jesus as a man make a mistake by not including Paul in his teachings, so that Paul could later become a 4th pillar who did not “get his teachings from a man”? Is revelation from a risen Christ given to many perhaps of less value from that given to an individual man?

          • bography says:

            Yedidah, I could be ignorant. I’d be grateful If you could told me details about the gospel Peter preached.

          • Dina says:

            Bogs, are you a man of honor? I disputed several of your notions, here:


            Instead of responding with a retraction or refutation, you asked me the unrelated questions of whether only God can forgive sin and if a being who forgives sin is worthy of worship. I did not want to answer until you answered my challenge, but you wrote to me, “Just say yes or no, and I PROMISE I will show that I don’t need to answer any of those questions. I have a feeling, you’re not going to answer. Only a feeling” (my emphasis).

            You can read your own words here:

            Well, guess what? I did answer your questions after all. You can read my answer here:


            But then you stuck with that thread and refused to go back to my original challenge though I pressed you repeatedly. When others as well as I tore your premise into little itty bitty pieces, instead of retracting or refuting, you dropped it.

            Now you have dropped all arguments and all challenges and are pursuing a new argument with Yedidiah.

            So are you a man of honor, or have you no shame? Do you intend to keep your promise to me, or will you shamelessly ignore it?

          • bography says:

            In a previous comment you say you shredded my argument about the Angel of the Lord forgiving sins. Your counter argument is rich. The hebrew word in question does not mean “bear,” but “forgive” as it appears in the two Jewish translations I cited. Then you hedge by saying that even if an angel forgives sins, there is nothing in the Tanach that says this is not impossible. So, Dina, you can repent to an angel. No, Dina not frum at all.

            The fact is that there multiple places in the Tanach where the Angel of the Lord has the same attributes as YAHWEH. Jews refuse to see it, for obvious reasons.

            I will get back to you on the questions you want answered.

          • Dina says:

            Yes, please do get back to me on those, Bog. But your position is still in shreds. I’ll grant you the word “forgive” as a translation, but are you such a bad reader that you missed the word NOT before the word FORGIVE?

            The verse says nothing about repenting to an angel.

            Furthermore, although we disagree about the multiple times in Tanach where you see the angel as being another person in the godhead (so many people in the godhead, now, my goodness), I presented an argument that also blasts apart your premise that therefore worship of Jesus is not only justified but required.

            You completely ignored that argument. I will present it here again for your convenience (copying and pasting), but first must point out that if you still see this verse as the angel forgiving sin, then you have COMPLETELY IGNORED or willfully misunderstood the comments of Rabbi Blumenthal, Jim, Larry, Sharbano, Concerned Reader, and possibly others who have commented on this verse and shown your error–and I agree with them all. I suggest you reread their comments.

            Here is the argument that you failed to take into account:

            “But here’s another angle. I presented this to you before, but of course you ignored it. Let us say, purely for the sake of argument, that somehow this verse is a manifestation of a second person in the godhead.

            “In fact, let us say that there are many such manifestations throughout Scripture.

            “It still won’t do you any good. Deuteronomy 4 teaches us that we are to worship God only according to the knowledge of Himself that He imparted to us at Sinai. Deuteronomy 13 teaches us that we are not to engage in any type of worship that was unknown to our fathers. It doesn’t get more clear than this.

            “Knowledge of Jesus was not taught to us at Sinai. Our fathers did not worship Jesus. Ergo, we are not to worship him.

            “It may have escaped your notice, so it’s worth pointing out that the Children of Israel never worshiped this angel that you claim is the second person in the godhead.”

            See what I mean?

            You pin your whole theology on verses that are easily disputed, while ignoring the passages whose teachings are crystal clear. Read the following very carefully (I doubt you will, though):

            Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 4, 13, 28, and 30

            And then I dare you to tell me, citing Scriptural support, that God requires rather than forbids us to worship Him in various manifestations.

            But FIRST answer my original challenge.

          • Dina says:

            Also, Bogs, as I have said before, we do not worship God because He forgives sin. The fact that He forgives sin is simply irrelevant.

            You misunderstood what I said about what Tanach says about an angel forgiving sin, which is that Tanach says nothing about it at all. This does not mean that I believe you can repent to an angel. I never said that so I want to clarify that for everyone who is following this conversation.

            Repeat: Tanach says nothing at all about an angel forgiving sin. However, the verse you presented says about an angel that he WILL NOT forgive sin.

            The angel WILL NOT forgive sin. I say this yet again because you seem trouble reading.

            So all in all, your position is not tenuous. It’s not weak. It’s dead.

          • bography says:

            Dina, so God, in passing, wants to remind his ignorant people in the Tanach that angels will not forgive sins where he is hinting they can’t. But you would never need to be told that.

            Yes, there is only one God, a fundamental

          • Dina says:

            So what’s your point, Bog? How about actually addressing my arguments?

          • bography says:


            Let me first complete my reply: ….a fundamental Christian doctrine as well. The Angel of the Lord is God and the person sending him is also God. There’s no escape once all the Angel of the Lord passages are accepted.
            You laugh at this, as they laughed at Jesus.

            As I said I’ll get back to you on your passages you want me to comment on.

          • Dina says:

            This doctrine deserves mockery, Bog. Don’t cherry pick passages to fit your theology but read Scripture in its entirety. How do you justify worshiping Jesus in light of Deuteronomy 4 and 13? How do you justify worship of Jesus in light of the fact that none of the “Angel of the Lord” passages show worship of the angel? And lest you say that in some, they bowed to the angel–it would be silly to say that, but suppose you do–then I would ask you why you don’t wonder why the angel didn’t continue to be worshiped. Why didn’t the people say, this is God’s son, or this angel is God, give him a name, and worship him?

            Who were all these angels of the Lord? Different people in the godhead? Jesus? How do you know?

            Listen, Bogs, I might mock this doctrine, but these questions are deadly serious. I hope you take them seriously.

            Looking forward to your response to my other challenge.

          • bography says:

            We shall return to this meshugas after I have answered your questions.

            What were they again???? No platzing; ONLY JOKING!

          • Dina says:

            🙂 🙂 🙂

          • Sharbano says:

            I concur, Meshuganah!

          • Sharbano says:

            I would also laugh at Jsus. Those who he spoke to about “the lord said to my lord” probably also laughed at his ignorance of what the Hebrew says.
            This is news to me, I have never heard a single Xtian who says an “angel of Hashem” is “G-d”. If you are expounding Ein Od Milvado to say there is nothing but G-d then we are all G-d. Since every human has a spark of Hashem then we are all Hashem. There is no existence but Him. But going down this path is dangerous in thinking.
            I suppose this should be obvious since Xtianity leaves it up to an individual to define who and what G-d is. You are just another individual, among a long line, that has a unique view all to their own.

          • bography says:

            Dina re free will, one of the texts you wanted me to read was Deut 30:1-15

            Would you please define “free will” and show how it relates to verses 11-19 below.

            Deuteronomy 30:11-19

            11 “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.

            15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;

          • Dina says:

            Bog, this passage is so clear that it requires no explanation.

          • Dina says:

            Bog, I honestly can’t imagine why you are asking.

          • bography says:

            Please define human “free will.” I don’t want to take anything for granted.

          • Dina says:

            Bog, I don’t want to take anything for granted either, so please define “define” and please define “human.”

            You are fundamentally unserious. Look that up if you don’t know what it means.

          • bography says:

            Dina, I said human “free” will because I excluded God’s will.

            I can only conclude that you think (believe) you know what ‘free will” is but in reality haven’t a clue. Hint: thought, desire, will. How the former two relate to the will is where we need to go. You might say, ‘speak for yourself.”

            After you tell me what you think free will is, I shall show you the flaw in your understanding of Deut. 30:1-15. But if you won’t accede to my request, you won’t get the chance of seeing me making a big(ger) fool of myself.

            I’m pretty sure the others are champing at the bit to hear more.

          • Dina says:

            Bog, I think you don’t want to confront this head on, and that’s why you want to play word games. Nevertheless, here is the definition for free will from, with which I agree.

            1. free and independent choice; voluntary decision: You took on the responsibility of your own free will.
            2. Philosophy. the doctrine that the conduct of human beings expresses personal choice and is not simply determined by physical or divine forces.

          • bography says:

            Do you think then that your will is undetermined?
            Please don’t tell me my motives for asking you. The question I assure is extremely relevant.

          • Dina says:

            Bog, I don’t understand your question. What does “undetermined will” mean? I don’t believe that outside forces determine my will, although they might influence it (environmental factors might influence my will, for example, but they don’t determine it–I ultimately determine the choices I make).

          • bography says:

            In the philosophy definition, is “externally determined” identical to “determined?”

          • Dina says:

            Bogs, having never studied philosophy, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m a layperson, so you need to use layman’s terms that I can understand. The Torah was not given only to scholars and philosophers but also to the common people. The principles therein are simple enough for a woman of limited intelligence such as I to grasp.

            I gave you a simple definition of free will. This definition is not in dispute. It will have to be enough for you to go on.

          • bography says:


            As you probably know, Judaism (not the Tanach) teaches that within every human being there are two inclinations (yetser): the good and the evil. The will, a neutral entity, decides which to choose. Most Christians think the same, with this (unbiblical) difference that God helps a teeny bit to turn the will towards the good (the doctrine of “prevenient” grace).

            Now, consider the philosophy definition of “free will.” If “determined” meant the same as “outwardly determined” then “outwardly” would be redundant; but it is not, because there is “inwardly” determined. The human will is not a neutral power; it is inwardly determined by your “heart” (thoughts-conscience-desires/inclinations). Whatever is the strongest thought-desire determines which way your will is going to move. In brief, the will is the slave of your “heart.”

            Jeremiah 17:9
            The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick: who can know it?

            This verse, I suggest, is the key to understanding Deut 30:1-15 and much more, which I shall discuss after your reply.

          • Dina says:

            Bogs, as is typical for Christians, you seize a verse that seems to support your view, but if you read just one verse ahead you will see that it is not saying what you think at all. The next verse tells us that we can’t know people’s motivations. Only Hashem does, and so he rewards or punishes accordingly. The verse you chose as the “key” to understanding Deuteronomy 30 in fact has nothing to do with free will.

            Furthermore, if the heart controls your will, then why say in verse 5, “Accursed is the man who…turns his heart away from Hashem”? Why say in Numbers 15:39, “Do not stray after your eyes and your heart”?

            Everyone knows that you can act against your heart. If you ever resisted the temptation to do something wrong, you know what I mean! Your behavior also influences your feelings (in other words, your heart). If you’re in a rotten mood but you act happy, you will start to feel happy. I recommend that you try this. Sing a cheery song when you’re in a bad mood, smile at everyone, and talk in a chipper, upbeat way–and you’ll see that your behavior will affect your mood. There’s a lot of science out there about how behavior affects the brain, which simply supports what we know from common sense observation of our experiences.

            It is astounding to me that you would deny free will given the Scriptural evidence that God has given us a choice and that He expects us to choose good.

            You wrote that Judaism but not Tanach teaches about two inclinations. I think this is irrelevant to our discussion, although it’s another thing that common sense observation of your own experience should tell you is true. The good inclination is your conscience. The bad inclination is the temptations you need to resist. Whenever you fight with yourself to not have that second piece of chocolate cake, your conscience is fighting your animal desires. That’s two inclinations. You have the ability to follow your conscience (yetzer tov) or follow your desire (yetzer hara).

            But really, we don’t need to have a philosophical and long-drawn out discussion about this. Does the Torah support the concept of free will? Of course it does. Take a look at the other citations I presented (Genesis 4:7, Deuteronomy 28, Ezekiel 18 and 33).

          • bography says:

            So Dina if God commands you to turn to him, he wouldn’t command it unless you could do so. For example,

            Deut 10:16
            Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart,

            Is this your drift?

          • Dina says:

            Bogs, is God just? Would a just God command us to do what we cannot do and then punish us for not doing it? Is that your drift?

            Actually, I think you’re drifting away from the topic again. Can you try to stay focused? The issue under discussion is whether the Torah advocates the notion of free will or refutes it.

          • bography says:


            I’ve bee studying the texts you gave me. The reason why I’m taking so long besides all the ccoking and baking I do (dinkum) is that I would like to summarise my findings, which would be better, I suggest than going tough each text individually.

            A tantalizing tidbit: God says turn, circumcise your heart; the Jew says turn to me and I will turn to you. God says both circumcise your heart AND I will circumcise your heart. OurPhariseeFriend says its a bit of both – simultaneously…..

          • bography says:

            I’ve been studying the texts you gave me. The reason why I’m taking so long besides all the ccoking and baking I do (dinkum) is that I would like to summarise my findings, which would be better, I suggest than going through each text individually.

            A tantalizing tidbit: God says”turn, circumcise your heart”; the Jew says to God “turn to me and I will turn to you.” God says both “circumcise your heart” AND “I will circumcise your heart.” OurPhariseeFriend says its a bit of both – simultaneously…..

          • Dina says:

            Baking and cooking are very satisfying and I sure do a lot of that too. But what’s to study and summarize? This stuff is very simple. Still and all, it being Thursday, we’re all busy with preparations for Shabbat (and Passover cleaning), so I won’t bother you till next week. That should be plenty of time.

          • bography says:

            It is not a christian or any humantalking; it is God. He is saying all human hearts are shot through and through with deceit, which makes them (of which the will is a crucial part) desperately sick. Part of being very sick is being incapacitated and not wanting to exert oneself.

            But as we see in Deut 10:6 God commands us to “circumcise your heart” so it must mean that in spite of our corrupt natures (which “deceitful heart” means, not so?) we are able to obey this command, and so God expects us to do so. Do you agree?

          • Dina says:

            Bog, you are using a philosophical and legalistic ploy to render God’s words meaningless. Of course, this command is for us to obey; we do the best we can and leave the rest to God. But to say that God chooses whom to “save” and that our spiritual destiny is out of our hands is to ignore Scripture and to accuse God of lying (God forbid!). In addition to Deuteronomy 30, I tirelessly cite again Genesis 4:7; Deuteronomy 28; Ezekiel 18 and 33.

            So here’s a challenge, Bog: jot down every Scriptural verse that supports your position and every Scriptural verse that contradicts it, and then ask yourself who is listening to God and who is abusing God’s words for the means of clinging to his own cherished belief.

            Ask yourself, if I were talking to Jews who lived before Jeremiah, say in David’s or Solomon’s time, what Scriptural verse would I have been able to use to convince them that their nature is corrupt because Jeremiah says the heart is deceitful; therefore they have no true free will but must hope that God will save them from their sin?

            Furthermore, you ignored what I said about context. The verse in Jeremiah does not say our nature is corrupt or that because our hearts are deceitful therefore we have no free will. Jeremiah is saying that the heart is deceitful, yes, but you only take that to mean that our nature is corrupt because that is what you want it to mean. You ignored the earlier verse in that same chapter which talks about turning one’s heart away from God–a willful act. Now let’s look at the verse you cited and the following verse:

            “The heart is the most deceitful of all, and it is fragile–who can know it? I, ***Hashem, plumb the feelings and test the innermost thoughts,*** to give man according to his ways, the fruit of his deeds.”

            See Jeremiah 11:19-20: “I am like a choice sheep led to the slaughter; I did not know that they devised schemes against me: ‘Let us destroy [him by placing] tree poison in his food and cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name will not be remembered anymore.’ But ***Hashem, Master of Legions, righteous Judge, Who examines innermost thoughts and feelings,*** let me see Your vengeance against them etc.”

            The heart is deceitful simply means that you can deceive others because they can’t know what’s in your heart. For example, you can pretend to be someone’s friend but really hate them, and they won’t know that you are secretly plotting their death. Only Hashem knows what is in your heart to reward or punish you accordingly (“to give man according to his ways, the fruit of his deeds”).

            In this context, that is all it means. It really is that simple.

          • bography says:

            “Bog, you are using a philosophical and legalistic ploy to render God’s words meaningless.”
            I was wondering what I was doing

            “Of course, this comand is for us to obey; we do the best we can and leave the rest to God.”
            Do you think God will be satisfied with a semi-circumcision? Absolutely not. He won’t accept that. Are saying that your will is not strong enough to complete the job, that is really free?

            Your bit about Jeremiah 12:9:
            You say people deceive others. In so doing they deceive God. The verse plainly means we are liars by nature, as can plainly be observed in little boys (and girls) who have not learned to lie. They just do.

          • Sharbano says:

            Actually boys and girls learn Everything, even lie. Why do you think Torah says, “from your ‘youth’ “. Many parents do not realize the lies they impart onto their children. It is why you hear children say to their parents, “You do it!”.

          • Dina says:

            Oy, Boggsie, you are wandering far afield. We were discussing whether the Torah teaches that we have free will to choose between good and evil. Now you want to change the discussion to whether God accepts our imperfect obedience. It’s a distraction, but I have to ask you, where do you get the notion that God demands perfection? God demands obedience, but He is merciful, knowing we are mere mortals.

            “Nevertheless, He, the Merciful One, is forgiving of iniquity and does not destroy; frequently He withdraws His anger, not arousing His entire wrath. For He remembered that they were but flesh, a fleeting breath, not returning” (Psalms 78:38-39).

            God commands us to circumcise our heart, so we have the free will to choose whether we will work at removing the barrier between us and God or turn away from Him and ignore His existence. And God does not demand that we do better than our best. I stand by my statement that God does not command us to do something that we do not have the free will to choose to obey or disobey.

            As for your contention about deceitful hearts, it has nothing to do with what Jeremiah actually says, as I have explained. Jeremiah does not say that we are liars by nature. Everyone deceives at some point another; that doesn’t make us deceitful by nature. One who lies habitually is a liar; one who lies rarely is an honest person; one who lies never does not exist.

            By the way, Tanach supports your view that children do bad things (like lie), for the inclination of man is evil in his youth, as you know. We are born without a conscience (yetzer tov). Jewish tradition teaches that children acquire their yetzer tov when they reach adolescence. Fascinatingly, the research supports this, as the developing conscience emerges in early adolescence. Still, I fail to see what this has to do with the notion that we have free will. We can still choose to lie or to tell the truth.

            Finally, you wrote something astonishing: “In so doing they deceive God.” We cannot deceive God, for He plumbs our innermost thoughts and feelings–according to the very verse you quoted from Jeremiah.

          • Dina says:

            I meant to write “seem to have trouble reading.” Sorry about that. Can’t edit once you post, and I posted too hastily..

          • Yedidiah says:

            You may feel that I am ignorant of Peter’s gospel, or, at least Paul’s, so what sources written within the first 4 centuries c.e. would be acceptable or not acceptable? Are remnants of earlier versions of Acts and NT gospels acceptable? Can I assume for arguments sake that Paul never existed? Since if he did not exist we can perhaps simplify what gospel can be credited to Peter or what can be credited to others without having to sort similarities in “The Gospel”. Can I assume that Peter was also an “apostle to the Gentiles” either before or after Galatians 2:9? Perhaps you can tell me why Paul could rebuke Peter (one from Jerusalem and a major disciple of Jesus) and why that “accusation” was not a private matter, but instead was written down for the record? Is there perhaps something written from Peter’s perspective of that or those meetings?

            Peter’s gospel is basically a re-iteration of the teachings of his “1st line supervisor”, Jesus, as a man & after his death, and that which Peter taught because of a “public revelation”. What is the difference that Paul makes between Apostles and prophets and Holy Apostle & prophets?

            Details? Since we both might be ignorant, that might take dozens of hours of discussion. It may be more profitable to search the numerous article’s on numerous websites of the similarities and differences between Peter’s and Paul’s gospel or gospels. That argument has been going on for almost 2000 years. My question is why should there be a controversy? Which leads back to the question of why should there be a Paul or why did the church give him such prominence? The greatest on earth is the least in Heaven?

          • bography says:


            Fill me in on the tree bit where Jesus had little faith.

          • Yedidiah says:

            Borgaphy: Is that your only issue or concern? Since we don’t have anything written by Jesus, no one now knows or back then knew what he might have “really” thought or felt. There have been several interpretations or speculations about his words or actions. With tree cursing, possible explanations might include that Jesus was mentally ill or “possessed by demons”, or he was demonic, or he had a lack of faith or whatever. If other persons may have done or said such as curse a tree, many would see that as strange or absurd, or much worse. Now both the Talmud and the Greek poet Homer mention a rebel or a military leader on a mission or heading to go into battle, who faithfully prayed that a fruitless tree bear fruit (out of season) in order that he & his hungry men would not die. And Mark (who some scholars say borrowed a lot from Homer’s poems) also has his hungry leader go to a tree expecting fruit on it although it was not the God-given season to it to bear fruit. But Jesus & his men leave hungry. Was it the tree’s fault that Jesus left hungry? Stubborn or sinful human-like tree? Or Jesus lost his power & favor with God (another test?) before he went on to fail at cleansing the temple? A setup so that Jesus could finally be put on trial?

            What the later gospel authors thought may be “right on” or “totally off the mark” as far as reasons for his actions might be. He was trying to express something to his disciples, so what was it, if it was meaningful at all? The writer of the gospel John ignores the incident (from ignorance or embarrassment or he felt it to be unimportant?) and he has the “cleansing” of the temple at the start and not at the end of Jesus’ ministry. And before the “cleansing”, the tree incident that John has was about “seeing” Nathaniel, one with “no deceit”, lying under a fig tree. A “good miracle” to start the story instead of a “bad miracle” to end the story? The one who cursed a tree became a “curse” (according to Paul) on a tree?

            Boraphyg: what do the other gospels say about a fig tree? Luke 13:6-9 has Jesus telling a parable about a barren fig tree that the owner wants “to cut down and throw into the fire”, but the gardener says no, let him have another year to fertilize, water, and care for it. To me, the owner/master does not appear as a symbol of a merciful God, rather the gardener (whose job/life it was to “know” & care for plants) does. What was the parable trying to explain, and who would Jesus have said he was or who he might have sided with?

            Matthew 7:15-20 warns us about false prophets appearing as a lamb, but inward a wolf. Know them by their fruit; they are ready to cut one down and throw them into the fire, since “good trees” just can’t have any bad fruit? The gardener, who knows trees, might disagree with “the all to eager to cut” cutter. Matthew 12:33-35 says “Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil?” So “you” have the ability to “make the tree” good or bad? And so, only a evil one would curse & speak evil? Matthew 21:18-19 says don’t give the tree a chance; “May no fruit ever come from you again!” (Meaning it could have born fruit again, maybe for many years, but it was cursed instead). Matthew tells us the tree withered immediately and that if you have faith and do not doubt you can also miraculously kill a fig tree? Mark (11:20-22) says it took longer & next morning the tree was withered and Peter remembered to “have faith in God”.

  21. Concerned Reader says:

    “Let’s consider reason without bringing God or religion into it. It is not, logically, possible to use reason to prove that it is rational. Without faith/trust in your reason, you end up in an unreal, relative, random, nonsensical universe.”

    Your statement is inherently illogical Bo. it is only ever possible to use our reason to determine that any given premise is rational, including the relevant questions on rationality, and questions of G-d’s existence or non existence, because it is our only natural frame of reference as humans. Were this not true, free will would be totally meaningless, as would the idea of the free agency of G-d, or humans to do what one does, as well as the question of the relevance of G-d itself.

    The law of identity, law of non contradiction, and law of excluded middle partly demonstrate this. These are true independent of G-d’s existence, (if you are an atheist philosopher) (or rather are true because they are a reflection of G-d’s nature if you are a theist.) ie G-d must be G-d, he can never cease being G-d, (law of identity) the statement I am alive, is either true or false, as is the statement G-d exists. These statements are either true or false, there can be no middle option.

    The only way it would be logically impossible to use our reason to determine whether rationality is rational or not, would be if we had an actual unreasonable universe, a randomly generated universe, an artificial one, with artificial people, to examine along side ours, to use as a basis for comparison.

    Your statement is as illogical as saying, “I cannot use water, or a liquid to demonstrate that wetness exists, I can only have faith that it is so.” In fact though, your reason is the only reference point to have the idea at all. See what I mean?

    Look at the scientific method, natural selection, LaPlace’s mathematics on orbits, Einstein’s theories, etc. Even though these men were clearly only deists and atheists, (ie they do not believe G-d is an agent involved in human affairs, and they use the word G-d more as a metaphor for nature, or not at all,) they still hold some level of rationality in nature to be axiomatic, because it is our only frame of reference as human beings.

    Scientific use of the words “random,” and “Chaos,” Are not the same as vernacular words like Chaotic or unreasoned in a true sense. In fact, we know that randomness over time leads to discernible patterns, because we have in our nature something called HADD. “Hyperactive Agency detection.” We are creatures that inherently by nature seek to understand our environment. So, even if a person doesn’t believe in G-d, he still sees purpose, meaning, rationality, etc. as real, even if he says, “it only seems that way to us.”

    For an atheist the concept of a deity is merely man’s making sense of the spinning dice of nature that he doesn’t and can’t understand, while for the religious, G-d is not a gambler who plays dice with the universe. Either way, the point hits home.

    • bography says:


      Would you say that a materialist evolutionary natural-selection view of the universe (e.g. Richard Dawkins) is justified In saying that the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians or the killing of 2 million Armenians by the Ottomans was evil? Or any reason to say his reason is more than a cerebral effulgence?

      • Concerned Reader says:

        I would say Bo, that yes, a materialist is justified in saying that a given thing is good or evil, because whether a materialist shares in theistic notions of purpose and meaning, or divine command, he still shares this existence with you. His own reason and experience says that it is better to be full than empty, better to be kind than mean, etc. Consider an evolutionary example. If you have a heard of cattle being hunted by predators, the whole heard surrounds the young calves in the middle, (an altruistic behavior by all counts among animals that do not reason the purpose of altruism.) Altruism aids in survival. It just does.

    • bography says:

      Concerned Reader, Dina and Jim.

      Do you think the human will is a neutral attribute.

      • Dina says:

        Bog, not another question! What is your point? Just say it.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          Bography, you seem to suggest that scripture teaches that we have as humans, at best, a will that is ill, and at worst, no free will at all. Have you ever considered that if either of these are true, the notion of being commanded by G-d to do something is less than useless?

          I mean think about this.

          1. G-d created all things, (Angels, Eden, the tree of life, the tree of knowledge, humans, Demons, satan, animals etc.)

          2. G-d determines the criteria by which all souls are to be judged.

          3. G-d has foreknowledge of everything that can or will happen.

          The inescapable conclusion of these 3 premises is that G-d is responsible for everything including the eternal torment of all of those whom he deems unfit.

          Is this deity of yours justly worth following?

          You underestimate the value of free will as expressed in scripture, and you impute to scripture a dualistic and deterministic frame of reference.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Have you considered the fine biblical tradition of arguing with Hashem? Of requiring of him an explanation of his actions? Job and Abraham both questioned hashem as RIGHTEOUS free agents.

          • Dina says:

            Good point, Con!

          • bography says:

            CRin Deut 10:6 God commands “circumcise your hearts.” Would you say he gave this command expecting you to use your free will to fulfill his commands?

          • Dina says:

            Bog, I answered this question. I’m curious to hear what you have to offer in response. Thanks!

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Your premise is that without the action of G-d, nothing a human does means a thing in itself. You no doubt feel that our righteousness is as filthy rags as per your readings. (How very Mutazilite and also Calvinist of you.) The issue is that this view is explicitly contradicted by scripture in its core premises. For instance, When many Christians read Job, they insist that Job must have somehow sinned against G-d, (even if it was only a venial sin,) and that this prompted G-d to test Job.

            Respectfully, This misses the entire point of the book of Job. Job is tested not because he sinned, but because G-d chose to test him. ALL OF JOB’s Friends tell him, “you made G-d mad, you sinned, repent.” In case you missed it, G-d says Job’s friends WERE WRONG! He didn’t sin.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            A command is meaningless if you do not have free agency to choose to obey or not.

  22. Bography
    Our relationship with God is a relationship that is built on a fiery love but it is also rooted in honesty – reason is the faculty that God blessed us with so that we can try to be honest.
    The prophets use human reason and even human humor to ridicule the worship that you are advocating – Jeremiah 10:11-16.
    I also noticed that you only ridicule reason when it works against you (pretty much all of the time) but when you reason that reason works for you – you make a pathetic attempt at employing it – (your “trilema” argument) – but don’t worry – we don’t suspect you of being too devoted to reason – it is obvious to one and all that reason is a rusty tool in your arsenal.

    • bography says:

      Yisroel how does Jeremiah 10:1-6
      relate to what I said?

      1 Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: 2 Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. 4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. 5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. 6 Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.

      Yisroel and others,

      With regard to the biblical relationship between God, human reason and faith, I understand it so:

      Faith consists of three parts: 1. information (the Bible tells me that God exists, that he is Lord over all, that I need to obey his precepts), 2. I assent to this information, that is, I accept it as true. But that is not enough: I need to 3. trust these truths, trust the Lord. There is, however, a crucial ingredient in the relationship between me and God, which is preliminary to the three stages mentioned. This:

      My ability to understand information, that is my reason, is a gift from God. How do I or any one in the Bible know that reason is a gift from God? Because the pre-conception is that God exists and he has spoken through his revealed word. Bible believers don’t first use philosophy to try and prove the existence and authority of God or of his gifts (reason, for example).

      Yisroel, as you know, Emuna means faithfulness (good works). So we have faith ( consisting of 1. information, 2. assent to this information, 3. trust in this information) and 4.faithfulness. The human will is required in all four stages.

      With regard to 1, 2,3 and 4, this is how I understand the similarity and difference between Judaism and New Testament Christianity (which is not the same as Roman Catholicism).

      Similarity – Both Judaism (of the kind that accepts the Tanach as divine revelation – “Hebraism”) and Christianity accept the existence of God and his gift of life and reason, as given. We can receive nothing from God if we don’t first believe he exists and that He is our Creator and Provider.

      Difference – in Judaism, 1, 2, 3, and 4 proceed from our own wills (“hearts”), which can decide to accept or reject God and biblical revelation. In passing, Roman Catholicism and most Christians also believe this. There remains the Christian “misfits” like me, who believe that all four parts 1, 2, 3, 4 are gifts of God. The biblical warrant for 1, 2, 3 and 4 is found in several places in the NT. Here is one:

      Ephesians 2

       1 And you has he raised, who were dead in trespasses and sins … 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 8 … by grace (kind mercy) are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

      The basis for verse 1 is that the natural “man” hates God (of the Bible); God has to take out his heart of stone and replace it with a stone of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Judaism, naturally, will reject this interpretation of the verse.

      “So you’re not only a misfit but a robot.” The first, yes. The second no.

      • Dina says:

        Bog, you have not even begun to answer the challenges that several commenters including me have presented. Speaking for myself, I presented several scriptural passages that refuted everything you addressed to me about reason, free will, the reason God chose Abraham and the Jewish people, and so on. You have not answered a single one.

        Do you still stand by your position that reason is completely irrelevant to discovering the truth and that God chooses whom to save purely through His own whim and our actions have nothing to do with it?

      • Bography
        Jeremiah 10:11-16 (note I did not say 1-6) tell us to reject devotion to Jesus as well as to all who exist(ed) in the confines of God’s arena on the basis of reason.
        No one asked you about free will – you are advocating that reason play no role in accepting or rejecting a given faith -Jeremiah disagrees with you – how do you reconcile this.

        • bography says:

          Yisroel by “based in reason” I think you are contrasting v. 14 where “every man” (brutish in his knowledge) refers to Gentiles, which God contrasts with the “portion of Jacob” (who thinks rationally).

          You associate Jesus and his followers with idolaters, who are nothing but falsehood and vanity.

          You know (believe?) that one day you will be in the Olam Haba, the New Eden but Jesus, whom you are certain Jeremiah curses, as you do, won’t be there. You believe (know, hope?) that when you and the rest of Jacob’s portion shuck off your mortal coil, you will be received with joy into the arms of God, your deserved portion, while Jesus, for his blasphemy, was sent justly to his bloody death by Jacob. Jacob falls into the loving arms of the living God, but Jesus into his wrathful hands

          In the New Testament, it says there is a wide gulf between heaven and hell and no one from either side can cross over to the other side. If this is true, faithful Jews know deep down in their hearts that when they pass on to the World to Come (Olam Haba), they’ll be shot of Jesus forever. Well done faithful servant.

          Jeremiah 10:10-16
          10 But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king:
          at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. 11 Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.
          12 He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.

          13 When he utters his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causes the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he makes lightnings with rain, and brings forth the wind out of his treasures. 14 Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.

          15 They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish.
          16 The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: The Lord of hosts is his name.

          • Bography
            You are projecting your desperate mind-set onto me. I don’t spend much time thinking about the afterlife. I quoted Jeremiah because He makes it obvious that God expects us to use the gift of reason to reject the devotion that you are advocating – namely devotion to one who operated within the confines of God’s arena. This prophetic word destroys your argument that reason cannot be used to guide us in matters of faith.

          • bography says:

            Yisroel, thinking about God is good, but unless the Holy Spirit breathes through it by means of scripture, it is worthless.

          • bography says:


            You say “I don’t think much of the afterlife.” The following is your position, not so? And of all the Jews on this site, and what the majority of Jews believe, not so?

            The basis of our relationship with Hashem means that the fact that we are alive means that God has hope for us. He put us here for a reason; he didn’t put us here to destroy us. so, if after we have sinned we are still alive then there is still hope for us and we’re not lost. And then he will want to have a relationship with us. The after effect of the sin can be worse than the sin. If the sin makes you give up on life, you don’t find a relationship with God then it’s worse than the sin itself. As long as you’re alive, God wanted to have interaction with human beings. They have the capacity to sin. He knew it was going to happen. That’s part of our struggle. That’s what He wanted, so after we made a mistake – people are constantly making mistakes; it’s not just did I do and action, God demanded us to love kindness. To love kindness, that’s a state of being that we have constantly to grow on. We could certainly love kindness more than I do now, and I hope that tomorrow will be a better day, and the day after even better. We try. But that’s part of life, that’s part of our relationship with God; it’s to grow in these areas. The positive commandments are things that God created to allow us to infuse more godliness into our life. He gave us the commandments of Shabbos to sanctify us. In other words, to allow godliness to infuse our life. Wherever we are, when we were born we had what to improve on and what to grow in, and we’re constantly growing. A person who is not growing can only be dead. As long as you’re alive – you’re a created being – you’re not going to be perfect, and you’ll only be able too grow more; and God gave us the opportunity to infuse more godliness in our life – constantly.

          • bography says:

            My mind doesn’t feel desperate.


            Your “God expects us to use the gift of reason to reject the devotion that you are advocating – namely devotion to one who operated within the confines of God’s arena. This prophetic word destroys your argument that reason cannot be used to guide us in matters of faith.”

            Where in Jeremiah 10:10-16 does It explicitly address the issue of using your noggin? Perhaps implicitly. Where?

        • rambo2016 says:

          it seems to be a devotion to a disabled copy of a god who had to wear 5 human senses in order to be known. It really seems that Christianity is about flesh worship. God ,who is all powerful can only make himself known by wearing 5 human senses which are dependant upon created human flesh.

          • larryB says:

            Yes but it makes such a nice bedtime story for the little ones. A human they can relate to.

          • rambo2016 says:

            i fin it funny that when pagan philosophers such as william lane craig prove the existence of unseen god he gotta tell his athiests friends about the complexities of the universe and about why the first cause is intelligent designer. he is trying to prove the existence of unseen controller of the universe. yet at same time the pagan flesh worshipping philosophers says that the powerful controller of the universe had to wear 5 human senses.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            In fairness Rambo, no christian philosopher says that G-d “had to” take on flesh to be known, they merely claim he did such, thereby making an error. The fact that they reason a first cause demonstrates that corporeality is not their only, or chief aim. Jesus is called word by the Christians precisely because they draw a supposed distinction between natures in Jesus. (They say he has an uncreated incorporeal nature, and a created corporeal one, tha two are hypostatically United.)

            The issue is that even with their theological distinctions, they fall into a trap that limits G-d to this Jesus. They are trying to preserve monotheism, but they fail because they always have to plug Jesus in.

          • rambo2016 says:

            god unites with 5 human senses? it is not god breathing, tasting , feeling, hearing and seeing his disciples it is created corporeal person who is dis-joined from incorporeal person. where is the unity? there is one that is MEASURABLE and one that cannot be measured. where is the incarnation ? where is the offering? is this hypostatic unity poetical nonsense?

            “oneness of mind, feeling, etc., as among a number of persons; concord, harmony, or agreement.”

            you mean there is this “is/is not” nonsensical hypostatic unity?

          • bography says:

            Rambo, as you find it so icky rhat God can appear – other than in a vision, not so? – in human form, consider the visit (“vision?”) Abraham had in the three-visitors episode in Genesis 17. See
   where a Jewish commentator argues that there is no reason why the P’SHAT reading (the surface reading) should not be accepted instead of the traditional Midrashic “vision” reading. .

            “If this commentator is right, you may ask “What about “God is not a man…!” Nu, finish it “…that he should lie.” In other words, God, unlike man, does not have a “lying bone in his body.”). This verse is not a prophetic anti-Christian polemic against the doctrine of the Incarnation. “See, you lying irrational Xtian lot, God is not (and so can’t become) a man.

          • Dina says:

            Bog, let us say for argument’s sake that God appeared as a man ten times in each chapter of each book of Hebrew Scripture. Guess what? It wouldn’t do your cause any good. Per Deuteronomy 4, we are only permitted to worship God according to the knowledge of Himself that He imparted to us at Sinai. Per Deuteronomy 13, we forbidden to engage in any type of worship that was unknown to our fathers.

            So whether God did manifest as a man or whether He could manifest as a man is completely irrelevant to the question of whether worshiping Jesus is idolatry or not. According to the way the Torah defines idolatry, such worship is idolatry. Period, end of story.

            The next step for the Christian in such a debate is to show us that the Sinai revelation is not necessarily credible. (Just giving you a tip.)

          • bography says:

            Dina whst if someone bowed down to worship one of these appearances (throphanies)? Is that idolatry?

          • Dina says:

            Oops, Bog, I answered this question on your thread with Con.

  23. bography says:

    On what basis do you accept the Tanach as a revelation, the only divine revelation, from God?

    • Bography
      Since you don’t believe in the agency of reason – so it makes no sense for you to try to reason with me – but I will answer your question anyways – but you be a man and answer my question – if reason is meaningless to you then why do you attempt to use it when it seems to work for your object of devotion?
      I believe Tanach because I encounter God in the exodus, in the Sabbath, in the testimony of His witness nation, in His creation and in my heart and I hear His voice in Tanach. I also recognize that God blessed me with the ability to desire His truth and to discern it – and this ability to discern His truth complements the experience of encounter – for the ability to discern truth is encountering God – it is the one experience that cannot be duplicated by the false prophets.
      I answered your question – now answer mine.

  24. Jim says:

    How does one know that he can trust God? This is not something to be taken for granted. If we too readily assent to the idea that God is trustworthy we will incline ourselves to two errors. First, we will not really trust him. We will talk about trusting him, because we “know” we should, but we will not ever be sure that He is trustworthy. Second, we will just as easily give our trust to those who do not deserve it—false prophets, politicians, teachers, what have you—solely because we are convinced that we are supposed to do so. To avoid these two fates, one must consider what makes God trustworthy. I propose for consideration the prophecy reluctantly given by Bilaam, specifically Numbers 23.19: “God is not a human being, that he should lie, or a mortal that he should change his mind.” When we consider these words, we will come to understand why we can trust God.

    Here we have God telling us that He does not lie. But the question is, why should we believe Him? Perhaps He is lying about not lying. Many people tell us that they are not lying even as they do so. Many people insist upon their honesty and trustworthiness even as they lie and connive. To trust God, I must know something more about Him than that He claims not to lie.

    This something else we need to know is that He is not human. Why is this significant? A profound error can happen here if we are not careful. We might think that God is merely pronouncing His moral superiority over humanity. This thought will lead us astray. God is not telling us that He is not a scum like us humans. If he were, there would still be no reason to trust Him. A pronouncement about His own moral superiority could be a fabrication just as much as His claim not to lie. Such a reading echoes that of the atheist who reads the Torah and, not understanding it, finds in it a petty god who tyrannizes over others.

    God is drawing our attention to a profound truth, one that makes His statements and promises far more reliable than a declaration that He is trustworthy could ever be. A human being has needs and wants. He needs food, air, water, and shelter. He needs companionship. He wants pleasures of various types, including pleasures of the ego, like fame. But God is complete. He is not moved by hunger or thirst. He desires neither riches nor accolades.

    Only the mind that contemplates God’s perfection will be able to trust Him fully. He is not bullied into trusting God, because God said he must. He trusts God, because knowing God has no needs and no wants, he knows also that God does nothing to benefit Himself. There is nothing that could benefit God.

    Therefore, God never lies. When someone lies to you, they want something from you. They want your goodwill. They may want you to buy their product. They may wish to steal from you. But, generally speaking, when someone lies, it is because they find some benefit in it for themselves. But nothing could ever benefit God. He needs nothing. He wants nothing. Therefore, He is totally beyond lying. Others make false promises to secure a good for themselves, but there is no good for God to achieve for Himself. He does not make false promises.

    Nor does He change His mind, because His knowledge is perfect. Humans change their minds, because they believe they can achieve an end one way, and then, when they gain new information, they must change their plans to still achieve their ends. God’s knowledge lacks nothing. He never has an occasion when changing His mind could be necessary.

    When one understands God is perfect, only then can he begin to trust God wholly. But understanding God’s perfection is not relayed through the senses. In this area, one must rely upon his reason. He must realize that if God has needs, then there is something greater than God. It is with a cool head and through logic that one will come to the knowledge of the perfection of God.

    Moreover, once one has such knowledge, he will also know that as much as he might trust another human being, no human being can ever be trusted the same way that one can trust God. No human being is without wants and needs. Even a very good man cannot be trusted with the same surety with which one may trust God.

    Now we can understand God’s proclamation that He is not a man. At first glance, this would seem to have been a superfluous statement. God could have just said that He does not lie. However, He does not expect blind trust. God draws attention to the differences between Himself and man so that people may be assured of their trust in Him. Trust based on emotions will falter, because emotions come and go. True trust is grounded in reason.


    • larryB says:

      Jim, I agree with what you wrote, but I am confused. “”When one understands God is perfect, only then can he begin to trust God wholly. But understanding God’s perfection is not relayed through the senses. In this area, one must rely upon his reason””
      God instructs us to keep His Sabbaths.
      You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between
      me and you for the generations to come.
      The Sabbath is a sign. As long as we observe the Sabbath, it’s a
      sign that we are open to God, open to improvement.
      If we dont recognize the Sabbath we are no longer
      open to God.
      This commandment is just after the verse
      “also I have given ability to all the skilled
      workers to make everything I have commanded you”
      God is telling us that it is He who gives us the ability
      and skills to do the things that we do.
      He is the force behind all that we create, and without Him,
      we could do nothing at all.
      As the Scripture puts it, observe the Sabbath “so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.” God is the one who makes us skillful and holy. None of it is our doing.
      So, even our reasoning skills, which you surely have, are a gift from God.

      • Jim says:


        I am unsure about what area confuses you. I certainly do not deny that the mind is a gift of God, just as our every ability. It is a gift of God and he expects us to use it. Moreover, we should be grateful to Him for such a wonderful gift.

        Perhaps you can clarify your question, because I sense an objection but I am not sure what it is. I’ll take a stab at what I think might be bothering you.

        When a human being gives a gift, we are not immediately invested with trust in that person. A human often gives to another out of self-serving reasons. A businessman might give a gift to another person, hoping to secure his business, for example. Now the amount of trust and gratitude owed to such a person is less than one who gives totally unselfishly. One does not trust the giver of such a gift to be looking out for his best interests, because he knows that the gift is selfishly motivated.

        With God, no selfishness exists when He gives. Because He lacks nothing, anything He does, we know, is to our benefit. He never gives with the hope that He will receive something in return. Because we know this, through reason and understanding, we are able to trust Him fully. Or we will be if we contemplate it, if we make it real to ourselves. It will take more than a quick mental acknowledgement.

        So, why do I say we know this through reason? We cannot see God. We cannot, through the senses, know what God is like. To understand that God has no need, we must understand that His existence is not like ours. He is a wholly independent being. Our existence is wholly dependent. This is arrived at through the mind, which God gave us. And it seems to me that one reason He gave it to us is so that we could trust Him.

        I do not know if I have helped or caused more confusion, but I hope the former.


  25. Jim says:


    I can hardly think of a greater misuse of scripture than to turn “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy” into a statement that God applies his mercy higgledy piggledy, for reasons beyond all human understanding. I suppose that you take this from Paul’s doctrine that God creates some vessels for destruction and some for honor. But let us do an investigation. Does God mean that we cannot understand why He extends mercy to some, but not to others?

    Admittedly, that phrasing is very difficult. On its own, one could understand God to mean that He extends His mercy unilaterally, not due to the merit or demerit of any particular creature. However, a difficult phrase demands careful consideration, not a rush to the first idea that might pop into our heads. Instead, we must test our theories according to passages of scripture less obscurely phrased.

    In the chapter before the one in which this quote appears, Exodus 32, we have the incident of the Golden Calf. Moses tells God that if He will not forgive Israel, then Moses wishes to be blotted out of God’s Book. God tells Moses no, rather that those who sinned shall be blotted out. There is nothing of predestination in this, nothing of the unilateral choosing you have asserted. Instead, we see that God judges people according to their works.

    Similarly, with Abraham, we see the same thing. When God tells Abraham that He is about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham asks about God’s justice. Abraham says that it would be a sacrilege for God to destroy the righteous with the wicked. God does not correct Abraham, as if Abraham had a mistaken notion. He does not at this point say that He will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy. Rather He agrees with Abraham that if even ten righteous men are in Sodom and Gomorrah, God will spare the cities. God’s judgment is not random, but according to our deeds.

    Moreover, He extends His blessings to Abraham not for purely unilateral reasons. He did not create some vessel of honor to just happen to get his blessings. He blesses Abraham and Abraham’s descendants “Because Abraham obeyed My voice, and observed My safeguards, My commandments, My decrees, and My Torahs” (Gen. 26.5). Abraham’s appointment was not based on God dropping faith upon Abraham but due to Abraham’s obedience.

    Similarly, the blessings and the curses work the same way. If Israel keeps God’s Torah, it will be blesses. If it does not, it will be cursed. Nothing of your random election is here, not even random from human perspective. And Moses lets the people know that the Law is not too difficult to keep. Also, if they fail to fulfill the Torah and find themselves suffering under the curse, they are told the means to remedy the situation: repentance. They must return to the Torah. By so doing they return to God.

    This is echoed in Ezekiel 18 and 33. God tells the people that the person who sins shall die. He will be judged according to his actions, not by mysterious fiat. And if he repents, God will judge Him righteous. God accepts repentance. In fact, repentance can go in either direction. A good man may lament his past life and turn to vice. Such a man will be without mercy.

    With all of these facts on the table, it is untenable to hold that God is merciful for His own unfathomable reasons. In fact, He tells us what we must do to obtain mercy. I am sure your misrepresentation of the Torah was unintentional. Your mind has been shaped by the abuses of the NT. But if you wish to understand a difficult passage in the Torah, it is to the Torah you must turn to find your answer, not the NT. Here is only one occasion where we see that the NT’s philosophy contradicts that of God’s Torah. Because of this, we must reject NT interpretations of the Torah.


    • Dina says:

      Also, Bog, you made the following assertions at first:

      1. Reason cannot be used to discover religious truth. God simply chooses who will be saved.
      2. God did not choose Abraham or Israel for any particular reason; it was simply a whim.

      After showing you lots of Scriptural passages that flat out contradict your assertions, I’d like to ask you, do you still stand by these statements?

      If yes, why?

      I’m looking forward to your direct answer.

      • bography says:

        Dina your assessment of what I said:
        1. Reason cannot be used to discover religious truth. God simply chooses who will be saved.
        2. God did not choose Abraham or Israel for any particular reason; it was simply a whim.

        1. I wrote a long explanation in a previous comment. The upshot. Reason is a gift of God, which cannot be used to discover the existence of the giver of this gift. If, however, God wants to reveal more about him to you, he will (en)lighten your noggin.

        2. God chose Abraham because he wanted to for reasons known only to him.

        Definition of whim: “any decision of which Dina an I don’t know the reason.”

        Deuteronomy 29:29
        The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

        “Law” = instruction.

        So if God tells you that he will do as he pleases, one of which is have mercy on whomever he wants to have mercy, and choose whomever he wants to choose, for example, heels like Yakov, and his nothing-to-write-home-about progeny and make a great nation of them, which will happen at last with the New Covenant, then great.

        • Dina says:

          Bogs, you are using your reason to say that we can’t use our God-given reason to arrive at religious truth. This is contrary to the Scriptural verses that Rabbi Blumenthal, Jim, and I have shown you. You have yet to refute these verses.

    • bography says:

      Jim you use terms like higgledy piggeldy and random to describe the choices God makes. Just because he has mercy on some and not in others (quoted in the Torah) does not mean that he acts randomly. For democratic Americans, this kind of God acts without rhyme or reason. But, indeed, who are you to tell God what is fair, and what he should be doing. He blinds whom he wills (Isaiah 6) and enlightens whom he wills, and does it according to his justice or mercy. This is central Torah doctrine.

      • Dina says:

        Hey Bog,

        With apologies to Jim for sticking my nose in, there is nothing mysterious about God’s mercy. The theme that He rewards the obedient and punishes the disobedient is repeated many times throughout the Hebrew Bible. Here are just a few examples among many: Exodus 15:27, 23:22; Deuteronomy 11:13-17; also read Deuteronomy chapters 28-30, that will give you an idea.

        I also pointed out that God gave a reason why he chose Abraham and the Jewish people. I cited Genesis 18:19 and Deuteronomy 7:7-8 as proof that God’s motive here was not unfathomable, as you insist.

        So do you still stand by your statement that we can do nothing on our own to change our spiritual fate? Do you still stand by your statement that God chose Abraham and his descendants for reasons unknown to us?

        This is the third time I am pressing you for an answer.

        • Dina says:

          By the way, Bog, if you read Isaiah 5 it will give you the context for understanding Isaiah 6–which is not that God is blinding His people for, again, unfathomable reasons. God is angry at the people of Israel for their sins and is sending the prophet to rebuke them. (The traditional Jewish translation of this passage is as follows: “Surely you hear but you do not comprehend, and surely you see but you fail to know. This people is fattening its heart, hardening its ears, and sealing its eyes, lest it see with eyes, hear with its ears, and understand with its heart, so that it will repent and be healed.” from Tanach, the Stone Edition)

          • Dina says:

            Bog, sorry to flood you with responses, but one more question I wanted to ask: if you also still stand by your statement that reason plays no role in finding religious truth. So three statements in all for you to retract or defend. Thanks.

          • bography says:

            Dina about Isaiah 6.

            Dina, the Stone Edition either is or should be stoned. (Same with Rabbi Rosenberg’s translation at, which is the same as Stone. What were they thinking? This: Hashem can’t be that nasty, blocking their ears! What if We want to exchange out stony hearts for a warm soft one, and want to hear, want to see? By the way, we mustn’t forget to retranslate that bit of Hashem “hardening” Pharaoh’s heart. Remember free will is the most precious gift, after reason, we have, which He will never violate.

            Verse 12 says that God will blind the people until “the Lord has removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.”

            Dina the Jewish Mechon Mamre Edition has it right. Because it’s identical to the King James version. Tee hee.

            Here it is:

            Isaiah 6:9-13
            “he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, an understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. 11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, 12 And the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. 13 But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.”

            I wonder what stone did with this on below. Dina, let me know.

            Exodus 14:4
            And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” So the Israelites did this.

            Rashi ducked the hard bit and made a dash (a drash?) for the bit about the gllory of God. For God’s glory? Hmmm..

            “and I will be glorified through Pharaoh: When the Holy One blessed be He wreaks vengeance upon the wicked, His name becomes magnified and glorified. So it [Scripture] says: “And I will judge against him, etc.” and afterwards [the prophet says], “And I will magnify and sanctify Myself and I will be known, etc.” (Ezek 38:22, 23) And [Scripture similarly] says: “There he broke the arrows of the bow,” [which refers to Sennacherib’s defeat,] and afterwards [i.e., the result of that], “God is known in Judah” (Ps. 76:2,4) And [Scripture similarly] says: “The Lord is known for the judgement that He performed” (Ps. 9:17). — [from Mechilta]”

          • Dina says:

            Bog, did you read Isaiah 5? It puts Isaiah 6 in context. And context is everything, as you ought to be learning on this blog.

            Please see, again, the following Scriptures:

            Genesis 4:7; Psalms 145:18; Isaiah 55:6; Deuteronomy 28 and 30 (read each chapter, the whole thing, very carefully); Isaiah 18 and 33

            You Christians seize on a passage that APPEARS to support your theology and you ignore every other passage that flat out contradicts it. This is called cherry picking and it’s intellectually dishonest. For this crime against honest debate, I sentence you to a gentle hanging and quartering.

      • Jim says:


        It is surprising that you would employ the trilemma, showing that you are familiar with Lewis, but then would also employ what he calls Bulverism. You have attempted to turn me into a straw man, rather than engage my arguments. Whether or not I am a “democratic American” is irrelevant; nor did I, in any fashion, place my judgement over God’s. It is dirty pool to pretend otherwise. On a page where one can easily read what I wrote and compare it to your portrayal of what I wrote, it is brazen.

        Anyone can read that what I wrote was based on Torah, and not on one mysterious verse. It is Torah that tells us that He judges us according to our deeds. This is not my invention. And it is obvious that you cannot answer my arguments or you would not resort to such underhandedness.

        Do you believe it is my invention that Noah found favor with God because He was righteous? Is this my invention? Perhaps you believe that it was a rabbinic invention. No, but you know otherwise, do you not? It is the Torah that tells us that God judged Noah favorably due to his righteousness.

        Or do you think that I invented the idea of repentance? You quote Isaiah 6 (without context. Dina has already corrected you on this issue, for which you ought to thank her.) Did you think to look at Isaiah 1? There God tells the people their faults, and what they ought to do. In a similar vein, before Nineveh was destroyed, God sent them Jonah, who urged them to repent, and so they did. And they were spared the impending destruction.

        These are, of course, neither products of my imagination nor products of my American upbringing. These are the teachings of the Prophets of Israel. And then there is this, from one of Israel’s kings: “The end of the matter, everything having been heard, fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the entire man” (Ecc. 12.13).

        Stop and reflect. The whole of man is to fear God and keep His commandments. Where is this infusion of faith to which you appeal? Where is belief in the Messiah? Do you think I invented these words, as well? And yet, we must return to why God blessed Abraham, because he followed God’s commandments, etc.

        I certainly would be a straw man if I only relied upon American tradition. If I were to elevate my judgement over that of God, my words would be nothing but empty air. However, it is God Who tells us that he judges humanity according to their deeds. Upon His justice we can rely.


    • bography says:


      What does God expect of the Jew in the New Covenant?

      Ezekiel 36:22-35
      Therefor say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. 23 And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. 24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.
      25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. 28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. 30 And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen. 31 Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. 32 Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel. 33 Thus saith the Lord God; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded. 34 And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by. 35 And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.

      • Jim says:


        Are you not ashamed to quote the same prophet who instructs us that we are judged according to our deeds and teaches repentance to pretend that God chooses unilaterally, that human good has nothing to do with why He favors people? Have you not read that though God did allow the nations to punish Israel, they punished them worse than they deserved? Or did you not read what precedes the verses you quoted, which tells why Israel suffered? It tells us that they are punished because they “profaned the land”. They are receiving the curse of Deuteronomy.

        Ah, but you will say that they are not restored by repentance. They are restored for God’s name. They are not restored for their “own sakes” as quoted above. But God does not say that He does this because He chooses some at random, the ones He just happened to make this way. No, He does so for good reason. He does it so that the nations will know God.

        But even so, He does not take an entirely unworthy people and use them for this purpose. For certainly you know that there is a remnant. Moreover, and more importantly, you continue to ignore Deuteronomy 30, which certainly seems to be writing about the same time, and it does speak of repentance: “…if you call to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord your God, and you and your children obey him with all your heart and with all your soul, just as I am commanding you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you, gathering you again from all the people among whom the Lord your God has scattered you” (30.1-3).

        A note should be made here, because there are two different questions being conflated. How one becomes close to God is not the same issue as the status of national Israel. God set Israel aside for a purpose. They are His witnesses. They were awarded that status, because Abraham’s faithfulness to God’s commands, a fact that you have yet to acknowledge. One may be part of Israel, however, and not be close to God. Anyone can become close to God, Jew or (like myself) non-Jew through obedience to God. This has been shown multiple times.

        A further note should be made, belief in the Messiah has nothing to do with this passage. (I do not mean to say that you have inserted it. I know you have not mentioned it.) If the remedy for our souls was to believe in the Messiah, it should appear here. You mention that God will give Israel a new heart. This is correct. Notice what it does not tell us. It does not tell us he will give them a new heart, so that they will believe in the Messiah. It is so that they will “follow [His] statutes and be careful to observe [His] ordinances” (36.27).

        In any case, there is no unilateral election regarding the personal relationship one has with God. You have conflated two different issues. And you have ignored mounds of evidence against your assertion that God unilaterally extends mercy to people.


        • bography says:

          Jim before I say more, what do you understand by “I will have mercy on whom I want to have mercy…?”

          • Jim says:


            I’m not sure why you ask for my interpretation. I do not need to have an alternative to know that yours does not fit within the context of Torah. I am not sure what it means, but I can rule out certain possibilities. I freely admit that I do not know what the phrase means, but that does not mean that I cannot know what it does not and cannot mean.

            However, if I had to come up with an idea without sufficient study and consideration of the issue, shooting from the hip, as it were, I would say that it indicates that we do not always understand why God shows mercy to someone. We might look at their actions and believe that they are unworthy. God, however, knows the heart of a person, knows why they do what they do.

            We might look at a charitable person, for example, and we might think that they are very good and deserving of much goodness. But it turns out that the person is motivated by fame; he only wishes to earn the goodwill of others. Another person may appear to us to be not very good at all, but we do not understand the challenges he has had, perhaps the poor upbringing that gave him a bad view of life. But he is making progress, whether we see it or not, and he is doing the best he can with what he was given. We cannot see all those pieces, but God does. He is the only True Judge.

            Again, I am only shooting from the hip. But, inasmuch as your theory contradicts Torah, whether or not my theory is correct does not have any bearing on the Christian interpretation. And after all, I am only a baby. I still have much of my former Christianity to flush from my mind.


          • bography says:

            Jim if you don’t know Hebrew and so don’t know what this means, no sweat.

            יט  וַיֹּאמֶר, אֲנִי אַעֲבִיר כָּל-טוּבִי עַל-פָּנֶיךָ, וְקָרָאתִי בְשֵׁם יְהוָה, לְפָנֶיךָ; וְחַנֹּתִי אֶת-אֲשֶׁר אָחֹן, וְרִחַמְתִּי אֶת-אֲשֶׁר אֲרַחֵם.

            But when it comes to “I will have mercy on whom I want to have mercy,” what words in the sentence don’t you understand? Here is the English with the larger context.
            Exodus 33:17-18
            The Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. 18 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

            Moses has found grace (mercy and goodness) with the Lord. Why? Because he “knows [Moses] by name.” Which doesn’t mean that the Lord thinks Moses is a good sort, but that he loves Moses. Why? Not for anything in Moses but for everything in the Lord. Because the Lord chose to love him for nothing in Moses, but for the sole reason that God wants to love Moses (as he did with Israel); because “I will have mercy on whom I want to have mercy.”

            When the Lord does something because he wants to, it’s infinitely more glorious than man who gives a reason for doing so.

            But, the meaning of the sentence can stand alone without any extra-sentential context. In other words it can be applied to any context. If somebody says “I will do whatever I want,” do you need to know the context of “whatever” to know the meaning of the sentence? Nope. Seeing as you might want to know the context, the “whatever” here refers to the wife saying: “Don’t drink so much coffee!” And the horrible hubby’s retort:: “I will do…!”

            You say you don’t know what it means but you know what it doesn’t mean, namely, I will have mercy on anyone I want. Let every mouth be stopped.

          • Dina says:

            That’s what it means. We don’t know why God shows mercy to some and not others because we don’t see the full picture. Quite a precocious baby, you are, Jim!

          • Jim says:


            As you continue to avoid my arguments, pretending as if they did not exist, you cannot even understand your own. You say that I do not need to know what “whatever” means in the sentence “I will do whatever I want” and then accidentally go on to show that context is everything. To understand what the husband is saying in your example, you point out that he is talking about drinking coffee when his wife says he shouldn’t. Without that piece of information, you, nor I, nor anyone else could understand what he meant. Does he mean that he will drive without a license? Does it mean that he will be bound by no laws? Until we have the context, we do not know that he means that means will drink coffee whether his wife likes it or not.

            Of course, as a Christian, you are ready to deny that context means anything. The NT abuse of Tanach is so blatant that only by denying context are you allowed to accept the NT as true. But you cannot escape context as easily as you would like. When Jesus says that one who does not hate his mother and father is not worthy of him, is Jesus really teaching that people ought to hate their parents? That is what those words mean, is it not? No, because I am taking them out of context.

            So here you are, trying to pretend context is irrelevant, while your own example demands context. I have shown that God favors the righteous many times so far. This is the context in which the sentence “I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy” occurs. God favors those who are obedient and does not those who are not. This He says many times. (Perhaps it is you who cannot understand a simple sentence.) You have not answered these points at all.

            And now you assert that Moses was not chosen for any qualities that he possessed. So Balaam would have been as good a choice? Pharaoh? Instead of Noah, God might have just as easily selected those most vile murderer and rapist to preserve humanity?

            You heap absurdity upon absurdity, relying upon one difficult passage to assert a point many times contradicted by the Torah. You take those passages that are in the light and drag them into the shadow. You would do much better to take this passage that is in the shadow and interpret it in the light of the clear passages.

            Of course context matters.


          • Dina says:

            Bog, maybe you know Hebrew but you don’t know Scripture. Numbers 12:7:

            לא כן עבדי משה בכל ביתי נאמן הוא

            If you knew Hebrew, furthermore, you would not be able to accept the egregious mistranslations of the Torah in Christian scripture.

          • bography says:

            Dina before I reply to your Numbers 12:7 query, do you have any dispute with my yada yada yada about why God favored Moses? If yes, whar?

          • bography says:


            Are You saying that when God says “I will have mercy on whom I want to have mercy” this cannot apply to every “who” in his creation?

            II wonder if any Jew realises – why should I be surprised, if none do; most Christians don’t – that these sovereign words of the Lord is the linchpin of both the Tanach and the NT. And you don’t even know what means. Me avoiding!

          • Sharbano says:

            In reading your numerous replies I don’t know what you are asking or even what is your point. What is written is so self-explanatory it is perplexing that there is even a question. Considering your vantage point I would assume you believe it is speaking of Jsus. From your statement that no one else is privy to the understanding, neither Jew OR Xtian we have to conclude you are reveling in your own imaginations.

          • bography says:


            How about an example of what confuses you.

          • Sharbano says:

            Actually just about everything you have been posting lately is confusing. The questions you have been asking everyone look to be frantic responses. As a result I have no idea what the point of those questions are. It looks to me as borderline ramblings. You have become fixated on this “mercy” and are unwilling to put forth any answers. Your replies are such that you Alone have the understanding and when asked you divert the question. It has been said before that Xtians, when confronted, will divert the question. Unfortunately you seem to be employing the epitome of this.

          • Dina says:

            Bog, you wrote, “II wonder if any Jew realises – why should I be surprised, if none do; most Christians don’t – that these sovereign words of the Lord is the linchpin of both the Tanach and the NT.”

            How did you and a handful of others arrive at this great and wonderful revelation?

          • Jim says:


            Though you mean it sarcastically, indeed you are avoiding my arguments. While I have written of many occasions where we are told God forgives those who repent and shows favor to the righteous, which contradicts the doctrine you attempt to impose upon this “linchpin”, you do not respond to my arguments at all. You merely insist on your point. Insistence is not argumentation.

            It is true that you have attempted to adduce a couple other proofs to your side from scripture. But Dina and I have answered those. And yet, you ignore the proofs we bring, though they are numerous and disastrous to your theology.

            You make much of my admitting that I am unsure of the meaning of a scripture, as much as you can get out of it. However, I did offer an alternative to your understanding which you have shamefully ignored. It is up to you to establish that my alternative cannot be correct.

            In fact, you seem unable to grasp what it means that I can know one answer to be false and not know the correct answer. Perhaps this comes more easily to me, because I like to do ken ken puzzles. They are a bit like sudoku, but the numbers are clustered in such a way that they must make a sum, difference, product, or dividend while a number may still only be used once in a row or column. So, if I have two numbers next to each other that must make a dividend of 2 in a six-by-six grid then I know right off the bat that neither of the numbers is 5. The highest number in the grid is 6 and the only way to get a dividend of 2 with a five is if the other number is a 10. Since we do not go that high, neither space can be a 5. But either could be a 1,2,3,4,or 6. Until I have more information, I will not know. Let us say that in that row, a 1 appears, making neither of them a 1. I still have four numbers that may work. Still I know two numbers that it cannot be.

            You are like a person who is yelling that the answer must be a 1 and a 2 because it is the first thing that came to your mind. And when I tell you that it cannot be a 1, because that contradicts other information of the puzzle, you demand that I tell you what the answer is. However, I do not know yet. I only know that it cannot be a 1 or a 5, because those numbers contradict the facts. But you go further, you think you have proven an answer that has been logically eliminated because I do not provide the correct answer. But my ignorance of the correct answer does not imply your rectitude.

            The meaning you read into “I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy” does not fit the facts. God tells us many times that He favors the obedient. He tells us that He will have mercy upon the repentant. Shout all you want that you have the answer because I am uncertain, it will not change the facts. Your interpretation contradicts the known facts.

            Regarding your question whether or not “who” can be employed universally, I do not understand the question. In fact, the question implies that you do not even understand my objection.


        • bography says:

          Ashamed? Jim, The Ezekiel text I quoted is crystal clear: God brings dead souls to life. Let Israel rejoice in the amazing grace and goodness of God.

          Ezekiel 36:32-33
          Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel. 33 Thus saith the Lord God; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded.

          “But first you must repent” saith who?

          Isaiah 46:9-11
          9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else;
          I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
          and from ancient times the things that are not yet done,bsaying, My counsel shall stand,
          and I will do all my pleasure: 11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.

  26. bography says:

    Dina, reason does indeed play a role in finding (learning, understanding) religious truth. My point is that God has to remove the heart (core of a person) of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh (a desire to know God and learn about Him).

    • Dina says:

      Bog, thanks for answering. That’s a partial retraction of one statement, okay. So how do you reconcile the notion “that God has to remove the heart (core of a person) of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh (a desire to know God and learn about Him)” with the following contradictions in Scripture: Genesis 4:7, Deuteronomy 30:11-19; Psalms 145:18; Isaiah 55:6; Ezekiel Chapters 18 and 33; Psalms 145:18?

      What about your other statements (about not knowing why God chose Abraham and the Jews and that God chooses our spiritual destiny for us)?

      Thanks again,

      • bography says:

        Dina what do you mean by “a partial retraction of one statement?

        • Dina says:

          Bog, stop chasing distractions and respond to my arguments if you want to be taken seriously. I gave your position quite a wallop. Can you refute the Scriptural citations I presented against your arguments?

          • bography says:


            Mea bulka, mea bulka, mea maxima bulka.

            One of your ripostes was that God chose God because he knew Moses was a good sort. The hebrew for “know” is usually YADA. Sometimes it means “love” as when God says to Israel of all the nations I knew you, and Jeremiah “I knew (loved) you in your mother’s womb. In my latest response I talk about God sayng to Moses “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” Please see there.

            Please don’t respond: Yada, yada, yada.

          • Dina says:

            Boggsie, I don’t know what you mean by “mea maxima bulka,” unless you are saying, “I am extremely fat.”

            Not sure what the rest of your post means, either. It’s very vague.

            But it isn’t right that you ask all the questions but won’t answer any. If you actually looked up and read the passages I cited, you will see that they are clear–blisteringly, blindingly, damningly clear. You don’t have an argument, sir. That is why you are hedging.

          • Sharbano says:

            That reminds me of a conversation long ago that I had with a Xtian. I had quoted a particular pasuk in rebuttal and the reply given was, “that’s Not what it means”. Needless to say I didn’t offer Any interpretation, only the quote. So, even if it is clear as day, unambiguous, it still amounts to an opinion to the other person.

          • Dina says:

            Sharbano, that does seem to be the case. The only Scriptural passages that matter are the ones that support their preconceived theology. It doesn’t matter how clear the passages that you show them are.

          • bography says:


            Pass me the pasuk. Maybe I can yelp.

          • bography says:

            Mea bulka…. is the Yiddish version of the Roman Catholic words of contrition:
            Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa “My fault, my fault, my great fault.”

            Please select one of the questions you asked me previously.. I’ve got so many questions from so many quarters trying to gently draw and quarter me.

          • Dina says:

            Bog, I don’t know Yiddish but I am nevertheless surprised to hear that “Mea maxima bulka” is Yiddish (I am familiar with the Latin phrase). Yiddish speakers, please weigh in.

            My main question to you is if you still stand by the following statements:

            1. Reason cannot be used to discover religious truth. God simply chooses who will be saved.
            2. God did not choose Abraham or Israel or Moses for any particular reason; it was simply a whim.
            3. God chooses who will find Him. He bestows His grace on whomsoever He will; our actions have nothing to do with it.
            4. We can only repent if God first removes our heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh.

            Here are the refuting Scriptures:

            Exodus 19:9; Deuteronomy 4:32-40; Deuteronomy 30:19; Genesis 18:19; Deuteronomy 7:7-9; Numbers 12:7; Genesis 4:7, Deuteronomy 30:11-19; Psalms 145:18; Isaiah 55:6; Ezekiel Chapters 18 and 33; Exodus 15:27, 23:22; Deuteronomy 11:13-17; also read Deuteronomy chapters 28-30

          • bography says:


            Which scriptures for which questions.

            About the “mea bulka…” it was a joke. The only Yiddish word is “bulka” (a bun).

          • Dina says:

            Bog, look them up; they’re clear and self-explanatory.

          • Dina says:

            “My bun, my great, big bun”–then it must be the pecan sticky kind. Any other just won’t do. (By the way, Yiddish speakers pronounce it “bilka.”)

          • bography says:

            Dina, “bulka” was originally Russian. I think also Polish. It was adopted by Yiddish. “Bilka” I don’t know. I doubt whether Jews from Latvia or Lithuania said “Bilka.” Certainly not the many I knew.

          • bography says:

            Dina, I meant “God chose Moses…”

  27. Concerned Reader says:

    Would you agree with the Jews in the NT who said to Jesus that it was he who was of Satan?

    Bography, something you should really know about Judaism before I answer your question, is that the word satan does not have the same malicious or evil connotation for Jews that it does for Christians in Christianity. The Christian idea of satan as the god of this world, as the evil one who rebels, against G-d, etc. does not reflect mainstream Second temple thought, but minority sectarian ideas. Jesus had very appocyptic ideas. The Satan of Christianity goes against biblical ideas of free choice.

    The Satan in Judaism is like a prosecuting attorney, who brings to G-d’s attention all the failings of the righteous. He makes bets with G-d that the righteous will stumble in a test (as happened in Job.) To most Jews, satan has a righteous Job to do for G-d, (he is not the rebellious Angel who lead 1/3 of the hosts away from serving G-d.) This is what I meant when I said that Jesus’ ideas were informed by concepts that were not mainstream judaism. Some second temple literature had these ideas, (1 Enoch, Jubilees, etc. as do some minor midrashim,) but these ideas are not informed by mainstream accepted Jewish teachings, and do not carry the same authority as Torah.

    This appocyliptic Jewish literature is akin to Dante’s inferno, the left behind series, or other stuff. These are people’s ideas and explorations of ideas, but you wouldn’t treat them as an established doctrine or scripture.

    It’s also important to know that what was said to Jesus by Jews, was something that the gospel author says was said to Jesus by Jews. That’s a big difference. Some Jews saved Jesus from Herod, and Jesus’ ethical teachings are genuinely Jewish, and reflected even in Talmud.

    Jews can see Jesus as a rabbi who had some mistaken ideas, but this does not mean there is a hatred of him, or a belief that Jesus is “satanic.”

    Dina, haha no, I’m an American, I just like pudding lol 😉

  28. Concerned Reader says:

    To put it another way Bography, I know that Christians can sometimes be very fearful of Satan, hell, demons, etc. but in the Torah there is only ever to be the fear of G-d by humans. If G-d had a minion that turned on him to rebel by choice, this would mean that he has allowed completion for our devotion, which is impossible, because he says he does not allow it. (In christian terms, you would have sons of light, and sons of darkness, vessels made for destruction.) This idea totally violates biblical free will, so it’s not truly a Torah teaching. G-d tells Cain in Genesis 4:7-8 that he can master his sinful desires. If the satan described by the Church is real, and the “god of this world” is real, then this statement by G-d to Cain would potentially be untrue.

    Isaiah 43:11 New International Version
    I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. G-d would not claim that a person could overcome their sinful desires, or claim that a man suffers due to his own sins only, if there was a “god of this world.”

    • bography says:


      Your “I know that Christians can sometimes be very fearful of Satan.” Only the ignorant ones.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        No offense meant Bo, I know your right, (not to be afraid,) but there are many many christians who allow themselves to fear entities other than G-d.

        • bography says:


          Yes many Christians are scared of the devil for at least two reasons; they’ve either not read their Bible or they don”t “really” believe it.

          Romans 8
          35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

          “For your sake we face death all day long;
          we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
          37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

          Many Muslims don’t want to chop off heads and beat their wives. If, however, they believed their Qur’an, would want to.

          A truism: actions/thoughts/words of religious people do not necessarily flow from their scriptures. How often we forget that. “Look at the Inquisition. Horrible Christianity!” Duh.

  29. Dina says:

    I’m using this forum to muse aloud. I’ve been thinking about Brother Gilbert’s exhortations to be more inclusive, and that reminded me of Jim’s strawberry shortcake analogy. Basically, the Brother is suggesting that we focus on the fact that both of our shortcake recipes call for sweet, buttery shortbread. So why complain if his shortbread includes garlic and oregano? Stop quibbling over small details and let’s focus on the fact that we both eat shortbread. Shortbread is shortbread after all! It’s all the same. And it’s really bigoted, narrow-minded, intolerant, and exclusionary to insist that our recipe is the only right one and that his recipe is a disaster just because he dribbles that little bit of cyanide on top of his whipped cream. I mean, really now! Why can’t we all be friends?

    On that note, Happy Purim everyone!

  30. Concerned Reader says:

    Are You saying that when God says “I will have mercy on whom I want to have mercy” this cannot apply to every “who” in his creation?

    Bo, you are saying that G-d can choose whoever he wants, whatever he wants, whenever he wants, but what you aren’t seeing, is that this premise makes the entire notion of covenant relationship, (whether Jewish or Christian) completely superfluous. If G-d makes a sovereign choice, not accounting for our actions, he has made us vessels without purpose. This premise of yours is Contradicted by scripture, (even the NT.) if G-d can make a sovereign choice, then his plans for anyone make no sense.

    G-d could reject the Church if your premise holds.

  31. Concerned Reader says:

    PS Bography, you shouldn’t post here if you don’t want to answer questions people pose to you, politely and to the best of your ability. If all you want to do is quote verses, without noting how your reading fits the points made by the text, then I point you to the following page. A person can make a bible say anything by quoting verses.

    • bography says:

      Jim you say you know what ” I will have mercy…” does not mean. Would you agree one thing it does not mean is this.

      Jossl (to God): I want to repent.
      God: Toughies, I will have mercy on whosoever I fel like. And you ain’t in my sights. Try, try, try again when I’m in a better mood.

      • Jim says:

        It certainly does not mean that, and you should not need to ask, inasmuch as I’ve noted several times that God has mercy on the repentant.

        • bography says:

          Good. Agreed. Do think God has any role in someone’s need to repent? If yes, what role?

          • Jim says:


            I note that you continue to evade our arguments and offer further questions as a distraction. I will do my best to answer, however.

            Your question is hazy. I am not sure I understand what you mean by God having a role in someone’s “need to repent”. So I will give answers to two separate areas and hope I have addressed your question.

            Regarding one’s need to repent, the need arises from a violation of God’s commands. If you wish to say that God has a role in the need to repent, the role He has is that He established the standards whereby the human being is to live, and it is the violation of those standards that creates the need.

            If you mean to ask if God has a role in someone’s act of repentance, one might say so in the following ways. God has given humanity reason, so we are able to recognize our errors. He sometimes sends punishments to draw attention to our faults, so that we will repent. He has at times sent Prophets to call people to repent.


          • bography says:

            Jim do you think that someone who has a heart of stone can and wants to repent? Or does “heart of stone” bear no connection to repentance?

          • Jim says:

            Indeed, one with a heart of stone can wish to repent. In fact, if you observe Deuteronomy 30, you will see that repentance precedes the circumcision of the heart.

            Consider also the words of David in the 51st Psalm as he repents: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me” (v. 10). David is asking for a clean heart, because of his repentance.


          • bography says:

            What does “heart” in the Tanach connote?

          • Jim says:


            A further note:

            Let us say that your assumption is correct, that one is (only?) able to repent when God gives him a heart of flesh whereby to do it. If God changes one’s heart, this is not repentance, and it is not something God can urge one to do.

            For example, Ezekiel writes: “But if the wicked turn away from all their sins that they have committed and keep all my statutes and do what is lawful and right, they shall surely live; they shall not die” (18.21). But this would be nonsense if it was up to God to change the heart. He would know that it was impossible for them to turn from their ways. Moreover, it would be absurd for God to say: “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked…and not rather that they should turn from their ways and live?” (v. 23). I say it is an absurdity because clearly, if God is the one Who creates the “repentance” or not, then He must take pleasure in the death of the wicked, inasmuch as He created them to be wicked and destroyed. If it was not up to them to choose to repent or not, then it was up to Him, and He could neither urge them to repent nor wish them to do it.

            How strange, if he should have created Cain with a heart of stone, that he should tell Cain: “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Gen. 4.7). Why should God tell Cain this if it were up to God and not Cain? Why not have told him, “Why should you care if you were made to be a vessel of dishonor?” Perhaps you think God was having a little fun at Cain’s expense. Since God knew it was not really up to Cain at all, maybe He wished not only to send him to eternal torment but torment him in this life as well.

            Note, rather, that Cain has a choice. God tells Cain that he will be accepted if he does well. Cain is given a condition for acceptance from God totally at odds with your interpretation of “I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy”. Moreover, God tells Cain that he can master sin.

            All of this is as odds of your (or I should say Paul’s) interpretation. Do you not yet see how much he contradicts Torah in his “interpretation”?


          • Jim says:

            Please pardon the mistype in the last paragraph of the previous post. It should read: “All of this is at odds with your….”

  32. Concerned Reader says:

    Rambo, for the record, incarnation isn’t rational, neither is hypostatic Union, hence the whole problem with the doctrine. It violates the first logical absolute, namely the law of identity, and also the law of non contradiction. I actually commend bgraphy for admitting that his reason is not his chief motivator, at least we know where he stands.

    These doctrines are trying to reconcile the irreconcilable. The idea (at least as it was taught to me when I believed it) was that G-d didn’t become a body, but his presence (called the logos/Son) manifested in a human individual named Jesus, like the shekinah in the tabernacle, so that G-d in a sense experienced the suffering of Jesus in some unique and real way. G-d never ceased to exist when Jesus died, but G-d fixed the condition (mortality aka original sin) that people couldn’t fix on their own merit, due to death coming through Adam’s sin. It wasn’t just normal death either. The way I heard it, was that Jesus had to be connected to G-d, (had to be his unique son) because he had to make an eternal decision (correctly) to correct for what Adam had done (incorrectly.) I know it makes no sense. Just as Adam had unparalleled knowledge of G-d, so the Messiah would need that knowledge and More. (He had to be the embodiment of G-d’s own word in other words, because measure for measure would dictate eternal source for an eternal outcome. Only someone with the knowledge of G-d himself could rectify Adam’sin, because Adam was already as close as one could get to G-d in the garden.

    For the record, this is not an attempt at defending christian doctrine, just sharing what I learned.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Rambo, it’s also good to know when learning church doctrine which worldview incarnation and hypostatic Union is meant to be addressing.

      In many ways, Judaism takes for granted the ideas of the nearness and moral investiture of G-d in human affairs, as well as the idea that we are made in his image, and that this signifies a unique covenant relationship between he and us. Jews did not need to learn, or prove these things to others, that G-d feels for their suffering, or that he has a plan for them. Greeks and Romans however couldn’t grasp these basic ideas. The Church therefore framed doctrines that their polytheistic worldview could grasp.

      The gods were either totally natural and uninterested (driven by fates) or incorporeal ideas and ultimately then, a kind of poetic metaphor, (so to them, ultimately irrelevant. )

      (You learn these things quick when you read polytheistic polemics against monotheism lol.) Incarnation and hypostatic Union sought to prove to a Hellenic mindset that G-d is indeed both present and creating the world moment to moment, yet far away, and that he is also morally invested in us, giving us rules to follow directly. The Hellenic mind, couldn’t see the divine the way scripture, or Judaism described.

    • rambo2016 says:

      “was that G-d didn’t become a body, but his presence (called the logos/Son) manifested in a human individual named Jesus, ”

      “, so that G-d in a sense experienced the suffering of Jesus in some unique and real way.”

      god had to dwell in his mothers womb as well. so it seems as if the logos like all human souls is restricted to a body. and not only is it restricted it needs a human body to experience suffering. the christian is not having a relationship with god but finite created human senses .

      jesus had to use his sense of sight when the jews picked up stones to stone him. jesus’ sight saved jesus.

      why does a god who controls and creates the universe need to use 5 senses?
      why do christians need to feel, hear, look , taste and smell thier god?
      why does a god need to feel, hear, taste , smell an look before he can have a relationship with created?

      christians need to sense thier god before they can have a relationship with him.
      can you believe it that the one who punishes needs to feel his own punishment before he could release you from his punishment?

      • Concerned Reader says:

        No, I can’t believe it Rambo.

        • rambo2016 says:

          i don’t get it. i thought you were a christian. have you changed your beliefs?

          • bography says:

            CR, a Xtian! Rambo, that’s another movie.

          • Dina says:

            Yes, Bog, until very recently Con was a Christian, arguing for Christianity on this very blog. Con is a fundamentally honest person and could not reconcile the contradictions between Christianity and the Hebrew Scriptures.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          Bo, it’s fundamentally an issue like this. Even if you could satisfactorily prove that G-d is triune in nature, that Jesus is the messiah, that he’s the second person, etc. it doesn’t change the fact that adherence to the commandment as written is treated by scripture as the berometer of determining the truth of claims, not whether a person is divine, did miracles, or had millions of followers etc. Ask yourself, why did G-d hide Moses’ body, and why don’t we have the Ark? If we had them, men might see divine power in them and do what is biblically wrong.

          Even the New Testament says the false messiah claims himself to be G-d. How do you not fall for the trap? The way you tell the true from false is in faithfulness to the commands of G-d. G-d never says that one sacrifice will cover every single transgression, whether animal blood or Jesus’ blood. No Jew will EVER ACCEPT a divine messiah, because Tanach says only the father is true G-d alone. That’s the point of the bible. G-d is G-d, and man cannot grab hold of G-d.

          Consider how easy it has been for many men in history to come out of the woodwork and say, “I am divine and salvation is only found through me.” The Jewish people will not accept this statement from anybody. Not Jesus, not the prince of tyre, not Hirohito, not Kim Jung Un, not Mahayana Buddhist appeals for Buddha, not Pharoah etc.

    • rambo2016 says:

      honestly i don’t see an answer to what i had asked .

      why does a god take on five human senses and at times use those senses to save himself / get himself out of trouble??

      christians are knowing the unknowable god through these five senses confines/restricted to a created body.

    • rambo2016 says:

      “was that G-d didn’t become a body, ”

      but he experiences sight , taste, hearing, touch and smell like human beings. this is relationship with human senses. if he doesn’t physically experience these senses what does incarnation mean?

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Rambo, these are questions that even christians don’t ask, (again another problem.) I don’t know why they focus on it so much, especially when the Torah tels you how G-d wants to be served.

        I think G-d “needed” five senses so that gentiles could see Judaism’s view of G-d as truly relevant to their own worldview. Take the biblical notion of creation out of nothing. Even if you can convince them about creation from nothing, they see nothing as a substance, not as truly nothing.

        There are certain assumptions in these different world views that in many ways say that if gods aren’t “subject to 5 senses” then as far as these humans were concerned, they couldn’t really exist.

    • Dina says:

      Con, I really like what you wrote here in the first paragraph. In fairness to Christians, it’s logical only if you believe it first, so they fall into the trap of circular reasoning, unwittingly–because once you believe it, it’s very, very hard to see why someone who doesn’t believe it finds it irrational.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Dina, they do see logic in it from their vantage point. They also work very hard philosophically to reconcile what they believe with monotheism, but because the starting point is not from the commandments, they can’t see what a fine line they walk in saying Jesus is a divine son.

  33. Concerned Reader says:

    Bogeaphy, the issue that Judaism has with the doctrine of the incarnation and hypostatic Union is manifold.

    1st, G-d informed the people of ISRAEL at mount Sinai that they saw “no manner of form but heard only a voice.” And that they were not to make an image, or to put another god, before his face. They are told to heed all the words I command you “THIS DAY” unto ALL GENERATIONS IE sinai law does not change.

    2nd Even if G-d can manifest in A created nature, these manifestations are not to be worshipped by people, or addressed in prayer. IE Nobody prays to G-d in the name of the burning bush, in the name of the captain of the lord’s host, in the name of Ezekiel’s chariot, or the temple, etc. by the same token Jews are not permitted to address anyone but the father in prayer and service.

    3rd Look at how many people historically (either by themselves or through their students) have claimed

    1. Divinity
    2. Miracles
    3. Large numbers of followers

    The bible teaches that you cannot rely on these kinds of claims for proof, precisely because they are so easy to fake. (Consider Pharoah’s magicians, or even the Church doctrine on the antichrist. The litmus test for truth, (according to both testaments) is adherence to the commandments of

    • Dina says:

      That’s exactly right, Con! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Bo, to see the problem of an incarnation in full, Read this portion of the chariot vision of ezekiel here below, beginning chapter 1.

      25 Then there came a voice from above the vault over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. 26 Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. 27 I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. 28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.
      This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

      The fathers of the Church identify the one like a man on the throne, from Ezekiel’s vision, with Christ, the logos, and first born Son of G-d.

      Consider This interpretation in light of chapter 28 of the same book.

      1Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: אוַיְהִי דְבַר יְהֹוָה אֵלַי לֵאמֹר:
      2″Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre: So said the Lord God: Because your heart is proud, and you said, ‘I AM A G-D, (THE HEBREW DOES NOT SAY a god, BUT SAYS EL! I have sat IN A SEAT of God, in the heart of the seas,’ but you are a man and not a god, yet you have made your heart like the heart of God. בבֶּן אָדָם אֱמֹר לִנְגִיד צֹר כֹּה אָמַר | אֲדֹנָי יֱהֹוִה יַעַן גָּבַהּ לִבְּךָ וַתֹּאמֶר אֵל אָנִי מוֹשַׁב אֱלֹהִים יָשַׁבְתִּי בְּלֵב יַמִּים וְאַתָּה אָדָם וְלֹא אֵל וַתִּתֵּן לִבְּךָ כְּלֵב אֱלֹהִים:
      3BEHOLD ARE YOU WISER THAN DANIEL, THAT NO SECRET IS HIDDEN FROM YOU? גהִנֵּה חָכָם אַתָּה מִדָּנִאֵל כָּל סָתוּם לֹא עֲמָמוּךָ:


      4With your wisdom and with your understanding did you acquire wealth for yourself, and gather gold and silver in your treasurehouses? דבְּחָכְמָתְךָ וּבִתְבוּנָתְךָ עָשִׂיתָ לְּךָ חָיִל וַתַּעַשׂ זָהָב וָכֶסֶף בְּאוֹצְרוֹתֶיךָ:

      5With your great wisdom in your commerce did you increase your wealth, that your heart became haughty with your wealth? הבְּרֹב חָכְמָתְךָ בִּרְכֻלָּתְךָ הִרְבִּיתָ חֵילֶךָ וַיִּגְבַּהּ לְבָבְךָ בְּחֵילֶךָ:
      6Therefore, so said the Lord God: Because you made your heart like the heart of God, ולָכֵן כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יֱהֹוִה יַעַן תִּתְּךָ אֶת לְבָבְךָ כְּלֵב אֱלֹהִים:

      7Therefore, behold I am bringing foreigners, the strong of the nations, upon you, and they will draw their swords on the beauty of your wisdom and profane your brightness. זלָכֵן הִנְנִי מֵבִיא עָלֶיךָ זָרִים עָרִיצֵי גּוֹיִם וְהֵרִיקוּ חַרְבוֹתָם עַל יְפִי חָכְמָתֶךָ וְחִלְּלוּ יִפְעָתֶךָ:
      8Into the Pit they will lower you, and you will die the deaths of those who are slain, in the heart of the seas. חלַשַּׁחַת יוֹרִדוּךָ וָמַתָּה מְמוֹתֵי חָלָל בְּלֵב יַמִּים:

      9Will you say, “I am a god” before your slayer? Indeed, you are a man and not a god in the hand of your slayer. טהֶאָמֹר תֹּאמַר אֱלֹהִים אָנִי לִפְנֵי הֹרְגֶךָ וְאַתָּה אָדָם וְלֹא אֵל בְּיַד מְחַלְלֶךָ:
      10The deaths of the uncircumcised you shall die at the hand of foreigners, for I have spoken,” says the Lord God. ימוֹתֵי עֲרֵלִים תָּמוּת בְּיַד זָרִים כִּי אֲנִי דִבַּרְתִּי נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יֱהֹוִה:

      11Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: יאוַיְהִי דְבַר יְהֹוָה אֵלַי לֵאמֹר:

      12″Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, So said the Lord God: You are the one who engraves images, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
      יבבֶּן אָדָם שָׂא קִינָה עַל מֶלֶךְ צוֹר וְאָמַרְתָּ לּוֹ כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יֱהֹוִה אַתָּה חוֹתֵם תָּכְנִית מָלֵא חָכְמָה וּכְלִיל יֹפִי:

      13In Eden, the garden of God you were; every precious stone was [set in] your covering; ruby, topaz, diamond, chrysolite, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, carbuncle, and crystal and gold; the work of your drums and your orifices is in you; on the day of your creation they were established. יגבְּעֵדֶן גַּן אֱלֹהִים הָיִיתָ כָּל אֶבֶן יְקָרָה מְסֻכָתֶךָ אֹדֶם פִּטְדָה וְיַהֲלֹם תַּרְשִׁישׁ שֹׁהַם וְיָשְׁפֵה סַפִּיר נֹפֶךְ וּבָרְקַת וְזָהָב מְלֶאכֶת תֻּפֶּיךָ וּנְקָבֶיךָ בָּךְ בְּיוֹם הִבָּרַאֲךָ כּוֹנָנוּ:


      14YOU WERE A CHERUB OF GREAT MEASURE, that covers, and I gave that to you; you were on THE MOUNT OF THE SANCTUARY of God: you walked among stones of fire. ידאַתְּ כְּרוּב מִמְשַׁח הַסּוֹכֵךְ וּנְתַתִּיךָ בְּהַר קֹדֶשׁ אֱלֹהִים הָיִיתָ בְּתוֹךְ אַבְנֵי אֵשׁ הִתְהַלָּכְתָּ:

      15You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created until wrongdoing was found in you. טותָּמִים אַתָּה בִּדְרָכֶיךָ מִיּוֹם הִבָּרְאָךְ עַד נִמְצָא עַוְלָתָה בָּךְ:

      16Because of the multitude of your commerce, they filled you with violence and you sinned, and I shall cast you as profane from the mountain of God, and I shall destroy you, O COVERING CHERUB, from among the stones of fire. טזבְּרֹב רְכֻלָּתְךָ מָלוּ תוֹכְךָ חָמָס וַתֶּחֱטָא וָאֲחַלֶּלְךָ מֵהַר אֱלֹהִים וָאַבֶּדְךָ כְּרוּב הַסּוֹכֵךְ מִתּוֹךְ אַבְנֵי אֵשׁ:

      17Your heart became haughty because of your beauty; you destroyed your wisdom with your brightness; I have cast you upon the ground; I have set you before kings to gaze upon you. יזגָּבַהּ לִבְּךָ בְּיָפְיֶךָ שִׁחַתָּ חָכְמָתְךָ עַל יִפְעָתֶךָ עַל אֶרֶץ הִשְׁלַכְתִּיךָ לִפְנֵי מְלָכִים נְתַתִּיךָ לְרַאֲוָה בָךְ:
      18Because of the multitude of your iniquities, with the wrongdoing of your commerce, you profaned your sanctity, and I shall bring forth fire out of your midst-it will consume you, and I shall make you ashes on the ground before the eyes of all who see you. יחמֵרֹב עֲו‍ֹנֶיךָ בְּעָוֶל רְכֻלָּתְךָ חִלַּלְתָּ מִקְדָּשֶׁיךָ וָאוֹצִא אֵשׁ מִתּוֹכְךָ הִיא אֲכָלַתְךָ וָאֶתֶּנְךָ לְאֵפֶר עַל הָאָרֶץ לְעֵינֵי כָּל רֹאֶיךָ:
      19All who know you among the peoples will wonder over you; you shall be a terror, and you shall be no more, ever.” יטכָּל יוֹדְעֶיךָ בָּעַמִּים שָׁמְמוּ עָלֶיךָ בַּלָּהוֹת הָיִיתָ וְאֵינְךָ עַד עוֹלָם:
      20Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: כוַיְהִי דְבַר יְהֹוָה אֵלַי לֵאמֹר:
      21″Son of man! Set your face toward Zidon and prophesy about her. כאבֶּן אָדָם שִׂים פָּנֶיךָ אֶל צִידוֹן וְהִנָּבֵא עָלֶיהָ:
      22And you shall say; So said the Lord God: Behold I am against you, Zidon, and I shall be honored in your midst, and you will know that I am the Lord when I perform judgments in her and I shall be sanctified in her. כבוְאָמַרְתָּ כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יֱהֹוִה הִנְנִי עָלַיִךְ צִידוֹן וְנִכְבַּדְתִּי בְּתוֹכֵךְ וְיָדְעוּ כִּי אֲנִי יְהֹוָה בַּעֲשׂוֹתִי בָהּ שְׁפָטִים וְנִקְדַּשְׁתִּי בָהּ:
      23And I shall send into her pestilence and blood in her streets, and they will judge themselves as slain in her midst by the sword [coming] upon her from all around, and they will know that I am the Lord. כגוְשִׁלַּחְתִּי בָהּ דֶּבֶר וָדָם בְּחוּצוֹתֶיהָ וְנִפְלַל חָלָל בְּתוֹכָהּ בְּחֶרֶב עָלֶיהָ מִסָּבִיב וְיָדְעוּ כִּי אֲנִי יְהֹוָה:
      24And there will no longer be to the house of Israel a pricking briar or a painful thorn from all that are around them, who plunder them, and they will know that I am the Lord God. כדוְלֹא יִהְיֶה עוֹד לְבֵית יִשְׂרָאֵל סִלּוֹן מַמְאִיר וְקוֹץ מַכְאִב מִכֹּל סְבִיבֹתָם הַשָּׁאטִים אוֹתָם וְיָדְעוּ כִּי אֲנִי אֲדֹנָי יֱהֹוִה:
      25So says the Lord God: When I gather in the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they have been scattered, and I have been sanctified through them in the eyes of the nations, then shall they dwell on their land that I gave to My servant, to Jacob. כהכֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יֱהֹוִה בְּקַבְּצִי | אֶת בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל מִן הָעַמִּים אֲשֶׁר נָפֹצוּ בָם וְנִקְדַּשְׁתִּי בָם לְעֵינֵי הַגּוֹיִם וְיָשְׁבוּ עַל אַדְמָתָם אֲשֶׁר נָתַתִּי לְעַבְדִּי לְיַעֲקֹב:
      26And they shall dwell upon it securely, and they shall build houses and plant vineyards and dwell securely when I execute judgments against all those who plunder them from all around them, and they shall know that I am the Lord their God.”

    • bography says:


      Are you sure no one in the Tanach fell down and worshiped someone who appeared (not in a vision or dream) on earth?

      • Dina says:

        Hey Bogs,

        With apologies to you and Con for interrupting your thread, but there is a difference between mundane worship of a human, such as a king, and worship of a divine being. Was Jacob worshiping Esau as a god when he bowed down to the ground? Were the tribes worshiping Joseph when they bowed to him? The Hebrew לעבוד can mean to worship, to serve, or even to work. עבודת השם means worship of God, for example, while עבודת פרך means backbreaking labor.

        Bowing to express reverence to a king or to a messenger of a king or even to a messenger of God is not the prohibition of idolatry.

        • bography says:

          Dina, would you say that only God can forgive sin? If yes, is it enough reason to worship a being that can forgive sin?

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Bography, a related question would be, how do you know the difference between one who says they can forgive sins or have, and one who actually has the power to do so?

          • Dina says:

            Bogs, this is a question that arises from your theology. I don’t ask that question because nowhere in the Hebrew Bible do I find even a hint that I ought to worship as divine any entity other than God; in fact, the Torah most strongly insists on the very opposite. Whether you find someone who claims he can forgive sins or not is wholly irrelevant to the question of whom to worship.

            Your question distracts from the fact that both Con and I showed your error in trying to prove that permitted worship of other entities as divine occurs in the Hebrew Bible. Instead of following up with either a refutation or a retraction, you now ask a different question. This is your modus operandi.

            It has not escaped my notice, furthermore, that you continue to evade my challenge on the Scriptures that refute your positions. Every time I point this out, your response is something like, what was the question again? Which Scriptures?

            So for your convenience, here is one of about six relevant comments:


            Good luck!

          • bography says:

            So Dina, only God can forgive sins, right?

          • Dina says:

            Oh no, Bog, I’m onto you. You’re trying to change the subject. Answer my challenge first, then I’ll answer your question. We have all been patiently answering your questions, but you won’t answer our challenges. That is not a fair debate.

            I propose that you cannot answer my challenge, that is why you refuse to address it. Here it is once more:


            I have lost track of how many times I have pressed you on this and you have ignored me. I do believe it’s well over five.

            After you answer my challenge, then I’ll listen to your question of who forgives sin. Although I would prefer if you were more forthright with me and simply made your point instead of asking questions that you hope will lead me into a trap.

          • bography says:

            This is how I reason: Dina, just say yes or no, and I promise I will show that I don’t need to answer any of those questions. I have a feeling, you’re not going to answer. Only a feeling.

          • Dina says:

            Bog, if Neusner is your go-to expert then you are in trouble. First of all, he is not an Orthodox Jew, so Sharbano is right to say he is not Torah observant. (Only Orthodox Jews are Torah observant, and I deeply apologize if this causes offense to Jews of other denominations. I do not wish to give offense.)

            Therefore, it’s irrelevant that he wrote nearly 900 books. And his translations have been criticized for showing shocking ignorance of Rabbinic Hebrew and Aramaic.

            So out with Neusner, in with Artscroll.

          • bography says:

            Dina, please provide two examples of his shocking ignorance of biblical Hebrew and who accused him of these. No, not yet another diversion.

          • Dina says:

            Bog, check these out if you can get hold of them:

            Critical studies of Neusner’s work
            “Mishna and Messiah ‘In Context’ ” Craig A. Evans, Journal of Biblical Literature (JBL) 112/2 1993 p.267-289
            “A Tragedy or a Comedy” Saul Lieberman,Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol.104(2) April/June 1984 p.315-319

            “Jacob Neusner, the Mishnah and Ventriloquism” John C. Poirier, The Jewish Quarterly Review LXXXVII Nos.1-2 July-October 1996, p.61-78

            “Jacob Neusner,Mishnah and Counter-Rabbinics” Shaye J. D. Cohen, Conservative Judaism Vol.37(1) Fall 1983 p.48-63 Hyam Maccoby

            “Jacob Neusner’s Mishnah” Midstream 30/5 (May 1984) p.24-32

          • Dina says:

            Bog, I will answer your questions and then I expect you to keep your word and answer mine–or at least show me why you don’t have to.

            You asked two questions.

            One, is a being who forgives sin worthy of worship as a divine entity? The answer is no. We do not worship God because He forgives sin. We worship God because He is the Creator of all.

            Two, can only God forgive sin? There is nothing in Tanach to suggest that God cannot give that power to a messenger, although there is also nothing in Tanach to suggest that God has given that power or will give that power to a messenger–your citation of Exodus notwithstanding.

            Why? One, because the Hebrew text doesn’t actually say “forgive.” The Hebrew says:

            כי לא ישא

            This means, literally, “he will not bear,” or “he will not carry.”

            Secondly, the word מלאך can mean angel or messenger, as in Genesis 32:4 where it means human messengers. In fact, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch says this messenger must be Moses because we do not see anywhere in the text that an angel commanded the Jewish people (“For if you hearken to his voice”). This, my brother, is based on p’shat, no sod here.

            Now that I have completely shredded your position, are you willing to retract or refute? Or will you respond with yet another question and another distraction?

            Also, if you are a gentlemen, you will stick to your word and offer a retraction or refutation of this:


          • bography says:

            Yet another diversion:

            Exodus 23:20-21
            Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.

            Only God can pardon transgressions, not a messenger. Oh well, I’m only looking at the P’SHAT, not going deep into the SOD, so I’d better p’shat up.

          • Sharbano says:

            You contradict what the text is Actually Saying. Read what you yourself wrote.

          • bography says:


            I need your help on this one. Please explain my contradiction.

          • Dina says:

            Sorry, I misquoted R’ Hirsch. He does not say the messenger must be Moses. It is not far-fetched to say that he could be Moses.

          • bography says:


            So Moses can forgive sins?

            If you mean Rabbi Richard Hirsch, he is one of the founders of “Reconstructionsit Judaism.” if Neusner is orthodox, so is Hirsch. Recomstructionists believe that the Jewish people created the Torah. Judaism is all about community and the here and the now – and, they luuuuuuurv philosophy. I’m slightly partial to the latter myself, mea bulka.

            So, when are you getting baptized?

          • Dina says:

            How the heck did you understand me to say that Moses can forgive sins?

          • bography says:



            Why? One, because the Hebrew text doesn’t actually say “forgive.” The Hebrew says:

            כי לא ישא

            This means, literally, “he will not bear,” or “he will not carry.”


   (“de facto” Judaism, the last word in frum) contradicts you:

            21Beware of him and obey him; do not rebel against him, for he will not forgive your transgression, for My Name is within him.

            And so does Mechon Mamre:

            21 Take heed of him, and hearken unto his voice; be not rebellious against him; for he will not pardon your transgression; for My name is in him.

            Hang on to the curtains. The Muslims would scream “shirk,” but you won’t shirk the facts. Two persons: God and his Angel – both forgive sins. But there’s only one God! Yes one divine essence/nature/being, the only God. NOW are you ready to be baptized?

          • Dina says:

            Listen, Boggsie: at this point, Jim, Rabbi B., and I have shown your error regarding this verse, which you thought was the clincher.

            So NOW are you ready to renounce Christianity and embrace your true heritage?

          • Dina says:

            I said it would not be far-fetched to say that the messenger could be Moses (as you will see I corrected that in a later comment). Furthermore, the passage does not say that the messenger could forgive sins. It says that HE WILL NOT forgive your sins–because as Jim pointed out, how can he, not being God?

            So, Bog, when are you coming back home?

          • bography says:

            You’ve botched the grammar to fit your presuppositions.

          • Dina says:


            Three issues here:

            1. Are you a man of your word? Hint: No.
            2. The botching of grammar.
            3. Presuppositions.

            Let us examine each issue in turn.

            1. Are you a man of your word? The answer is no because you promised to address my challenges if I answered your questions. I answered your questions, but you have not yet addressed my challenges. You continue to ignore them, and we all know why.

            2. Have I botched the grammar by saying the angel will not forgive sin? Of course not. That is what the verse plainly says, in contradistinction to your insistence that the angel forgives sin, which it plainly does not say. I refer you to the excellent comments of Rabbi B. (yesterday) and Larry’s (today).

            3. Have I botched the grammar to fit my presuppositions? You believe that this verse clearly and indisputably speaks about Jesus. But you can only arrive at that interpretation if you believe in Jesus. That, my dear friend, is a presupposition. It is circular reasoning, an intellectually dishonest way to support what you want to believe.

            As Larry pointed out, the angel can’t do anything on his own; he is sent by God to fulfill a particular mission. It’s not up to him. Now would have been a perfect time, don’t you think, for God to say, “I am sending my son within whom I invested the authority to forgive sin. You must worship him because he is also me.” Or something like that. But instead, your whole clincher rests on a verse that is easily disputed. You have given your heart in devotion to an entity other than God based on a passage that only makes sense to you because you have given your heart in devotion to this other entity.

            But here’s another angle. I presented this to you before, but of course you ignored it. Let us say, purely for the sake of argument, that somehow this verse is a manifestation of a second person in the godhead.

            In fact, let us say that there are many such manifestations throughout Scripture.

            It still won’t do you any good. Deuteronomy 4 teaches us that we are to worship God only according to the knowledge of Himself that He imparted to us at Sinai. Deuteronomy 13 teaches us that we are not to engage in any type of worship that was unknown to our fathers. It doesn’t get more clear than this.

            Knowledge of Jesus was not taught to us at Sinai. Our fathers did not worship Jesus. Ergo, we are not to worship him.

            It may have escaped your notice, so it’s worth pointing out that the Children of Israel never worshiped this angel that you claim is the second person in the godhead.

          • Dina says:

            No, Bog, I refer to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch. Never heard of the Richard one. Sorry for the confusion.

          • Sharbano says:

            I’m just curious, do you read any of what is written or are you just pontificating.

          • Dina says:

            Yeah, I have the same question as Sharbano. In a debate, you’re supposed to talk and listen. Are you here to just preach at us and mock us, or are you interested in hearing what we have to say as well and responding to it? Right now, it’s looking like the former rather than the latter.

            But I hope you will change your mind and engage with us in an honest way.

          • Bography
            Your question about forgiveness of sins is a desperate distraction – it is also completely irrelevant

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Yes Bography, I am very very sure. Nobody in the hebrew bible ever addresses the “pre incarnate” Angel of the lord, or the “theophanies” from the Tanach in prayer, or seeks to make them a go between, a needed conduit, in their dealing with G-d. This phenomenon of making or having mediators is actively discouraged in Tanakh as we see in 2 kings 18:4. Prople may bow, may recieve a teaching, may ask an angel to pray to G-d on their behalf, but they never Never give service to anything but the father only.

        Nobody prays to G-d in the name of the burning bush, or in Moses’ name. A Christian (though he believes Jesus is G-d) is not content to leave Torah Jews (who already believe in G-d the father and observe his laws) alone. They insist that Jews must bow to the cross, must take communion, and that they must pray to Jesus as the one who saves them from their sin. A man is saved from his sin only if he changes his actions, a man does not die for anyone else’s sins. You can have all the faith in Jesus’ blood you want, but just like in temple sacrifices, they don’t do anything for the unrepentant. Sin is the transgression of the law.

        G-d and his name are one. If Jesus is one with G-d as the Church teaches, then to make Jesus’ human death a mediator too is an idolatrous contradiction. The verses in Daniel and Ezekiel that I mentioned illustrate the problem. Why is the prince of tyre in Ezekiel claiming to be El? Because his country (Lebanon) provided the cedars for the temple.

        This prince believes he deserves worship and service as G-d for doing a task which G-d the father assigned to his people to do. The one who is sent is not the sender. He does not deserve worship as a manifestation of G-d, or a “person.”

        • rambo2016 says:

          “Nobody prays to G-d in the name of the burning bush, or in Moses’ name. A Christian (though he believes Jesus is G-d) is not content to leave Torah Jews (who already believe in G-d the father and observe his laws) alone. They insist that Jews must bow to the cross, must take communion, and that they must pray to Jesus as the one who saves them from their sin. A man is saved from his sin only if he changes his actions, a man does not die for anyone else’s sins. You can have all the faith in Jesus’ blood you want, but just like in temple sacrifices, they don’t do anything for the unrepentant. Sin is the transgression of the law.”

          the christian believes that he has a corrupt nature, i quote :

          “It is disturbing that Christians believe there really isn’t much any of them can do about their so-called “sinful nature” because they believe they don’t have the ability in themselves to overcome this so-called powerful law of what they believe to be their human nature–which is why they rely so heavily on the blood of jesus to save them from their sins. This means then, that they continue to “sin” believing they cannot help themselves…”

          the christian doesn’t believe that his repentance will avert the wrath of god because the christian believes that his god punished himself .as long as the christian BELIEVES in a weekend “sacrifice” all is well.

          why can’t a christian tell himself that the sin of INSINCERE repentance has already been punished on his jesus?

          no consequences
          guaranteed heaven
          sins punished on a god just for the weekend
          every sundays praise “sacrifice” which allegedly atones for sins from mon-sun

          if there god was so just wouldn’t it have been better for him to start hem off in hell instead of giving them sinful nature?

  34. Concerned Reader says:

    King James Bible Psalm 146:3

    Put not your trust in PRINCES, NOR IN THE SON OF MAN, in whom there is no help.

  35. Bography
    This is in response to your comment from March 7 9:10 am.
    Jeremiah passes on a message to the idolaters to the effect that entities that needed the platform of God’s earth and the canopy of God’s heaven should go find themselves a different arena – this is a logical argument against all idolatry – including Jesus-worship. The prophet goes on to complain how these idolaters have lost their minds in worship of useless entities – I am sure that these idolaters comforted themselves by saying that reason cannot be used in determining religious truth and that Jeremiah will end up in the opposite place of their object of adoration.

    • bography says:


      I don’t understand the reason why I am being criticized for rejecting reason. I (think I) am reasoning now. Here is my position: noggins are useful tools, but they need to be enlightened by God. Sometimes God does so, other times he doesn’t.

      • Bography
        It seems that you only accept reason if Bography tells you that God enlightened the reason – Jeremiah has a different take on this matter

      • Sharbano says:

        So, G-d gave us the “ability” to reason but,, we are unable or incapable of using it? I’m astonished this idea even has Merit among “thinking” individuals. From my past experience with Xtians this is another method, put forth by Xtians, so as to convince a Xtian NOT to question his beliefs. This is just another way of achieving That goal.
        I wonder if this “reason” for not “reasoning” comes from the Satan using “reason” to tempt Chava. This would how the Xtian would “fear” reason.

        • bography says:

          Sharbano I assume you’ve written an exam or two. Have you ever prayed before the exam that you may reason clearly? Have you ever asked God for clarity in any event that involved your reason? Or do you like the deist, say, “God created my reason and set it rolling. And went back to praying and studying Torah (which the rabbinical literature says He does).

          • Sharbano says:

            What would be the purpose in praying on an exam. Shouldn’t a person begin by “studying” for the exam. If one learns All the material he would be well prepared for when the time comes. I don’t pray for “ability” that He has already given. It’s one thing to pray for not making an error but it is altogether different to pray for something a person may not have. According to your thinking a person Should be able to take that exam without any prior knowledge and pass it without any learning. All would be necessary is to trust G-d that he will give the correct answers.

            Your subtle insult to the Rabbis notwithstanding considering Torah specifically States, if a matter is too difficult then go to those who understand that difficulty, namely the Rabbis.

          • Dina says:

            Bog, I agree with what Sharbano wrote here and would like to point out that the gift of reason, which was bestowed by God upon humanity, is not the same as the gift of infallibility, which was not bestowed by God upon humanity. You seem to think the twain are the same.

          • bography says:

            Infallible? How so?

          • Dina says:

            Please clarify your question, Bog. I do not understand what you are asking and what it has to do with my comment. Thanks!

          • bography says:

            Sharbano do you think it Kosher to pray to overcome wrong temptations? Or to pray that more Christians would see the light? It is true that you have Moses, but sometimes even he goes over the top with what he can do.

            “I (Moses) have more power than any other person born in this
            world.’ He responded, ‘What is the nature of your power?’ He said to him, ‘I am the son of ‘Amram. When I emerged from the womb of my mother, (I was already) circumcised, and so it was not necessary to circumcise me. On the very day of my birth I acquired courage, and was able to walk on my feet and converse with my father and my mother, and had no need to be nursed with milk. When I was three months old, I uttered a prophecy, saying that I was destined to receive the Torah from the midst of fiery flames.”

            This is one biographical detail of Moses the Jews of Muhammad’s time probably didn’t tell him, otherwise he (his companions?) might have put it into his Qur’an among all the other tall stories there sbout Abraham and Solomon. The Qur’an, however, does say that Jesus praised Allah the day he was born, so Muhammad might have heard the above account of Moses, and got it mishmashed up, as with so much else in the Qur’an.

            But to get back to praying for an exam: if you’ve never prayed for God to guide your reason, what about praying for calm while using your reason to do the exam?

            Do you ever say any kind of prayer, outside the formal prayers of Judaism? Say when you or someone you love is very sick?

          • Dina says:

            Bog, are you serious? Do you seriously think that Jews don’t pray to God about personal matters? And what, pray, does that have to do with using reason to search for the truth?

            Not only do you confuse reason with infallibility, now you equate it with omnipotence as well.

            God granted us the gift of reason. He did not grant us infallibility or omnipotence. I hope that clears this up.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Bo, if G-d enlightens some and leaves others in a state of uncertainty, those in a state of uncertainty have no choice, and no control of that state of being. Do you believe that those unenlightened are to be punished for what they do not know?

        • bography says:


          Isaiah 5:3-7
          3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. 4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? 5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:

          6 And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.
          Isaiah 6:8-13
          I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. 9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not;
          and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. 11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, 12 And the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. 13 But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves:
          so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.

          Tell me the context.

          • Dina says:

            Bog, I explained the context to you already, so why are you asking Con? Did you read the whole chapter? God did not randomly decide to punish a bunch of Jews. Nor did He send the prophet to rebuke them (to close their eyes and so on) that He is withholding His grace and mercy for some unfathomable reason. The prophet wasn’t sent with this rebuke out of the blue. No, God is punishing the people for sins they have already committed. The people have not been pursuing justice and righteousness but oppressing the poor and satisfying their lusts. So God is pretty mad. Nothing mysterious here!

          • bography says:

            Dina, yes, God was going to punish them almost to the point of extinction because they were miscreants. What is significant in terms of ” free will” is this:
            Isaiah 6:9-12
            he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes;
            lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. 11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, 12 And the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.

            As with Pharaoh, God hardens hearts. Not hearts of flesh but hearts of stone, turning them to granite.

          • Dina says:

            Right, you’re proving my point. Now go on and prove my other ones as well.

  36. bography says:


    I meant “theophanies” not “throphanies.”

  37. Concerned Reader says:

    Bogeaphy, you are quoting a literature akin in genre to dante’s inferno or left behind as though it has authority for Jews. Midrash is not binding, it is literature like Tolkien or Lewis. It expresses religious themes and lessons, but it has no binding authority.

    • bography says:


      I agree, much of the Midrashim is fictional like Dante’s Inferno – with proviso, Dante is good fiction.

      Your view, though, would be frowned upon by “defacto” Judaism.

      Here’s “Ask the rabbi”:
      Shalom Rabbi
      From what I understand, Torah = truth, Midrash = commentary/ allagory/ interpretation or something supporting commentary, Rashi and many other commentators use Midrash as their “proof”, are there various levels of Midrash in terms of “truth”/correctness, midrash = story only if a parable (didactic story). All of the above is created to assist my removing the “garments” of the Torah to live God’s words. So is dvar Torah midrash? I might create midrash, correct? It may not be as good as Rashi or could it? The only absolute is the Torah’s words themselves! Please comment.

      The field of midrash is very complex and, as you correctly inferred, includes several different types. Interestingly, the Ramban sometimes disagrees strongly with the Ibn Ezra for veering in his commentary from the midrash of our sages, yet it’s not infrequent for the Ramban to do the same, differing with certain midrashim cited by Rashi! The answer to this apparent contradiction is that some, probably most, midrashim are not factual traditions but rather educational vehicles for teaching us philosophical or spiritual idea/s, or how to act properly, while others apparently do come to fill-in ancient traditions. Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to tell whether a certain midrash is meant to be taken literally or not, but the following signs may help their identification. The first category (non-factual) may include midrashim where there are different contradicting opinions, or those many midrashim which “frame” our forefathers as doing sins they clearly didn’t do or exaggerating light offenses into serious ones, to serve as a “springboard” framework to educate others. Similarly, midrashim which seem esoteric would usually fall into this category. On the other hand, midrashim which don’t have an educational message, but are rather fact-filling traditions, like the names of Avraham’s or Shimshon’s respective mothers, may be meant factually. In short, all midrashim are true, yet not all are historically factual, and the best thing to do is to study them with a rabbi who is experienced in the field and constantly search for the deeper meaning.
      There are more than enough midrashim to keep you occupied for a lifetime and there’s no logic or need to invent new ones. On the other hand, one can surely develop his/her own divrei Torah, but would be wise to run it by several learned scholars before publicizing them, so as to prevent embarrassing mistakes. I expounded more on the topic of midrash, in my articles
      With Love of Israel,
      Rav Ari Shvat

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Your post illustrates my point BO. Midrash, (even Midrash that reflects ancient ideas) is the subject of opinion among rabbis, it is not binding in belief or practice. Are you aware of the old rift between Hasidim and Mitnagdim? As I understand one of their differences of approach was on how to handle certain ideas found in Midrash. As the rabbis response noted, there are different approaches and opinions, but Midrash is not Jewish law, it is s tool to glean from the law. As such, it has no power to decide matters of faith and practice the way systematic theology does for the Church.

        There is a reason that you only find a couple codifications of the law (Shulchan Aruch, and Mishna Torah) whereas you find several books on philosophy. One is the meat of traditional Judaism, the other is butter and delightful spices that enrich faith.

        • bography says:


          The 70 faces (logics) of Sinai

          Does it matter to a Jew who is right. Not to a proper Jew A course on rabbinical Judaism teaches that interpretation is ”bound to a text with wide room for interpreting its meaning?” In the room are seventy rabbis, each doing his own thing, or rather one rabbi with seventy faces. “There are seventy faces to the Torah: turn it around and around, for everything is in it” (Midrash Bamidbar [Numbers] Rabba 13:15); everything in the sense that it contains the building blocks of everything in and under heaven, which Jacob Neusner calls the “grammar” of rabbinical theology.

          • Sharbano says:

            You really have no use for the Rabbis,do you? That’s what happens when first the person learns Xtianity and only then delves into Judaism. The perceptions become corrupt.

          • bography says:

            Sharbano, as you might know, bone kind of Judaism is “Reconstructionist” Judaism, which believes (reasons?) that the Torah is the product not of God but of Jews. What all Judsisms do is they use the Tanach and ancient rabbi’s as a launching pad into the world of their creativity and imagination.

            Rabbi Akiva Tatz said that the Tanach Can be understood by six-year olds. Only the philosophy of Kabbalah, he says, can tap its truths. And then there’s rabbi Hillel:

            “If we ask not about the historical Hillel’ but about the Hillel of history, that is, about how Hillel lived on in the minds and imaginations of the great rabbis of Judaism, we get exact and reliable answers. Every story then is a fact. It testifies to what people later thought Hillel had said and done. It tells us then about the things rabbis maintained all Jews should say and do: the model of virtue, the mode of correct reasoning alike. Hillel then is: he endures. He never dies. He is the teacher, he is the paradigm. That is why the stories reach us. That, it seems to me, stands then for the purpose for which the stories were made up and preserved. They are documents of culture, glyphs of faith ( Jacob Neusner).

            The main thing for a Jew is community and a shared history. The NOW.

          • Sharbano says:

            You really want to go there. You cite one group of Jews that abandoned Torah to enhance Your claims. In light of That group then how much much more has Xtianity fell from the derech.
            I’ve listened to R’ Tatz and you are confusing his intent. Your quoting of sources is suspect in all its realms. Dr. Brown uses Jewish sources also and we all have seen HIS intent. Xtians have the tendency to “create” their own perceptions of what Rabbinic teaching is in the same way that the demigod was created.

          • bography says:


            You’re saying that Jacob Neusner is not a Torah Jew. That’s rich. Not that writing 900 books and articles, most on Judaism, and being the most prolific author in the humanities, of all time, makes you a Torah Jew. I couldn’t afford to fill more than one shelf of his books. There’s Kindle, of course.

            If he’s not a Torah Jew, what does that make you?

          • Sharbano says:

            I’ll just ask this question. Have you Ever studied under a Rabbi. If so, for how long. On the other hand if Not, then any words you write about any Rabbi etc. is not worth reading. If you haven’t “learned” then how can you purport to give sufficient answers. You wouldn’t even have the fundamentals in order to give a coherent dialog. This goes to the exam question. How can any person expect to pass an exam if he hasn’t even started at the beginning.

          • bography says:

            “one..” not “bone..”

          • Dina says:

            So Bog, I wonder if you are willing to concede that you’ve been confusing reason with both infallibility and omnipotence and have been trying to prove that we don’t use our reason because we pray to God to keep us from error and to help us with all sorts of things–which have nothing to do with using reason to discover religious truth.

          • bography says:

            How many Jews brought up Jewish and frum do you know who first learnt Christianity and then delved into Judsism? This one?

          • Dina says:

            One very confused Jew, more like. You are wandering far afield, my brother. Why don’t you stay on topic?

            If you were really a daring Jew, you would take a stab at answering my challenge. Prove your mettle!

          • Dina says:

            Bogs, I clicked on autobiography because I was curious. I confess I’m as curious as a cat! And I thought there might actually be some information about this Jew who thinks he is so daring. But in fact he is not brave enough to tell us his name or anything else about him in his “autobiography.” Perhaps that word means something else where you live. (Just trying to be charitable.)

          • bography says:

            Dina, specs might help. Try, try, try again.

          • Dina says:

            Specs might help with what? Try what again?

          • Concerned Reader says:

            All rabbinic commentary is subject to rules of interpretation. Midrash cannot overturn the plain meaning.

            Do you see the irony in your statements about what rabbis say, when you have rabbis and religious Jews telling you what they do not believe? That’s chutzpah my friend, big time.

            For the record, I have a degree from university in comparitive religions, and you can read my earlier posts on this very blog.

          • Dina says:

            “Do you see the irony in your statements about what rabbis say, when you have rabbis and religious Jews telling you what they do not believe? That’s chutzpah my friend, big time.”

            Con, three cheers!

          • Dina says:

            Bog, out of kindness, if I were you, I would stick to Scripture. You have a hard enough time grappling with that without throwing into the mix what you completely don’t understand.

            And there is enough in the Hebrew Bible to keep you busy without meandering off into other topics. Does the Torah support or contradict your theology? That’s the question you ought to be focusing on.

  38. Concerned Reader says:

    Btw Bography, I’m not trying to be overly forceful or unkind in any way in my comments. I fully realize that Christianity has done a lot of good for a lot of people. The issue is, many Christian people (and missions organizations) tell the Jews that they are damned to eternal fire without embracing Jesus. Many people tell them to abandon the laws of Moses, (like circumcision, kosher, Passover, and their entire cultural heritage as a unique nation under heaven,) to become Christians. This message is not found in the Hebrew Bible, and as per the rule in the Hebrew bible itself, this message is an unknown one, so they simply can’t believe it, if they are faithful because G-d tells them not to.

    The Torah tells Jews in Deuteronomy 4:35 “To you it was shown that you might know that the LORD, He is God; there is no other besides Him.”

    Jews have a covenant relationship with the father only, and they are told only to serve him and only In the context of that covenant. I realize that you see verses where it appears or seems reasonable to you that G-d walks on earth and reveals himself, (such as texts in Genesis, Judges, and Joshua,) but these verses are not indicative of the covenant pact with G-d, and the way scripture was delivered to Israel suggests that those texts need to be interpreted in light of the Sinai encounter that says, Deuteronomy 4:15 “So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire,”

    Keep in mind (as a for instance,) that the Exodus event, the reception of the laws, and the Sinai encounter are the original delivered context for the Torah text itself. (Meaning, there wasn’t a book of the law per se until long after the Sinai encounter, and also that there is no separation from the laws, or indication of change.) The whole Book’s central axis is Israel’s national history culminating in the reception of the 613 commandments on Sinai. The prophets serve only as reminders to remember the laws of Moses. (As is said in Malachi 4:4)

    Jews are meant to keep the covenant of Moses forever, or until heaven and earth pass away. Not one jot of the law is to change, and no other relationship is allowed to them.

  39. Concerned Reader says:

    The 613 commandments, listed in Torah, as lived out by the Jewish community.

    • bography says:


      Is the covenant meant to last at least until the coming of the Messiah?

      • Dina says:

        Con and Bog, sorry again for sticking my nose in. The covenant with Israel is forever. Rabbi B. has a lot of Scriptural citations in the following article to prove this:

        Instead of asking a lot of questions, to which you obviously know the answer and know what we’ll answer (or think you do), just be forthright and make your point. You’ll save everyone a lot of time.

        • bography says:

          So the covenant (613 mizvot) is forever. Are you sure all 613?

          • Dina says:

            Okay, that’s it. I’m not answering any more questions. You promised me an explanation if I answered your questions regarding who can forgive sins. Provide and then I’ll be willing to take up another discussion.

            Instead of making points, you ask endless questions and skirt every challenge that is posed to you. Is it a Christian thing to make promises and break them?

          • bography says:

            Dina, I ask questions aiming to be polite, not wanting to tell you your inconsistency.

            The covenant consists of 613 mizvot. The Covenant is everlasting. Vasts chunks of the mizvot have fallen away, for example, the many to with the Temple. Ergo, only bits of the covenant laws are forever. They were incorporated into the NT.

          • Dina says:

            You are not polite, Bog. You are mocking. You are also obviously infatuated with your own cleverness. But be that as it may. What is your point? Your question do not highlight my inconsistency. They show your ignorance.

            Yes, in exile we cannot keep all the commandments. That does not mean they aren’t forever. That’s why the Third Temple will be rebuilt–so we can resume the sacrificial system.

            Tell me where you see Scriptural support for the idea that the Law of Moses is not eternal.

            I’m still waiting to see if you are a man of your word and if you will respond to my challenge. I’ve sent it to you multiple times.

          • Dina says:

            God proclaims in the Torah that the Law of Moses is eternal, not that bits of it are eternal–I presented an article from Rabbi B. with tens of citations. Are you saying God is a liar?

          • Sharbano says:

            Once the Temple Yechezkel described those Mitzvot will be reinstated. Also, the entire 613 doesn’t apply to everyone.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        The commandments are part and parcel of the mission of the messiah, the
        Messianic age, and life generally, because faith without godly conduct isn’t and can’t really be true faith. Even I’m sure you would agree Bography, that in the epistles Paul says it is the doers of the work, not the hearers who will be justified? A common misconception is that the law of Moses isn’t relevant when the messiah comes, but it has to be relevant, because it is the whole of scripture’s content, and is used in scripture itself to discern truth from falsehood, even the NT uses commandments as the berometer. It has to be relevant because miracles, claims of divine sanction or agency, and numbers of followers are never indicative of truth value in any claims made in the Bible.

        Even segments of the Church kept the Torah long after Jesus, at least into the 4th century. (The ebionites, the Nazarenes, etc.) Paul’s whole ethical doctrine for the conduct of non Jews, and the disciple’s rules In Acts 15 are based on fundamental rules for proselytes to Judaism present in second temple times. How can the Church and Christians insist that Jews leave this essential life behind?

        The disciples, like the rabbis say that a gentile needn’t convert to Judaism. This isn’t the same as saying Torah Judaism is irrelevant. I saw historical remnants of Torah observance in Books like the Didache, Tertululian’s treatise against idolatry, etc. These sources all show influence from particulars of Jewish law that the Church has forgotten, or abandoned, much of which isn’t even directly in New Testament, but clearly reflects lived tradition for conduct that serve as a needed backdrop for understanding it.

        “By HIS KNOWLEDGE the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.”

        I saw on your blog that you are a former Member of a Catholic religious order? I can see being hesitant of rabbinic authority after dealing with Church ecclesiastical authority, but the authority and organizational structure is totally different between the two. Rabbinic authority is not a claim to infallibility, and rabbis are subject to the laws of scripture as is everyone. The talmud discusses issues, it does not issue dogmas. The only “dogmas” are the 13 principles, and even those are discussed. Rome put the Pope on top, (even the Eastern Orthodox disagree with this move.) I was raised Protestant, some of my family is Catholic, and I have much respect for eastern orthodoxy. I just realized after a lot of study in university that all this theology, all the sectarianism, all the history of violence, means nothing in terms of what the Bible, (and Jesus consequently) wanted.

        The idea of the messiah without law is what the Church itself calls the anti Christ, the lawless one, they who follow are they who work iniquity.

        Bo, in all seriousness, it wasn’t a lack of knowledge of the Church, Christian History, Christian theology, or Jesus, that lead me away from Christianity. It was a thorough examination of our own history, where feelings, politics, belief, and systematic theology are treated as far more important, far kore weighted than Jesus’ own history, life conduct and ethic. When you study that, you find a Judaism, not unlike that which Jews follow today.

        It’s truly ironic that the Jews who will never accept Christian theology are the only ones on earth that know certain things in terms of praxis and ideas, that preserve the practices that Jesus himself kept. You would never understand Jesus’ references to Hannukah in john 10if Jews were Christians. Nobody else does know, and If you lose that knowledge, you lose the whole message, because it gets lost in the theological confusion.

        Take the Trinity. The best orthodox explanations of it preserve the fact of only one infinite essence, one harmonious will (among the members of the Trinity,) the incorporeality of G-d’s essence, the functional, (as opposed to ontological subordination of the son, etc.) If you deviate from this even slightly, the whole meaning goes off kilter. Mormons (because they are corporealists) believe in 3 gods. ALL OF THIS CONFUSION AND PHILOSOPHY becomes irrelevant and is totally avoided when a person consults Torah law, because the fruit is more Important than the fluff. If Jesus is functionally subordinate to the father’s will, and he kept his law, (all orthodox Christians say they believe this,) then why in G-d’s name is Torah obervance wrong for the Jewish people?

        The law is the berometer, not apocalyptic theologies, Angels, mysticism, etc.

        • bography says:


          First let me thank you and others on this blog for your detailed comments.
          About the law (works), yes the NT is very clear that without works faith is dead.

          Whose knowledge are you referring to in “By HIS KNOWLEDGE the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.”

          Please don’t say …, surely not!

          • Dina says:

            You’re welcome on my behalf at any rate. Now how about you return the favor?

            If you read the surrounding chapters in Isaiah you will see that the servant is clearly identified. See, for example, Isaiah 41:8-9, 43:10, 44:1-2, 44:21, 45:4, 48:20, 49:3, Isaiah 54:17, 63:17, 65:8-9, 13-15 and 66:14. Other places in Tanach: JEREMIAH 30:10-11; JEREMIAH 46:27-28; DEUTERONOMY 32:36, 43; Leviticus 25:42,55; Ezekiel 28:25, I Chronicles 16:13, Nechemiah 1:10-11, Psalm 79:10, 135:1

            Bottom line: you don’t have a case, Bogs.

          • Dina says:

            Sorry about the caps, that was an error.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Corporate ISRAEL is identified with the servant of the lord, even in….wait for it….Luke 1:54.

            The book of Isaiah also identifies ISRAEL with the servant, as Dina illustrated, many times.

            The idea that just because some mitzvot aren’t presently practiced, it means that it’s changed, or invalid, is illogical. There are mitzvot that only apply to some people, like circumcision only applies to men. Isaiah 53 also says “by his knowledge” the servant will Justify.

  40. Concerned Reader says:

    Why is the poetic aspect of the Torah important to you, but not the meat of it?

  41. Bography
    This is in reply to your comment from March 9 1:23 am
    I do agree with that statement – as does Moses (Deuteronomy 6:2-25) and Solomon (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
    You claim that you are not desperate – you call yourself “daring”. If you would not be desperate you would defend your position instead of poking fun at Midrash. If you would be daring you would not shelter under the skirts of a promise for pie in the sky reserved for those who were chosen to believe exactly as I do – a promise, mind you, that can never be tested because reason cannot be trusted unless we be “enlightened” and no one can determine if we are “enlightened” or “endarkened” unless they believe as we do . – how daring.
    About Midrash – if you have a problem with Midrash you should have trashed the Christian Scriptures a long time ago.
    Here is a bit of advice – you don’t judge a cake by its ingredients (did you ever taste baking powder or salt?) and you don’t compare communities by contrasting the saints of one against the criminals of another. You judge a cake by what it tastes like when it comes out of the oven – the Midrash is only one ingredient in the cake – and the finished product is the life of the Jewish community – there is no question that our community needs to grow – we have our criminals and we have our societal ills – but contrast this community over and against the community that bought the Midrash of Matthew, Luke and Paul – look at our respective histories – now talk to me about Midrash.

    • Dina says:

      This is making me hungry…I think I’ll bake a cake today. My kids will be very happy judges of the taste when it comes out of the oven…

      Joking aside, I recommend to Bog to read up on the history of Christian anti-Semitism. The Crusades (which were bad enough, leaving 10,000 innocent Jews dead according to some estimates) were but a small part of it. In addition to persecution of the Jewish people by fervent believers in Jesus, I recommend to Bog to read about Christian brutality in general and find out the numbers of the slain in religious wars (such as when Christianity was forcibly imposed on Europe, or wars between Catholics and Protestants), the numbers of innocent people executed during the notorious witch trials that swept through Europe, the numbers hanged for petty crimes like stealing a loaf of bread, the oppression of the poor by the aristocracy (including the clergy), and so on.

      And what were the Jews doing while the Christians were persecuting Jews and each other? They were studying Torah and helping each other to survive.

      Does Bog know that anti-Semitism in (some) Christian quarters has only lost its repute since the 1960s? Until then, it was a respectable institution. Until then, no one thought ill of those who hated Jews openly.

  42. bography says:

    And how many hundreds of thousands of Jews did Hashem destroy during the long idolatrous history of the apple of eye.

    There is Jesus and their are those who claim to follow him.

    • Sharbano says:

      I can’t help but wonder WHY it is Xtians are so obsessed with Jews who were idolaters etc. I guess this makes Xtians “feel” better about themselves. It is truly a sad state.
      Of course the “Jsus followers” really didn’t do anything wrong.

    • Sharbano says:

      I would also say, you STILL haven’t answered Dina’s questions. Apparently, since you Cannot answer, we all can conclude you are in error in much of what you have posted.

      • bography says:

        Sharbano, you are too worried about the pictures on the walls, while underneath the floor is caving in.

        • Dina says:

          Bogs, this response to Sharbano shows that you are not a serious person. She said that you didn’t answer my questions, and you responded with a silly comment that did not address her objection at all. She is right, as you well know.

          Why don’t you show me why I’m wrong? Is it because you can’t?

    • Dina says:

      Bog, how do you know who is a true follower of Jesus, then? Is there any Christian in history that you can point to and say, “This is an exemplary Christian”? Anyone worth learning from?

      Like John Chrysostom or Martin Luther, say?

    • Dina says:

      Oh right, so because Jews were punished for idolatry in the past, let’s all become idol worshipers today. That’s a great solution, Bogs.

      • larryB says:

        Is he comparing gods punishment to what the christians did? It wasn’t so bad they were ust doing gods work?

        • Dina says:

          I think he’s confused, Larry, because first he’s saying, well, it’s not so bad what the Christians did to the Jews, because look what God did to them! Then he’s saying, they weren’t even real Christians anyway.

          But I can’t speak for Bog, so Bog, what do you have to say about this?

    • Concerned Reader says:

      People can’t simply blithely dismiss your movement’s history Bography. Christians need to stop saying, “there is jesus and then there are Christians, or “supposed” Christians. It’s an excuse and a complete copout that allows ancient biases to perpetuate themselves. Also, G-d punishing man, and man and government punishing men is not the same thing. The sooner humankind realizes this distinction, so much the better for our species.

      Persecution of Judaism was a systematic aspect of the liturgy, Canon law, and even ecclesiology until Augustine said to leave them alone, and it still didn’t stop then. If you doubt this, look at the good Friday prayers before Vatican II.

      Consider the Header on your own blog that is a little pun on the Catholic doctrine of the wandering Jew. You are inadvertently making light of a doctrine that lead directly to book burning and pogroms. That’s very insensitive btw, no offense. News to everyone. Israel is a country again, the Church made an unbelievable error regarding Israel and Jews, and it cost many lives. (Romans 11.)

      Consider how many Christian heretics were burned during every stage of Christian development, by every sect. The Catholic Church, the Lollard movement, the Anglican Church, the Lutherans, look at a history of the British isles, American history, etc. all where Christians killed other Christians in Christ’s name, and you want Jews to believe that it was only false Christians? Is G-d incapable of managing his followers behavior by teaching them how to live?

  43. Dina says:

    Bog, you can be sure that in our long exile whatever sins Hashem punished us for, it wasn’t for our loyalty to Him in rejecting Jesus.

  44. Jim says:


    In response to your comments here: , regarding the angel who will not forgive sin.

    First, as has been pointed out, this is merely a diversionary tactic.

    Second, you should have noted that God never refers our worship to the angel. It has no separate altar in the tabernacle. When Moses instructs the people to remember that they saw no form at Sinai, he does not refer them to worshiping the angel who guided them.

    Third, the angel is clearly being differentiated from God. He is an agent of God, not a god himself. His commands are not his own, which is why he will not forgive the people for trespassing his commands. They are not his; they are God’s. When the people do not heed the messenger of God, they do not heed God.

    I do not see why Christians cannot understand this. When the IRS investigates a person, it is not because of a crime against the IRS. It is a crime against the state to withhold taxes. The IRS is merely an agent of the state collecting money owed, not to the IRS, but to the state.

    The angel is God’s agent. This is what it means that it bears God’s name. He is not acting on his own authority. He is acting on God’s. So, the people are to obey the voice of the angel, not because the angel has authority of itself, but because it has been granted authority by God. He will not forgive their trespasses, because they are not against him. They are against God Who sent him.


    • bography says:

      Are you saying the angel is forgiving sins in a vicarious capacity – as the vicar of God? That’s what the Pope says. Is this verse poetic license? No, it is plain as day. Only God forgives sins. As every Torah Jew knows and will defend to the hilt, only God forgive his sins. “I will not share my glory with another.”

      You’ve got another person in this verse who is forgiving sins. Not a second God, but the second person of the Godhead. Abhorrent to a Jew, of course. That’s why the Jewish leaders had Jesus killed.

      • Dina says:

        Really, Bog, where do you see this verse say that this angel is forgiving sins?

      • Dina says:

        Bog, do you know how to read? The verse says the angel will NOT forgive sins–that’s obvious, because he can’t. Only God can.

        • bography says:


          Exodus 23:21
          …obey his voice provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.

          Folllow the grammar: obey his voice, don’t provoke him for he won’t pardon your sins because he can’t – he’s not God. NOPE.

          obey his voice, don’t provoke him ’cause (if you don’t do so) he will not pardon your transgressions.

          • Bography
            The verse is saying that the angel cannot pardon your sins because in this case the angel carries God’s name – if he wouldn’t carry God’s name – then a sin against the angel would be pardonable by the same angel – but since this angel happens to be carrying God’s name – so a sin against this angel is a sin against God – and then the angel cannot pardon the sin.
            Will you man up and admit your error or will go look for another verse to twist for your benefit?

          • rambo2016 says:

            Exodus 33:1-3:
            Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Go, leave this place, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, and go to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, “To your descendants I will give it.” 2I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 3Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, or I would consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.

            doesn’t this prove that God and the angel ARE not the same person?

          • rambo2016 says:

            “Folllow the grammar: obey his voice, don’t provoke him for he won’t pardon your sins because he can’t – he’s not God. NOPE.”

            what do you mean ” nope” ?

            Exodus 33:1-3:
            Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Go, leave this place, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, and go to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, “To your descendants I will give it.” 2I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 3Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, or I would consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.

        • larryB says:

          Bogs says
          obey his voice, don’t provoke him ’cause (if you don’t do so) he will not pardon your transgressions.
          The passage says
          20 And now I am sending my angel to go before thee and guard thee on thy way, and lead thee to the place I have made ready for thee. 21 Give him good heed, and listen to his bidding; think not to treat him with neglect. He will not overlook thy faults, and in him dwells the power of my name. 22 If thou wilt listen to his warnings, and do all I bid thee, then thy enemies shall find an enemy in me, and those who shew thee no mercy shall find me merciless. 23 So this angel of mine will go on before thee, leading thee on into the la nd of Amorrhite and Hethite, Pherezite and Chanaanite, Hevite and Jebusite; and all these I will destroy.
          1st is says to listen to his bidding
          2nd it says to not treat him with neglect
          3rd he wont overlook your faults, and in him dwells the power of my name.
          4th if you listen to his warnings and do all I bid thee.
          5th then your enemies are my enemies.
          The title to this pasaage in my bible is “Reward and Fidelity”
          and it kind of sums it up. Do as I say and things will go well. Dont do as I say and things wont go so well.
          The judgement is in the passage right? turn right and its good turn left and its bad. Its not up to the angel.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        BO, remember what I said about that 3rd option concerning Lewis and Jesus? Ie he wasn’t mad, but he wasn’t G-d? Here is an interesting lecture for you to watch.,_the_Gospels_and_the_Bookshelf_of_Bayit_Sheni

      • Sharbano says:

        You are TOTALLY out of line. You need to end it RIGHT now.

        • Dina says:

          Bog, you wrote “You’ve got another person in this verse who is forgiving sins.” Do you have the guts to admit you were wrong about this verse, that it says the opposite of what you wish it would say? That is says that the angel WILL NOT forgive sins?

      • Jim says:


        I said nothing about the angel forgiving sins vicariously. Nor does the verse. Please re-read what I wrote, because you seem to be confused.

        The NT does seem to allow for vicarious forgiveness of sins, however, which would undermine your argument. See John 20.23, where Jesus says to his disciples: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” I do not wish to take us down a bunny trail, however, the NT allows that non-divine beings (ie beings unworthy of our worship) are able to forgive sins. This undermines your argument.

        Obviously, I do not hold by the NT, and I do not think that a human being can forgive sins. An infraction of God’s Law can only be forgiven by God. As I wrote previously, this is why the angel will not forgive such infractions. The sins are not against the angel. It is not the angel’s law that is being transgressed.

        But if I did hold by the NT, and I misread Exodus 23 to tell me that the angel forgives sins, I could not conclude that the angel was God and worthy of worship. According to the NT, the disciples were imbued with just such power, and they were neither God nor worthy of worship.

        You have made a mistake in reading Exodus, because you are looking for Jesus to be found in the Torah. Your eisegetical mindset has led you astray. And in your hurry to find Jesus in the Torah, this “main character” as you put it, you have landed in a contradiction. It is time to read the Torah to find out what God says, not what the Church can make Him appear to say. Be daring one more time. Push aside your preconceived notions and read the Torah honestly.


      • rambo2016 says:

        Why is the 2nd person in the god head asking his daddy to forgive the transgressions of those who nailed him to a cross? “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” isn’t the second person in trinity one in forgiveness with his dad? If yes, then did the son forget that his forgiveness was co equal with his fathers? I wonder how you will spin the request of jesus to the head in trinity.

        • bography says:

          Rambo, please exegete the text at hand.

          • rambo2016 says:

            Bart Ehrman wrote: The third example actually has some meat on it, and is very interesting – but not for the reason that Barron assumes when he imposes the Johannine Christology on the Markan passage. Absolutely contrary to what he says, this passage does not – decidedly does not – offer a Christology “as high as anything in John’s Gospel.” The whole point of the passage is to show that “the son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” It is important to note that the passage does not indicate the “source” of the son of man’s authority. The reason this is important is – as the great NT scholar E. P. Sanders has pointed out – in Judaism the prerogative of pronouncing sins forgiven was given to priests in the Jewish temple, upon the successful completion of sacrifice. Like Jesus, the priests would pronounce forgiveness in the passive voice “your sins are forgiven,” not in the active, “I forgive your sins.” It is God who forgives sins. If someone else does it in God’s name, it is because God has granted that person the authority. Jesus is claiming the authority of the priests in the temple. An authority given by God.

            Rambo2016: can i ask why did matthew, when he took over marks story add the following words to mark’s version ,” When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.”

            but how come the interpolate who interpolated luke has his jesus ask his father/dad to forgive the transgressions of those who know not what they are DOING ?

          • bography says:

            Bart is an atheist who thinks the Bible as a whole is twaddle. He makes a fortune feeding the scorn of miilions like him. Would you think it right if I quoted an Ehrman to “prove” to you that all a Jew has got is the writings of a man supposedly called Moses who said hundreds of thousands of his followers saw and heard God at Sinai, which they claim as the foundational proof of their religion?

            Let Islamists continue to have Bart as their main source to oppose the “People of the Book (Torah and Injil “Gospel”). They deserve him.

      • rambo2016 says:

        Forgiving sins? A god who needs to create flesh for himself and violently punish himself can forgive sins?

        • Jim says:


          This is such a good point that is too often overlooked. Christians frequently ask: “Are you saying that God cannot become a man if He wanted to?” The implication is that asserting that God cannot be a human is limiting God. They have overlooked, of course, that they foreshortened God’s arm when they declared that He is unable to forgive sins without innocent blood being shed. According to them, God might wish to forgive humanity, but what can He do, His hands are tied (so to speak)?

          Of course, becoming human is to limit God. It is literally to take the limitless and impose limits upon it. And it is they who have said that God cannot do something. They have made Him powerless. Thank you, Rambo.


        • Concerned Reader says:

          Haha seems to me this deity actually really holds a grudge huh? 😉

    • bography says:

      So in this appearance of the angel of the Lord, the Lord decides to remind the people – in case they get the wrong end of God’s glory – that this angel can’t forgive sins, and in case they’re too thick to understand adds what he has never said and will never say again, namely, “my name will be in him.” The implications are boggling. Not “he is coming in my name.”


      • Dina says:

        I am looking forward to Jim’s response, but in the meantime I will point out a couple of verses that should give you trouble:

        Isaiah 59:21: My spirit which is upon you. (God’s spirit is upon the Jewish people!)

        Or how about Exodus 4:22: Israel is my firstborn son.

        Yikes! Or crikey! (Or whatever they say where you live!) That’s a whole lot of persons in the godhead.

      • Jim says:


        Forgive me for saying so, but once again you too readily leap to conclusions before reviewing all of the facts. You seize upon phrases that appear Christological and ignore all considerations. For one thing, perhaps you did not notice, that from a Christian perspective, your argument holds no weight, for as I wrote previously, Jesus is supposed to have empowered his disciples with the power to forgive. From a Christian perspective, therefore, one cannot read about an agent of God having the power to forgive and conclude that it must be God.

        Of course, the Christian perspective is in error.

        So let us talk about grammar. God clearly differentiates between the angel and Himself. God also says that He is one, that we are to worship none beside Him, that none are like Him, and that only He is our Savior. But now, you would have us invest ourselves in the belief that God is two that you call one. (Okay, three you call one.) You would have us believe that this angel, is God. You give great import to the words “for my name is in him.” But this phrase itself shows the differentiation between the two. He does not say that the angel is God.

        “My name is in him” reflects that the angel is an agent of God. His commands are from God, not himself. This is supported by v. 22: “But if you listen to his voice and do all that I say….” Once again, God has differentiated between the angel and God. It is not “my voice and all that I say”. It is “his voice” but they are God’s commands.

        One of the greatest mislabeling jobs of all times is repeated frequently. People often call the Torah the “Law of Moses”. It is not his law. He is not its author, and any violation thereof is not a violation of Moses’ law. It is God’s law, given through Moses. Any violation of the Torah is not an offense against Moses but an offense against God.

        The same is true of the angel, whomever the angel is. It is the angel’s voice, but the commands are God’s: “But if you listen to his voice and do all that I say….”

        But you believe that the verses are teaching that the angel is capable of forgiveness but withholds it. The verse does not address the angel’s ability or lack of ability. It only tells us that the angel will not. So we must ask why he will not. Is God teaching us that the angel can forgive sins? Clearly not. The passage is not about the angel but about obedience. So why mention that the angel will not forgive? This enforces the authority of the angel. The angel will not forgive, because the words are not his. The offense is not against him. If you do not listen to the angel, it is really the commands of God which you ignore.

        But let us assume for the moment that your understanding is incorrect. Let us say that the topic is not the importance of obedience but it is the nature of the angel. God is then, according to you, telling us that the angel can forgive sins but refuses to do so. And, according to you (in blatant violation of your NT), since only God can forgive sins, the angel must be God.

        But you have overlooked a huge problem. You have just declared that God will not forgive sins. Attend, please. According to you, the angel is God (and God is one.) And according to you, the angel can forgive sins, but will not do so. But since the angel is God, you now have God declaring that He will not forgive sins. You have Him saying: “I can forgive your sins, but I will not do so.”

        But we know that God does forgive sins. He tells us in Exodus 34.7 that he forgives iniquity and transgression and sin. He forgave David. Ezekiel tells us that God forgives those who repent. I will not go on and on, but God tells us much the opposite of what you have led us to. He does not tell us that He does not forgive sin. He tells us that He does.

        So, the angel is not God. Your Christianity has you seizing at types and shadows. But by now it should be obvious that shadows slip too easily through our hands. Our devotion is to God, and not His servants. Do not confuse the latter with the former.


        • Sharbano says:

          I guess I didn’t catch this. Is Bo proposing that the angel was in fact G-d Himself. In all that he wrote I was unable to see the point he was attempting to make.

  45. Concerned Reader says:

    The idea of a second person did not exist until The book of Enoch, and even then, this being is subject to the father’s law.

  46. Bography
    Your idea of “polite” is ridiculous – different commenters on this blog have taken the time to address you with lengthy and respectful arguments and you respond with myopic mockery – you call this polite?
    If you are a quarter of a mentch – respond to the arguments that were presented to you – otherwise continue with your game – your actions are speaking volumes.

  47. Bography
    Ho do you have the chutzpa to digress into differences in the gospel (as if it hasn’t been documented) when your position has been ripped to shreds – either be a man and admit that you were wrong – or be a man and present a coherent (notice – I said coherent) defense of your position
    I suspect you won’t do either – after all you are the only one that can reason since you are the only one here that has been enlightened – so why respond to all these endarkened people whose eyes were blinded and hearts were hardened

  48. Bography
    In keeping with the tradition of Matthew and John your blog is filled with mockery of God’s first-born son but is pretty empty on Scriptural justification for what you believe – did I miss something? is there a section on your blog that would present a coherent Scriptural justification for acceptance of Jesus which takes into consideration all of the passages or at least the majority of the passages that have been quoted to support the rejection of Jesus?

  49. Concerned Reader says:

    Dina whst if someone bowed down to worship one of these appearances (throphanies)? Is that idolatry?

    Bo, 1st bowing to the ground is not prayer or service to said entity.

    2nd Even in the theophanies, honor Is due exclusively to the father. Meaning, (metaphorically) they are like a microphone, or a translator, not the object of devotion.

    • Dina says:

      Con, there is a difference between mundane worship, as in worship of a king, and the worship of a deity. Can you give me an example of what you mean so I can examine the language in Hebrew?


    • bography says:


      Could you provide three instances of these throphanies with relevant passages?


      • Concerned Reader says:

        Dina, this comment

        “Dina whst if someone bowed down to worship one of these appearances (throphanies)? Is that idolatry?”

        Was a question that Bo posed to you, I was merely chiming in, noting that “theophanies” are never prayed to. it wasn’t a question I had for myself.

  50. Bography

    God took His firstborn son out of Egypt through the agency of Moses who is also referred to as a messenger – Deuteronomy 4:34; Hosea 12:14; Numbers 20:17.

    Your dismissal of Bart Ehrman on the basis of his being an atheist is reprehensible – it is in line with Jesus’ dismissal of those who asked valid questions because they are a brood of vipers, children of the devil etc. It is downright evil to dismiss an honest question because the one who voices is it is not perfect or because his motivations are not sincere. You are more ungodly than most atheists I know (except perhaps for Richard Dawkins) yet I interact with you because I recognize that under the pile of lies lies a soul breathed in by God that yearns for truth – and even you are capable of saying something that I can learn from. The vipers and hypocrites that Jesus, Paul, and Bography despise taught their disciples to accept the truth from whosoever says it.

    Bography – stop your evil way of dismissing the words of those who think differently than yourself with the excuses taught to you by the masters of persuasion (they are bad, I am enlightened, they are blinded, they are motivated by pettiness, the are small minded, I am clever, I am saved …). Open your heart and listen to the questions that have been presented to you and allow them to penetrate. And at least make a pretense of being a mentsch and respectfully respond to the people who showed you respect by spending the time to articulate their arguments for you.

    Respectfully yours

    Yisroel C Blumenthal

  51. Dina says:


    You wrote something in a comment yesterday that has been troubling me ever since. In this comment,, you wrote:

    “The fact is that there multiple places in the Tanach where the Angel of the Lord has the same attributes as YAHWEH. Jews refuse to see it, for obvious reasons.”

    What troubles me is, what are the reasons that are so obvious to you for the refusal of Jews to acknowledge that the angel of the Lord is the second person in the godhead?

    Is it out of sheer perverse stubbornness? Is it because they are spiritually blind? Is it because of their demonic nature? Or all of the above?

    Or is something else going on? If it’s none of the above, then what’s in it for the Jews to refuse to see such an obvious “truth”?

    What’s in it for the Jews that so many times throughout history they found a horrible death by torture, fire, and sword far more enticing than accepting Jesus as their lord and savior?

    What’s in it for the Jews that throughout the long period of Christian ascendancy they preferred the status of social outcasts and the yoke of persecution to joining the Church?

    These questions are worth thinking about, my estranged brother, because you only know you are Jewish because your ancestors preserved God’s word and their Jewish tradition at great personal cost. You have turned your back on their sacrifice, and you cannot now pass on to your descendants the knowledge of Jewish identity.

    Do you know why? Not every Jew throughout history was willing to stretch his neck out to the sword rather than convert. We do not judge them. May we never be tested! But one inescapable fact remains. Not a single one of these Jews produced any descendants who could identify as Jewish. If you have children, such a fate awaits your descendants within a few generations.

    I hope you will consider this well.

    Peace and blessings,

    • bography says:


      The Tanach reveals that “One” God appears under two names belonging to two persons. Jews, because of their Unitarian view of God don’t want to “go there.” The Talmudic literature, though, did take a stab at it, but couldn’t kill it.
      Hey, stop trying to get me off my main task, which is you know what. You gave me many passages to study.

      • Bography
        The Tanach reveals that God appears under many names in many manifestations – but it also reveals that worship is to be directed at God alone. The Jewish Unitarian vies of God is not “theirs” but is rooted in the word of God and in the teaching that God imparted to them. The problem that Jews have with the Christian interpretation of these passages is not in the way the Christians see how God appeared but rather in the worship that they build on their misinterpretation of these passage ignoring direct commandments of God – and when they do so with mocking self-righteousness – it just makes it so much sadder.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          Consider Mormonism for a moment Bog. The Mormons accept the Trinity, and the “incarnation,” like mainstream orthodox, but they are full corporealists, Ie they teach that G-d in his totality is physical. G-d literally impregnated Mary as a man called under the name Holy Spirit, in their view. They use the incarnation of Jesus, and TANAKH passages, such as the 3 visitors to Abraham as scriptural justification for a belief that G-d doesn’t just inhabit a bush, or an angel of the L-rd that is also G-d, but that G-d is inherently physical. They are tri theists, and they use TANAKH too.

          Unitarianism avoids the problems by stating that the premise is absurd. If G-d is manifested in a specific figure, be it angel, bush, spirit, etc. the risk is real that he will be limited to said physical reality by foolish human beings. The commandments (not claims of being G-d,) are the only way to sift through foolish ideas.

  52. Dina says:

    Boggsie, I have another thing to say about the angel of the Lord passages. Thus far, not a single Christian I have confronted with Deuteronomy 4 and 13 has ever been able to reconcile these two doctrines. Either they ignore me when I bring it up–an art you have mastered–or they try to explain why those passages are unimportant or why maybe the Sinai event may not have happened in the first place. (Which is astonishing for Bible-believing Christians to say, on many levels.)

    I am still hoping you will show some integrity and keep your word about responding to my challenges.

    Shabbat Shalom!

  53. Jim says:


    You can hardly object to quoting Ehrman when you quote for, an open orthodox site, meaning that they deny the divine origin of the Torah. Rambo has only argued according to the precedent you set.


    • bography says:

      Jim, if I’m not mistaken, you said does not believe the torah is of divine origin. Perhaps you should double check.

      • Jim says:


        While those at use the term, Torah from Heaven, if you do a little reading you will see that they do not actually hold that the Torah was literally given by God. To be more accurate, there are varying degrees of belief in the divine authorship of the Torah, much as you will find varying degrees among Conservative or Reform. There are those at embrace “modern scholarship” including current versions of the Wellhausen hypotheses. In fact, much of the site is an attempt to reconcile Judaism to Modern Biblical Scholarship.

        Do not be fooled just because they use the phrase “Torah from Heaven” over and over on their site. A little reading on your part will show that they are trying to figure out what that means.


        • bography says:

          Jim do you regard Chabad to represent authentic Judaism.

          • Jim says:


            You are wandering afield. It is not my place to rule on who is part of authentic Judaism. My initial comment was only to point out the inconsistency of objecting to a quote by Ehrman.

            I do not object to you quoting from However, as they say that there was no Abraham or Sarah, no conquest of Israel, and no slavery in Egypt, they are akin to Ehrman in many ways, though they are not atheists. And I would not say that they hold the whole Torah to be “twaddle”. (Although, saying “they” as if they were monolithic has its problems. I believe that those involved in Open Orthodox run along a spectrum, though I am not overly familiar with them.)


          • bography says:

            You, a theist and believer in divine revelation,can do better than appeal to an atheist and virulent vociferous opponent of Judaism and Christianity (and Islam – but here he values his life too much, as he said) making cartloads of lolly writing books against them. Leave Ehrman to fellow haters of Judsism and Christiany like other atheists and Muslims.

          • Jim says:


            I did not employ Ehrman. I did not appeal to an atheist. Someone else did. I reiterate, however, that if you are going to disallow him on the grounds that he is an atheist, you ought not employ as your source people who deny that God gave Moses the Torah or that the Sinai event happened.

            If you wish to use such sources, of course, that is your business. My point is not that they should be disallowed. It is that if you will employ them, you can hardly cry foul when someone else employs Ehrman. If you object that he should not be used by those who are believers in divine revelation, then you ought not employ people who deny divine revelation either.


  54. Yedidiah says:

    Very few people would ever say “God is one ‘person'”, even in a metaphorical or anthropomorphic sense. Maybe because it sounds like one is reducing God’s ‘completeness” to “human completeness”. When one says “strong arm of the Lord”, few Christians take that literally, as if God had a physical arm. Most would understand “the arm” as poetical expression, as metaphor, and they would not imagine God as being a materialistic being. Most would consider Angels and “ghosts” as “spiritual beings”, not physical beings and not “persons” (except in “escapist”,”pop culture”‘ like in weeklyTV shows where they have “genies”, nice “witches”, “zombies”, “angels” that need to “earn there wings”, King Kong, “green hulks”, and various super-heroines and heroes, such as Wonder Woman, BatMan, SpiderMan, etc. Zeus & his sons & daughters are myths that that took anthropomorphism & “personhood” to extremes at times, but few people today take these “persons” as real beings, real gods, idols, or “persons” in some “godhead of gods”. Not until Jesus, when his personhood needed or needs to be justified. Then we heard & still hear “godhead”, “2 persons of God” or ” 3 persons but the same substance”. “Substance” not spirit is used because we are made of “substance”. “Son of God”maybe because we no longer take Thor, Zeus, etc, as the “supreme god” and “son” would only upset or confuse Israel or Jews, a few Christians, and true mono-theists.

  55. Concerned Reader says:

    Something that Christians themselves don’t know very well, is all the philosophical presuppositions that went behind developing their own doctrine. Christianity was popular among neo platonists, Aristotelians, etc. As a result, from the 2nd century on, Christian doctrine was not for the Everyman, only faith was, (and even the Eucharist was only for bishops inaugurated into the “mysterion”)

    It’s ironic that the messiah is said to bring knowledge such that “all people will know” but in Church, Only the “theologians” have the philosophical background necessary to really know the distinctions between hypostasis, prosopon, and other terms used by the Church to articulate its most central teaching. That in itself is enough to show its unbiblical ness?

    It’s actually ironic that only a few Christian philosophers were ever of the opinion that G-d was of some defineable (corporeal) substance at all. Most, (because they were schooled in Greek philosophy,) took the notion of the incorporeality of G-d as an absolute given. There were actually arguments amongst thousands of early gentile Christians whether Jesus had a physical body at all. The hypostatic Union (the Union of corporeal and divine) in Jesus was the last ditch effort to answer this argument. Crazy stuff. I never went to seminary, but I basically took seminary level classes as part of comparitive religions, and the sheer amount of philosophy you needed to know to “get it the way the fathers taught it,” was astounding. Very different from Judaism. It’s good that my family isn’t trinitarian and I wasn’t raised with it. I learned a ton about it later though.

  56. Jim says:


    After having been presented with so many passages that argue against your philosophy that humans lack free will, you resort to the same tactics that showed the weakness of your arguments in the first place. You apply a bizarre meaning to Jeremiah 17.9 as if it were not connected to Jeremiah 17.10. You continue to isolate a verse here or there, separating it not just from its immediate context but the overall context of Tanach, as well.

    If God unilaterally chooses and man lacks free will, then you may stop your proselytizing. The Church, in all its various guises, can stop missionizing. God will just drop knowledge into the vessels of honor and withhold it from the vessels of dishonor. He’ll reveal Himself to whom He wills, when He wills.

    You may feel free, also, to stop misrepresenting the Torah to suit your agenda. Using it as evidence of your position is futile to those who have been hated as Esau and unnecessary to those who are loved like Jacob. You have already denied the value of reason, even as you half-heartedly attempt to employ it. (I say “half-heartedly”, because you play the part of a sophist more than a philosopher and are more concerned with your jokes than with your arguments.)

    As you continue to ignore that Moses tells the Jewish people to choose life, because that does not suit your preconceptions, or that God tells Cain that he can overcome sin, you reveal how selectively you apply scripture. I do recognize that this is what you have learned in the Church. The NT misquotes and misrepresents Torah on a regular basis, and to one in the Church, plucking something out of context must seem a perfectly reasonable practice. But if you will be intellectually honest, you will see that this is an untenable practice

    The Church may claim that its foundation is Tanach, but this is clearly not the case. The abuses of Tanach inflicted by the NT show that the NT is not founded upon Tanach. The NT attempted to destroy Tanach and then found itself upon its ruins. Its misquotes and misrepresentations show that the NT authors were not interested in the Word of God but the words of themselves. They gave up following Torah to follow their own imaginations.

    You need not follow in their footsteps. If your doctrine regarding free will were true, then the Church would neither need to preach the gospel to all nations or support itself from Torah, to present arguments based on reason. The fact that both of these are necessary disproves your philosophy. The NT does teach that one should preach. It does employ the Torah. If your understanding was correct, neither should be the practice of the Church.


    • bography says:


      You say “so many verses.” When you sit down to dinner to you pile your hors d’oeuvres , main course, salad and pudding onto one plate, and wolf it down.

      I am want to start on the hors d’oeuvres, but I first have to put on my bib. The bib is Deut 10:6. No one wants to answer my question except maybe you. Let me try with Jim.

      God commands you to circumcise your heart (Deut 10:6). You need free will to do it, right. So, if you agree, why the hesitation from the others to prove to me that God knows you can do it without his help.

      About Jeremiah 17:9-10 what have I taken out of context?

      Now, don’t say I am off the point of free will. Use your free will to say I have proved that I am wrong about “free will” (according to Deut 10:6).

      No more fretting. Answer me in this one and I go straight to the hors d’oeuvres (one of Dina’s texts).

      Why have the feeling that no one will agree to accept the gift I presented to you all to destroy my own case?

      • Jim says:


        You mean if we just answer one more question then you will finally give Dina an answer from something she wrote two weeks ago? You may think this is a generous offer, but I find it absurd. Whenever we present an argument, you ignore it and ask another question. You already promised that you would answer Dina’s arguments, when she answered one of your other questions. She did. You owe her an answer. It is dishonest of you to continue to promise that you will answer her if she just answer your new question first… and the next one… and the next….


      • Bography
        Yes – you can circumcise your heart – the Torah says so explicitly. In Deuteronomy 30 we read that after Israel fulfills ALL of what God commanded them through Moses, which of-course includes Deuteronomy 10:6 – God will then move in to circumcise our hearts – there is obviously a human way to do things which is expected of us – and only after we do ours will God move in to do it from His side.
        The reason you have the feeling that no one will agree to accept the “gift” is because you are an admirer of someone who dealt with those who think differently from himself without the slightest modicum of “mentschlichkeit”
        By the way – we have “dangled” many verses in front of you – why have you not bitten? I have dangled verses and passages in front of Christians for years now – very few actually faced the Scriptures in which God teaches directly against their theology.

        • bography says:

          Hooray Yisroel, you win the yellow jersey. No surprises there. Yep Deut 10 says “circumcise your hearts,” and Deut 30 says “I will circumcise your heart.” Your understanding is you do your bit, and God does his.

          Deuteronomy 30:6
          Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.

          Once God has circumcised the bits you weren’t able to do yourself, you will then (be able and willing, I infer) to love Him with all your heart and soul.

          Of course, long before, in Deut 6 the Lord commanded you to love Him with all your heart and soul without any command to circumcise (a bit of) your heart, and if you did not do so you were condemned and punished.

          Yisroel, even if you are right that you do your bit and God does the rest, it shows that the will is not so free (= neutral); it is tossed to and fro by the “evil inclination” (yetser hara).

          But I suggest you are wrong: God commands you in Deut 6 to obey his commandments. He commands you do do again in Deut 10 (circumcise your heart). In Deut, God takes over completely and does what you couldn’t and didn’t want to do. The history of Israel is a long litany of whoredoms and destructions. In his mercy, God will save a stump or a stump, a remnant, who have not bowed the knee to Baal. The Lord had to intercede – monergistically, as with the covenants – to save some from themselves and for himself.

          The upshot, the human will is deceitful and desperately sick, and needs to be saved from itself.

          And now for “You took it out of context, you this and that!” Not necessarily from you, Yisroel.

          • Bography
            You didn’t “take it out of context” or “this or that” – you simply ignored the Scripture that doesn’t fit the theology of your petty imagination.
            Read verse 2 – it says you will listen to the Lord your God according to ALL that I command. This means loving God with all your heart and it means circumcising your heart – and this takes place before the restoration to the land and before the circumcision of the heart.
            Face Scripture and return to God.

          • Dina says:

            Bog, you wrote this: “Even if you are right that you do your bit and God does the rest, it shows that the will is not so free (= neutral); it is tossed to and fro by the “evil inclination” (yetser hara).”

            Free will is not tossed to and fro by the yetzer harah; it is tested by it. God tests us to see if we love Him (for example, Abraham and Job, and He tests the Jewish people by sending false prophets, per Deuteronomy 13). And in all these instances they/we show our love through our obedience.

            Can you find a clear, Scriptural passage that says that God saves us from ourselves and that we lack the free will to choose good/life (per Deuteronomy 13)? How do you reconcile your view with Genesis 4:7, the two chapters in Deuteronomy (28 and 30), and Ezekiel 18 and 33, which I keep citing?

            Another question to challenge your view: God insists on our obedience to His laws and promises reward for obedience and punishment for disobedience. How does it make sense to say that God commands us to do things which we have not the will to do and then punishes us for it? And since we don’t have free will, He chooses who will be saved (rewarded) and who will be damned (punished) through no fault of their own? What kind of psychopathic tyrant of a god do you believe in?

      • Dina says:

        Bog, I think it would only be fair to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you haven’t seen my comment where I do answer this question and I do show you how you have taken the verse from Jeremiah out of context. So here is the comment for your review:

  57. Bography
    God says He will be satisfied with our doing of things – just read Deuteronomy 30:2 and 3. It will be our obedience BEFORE the divine circumcision of the heart that will bring us back. Bography disagrees – so do most Christians. But Bography, whose side should we be on? Yours or God’s?
    Face it – you can’t face Scripture.

  58. Dina says:

    It’s awful quiet in Boggsie land. What happened? Stumped? Got busy with other things? Come on, you promised a full tackling of the challenges I presented against your position. I’m still holding you to it.

    • bography says:


      Forgive my neglect. Will respond hopefully tomorrow or next day. Meantime tell Jim that if you’re going to be a defacto Judaist, Chabad is hard to beat. I think he knows that but is not telling. Now you might very justifiably ask me, “What’s that got to do with price of pork?”

      • Dina says:

        Bog, you cannot comprehend that Jim is telling you the truth because you are projecting your playing-games, playing-coy rhetorical style onto a man who is forthright, direct, and honest. You would do well to take what he says at face value and respond in kind.

        One way to do this would be to stop playing the game of “I’m saying something mysterious, now ask me a question!” or asking irrelevant questions in response to thoughtful arguments.

        Your assessment of Chabad reveals your ignorance of Orthodox Jewish life. Chabad is in fact a highly controversial movement that is looked upon askance by other Orthodox groups, mostly because of the inappropriate veneration of some of their adherents to Rabbi Schneerson. Many Jews find that this veneration is uncomfortably close to Christianity. There is in fact little intermarriage (if any) between Jews dedicated to Chabad and other Orthodox Jews.

        Is Chabad de facto Judaism? The answer is, not by a long shot.

      • Jim says:


        I do not know what you are calling me out on. If you have an argument to make, I would be grateful if you just made it rather than incessantly insinuating. I was not dodging your question. I object to some practices and ideas found within Chabad, but I do not know if they are beyond the pale of orthodoxy. And I do not happen to think that it is my job to rule upon their standing within the Jewish community. If I were a Jew, I would not think it was my place. As a non-Jew, I am even less qualified.

        I cannot imagine the relevance. The only reason I brought up the objection to is not because I object to your usage on the grounds that they are unqualified. I was only showing your inconsistency.

        Frankly, your objection to Ehrman should not be on his status as an atheist. You should be able to rebut his argument. Instead you retreated again to Bulverism (Lewis’ term), to dismissing another person. But if you are going to argue that he cannot be employed in the conversation, then you should be equally careful in choosing your sources.


        Thank you for your kind words.


        • Sharbano says:

          What’s all this angst over Chabad.

          • Jim says:

            Don’t know, Sharbano.

          • bography says:

            This chochom is thinking…..
            I’m worried I don’t have the mental energy to figure out the connection between wisdom, knowledge and understanding. You’re right: very worried.

          • Dina says:

            Bog, knock, knock! This is your creditor banging on your door demanding what is owed. You promised me an answer to my challenge on free will if I answered your questions first. I did as you asked. Now please confront Deuteronomy 28 and 30, Genesis 4:7, and Ezekiel 18 and 33. No more distractions and no more questions. A promise is a promise.

            Show me why these Scriptural passages support your concept of no free will or retract your statement.

            Or you could be a coward and not admit you can’t answer, and so keep putting me off and putting me off…but none of us are fooled by this tactic, only you.

        • bography says:

          Re Chabad, your “If I were a Jew, I would not think it was my place. As a non-Jew, I am even less qualified.”
          So as a non-Jew you are not qualified to crit Chabad? And any other Jewish movement?
          Does this particularity apply universally – to people of one religion critiquing another religion.

          I think Chabad would consider you a “righteous Gentile” (as they do the Noahides), which might give you a smidgen of a right to express your opinion of them. As long as you don’t dis the Rebbe.

          • Jim says:


            You wander further and further afield. If you have a point to make, would you mind making it?


          • bography says:

            Wondering wandering onedaring Jew – “Wazzat!”

            Jim – A fax machine. Lookee. Press button.

          • Dina says:

            Bog, you are raving.

          • Dina says:

            You are incoherent. Do you care to elucidate?

          • bography says:

            Dina, would you think it right for you to pray to God to help me stop raving and see the truth?

          • Dina says:

            Boggsie, you wrote this really bizarre comment to Jim:

            “Wondering wandering onedaring Jew – “Wazzat!”

            Jim – A fax machine. Lookee. Press button.”

            Which makes me wonder about the state of your wandering mind. It sounds like you are descending into raving incoherence. Unless there is a method to your madness that you can explain. (Perhaps you had too much of something?)

            Yes, I do think it’s right to pray that God help your achieve clarity, and in fact I have done just that. You may be estranged, but you are still family. Before you jump up and down shouting your favorite word, “tee hee,” and saying, “See, I told you God opens and closes people’s eyes willy nilly,” let me say that asking God for guidance and clarity for myself and others does not invalidate any of the arguments I presented to you already on this topic. Our subjectivity and fallible nature make us prone to error; you confuse what we call reason with infallibility and omnipotence, two gifts God did not grant to the human species. You have set up a straw man. So does my praying mean that ultimately God does it all for you? No, of course not. God sends us messages all the time, but we have the choice to ignore them or take action.

            So you keep asking questions to try to trap me and refuse to confront the Scriptures I cited, especially Deuteronomy 30. I doubt you ever will, but I will wait till after Shabbos before I take you to task over it. Perhaps you really are summarizing what would otherwise be a lengthy dissertation on the subject. That remains to be seen.

            Peace and blessings,

          • bography says:


            Jim – Boggle, is it so hard to stay on topic? Let me try one more time. Do you have a fax machine.
            Boggle – Wazzat?
            Jim – Ok, let me show you my one. There’re all these buttons. NO! fingers off. This is the button you really have to worry about. It’s easy. Lookee, press button. NO! not THAT one!

            Re Prayer.

            Dina, you say you pray for other people. One such prayer could be that someone would see that the Torah, only the Torah, is the way the truth and the light. Not so? My question is, “Isn’t God already trying to enlighten everybody so that they will choose the Truth.” Or is He using Torah Jews to do that job?

            Boggsie Mull-One

          • Dina says:

            Boggsie, I am sorry for the ad hominem attacks. I should not have called you raving and incoherent. I disapprove of ad hominem attacks from anyone, least of all myself, so please accept my apologies.

            Respectfully, then, your comment about the fax machine is still cryptic.

            As for your question, Scripture tells us that God appointed the nation of Israel to preserve his testimony and that we would do so despite our disobedience (Deuteronomy 30:1-2; Isaiah 43:10,12; Isaiah 44:8; Isaiah 59:21; Psalms 78:5-6). He chose us to be his kingdom of priests and holy nation and to be a light unto the world (Exodus 19:6; Isaiah 49:6).

            Certainly, we do our best, but why do you see this as a contradiction with asking God to aid us in our efforts? We are completely dependent upon the One who created us for every breath we draw. He is our Father Who loves us–what is more natural than turning toward your father with your problems?

          • bography says:


            it seems that in my required answer to your questions, we are dealing with the relationship between reason, knowledge, human will, God’s will, and God’s commandments.

            As far as I understand you, Dina, you and frum Jews know (“faith” is not involved in your scheme) the reality of the only unique God of the universe because you vicariously saw Him at Sinai through your ancestors. He then gave his commandments to Israel and told them to use the free will he gave them to obey these commandments. As in:

            Deut 30:19

            19This day, I call upon the heaven and the earth as witnesses [that I have warned] you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. You shall choose life, so that you and your offspring will live;

            And they can exercise God’s gift of free will and turn to Him if they have the desire to do so.

            Deut 4:30

            30 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; 31 (For the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.

            Any clarifications you’d like to make? No ad homentashen comments please.

          • Dina says:

            Mr. Bogs, you wrote: “it seems that in my required answer to your questions, we are dealing with the relationship between reason, knowledge, human will, God’s will, and God’s commandments.”

            You are making this way more complicated that it really is. It’s very simple and it’s very clear.

            You asserted that God chooses whom to save; He reveals Himself to whomsoever He will (apparently you were one of the lucky ones), and this has nothing to do with our own actions.

            This statement is simple and easy to understand.

            Now I and others challenged you on that with simple, clear passages from Scripture (especially Deuteronomy 30, but also Genesis 4:7, Deuteronomy 28, and Ezekiel 18 and 20) that flatly refute this notion.

            This is also simple and easy to understand.

            The question is, can you reconcile these passages with your belief in a way that is also simple and easy to understand? Remember, the Torah was not only given to scholars and philosophers but also to common folk like me. So while a scholarly treatise on “the relationship between reason, knowledge, human will, God’s will, and God’s commandments” might be interesting to academics, it is hardly relevant to our discussion. Moreover, it is not discussed in Scripture.

            Having said that, I would say that I agree with your assessment with one qualifier. As Jim pointed out, God rewards our obedience with an enhanced ability to obey and our disobedience with a gradually diminishing ability to make the right choice (here’s his comment: We see this play out in real life. If your dentist tells you to floss your teeth every day because you are in danger of losing them, and you start to religiously brush your teeth every day, pretty soon it becomes unthinkable for you to go to bed without flossing your teeth. But if one night you’re very tired and you decide to skip it, then the next time you are very tired, you find it easier to skip–you feel less guilty about it. Pretty soon you’re flossing only a couple of times a week, and soon after that you’re back to your old ways of not flossing. (This is a hypothetical example; I am not suggesting that you don’t floss your teeth daily 🙂 ).

          • bography says:

            Dina your “You asserted that God chooses whom to save; He reveals Himself to whomsoever He will (apparently you were one of the lucky ones), and this has nothing to do with our own actions.”

            Israel my son, you only have I known. You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth…

            Israel was not only ONE of the lucky nations, but the only lucky one.

          • Sharbano says:

            Lucky?? The Only lucky one. The Only reason Israel is “lucky” is simply it was the Only nation who would accept Torah, “we will do and we will listen”. No other nation was willing.

          • bography says:

            Verse please where the tanach says that was the reason why God chose the Jews.

          • Sharbano says:

            It’s hinted at in Torah and Expounded in Midrash.

          • bography says:

            Sharbano, please cite the hinted verse in the Tanach. I thought that God chose Israel not because they were a great nation but the hinten of all the nations. In passing, as for midrash, much of midrash is egotistical mush, which, of course, you will deny.

          • Sharbano says:

            I realize your attempts at delegitimization of Torah and Jewish Tradition. Midrash is nothing more than additional information that couldn’t be contained in a Torah scroll. It’s no different than when the founders of the US wrote the Constitution they furthered that document with the Federalist Papers. It doesn’t just stop here. Xtianity has attempted to also delegitimize the Jew himself, which is evident in the Xtian writings.

          • Dina says:

            Bogs, how about you respond to the places in Tanach that DO give a reason for why God chose the Jewish nation?

          • bography says:

            Two reasons why God loved (knew, chose) – and still love – the Jewish nation: 1. Fulfilling a promise to the patriarchs. 2 . Because he loved (knew, chose) them. Unless you want to appeal to the Talmud.

          • Dina says:

            Bogs, also because He knew we would instruct our children in His commandments, which is why He chose Abraham, because He knew this:

            “For I have loved him, because he commands his children and his household after him that they keep the way of Hashem, doing charity and justice etc.” (Genesis 18:19). Abraham started the ball rolling by instructing his descendants to follow Hashem.

            You don’t have to like the reasons, but you can’t deny they’re there.

          • Dina says:

            Bogs, this is one of your statements which I refuted that I requested you either rebut or retract. I gave you Scriptural passages that show that luck has nothing to do with it.

          • bography says:

            Dina, would you say the verses you want me to respond to teach that the human will is morally neutral? If you say yes, doesn’t this mean that our wills are in one way greater the the divine will.

            Please be patient, and just answer my question.

          • Dina says:

            Bogs, again, you’re entering into deep philosophical questions that are not discussed in Scripture. God gave us free will to choose, which means He lets us make choices without intervening. God is always the One Who is running the show, ultimately. I guess I would compare it to a good manager who doesn’t breathe down the necks of his employees but lets them figure out how to get the work done well and on time. He’ll fire the ones who aren’t producing and promote the ones who are doing a good job. He’s still in charge, but he doesn’t get in the way.

            A popular question on free will is, how do we have free will if God already knows what we are going to do?

            But all this discussion is entirely irrelevant if we’re going to focus on what God teaches in Scripture. Scripture doesn’t give answers to these confusing questions but teaches clearly that we have the free will to choose and that we are the captain of our own ship, steering the course of our own spiritual destiny.

  59. Bography
    I find it interesting that you need “tomorrow or the next day” to explain Deuteronomy 30 in light of your anti-Scriptural theology which posits that God accepts nothing less than impossible perfection. I thought that we were the ones who make up theology and don’t care about Scripture – you are supposed to be the Sola-Scriptura man who doesn’t begin to dream of theology until all of Scripture is considered – you should have already written an explanation for this passage. I challenge you Bography to find one, just one, Christian website that addresses this argument.

  60. Jim says:


    You seem to think that schoolyard taunts and mockery are the same thing as sound argument. They are not. It is no defense on your part to “call us out” for claiming that you take things out of context. The fact of the matter is that we have not merely claimed it. We have illustrated it. And you, in trying to argue that context does not matter, have only shown that it does, a point which you did not even acknowledge. (But since you have not acknowledged the vast majority of our arguments, I cannot pretend to be surprised.)

    Let us consider another of your ill-considered analogies for a moment. You write that I wish to pile my plate with food and wolf it down, while you take your time to put on your bib. The analogy is inapt and is merely another attempt for you to justify taking verses out of the context of the whole of Torah. If you can just ignore the rest of Torah, then you can interpret a phrase or a sentence without any other considerations. This is folly.

    It is clear why you choose one verse over another. It is clear why you ignore Ezekiel 18. It is clear why you ignore Genesis 4 and Genesis 18. It is clear why you ignore Deuteronomy 30 and rewrite Deuteronomy 10. If you considered them, then your interpretation of lone verses would not stand. But if you can take an isolated phrase or verse out-of-context, then you can make it sing your tune. And that is what you have done with Jeremiah 17.9. Not only did you isolate it from the rest of Torah, you isolated it from the verse following it:

    “I, the Lord, search the heart, test the kidneys, to give everyone according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

    But according to you, v. 10 is impossible. God does not reward people according to their deeds. He unilaterally rewards some and punishes others, not according to their deeds. Those He does reward has nothing to do with them. Therefore,He is not judging them according to his ways.

    Dina has already drawn your attention to this and had before you asked her how you took v. 9 out of context. Verse 10 tells us that God judges us according to our deeds. Moreover, it explains v 9. Because the heart is deceitful, a man may believe himself to be better than he is. Perhaps he gives charity, because doing so involves a tax-break. Yet he still feels this makes him a good man. A man may even underestimate his worth. But God, who judges the actions, examines the motivation as well as the action. A man may deceive himself, but he may not deceive God.

    Why one does what one does is important. Refraining from theft because you are afraid of getting caught is not an act of devotion to God. But we do not always know the difference. God does.

    This is why God chose David but not any of his older brothers. Samuel, coming to anoint a new king, sees Eliab and believes he has found the future king of Israel. “But Hashem said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his tall stature, for I have rejected him. For it is not as man sees–man sees what his eyes behold, but Hashem sees into the heart” (1 Samuel 16.7). Note that David was chosen for his character. God judged him, as later Jeremiah would write, according to his heart. There is no hint of pre-assignment or monergistic grace.

    You might also note, that later, when David repents, he asks for God to create a clean heart in David based on David’s repentance. Just as R’ Blumenthal has pointed out regarding Deuteronomy 30, repentance precedes purification of the heart. God rewards those who serve Him with a greater ability to serve Him. He enhances their free will.

    You wrote that I was piling up my plate while you are putting on your bib. This was a bad analogy. It is more correct to say that I do not take any meal as something standing alone. I look for foods that complement each other. I pair it with the correct wine. I consider not just the individual food but its context within the meal. You do not consider the greater context. You are a man at a buffet ordering tastes that individually suit your palate, but you soon discover do not go together. A meal is more than the sum of its parts.

    So is the Torah. It is a system. And when you isolate a verse from the rest of the system to impress upon it a meaning suitable to your theology, you will find that it does not match the rest of the system at all. It would be reasonable, once you have found that your interpretation was incompatible with the general themes of Torah, one of which is personal responsibility, that you would revise your opinion. Instead you have shut out the voice of Torah so as not to be confronted with facts.

    You have corrupted your palate. You have searched for verses that appeared to fit your understanding of the NT. Then you have taken that one or two verses and elevated them over the rest of the Torah. You have reinterpreted the rest of the system in light of your perverted palate. And this has left you with a case of spiritual indigestion.


    • Dina says:

      Jim, as a longstanding member of the MAS, I congratulate you on your excellent treatment of this subject. A brilliant comment from the master of analogy.

  61. Bography
    I wonder how you justify your judgmentalism in light of the fact that you claim to follow one who taught “judge not.” – Is it perhaps because this man also taught “do not as I say but do as I do”?

  62. Dina says:

    Dear Bogs,

    I’m tapping my foot, waiting impatiently for my answer. You promised! I haven’t forgotten.

    • bography says:

      Dina, sorry for geing do cruel let me put you out of your misery.

      The history if Israel (God’s “first-born” and unique son) is something like this:

      He ( Israel) is self-willed and with a strong desire to be free to do as he pleases. As a result he nurtures and cherishes the desire to be his father’s enemy. The father desires to rebuke and correct his son. Alas, this affection angers the son and cause him to become more stiff-necked and distant. The son’s aversion grows so strong that he comes to see his father as a bully and a tyrant. The son’s hatred grows so strong that the mere thought of his father makes him ill. His hatred is exacerbated by those of similar dispositions around him. No matter how much the father pleads and tries to show kindness, the son spurns this love. “Tonight, I’m going awhoring.”

      Dina, suppose that this enmity continues for months, for years. Do you think the son is able, in a moment, or at any time of his choosing, to turn this ill-will into a godly sorrow and a desire to repent and be reconciled to his father? His father has been pleading with him. “Take out you heart of stone, and replace it with a heart of soft warm flesh.” Or to say it another way: “Circumcise your heart.” “After all, the father says, what I want you to do is not on Mars or under the sea; it’s as close to you as it can get.”

      The son is do deep in the mire (“second nature”) of self-love and enmity towards his father that he is unable to change AND doesn’t want to change. Do we exonerate an inveterate criminal because he can’t help doing what he loves doing? No. A large part of the history of Israel is like that of an inveterate criminal. The father alternates between pleading “why won’t you turn?” and venting his hot anger by inflicting the ultimate punishment – mayhem and destruction. The son was unable to change yet was exceedingly culpable – to the point of near annihilation.

      This is not the end. If it were, what a sorry tale that would be. The father decides to have mercy on a remnant, so that a stump of a stump of his son remained. And not because of anything good he saw in them.

      Olam Haba (renewed Garden of Eden)

      Jossl – Issy, how did you manage to make it, you were such a shnorrer?
      Issy – To you yes. But our father sees more than you can see, and so he saw that I was basically a good sort underneath.
      Jossl – Shucks, you’re far better than I. I was the biggest ganef on earth, right down to my socks.
      Issy – How can that be! How did you get in?
      Jossl – Simple, for our father. He said he was going to circumcise my heart, and so here I am. You, being such a shnorrer, never believed, if ever read, the scriptures.
      Issy – No, you’ve got it all wrong; he said you must circumcise your own heart.
      Jossl – Oh. So I suppose a bit of both. You circumcise a bit of your heart – the bigger bit? – and father will circumcise the other bits.
      Issy – I didn’t read that in the Tanach. I suppose it would be silly for me to ask you, of all people, whether you ever read anything never mind whether you have read that in some midrash or other. The way I see it – now that father has opened my eyes, when he says he will do something he means HE will do it, especially when he goes on about it: ” I will…I will…I will…I will…” Hey, you know what’s also amazing?
      Jossl – What?
      Issy – That he saved a chochem like you.

      • Dina says:

        Bogs, respectfully, you haven’t addressed a single one of the Scriptural passages I presented. Am I understanding you to say, then, that God doesn’t know what he’s talking about because it doesn’t make sense to you?

        By the way, this little parable of yours is oddly reminiscent of the best examples of Christian anti-Semitic rants. It reveals a selective reading of Scripture, which I will show you if I have more time later today, with God’s help.

        To conclude, you still owe me a reconciliation of Deuteronomy 30 with your assertion that we don’t have free will. Also Genesis 4:7 and Ezekiel 18 and 20.

        • bography says:


          Looking forward to your explanation why maintain Jesus the Christ was ranting. Meantime how is gen 4:7 unrelated to my response?

          6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

          • Dina says:

            Bogs, in this passage God is clearly telling Cain that he has the power to master sin. That is a clear refutation of your notion that we do not have free will. In your parable, you did not respond to this passage. Still looking for a refutation of that as well as Deut 30 and Ezekiel 18 and 20. Go ahead and read them. All the verses. Carefully. Then come back here and tell me why you still believe God did not grant us free will, though He plainly says he does.

      • Sharbano says:

        “Do we exonerate an inveterate criminal because he can’t help doing what he loves doing? No. A large part of the history of Israel is like that of an inveterate criminal. The father alternates between pleading “why won’t you turn?” and venting his hot anger by inflicting the ultimate punishment – mayhem and destruction. The son was unable to change yet was exceedingly culpable – to the point of near annihilation.”

        This is why Isaiah says what he says. You will be among the many who will be utterly astonished as Israel’s redemption. Your hate will be turned to sorrow.

        • Dina says:

          Bogs, Sharbano isolated this quote of yours that shows that you believe God is cruel and unjust. You say Israel is unable to change but still must be punished. I must ask you again what kind of cruel tyrant of a god do you believe in?

          • bography says:

            Their inability. Is self-imposed. The more the Israelites went awhoring ( “idols”), the more they sank, and wanted to sink, into depravity, which they would have thought of as self-fulfillment. Result they couldn’t get out of their whole AND didn’t want to.

          • Dina says:

            Bogs, I will quote your words with emphasis on particular phrases:

            “Their inability. Is SELF-IMPOSED. The more the Israelites went awhoring ( “idols”), the more they sank, and WANTED TO SINK, into depravity, which they would have thought of as self-fulfillment. Result they couldn’t get out of their whole AND DIDN’T WANT TO.”

            While I don’t necessarily agree with this entire statement, you have inadvertently admitted, my dear professor, that you don’t quite believe what you profess to believe. Your own statement right here shows that free agency is at work.

            But if they had not wanted to–if they desired to repent, if there was a spark of remorse–then the means have been provided (namely, free will). The prophet didn’t exhort them to believe in Jesus or that they shouldn’t bother repenting because they lacked free will, right? Right.

            So now will you finally talk about Deuteronomy 30 (and Genesis 4:7 and Ezekiel 18 and 20 and Deuteronomy 28)?

          • bography says:


            “Free” will means free to follow your “heart.” Any decision you make is determined by what drives you most, what you want most. It is called “inward determination.” The Israelites wanted to follow their “hearts.” They did not feel compelled but wanted to go awhoring after false gods – the biggest one being themselves. They felt as free as a bird. In reality they were as free as, like all human beings in their natural state, a turd.

            “He who is most deeply abased and alarmed, by the consciousness of his disgrace, nakedness, want, and misery, has made the greatest progress in the knowledge of himself.” (J.C.).

          • Dina says:

            Oy vey, Boggly Woggly, sometimes I wonder if you actually read what I write. Alors, la grande question est…

            Do you disagree with Genesis 4:7, Deuteronomy 28 and 30, and Ezekiel 18 and 20, all of which clearly teach that you do have the ability to choose right from wrong?

            Do you disagree with God?

            You see, I’m finding it very interesting that you will not confront these passages directly. Very interesting indeed.

      • Dina says:

        Bogs, are you going to actually confront Deuteronomy 30 directly, as well as the other passages I presented, as you promised? Or are you going to keep putting me off with distractions, parables, and imaginative speculation?

        • Concerned Reader says:

          Bo, your ideas about a lack of free agency and some kind of natural will are completely refuted by the Bible, and as a start, disproven by Abraham’s pleading for Sodom, the repentant hearts of the Ninevites in Jonah, the trials of Job, and the work of Cyrus the great on behalf of G-d as his anointed one. All of these cases demonstrate the capability of free choice and also free agency in righteous Jews and also RIGHTEOUS GENTILES. If you believe your will is as free “as a turd,” then I regret and feel remorse for you.

          It seems that you believe that you posses some secret insight into the way G-d’s mind operates? Tell me, Oh lemming, how it is that you come by your knowledge, if you are but a natural willed turd bound lemming like the rest of us?

          • rambo2016 says:

            hello con,

            do you believe that if one reads the torah in english he never actually read the torah?
            many people are building arguments based on what the english is saying and i have seen the comments of experts and they say one actually never understands the torah if he doesn’t read it in hebrew.

          • bography says:


            I know there are some Jews who believe that Hashem sits down every night to study Torah – in Hebrew of course. And Muslims believe that Allah’s mother tongue is Arabic. And we all should know that the science/art of translation has progressed in leaps if not bounds in the modern era.

            I infer you have some qualms with English translations of the Tanach in one or more verses I quoted. You know, I also get mad at some English translations; for example, the NIV says “I create calamity” when the translation should be “I create evil (ra)” – Isaiah 45).

          • LarryB says:

            Speak for yourself 🙂

          • bography says:


            “Free will” and “free agency” are not synonymous.

            Human beings in their natural state have free agency, not free will.

            Free agency – people do what they will, but what they will is determined: “every imagination of man’s heart is only evil continually?” (Gen. 8: 21.)

            Free will – a neutral independent “faculty” that can decide to choose what ever it wants independent of the “heart.” No such thing exists – on earth or in heaven.

            David understood it well. “Create in me a clean heart.” Now let me guess what’s coming.

            “Got you there bobo: how could David ask for a clean heart if there was a bit of clean in it already!”

          • Dina says:

            Bogs, you wrote this: “Free will – a neutral independent ‘faculty’ that can decide to choose what ever it wants independent of the ‘heart.’ No such thing exists – on earth or in heaven.”

            This is an absurd statement because it doesn’t only contradict the Bible. It also contradicts the lived experience of every human being who acts against his natural desire (or against his heart, if you will).

            Every time I hold my tongue to preserve the peace in my household, I am acting against the heat of my emotions. Every time I humble myself to apologize when I really think my husband or children should be the ones to apologize, I am acting against my heart. Every time I resist wolfing down six slices of French toast because I’m hungry and it’s delicious and I have rice cakes and cheese instead, I am acting against my natural inclination.

            I am no saint, but I do these things regularly, and so do my friends and most of the people I associate with. So the ability to act using your mind, knowing that what your heart feels must be made irrelevant when you make decisions, certainly exists on earth.

            But the most preposterous part of your statement is that no such thing exists in heaven, which means that even God doesn’t have free will. Now, I think that’s going too far, even for you.

          • bography says:


            Your strongest inclination (movement of your “heart” – inner being) won. Your will slavishly – it can do no other – followed.

          • Dina says:

            Bogs, respectfully, this is not a refutation of what I wrote; it is a statement of faith.

          • bography says:

            Dina your “this means that not even God has free will.”

            Let me try again. “Free agency” means that the will is inwardly determined. In human brings it is determined by one’s inclination (yetser). Also in God. Thus, both God and humans are free agents.
            Neither God nor humans can – by their very natures – dissociate their “hearts” from their inclinations, because the heart is a symbiosis between thought and inclinations.

            Human hearts can be be forced (determined) by an external force, which means freedom is removed from the agent (the person being forced). God, of course, cannot be forced by anything outside himself.

            “Free will” as a neutral “faculty” is a philosophical figment spawned from the hubristic imaginations of fallen man. The will is not free to do what it “likes.” It can’t do what it likes because 1. It is not an “it,” and 2. therefore can’t like or dislike anything.

            The Tanach says God is goodness itself. And humans? Every inclination of their hearts is evil – from the womb. If you disagree, you’ll have to take up your fight with Rashi, who, after all, got it from Moses, n’est-ce pas?

            Willy – I don’t like this yetser, my yetser prefers that one.
            Nilly – That’s not what you said yetserday!

          • Dina says:

            Monsieur Boglieur,

            God says that we can choose. He says it is not difficult. He says it is not impossible. He even recommends one option over the other. I am not saying this. God says this. Read Deuteronomy 28 and 30, Genesis 4:7, and Ezekiel 18 and 20.

            You say we can’t choose. You say the laws of God are impossible to observe. You say that we need God to step in and take over completely.

            Seems to me you disagree with God. And bringing other passages which appear to support your position is not the way to reconcile the passages I presented with your arguments.

            Find me one place, just one, in the whole Tanach, that teaches with the same clarity as Deuteronomy 30 the opposite of Deuteronomy 30. Something like, “The Law of Moses is impossible to keep. You cannot keep it without God stepping in and taking over completely, thus says the Lord.” D’accord?

            By the way, don’t you think it’s odd of God to say that you can keep it, that it’s not too difficult, that you should choose right–and if you don’t, you will be punished in lots of very horrible ways– knowing all the while that it’s totally not true? What, you believe God is a liar? That He doesn’t keep His word? Or do you simply have the hubris to disagree with Him? You know better than God, Who created us, what His children are capable of doing. That’s pretty darn arrogant.

            I’m still waiting for you to confront the passages like you promised instead of restating your position, over and over again, like a mantra.

            Nu, so won’t you get on with it, s’il vous plait?

          • Sharbano says:

            Where did you come by these ideas on free will. I’ve never ever heard anyone ever with such ideas. You leave out the most important of the quote from Genesis. It says Specifically from one’s youth. It says that because it’s not the nature of man, inherently. It is Learned, from the parents. Since a human child is so Utterly dependent on the mother for so many years he “develops” a “pattern” of behavior. All his wants and needs are provided, and thus learns a form of selfishness. What the parent is confronted with is instructing and teaching the child and weaning him from that and so become a productive person.

          • bography says:


            You, like many Jews, are a Watsonian.

            21And the Lord smelled the pleasant aroma, and the Lord said to Himself, “I will no longer curse the earth because of man, for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth, and I will no longer smite all living things as I have done.

            for the imagination (inclination) of man’s heart is evil from his youth;
            כִּי יֵצֶר לֵב הָאָדָם רַע מִנְּעֻרָיו “ki yetser leiv ha- Adam ra mi-noorav”

            Rashi often is mum on awkward (to Judaism) passages but for some reason he didn’t skirt this one. Here is his brief commentary:

            “This is written מִנְּעֻרָיו [i.e., without a “vav,” implying that] from the time that he [the embryo] shakes himself [נִנְעָר] to emerge from his mother’s womb, the evil inclination is placed in him. — [from Gen. Rabbah 34:10].”

            And here is why God said his creation was very good. Thank your yetser hara for that.

            “And God saw all that He had made, and found it very good. And there was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31)—Midrash: Rabbi Nahman said in Rabbi Samuel’s name: “Behold, it was good” refers to the Good Desire; “And behold, it was very good” refers to the Evil Desire. (It only says “very good” after man was created with both the good and bad inclinations, in all other cases it only says “and God saw that it was good”) Can then the Evil Desire be very good? That would be extraordinary! But without the Evil Desire, however, no man would build a house, take a wife and beget children; and thus said Solomon: “Again, I considered all labour and all excelling in work, that it is a man’s rivalry with his neighbour.” (Kohelet [Eclesiastes] IV, 4) (Genesis Rabbah 9:7, translation from Soncino Publications).

            I embroider further here:

          • Sharbano says:

            I have No idea what you mean “Watsonian”.

            Of course Rashi speaks of the evil inclination. He doesn’t deny the concept of free will. And, as it is written this evil becomes manifest in one’s youth, as I described earlier.

            Since Xtianity believes they are guided by the “spirit” you have concluded that only a spirit is part of the nature of man. The spirit in man is little different than an animal. Just as a child will suckle a mother’s breast, this instinct is given man in order to survive. But Hashem created man with a soul. It is through the soul that man has been given a free will. It if weren’t for this man’s creation would be an oxymoron. How can there by any judgment upon man if there wasn’t such thing as a free will.

            As I’ve said before, since Xtianity is based upon one’s own spirit guiding them and has caused individuals to define their own religion as a result of fleeting thoughts without the insight of true knowledge.

          • Dina says:

            Lol, Con!

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Rambo, I believe some knowledge of hebrew is unbelievably valuable, and if you can read it, great, but in the case of many passages, even the Greek text can support a Masoretic reading. (Such as the Greek Parthenos, doesn’t necisarily mean virgin in Is. 7:14) I myself don’t speak or read Hebrew, but any studious reader can gain access to that knowledge, I have an Artscroll stone Edition Tanach, it’s great.

            Thank G-d, this is why we have rabbis, but we can learn in the vernacular language, (Jews have done so for centuries don’t forget.) Aramaic, Greek, Arabic, Yiddish, Ladino, et al have all been languages adapted and formed for Torah learning over time. Also, consider briefly, that Hebrew itself is a very context sensitive language anyway, and that words can mean many things depending on context.

            This is one primary reason why so many Christian translations are so different from broader Jewish ones. The Christians do not all accept the vowel points that the rabbis do, so as an example, the passage that Christians read as “the lord said to my lord,” in the Masoretic with vowels reads “the lord said to Adoni (my master.) the Christian reading is christological, the Masoretic is not. In many ways the Christian hebrew Bible is in fact, a Christian midrash on the Hebrew Bible, not a direct translation. Its a church approved translation. Another example is the division of books. Daniel is in prophets in Christian bible’s, not writings.

          • rambo2016 says:

            “I know there are some Jews who believe that Hashem sits down every night to study Torah – in Hebrew of course. And Muslims believe that Allah’s mother tongue is Arabic. And we all should know that the science/art of translation has progressed in leaps if not bounds in the modern era.”

            what was the “mother of gods” mother tongue bog? hebrew. and yet when your god spoke hebrew his deciples didn’t understand what he was on about

            “did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.”

          • Sharbano says:

            “I know there are some Jews who believe that Hashem sits down every night to study Torah ”

            I don’t know of anyone who takes this “literally”. If this were the case then Hashem would actually have a “chair” in his abode and would have arms and hands in order to turn the scroll. It is said as metaphorical in that Torah defines reality in the same way as Hebrew is a construct of the essence of a thing. This is the method of Torah having its many levels. It is said that G-d looked into the Torah when he created the Universe but does that mean He has a literal scroll that he consulted. If we look at His perception in a way a person would have a complete map of an entire nation but used a piece of cardboard with a small hole in it and was able to only see a small circle of the whole and that is all he knew his perception would be limited. That small circle is our present perception in time whereas G-d sees the entire map. That entire map is Time eternal, past present and future.

  63. Dina says:

    Bogs, by “my answer,” I mean the answer owed to me.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Bo, ARE YOU JOKING? You are using rashi’s commentary to say that “the heart of man is wicked CONTINUALLY” and that therefore his heart/passions “control” his will, ergo he has only illusory free will and is really subject to a fallen nature. YOU MISS THE POINT ENTIRELY WITH ALL YOUR PRECONCEPTIONS!

      This is not what Rashi, Solomon, or the Midrash says! Notice carefully,

      “But without the Evil Desire, however, no man would build a house, take a wife and beget children; and thus said Solomon: “Again, I considered all labour and all excelling in work, that it is a man’s rivalry with his neighbour.””

      This totally contradicts your lemming theology Bogs. You believe that a man chases his passions, (because he is fallen,) and that therefore only the work of G-d in Jesus sets you truly “free.” IE for you, THE WILL ONLY APPEARS TO SELFISH NEN TO BE FREE!

      The Crucial point you miss with your preconceived readings is that you seem to think that it wasn’t G-d’s intention that humans ever eat of the fruit of the tree! It wasn’t his intention that the serpent be in the garden to tempt the first humans!

      If he didn’t intend the fruit to be eaten eventually, or for the Serpent’s temptation to happen, WHY IS IT THERE WHY DID IT HAPPEN? YOUR READING FORCES THE LIGICAL CONCLUSION THAT THE CHRIST COMES TO SAVE US FROM HASHEM HIMSELF! THATS CRAZY BOGRAPHY!

      Deut 30:19 “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you LIFE and DEATH, BLESSINGS and CURSES. Now CHOOSE LIFE, so that you and your children may live.”

      What is described here as “good and evil, ie blessing and curse” in this passage?

      ITS THE Mitzvah! THE Torah! The Yetzer Ha Ra serves as your inclination to do wickedness, but it also IS LIKE the Id. ITS a necessary and INTENDED part of you! It’s what gives humans their potential and desire to build, beget, preserve their lives, IT IS VERY GOOD, it’s NOT part of a fallen nature! It’s just the way G-d made the world.

      Now what I am commanding you today IS NOT too difficult for you OR BEYOND your reach. It is NOT in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ NOR is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart SO YOU MAY OBEY IT.”

      BO You have a dualism of G-d vs the devil, a play of cosmic drama between light forces and “dark forces” set in your head (because of Christian assumptions about Satan) that is coloring your approach to scripture.

      Isaiah 45:7
      7 I form the LIGHT, and CREATE DARKNESS: I MAKE PEACE, and CREATE EVIL: I the Lord do all these things.

      G-d is sovereign, HE ALONE MAKES ALL THINGS. G-d created the evil inclination FOR A REASON! In the Christian version, human sin wrecks G-d’s perfect plan, in Judaism, the PLAN WENT EXACTLY AS HASHEM WANTED IT TO GO! No dualism, no fallen nature.


      PS if you can show me verses IN TANAKH that refer to a battle between G-d and fallen angels IN THE PLAIN LITERAL PASSAGES WITHOUT ALLEGORIZING, I WILL BE IMPRESSED.

      • bography says:


        Sharbano and I were dealing with whether humans were born with an evil inclination. He said no, like any good behaviorist ( Watson) and most modern Jews. The Tanach says other wise.

        There is no need to herald the (fallen) angels or allegories.

        All the verses you, Dina and others (not only Jews but most XChins) cite have, obviously, to do with God commanding the Israelites to turn, to obey, to circumcise their hearts. After all, these commands are not on Mars or at the bottom of the sea. The Jews are responsible for their disobedience and consequently are punished, at one point eating their own children to survive (siege of Jerusalem). But that just prolonged the inevitable destruction; inevitable because God ordained it.

        Do the Israelites say “we can’t do it.” do frum Jews say we can’t do it? No, because they believe a good Jew can. Not David, who begs God to help him, to give him a clean heart. So why didn’t God just do a spring cleaning, dust out the cobwebs? Because that would not do the job. How do we know? I return (ad nauseam) to “I will circumcise your heart, I will remove your heart of stone, I will give you a heart of flesh.” A complete re-creation. In other words, God mediates, steps in, takes over completely. The lawgiver becomes the mediator.

        The lesson of the Tanach, which Jews will reject with contempt and outrage, is that no amount of treading the kitzvot mill is going to reconcile you to God. How many mitzvots do you believe ypu need to do before the scales weigh in your favor? Is Rebbe Schneerson right to say that it may very well be your or my act of kindness that will brimg about the advent of Messiah? Not at all. And I think you would agree, even if many chasidim would not.

        The lesson of the Tanach is that you or I can never fulfill the Torah. Only God can do that. We need to be like beggars, think of ourselves as the scum of the earth, not relying on our Jewishness. We need to be like David, fall down flat on our faces and beg God to give us a “clean heart.” Here’s a funny and and outrageous thing. If you did throw in the towel and collapse in the ring instead of relying on your corrupt “free will,” this would prove that not only has God cleaned your heart, that won’t work, but has replaced it. And that is what the New Covenant is all about.

        Why do you hate Christ or want he stands for? Because God is not a man? Why don’t you finish it…that he should lie? If you reply: “well then Jesus was a man, so he must be a liar too.” I shall reply that you don’t get it at all, and don’t want to. But then who would want to without a heart transplant?


        Do you plan to convert to Judaism or Noahidism? Have you? If neither, I will grant you that I’m too thick to understand your passionate defense of Judaism.

        • Dina says:

          אדון בוגזי

          Gevalt! You wrote: “The lesson of the Tanach is that you or I can never fulfill the Torah. Only God can do that.”

          That’s the lesson of the Tanach? Where is that teaching to be found, pray tell? Je voudrais savoir!

          Find me a clear teaching, such as, “You cannot keep Hashem’s commandments. Only Hashem can keep His commandments.”

          (It’s absurd for Hashem to give Himself commandments.)

          You know, you missed the main lesson of Tanach, sadly. The overriding theme of the Torah is that there is One God and there is none beside Him. The Torah introduced a pure and radical monotheism to a pagan world. This is, apparently, a concept that you, like many Christians, can’t accept.

          The other two major lessons of Tanach concern the sanctity of human life and sexual morality, also radical concepts in a pagan world.

          And the lesson that we can’t keep the Torah, that it’s for Hashem? That lesson is nowhere to be found. Not in the Hebrew Bible! Methinks you’re confusing the Jewish Scriptures with the Christian ones.

          • bography says:


            Have you ever asked God tö help you keep the commandments?

          • Dina says:

            Bogs, I already answered similar questions of yours. No more questions! It’s your turn to answer mine.

          • bography says:

            If I answer your recent question within a minute of your next reply, would you refresh me on the answer you gave me to the question i asked you a few minutes ago?

          • Dina says:

            Bogs, super busy before the holiday, but you’ll find it on this page. You asked Sharbano and me if we ever pray for ill people to get better, to do well on a test, for clarity, for guidance, etc. I responded several times to that question. Sorry to leave you with the legwork.

        • Sharbano says:

          You are misrepresenting what I said. I never ever said the evil inclination wasn’t from birth. I spoke of free will and the “DESIRE” for evil starts in the youth. I further explained it by example of how a child is raised.

          You also misrepresent the teaching of Tanach and its purpose. If it were as YOU say it would not be teaching Tshuvah, but much of it is on that. Evidently Paul has clouded your thinking. There are a great many Jews today who DO keep Torah, so to say it’s not possible is denying reality. But you and Xtians seem to think a person has to be “perfect”. Given that, why is it there are NO perfect Xtians that do not sin. If Jsus was to rectify this problem why has it NOT been rectified. Now, if you will say it will come then you are agreeing with Judaism and not knowing it. Therefore Xtianity has no merit.

      • bography says:

        It would capital of you to explain “free will” to me.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          The lesson of the Tanach, which Jews will reject with contempt and outrage, is that no amount of treading the kitzvot mill is going to reconcile you to God.

          But a miraculous divine manifestation will fix it all and show forth truth?

          BO, Jews don’t accept your premise because the Tanakh itself explicitly contradicts this premise in Genesis, Exodus, in Ezekiel 18, in Deuteronomy 30, and elsewhere as I showed you.

          There are godly Jews and Gentiles in the Tanakh who are both living within and also outside of the covenant community. THIS HAS BEEN POINTED OUT, Yet you refuse to Acknowledge that.

          If man cannot be G-dly on his own, then G-d LIED WHEN HE SAID WE COULD BE.

          If the lesson of Torah is as you say, then the Mitzvot, Free will, etc. Don’t mean anything at all. How do you not see this? Of what value is being a moral person if only G-D can enable you to be moral by intervening supernaturally?

          You ask me why I hate Jesus. I do not, and neither do Jews as a whole. They simply do not focus on or place trust in the theological pretzels and speculations that you place around him.

          Jesus himself observed the mitzvot as Jews today do, which you say it is impossible to observe in order to please G-d.

          You believe that only a belief in the man-God can rescue you from your sins. Why then did Jesus himself observe the commandments and enjoin them on others saying that those who teach men to forsake them will be called least in the kingdom?

          He tells you explicitly “if you loved me you would obey my commands.” Jesus says the mitzvot will remain until heaven and earth pass away. He also said that the mitzvot are a strong foundation which will keep you safe, (the parable of the virgins?). Light, oil, wicks, and salt, are all synonymous for obeying the Mitzvot of G-d in Jesus’ parables, yet You want Jews to cease observing these Mitzvot, why? If it was good enough for Jesus, why not for you?

          Even your own gospels teach you well that to place your trust in miracles, in claims to divinity, in earthly prosperity, or to wait exclusively on divine intervention is foolish and adulterous.

          You will likely be one of the first people to accept some random man who appears to come from nowhere, with holes in his hands and feet, who also does miracles, and yet claims he is G-d, because that is what your foundation seems to rest on.

          Your observant Jewish neighbors will now and forever tell such a person to shove it, to take a hike, and you would probably ask them why.

          Your own gospels tell you that it is the epitome of falsehood to place trust in a man who sets himself in G-d’s temple saying he is G-d. (2 Thessalonians 2:4) Tell me, how is it that the false messiah deceives so many even the elect? He comes in his own name, lawless, rejecting the G-d of his fathers, changing the set times and the law. (Daniel 7:25)

          You are telling Jews to abandon the only secure barometer that Hashem, (and Jesus) tells them to trust. You are putting theology ahead of the clearest biblical teachings, and I am curious why.

          • Dina says:

            Con, it’s a good point about Jews not hating Jesus. Bog, you should know that this charge of Jews hating Jesus is ancient and has had devastating consequences for Jews. I recommend you read “Holy Hatred” by Robert Michael. I believe you will find it illuminating.

            Jews don’t hate Jesus any more than we hate Buddha, Hare Krishna, or Mohammed. The truth is, Jews are simply indifferent to other faiths.

            Whatever bad feelings Jews have toward Christianity has a lot more do with their treatment at the hands of Christians than with anything else.

          • rambo2016 says:

            “You will likely be one of the first people to accept some random man who appears to come from nowhere, with holes in his hands and feet, who also does miracles, and yet claims he is G-d, because that is what your foundation seems to rest on.”


      • bography says:


        Nothing spoils God’s plans, which are all perfect. If anything occurs, it’s because he decreed it. He foreknows it from eternity BECAUSE he decreed it; and that includes sin. Man means sin for bad but God means it for good. Perfect compatibilty between God’s decrees and man’s responsibility.

        By the way God owns your heart.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          Then what’s the problem with Jews staying observant and Jewish? If G-d decrees it and it can’t be retracted, then my point still stands. BTW you haven’t answered or confronted any of the texts that have been brought to your attention. BTW before you prejudge me as someone who “doesn’t understand,” maybe you should put “concerned reader” into the search field above, and read the responses I wrote while I still shared in your views.

        • Dina says:

          Bog, by the way, God owns everything.

          כי ממך הכל ומידך נתנו לך

          (1 Chronicles 29:14)

          Sure, God could control all our actions if He wanted to. But He allows us to choose freely and does not intervene.

      • Dina says:

        Yup, Con, it’s a slam dunk.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          More Christians really should read about the group called the Ebionites Dina. They were an early group of Jesus followers led by Jesus’ brother James. They believed he was a full human being who taught Torah observance, chosen by G-d because he was righteous to be the messiah, and that his death opened a fresh path to repentance for the non Jews, (in a fashion very similar to the death of the righteous accomplishing the same spirit of repentance.)

          Some of those early Jesus followers seem to have had an idea of him not dissimilar to the Moshiach ben Yosef concept, (in that Jesus was killed by the Romans, just like many other martyrs, and his life had some impact.)

          It’s interesting to me that so many Curistians just assume Jesus is hated by Jews. It’s especially odd since his ethic is essentially of the school of Hillel, not unique to him.

          It’s almost as if Christianity could be shorn of the charge of idolatry if they would only drop all the mystical song and dance. What do you think?

          • Dina says:

            Con, the Ebionites (from the Hebrew word “evionim,” paupers), were hounded out of existence as heretics by the gentile Church. According to Eusebius (or someone like him, not sure), they also believed that Paul was a failed convert. They believed that he converted in order to marry the high priest’s daughter, and when he was spurned he was filled with rage and turned his rage on Judaism.

            I don’t know if Christianity could be shorn of the charge of idolatry, but even if it could be, even if it was just like the Ebionites practiced it, Jews would still view it as a false religion just as we view Islam as a false religion.

            And what is the point of following a false religion?

          • Concerned Reader says:

            And what is the point of following a false religion? There wouldn’t be a purpose really, it’s just fascinating that if Christians only focussed on his teachings as a rabbi, there would likely be much less friction.

          • Dina says:

            I think there would be somewhat less friction because it would have eliminated the charge of deicide. But I think Christians would still have been angry that the Jews “killed” a their beloved rabbi. And there is still plenty of anti-Jewish invective in Christian scripture that is attributed to Jesus that would have hurt the Jews anyway. I don’t think today’s Christians have any idea of the extent of Jewish suffering due to religiously inspired Christian anti-Semitism.

  64. Dina says:

    My dear old Boggles, why so quiet? Cat got your tongue? Can’t admit you’re wrong?

  65. Jim says:

    I don’t know what brings this story to mind, but…

    Once there was a man who, by a quirk of fate, had never been introduced to music until his mid-forties. It was not that he was disinterested. Somehow, he’d just never heard of such a thing before. But then, one day, a friend of his invited him to a performance by a well-known and highly regarded concert pianist. His friend had to explain to him what a piano was and what a pianist was, and the man was intrigued. So, he accepted the invitation.

    The notion of this thing called “music” fascinated the man, as you can imagine. He could not wait to attend the concert to find out more about it. So he found his phone book and looked to see if any stores sold this thing called a piano. And indeed, such places did exist. Immediately, he grabbed his coat and went to see this wondrous-sounding device.

    When he got to the store, he did not wish to look foolish, so he refused the help of the salesman. He went to the back of the store for privacy and touched one of the keys. It had a pleasing sound, but he did not understand what was so great about it. He touched another and another and compared the sounds. He found that he liked some more than others. One key (or lever, as he called it) he found he preferred above all the others. The man pressed it again and again. He found it quite lovely. He left the store, satisfied that he now knew what music was, and though he could not understand the excitement of his friend, he looked forward to hearing his favorite key pressed. He imagined the pianist would heavily employ it.

    Soon the day of the concert arrived. He thought to himself about the key many times and wondered how many times he would hear it. But when the actual concert began, the man was horrified. The pianist was doing things all wrong. He pressed multiple keys together at once. Even when the pianist pressed the key the man had been so longing to hear, to the man’s horror, he pressed it in combination with other keys!

    The man could not endure it. He jumped up from his seat and ran onto the stage.

    “This is not what I want to hear!” he shouted. “This lever! Push this lever! It is the best one; don’t ruin it by drowning out its sound with other levers!”

    And with that he hammered that one key over and over.


  66. Jim says:


    I have multiple things I’d like to write in response to your comment here: .

    I do not think I will be able to put this all into one comment, so I shall break up my comments. However, I will try to remember to put a link to your comment to each of my answers.

    It is a gross mischaracterization on your part to write that Con “hate[s] Christ or [what] he stands for”. This is another attempt at Bulverism. You are writing him off without considering his arguments. You are dismissing him and showing him the grossest disrespect.

    In fact, while Con has recently begun to argue against Christianity, he has continued to advocate for Jesus as a good rabbi, whose words were misrepresented and/or misunderstood by the Church. He has shown quite clearly that he does not hate Jesus. I do not think you could even say that he hates Christianity or the Church.

    It is dirty pool for you to characterize him this way. It allows you to disregard him out of hand. But all he has done is attempted to follow the logic as best as he can. Dismissing him as you have done is intellectually dishonest. But worse, it is insulting to his dignity as a human being.


    • Concerned Reader says:

      Bo, to put a point on it all, even if I could reasonably demonstrate Trinitarian theology, (see some of my early posts) incarnation, knowledge he brought, atoning death of Christ etc. It doesn’t change the fact that in Jesus’ whole message he delivered, you have to focus on the commandments if you are a Jew, and you have to focus on the godly path of the righteous non Jew if you are not a Jew.

      The Church suffers from what I call the passion of the Christ syndrome. The film the passion illustrates one big issue quite well. A 3 year ministry Jesus lived is boiled down to a few hours of pain followed by a miracle. WHAT ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE HE TAUGHT? WHAT ABOUT THE MESSAGE OF JESUS THAT SAYS ADULTEROUS GENERATIONS SEEK AFTER SIGNS?

      While John’s gospel calls Jesus “the word who was with G-d and was G-d,” 2 Thessalonians, the book of revelation, and many other Christian sources claim that false Christsalso claim the SAME EXACT thing.

      Consequently, Jews will never fall for such a horrible trick, because they don’t grant the premise.

      The Christian scripture tells you many times to keep the commands of G-d, and faith OF (not necisarily in) Jesus. (Cf. Mathew 7:22)

      Christians today teach jews to abandon the law of Moses as the “old law,” but JESUS LIVED IT, and NOT AS A METAPHOR! If he lived it, anyone can. Consider what Jesus says in the parable of the wine skins. One who has old wine will not accept the new, because he says, the old IS BETTER. Jesus teaches via this parable a service of G-d on a level that you can serve him well. A gentile can have the faith of a high priest. THIS DOESNT MEAN THAT JEWISH LAW IS DEFUNCT, it was Jesus’ interpretation of how the Torah should be lived, with it’s intent and its details preserved.

      If you believe that Judaismm is “works righteousness,” you have never attended services and worshipped with Jews. Read some of the liturgy for the high holidays. Any mistaken notion you have of pride or “stubbornness” will evaporate.

  67. Jim says:


    Continuing to respond to your comment: .

    You write that the New Covenant is all about a heart transplant.

    I am astonished whenever a Christian tells me that he is under the New Covenant. After all, the Church is telling us that one cannot keep the Torah. (And I note that you flippantly dismiss the words of God—not Jews—that tell us otherwise.) The only way to serve God is to have His heart circumcised.

    But, does the Christian, now that he has had his heart of stone replaced with a heart of flesh keep the Torah? Is he able to restrain his hand from sinning? Perhaps you can tell be Bo, if you have never sinned in the time since you became a Christian. If you have not, you must be the only Christian to have accomplished this remarkable feat.

    Surely you must not sin, because Jeremiah 31 tells us that under the new covenant, God will put His laws within the hearts of the people of Israel and Judah. If the Torah of God has been so implanted, then surely you do not sin.

    It appears also that no one will have to teach others about the knowledge of God, at least among Israel and Judah. And yet Christian missionaries come in droves to teach Israel and Judah. Are you sure that you have the New Covenant? It does not appear to have happened yet?

    Strangely, I note also, that the New Covenant does not seem to have anything to do with believing in the Messiah. This is a Christian invention. I note that in Deuteronomy 30, which seems to correspond to the New Covenant that the law will be kept: “Then you shall again obey the Lord, observing all his commandments that I am commanding you today, and the Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in your undertakings… For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, just as he delighted in prospering your ancestors, when you obey the Lord your God by observing His commandments and decrees that are written in this book of the law, because you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul” (vv. 8-10).

    So again, we have the keeping of the commandments a mark of the New Covenant, the mark of a circumcised heart. What does not appear is belief in Jesus. No mention of a man-god is present. Your assertion that Christianity is the New Covenant has no foundation in Tanach. And because you argue that one must keep the Torah to perfection, one can only assume that Christians keep the Torah to perfection. But we know that is not true.

    You have ignored the facts, Bo. You have too quickly adopted the NT as your guide. But its version of the New Covenant is not that of Tanach. You have made a valiant attempt to reconcile the two, but it is clear that they are irreconcilable. Before claiming to be under the New Covenant, you should have reviewed the qualities of the New Covenant. If you had, you would have seen that they do not comport to the teachings of Christianity.


  68. Jim says:


    Continuing to respond to your comment: .

    It is rather self-serving of you to write: “I shall reply that you don’t get it at all, and don’t want to. But then who would want to without a heart transplant?”

    All you have said here is that you are correct because you believe yourself to be correct. God has granted you special knowledge of which you can offer no proof. And any who disagree with you have not been granted special insight by God as you have. Therefore, they cannot understand.

    This is, of course, why you denied the role of reason early on. This allows you to ignore all the facts that disagree with your interpretation of scripture. The Torah tells us that we can keep the Torah, that it is not too hard. You have hand-waved that aside, as if that part of the Torah does not count. You have implied that it was only the Jews who say that one can keep Torah, as if it is not in the Torah itself. No wonder you have ignored Genesis 4 so assiduously. It does not fit your narrative.

    Neither does Psalm 51, though you would like it to do so. According to you, if David is crying out for a clean heart, he must already have one. You have written that one cannot repent unless God gives him a heart to do so. You have acknowledged this fact in writing that if you did cry out for a clean heart, “this would prove that not only has God cleaned your heart, that won’t work, but has replaced it”.

    Well, if having a “clean heart” won’t work, why is David asking for a clean heart? Why did he not just ask for a new heart? In fact, why ask for one at all, since he must have one? Once again that facts do not accord with your interpretation. David should have just been ecstatic that he got a new heart. He should have been thanking God that now he would never sin again.

    But instead, what he writes is a prayer of repentance. He acknowledge his guilt and pleads for forgiveness. He asks not to be cast out of God’s presence. He writes that if God will forgive him, that he will teach transgressors to repent. (Why should he do so if such teaching is ineffectual except to those blessed by God with a new heart, who no longer need to be taught?)

    David writes that the sacrifice God takes pleasure in is a “broken spirit” and that God will not despise “a broken and contrite heart”. In your interpretation based on NT theology and Calvin, this is nonsense. David has begun babbling at this point. According to you, these things cannot be the reason God takes one back. God unilaterally gives these things to someone; they are not things that one gives to God. They are not reasons that God accepts one but signs that God has.

    But in fact, David’s words fit well with what R’ Blumenthal, Dina, Con, and I have all argued regarding Deut. 30. In Deuteronomy 30, repentance precedes God’s act of circumcising the heart of Israel. Similarly, David hopes that his act of repentance will restore him to God. The repentance comes first.

    Once again, you have ignored all the facts that do not accord with your theology. You have hand-waved aside passages that do not suit you. You have selected one verse that seems superficially to support your theology, but you neglect both the immediate context and the broader context. And you have claimed rectitude based, not on the facts, but on special knowledge granted by God. This may appeal to you because you “win” by definition of agreeing with your own ideas, but this is no way to come to a knowledge of truth.


  69. Jim says:


    Continuing to respond to your comment: .

    I have noted frequently in conversations, and probably a few times on R’ Blumenthal’s blog, that the only time a Christian becomes concerned with finishing a scripture is when someone quotes: “God is not a man….” Now context matters. Suddenly Christians jump up and down shouting: “Why don’t you finish it… that he should lie?”

    Why is only this verse to be accorded this respect from Tanach?

    Certainly, no Christian worries about this in the myriad scriptures removed from context, distorted and truncated. When Matthew changes the text of Isaiah 7.14, do you complain? Do you complain that he omits 7.15-16 which relate to the child of 7.14 and show that it has nothing to do with Jesus?

    Do you complain when Matthew truncates Hosea 11.1? Hosea writes: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I have called my son.” Matthew truncates this to make it appear to be about the Messiah, which it most clearly is not. Tell me, how jealously do you guard these words from Matthew’s malfeasance?

    Or when, the author of Hebrews writes that God had no concern for the house of Israel, did you jump up then (8.9)? Did you protest that the author altered the words of Jeremiah?

    How about when Paul quotes the psalm: “For there is none righteous, no not one.” Did that bother you? Did you stand up and say: “Why don’t you begin it properly… The fool says in his heart”? No?

    But with this verse, if it is truncated, suddenly every Christian within a radius of one hundred miles is ready to defend the integrity of scripture. “That He should lie! That He should lie!” If only Christians were actually concerned with defending the Word of God, and not their own doctrine.

    But they need not get so excited. The Jew is not ignoring the context. It comes up because the Christian claims that a particular man is God. Honestly the Christian claim is absurd in the context of Torah even without this verse. But this verse heightens things.

    After all, God did not need to say that He is not a man or a son of man. He could have just said, “I do not lie, and I do not change my mind.” But He does say that He is not a man, which is a strange thing to say if He is going to become a man. Even stranger it would be for God, who is going to adopt the title “Son of Man,” to say that He is not a son of man. God declaring that He is not human, even in the context of not being deceptive nor double-minded, is of no small significance.

    Of course, Deuteronomy 4 has already ruled out any sort of Jesus worship. We are told that the purpose of the Sinai revelation was so that the Jewish people would know not to associate God with a form (as a human has.) And they should know that there is none beside HaShem: “To you it was shown so that you would acknowledge that the Lord is God; there is none other besides Him” (v. 35). Moreover: “So acknowledge today and take to heart that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is none other” (v. 39). Jesus is totally ruled out.

    By quoting that God is not a man, one is not denying the testimony of Torah. God has already made clear that one is not to worship created things. He has made it clear that He is alone. However, the Christian, ignores the clear teaching of Torah.

    The Christian only protests against perceived abuses of scripture when they go against his own doctrine. He is not concerned with guarding the Word of God as such, only with that which agrees with his own ideas. But the Jewish employment of “God is not a man” is no abuse of scripture. It agrees with the themes of Torah. Moreover, the focus of the Church on the words “that He should lie” ignores the lack of necessity for God to pronounce that He is not a man, and particularly that He is not a son of man. It is good to consider the context of a scripture, of course, but nothing in the employment of “God is not a man” violates such a principle. And the Christian who cares suddenly about context and not truncating scripture is better off tending to the beam in his own eye.


  70. Jim says:


    Continuing to respond to your comment: .

    In your argument regarding “God is not a man” you foresee a logical argument that Con could make. In doing so, you acknowledge a flaw with the Christian argument. You note that Con could say: “well then Jesus was a man, so he must be a liar too”. Of course, this is a reasonable thing to say. But I note that you do not answer this point. You have no argument in response. All you can do is beg off: “I shall reply that you don’t get it at all, and don’t want to.” This is no argument. You have not addressed a reasonable argument with reason. You have just declared Con to be hard-hearted and wrong only by your say-so. But you cannot show him he is wrong.

    But what if Con could show that Jesus had lied?

    Certainly, this is a difficult task. The NT would have us believe that Jesus never lied. But they did not cover their tracks well enough. If one pays attention, one can see that Jesus did lie.

    During Jesus’ trial, according to John, Jesus claimed that he taught openly and nothing in secret (18.20). Now, I understand that Jesus was on trial and was most likely nervous for his life, but this is blatantly false. In Matthew 13, Jesus’ disciples asks why he teaches in parables, and he admits that he does so in order than he might not be understood by the unworthy. And then he privately explains to them his teaching. His teaching is not open and is secret. He admits that he speaks in riddles so as not to be understood.

    Moreover, he did not publicly proclaim himself to be Messiah, but told his disciples in secret (Mt. 16.13-20). After Peter declared that he believed Jesus to be the Messiah, Jesus taught them about his mission to go to Jerusalem and die. These teachings are also private, not open. In fact, he told them not to tell anybody.

    So, when the High Priest questions Jesus about his teachings, and Jesus claims that anybody can testify to the things he taught, that is blatantly false. He did sometimes speak in synagogues and he sometimes spoke openly. But he also frequently cloaked his meaning and taught things privately to his disciples. Jesus lied.

    So, Con need not assume Jesus to have lied at some point in his life based on Jesus humanity. Though Con would have a reasonable argument, he can forego it. He can demonstrate that Jesus lied.

    Which quality of Jesus then indicates his divinity? Is it his humanity or the employment of a lie in a difficult situation? Obviously, neither one of them shows that Jesus was divine. And it is also obvious that you veered away from reason because your belief opposes reason and evidence. The facts do not bear you out. You were not able to answer Con, and so you made him out to be stonehearted.

    That may allow you comfort. Whenever it is shown that you’re belief betrays HaShem’s Torah, you may take solace in your unerring rectitude. You may dismiss others, because they “just don’t get it at all”. But you have not demonstrated that your belief is true. The rigid assertion that whatever you believe is true because God implanted you with that belief is not evidence. It is not an argument. It is groundless.


    • rambo2016 says:

      Yes, the “innocent” son of god had IMPORTANT teachings which he kept private. Obviously when the interogaters are asking him questions, they want to know about his IMPORTANT teachings and we know, that according to mark, jesus withheld important teachings by coding them in parables, then far away from the public, explains his IMPORTANT teachings to his deciles and tells them WHY he kept his coded parable coded. Scholars know thT marks jesus is a secret mystery.

  71. Dina says:


    I have not forgotten that you owe me an explanation of how you reconcile–actually reconcile–the Scriptures I presented with your belief that humans lack free will. You had promised me that if I answer your questions, you will confront these passages.

    Thus far, you have not done so. I am busy with preparations for Passover, so I will keep on demanding my due perhaps next week when I have more time.

    • bography says:


      Two issues:

      About you agreeing that it is good for Jews to pray that God will strengthen their resolve to do the mizvot – to do them all and to do them well. (You are commanded to do them all). This means that good Jews ask God to strengthen their will because no matter how hard they try, they can’t do what God has commanded them to do. If you had the power, if you had a strong enough will, if you had a will that was able to turn to God to the degree he demands under threat of severe judgment, you would. But, you say you are not able. So it would be correct for you to pray “Command what you will, but grant (some, a lot) what you command.

      Let me say it again, “free will” by definition exists independent of any external and internal constraint. We are not concerned here with external constraint. We both agree that God doesn’t force people to do do his commandments against their inclinations. So our focus is on the relationship between human inclinations and human freedom.

      I said that humans are “free agents” because their actions flow from themselves, their “hearts.” Those with a sensitive conscience often choose the harder, thus unselfish, action. No matter what they choose, their choice is based on their strongest inclination. In other other words, they (their “hearts” – conscience) desire to move in what they consider to be the right direction.

      So far I have been describing “free agency.” Regarding “Free will” – I am just repeating what I said before, it is a neutral force, that is, unswayed by inclinations. For this reason it doesn’t exist. If you want to think of “free agency” and “free will” as synonymous, then that’s ok, provided you define your terms. Most people use these terms synonymously, but in theology (and psychology) we should take these distinctions into account.

      Now, you say that you pray to God to help you overcome unholy inclinations because – to use my definitions – being a “free agent” often leads you astray: “I do what I try NOT to do. I can’t stop myself. I try to do the mizvot and with devotion, but I often fall down. Who can save me from this fickle heart?” We know the wrong answer: ourselves, our freedom.

      2. You asked me “I have not forgotten that you owe me an explanation of how you reconcile–actually reconcile–the Scriptures I presented with your belief that humans lack free will. You had promised me that if I answer your questions, you will confront these passages.”

      In the Tanach, God continually says “if you will (obey me)…” and “turn to me.” But in the Tanach, the helpless Jew also prays, “turn to me, and I will turn to you.”

      “If you will…” This a conditional. Dina, you, I presume, would, as most people, not only Jews, say this conditional implies an indicative, namely, “you can.” You say God wouldn’t say “if you…” if he didn’t mean “you can.” The one doesn’t imply the other. For example, a judge says to a habitual criminal, if you decide to stop being a criminal, you will keep going to jail. This does not mean that the judge believes that the jailbird can fly to freedom any time he chooses or that he will ever plead for help to overcome his evil inclinations, which have already graduated from “second nature” to “first nature” – a habitual criminal.Judaism says no one is an habitual criminal; God can help a frum Jew – “I circumcise most of my heart and God circumcises the bit I can’t reach,” which is far cry from saying a frum Jew is helpless to fulfill the covenant – the mizvot.

      What, in contrast, does God say to Judaism?

      Jeremiah 31:31-34

      31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt;
      which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:
      33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me,
      from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

      What we have is a sovereign, unilateral, all merciful, irresistible intervention from God, all-powerful – and all-knowing (what he knows, he decreed from eternity – old covenants, new covenants). Those whom God touches in this way will never say: “Why did you destroy what defines my humanity. I want to stay free . Why did you force me against my precious klutz of a will.” No, they will shout for joy, “I’m free. I have a new heart, I have flesh on my bones. My throat no longer wreaks of rot. The Holy One of Israel has saved me. What a great Mediator I now serve.”

      The mizvot mills of man grind slowly and interminably.

      Shall it be once again from one or more of you “You’ve taken this passage out of context!” Or “deal with the passages I gave you individually and show me how they fit in with what you’ve said here.”

      If you want me to do so, I shall.

      • Jim says:

        Another promise? Really? This time you’ll do it, if Dina only asks you to nicely? If she wants you to do so, you shall?

        • bography says:

          IN my response to Dina, I described the wood (forest). Do you want me to prove the wood by the trees? You have said nothing about my post. Prove my issue 2 argument is false?

          • Jim says:


            Actually, I addressed your post two days before you wrote it. But for you to ask us to address your arguments while constantly ignoring ours is a bit much.


          • Jim says:


            You do not like us to point our the myriad ways in which you take things out of context. Somehow you seem to think that examining the facts is either not fair or not nice. And yet, I must point out that you changed the context of Deuteronomy 30 to suit your theology. You give a new context through a parable that does not match the context of the passage. Nothing in the passage indicates a situation like your judge. The problem is you must re-contextualize the passage, because it contradicts your theology. Fortunately, God is not limited by your philosophy and preconceived notions.


      • Sharbano says:

        First of all, You made the “choice” (free will) to accept Jsus as your savior and claim a change from that. If one can make a choice, which includes everything in life, this is the essence of a “free will”. This is the difference between what is spirit and what is soul, which you have ignored.

        Are you suggesting that Jeremiah is speaking of “removing” free will. How can that be. It is clear this is speaking of messianic times. What else is said of those times. It will be incumbent on the nations to observe Succot, and those nations who do not will not receive their necessary rains. Obviously, the way this is written there is still a choice to be made, even in messianic times. What IS different in those days is that everyone will have true knowledge OF G-d and that will most certainly affect How a person chooses. It won’t be a “feeling” as in a Jsus conversion, instead it will be True knowledge.

        A final note. You have “chosen” by your free will to continuously ignore the questions Dina has put to you, or did your god make you avoid it.

      • Dina says:

        Silly Boggsie, if you turn to God to ask for help, you are turning to God first. God is close to those who call upon Him, to those who call upon Him sincerely (Psalms 154:18).

        Furthermore, whoever said free will means we are infallible and guaranteed to never err? Whoever said free will means we are omnipotent? You seem to be confusing these three.

        Also, whoever said free will means we have to be perfect?

        Finally, you are using a definition of free will that I disagree with.

        Use this definition from

        free will
        free and independent choice; voluntary decision:
        You took on the responsibility of your own free will.
        Philosophy. the doctrine that the conduct of human beings expresses personal choice and is not simply determined by physical or divine forces.

        You are using your ability to reason to prove your position. You are relying on logic and your thought processes, but not on Scripture. Now use your reason to reconcile the Scriptural passages I presented with your position.

        Deuteronomy 28 and 30, Genesis 4:7, Ezekiel 18 and 33

        Good luck!

        P.S. I’m really too busy to be spending too much time here, so I might go AWOL for a few days.

  72. Jim says:


    I still have several responses to the things you have written here that I would like to give as time permits. The first of these is regards your deputizing David into your argument.

    In your paragraph that asserts that “The lesson of the Tanach is that you or I can never fulfill the Torah” you draw upon the 51st psalm as proof. But I wonder that you can put David so squarely in your camp, when the 51st psalm is a psalm of repentance for a specific sin. It in no way indicates that one is unable to keep the Torah.

    But what is more shocking is that you could place him in your camp in light of the 119th psalm. You write disdainfully of the Torah. You write of a mitzvot mill, as if keeping the Torah is a grind. Your rhetoric makes it sound a burden, a Sisyphean task, hopeless and never ending. Moreover, you have indicated that keeping the mitzvot (i.e. keeping HaShem’s Torah) is futile.

    Such a notion is anathema to David. He writes: “I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you” (Ps. 119.11). In your estimation of things, David is babbling. According to you, one cannot keep HaShem’s Torah. David disagrees.

    You consider Torah a grind. David writes: “I delight in the way of your decrees as much as in all riches” (Ps. 119.14). “Your decrees are my delight, they are my counselors” (119.24). “I find my delight in your commandments, because I love them. I revere your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes” (vv. 47-48). “The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (v. 72). “…For you law is my delight: (v. 77). “I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life” (v. 93). In David’s opinion, it is light to his feet, honey in his mouth. It is understanding and wisdom. “Your decrees are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them” (v. 129).

    David does not share your opinion that one can never fulfill the Torah. “You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently” (v. 4). Note that he does not say that they were commanded so that one may know that keeping them is impossible. One is to keep them diligently. “How can young people keep their way pure? By guarding it according to your word” (v. 9). “Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes, and I will observe it to the end” (v. 33). “I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law. This blessing has fallen to me, for I have kept your precepts” (vv. 55-56). “When I think of your ways, I turn my feet to your decrees; I hurry and do not delay to keep your commandments” (vv. 59-60). Where is this futility that you have insisted upon? David is writing precisely the opposite or your disregard of the mitzvot mill.

    Moreover, your doctrine that God chooses people unilaterally and not based on their observance of HaShem’s mitzvot is refuted by Ps. 119 altogether. David appeals to God to extend His kindness to David based on David’s commitment to the mitzvot. And what does he write of those that do not observe the Law of God? “You spurn all who go astray from your statutes; for their cunning is in vain. All the wicked of the earth you count as dross; therefore I love your decrees” (vv.118-119). He clearly distinguishes between those who observe God’s laws and those who don’t, not only in this psalm but throughout the psalms.

    That you should draw upon David for evidence is rather shocking. You denigrate the mitzvot given by God, referring to it as a mill. Such an attitude David firmly opposes. To him, Torah is a delight. He delights in doing God’s will. He loved the mitzvot “more than gold, more than fine gold”. Never will you find him referring to the mitzvot as futility. David is no Sisyphus. He would be shocked at your disregard for the mitzvot of HaShem.


    • Dina says:

      It’s a slam dunk!

    • bography says:


      The law is and always will be holy. It becomes – for you – a millstone round your neck when you think you can circumcise your own heart/give yourself a new heart. God is the only one who can do that. In so doing he establishes the New Covenant, which does not abrogate the law but, indeed, makes it more demanding. “Thou shall not murder” becomes “Anyone who hates another person has already committed murder.” “Do not commit adultery” becomes “Anyone who lusts after another person’s spouse has already committed adultery.”

      Two points:

      The Word of God says that not one jot or tittle of the law should be abrogated. The “law” here cannot refer to all the laws because swathes of them fell away after the destruction of the temple by the Romans. The “law” in the New Covenant refers at a minimum to the moral law. Jews differ among themselves on which other laws are essential, and Christians also differ among themselves.
      The role of law in the New Covenant (after God has unilaterally circumcised the heart, that is, regenerated and reconciled a person to Himself) is the means that God gives to the regenerated to express the trust and love planted in their hearts for the holy and merciful One who saved them from themselves and thus from condemnation.

      • Sharbano says:

        I would say Torah is ONLY a millstone for non-Jews, as your comments regarding murder and adultery show. Not so for Jews.

        Where does Torah say anything about a jot or tittle. I’ve never read such a thing in Torah. Furthermore, once Mashiach has come and the Temple is rebuilt then All laws of Torah will resume. That is, including all Temple laws.Read Ezekiel.

      • Jim says:


        As I pointed out a while back, Jesus obviously has not brought about the New Covenant, or else Christians like yourself would be keeping the commandments. It must follow that since a Christian believes they must be kept without error or else they are not truly kept, that the Christian now keeps them perfectly. Also, since you theoretically have a circumcised heart, they you ought to perfectly observe the law including the additional stringencies imposed by Jesus. But I think we both know that Christians do not live sinless lives, even if we exclude so-called ceremonial laws such as sacrifices from the equation. Therefore, we rightly conclude that Jesus has not brought about the New Covenant. Inasmuch as you quoted from Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36, I cannot begin to understand that you did not notice that they teach observance of the mitzvot.

        Regarding the millstone: Torah may have become one to you, not to me. Your repeated assertion that one cannot circumcise his own heart is directly contradicted by the Torah and your rewriting the Torah to suit your theology does not change that. Because God does promise to circumcise Israel’s heart in the future does not mean that people are unable to circumcise their hearts. The two are not mutually exclusive.

        For my part, I do work to circumcise my heart. For example, I avert my eyes when I see an improperly dressed woman. This is to protect me from improper thoughts and the actions that could possibly follow them. I do not wish to provoke desire for the forbidden.

        But, I wonder that you so readily admit that Jesus added to the Law. Perhaps you did not know that such an act is prohibited by Torah. But I can see why you would consider his law a millstone. Again, I wonder that you admit it to be a greater burden than the Torah, however, inasmuch as Jesus claimed that his yoke was light. I see that you have not found it so, and I applaud your bravery in admitting that Jesus’ placed a crushing yoke around your neck, one you are unable to bear. For many, I think it is unbearable. It is not enough that they did not yield to temptation when it came. Just being tempted is enough for them to be considered great sinners under Jesus’ system. Others would not have your courage to admit this.

        Nevertheless, just because Jesus’ law is a millstone around your neck, it does not make the God’s Law a millstone. And I again refer you to David. One can find no such terms in his writings. You may continue to insist on your point, but I think we both know you do not derive it from Tanach. You derive it from Paul’s writings. And having imbibed his disrespect for the Torah and those who devote themselves to its observance, you read Tanach eisegetically to find your philosophy hidden therein.

        This is why you can write dismissively: “After all, these commands are not on Mars or at the bottom of the sea.” You treat it as if the Jews came up with this notion as if it were not written in the Torah. While you are demanding that Con finish “God is not a man” why do you not finish quoting Deuteronomy 30.11? I know that Paul truncated it; it was ever his way to misrepresent Tanach. But let us not follow in his shoes. Let us complete the quote:

        “Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get if for us that we may hear and observe it?’ No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.”

        It is not an invention of the Jews that the Torah is not too difficult to keep. It is the teaching of Torah itself. But as David points out, to keep the Torah, one must be devoted to it. This is not something that can be kept haphazardly. It requires study and careful attention, a theme not just in the Psalms but in Deuteronomy.

        The contrast between Paul’s opinion of Torah and that of the authors of Tanach could not be more clear. Paul calls it spiritual, but this is mere lip service. He also considers that it cannot be observed, that it is only to teach us that humanity is wretched. The Torah, for Paul, is impractical. One cannot keep it. He abuses David’s words to make it seem as if the psalmist were telling us that “none are righteous” among human beings. But David was talking about fools who “say in [their] heart[s], ‘There is no God'”. David contrasts over and over in the psalms those who keep Torah and those who do not. He does not find the Torah to be a millstone. He does not find it impractical. The Torah was not a schoolmaster whose only lesson for David was that human beings are scum.

        Bo, you wrote that Law becomes a millstone to those who think they can and ought to do it, who can and ought to circumcise their hearts. However, this is the opposite. To those, like David, who believe that they can and ought to do the Law, it is not a millstone. It is a light. It is like honey and better than fine gold. Those who meditate on the Law “are like trees planted by streams of wather, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither” (Ps. 1.3). It is only a millstone to those like Paul who believe they cannot do it and excuse themselves on that basis. Those who believed it was a schoolmaster to show us that mankind was evil were those who’d never kept it and never tried. To them, the Law was a millstone. They saw in it only a curse–a blessing if one could keep it, but since no one could, only a curse. How different is Paul than David. Paul despairs of keeping Torah and justifies himself through selective quoting, through misrepresentation. David found great comfort and hope in the Torah of HaShem. Paul chafed under a millstone. David was guided by a light.


        • Dina says:

          Boggie, while you are contemplating Jim’s eloquent, masterful, and devastating rebuttal, please also take the time to think about and respond to Genesis 4:7, Deuteronomy 28 and 30, and Ezekiel 18 and 33. You did promise, after all, and I am still waiting.

          • bography says:


            God does as he pleases (that is, decrees, ordains) and (that is the reason why he) knows the end and the beginning. One of the things God does is mentioned in verses 12-13: He brings salvation to transgressors, who, by definition, are in a state of unrighteousness.

            Isaiah 46
             8Remember this, and stand fast; bring it to mind, O ye transgressors. 9 Remember the former things of old: that I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me; 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done; saying: ‘My counsel shall stand, and all My pleasure will I do’; 11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of My counsel from a far country; yea, I have spoken, I will also bring it to pass, I have purposed, I will also do it. 12 Hearken unto Me, ye mighty-hearted (high and mighty, stubborn) that are far from righteousness: 13 I bring near My righteousness, it shall not be far off, and My salvation shall not tarry; and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel My glory. 

            Now to Genesis 4:7 –
            If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

            God commands Cain to circumcise his heart as He later commands others to do. But later God says that he will circumcise the sinful heart, that he will replace the sinner’s heart of stone for a stone of soft flesh. As we read in Isaiah 46, God knows everything from eternity. So obviously he had reason for saying at an earlier time that sinners must do what is right, must rule over their sinful thoughts and actions. The reason was that they are responsible for their thoughts and actions. Later, God – knowing from eternity all that He ordains to occur in time – reveals that he is going to do what he previously commanded sinners to do: He will circumcise hearts – unconditionally. Not all hearts, but only those his mercy chooses to.

            Proverbs 21:1 — 1 The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.

            The same principle applies to Deuteronomy 28 and 30, and Ezekiel 18 and 33.


          • Jim says:


            Concerning your understanding of Genesis 4.7, I am confused.

            It is my understanding that you believe that one cannot circumcise his own heart. Why then do you write that God is telling Cain that he should circumcise his heart i.e. that he should do what is impossible? Why does he issue a vain command? Is he taunting Cain?

            Moreover, if God knows that Cain is going to kill Abel, and He knows that Cain in unable to stop himself, is God responsible for the death of Abel? Did He want Abel to die? Why does He ask Cain where his brother is, if He wanted Abel to die? Why does He protest that Abel’s bloods are crying out from the ground, when He knows that Cain could not have done anything other than He did?

            Or, do you hold that it was not a vain command to circumcise his heart? Cain could have changed his ways. It was only later that people became unable to circumcise their hearts. If so, at what point did this change occur?

            I truly do not understand your response on Genesis 4.7 at all. I can make neither heads nor tails of it. What does God mean, “…but you can rule over it”? According to you, Cain could not rule over it. Or do you mean to say that Cain could, but later generations were unable to rule over sin?

            Truly you have boggled my mind.


          • Dina says:

            Bogrishka, you are a sneaky one! (When you say Bogrishka you must stress the first syllable and trill your “r” like a proper Russian.)

            Now ask me why you are sneaky and I will tell you!

            Are you champing at the bit?

            Chah, Chah, just kidding! (“Ch” as in “challah.”)

            I’ll tell you right now why you are sneaky. You changed the conversation. The conversation was all about whether we have free will or not and which position does Tanach support. It was not about who will circumcise our hearts and when. But I’m onto you! I’ve got your number, as we say here in the U.S.

            Furthermore, you are lazy. You said that your answer to Genesis 4:7 answers Deuteronomy 30 and the other texts as well. Was it too much trouble to examine the other texts? Because to say that your answer is woefully inadequate is to be very kind. Not only is it inadequate, but it is also wrong as it pertains to Genesis 4:7. I will show you why you are wrong, but for that you really will have to wait. School’s out; my kids will be walking through the door any minute, and it’s Erev Shabbat–so it’s a busy day.

            God willing I will grind your argument into fine powder sometime soon after Shabbat.

            Shabbat shalom!

          • Dina says:

            Boggsela, gut voch to you. I’m ready to tackle Deuteronomy 30 for you, since you won’t do it yourself.

            1. It will be that when all these things come upon you–the blessing and the curse that I have presented before you–then you will take it to your heart among all the nations where Hashem your God has dispersed you, 2. and you will return unto Hashem your God and listen to His voice according to everything that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and all your soul.

            For a good long while you’ve been claiming that punishment does not rehabilitate criminals. Well, apparently, Moses doesn’t agree with you. He is prophesying here that the curses will serve a purpose. That purpose is evident. It will cause the Jews to “take it to [their] heart…[to] return unto Hashem.” The repentance will be complete: “according to everything that I command you today…with all your heart and all your soul.”

            3. Then Hashem your God will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you and He will gather you in from all the peoples to which Hashem your God has scattered you. 4. If your dispersed will be at the ends of heaven, from there Hashem your God will gather you in and from there He will take you. 5. Hashem your God will bring you to the Land that your forefathers possessed and you shall possess it; He will do good to you and He will make you more numerous than your forefathers.

            Ah, we are about to get to that verse about God circumcising our hearts–but let’s see what has to happen first.

            First, the people of Israel will return to full Torah observance, with all their heart and all their soul.

            Second, Hashem will gather all the exiles in from all the ends of the earth.

            Third, Hashem will bring us back to the Land and make things all better.

            And THEN:

            6. Hashem your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring to love Hashem with all your heart and with all your soul that you may live.

            So, so, so. There is nothing mysterious about whom God will choose to circumcise their hearts. Hashem will circumcise our hearts after we return to full Torah observance, something He obviously knows we’re capable of since He predicts that we will do it. So that destroys your no-free-will argument right there.

            Now, Bogs, a question for you. You believe God has already circumcised your heart. How can that be, since you didn’t fulfill the conditions necessary for this to happen? Hm? Answer me that!

            As you can see, you are dead wrong on free will and you are dead wrong on God choosing whose hearts He will circumcise. We choose. Deuteronomy 30 makes that clear.

            Your argument about Genesis 4:7 makes no sense, as Jim has pointed out, so you’ll need to either refine that argument or retract it (after you’ve vacuumed up the powder I ground your argument into, of course).

            Good luck!

  73. Jim says:


    You write: “…no amount of treading the kitzvot mill is going to reconcile you to God.” This is a remarkable statement, which is supported neither by logic nor Tanach. In this comment I shall only address the former and in a second comment, the latter.

    We must consider why one must become reconciled to God in the first place. This can only be because one was disobedient. If one had been faithfully adhering to the mitzvot of God, because he loves God, then there is no need for reconciliation. Reconciliation is necessary for one who is either neglectful of the mitzvot or intentionally disobedient.

    Let us take the first case, the case of one who is neglectful. He does not study HaShem’s Torah faithfully, and so he does not fulfill it. He does the things he knows to do, but sometimes he does them wrongly. Or he does not do things he ought to do, because he has not learned Torah. He does not understand the mitzvot, because he has not devoted himself to them.

    Is it conceivable that such a person can say to God that he is sorry and that he realizes now that he was totally unable to keep HaShem’s mitzvot? That is unreasonable. The problem was not a lack of ability. He did not make it a priority. He did not treat HaShem’s mitzvot with the proper respect. It is good that he is sorry, but now he is left with one of two options. He will either begin to study the mitzvot seriously and attempt to keep them properly or he will not. Either he will keep them, or he will excuse himself from keeping them, because to him it will be enough that he was sorry. It is impossible that merely being sorry should be enough to reconcile him to God. It is clear that if he was distanced from God by his neglect. Continuing to neglect the mitzvot is continuing the wrong that made reconciliation necessary. One can only come to the conclusion that he must begin treading the mill that he neglected.

    With the man who is intentionally disobedient, this is even more obvious. Let us say that a man commits adultery. Will it be enough that he becomes sorry? Should he not also cease the illicit relations? But at the moment when he decides to cease committing adultery because it is a violation of God’s mitzvot, he is resuming what you find laughable. He is again treading the mitzvot mill. It is unreasonable to argue that he is not to obey God to reconcile himself to God. If the adultery is what distanced him from God, he surely cannot continue in it.

    This does not change for positive commands either. If one never gives charity, it will hardly be enough to be sorry for it. It will be ridiculous for one to say he wishes he could give charity, but he lacks the heart to do it. To reconcile oneself to God, one should obviously begin giving charity. But again, this would be to climb aboard the mitzvot mill.

    Are you not ashamed to call it a “mitzvot mill”? You imply that keeping the Torah is drudgery. Is this what is meant by having a “heart transplant,” speaking disrespectfully of the commands of the Creator?

    Certainly, when one does wrong, he should feel sorrow that he violated the commands of God. Such sorrow is not enough, by itself, however. One must begin to do or not do the things that violated the Torah. Otherwise, his tears are of no value. It is most unreasonable to assert that keeping the mitzvot will not reconcile one to God. Moreover, it is absurd to write that one who disdains God’s mitzvot, considering them futile drudgery, is the one least in need of reconciliation with God. It is obvious he cares little for Torah when he sneers at it.


  74. Jim says:


    We’ve heard your disdain regarding the Torah. We have read your words that one cannot be reconciled to God through “treading the mitzvah mill”. But what does God say? Does he too say that one cannot be reconciled to him through the keeping of mitzvot? As we will see, Tanach does in fact inform us that one becomes reconciled to God through keeping His mitzvot.

    One of those chapters you keep avoiding tells us specifically how to get right with God: “But if the wicked man turn away from all their sins that they have committed and keep all my statutes and do what is lawful and right, they shall surely live; they shall not die. None of the transgression that they have committed shall be remembered against them; for the righteousness that they have done they shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that they should turn from their ways and live?” (Ez. 18.21-23). Ezekiel continues, telling us that the converse is also true, that if one who has been living a righteous life changes his ways and abandons the Torah, his righteousness shall not be remembered and he shall die.

    The prophet has just said that to become right with God, one should do the mitzvot. One should live a righteous life. For this he shall be rewarded. This is the very opposite of your teaching. This is no “lesson… that you or I can never fulfill the Torah.”

    Perhaps you think this is unfair:

    “Is it not your ways that are unfair? When the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it; for the iniquity that they have committed they shall die. Again, when the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life. Because they considered and turned away from all the transgressions they had committed, they shall surely live; they shall not die” (vv. 26-28).

    Note that the prophet says nothing of God keeping the Torah on our behalf. Nothing of “Only God can do that” exists at all. The whole chapter rests on the ability of the individual to choose to live a righteous life or not. Punishment and reward are meted out in accordance with that. It is up to us to obey or not.

    Once again, I find it necessary to point out how out of place your disdain for the mitzvot is. What you consider futile and drudgery, the prophet tells us gives life. He does not tell us that we are just to abandon ourselves to recognize futility. He does not tell us that only God could fulfill the mitzvot and that in our failure we should bemoan our incapacity for good. Rather, he tells us to turn away from our failures and do the good. It is no futility at all to serve God. It is life. “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone” (Ecc. 12.13).


  75. Jim says:


    It strikes me that you find the Christian position to be the way of humility and the Jewish position to be that of pride. The Christian knows that he can merit nothing of himself. He must “be like [a] beggar, think of [him]sel[f] as the scum of the earth”. This seems to be the definition of humility. However, if we consider this position, I think we will find that this is only a superficial humility. It is a renunciation of responsibility and indicts God for human error.

    That it is not truly humility is obvious on the face of it. According to you, God is the one who brings one to the point of falling on his face as a beggar. Without God altering one’s heart, one would not even do that much. Therefore, there is no humility in the act. One is just a puppet acting according to the whim of God. Some he makes fall down and others he puffs up. But one is never recognizing his own place in the universe, the greatness of God and his own smallness. Without such a recognition, it seems rather nonsensical to call this humility. However, this is not the focus of my argument and I mention it as an aside.

    When Adam and Eve ate that which was forbidden to them, God gave them an opportunity to confess. He did not come upon them suddenly in wrath, not like the caricature of God presented by Christians, all wrath and terror. Rather, he made is presence known to them as if approaching. And they hid.

    Then God called out for them, and when Adam told God that they were hiding due to their nakedness, God still did not accuse them. He asked them a question to which He clearly already knew the answer. He asked them if they had eaten from the prohibited tree. This was an opportunity for them to confess and ask forgiveness. They did not take it.

    Adam blamed God. He said, “The woman whom you gave me to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate” (Gen. 3.13). He is saying that God gave him this woman who handed him the fruit. It’s God’s fault, really, according to Adam. If God had not given him the woman, Adam would not have eaten the fruit. Adam has not accepted his responsibility.

    Now if we consider the Christian position, we will find that the Christian is doing the same thing. Particularly this applies to a Calvinist position, such as yours, Bo. Christian humility consists of cowering like Adam in the garden, hiding from God and responsibility. When he is confronted with his wrongdoing, he does not admit his fault. He says, “The sin nature you gave to me, it caused me to sin. Your command was impossible.” He appears to be humble, because he considers himself scum, like Adam noting his nudity. But he points the finger at God. His humility is only a seeming humility. He still excuses himself and indicts God.

    But, someone might object that I am being unfair: “The Christian does not indict God. It was Man’s fault that he has a sin nature. God did not create him with one. But the error of Adam and Eve became a blight on us all. God wishes to deliver us from this sin nature.”

    This is only to defer the blame one step. It is to blame in part our parents. “It is Adam’s fault that I sin. If he had not erred, I would not be the way that I am.” But really, the Christian is still blaming God: “The parents you gave me, they passed on to me a sin nature, and I sinned.” It is still not the Christian’s fault when he sins. He could not help himself but to violate the will of his Creator. He is paying the price for his parents error. And it was God’s choice to not start over but to continue with a blighted race. “Really,” the Christian says, “it’s all God’s fault.”

    You, in particular, Bo, cannot blame our parents. According to you, they had no free will any way. They could not have acted in any other way than they did. God created them with inner desires and sent them temptations that, due to the hearts he gave them, they could not resist. He made them to sin by your account of things.

    This is not the mark of humility. Humility is not the act of blaming another for one’s faults. It is not humility to point one’s finger at God and say that it is really God’s fault. One must accept responsibility for himself. To truly humble himself, one must accept responsibility and change his ways. He must repent of the path he had taken, stop worshiping the god, Appetite, and submit himself to his Creator. If he has sinned, he must not say he could have done no other than he had done, but accept real responsibility. He could have done differently, but he did not. And that was wrong. He must undertake not to repeat his sins, but study God’s commandments that he may perform them.


  76. Dina says:

    Greetings, Professor Bogs,

    Now that I am resurfacing after Passover, it’s time to once again take you to task for failing to directly respond to the Scriptural passages I presented that repudiate your contention that we lack free will and the ability to take responsibility for our own spiritual course. You have not responded despite your promises to the contrary.

    The passages were Deuteronomy 28 and 30, Ezekiel 18 and 33, and Genesis 4:7.

    What say you?