Following the Majority – A Response to Itzhak Shapira

Following the Majority – A Response to Itzhak Shapira

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpYAEGJ_jx4

Itzhak Shapira posted a video response to Rabbi Eli Cohen’s accusation against his book. Rabbi Cohen pointed out that Shapira’s attitude toward Israel’s respected teachers is contradictory. On the one hand Shapira praises the rabbis while on the other hand he accuses them of conscious intellectual dishonesty.

Shapira responds to Rabbi Cohen’s argument by using a “straw man.” Shapira pretends that Rabbi Cohen doesn’t understand that you can love someone and disagree with them at the same time as if that is all that Shapira has done.

Shapira doesn’t “disagree” with the rabbis. He ridicules them and he charges them with consciously misleading those who read their words.

Shapira can be compared to someone who claims to love another person but is convinced that the object of his love is a convicted criminal when in fact he is not. Not only is he convinced that the object of his love is a criminal but he broadcasts his accusations to the general public. What kind of love and respect is that?

In his short presentation Shapira presents his belief in a divine Messiah as a valid opinion within the stream of Jewish thought. According to Shapira, it is only the rule that we are to follow the majority that has Judaism rejecting the belief in a divine Messiah. Shapira would have his audience believe that the belief in a divine Messiah is a legitimate minority opinion within Judaism.

This is completely false. The entire concept of following the majority only applies within the framework of a legitimate disagreement that may occur within the parameters of a discussion about the Law.

The belief in a divine Messiah (or of any divine entity aside from the One Creator of the world who is above and beyond all finite existence) is a rejection of the very heart of our covenant with God. No teacher in Israel ever proposed such a belief and anyone who does propose such a belief has effectively cut him or herself off from the covenant community that is loyal to the God of Israel.

Yes, there are those who would love to redefine the God of Israel. But these people cannot consider themselves part of Israel’s covenant with God. Our covenant with God is predicated on the fact that we were appointed as witnesses to the world that no part of finite existence is worthy of worship. And that every facet of finite existence owes all of its devotion to the One Creator of all.

The idolatry that Shapira is promoting stands in direct opposition to everything that Judaism stands for.

https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2013/11/08/response-to-line-of-fire-15/

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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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67 Responses to Following the Majority – A Response to Itzhak Shapira

  1. Annelise says:

    Christians do in theory believe that every facet of finite existence owes all to God… even though when they say He ‘dwelt in’ Yeshua (Colossians 1) it was different from how Tanach says He dwelt in the Temple (though Solomon said the heavens and earth can’t contain Him), and how He dwelt in the nation of Israel who “became His sanctuary” and the sea flew before them. Christians think that Yeshua WAS the fullness of God and leave the aspect of his finiteness as a mystery. We see only darkness in that, especially since it doesn’t fit with the process of Torah about how to honour God carefully and loyally in future. Judaism believes that God makes His love, even His undeserved *desire* for us, known in the finite world through aspects of the great gift of creation.

    Anyway. Some followers of Yeshua might be frustrated to read the line, “The idolatry that Shapira is promoting stands in direct opposition to everything that Judaism stands for.” The fact is, the more that people like this mix their beliefs back in with the holy things of Judaism, the uglier the idolatry becomes, and the more brightly juxtaposed it is against all that those holy things testify to in their essence. That is how we feel about the matter.

  2. junzey says:

    One day you too will see Yeshua High and lifted Up as His Garment Fills The Temple,
    dear Rabbi Yosroel.

    I encourage you and dear Rabbi Eli if you
    Feel you have been ‘abused’ by someone
    Who believes Yeshua is Hashem .. Do not
    Return evil for evil… But do good. Don’t keep
    Refuting man … Seek the face of G-d.
    With Respect,
    Your Jewess Friend,
    June

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Yedidiah says:

      The Rabbi’s are doing much good by refuting the “evil” of a man, Shapira. This is a Godly work.

      Why would one see Jesus, a man or a demi-god that was created in the image of man, instead of God? Why “lift up” a man to replace God who was never “brought down” except in the minds of simple people who need to express some type of worship in a spirit by focusing on created objects (such as a statue, an asherah pole, or a man like Caesar or Yeshua/Jesus)?

      • “God, Who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers
        by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son,
        Whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by Whom also He made the worlds;
        Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His Person,
        and upholding all things by the word of His power,
        when He had by Himself purged our sins,
        sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high…” Heb. 1

        • Yedidiah says:

          The book may be called “Hebrews” (which was an archaic term then as it is now), but that does not change the Roman, Hellenistic, Babylonian nature of those texts. If those words were in the Tanach, from “sundry times”, (before the marketing of Jesus as head of a new religion), you would have a point. Saying “his son” meaning a divine being is not Hebrew, but anti-Hebrew, since God needs no “son” to be God. God did not need to use “him, Jesus”, to make any worlds; God is sufficient without Jesus as an intermediary. Heir of God, means God either died or will soon die, to pass his inheritance to this new man-god, a Jesus. In Genesis Chap 1, WE are the “image of his person” & his son (or daughter), not only Jesus (Jesus agrees with his words “OUR Father”). The phrase “He had by Himself” means God could do it in His own power and Jesus was absolutely unnecessary, except in some pagan, non-Hebrew based religion.

  3. June
    I am not sure what you are saying – but if you think that the reason Rabbi Cohen and myself keep on responding to Shapira is because WE feel abused – then you are deeply mistaken. In our community (where schoolchildren can rad the original sources from which Shapira is quoting) Shapira is a someone to be pitied – the reason we respond to him is because he is misleading others in the name of “Judaism” – and we feel the responsibility to set the record straight. Imagine if someone would use your name or the name of your congregation to promote a belief that is antithetical to what you actually believe. Wouldn’t you feel the responsibility to set the record straight?
    https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2011/05/30/for-the-record/

    • Annelise says:

      I think June is trying to say that her faith is not a gentile one, nor is it the cause for why gentiles have persecuted Jews, nor is it any different from what is in Tanach. She thinks that you and Rabbi Eli do love Hashem in your hearts but that you have been tricked by the Jewish aversion for the gentile mindset mixed in with most ‘Christianity’, but she thinks it was originally a Jewish faith and the message from God to Jews in particular.

      The reason my she felt the need to say this is mostly because you are expressing the heart of your parents, and their parents, and their parents, and so on, regarding what the ‘Jewish feeling’ is regarding worshiping any finite form, or the earth, or anything in the earth. That is like telling her that what she is doing is un-Jewish, so she wanted to say that just because you, your parents, their parents *feel* something to be true about God or the world that doesn’t mean she and her family are betraying their Jewish heritage…

      That’s just how I see it.

      • Annelise says:

        But more than that, she believes it is impossible to seek God fully, sincerely, courageously, openly, and lovingly, without coming to the conclusion that the New Testament is true and the movement of Yeshua’s followers is true. She really wants to help you to see what she feels has been a blessing in her life of closeness to God, which she thinks cannot be experienced by someone who is too closed to Him to ‘recognise’ J as if he was God.

        • Annelise says:

          In other words, it’s not just you and your family who think it is precious to feel Jewish. June and her family feel Jewish too, they have the Jewish heritage and history behind them too, and they think you are trying to say that isn’t there for them…

          • Dina says:

            Hi Annelise.

            It seems to me that Rabbi Blumenthal responded reasonably to the substance of June’s words and not to what she might have felt about what she wrote and the possible reason for why she may have felt that way.

            It might be appropriate for a psychotherapist to try to figure out his client’s feelings. But in a debate where the goal is seeking the highest truth, such an exercise is pointless, irrelevant, and a waste of time. June’s feelings about her conclusions are anybody’s guess and nobody’s business unless she chooses to divulge.

            You might be right on target or completely off base, but why bother?

          • Annelise says:

            Dina,

            June is my friend, I’ve met her in person and she is friends with my mum. This is no debate to me. Moreover, the responses she is giving to Rabbi Yisroel are clearly feelings of the heart rather than responses to any points he has written. I wasn’t trying to enlighten Rabbi Yisroel regarding anything he doesn’t know, but only to allow him the chance to expand on what I wrote and respond to the issue at the heart.

          • Annelise says:

            PS I wasn’t actually pretending to know what June feels, but I decided to write presumptuously so as to bring the heart to light of the constant comments like this… she can accept or reject my assumptions but I wanted to open up conversation about this issue of following Yeshua feeling Jewish to her rather than goyish and how she often tries to make her friends who are rabbis see the same way.

          • Dina says:

            Thanks for clarifying, Annelise, that makes a lot of sense!

        • Thanks for bringing reason into this discussion. The truth is, that this is not at all about Itzhak Shapira at all, but about “that man” whom so many Jews blindly despise from their mother’s milk, as the Arabs despise the Jews “from their mother’s milk”! Such would have us believe the fallacy that there has only been ONE Judaism, and that it is THEIR BRAND! One need not be fluent in Hebrew to see this blatant prejudice! They would have us believe that all Messianics are Hypocritical and that all true Jews believe the same thing in the realm of Judaism! They know this is a blatant lie, but refuse to admit it. To them, all Jews are still Jews, whether they be atheist, agnostic, Chassidic, Orthodox or Reformed- EXCEPT for those Jews who believe that Yeshua is the Messiah!!! These are those whom they EXCOMMUNICATE from being Jews, except for one problem- God has not rejected them as true Jews! It is THESE anti-missionaries who are truly the ones who are trying to destroy “the life of one Jew” and thus destroy the whole nation- BUT THEY ARE TOO BLIND TO SEE IT! If true Judaism consists only of rejecting YESHUA, the only True Jew that ever kept Torah from beginning to end, then His blood is on their hands whether they like it or not, and they will one day give account to the Judge of all the earth for their war against the greatest Israeli Who ever lived!
          As Albert Einstein said: “As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene . . . . No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life. Jesus is too colossal for the pen of phrase-mongers, however artful. No man can dispose of Christianity with a bon mot.”
          — Quote taken from “What Life Means to Einstein,” The Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929. Einstein was a physicist and professor at Princeton University. He lived from 1879-1955.

          • If Yeshua was not the true Messiah, and all the mighty works He did were not what was expected, then whoever the real one is would have to be a let-down!
            “But many from the crowds trusted in him and they were saying,
            “When The Messiah comes, will he do more miracles than these which This One has done?” (Yochanan 7:31)

          • Dina says:

            Jesus is small potatoes compared to Moses (if he even did what Christian scripture says he did, which I have no reason to believe). He also didn’t do anything that Elijah and Elisha already did. So, yeah, he fails to impress.

          • Jim says:

            Mr. Ashmore,

            I don’t follow the logic. When the Messiah comes, and there is an era of world peace and universal knowledge of God, this will be so much more than loaves and fishes. Who could be disappointed with that?

            Jim

          • Dina says:

            Jim, of course you don’t follow the logic.That’s because what is expressed here is emotion, not logic.

          • Dina says:

            James:

            Your Christian message of love is not inclusive. You left out all the Jews who were fed formula as babies. Now, that’s not fair. Instead of writing, “so many Jews blindly despise from their mother’s milk,” you should have written, “so many Jews blindly despise from their mother’s milk or from their formula.” Of course, that doesn’t have quite the same zing, but at least you’re not offending anyone by leaving them out. After all, I’m sure you would lovingly and kindly consider Jews who were formula-fed as babies every bit as spiritually blind as those who were breastfed.

            And we all want a share of such love, don’t you know.

            So long,
            Dina

  4. Annelise
    Feeling Jewish is one thing. But claiming to have Jewish heritage and history behind them is quite another. the only way this could be done is by closing one’s ears to the testimony of Israel for the past 2000 years. The very people through whom God bequeathed the name “Jew” to us testified with their very lives that the devotion that Shapira and June are promoting is the antithesis of what it means to be chosen as a witness nation before God.

    • Annelise says:

      Yes, I believe you.

      The question for people like June, then, is whether those ancestors of hers and yours have given their lives and their deaths to testify against a goyish Jesus, but sadly been unaware of the real Yeshua… or whether they, as the chosen nation who recognised prophets and were clinging to the path of Torah, were able to recognise the ‘mystery’ for a sham because they knew their God and would not be taken in.

      If it’s the second option then how can June and her family understand the fact that they were deceived into thinking Yeshua is acceptable, when they also are children of Israel and were seeking God Himself about the question? I believe that the answer involves a few things, but in the end it will include humility about being able to listen to the testimony of the righteous people of the Jewish nation who passed this relationship with God down, generation by generation, to the present generation… and to be sensitive to WHY these things mattered so much to them. It was not just because people were abusing them or because gentile Christians made statues. There was a deeper reason why people who kept their hands on the pulse of their nation said no to Yeshua through history, and at any cost.

      And they are amazing people… there are no words really for the thankfulness we owe them.

      • Annelise says:

        We should be willing to stand alone as the only ones who hold to our values, if necessary. But sometimes, listening to the feelings, intuitions, and reasons not only of our own selves but of trustworthy and honest people who have a reason to know what they’re talking about (in this case, they are called a witness nation and are following what they were commanded in Torah), is extremely important and not something to close ears and eyes and hearts against. In front of God, that is. I am learning about this too.

        • Annelise says:

          I mean, I’m learning about taking seriously this group of people in a measure of trustworthiness for their understanding.

          • Dina says:

            I disagree with you, Annelise, about listening to anyone’s feelings and intuitions about such an important question of whom to worship. Reasons, yes. Feelings, no.

            I do have deep feelings and intuitions, as well as powerful spiritual and emotional experiences, but I don’t expect to win anyone over because of them–just like I don’t listen to anyone who is trying to persuade if they can’t present a powerful argument but instead talk about their feelings.

            The only way I can see for people like June–and I don’t know her at all–is to set aside their feelings and examine the evidence with as much reason and logic as they can muster, asking God all the while for His guidance.

            If you sincerely seek the truth–not look for evidence for what you would like to believe but really want to find the truth–then you will find it. In other words, June could ask herself the question I ask myself when I’m confused: What does God want from me, and not what do I want?

            “Hashem is close to those who call out to him, to all who call to him sincerely.”

            June is alive today only because of the sacrifices her ancestors made to cling to Judaism. I pray that she find her way back.

          • Annelise says:

            Dina I agree with you. The feelings are an important part of the testimony held by this nation, feelings that according to Judaism are established by the experience you have with God and the sensitivity imprinted on you by your community and by the keeping of mitzvos and reliving testimonial signs. But those feelings mean nothing until we accept them to be trustworthy in the first place, and for that, with hearts open to Hashem, we have to use the minds He has given us to serve Him in only-truth with. Otherwise, feelings drag us here and there depending on what else our heart desires to be close to. May He help us tell the difference.

          • LarryB says:

            Dina
            I would like to ask a question. One of the things I keep hearing is its not what you believe it’s what you do. So, in light of that, does it matter if you think J is g-d or not? So, no matter what your belief system, Mormon, Christian, original Christian, Jehovah’s Witness, if a person try’s to be holy and moral and does what “they” think and their understanding tells them, is the right thing to do, and except for their belief in who g-d actually is, is that not sufficient? I hate this question because as Jim would say its a distraction. But in light of annelise questions ……..

          • Dina says:

            Larry, are you asking whether your faith matters, as long as you do the right thing, or if you’re okay as long as you think you’re doing the right thing?

            I’ll answer both questions, but if you’re asking something else, please clarify and let me know.

            Yes, faith matters. One who believes in the divinity of an entity other than God is committing the sin of idolatry. Nevertheless, Judaism holds that God judges people according to their circumstances and their abilities, so if someone sincerely believes he is doing the right thing and strives for goodness, then God will surely take that into account.

            This is a very important question and not a distraction at all. Does this help?

            Best,
            Dina

          • LarryB says:

            Dina
            Yes this helps greatly. If I hear you correctly?
            Thank you so much for taking the time.
            “Larry, are you asking whether your faith matters, as long as you do the right thing, or if you’re okay as long as you think you’re doing the right thing?”
            I guess that is the question. Thank you.
            “One who believes in the divinity of an entity other than God is committing the sin of idolatry. Nevertheless, Judaism holds that God judges people according to their circumstances and their abilities, so if someone sincerely believes he is doing the right thing and strives for goodness, then God will surely take that into account. so if someone sincerely believes he is doing the right thing and strives for goodness, then God will surely take that into account.”
            SO,as far as Junez is concerned
            Since she believes what she believes is correct, then who ever she claims is g-d and beliefs so, then it’s ok, because that s her belief. Again, it’s a distraction to me but I have to ask……..

          • Dina says:

            Again, I don’t think it’s a distraction but an important question. I can’t answer that, though, because only God knows what is in people’s hearts and He judges accordingly.

            I will say this, though–not about June but about Messianic Jews in general: In days of yore, the prophets exhorted the people to turn away from idolatry and back to worshiping only the one true God of Israel. And the Jews who ignored the prophets did so at their peril. Alas, today we do not have prophets. But we do have Jews loyal to Hashem and His Torah who reach out to those who have fallen into the snare of idol worship and implore them to come back.

            Many Messianic Jews are hearing these messages. How intellectually honest they are about evaluating the messages and then rejecting them is not for me to know, but it’s hard to make a good case for those to whom strong evidence is presented that they are committing the greatest sin against God.

            I imagine the following scenario after a Messianic Jew dies and has to face God:

            Messianic Jew: Honest, I didn’t know I was doing wrong, God! I thought I was worshiping only You!
            God: Why didn’t you listen to Rabbi Blumenthal, hmm?
            [Messianic Jew hangs his head.]

            Does this make sense?

          • Annelise says:

            Hi Larry,

            When Orthodox Jews say that it’s about what you do rather than what you believe, they mean it only in a very specific way. They say this *in response* to the way they perceive Christians as promising that if you just ‘believe in J’ you will have assurance of salvation from judgment. The Jewish response is that tshuvah doesn’t require belief in anyone… it actually requires a person to return to the path of obedience.

            I think the way they are expressing it is a bit of a simplification or false dichotomy… because of course belief in God, belief in Torah, and belief in God’s forgiveness all have to precede the action of returning to righteousness. And if you believe in idolatry then then is what the action of your heart will be. So beliefs definitely matter for obedience.

            Incidentally, the early apostles (and many Christians following them to this day) believed the same thing about faith and obedience, that they have to go together. Look at the book of James in particular. But they also think that you have to ‘believe in Jesus’ for forgiveness before you can even try to repent with your actions, and that is the thing that people are trying to go against when they use these words. You get the picture. Despite the words they use, they’re just trying to say that when you already believe in Torah, the way to return to God and find righteousness is not to ‘believe in someone’ but just to ask forgiveness and start doing what is holy again.

          • Annelise says:

            I just saw the comment that you posted a minute before I sent my comment through below it 🙂

            In one sense you are right because Christians are doing what they think is right… and it is better to do the wrong thing for the right reason than the right thing for the wrong reason IMO…

            But nonetheless, we have a responsibility to be careful to a certain degree before the fact. And there is real spiritual damage from idolatry.

          • Annelise says:

            In other words, yes is it a massive problem to believe and do the wrong things even for the supposedly right reasons… I didn’t want to downplay that… I was just saying that it is worse to somehow do the right thing for reasons of trying to rebel against or ignore God, for selfishness, etc.

          • LarryB says:

            Dina
            Thank you, and is it the same for those of who are not Jewish? We have no covenant yet we wish to please g-d.

          • Dina says:

            Yes, of course! First, you do belong to a covenant with God, the covenant God forged with Noah for all of mankind. Second, the Jews do not have a monopoly on God. He is the Creator of us all.

      • Yedidiah says:

        As one raised Christian, I see things differently. If I had been born into a different tradition (I.e., Jewish), I would hope that I would remain in that tradition and not reject it for one with a “hollow inheritance”, meaning I would not accept a “goyish Yeshua”. I see that the Yeshua that some people talk about is 99 point something percent “goyish Jesus” or vice versa, only some Hebrew names and words are used instead of traditional English ones. Of course, I know that there are some cultish type believers who reject large parts of the NT, yet their “Jewish Yeshua” that is left over from the NT is still “100% goyish Jesus” and only by much speculation are they able to distance their brand of Yeshua from the Yeshua that most people speak of. Yeshua is often a term used to supposedly get to the “real” “goyish Jewish messiah” instead of the real “goyish Jewish messiah” of Christians.

        Idolatry is not just an attempt to get closer to God by using human made objects, like a gold calf or a carved piece of wood, but an attempt to get closer to God by revering physical objects, like the sun or a man (or the remembrance of a man who supposedly was the “incarnation of God” or the “creation of the Creator”). I was in church 2 days ago and found that my recent tactic of saying God instead of Jesus or Yeshua did not work too well. The pastor kept going too often to Yeshua or Jesus as a god “come to earth to live as a man so that God could know how people felt” and so that “God could have a relationship with people”. A relationship based on people’s ways and means or on human terms, rather than on His own terms or His original plan (which is deficient according to the NT). If Jesus (aka Yeshua) wound up being the “way” for some people to get closer to God (the goal of the way, supposedly), they can give up the way once they got to the goal. You can replace Jesus with God in many places (meaning Jesus or Yeshua is totally unnecessary), and when you can’t, then you are at least very close to idolatry, even if one is not actually conscious of practicing idolatry. Two thousand and more years ago, some or even many Jews could revere and worship the ba’alim or men (such as Antiochus Epiphanes or Herod or his grandson and bring daily offerings to their Caesar), but that was and is and will not be the “way” to get closer to the God of Israel. Yeshua-Jesus was a help for some (but that was in the past), but Yeshua was/is a stumbling block to more, and at the least, a distraction from God when the focus is on not-God.

  5. Dina and Annelise
    It is important to listen to the feelings of others not to find truth (because truth is not found in feelings) but in order to be able to spread truth (because it is usually feelings that are blocking the spread of truth). Listening to the feelings of others helps us identify the obstacles that stand in the way of the spreading of truth.
    If your (Annelise’s) analysis of June is correct than what is happening here is a projection. Just as June identifies her god through her feelings – so does she think that Israel identifies or refuses to identify its God through feelings. What June needs to realize that it is not a matter of feelings to begin with – it is a matter of seeing the truth with clarity – as God grants us to see that truth.

    • Dina says:

      Yes, I see how that’s important, thanks. And then it’s important also to identify when feelings are informing the thought process rather than the other way around, isn’t it?

      • Annelise says:

        How can we avoid replacing true, simple faith and heart relationship with the proud mistake of leaning on our own understanding, if we take this path?

        • Dina says:

          The way I understand it is that first we use our reason, then our feelings follow. Scripture supports this:

          “You shall know today and place it in your hearts”: First we need to know (knowledge is intellectual); then we need to feel it (the heart is the seat of emotions).

          Also, “Do not stray after your hearts.”

          God granted us the ability to reason for a reason :).

          • Annelise says:

            And yet our thoughts are not infallible!

            What do you make of the ‘simple Jews’ who decided to just close their ears to a lot of conversations about scientific, philosophical, etc. theories and simply keep clinging to God, saying Tehilim, and hoping for the re-establishment of David’s kingdom… Because their hearts felt this is faithfulness even though their thoughts couldn’t articulate why?

          • Dina says:

            This is true, so we do the best we can.

            There’s nothing wrong with closing your ears to science; you’re not hurting anybody. There’s nothing wrong with listening to science, either. I don’t see science as contradicting Torah (when it appears to, it’s not hard science but unproven theories). So one way or another, what difference does it make?

          • Annelise says:

            Some people have claimed there is evidence that Judaism is not truth or light. That is a serious thing if true, but I don’t think every faithful Jew has fully looked into whether those claims should be ignorable. They know in their hearts that the faithfulness to God in Judaism could not possibly be exchanged for anything else; the fire of Yiddishkeit is too bright, too impossible to tear away from at all. Likewise, not every Jew who ignores the ideas of other religions knows why they are rejecting certain points.

          • Annelise says:

            I really think that for many Jews it has been for them a heart-faithfulness, a gut feeling, in inexpressible experience.

          • Dina says:

            I can’t dispute that, and yet I don’t think that Hashem wants our mindless obedience, either. It’s a good question.

          • LarryB says:

            Dina
            Twice now you have confused me. 2. ” mindless obedience”? If a person did the right thing for the mis understood reason, does it matter? Does it not still make the world a better place? I only ask for clarity, nothing else.

          • Dina says:

            I’m still not sure what you’re asking, but the question was, do we follow our feelings or follow our intellect?

            Obviously, if you do the right thing even for the wrong reasons, that’s still a good thing. But if you are seeking the truth, it’s important to put aside your emotions and focus on reason. I do think God gave us the ability to reason so we could accept Him and His Torah using our free will, not out of mindless obedience. But if we decide to not think at all and obey him mindlessly, that would be a lower level of service but service nonetheless.

            Does this answer your question? Not sure I’m making sense, trying to get this out in a hurry because I think my baby will wake up any second demanding food :)!

          • Annelise says:

            I agree with what you wrote to me here, Dina. I think intellect is one very important tools, among a few such other tools, in obedience.

            To Larry, I think I replied to this point in your other comment above, just now. To add to it a bit, I feel that wise and right actions do have good fruit even if they are done without the person realising what they’re doing… they do make the world a better place. But if a person does the right thing when they *know* it is the right thing, that is far better because it means that is was an act of obedience, of love, and of putting God’s desires before their own. That is much more blessed.

            The moral of the story? Search out what His ways are……

          • Dina says:

            I agree!

          • LarryB says:

            Dina
            Lets go at it again tomorrow or the next day, I have company and it very distracting.
            Thank you , so very much for helping even with you having a new baby.

  6. Jos says:

    Rabbi Blumenthal,

    Do you say that one who believes in a divine Messiah cut himself off of the covenant community, that is, he is not Jewish anymore, and outside the covenant? Why are you saying that? There are many different beliefs within even Orthodox Judaism. Does it only turn down to the believe in that one man Yeshua that one is expected to be cut off? This can’t be true, can it? I rather think that one who doesn’t observe the sabbath is to be regarded as cut off from the covenant. I think I don’t get this what you’re saying.

    Jos

    • Jos
      The punishment of being “cut off” from the community is applied by Scripture to many sins – including violation of the Sabbath as you correctly point out. But it is the sin of deifying an entity other than the God with whom we stand in a covenantal relationship that is the most direct violation of that covenant. This could be compared to a marriage relationship. Going against the express wishes of one’s spouse is serious sin against the marriage – but the most direct violation of the marriage covenant is entering into a marriage-like relationship with someone other than your spouse.

      • Jos
        One more thing. We don’t “pick on Jesus” – deifying anyone or anything aside from the God with whom we share our covenantal relationship is seen as the deepest violation of that covenantal relationship.

      • Jos says:

        Thank you Rabbi for your answer. Got it. But the accusation you gave to the one who deifies another one than God, does not apply when he believes that it is the One God what he is worshipping, while he is worshipping a divine Messiah at the same time because he sees it as the only true God, as a form of the manifestation of the unity of God. So, if one think that he honestly worships the One God (because he thinks that the Messiah is divine) and deviate from the common contemporary opinion of the Rabbi’s, does he himself then “effectively cut him or herself off from the covenant”? This question still remains by me. And also this is precisely the point what Shapira raises up, that the majority not always has it right. Kaleb and Joshua differed from the majority. But the main question is: can one “effectively cut him or herself off from the covenant” on his own action?

        Jos

        • Jos
          What do you mean he “believes” that the object of his worship is “one and the same” as the God of Israel?
          Lets slice it up. We have a few ingredients here. We have 1) the Creator of heaven and earth, 2) we have the fellow who is directing his devotion, 3) we have the devotion, 4) we have a person toward whom the devotion is being directed and 5) we have a belief that the person and God are one and the same.
          Ingredient #5 is only possible if one doesn’t understand the words “one and the same” or if one rejects Israel’s testimony about the God of Israel – that He is the One Creator of ALL – including the object of devotion.
          Perhaps this little parable can help you understand my point – https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/incarnation-and-definition-of-marriage/
          And this may also help
          https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/foundation-of-worship-iii/

          • Annelise says:

            That’s a good way of putting it.

            I think that the idea of a child born in captivity, who isn’t fully responsible for not following something they have never been taught, can apply in the case of both Jews and gentiles who fall into false forms of worship while sincerely seeking God. He knows the heart and if they are calling out to Him… that doesn’t stop all the damage… but He certainly hears and responds.

            That said, there is a huge responsibility to be careful. Take keeping kosher as an example. If a Jew chas v’shalom ate something that wasn’t kosher without knowing it, I think that it would still affect them and, when they found out about it, they would still need to atone for it. But there is a massive difference between the Jew who is really careful to not allow anything unkosher into his or her body in the first place, and on the other hand, someone who was lazy and really not careful at all. There is a certain standard of carefulness-beforehand that is implied in “doing our best” for God, and the person who is not careful or who ignores warnings has no excuse…

          • Jos says:

            Thanks again for giving your time to me. I read your articles. Ingredient #5 is very difficult to grasp. And Just because this is difficult, one can deviate here from truth. OK, let that be the case, but when he is honestly worshipping the only One God and Creater of all, with whole his heart and soul and with the highest devotion he can give, (and with the conviction that the Messiah is a Divine existence as one of the Creater’s manifestations to mankind) then, does he himself “effectively cut him or herself off from the covenant”? Can you give an answer to this covenant question with this given situation?

            Jos

          • Jos says:

            @Annelise: Thank you for your kind words. I understand.

  7. Friend, I am responding to this excerpt of what you said:
    “The belief in a divine Messiah… is a rejection of the very heart of our covenant with God. No teacher in Israel ever proposed such a belief and anyone who does propose such a belief has effectively cut him or herself off from the covenant community that is loyal to the God of Israel.”

    I am sorry, Friend, but that is erroneous. Not only is the concept of a divine Messiah clear in Scripture itself, but according to the most ancient rabbinical records — the Talmud — such association was clear as well.

    I do not usually like to veer into topics of what is said in anything other than the Tanakh itself (because doing so, whether to discuss the Christian New Testament, the Talmud (oral traditions), or anything else generally becomes not only long but also argumentative and unproductive — whereas all generally do at least agree on the Tanakh as a base), but today I will discuss the Talmud. Probably only today, but I will do so today because I think it is crucial in pointing out that indeed not only is it false to say that “no teacher in Israel ever proposed such a belief” but also that in fact some of the most respected rabbis in Israel did indeed suggest exactly that. I also provide a link to the section of the Talmud that I quote so that you can read it for yourself, in its context.

    To back up, first, from Chabad.org:
    And you, Bethlehem Ephrathah: whence David emanated, as it is stated (I Sam. 17:58): “The son of your bondsman, Jesse the Bethlehemite.” And Bethlehem is called Ephrath, as it is said (Gen. 48:7): “On the road to Ephrath, that is Bethlehem.”
    you should have been the lowest of the clans of Judah: You should have been the lowest of the clans of Judah because of the stigma of Ruth the Moabitess in you.
    from you shall emerge for Me: the Messiah, son of David, and so Scripture says (Ps. 118:22): “The stone the builders had rejected became a cornerstone.”
    and his origin is from of old: “Before the sun his name is Yinnon” (Ps. 72:17)
    (copied and pasted from Rabbi Rashi’s (1050–1105) commentary on Chabad.org: http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16191#showrashi=true)

    Now, to the Talmud. I will be brief, rather than pointing out the many sections that clearly associate Messiah with the LORD G-d Himself. Here is one:
    Sanhedrin 98:
    “R. Johanan also said: The son of David will come only in a generation that is either altogether righteous or altogether wicked. ‘in a generation that is altogether righteous,’ — as it is written, Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever. ‘Or altogether wicked,’ — as it is written, And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; and it is [elsewhere] written, For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it” (http://www.halakhah.com/sanhedrin/sanhedrin_98.html).

    *Note that the second verse the rabbi quoted in CLEARLY referring to Messiah, the son of David, is Isaiah 59:16, which everyone can clearly see is a direct reference to G-d Himself. It (and the clause before it) reads as follows: “and the LORD saw and was displeased for there is no justice. 16. And He saw that there was no man, and He was astounded for there was no intercessor…”
    So this rabbi did indeed associate this passage (Isaiah 59:15-16), which referred to the LORD Himself seeing that there was no man, no intercessor, as being one and the same with referencing Messiah, son of David, because he (the rabbi) just finished saying that the son of David may come in a generation that was “altogether wicked” and then referenced that verse.

    Also – just briefly (and again, there are many similar sections in the Talmud) – note this one:
    Babylonian Talmud Sukkah 52a:
    ”It’s well according to him who explains that the cause (of the mourning) is the slaying of the Messiah the son of Joseph, since that well agrees with the Scripture verse: ‘And they shall look upon me, whom they have pierced; and shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son’” (http://www.halakhah.com/pdf/moed/Sukkah.pdf).
    I copied and pasted this from the Talmud exactly.
    *This rabbi clearly associated Zechariah 12:10 with Messiah being slain, in a passage that, just a few verses earlier, says, “The LORD will… the LORD will…” (verses 7 and 8) and then “I will… I will…” in verses 9 and 10.

    These are only a couple of the many quotes from the Talmud that directly connect the Messiah’s return with the Salvation of the LORD G-d Himself. (I could provide many more, but I do not wish to take up immense space on your blog.)

    More important than what is said in the Talmud, however (only the words of man), is what the Tanakh itself (the Word of G-d) says:
    “The word of the LORD came to me: O mortal, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel…
    Ah, you shepherds of Israel, who have been tending yourselves!…I am going to deal with the shepherds! I Myself will graze my flock, and I Myself will let them lie down—declares the LORD GOD…” (Ezekiel 34:1–16, abridged, JPS Tanakh).

    And in Isaiah:
    Isaiah 40:10-11 “Behold the Lord God shall come with a strong [hand], and His arm rules for Him; behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense is before Him. Like a shepherd [who] tends his flock, with his arm he gathers lambs, and in his bosom he carries [them], the nursing ones he leads.”

    And Micah 7:14 says, “Oh, shepherd Your people with Your staff, Your very own flock…”

    And yet, as we both know, this role (Israel’s Shepherd) is also clearly stated, over and over in the Tanakh as that of Messiah:
    Ezekiel 34:23-24 “And I shall put up over them one shepherd and he will shepherd them, namely My servant David; he will shepherd them…”
    (And many similar references, but I know you are aware of these many verses.)

    Also, both the LORD Himself and Messiah are referred to as Israel’s “only” king (with Scripture clearly saying there will be “one” king):
    Zechariah 14:9 “And the Lord shall become King over all the earth; on that day shall the Lord be one, and His name one” (http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16218).

    Zechariah 14:16 “And it will come to pass that everyone left of the nations who came up against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to prostrate himself to the King, the Lord of Hosts…”

    Isaiah 24:23: “Then the moon shall be ashamed, and the sun shall be abashed, For the LORD of Hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem…”

    In reference to Messiah, son of David:
    Jeremiah 23:5-6: “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will set up of David a righteous shoot, and he shall reign a king and prosper, and he shall perform judgment and righteousness in the land. In his days, Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely, and this is his name that he shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness.”
    (And many similar references to Messiah, son of David, as king forever…but I know you are also aware of these.)

    Psalm 110 also begins by saying, “The LORD said to my lord, “Sit at My right hand…” (verse 1). But then down in verse 5, He says, “The Lord [Adonai] is at YOUR right hand” [emphasis mine].

    May you be richly blessed today, Friend.
    Shalom

    • Annelise says:

      Freedom,

      Is it not possible that God will save Israel by sending a saviour, shepherd her by sending a shepherd, etc.? You quote beautiful verses about how close God’s presence and interaction with His nation will be in doing so, but He is clearly talking about raising up and sendng servants to do that through, as with Moshe.
      Ezekiel 34:23-24 “And I shall put up over them one shepherd and he will shepherd them, namely My servant David; he will shepherd them…”

      • Annelise says:

        That doesn’t cover your quote from Rashi though. I am not a great knower of Rashi but am quite sure that if he believed moshiach was co-eternal with God and was God, you would have more than this obscure line to testify to such an immense belief. He doesn’t even make the same interpretation in his commentary on Psalm 72 itself. As it is, notice that it mentions his *name* being before the sun…this could just as well (I think) imply that God planned out the eternity of David’s lineage at the beginning of His wisdom in creation.m

        • Annelise says:

          Though I think the plainer meaning of his origins being of old is that this throne starts out all the way back with David, the Bethlehemite.

          • Annelise says:

            Also, I don’t know what it accomplished to quote from Sukkah 52a… In fact, the link you gave translates it that they will look to God *because* they have thrust someone through. In that sense, this opinoon adds nothing to the biblical verse…except that this whole page is about the yetzer hara and this verse could also be considered an illumination of that concept.

          • Annelise says:

            In other words, if it could be* either* about a moshiach or about yetzer hara, the verse is clearly not being translated with the sense you rendered it in..!

          • Annelise says:

            One more small thought on Rashi’s commentary, though this will only be meaningful if you’re interested in listening and learning from him as a teacher. I think Targum Yonatan supports what I wrote about why Rashi may have cross-listed to Psalm 72. The Targum says on Micah 5:1, “he whose name was mentioned before, from the days of creation”

    • Freedom
      Thank you for proving my point. You see. Christianity has falsely accused us of setting up a faith system that is different than the faith system of the prophets of Jewish Scripture. But no one ever accused us of setting up a faith system that is different than the Talmud. Ever since the Talmud was formulated our people have studied the book diligently, and we have lived and died according to its teachings.
      Here you come, a Christian with all of the preconceived notions of Christianity – and you see Christianity (i.e. a divine Messiah) in the pages of the Talmud. The physical disciples of those who wrote the Talmud and all of those who live the words of the Talmud never saw this idolatry there. Do you really think that you understand the Talmud more clearly then those who devoted their lives to studying her words? Do you really think that you understand the Talmud more clearly than do the actual students of the people who wrote the Talmud?
      It is obvious to one and all, without refuting every single one of your arguments, that your understanding of the Talmud – no matter how “obvious” it seems to you – is downright wrong.
      You can be sure that your understanding of the Jewish Scriptures is just as wrong
      Thanks again

  8. Jos
    If someone is worshipping the Creator of the world as Creator of the world – then the qualities displayed in a human body will have no part of this person’s worship.
    the feelings that this person has toward the central character of the Christian Scriptures will not be part of this person’s worship.

  9. James
    Our Messiah will not think he is God, he will not preach a new world ordered centered around his own personality. He will point everyone to the One who created all of men – including himself. And he will bring real peace and happiness.

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