This is my Beloved

This is my Beloved

 

“I shall take you to Me for a nation and I shall be to you for a God.” (Exodus 6:7)

 

Entering into a covenantal relationship with God changes you. You become a different nation. What is beautiful to other nations is not beautiful to you and what is happiness for other nations is not happiness for you. Not only does your outlook change but your heart and soul need to change.

 

Other nations exert themselves in a never ending effort to achieve security and prosperity. You are different. You learn to disregard that which others fear and feel secure in God’s embrace. You find joy and happiness in bringing God’s commandments to fruition and that is your entire focus.

 

As a nation that is bound to God in a covenantal relationship you have a different responsibility than do other nations. You are not responsible for the physical survival of your nation; that is God’s responsibility. Your responsibility is to maintain your end of the covenantal relationship and to pass on to your children that which you received from your parents.

 

At the time of the exodus God removed us from the family of nations. He removed us from the attitudes and mentality that is common to the nations and He made us a nation unto Himself.

 

Have we always lived up to the calling of being a nation apart? Not quite. But there have always been righteous men and women in our midst who set the example for us. And the core of the covenant has always stayed with us just as God promised (Isaiah 59:21).

 

If you want to understand why the Jewish people have taken a certain stance you need to see the world from the eyes of a nation who stands in a covenant relationship with God. You need to experience the joy of standing before the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth in communal prayer together with the full stature of the nation of Israel with your heart, both collective and individual, open to no one but Him. And then perhaps you will realize how jarring it sounds when someone taps you on the shoulder and tells you that you can’t approach your Divine Covenantal Partner without first submitting to someone else, and then to top it all off, he calls his message “good news.”

 

In order to understand the Jewish people you need to experience the connection to God inherent in bringing one of His commandments to fruition. Feel the closeness to God, the security in God, the love of God and the comfort of His embrace that is inherent in fulfilling His command. And then try to listen to someone tell you that the path of the Law is hypocritical, legalistic, arrogant and ungodly; all of this under the slogan “if you would have believed Moses you would believe me.”

 

To see things from the eyes of the Jew you need to try to put your heart into the Jew’s relationship with God. Try to feel the pure joy of knowing that your yearning heart is in the hand of the One who created it. Try to imagine the elation of being loved by the Master of the universe, not only as a human being, but as a member of a nation that He chose unto Himself. And then try to hear someone tell you that you should enter into a more “fulfilling” relationship then the one you enjoy now.

 

You don’t need to go through these exercises in order to know that Christianity is false. If that is all you want to know you could take the path of a police officer who wrote to me: “… something wasn’t adding up. I was a cop for 25 years so I started investigating it, using the same methods I did on the PD. The evidence for Christianity is scant at best, the majority being hearsay or fabricated that would never be allowed in a court of law.”

 

But if you want to see the matter from the perspective of the Jew you need to try to put your heart together with ours.

If you found this article helpful please consider making a donation to Judaism Resources by clicking on the link below.

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=FEAQ55Y7MR3E6

Judaism Resources is a recognized 501(c) 3 public charity and your donation is tax exempt.

Thank You

Yisroel C. Blumenthal

 

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to This is my Beloved

  1. Dina says:

    The first time a Christian told me that my religion is cold and legalistic, I was so surprised I didn’t know what to say. This Christian got this idea from his scripture, which paints a picture of rabbinic Jews that has nothing to do with real-live ones, then or now. He has no idea, he hasn’t a clue, of what it’s like to worship God as an Orthodox Jew. The richness, the meaning, the joy, the love! I wished he could be a fly on the wall of my home for a few days to learn that his assessment could not be further from the truth.

  2. Annelise says:

    Thanks for this… It’s so valuable to hear.

  3. Tsvi Jacobson says:

    A Jew who has gone away from his holy nation and lived in the Spiritual vacuum of the Christian church for many years and has returned and on Shabbas danced with joy tears flowing down his cheeks in the embrace of his fellow Jews can weep at the words of Rabbi B.

    • Dina says:

      You have to experience the Shabbos to understand it. It’s indescribable. So glad it’s almost here again! Me’en olam haba!

  4. lynn3johnson says:

    Beautiful………….made my day.

  5. Concerned Reader says:

    Beautiful article, but the last point about Christian sources not adding up in court, neither would the Torah hold up, to someone outside our belief systems. Even if we say that a whole nation saw its giving, we have a nation full of partial witnesses, and a book only in this group’s possession, that says these millions saw the event that the book purports to record. I remember the first time I went to Synagogue to go to a service on my own. Everyone was very kind, there was no pressure, or anything. What struck me most was the involvement of the entire congregation in the lifeblood of the service. The rabbi lead the congregation in prayer from the Siddur, gave a message, but included the congregation, asked us questions, what we thought, etc. Never in my life at a Church, had I experienced community like that, with the exception of my Baptism, and meals in our community. I would never impute Judaism with the slander of legalism, because the Torah in Judaism is and has been organic, and everyone has their role. Judaism is a beautiful religion. If you have Christians making such claims, point them to some scholarly literature on early Christianity. To the rabbi in charge of this Blog, it might be helpful to make a tract for Christians newly visiting the site, comparing some of the ethical statements of Jesus, with some of the Talmudic equivalents. For example, Hillel on the summary of the entire Torah, and Jesus’ statements on the Golden rule. Enlighten your readers to the fact that the whole of Pauline ethics rests on a second temple equivalent of the noachide laws, People fear and demonize what they don’t understand, and what attacks their position. But they can’t do that, if they see the other as being a part of themselves and their very existence. 🙂

  6. Concerned Reader says:

    yourphariseefriend, I appreciate the articles you have posted, have read them, and many like them elsewhere, but the Kuzari argument is one that can be construed as faith based. First, the contention that nobody was a partial witness among the whole nation, is a claim that cannot be substantiated. We also have no sources outside of the Torah to corroborate its stated narrative. The idea that the Egyptians could hide evidence of the departure of so many thousands of people from their country would seem incredible, especially given archaeology’s abilities today. We have the statement of the Torah that their were 600,000 witnesses, but we have no details about these 600,000. Names, dates, etc. As you noted, even in the case that the miracles were true, there would be no sure knowledge that the cause was divine. Pharoah used this course of reasoning with his magicians, they replicated many of the miracles. Judaism has the faith in the truthfulness of the narrative, as Christians have the unlikely arising of the Church, and its defeat of polytheism, for the truth of their narrative. As Judaism often states to Christians, numbers to not substantiate claims, but the character of the experience.

    Blessings

    • Dina says:

      Concerned Reader, the Exodus and the subsequent revelation at Mount Sinai occurred in 1312 BCE. The dates of the events of the Torah can be ascertained by counting from Adam. It’s true that the names of all 600,000 males between the ages of 20 and 60 are not listed. However, the first few chapters of Numbers give us lists of names of tribal leaders and the precise numbers of people from each tribe, and genealogical lists scattered throughout give us the names of a fair number of people. I haven’t counted, so I don’t have an exact number.

      In fact, going further back into antiquity, the fact that long and precise genealogical lists from Adam to Abraham were preserved lends credibility to the Torah.

    • Tsvi Jacobson says:

      Concerned reader: There is one outstanding evidence of the witnesses that is stated in our Torah in Deuteronomy 4: 32-36 which indicates that in the future no other nation or people will be able to make such a claim. If false it certainly could have been duplicated but because true the Torah goes out on a limb to say “It will never happen again” This has been a bedrock of truth for me, and something to consider

  7. Concerned Reader
    You have to ask yourself – what is the Jewish Bible’s argument for faith in its claims. Furthermore – your statement that there is no evidence outside of the Torah is incorrect. You have a nation claiming that it happened to them -this is not a story in a book – but a story in the mouth of a people. – take it or leave it – but you have to acknowledge that it is unique.

  8. Concerned Reader says:

    I acknowledge not only that the Jewish people claim a unique experience of G-d, but that others with Israel share that claim. The argument for faith rests on an experience that is not doubted by those who are believed to have experienced it, I get it. Christians don’t have doubts as to their experience of Christ either. Do you have historical sources outside of the Torah? You should post on them. I have a degree in Comparative Religions, and a history degree as well. I find no reason why your experience should be considered invalid, especially since Judaism was first to articulate monotheism in such a unique way. That said, faith has to be essential to the experience. I am not here to rip anyone’s beliefs, people who have questions are capable of investigating these questions for themselves. Arguing legitimacy is very difficult for any religion however, and is a rocky slope. The Hapiru people, and the Hycsos which some have hypothesized are Israel in the Exodus, is far from certain. While I do not doubt the uniqueness of Judaism, it requires faith as well. As I’ve said, I don’t need to attack Judaism, I’m fine with it.

  9. Concerned Reader
    I am not accusing you of “attacking Judaism.” What I am saying here is that as far as “historical records” go – the Torah is all we have. But there is something that we have that people tend to ignore because it is not a typical form of evidence and that is a people testifying about concrete events that happened to their physical ancestors and impacted their lives in a practical way.
    Is this “proof that would stand up in a court of law” – I can’t say because I have no way of evaluating it. But this much I can say it that it is unique – and it is to the uniqueness of this type of experience that the Torah points to when encouraging later generations of Jews that their covenant with God still stands (Deuteronomy 4:30-35)

    • Dina says:

      Concerned Reader, I can’t help wondering what kind of extra-biblical historical evidence we would expect to see. This experience took place out in the wilderness where no one else would have witnessed the events in order to record them. The nation of Israel itself recorded the experience in the Torah shortly after the events took place–but only according to the Torah.

  10. Concerned Reader says:

    Dina, I would expect some archaeological evidence. Some bones, a lot of bones, actually. How many people died in the wilderness, not to mention Pharaoh’s military? I would expect to see a blank space on Egypt’s archeological record after the calamities of the plagues, not too mention a period with very many dead bodies, where Egypt was near totally empty after the death of all the firstborn, the disappearance of its labor class, etc. It would be like saying America was toppled in a month, and we couldn’t see the effect of it tangibly. Considering Egyptian history is well documented, that kind of evidence should be there. As YourPhariseefriend says though, Exodus is the unique experience of the Jewish people, and its what you go on. Christians feel the same way about their tradition.

    • Dina says:

      Hi Concerned Reader,

      Lack of archaeological evidence doesn’t prove that a historical event didn’t occur. Furthermore, the wilderness is a very large place. Where to start digging? We don’t know for sure that the modern place names correlate with the Biblical places.

      Nevertheless, you make a fair point about the Egyptian archaeological record. While it’s not conclusive, the Ipuwer Papyrus is certainly very interesting. It’s hotly contested on both sides (everyone has his own agenda), but the similarities to the Ten Plagues is striking.

      As Rabbi B. and I have pointed out, however, the unique claim of mass revelation at Sinai is very strong. It’s not a feeling, the way Christians feel that their tradition is unique. The Torah predicts that no other religion will ever make that claim. And on other religion ever has.

      Our understanding of idolatry was taught to us–to our physical ancestors, who passed the teachings down in an unbroken chain of generations–during that moment of mass revelation. The Christian worship of Jesus, whether as a man or as a god, fits that understanding of idolatry.

  11. Concerned Reader says:

    Dina, I respect your belief concerning your tradition, really I do. As Yourphariseefriend mentioned, the Torah, and the testimony of the people, that this is their tradition, is the only source of information for the miracles the Torah reports. If I were David Copperfield, and I made a fleet of Jets disappear in front of 100,000,000 witnesses, they could all tell their children, and their children’s children, etc. down the ages until someone wrote it down and codified the story, eliminating previous oral versions of the story, and competitive ideologies concerning it. Would the event be accurate as it is described, in the sense that people take it in the book? Doubtful. There may be a kernel of truth, but we can’t know the whole breadth of it without faith. This phenomenon of codification is believed to be perceived in what comparative religion scholars have called the Documentary Hypothesis. We have one source which claims the event as truth, not that there is anything wrong with that. The issue with the Ipuwer Papyrus is that it describes a slave revolt by the Hyksos who ruled over Egypt after their victory. Israel never ruled over Egypt during the period the Exodus was said to have taken place. This makes it problematic as a source for Exodus. My point is not to bash your faith, but to show that the narratives of both of our traditions can be very susceptible, especially when we cast such critical eyes on each other and require a higher standard of one source than another. I saw in another post someone accusing Christianity of inventing Jesus ala Jospeh Atwill’s Caesar’s Messiah! This opinion has zero historical basis, and is completely arbitrary fiction. I would not do that to the Torah, I prefer equal weights and Measures.

    • Dina says:

      Right, Concerned Reader, I agree that the Ipuwer Papyrus does not prove the Ten Plagues happened, and I have read your argument about that elsewhere. I just find the parallel imagery striking, and it gives one pause. Your argument about the complete Egyptian record is a forceful one; I have no answer to that. As you know, we do not rely on archaeology but our national testimony as our basis for faith. I don’t see this as requiring a higher standard for Christianity than for Judaism. In fact, it is the other way around. A claim of national revelation is far stronger than a claim of individual revelation. So for Jews to be able to accept that a prophet greater than Moses has appeared and has changed the Law that only Moses was authorized to transmit to the nation of Israel–and which no one, not even prophets, is allowed to add or subtract– we would require at least the same standard of evidence as Exodus 19:9 and Deuteronomy 4:35. Not higher, not lower, just the same–that would be good enough.

      This conversation began with your objection to our definition idolatry. I do not have a degree in Comparative Religions, and I had to look up “monism” in the dictionary. I have never read Aristotle, nor have I studied Maimonides (the only work of his that I’ve read, in high school two decades ago, is “Eight Chapters”).

      But I do know this. At the Revelation at Sinai, God revealed Himself to my ancestors and taught them Whom to worship, in very clear and simple language. Christianity according to this revelation is idolatry. Whether one believes God is personal or impersonal is not idolatry. One might have a wrong notion about that, but he would not be an idolater. I’m sorry Christians find this offensive. This has been the Jewish position since Christianity made Jesus the center of its worship, whether as man or god. This is the reason why Jews chose death over conversion for the last 2000 years. This position has not changed, nor will it ever, your eloquent objections notwithstanding.

      I have read your David Copperfield argument (why David Copperfield? Such a depressing book! :)), but still it’s hard to get away with a claim for national revelation like ours, especially when it’s attached to 613 commandments:). A good book on this subject, if you or anyone else is interested, is “Permission to Receive” by Lawrence Keleman, or his lecture about the claim of mass revelation here: http://www.simpletoremember.com/media/a/rational-judaism/

      I too mean no disrespect, I hope you know that. It’s a joy to talk to someone who is so learned and open-minded.

      Best,
      Dina

      • Concerned Readers Friend says:

        Hi Dina,
        I just wanted to briefly chime in on a statement you had made. ” This has been the Jewish position since Christianity made Jesus the center of its worship” Christianity was born out of Judaism. The offices in the church, the pulpit, communion were all things that came from Judaism. The first so called “Christians” were actually Jews and at that time, there was a big debate whether a gentile who wanted to become a follower of Yeshua would have to convert to Judaism first. To say that Christians made Jesus the center of it’s worship is a false statement. It was Jews who made Jesus the center of their worship because they believed he was God incarnate. Just as there were witnesses to the law being given to the Jewish nation, there were also witnesses who saw Yeshua die, and then saw him after he resurrected. In fact, there are a whole host of Jewish believers in Yeshua who were put to death by the Romans due to their faith in this risen Messiah. They refused to recant their belief that he was the Messiah and gave their lives for that belief. That is rather powerful and would instantly make me question “why would all of these people for so many generations die for something that was completely false?” Now, I understand that there is a group of Islamic extremists who do this. Die for a lie. But they are not being asked to recant faith in Mohammad. Instead, they feel like they are doing him a service. But these 1st century Jews who were believers in Yeshua were persecuted and killed. That is very different. To conclude, if Yeshua is not who he said he was, and all of that is a lie, then Jewish people of old have perpetrated one of the biggest hoodwinks in history.(Please do not take this statement as Anti Semitic because I have a deep love and affection for The Nation of Israel and the Jewish people.) But the fact remains that they were able to get gentiles and fellow Jews to believe that He was God and worship him. I find it interesting that within the Jewish community, if one wishes to follow a false god such as Buddha or any other teaching that does not recognize Adonai Eloheinu as the One and ONLY true God, that is fine and they are STILL considered to be a Jew. But, the moment one professes faith in the risen Messiah Yeshua who himself was a Jew, then all of a sudden that person is ostracized and no longer considered Jewish. Why is that?

        • Concerned Reader
          I wrote an article that partially addresses the argument that you put forth in the end of your comment – I hope you find it helpful

          https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/messianic-discrimination-a-response-to-james/

        • Dina says:

          Con’s Friend, no one today claims to descend from those who said they saw a resurrected Jesus. On the other hand, we Jews are directly descended from the nation which heard God speak and Sinai and who warned the people to worship God only as He appeared to them Sinai (see Deuteronomy 4).

          Seeing is believing, hearing is not believing. And that is why the Torah predicts that national revelation will never be claimed by others (Deuteronomy 4:32-36).

          But that is all beside the point. Deuteronomy 13:2-5 teaches that if a prophet performs miracles but introduces a new type of worship we are to reject him anyway, a warning that describes Jesus. So even if he resurrected himself, stopped the sun in the sky, split the sea, moved mountains, healed every person on the planet, the minute he changed the Torah’s teaching he disqualified himself.

          As for the early Christians, you correctly stated that they were Jews. However, we know from the historical record that they did not deify Jesus; this was a later gentile addition. (See Eusebius on the Ebionites, for example.)

          Your next point about the persecution of Christians. If persecution proves truth, then we Jews win hands down. Christians have killed vastly more Jews over the centuries for refusing to convert than the paltry number of Christians Romans killed by comparison (don’t get me wrong; every murder is horrific; I’m just comparing numbers). The body count is in the millions.

          If you have no problem saying that all the Jews killed during the Inquisition and Crusades and the Easter pogroms and so on and so forth died for a lie at the hands of Christians then surely I have no problem saying that Jesus’s followers, sadly and tragically, died for a lie.

          As for the “biggest hoodwink in history” argument, you’re basically contending that so many people can’t be wrong. That argument falls flat on its face when you consider that Islam, with its more-than 1 billion followers and counting (it’s the fastest-growing religion in the world), is runner up to the biggest hoodwink in history, followed by Hinduism. Obviously, very large numbers of people can be easily duped. Sad but true.

          Finally, you want to know why we accept Jewish Buddhists and not Jewish Christians. That is a straw man because that is not what we believe. If you are born Jewish, you remain Jewish no matter what you do. If you convert to any other religion, you are still Jewish but you are guilty of turning away from Hashem and His Torah no matter what religion you convert to, and in many cases the sin of idolatry (such as Christianity and Hinduism).

          But Jews find conversion of their brethren to Christianity a particularly painful betrayal given all the horrors we have suffered at your hands for two millennia. The feeling is that our forbears maintained their Jewish identity and loyalty to God at great personal cost and this convert is throwing it all away for free. If you are like most Christians, you probably do not understand the depth of Christian anti-Semitism and the forms it took for most of Christian history (only after the Holocaust did Christians reevaluate their attitude and in some quarters reject it). It would be instructive for you to read Thy Brother’s Blood: The Roots of Christian Anti-Semitism by Malcolm Hayes and Christian Antisemitism: A History of Hate by William Nicholls. Otherwise you will never be able to relate to this attitude.

          So you see, O Friend of Con, that Christianity, like Islam, may have derived from Judaism, but you both have inherited from your fathers lies and emptiness (Jeremiah 16:19).

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Just for the record, I don’t know who “Concerned Reader’s Friend” actually is, nor do I necessarily agree with all the points raised.

          • Dina says:

            Thanks for clearing that up, Con. I was wondering about that. 🙂

    • Sharbano says:

      You Still trying to push that JEDP nonsense? The same results can be found in single-author writings. That alone makes the entire theory suspect. It is not a rational approach at all. There are parts that are self-contradictory.

  12. Pingback: Study Notes and References | 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s