A Letter to Chanan

Dear Chanan

Brother! Let us return, Father is waiting for us.

Please allow me to elaborate.

Brother? Yes, we are brothers. It was with our father, Abraham, that the Creator of all made an everlasting covenant. Your genes and my genes were there on the altar when Isaac was offered to God. When people want to make reference to the One Creator of all, they use our father’s name and they say – “the God of Israel”. When the Jewish people were enslaved in Egypt we were there together, and had God not intervened, we would both still be there. We share the glorious memory of God manifesting His might with the greatest miracles in the history of mankind, all for our sake and the sake of our ancestors. Both you and I are repositories for the record of the revelation at Sinai – the revelation which stands out in its uniqueness as the only claim for a national revelation. The greatest prophet that ever lived, the trustworthy one of God’s household, taught us for forty years while we lived under God’s embrace. During that time God showed us His love with the clouds of glory, the manna, and the well of Miriam. His presence was manifest in the midst of our nation in the Tabernacle and then in the Jerusalem temple. Then the dark times came, but God’s love did not waver. His love was manifest in the courage He poured into our hearts that gave us the strength to overcome the Greeks, to outlive the mighty Roman empire, and to survive the most torturous persecutions. This is our heritage, and as brothers, we share this glorious inheritance.

But now we walk different paths. We are both convinced that the paths we respectively walk are the true continuity of our great history. But only one of us can be in the right. Our paths are mutually exclusive. Indeed there are some similarities that our divergent paths share, but these parallels are only superficial. At the very root, our paths are polar opposites. We both believe in the truth of the Jewish Bible, but the contexts from within which we each read the Bible are so disparate that we might as well be reading two different books. We both believe in an afterlife, but our understanding of the afterlife, and our conception of the road to the afterlife, are so different, that the path that leads to your heaven goes to my hell. We both believe in the coming of the Messiah, but our respective visions of the messianic era have very little in common. We both accept that the purpose of life is developing a relationship with God, but the word God means one thing for me and something else for you.

The fact that as brothers we still walk different paths disturbs both of us. Perhaps you’ve been more diligent than I have been in expressing your pain in a concrete way. Together with the members of your community, you are involved in an ongoing energetic effort to persuade the members of my community to join your path. As difficult as it is for my community to appreciate your efforts in this regard, I could acknowledge that many of you are motivated by a love for your fellow Jews.

By now you have probably come to realize that as a community we are far from convinced. All of your methods of persuasion, be they quotations from scripture or personal testimonies, have failed to convince us to join you in your faith. Perhaps you are beginning to believe the myth propounded by some members of your community which claims that the Jewish people are stricken by a spiritual blindness – and it is this supernatural defect which prevents the members of my community from appreciating the power of your arguments.

If my community has not been as diligent as yours in reaching out to our brothers, please see in this letter a step towards rectifying that imbalance. Please read my words as you would want me to read yours – as an expression of my concern for your welfare. Before I get into the details of my presentation I would like to ask you to step back and consider the following. Both you and I accept the dictum that we only do unto others as we would have done unto ourselves. When you present your arguments to members of my community in an effort to persuade them to abandon their path in favor of yours – in essence you are asking them to go through an extremely difficult process. You are asking them to seriously consider the possibility that much of what they hold precious and holy – is downright wrong. You are asking them to draw the courage to look at themselves in the mirror and say – I’ve been wrong all these years. If you ask this of us, please be willing to do the same yourself.

You can read the rest of the letter here


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Thank You

Yisroel C. Blumenthal



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2 Responses to A Letter to Chanan

  1. Yedidiah says:

    Even the concept of “spiritual blindness” is a misunderstanding of Isaiah & other Jewiah prophets. God did not call messengers to wander around & suffer just to “speak nonsense” or just to “make noise” or to speak to readers of the Words hundreds of years later. They spoke of the reality around them, which should have been obvious to most. They used non-esoteric language, clear & understandable metaphor to exaggerate, to shock, and to shout out to “awaken” the people & leaders. They did not shout new & anti-Torah teachings . They did not preach “secret teachings”. No call to leave Torah or God, but to come back. God can “turn it around”, as we see by another prophet named Jonah.

  2. Yedidiah
    right on – I wrote about the subject of the “spiritual blindness” of the Jew here

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