Reading the Dictionary

Reading the Dictionary


In his latest video ( ) Shapira presents a quotation from the Jastrow Dictionary. He is attempting to prove that the Aramaic word “palach” (or derivatives of that word) must be referring to worship of the divine. Shapira insists that this word refers exclusively to devotion to God and not to service of a human being.

He could not be more wrong, and the same entry from the Jastrow dictionary proves him wrong.

Shapira looks straight into the camera and he tells his audience that “palach means “worship.” But the dictionary entry that he presented says that while “palach” can mean worship it can also mean service of a human. In fact the first Biblical reference on the line that Shapira snipped out of the dictionary is Genesis 14:4 which speaks of service of a human and the classic Aramaic Targum translates the word with a derivative of “palach.”

Take your choice. Either Shapira cannot read a basic dictionary entry, or Shapira is  confident that his audience is incapable of reading a basic dictionary entry and he has the audacity to lie straight to those who trust in him.

Either way, one thing is for sure. When Shapira looks straight into the camera and makes an emphatic point his confidence is not rooted in truth.

One more point before I sign off. Shapira was ordained as a “rabbi” by a Christian organization. One of the common duties of a rabbi is to officiate at wedding ceremonies. The text of the Jewish marriage contract contains derivatives of the word “palach.” In the context of the wedding contract the word means fulfillment of responsibility from a husband toward his wife and the word carries no connotation of worship of a deity.

If Shapira cannot read a basic Jewish marriage contract then what does this tell you about the organization that saw fit to ordain him as a rabbi?

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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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19 Responses to Reading the Dictionary

  1. Seeker of truth says:

    That this Shapira guy is accepted in Christian circles should tell you all you need to know about how much they care for the truth slight hint they don’t

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Seeker of truth, it’s not that Christians do not care about the truth, far be it. The Problem lies in them working with biblical materials from a very different vantage, foundation, and frame of reference than Jews do when they have studied the relevant questions.

      As an example, their hebrew bible is not in Hebrew at all, it’s in a Church approved, taught, and mediated Greek text. The book order is different, as well as the tenses in words from certain key verses. In the Christian Old Testament Daniel is in Neviim, not Ketuvim. To the untrained eye, Daniel 9 can be very convincing. There are also non canonical texts in many Christian Bible’s etc. in short, someone who is none the wiser (never exposed to jewish faith structure or Halacha) reading such sources, says, “yes that’s a plausible view given the sources.” This fact is exemplified in how the Church reads the texts primarily in a homiletical fashion with Jesus’ ethics and his legal principles employed only secondarily and in cursory form. This is no doubt partly due to The disciples establishing for gentiles only a requirement for basic rules of a Ger and not full Jewish conversion. The problem is exacerbated by Paul’s insistence that G-d needn’t be mediated by a halachic framework.

      We have to realize that the Church ceased to be a truly Jewish halachic body or entity by the close of the 1st century, with only small pockets of Torah observant believers in Jesus remaining into the 4th century. By that time, Torah observant followers of Jesus were outnumbered by gentile lead communities.

      The issue has nothing to do with a Christian being unwilling to know the truth. They examine such questions through what has been available to them, that is evidence mediated through a non halachic lens. This is not the fault of any well meaning Christian person, (no offense meant btw)

      Many Christians are initially only ever exposed to Christian modes and method, and on later reflection seek evidence of the truth of their position from diverse sources, such as the historical record, examples of “similar” historical jewish sectarian ideas, etc.” None of the christian ideas are first mediated through a halachic lens, because Christian cultures are not halachic cultures. A christian can be totally wrong from a Jewish frame of reference, but “right” relative to what they have been exposed to, and what they believe to know about things, does that make sense? If you have ever seen the movie Galaxy Quest, the situation of the good guy aliens in the film make the point at issue perfectly. Here are some clips and a brief synopsis taken from IMDB

      “The sci-fi television series “Galaxy Quest”, which took place aboard the intergalactic spaceship NSEA Protector, starred Jason Nesmith as suave Commander Peter Quincy Taggert, Gwen DeMarco as sexy communications person Lt. Tawny Madison (a role which consisted solely of repeating what the computer stated, much to Gwen’s annoyance), Shakespearean trained Sir Alexander Dane as alien Dr. Lazarus, Fred Kwan as engineer Tech Sgt. Chen, and Tommy Webber as child gunner Laredo. Seventeen years after the series last aired, it lives on in the hearts of its rabid fans. However, it lives on in infamy for its stars, who have not been able to find meaningful acting work since. Their current lives revolve around cashing in on however those roles will afford, which usually entails attending fan conventions or worse, such as shopping mall openings. Only Jason seems to relish his lot in life, until he finds out that his co-stars detest him because of his superior attitude as “the Commander”, and much of the public considers him a laughing stock. Their lives change when Jason is approached by who he thinks are convention fans asking for help. They are in reality an alien race called Thermians, led by Mathesar, who have modeled their existence after the series, which they believe to be real. When Jason and then the rest of his co-stars (along with Guy Fleegman, who was killed off before the opening credits in only one episode) go along with the Thermians, Jason’s co-stars who believe they are off to yet another paying gig, they learn that they have to portray their Galaxy Quest roles for real. With no scriptwriters to get them to a happy and heroic ending, they have to trust that their play acting will work, especially in dealing with the Thermian’s nemesis, General Sarris. Guy in particular fears that he will go the way his character did on the series. But when they run across technical issues that they as actors didn’t care anything about during the filming of the series and thus now don’t know how to deal with, they need to find someone who should know what to do.”

      The gospels as a collection span different genres of literature that are composed of letters, and Greek style biographical writings purported to be eyewitness biographies of Jesus. The authors use biblical themes from Tanakh (akin to Midrash) but these themes are not used in the same approved way as other mainstream Jewish literature uses such notions. For the gospel authors, what would be mere homiletical Midrash serves as prophetic “proof” for core theological ideas, and not just poetic homily. So, this phenomenon partially explains how Christians can genuinely read the bible (Outside of a halachic jewish framework) and come to what they feel and believe are genuine Jewish conclusions.

      By contrast, When Jews read scripture, it is through the lens of family ancestral experience, (Sinai) and a lifestyle that conforms to Halacha and norms of that covenant, mediated by an established legislative body. For a Christian reading Tanakh, the people of Israel seem to be to them only a collegiate entity composed of Born Jews, and faith centered converts, in a kind of faith community confederation that bears similarity to how they see themselves and their own faith structure. Does that make sense? They genuinely believe their views are true, because they do not understand how your faith structure really operates. It’s not to show malice at all.

      • Dina says:

        Hi Con,

        I agree with you that Christians are not necessarily insincere or deliberately dishonest in their reading of Tanach. But if you read your own words carefully, you will come to the inescapable conclusion that they have been horribly, terribly, tragically misled.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          I know Dina, I wrote the words. I agree with you. The point I’m making, is that Christianity as a religion now exists as an entity fully apart from those early Jesus following Jews. The gentile church only has the knowledge they’ve been exposed to and entrusted with.They as a result fundamentally don’t understand the Jewish objection to their faith structure.

          From their faith structure and interpretative vantage point, as non jews, following G-d is not strictly defined as a national covenant structure.

          It’s as if we were to Imagine what Judaism would be if Abraham hadn’t had natural children, but started his movement through Eliazer his converted friend. That would be a non Sinai faith based structure with a loosely defined confederation of true believers from many backgrounds, and nations, and not a defined national entity that has national revelation, a defined legislative body of judges, or a strictly ancestral revelation experience. Could you hypothetically see somebody imagining such a structure (as a gentile) emerging from the Bible?

          • Dina says:

            Hi Con. I wrote that even you admit that Christians have been misled; you agreed. So…um…yeah.

          • Concerned reader says:

            But don’t you see how a person who isn’t Jewish might, (given the information they were exposed to) come to that mistaken conclusion? That’s what I was asking.

          • Dina says:

            Con, Christians were obviously misled to that conclusion. What happens if you learn that you had been misled? Do you continue clinging to that belief because it makes sense that you came to a mistaken conclusion because the information you were fed led you there? That is the question.

          • Blasater says:

            CR– Are you no longer a christian?

  2. uriyosef says:

    I still cannot understand how this fool can look at himself in the mirror, let alone look right into the video camera with a straight face, knowing full-well that he is lying.

    • Dina says:

      Hello Dr. Yosef,

      I’ve been reading with keen interest your countermissionary essays on the Jewish Home website. I’ve used your materials in my conversations with Christians on this blog. Thanks for your great work!

      Best wishes,
      Dina Bucholz

  3. Sharbano says:

    It sure seems there are getting to be more and more of these people “claiming” to be Rabbis while never, ever setting one foot in a Yeshivah.

    I cannot help but wonder why none seem to question their foundations and how they are antithetical to even the basics of Judaism. Should it Not be a concern that there is more of a resemblance to the likes of Dionysus, Mithra and Zoroaster. Would Hashem really create a religion based upon man made gods or rather, would He set down his precepts at the very beginning without change. We have an example set forth by the Torah of Moshe itself. We see that during the time of Nimrod mankind took it upon himself to come up with their Own way of understanding the “gods”. From that point on it has continued. Therefore, should there not be questions raised on where and how that religion came to be.

    It is mentioned several places concerning “wood and stone”. Some have related this to Xtianity and Islam. I couldn’t see the correlation since saying “wood and stone” would denote a commonality between the two. I heard an ex-Muslim speak concerning the rock of Mecca. Apparently the belief is that the sins are put on the stone and this is why it is black. Now, Xtianity evidently teaches that their sins are “nailed to the cross”. I’ve heard this said by many. Therefore there IS commonality. Both the “wood and stone” are repositories for sin. And what is said of the “wood and stone”, that they cannot save. I would have to agree that this phrase represents the two religions that are most intertwined with Israel and the Jews. I know of no other nation that has a major religion which had such a long relationship with the Jewish community. If this term were used only in regards to ancient cultures then one could say those people didn’t know any better or were too primitive, But the term is used regarding the end of days so it would have to apply somehow to current civilization. Something to consider.

  4. Sophiee says:

    Sharbano, there are actually Christian seminaries these days posing as schools to generate Christian “Rabbis”. A kosher pig indeed!

  5. Concerned Reader says:

    Blaster, not really anymore. I can see how whether the Christians are right or wrong is actually irrelevant to the question about of G-d, because the bible makes the commandmemts the most important thing when describing having a proper relationship with G-d. Even if G-d hypothetically could be 3 in 1, could hypothetically incarnate himself, could die so people’s sins could be covered etc. it would be overall irrelevant, because walking in the commandments to the best of your ability is what G-d says he wants from you from page to page. All biblical texts say that miracles can’t prove anything, and that misplaced devotion (even to G-d, can be idolatry.)

    Dina, the point is, a person should change their error, but it’s just Important to realize that for these people, the error is hard to spot because the movement is its own entity now. Their view, their faith structure makes total sense from their vantage point, and in how they approach scripture, so they need to be in that certain place of question to even know the error. When I read people’s comments about how foolish Christians are, it bothers me, because many of them study very hard, and sometime’s merely don’t automatically grant premises that Judaism takes for granted. They are being cautious, not foolish.

    • Dina says:

      Wow, Con. Just…wow. I mean, cool!

      By the way, I do hear you about being bothered by our attitude, but I think if I put it in context you will understand. I don’t mean to presume to speak for everyone, but I think it’s fair to say that none of us think all Christians are a bunch of dunderheads who can’t see their obvious errors. No, not at all.

      I think if you will consider what kind of website this is, you won’t be bothered anymore. This website is a countermissionary website. So when we talk about Christians, we really mean missionaries. And not just any missionaries, but specifically missionaries who target Jews for conversion.

      These missionaries are not interested in considering our point of view. They aren’t interested in engaging in real and honest dialogue. Mostly, they hold our position in contempt and refuse to entertain the notion that we may have a valid viewpoint. I am speaking from personal experience. And I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that this has likely been the experience of others here who have encountered missionaries.

      What is so bothersome is that these missionaries refuse to consider ideas that should really give them pause. One hardly even knows where to begin. For example, why are they not bothered by the fact that only the nation of Israel has resisted the message of Christianity wherever it has been imposed despite enormous Christian pressure to conform? Not a single other culture in any Western country survived. The Druids succumbed. The Picts disappeared. The Norsemen converted. How is it that countless mass murders, over eighty expulsions, and other persecutions failed to make a dent, while a lot less force was required to convert other cultures? And that’s just a tiny side point!

      Christians have been trying to convert Jews for 2000 years, and they have failed spectacularly. Yet they still carry the age-old contempt for the Jew.

      So, you see, the attitude you don’t like doesn’t exist. We aren’t talking about your average Joe. It’s the Christian missionary who seeks us out, who won’t leave us alone, that we are talking about.

      I hope I have offered some clarity.

      Peace and blessings,

    • Jim says:


      Leaving Christianity behind is not easy. I commend you for your bravery.


  6. Concerned Reader says:

    Well Jim, it goes to what I said. Even if you could prove their position, the commandments are still more important.

    • Dina says:

      Con, I’m not sure what you’re trying to say to Jim here, but the most important of all the commandments, the heart of them all, are those that deal with whom to worship and how.

  7. Concerned Reader says:

    I agree Dina, I was just saying to Jim, that it’s not a matter of bravery on my part, its a matter of acknowledgement that even if you could somehow prove Christian theological ideas, it would have absolutely no bearing on how G-d expects to be served vis the covenant, ie if G-d could take the form of a human, it would be irrelevant because the law is not to acknowledge the form, but only the voice, and the voice was already heard at Sinai, and G-d does not change his mind.

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