Nine Letters # 3 – Belief vs. Worship

In this letter I distinguish between “belief” and “worship”.

Would you agree that “worship” is not “accepting a  certain creed as true”? I imagine that you acknowledge that worship is not an  exercise of the intellect. I propose to define worship as “submission towards” – could you agree to that definition?

I  will proceed with my argument assuming that you accept that  definition.

“Submitting towards” could be done in an outward act of  bowing in submission or bringing an offering to – without any feelings of the  heart involved. These would be idolatrous if done towards another entity aside  from the God of Israel – but that is not the idolatry I am talking of here. The  submission I am talking is “the surrendering of the heart towards”.

Feelings of submission  towards God that are triggered of by physical images – such as the beauty of a mountain that  I recognize that God created – those feelings of submission have nothing to do with idolatry – I am  well aware of that. In that case – the mountain is not the object of worship – there is no submission towards the mountain. However – when one identifies the  activities of a physical form as the object of worship – and those activities  that took place in the form are what justify and motivate the worship towards  the one who is tied to that form – that is  idolatry.

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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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9 Responses to Nine Letters # 3 – Belief vs. Worship

  1. hyechiel says:

    Dear yourphariseefriend;
    Sometimes, you received help from unexpected sources. Joseph, on the RoshPinaProject, posted this article on Bigotry against the Jewish People nd Nation.
    Relaxing the Zionists to the Secular Arm
    by Joseph

    Benzion Netanyahu excelled in detailing the history of the Jews of Spain, the conversos, and the Spanish Inquisition. His son Benjamin is the Prime Minister of Israel. Parallels between the historical time which interested Benzion, and the political current which concerns Benjamin, are very striking, if not obvious initially.

    Netanyahu Snr was 102 years old when he died. Appropriately, his life spanned the same number of years, as the distance between the two most notorious events of Spanish antisemitism: the antisemitic riots of 1391, and the expulsion of the Jews in 1492.

    You would be forgiven for thinking that within the interim period, there was a steady increase of antisemitic pressure against Jews, which naturally culminated in a mass exodus from Sepharad. Yet there was much sophistry involved in getting from A to B, with deception and self-deception afoot, each step of the way. Although the goalposts would change, those responsible for making the Jews unwelcome in Spain, would at each point view themselves as pious and desiring to serve God.

    In 1391, an estimated 10,000 Jews were murdered across Spain – 4000 Jews were killed in Seville alone. They were torn apart by incensed crowds, whipped up by a Seville pastor, Ferrand Mártinez. Mártinez had been preaching since 1378, increasing incitement against Jews weekly. The king did nothing to hold Martinez in check, and the antisemitism grew. When the king died, Martinez seized his opportunity to advance his anti-Jewish rallies unopposed.

    When so many Jews were massacred, it led to a sudden paradigm shift in Jewish thought. Having survived for centuries as a persecuted people, Jews had to learn to adapt quickly to new paths, new professions, new languages, and even new ideologies. But what happened following the 1391 pogroms was unprecedented – there was a mass conversion of Jews to Spanish Catholicism. Some Jews saw conversion as an escape from hatred, and a way to find emancipation. These Jews would no longer be subject to accusations of opposing God.

    So there was now a Jewish expression of the common worldview that most Spaniards shared. There was a Jewish sub-section within the church, which stood out by its mere existence. The conversos became successful and integrated at all levels of the Church, but were always aware of their true identity. The kol nidrei prayer was likely designed for the existential dilemmas of conversos or anusim.

    Of course, this did not matter to the outside world, which could not cope and became suspicious of Jews who were outwardly claiming to meet society’s religious expectations, but inwardly worked according to another logic.

    Rabbi Sacks said of antisemitism:

    I have argued for some years that an assault on Jewish life always needs justification by the highest source of authority in the culture at any given age. Throughout the Middle Ages the highest authority in Europe was the Church. Hence antisemitism took the form of Christian anti-Judaism.

    [… But today] that role is taken by human rights. It follows that any assault on Jewish life – on Jews or Judaism or the Jewish state – must be cast in the language of human rights. Hence the by-now routine accusation that Israel has committed the five cardinal sins against human rights: racism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, attempted genocide and crimes against humanity. This is not because the people making these accusations seriously believe them – some do, some don’t. It is because this is the only form in which an assault on Jews can be stated today.

    Today’s anti-Zionism is suspicious of the Jewish nation, which is modern and largely secular like Europe is.

    Anti-Zionists use the language of human rights to condemn the Jewish attempt to live like the rest of the world, whilst claiming they are not antisemitic. We are not against the Jews, we are against the Zionists only. The thing is, the Jews are the “Zionists”. Many Jews had to adjust to becoming Israelis, or becoming “Zionists” (Jews who believe their friends and family have a right to defend themselves), in order to simply survive.

    Many Jews today develop a deep interest in politics, having been forced to explain to people who are shouting at them, why they think Israel has a moral and legal right to exist and defend herself. The conversos of Sepharad quickly became versed in Catholic ideology, and produced their orators and theologians to defend their right to exist as they were. So behind the carefully-crafted arguments and façades, Converso identity was also a survival mechanism.

    Both the converso community and Zionism grew in response to persecution. The two are hardly the same – conversion to another religion is generally considered as a negation of Jewish identity, whereas Zionism is an affirmation of Jewish identity -but there are similarities in the way the two groups have been perceivedand treated.

    As the Church zealously turned its wrath towards the insincere marranos, its officials were both blissfully and wilfully ignorant that the Church’s own antisemitism was to blame for creating this situation in the first place!

    If Martinez’s campaign against the Jews had not led to mass conversions, then there would have been less reason for Jews to convert falsely to Catholicism, as their survival instinct had kicked in. That was Spanish anti-Marrano ideology in the Middle Ages.

    Howard Jacobson recently commented on the anti-Zionism of the postmodern world:

    “Country after country kicks Jews out. ‘Out you go, out you go, go where the hell you like.’ The idea that such countries can say, ‘We kicked you out but we are absolutely appalled that you might now have decided to find a place where you might like to congregate and say that you would like to be be mainly for you.’ You can’t kick people out and then determine what they do when they go somewhere else. Given the history of them, it makes perfect sense. They would be mad not to do so.”

    It is this mad attitude that defines much modern antisemitism.

    Now as then, antisemitism led to a new Jewish phenomenon, which was then opposed by people believing themselves to be virtuous, who conveniently forgot the fact that their fathers had encouraged the phenomenon by being anti-Semitic, and forcing Jews to find radical solutions.

    I am sure the irony of these pious arguments was not lost to the conversos, as their contemporary equivalents are not lost on us today.

    Just as the conversos or New Christians were never really accepted as actual Christians, so too many of today’s Jewish Zionist political thinkers are dismissed as “neo-cons” – they are new or neo in a derogatory way, as the conversos were.

    Contrary to popular myth, the Jews were beyond the reach of the Inquisition. The Inquisition was an internal body within the Holy Church, which served to separate the true believers from the false believers.

    Although the principal agitator of the Inquisition, the Grand Inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada – himself of converso stock – would have liked to have been able to antagonise the Jews, the Inquisition stuck to the line that it was merely seeking to maintain orthodoxy within the Church, just as today’s anti-Zionists are seeking to maintain peace and order within the international community.

    And so conversos were scrutinised, their every movement held up to the light, and they were tried by church officials who were naturally hostile to their plight. Any evidence of guarding the law of Moses was used against a converso in order to condemn him. Conversos were almost automatically suspected of tending towards insincerity, and Jews – many of whom maintained good relationships with conversos – were nevertheless encouraged to inform on Conversos.

    Today, Jews who decry Zionists are seen as invaluable to the machinations of the anti-Zionists.

    The Inquisition positioned itself in a position of judgement over the conversos. The Inquisition felt that it had the moral standing to do so, and therefore felt that it had the moral duty to do so. Today, many feel comfortable judging “Zionists” in a similar way, assuming the worst of pro-Israel Jews, and portraying them as deceptive enemies of human rights, who thrive on the blood of Palestinian children – much as the Jews and conversos needed the blood of the Child of La Guardia in order to practise their ancient rites.

    I cannot tell you of all the individual trials, of conversos – Jews at heart – sent to the flames with the Shema in their heads if not on their lips, who were told that they had committed a terrible sin by returning to their old ways: ways which they had never truly left.

    Yet when conversos were condemned, the Inquisition did not simply send them to the flames. Rather, the Inquistion – as Yoval (2007) points out – would hypocritically “relax” the accused “to the secular arm”. The Inquisition was Love, and it was not responsible for executing judgement.

    The Inquisition was happy to allow the condemned converso to fall under the curse of the law, the Spanish law, but would never dare to boast of its actively condemning conversos to death.

    Today, there are those who would relax the Zionists to the secular arm. Anti-Zionists will condemn Zionists and call Israel a failed project, clamouring for a “one-state solution”, knowing full well this would lead to a bloodbath, and mass Jewish deaths.

    In the Inquisition, the clerics of the Inquisition would call for the accusedmarranos to be relaxed to the secular arm; they would not condemn the accused directly, but they would surrender Jews to the authority that certainly would.

    Once the conversos were suppressed in large number, society turned back to the Jews. 1492 finally saw the expulsion of Jews, as they began to be treated with suspicion too. The pious anti-converso theology soon reverted back to old style antisemitism, which really everyone knew it was all along.

    From antisemitism to anti-the-Jewish-ideology-which-emerged-from-antisemitism – and when that is being defeated, naked antisemitism re-emerges energetically.

    Time is linear, yet it can also be a wheel that turns.

    But Benjamin knows his history.
    <<< Do you?

  2. hyechiel
    I read Netanyahu’s book – it seems that Joseph missed the main thrust of the book. Netanyahu argues; and he backs up his arguments with alot of evidence – that the conversos who were targeted by the Inquisition were sincere converts to Christianity. The Inquisition’s persecution of the conversos was purely racist

  3. naaria says:

    Belief, not worship, is most often what you hear in church. Usually, I hear praise & worship associated with singing and that usually is about or to Jesus. Usually the focus is not on “submitting towards” God, but seeking protection from the external “evil spiritual forces” (the devil, usually working through people or by illness and often just theough the routine, normal problems of every day living) and “salvation from Hell”. And beleive it; anti-semitism by others is a good recruiting tool for some. A few months ago, I received fund-raising mail from a missionary ministry very active globally (especially in poor countries in Africa & Asia where there are “new Jews” or isolated “reminant Jewish communities”) . It described (with quite a bit of exaggeration) the “greatly increased” and horrible anti-Semitism experienced by Jews. The problem is so bad that Jews “will do almost anything” to escape the routine harassment and persecution throughout all of Europe. Even submit & surrender and become believers in “Yeshua” in order that they might be free & live life (not much mention – at least in this particular letter – about wearing tallits and imitating the “Jewish Jesus”). I guess if you accept Jesus, the anti-Semites will no longer bother Jews? I know the pastor is not asking Jews give up all their Jewishness – just their beliefs, just their Judaism. I was appalled by his “solution” to persecution – especially where the memory of the “holocaust” is still very much alive by the victims and their families and by their enemies.

    • naaria says:

      The pastor is a convert to Christianity, but the word “Jewish” is a vital part of his ministries name. And he sees anti-Semitism almost as a “blessing”? (Or maybe just a “good” way to raise monies to “save the Jews by bringing them to Yeshua”?)

      • hyechiel says:

        Dear pharaseefriend and naaria;
        The main body of the Conversos, second generation, were “good” Christians. But most remembered their parental idenity. Could not go anywhere they woulds like, so they put up with Spain.
        My mother expalined that Spain’s fall was due to too much energy put to controling us, and not enough to taking care of what they had over-seas.
        Naaria, Chriatianity calls itself a Trinity (*three in one”) religion. It’s theology is based on the worship of G-d showing HImself as both physical and spiritual-where one can exist without the other. Actually, Christianity is a “Quortial” religion! They believe in a forth god, Satan. He, basically, is waiting in the wings for the true G-d to go elsewhare, or for us to give up on Him.
        Although they do not worship satan, I have read nothing which strongly separates the belief in it, from the Grecio/Roman form of the same.
        Also, some have expressed to me, and I have read, that Christianity is suppose to convert all Jews, so we do not take up room, or give up on G-d as He said He is.
        Either we go away, or merge with them. problem with their philosohy is that we all are dealing with His reality, so we shall do what He wants; Free Will not withstanding.
        The history of the Conversos prove this. They neither went or merged win the Great Sceam of things, but stuck around to do G-d’s will. You read the trick questioins some try? Why, because the truth shall set you free, but freedom is a hard thing to accept. We showed this at Sinai, Christians show this by not accepting their responsibility for their own salvation, as we have. The ones who have, i respect and find them easier to communicate with, as adult to adult.
        Friend and Naaria, Shalom;

        • naaria says:

          Many people don’t question basic elements of their faith, they just accept what they are taught. Most people who believe in a trinity (and know enough about the concept to believe that they really understand it), sincerely believe it as “The Truth”. They truly believe that they only believe in one God, but just with 3 attributes (like the 13 attributes of God that others believe are Truth). They have a great difficulty explaining the trinity and as yet I have not read or heard any reason for believing in it, but many people see no harm nor error in believing it. It might make more sense, if they did not use the “father-son” analogy and if they did not try to show dis-similarities between 2 things or beings, while at the same time trying to show that there is no dissimilarity between the 2. They make a better case for dualism than for unity, but where we can clearly see that a big problem exists for their theology and why it contradicts the Tanach, many sincerely just can’t see it without further education.

          Many also will disagree with your phrase “- where one can exist without the other”, because they see Jesus (but not God, the father? Unless you show that the Father, not the “son” was the “physical one” in the Tanach?) as both spiritual and physical (but that can be said about all humans too, not just Jesus). A better term might be “divine”? But using either term can show idolatrous worship. The great emphasis on the “devil” shows a relationship of Christianity to Zorastrism or several pagan religions. Respectfully, people are free to associate with ideas that appear to be “polytheistic” or “dualistic” or “idolatrous”, but that seems to be regressive (to say the least). Revelation should lead us forward, away from primitive concepts and away from God emulating people and toward us emulating God. God said we can be Holy; in fact God commanded it. God calls some people, “Righteous people”, but they can choose to become wicked. And likewise, some people who can be called “wicked ones” can become “Righteous ones”.

          • hyechiel says:

            Dear Naaria;
            The main problem with Christianity is not their theology, any more than with the other faiths of the world. It is that we are stll here, to remind all of their origins, and the responsibilities they have.
            They now of “repent-ance” where you accept responsibility for your behavior. I think they have a problem with “T’shuva”, where you return to the behavior He wants of you. This would require giving up a self-image that most of us do not want to relent on, but need, to re-establish our connectioin to Him. (You turn to me, an I shall turn to you.)
            We have One to turn to, they have three, so they may have a problem in responding. Easier to put the blame on someone else.
            Many Christians are realizing this, today. They can be identified as those who are pointed to as “not the right kind of Christian!” But their numbers are growing, some to seek a compromise between what they were brought up with, and what they learned, in reading the whole Bible.
            Still a long way to go, and there shall be much back-sliding, but I think with the right kind of communicaton within their ranks, may succeed in learning about T’shuva, and do so.
            Naaria, we have a similar situation. With a multiple way to deal with what they have, room in Rome was made to let power seeking persons use the faith, not be grounded or guided in it.
            In Zionism, some of us did go to extreams, or at least, is seen as extreamed. If we could have had leadership that would have guided this inergy in a more people based behavior, for G-d, then I think we would have had a stronger base to stand on. It is changing, but all change takes time, and compassion.

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