Response to Line of Fire 14
In the July 25th 2013 edition of Dr.Brown’s radio show he interviews Tzahi Shapira, author of “Return of the Kosher Pig”. At one point during the show Shapira makes an attempt to respond to a point that I raised in Contra Brown.
The point in question is one of the foundational arguments with which the Jewish Scriptures empower the Jew in his debate with any competing faith including the faith in Jesus/Yeshua. It is simply this. God Himself taught the Jews who it is that they are to worship. It follows that no one is authorized to teach differently than God (Deuteronomy 4:9,15,35). Shapira’s response is that Jesus was present at Sinai. The thrust of this argument is that the Jews were taught by God to worship a trinity. He bases this bizarre claim on his reading of the complex and mysterious kabbalistic work; the Zohar.
According to Shapira, the Zohar teaches that the voices that the text of Exodus 19:16 describes of are the three voices of a triune god.
Before we analyze Shapira’s understanding of the Zohar we will point out that his argument still does not answer this core Jewish Objection. In Deuteronomy 4:9 we are given to understand that God designated the living testimony of the Jewish people to transmit the message of Sinai to future generations. This concept is reinforced in the book of Isaiah were God points to Israel as the witnesses to the truth of His sovereignty (Isaiah 43:10). Since the living Jewish people saw Shapira’s claim as the very antithesis of what we were taught at Sinai then his claim is without foundation. Throughout history the Jewish people have understood their calling before God that they testify to the world that every iota of finite existence is completely subject to God. The very witnesses God appointed to preserve the message testify that Shapira has it wrong.
When we examine Shapira’s rendering of the Zohar (on page 64 of his book) it becomes obvious that the words of the Zohar have no connection at all to Shapira’s fantasies.
- Shapira inserted the word “Messiah” into the text where no such word appears. In his book he claims that the word “water” is a secret code-word for “Messiah”. He provides no sources for this conjecture.
- Shapira translates the word “ruach” as “spirit” while from the context of the passage it obviously means “wind”.
- Shapira conflates two paragraphs in the Zohar without any textual justification.
- Shapira leads in from the Zohar’s comments on the book of Exodus into the comments on the book of Genesis as if these two followed one another seamlessly. It goes without saying that they do not. The Zohar’s comment on Genesis is a missionary favorite and I have responded to that particular argument in a previous article: https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/context-and-kabbalah/
- Shapira translates the word “gevanin”, which means “colors” as “voices”. There is no philological basis for this translation.
The Zohar is describing the spiritual forces that were involved in the sounds that Israel heard during the Sinai experience. These sounds were what Israel heard before God actually spoke to them and these were not the voice or voices of God. This passage in the Zohar is not presenting a teaching on the nature of God.
In this same radio show Shapira insists that the basis of his belief is the simple contextual meaning of the Jewish Bible. If this were true he would respond to my challenge with a passage in Scripture. The fact that he needed to find his answer in a book that declares his worship to be idolatrous tells us that he was not able to find an answer elsewhere. And the fact that in this short quotation from the Zohar he managed to include five incredible errors tells us that his approach to the Zohar is not based on language or context; neither is it based on a respect for the intention of the author. It is based on the same foundation which had Matthew see the Virgin Mary in Isaiah 7:14.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
Wow, for some reason I thought this jerk was a normative Jew. Thanks for letting me know he’s a messyantic.
Michael Brown says: Ah, the “kosher pig” concept is the least of the concerns. That’s just a midrashic springboard for a more important discussion. I deal with some related issues re: the perpetuity of Torah in the world to come in vols. 4 and 5 of my series.
I said to Brown: Regarding Tzahi’s Kosher Pig and tying that in to Yeshua….Saying that Yeshua was treif but will return Kosher…..I believe he is taking too much midrashic license…(ie deception)…but that is my opinion of course. He derives his theory from Rabbeinu Behaye…but takes him out of context…
R. Bahya ben Asher, in his commentary to Leviticus (11:7), explains the midrash about a pig becoming kosher allegorically. As we see elsewhere in the midrash (e.g. Vayikra Rabbah 13, end), the nation of Edom is referred to as a pig (in the context of various nations being compared to different animals). This midrash is telling us that our archenemy in this world, the nation of Edom, will become a friend of ours, “kosher,” in the peaceful messianic era. This is also how R. Menahem Recanati explained the midrash in his commentary to Leviticus, how the Ritva explained it in his novellae to Kiddushin (49b), and how R. Yitzhak Abarbanel explained it in his Rosh Amanah (ch. 13). (Cf. however, Responsa Ateres Paz, part 1 vol. 2 Yoreh De’ah no. 6.)
R. Hayim Ibn Atar, however, took this midrash literally in his Or Ha-Hayim (Lev. 11:7). Nevertheless, this does not contradict the principle of the eternity of the Torah because, rather than the law changing and a non-kosher pig becoming kosher, the pig will change. Currently, pigs do not chew their cuds and, therefore, are not kosher. The midrash is referring to a change in the pig’s anatomy so that it will chew its could and, therefore, will become kosher. It is not Torah changing but nature. This is also how R. Menahem Azariah di Fano (Asarah Ma’amaros, Ma’amar Hikur Ha-Din 2:17, 4:13) explained this midrash, as did R. Moshe Sofer (Toras Moshe, end of Re’eh).
R. David Ibn Zimra (Radbaz) offered two different approaches in his Responsa Radbaz (vol. 2 no. 828). The first is to take the midrash as an exaggeration. In the messianic era people will partake of so many different kinds of wonderful foods that it will be as if everything, include pig, will be eaten. However, non-kosher food will not actually be permitted or eaten. In a similar vein, the Or Yekaros notes the passage in Hullin 109b that states that the shibuta fish tastes exactly like pig and the passage in the introduction to Eikhah Rabbasi (ch. 4) that the shibuta fish did not return from the Babylonian exile, i.e. we no longer had access to it and lost track of it. Combining these two passages with the midrash above, the Or Yekaros suggests that, in the messianic era, we will find the shibuta fish and will once more be able to taste pig, albeit from a kosher source.
Radbaz’s other approach is kabbalistic in nature. He pointed out that the angel Hazriel (similar to hazir, pig) is the heavenly prosecutor of the Jewish people. However, in “the next world,” he will turn into our defender. He repeated this, with slightly more explanation, in his Sefer Ta’amei Ha-Mitzvos (no. 185).
R. Yitzhak Abarbanel (Rosh Amanah, ch. 13) offered another suggestion. Noting that in the time of the original conquest of Israel, soldiers were permitted to eat non-kosher, including pig (cf. Hullin 17a), Abarbanel suggested that this temporary permission will also be the case during the time period discussed in the above midrash. Temporary abrogation of a law does not contradict the principle of the Torah’s eternity.
However, the entire premise of this discussion, that a midrash states that pig will someday become kosher, has been subjected to scrutiny. It seems that this midrash is extant nowhere in the voluminous midrashic material available to us. R. Shmuel Yafeh Ashkenazi, in his Yefeh To’ar (unabridged) to Vayikra Rabbah (13:3), disputed the existence of such a midrash. R. Yehiel Heilprin, in his Erkei Ha-Kinnuyim (hazir), agreed with this conclusion as did some others (e.g. Bnei Yissakhar, Ma’amarei Hodesh Adar 7:2).
I will send a detailed response to you within the next few days as I am in Israel now. I will address each one of your points below straight up. Your points above can be easily refuted.
BTW, I liked how you how you failed to explain the word קלת vs קולות and the missing vav’s . I will address later. It is a shame that you did not call into the show.
Itzhak – I do not call into shows – I am not so quick and I need time to think things through – especially matters as serious as these
About the missing vavs – the technique used here is that the word is both singular and plural to teach that two forces were used but that these two forces are united as one
BTW, What challenge did you given me? I offered you to call into the Radio Show but you did not. The Challenge was mine.
Dear Mr. Shapira,
What difference does it make whether Rabbi Blumenthal responds to you in writing or on air? In the interest of truth seeking, why is this important?
The point you were making was a response to my challenge in Contra Brown – so the challenge was mine
When exactly did you offer me to call in to the radio show? Not that I would have – as I said – I need time to think things through
In any case – once I have you here perhaps I can ask you a question about your book?
On page 46 you tell us that an Orthodox Jew had a Talmud on top of a Bible – and you quote this as normative halacha
Are you aware that the halacha is the opposite of what you describe? Do you know where to look for the halacha in the Shulchan Aruch?
See here for the normative halacha – see #8
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