Innocent Trust

Innocent Trust

The following words are not addressed to Tzahi Shapira. These words are also not directed to those religious leaders who endorsed him and presented him to the public as a scholar. I am writing to those who do not readily have the ability to evaluate the teachings of Shapira but instead rely on the evaluation of their leaders.

Your leaders are making a laughingstock of you.

I have already pointed out (https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/spiritual-responsibility/ ) how Shapira emphatically argues that a particular Hebrew word must be translated in a certain way. He makes this argument against a respected translator of the Bible. We would assume that he did not make this argument lightly. If he is going to discard the work of scholars we would expect that he researched the matter thoroughly and only then did he come to his dramatic conclusion.

But these assumptions would be dead wrong.

Shapira himself translates the same Hebrew word several times in the same book just like the translators whose work he trashed.

This is a man that does not take his own arguments seriously. How then does he expect others to take his words seriously?

In his latest series of videos he continues to display his amazing ineptitude.

In the video entitled Objection 10 ( http://youtu.be/jdlhUfa0CPc ) Shapira attempts to defend himself against my critique of his quotation from the Rosh Hashana prayer (https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/the-school-of-matthew/ ). My critique was limited to one paragraph. In this paragraph I simply stated that the article (authored by professor Yehuda Liebes) that Shapira quotes to support his theology actually refutes it. While Professor Liebes does believe that the prayer is referring to Jesus (a conclusion that I reject), he makes it clear that the authors of the prayer did not believe that Jesus was divine.

In his lengthy video response Shapira tells his audience that he is responding to my critique but he does not share my argument with the audience. Throughout the video Shapira fails to address my argument. Furthermore, Shapira does not tell his audience where they can read my argument. If this is not a mockery of the trust that the audience has placed in him then what is?

In the video entitled Objection 11 (http://youtu.be/0K74ocNR8Iw )  Shapira continues to mock the intelligence of his audience. He argues that the Hebrew word “echad” means a “compound unity” because it is derived from the Hebrew word “achdut.” That is as ridiculous as saying that the English word “unit” is derived from the English word “united” and must therefore mean an entity that is part of a political alliance. Or that perhaps the word “unit” must be associated with the airline that goes by the name “United.”

This is the “scholarship” that the leaders of Christendom are comfortable to pass on to those who trust them.

The Hebrew word “echad” simply means “one” and the Hebrew word “yachid” means an “only one.” Both of these words can refer to either absolute or compound unities. There is nothing inherent in the definition of the words that limit their usage to absolute or to compound unities.

Shapira goes on to misquote a midrash (a book of rabbinic homiletical teachings) in a manner that would embarrass a schoolchild. The midrash contrasts God’s humility over and against the haughtiness of human kings. The midrash tells us that a king of flesh and blood would not allow another to use his name, but God allowed Moses to use his name (Exodus 7:1). The midrash continues by telling us how a king of flesh and blood would not allow another to wear his garment but God allows Israel to wear His garment. A king of flesh and blood would not allow another to sit on his throne but God allowed Solomon to sit on His throne (1Chronicles 29:23). In this context we read that a king of flesh and blood would not allow another to wear his crown but God will place His crown on the head of the Messiah.

Shapira completely misunderstood the entire thrust of the midrash and he isolated the passage about the Messiah. Shapira presents the opening phrase of the sentence as if it said that God would not allow a king of flesh and blood to wear His crown. Based on this nonsensical mistranslation, Shapira concludes that the point of the midrash is that the Messiah is not a king of flesh and blood.

Is there no limit to the absurd?

At no point does Shapira tell his audience where they could study my critique of his work. Trusting that his audience will not discover my blog, Shapira tells his audience that I ignore his misquotation of a particular passage in the Zohar (a book of rabbinic mysticism). The fact of the matter is that I dedicated an article to that passage in the Zohar, but Shapira expects his audience to take his word as gospel truth https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/context-and-kabbalah/ .

In the video entitled Objection 12 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4fKQn_RyXM ) Shapira goes on to demonstrate his ignorance of Jewish literature starting with the biblical book of Psalms. At the 6:30 mark Shapira formulates his own version of a verse from the Psalms. He obviously forgot the words but he had no hesitation filling them in from his faulty memory relying on the trust that his audience places in his scholarly supporters to get away with this foolishness. Where is Shapira’s respect for the Scriptures? Does his attitude toward this book not demand that he take the pains to quote the text with accuracy? Where is his respect for the audience?

Shapira tells his audience that all Hassidic Jews believe in the “compound unity” of God. He bases this incredible accusation on the fact that Hassidic Jews accept the kabalistic terms of “sefirot” as they relate to God’s interaction with the world.

The Hassidic thinkers as well as many Kabbalists that preceded the Hassidic movement directly addressed Shapira’s accusation. They clearly explained that the “sefirot” do not describe God’s essence in any way and that God is absolutely one. These Jews who are steadfast in their loyalty to the covenant that our nation shared with God taught that the “sefirot” represent different lenses through which God interacts with the world but in no way do they define or describe God’s essence.

Shapira ignores the direct words of these authors and he ascribes his own idolatry to the teachers of Judaism. He concocts an imaginary interpretation of some of the terms of Jewish mysticism and he presents it to his audience as “Judaism.” There is no need to refute his malarkey because it has no basis outside of his own imagination.

In this same video Shapira goes on to misquote and mistranslate a passage from the midrash (Otiyot d’Rabbi Akiva 13). Shapira presents a document that speaks of the “triangular” nature of God. He tells his audience that the midrash says that all of the oneness of God is in three. I searched through many editions of the midrash that Shapira had quoted and not one of them had the sentence formulated in the way Shapira presents it. The midrash simply points to a pattern of praise that is offered to God in triplicate and to triplicate pattern found in the mentioning of God’s name. The midrash says nothing about God’s essence nor does it say anything about triangles. The Hebrew word for triplicate is sometimes used to describe a triangle but in the context of this midrash the meaning of the word is clearly “triplicate” and not “triangle.”

Since the publication of Shapira’s book, the Jewish community has taken the trouble to lay out in writing why it is that his book deserves no consideration. One of the criticisms directed at Shapira’s book is that he manufactures quotations out of thin air. If these accusations were false they would be the easiest to refute. All that Shapira would need to do is to provide the references for his quotations. In the twelve videos that Shapira has released in response to the Jewish critique of his writing he failed to provide a single reference for the quotations that he was accused of fabricating. Instead of correcting the errors that fill his book Shapira devotes these video responses to the perpetration of new mistakes.

What else does Shapira need to do in order to prove to you that his teachings are not rooted in truth?

Some of those who endorsed Shapira’s book are capable of seeing through the thin veneer of his audacity. These leaders were presented with detailed critiques of Shapira’s work yet not one of them has so much as said a word of warning to those audiences who trust in their endorsement of Shapira and his book. This incredible display of spiritual irresponsibility makes a mockery of the trust that their followers have placed in them. Moses foresaw this abuse of innocent trust when he wrote Deuteronomy 27:18.

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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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34 Responses to Innocent Trust

  1. I have one question for you, you wrote “In this same video Shapira goes on to misquote and mistranslate a passage from the midrash (Otiyot d’Rabbi Akiva 13)…..” , you continue to state that you could not find it and then you wrote ” searched through many editions of the midrash that Shapira had quoted and not one of them had the sentence formulated in the way Shapira presents it. ” , what if I can prove to you that the version that I quoted is accurate, are you willing to take back your statements?

    • Annelise says:

      Of course he is willing to take back any statement that can be proven to miss something. What are your thoughts on it, then?

      • Annelise says:

        Itzhak also, if you could see that non-Christian, observant Jews have as close a relationship to God as you have, and that Tanach doesn’t cause them to accept Yeshua, would you take back all your statements?

    • nic says:

      This is what I mean. Answer the questions that are presented in the article. Why would you respond if you negglect to address? Anyone can see how faulty this is. You state ridiculous claims, then when you get called out, you dance around it or whine. What a joke.

    • Dina says:

      Shapira, why don’t you just prove it? Just cite the source. That’s all you have to do. So simple!

      You don’t even need to accompany it with explanations, so this should take you no time.

    • Tzahi
      I found your version – it is found in a lone manuscript – as far as I can see not one printed edition contains your version. It is dishonest of you to present this lone version to your audience without qualifying your quote – but I learned not to expect anything from you in the sense of honesty.
      In any case – even according to this lone version of the text – your interpretation doesn’t hold out.
      Now – I have no problem admitting mistakes – and I will do so now – When I wrote the article there was a remote version of the text that I was not aware of. This does not affect any of my arguments.
      Is there any other statement that you want me to take back or do you agree to everything else I said?

      • So if I can show you one of the highest authorities on Kaballah experts who quoted it in support of the compound nature of HaShem and The idea of Triunity within Judaism and Zohar is he dishonest too? (Professor Liebes) How does it not impact your argument? OF COURSE IT DOES. BTW, I will answer your other points in upcoming videos.

        Please tell me specifically:

        1. Why was this not removed from your article if you admit your mistake?
        2. Where is the misquotation?
        3. Where is my mistranslation?

        I have made a few mistakes in the books, but I went forward to correct them all. We all can make mistakes.. Yet you are not willing to do it to your own articles. You claim that it does not “impact your argument” , but it clearly does. Why is it that when I make a mistake as you claim you scream “lack of scholarship”, but when you make a mistake (and you made many) it is “Business as usual”? I can give you several more examples.

        Here is what you wrote btw, this is false information:

        “In this same video Shapira goes on to misquote and mistranslate a passage from the midrash (Otiyot d’Rabbi Akiva 13). Shapira presents a document that speaks of the “triangular” nature of God. He tells his audience that the midrash says that all of the oneness of God is in three. I searched through many editions of the midrash that Shapira had quoted and not one of them had the sentence formulated in the way Shapira presents it. The midrash simply points to a pattern of praise that is offered to God in triplicate and to triplicate pattern found in the mentioning of God’s name. The midrash says nothing about God’s essence nor does it say anything about triangles. The Hebrew word for triplicate is sometimes used to describe a triangle but in the context of this midrash the meaning of the word is clearly “triplicate” and not “triangle.””

        • Tzahi
          You cannot understand a simple dictionary entry as you demonstrated so clearly – so why do you think that you understand kaballah?
          To answer your questions
          1 – The words I used in the article still stand
          2 – Quoting a remote version of the midrash that never made it to print and telling your audience that this is what the midrash says is a misquotation
          3 – in the context of the midrash the word “meshulash” means triplicate and not triangle, furthermore the word “yichud” in the context of the midrash (the remote version that you found in a footnote of Liebes’ article) does not means “oneness” but “declaration of oneness” – in case you want to argue with this meaning – it is found in a prayer that is recited by loyal Jews every day.

          • Annelise says:

            These people speak about Hashem having ‘compound nature’ as if He were a piece of rock or metal or something.

          • Amazing. I just can’t believe it, first you that l said that I lied about the Midrash does not exist. Then he claim it does but the translation is wrong……what kind of a debate we are having here? No matter what will be brought forward will not be enough for you . I feel so sad and will keep you in my T’filot. I urge you all to ask ANY Hebrew speaker and ask them what is the meaning of the word משולש M’eshulash! Notice that bot the word S’hilush and M’eshulash are mentioned below. Here is straight from the dictionary, now you want to ARGUE AGAINST THE DICTIONARY? I am speechless!

            Straight from the dictionary, I am asking today who can’t understand the simply dictionary entry? You honestly believe what you are writing?

            מְשֻׁלָּשׁ שֵם ז’
            triangle
            בגאומטריה, משולש הוא מצולע בעל שלוש צלעות. במשולש שלוש זוויות, הקרויות קודקודי המשולש. קשרים בין צלעות וזוויות במשולש כל התכונות המפורטות להלן ניתנות להוכחה סכום הזוויות במשולש הוא 180 מעלות. תכונה זו, כמו אחדות מהתכונות האחרות המוזכרות בערך זה, מתקיימת רק בגאומטריה האוקלידית (שבה מתמקד ערך זה). בגאומטריות לא אוקלידיות סכום הזוויות שונה – גדול מ-180 מעלות או קטן מ-180 מעלות (ראו הרחבה בסעיף המשולש בגאומטריות לא אוקלידיות להלן).

            This is very clear,

            נם גם בספרות העברית הקדומה מצינו נוסחי שילוש, ונראה שאף הם השפיעו על ספר הזוהר. כוונתי בעיקר לנוסחים המובהקים במדרש אותיות דר’ עקיבא, שבעל הזוהר השתמש בו לרוב. אבל נראה שאף מדרש זה עצמו אינו נקי מהשפעות נוצריות (ראה על כך להלן, הערה 72). ואלה לשונות השילוש שמצאתי במדרש אותיות דר’ עקיבא (בתוך בתי מדרשות ל-א’ ורטהיימר, ב, ירושלים תשט”ו, עמ’ שנ): “הקב”ה נקרא אחד וקריאת שמו אותיות משולשות. ומנין שהקב”ה אחד וכל שם ושבח שלו אין קורין לפניו אלא במשולש, שנאמר [דברים ו ד]: שמע ישראל ה’ אלהינו ה’ אחד [הוא הפסוק שאעסוק בו להלן בדיוני בזוהר] הרי שמו משולש, ה’ ה’ אל רחום [שמות לד ו] הרי שמו משולש. אלהי האלהים ואדוני האדונים [דברים י יז, ונראה לי שדורש כאן דווקא את ההמשך: “האל הגדול הגבור והנורא”, ושלושה תארים אלה נקבעו בתפילה משום שמשה אמרם, עליהם אין להוסיף ומהם אין לגרוע, לפי הגמרא, ראש השנה לב ע”א] הרי משולש. ומנין שכל שבח אין אומרים לפניו אלא משולש, שנאמר [ישעיהו ו ג, על השימוש בפסוק זה לצרכים אלה ראה להלן, הערה 7]: קדוש קדוש קדוש ה’ צבאות הרי משולש…”

            Lastly, let me state one last point: How many times have I seen in the Ramban and Baal HaTurim chumasim foot notes state: “Ramban’s source cannot be found in any major published editions,” or “The source of the Tur’s quote appears to come from a source never published.” According to your logic, I guess I should treat these gedolim as suspect since their quotes come from sources never published…

            I am speechless as every schoolboy will tell you that the word משולש is clearly mentioned. You still have not answered the CORE ISSUE, why the name of HaShem mentioned in Shilush so many times? Please let us stop dancing around the issue.

          • Annelise says:

            “No matter what will be brought forward will not be enough for you . I feel so sad and will keep you in my T’filot.” Ditto. Can’t we ever talk about major issues in the critique of your work, rather than tiny little random ones?

          • Dina says:

            Shapira, this is ridiculous. Meshulash, the noun, means triangle. Meshulash, the adjective, means triple, or threefold, or triangular. Are you trying to prove, with the fact that “kadosh” is repeated three times, that Hashem is a trinity? Are you kidding?

            Why is this so obvious to you but not to practicing Jews worldwide and over the centuries? Think about that for a minute.

          • Dina says:

            Shapira, you guys like to talk about Christian influence on Judaism. Really. What about Islamic influence on Jews in lands where there was no Christian presence whatsoever for thousands of years?

            What about Hindu influence on Jews in India? There had been a Jewish presence in India for millennia.

            The Judaism of those Jews is the same, you know. We observe the same commandments; the differences lie only in minor customs.

            Answer me that, sir!

          • Dina says:

            Shapira, you began to conclude your little speech with the words “I am speechless.” Clearly, you do not know what the phrase “I am speechless” means.

          • Dina says:

            Shapira:

            והחוט המשולש לא במהרה ינתק A three-ply cord is not easily severed (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

            So there.

  2. nic says:

    Shapira: I honestly don’t know which is stupider, the fact that Jews according to the Christian NT handed J man over to the Romans to be dealt with because the smell of b.s. was far too obvious to ignore. Why in the world would one look in Jewish literature to find the J man? This is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. Notice Rambam refers to Christianity and Jman unfavorably. Christianity, J Man, all of that has absolutely NOTHING yo do with Judaism. It is a Greek invention and it always will be. You can create all of the new testaments translated into Hebrew, but you can’t polish a turd. You are a false Rabbi. You are a deceptive individual. You have absolutely no respect for youraaudience, nor your peers. All you do is whine about how much people judge and mistreat you, well what did you expect?

  3. Dina says:

    Where is Brown?

    This reminds me of a Dr. Seuss book where it says something like “Where is Brown? Mr. Brown is out of town.” Dr. Brown is definitely out of town on this one.

    If he ever comes back (“Brown came back; Brown came back with Mr. Black”), I hope he retracts his endorsement of Shapira, if only for the sake of his own credibility.

  4. Tzachi
    You obviously did not begin to understand what I wrote – I don’t believe that by adding words to this discussion I will put understanding into your head. But just in case anyone else is confused by your words – I will take the pain to clarify.
    I did not say that the Midrash does not exist – I said that YOUR VERSION of the midrash (with the word “yichudo”) does not appear in any printed edition.
    The word “meshulash” appears in the Bible and it does not mean “triangle” – it seems that the Hebrew of the Bible leaves you speechless.
    You say that the CORE ISSUE is the question why the name of Hashem is mentioned so often in a triplicate pattern – the answer is – an this is the point that the midrash is trying to make is that Hashem’s interaction with the world is divided into three principal categories. This has nothing to do with a target of worship – but with an understanding of Hashem’s interaction with the world.
    In any case – this is NOT the core issue at all. The core issue is that Judaism stands for worship of Hashem alone and your deification of a man is the precise opposite of what God’s firstborn son stands for.
    I don’t believe that you understand this conversation – but I think that you will understand the following question: Do you have an answer for the first criticism that I put down in The School of Matthew?
    Don’t try to dance around the question.

  5. Dina
    It also appears in Genesis 15:9 – did you ever see a triangular goat?

    • Dina says:

      Ha! I have never either seen a triangular calf or ram.

      I rather suspect, but I don’t want to say for sure–not being an expert–that the meaning of triangle is a more modern derivative.

  6. Annelise says:

    Shabbat shalom to you all. Be blessed.

  7. Yehuda says:

    What I find interesting is that given the increasing depths of delusion demonstrated by each of Shapira’s successive entries in this matter it becomes clearer that the only reason we are paying him any attention at all is because someone as “credible” as Dr. Brown chose to give him a forum. If Dr. Brown has been following any of Shapira’s subsequent rantings I would be surprised to see him give Shapira any further overt approval. At this point Dr, Brown probably regrets the association and is content to let Shapira simply be one of his “useful idiots”. I wonder if Shapira realizes this…probably not.

    • Dina says:

      Dr. Brown is “too busy” to pay attention. As usual when presented with irrefutable arguments, Dr. Brown will respond sometime in the hazy future when he is finished with his speaking engagements, writing deadlines, and travels.

  8. Here is my question, why does Ariel Cohen Alloro affirm everything Shapira is saying? Is Ariel a false priest and Rabbinic teacher/scholar?

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