Searching for a Word
So Shapira continues with a valiant defense of his book “The Return of the Kosher Pig.” In videos numbers 4 and 5 Shapira takes issue with three points that I raised in my article “Response to Line of Fire #14.”
The first point that Shapira raises is that I accused him of inserting the word “Messiah” into his translation of the Zohar when in actuality it is the word “water” that appears in that text. Shapira defends himself from this charge by stating that in his book he did not commit this crime. But in his radio interview with Dr. Brown he did. You can listen to it right here, you will hear it at the 57 minute mark.
The second argument that Shapira raises against my article relates to his interpretation of the word water in the Zohar. In his book (page 64) Shapira makes the claim that “Water represents the Messiah in Judaism.” I stated that this is false and I stand by that statement. I also stated that Shapira provided no references for his ridiculous assertion and I stand by that statement as well.
Shapira claims that he has provided no less than eight references to support his claim that water is a code word for Messiah in Jewish thought. On the page that he makes this claim (that water = Messiah) he did not bother to provide one reference. Further on in his book he creates some imaginary associations between water and the Messiah and he calls those “references” hence, according to Shapira, my accusation is “false.”
Let me explain what I mean by a “reference.” The rabbis say “water is a reference to Torah” (Bava Kama 17a). The rabbis say that “good is a reference to a righteous person” (Yoma 38b). The rabbis made no such association between water and the Messiah. Shapira’s assertion that “water represents the Messiah in Judaism” has no basis outside of Shapira’s imagination.
The third argument that Shapira brings in his defense is that one of my accusations against him is not relevant to the core of the issue. Without getting into a discussion if he is right or wrong about this particular accusation of mine (and I am more than satisfied to let the audience decide) his argument is empty. If my entire argument would consist of this one accusation (that he used the word “spirit” where he should have used “wind”) then we could have a discussion. But I wrote a comprehensive article demonstrating the emptiness of his entire position. Why does Shapira not tell his audience where they could read the entirety of my article? Is Shapira frightened that the audience might see the truth?
At this point I would like to pause and take stock. What are we discussing? What is this debate all about?
I think that both Jews and Christians can agree that we are dealing with a very serious matter. According to Judaism, devotion to Jesus is the deepest violation of a real relationship with God, while according to Christianity it is rejection of Jesus that carries terrible eternal consequences. This is no laughing matter.
Enter Itzhak Shapira. He is acclaimed by the scholars of Christendom to be a “Jewish insider” with “encyclopedic knowledge” and he is respected as such by crowds of well-meaning people.
But is Itzhak Shapira truly qualified to teach and to guide people in such serious matters?
I have demonstrated that Shapira has difficulty translating a simple verse in Scripture. In his defense he made a video presentation in which he goes ahead and mistranslates two other verses in Scripture. (Read about it here: https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/as-the-sun-spreads-its-wings-2/ .)
So that would make Shapira an ignoramus. But “ignoramus” is not the right word for Shapira. An ignoramus is someone who lacks knowledge. Shapira is much worse than that.
I could not find a word in the English language for someone who earnestly believes that Maimonides, Nachmanides and Abarbenel believed in a divine Messiah. That is like earnestly believing that Winston Churchill was an admirer of Hitler and that Thomas Jefferson believed that democracy is a bad thing. The word “ignoramus” does not begin to describe such a person.
What word do you use to describe a person who brazenly insists that a given Hebrew word must be referring to a singular entity despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, and then this same person goes and translates the same Hebrew word as a reference to a plural entity several times in the same book. Is there a word to describe such a person?
If there is such a word, I haven’t found it. But that is Itzhak Shapira for you.
If you want to entrust your spiritual welfare in the hands of such a person that is your prerogative. But do not say that you were not warned.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
As someone who has studied The Zohar , I have never found water&messiah. I have seen this mans videos and once Kabbalah & Chassidut are mentioned he gets quiet. Just because you are born sabra and you know Hebrew does not mean you are ready to comment on Chazzal , and especially Kabbalah. He will go on amazing the Messianic Piglets and try to make Yeshu kosher,, if it looks like Christianity, writes like a Christian about Judaism,, it is the same gilgul that has made us miserable for 2000 years,, he should go back to the little town he crawled out of. On second thought maybe he is were he should be in the midst of the bible belt with all the rest of the Messianic Piglets hooray for Texas. The only association between water and messiah is that when athiesm floods the whole world then the messiah will come. Then he can sell his kosher pig to the real messiah, but there will be no buyers of that kind of pork 😉
I think the book of Mishley (proverbs) would use the Hebrew words that the translators into English express as “fool”, someone who trusts his own heart, who rejects counsel, who is so devoted to his own opinion that he will scream that the sky is yellow and the sun blue because your eyes told him so. The English word “fool” doesn’t do justice to the connotations of the Hebrew.
All of the above?
I think opportunist is to me the closest, of the ones you wrote.
Not wanting to drag the circus into name-calling or pretending to understand… I would say just ‘daydreaming’.
I mean, in the sense of feeling free to make all kinds of connections, and not feeling there may be reasons not to.
I’m not into name calling, in general, since in my opinion it’s not an effective way to win an argument. But Shapira’s “arguments” are self-refuting, so I don’t need to bother. And since he is attempting to lead my brethren astray into the sin of idolatry, he deserves everything he gets here on this blog and much more. In fact, we are being too kind.
Agreed, it is asked-for and necessary. Yet it remains a great regret and sadness that by placing himself in this position of argument and essentially of being disowned, the road back to learning humbly with Israel has become filled with immense obstacles.
Who in the world has enough humility and decision against defensiveness to be able to accept public criticism at this level, or even to see light and kindness in the community that engages him with such antipathy? I’m not saying there’s a better way.
It’s heartbreaking. But the antipathy is earned. “For indeed those who hate You, O Lord, I hate them, and I quarrel with those who rise up against You. With the utmost hatred I hate them; they have become enemies unto me” (Psalms 139:21-22).
I’m anticipating that you will say that these people love God sincerely, etc., but the Torah says they are committing against Him the greatest possible sin a man can commit against God.
An unfaithful woman might still love her husband, but she should expect to be shunned by his family.
I agree, Dina… it is comparable to a situation where someone tries to twist Chazal to teach Jews that pork is kosher, and is succeeding in convincing people. Their intentions aside.
I do agree that it would take massive courage and humility for Shapira to admit his wrongdoing. Still, I wish he would understand how eagerly he would be embraced and welcomed back into the fold the second he takes one conciliatory step forward. I pray that he does.
Hm… the eager embrace can make it hard for a person to have the space they need to make sure what they’re doing is with integrity… and really, to have the quietness with God to learn a bunch of humility towards Eternal Israel in which they are a part.
And on the other hand, such people find it hard to become just ‘one of us’ in the community.
Are you speaking from personal experience? All the converts I know–and I know quite a few–are very much “one of us,” very much accepted into the community.
And by ‘one of us’ I mean from the perspective of those who are in it.
Are you saying we shouldn’t eagerly embrace those who have the courage to admit their mistakes?
No they should be embraced! I just mean that they would also be very blessed by being mentored in (and seeing examples in peoples lives of) being able to find that place of living before God in a place that isn’t the spotlight, and living amidst Judaism in a place of sharing understanding with others but not assuming to know it all just by oneself.
I think they would be accepted in the same way, but I’m just thinking… it would be hard to be such a vigorously opposed public figure in a community and then be made a public spokesperson for it. I remember hearing Julius Ciss say, I think in a video where he got ridiculous opposition from the Christian audience, that he took at least a year before reluctantly (but passionately) going into counter-missionary work in public. It would be very hard.
I do hear that, but he’s not obligated to go into counter-missionary work. Though I suspect people like Julius Ciss would want to because it gives them a chance to undo what they’ve done as active missionaries. Nevertheless, that’s a private decision that’s between them and Hashem.
True. I was more just explaining what I mean by having a more difficult journey of finding a place as ‘just’ one of the community, etc.
It helps to hear your perspective on these things. I’m very new to knowing this people.
Anyway, anyone else want me to plan their life for them? 🙂
But shoteh isn’t English! Since Shapira defies description in English, it may be time to coin a new word.
We could name the word after him, like diseases that are named after the doctors who discovered them. So calling someone a shapira would mean he is someone who earnestly believes things that aren’t true (like Churchill admires Hitler).
Interesting point Dina.
But when you are dealing with the degree of disconnect between what comes out of his mouth and simple sanity I am left at a complete loss between whether he honestly believes himself or whether he believes that his mission is so holy that it trumps any commitment to integrity. I remain unsure of which it is or whether it is a combination of both.
I see him as a simple opportunist who just doesn’t care. He’s in a niche market “christian Rabbi”. Look how quick he is to anger every time he gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar of ignorance.
“Cookie jar of ignorance”. I like that phrase. Excellent.
Well since it’s that time of year I’d call him one of Satan’s little helpers 🙂
Little imps? LIttle devils? Those are my kids :)!
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This website which I just found is amazing I have been studying dr browns books etc and this website just decimates all of the arguments may God bless all the rabbis that contribute to this website I can honestly say now that Jesus being the messiah is 100 percent false
Same 🙂 blessings, Avraham!
May G-d open your eyes to the true jewish messiah, Yeshua
What kinds of questions would be appropriate for a Torah observant Jew to ask, just to be careful in front of God, before accepting
-a human being who has been worshiped by most of his followers for two thousand years
-someone who has been rejected for that time frame by the only Jewish remnant to continue keeping the Torah observances
-someone who brings nothing to the traditional Jewish love for God and experience of knowing Him
-a man who claimed that if you don’t follow him you can’t be forgiven, even though the messianic promises come with no such warning?
And do you believe that it’s important to be careful? Would could be lost if it were not true, not the real remnant, and we believed it?
Thanks for your kind and caring feeling though.
Fernando, that’s not an argument. Can you support your contention that Jesus is the messiah? Prove it!
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In Christian symbology,lambs, grape juice, wine, blood and bread represent Jesus. Water, fire, wind, doves and oil represent the holy spirit. The tablets of the10 Commandments (abolished though they may be) represent the Father (who also takes a back seat to Jesus).