An Open Letter to Brother Gilbert

An Open Letter to Brother Gilbert

I want to open this letter by welcoming you to the discussion forum on this blog. I strongly disagree with almost everything you wrote but I commend you for your respectful (if condescending) tone. I would also like to take this opportunity to wish that you merit to join the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and find comfort for your recent pain that you mentioned.

This blog has been around for almost five years now and there are about 400 articles on this blog. I have already addressed some of the issues that you raised in your comments so I will take the liberty of providing links to articles that I have written in the past.

You speak of the mission of the Jewish people. You tell me that it is not to “reject Jesus”. I agree with you – the mission of the Jewish people is to encourage all of mankind to unite in one worship – it so happens to be that the worship we are commissioned to encourage is not the worship of Jesus.

 

You speak of the Gentiles not needing Torah observance and in this I agree with you – but why would they need Jesus?

You tell us that it is better for us not to convince Catholic Jews to give up their belief in Jesus. We are attempting to show Jews and Gentiles alike that every iota of their devotion ought to be directed to the One Creator of all – if Jesus feels left out – I guess that’s his problem.

You say that the treatment of Jews who believe as Christians by the Jewish community is inconsistent with their treatment of Jews who belong to other faiths. I know of no other faith that attempts to redefine Judaism.

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

You claim that Mashiach is different for different communities within the covenant community of Israel – this is inaccurate. We all agree about the essentials – it is only in peripheral areas where there are some disagreements.

You tell me that the Pope apologized of the evils that his institution perpetrated against God’s first-born son – but did he look into the roots of the sin of his institution?

You argue that the worship that the Catholic Church encourages is not idolatrous because they don’t believe that man became god but they believe the opposite.

These semantics are irrelevant to the discussion at hand. Idolatry is not an abstract sin – it is a sin of the heart. The feelings in the human heart that the Catholic Church encourages are not the feelings that we were taught to plant in our hearts at Sinai.

You tell me that I don’t understand what Catholics believe. You are right – but this I do know – that they consider my worship of the Creator of heaven and earth to be misdirected – and that is all I need to know for the purpose of this discussion. Do they not believe that no one comes to the Father without the services of Jesus?

You say that you see no opposition to Catholic beliefs and the kabbala. But the people who study kabbala and have immersed themselves in her teachings recognize that the worship your institution is encouraging is idolatrous. Your quotation of Jewish sources to support a belief that the same authors of these sources opposed with their very lives is not ethical.

https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/context-and-kabbalah/

You speak of some Lubavitchers who believe their Rebbe is divine. And this has been called out by the rabbis of Chabad and identified as idolatry. Just for the record – don’t you recognize that these people came to their conclusions not by first studying the texts of Judaism – but their “conclusions” began with their obsession with the Rebbe- a striking parallel to the methods that you use to find justification for your devotion from Jewish texts.

You say that you know of no official ruling from the Jewish community that labels Jesus as a false prophet. The Jewish community expressed this belief by giving their lives rather than accept him – many times throughout history. The Jewish people recognized that the devotion that the Catholic Church was encouraging is the deepest violation of the covenant we share with God.

Brother Gilbert. I ask you to please consider – why were our ancestors chosen by God? What was the mission that He entrusted us with? And what methods did he set in place to ensure the integrity of our mission?

Take care

Yisroel Blumenthal

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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

 

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127 Responses to An Open Letter to Brother Gilbert

  1. Annelise says:

    Dear Brother Gilbert,

    I can imagine a group of people arising around a Catholic priest, claiming special prophecy and a number of God-ordained changes in history and the church. They agree that certain rites and traditions were instituted by Jesus and the apostles, but they consider this a new age in the world and say that those rites no longer need to be kept physically; they are kept in the heart. They also claim that the authority of the pope has been transferred to their leader, not as a new pope but as a totally new kind of office altogether, and they encourage people to worship him as the ‘second incarnation’ of God.

    What will it take for you to join this sect? Miracles and proof texts must be considered, but carefully, and with no initial bias towards the leader or the sect that is still being tested by your heart.

    This is the situation of Torah-observant Jews with the emergence of the Catholic church.

    • Dear Annelise,

      Catholics believe that Yeshua is the Incarnation of God in the flesh not a second incarnation. He is the second partzuf or person (greek persona) of the one God. That is why Catholics only give divine worship to the one God. Catholics believe Yeshua was the Messiah prophesied in the Scriptures whereas if someone came claiming to be a new Divine Messiah on earth today a Catholic would know it is false as the only Divine Messiah we are expecting is the return of Yeshua in his role as Mashiach ben David.

      Many Torah observant Jews did embrace Yeshua as Messiah-scholars estimate that at least one third of them became believers. I write this not to try to convince you or any Jew to accept these beliefs but for you to understand what Catholic Jews do believe and why, so that respecting one another in our differences we can encounter one another with love and respect and be brothers on the journey in freedom to the Kingdom of God when God shall be all in all. I also desire this with the Messianic Jews with whom we share much in common but also many differences. There are many thousands of Catholics of Jewish ancestry who are part of the lost Jews who I would be keen to see reembrace Torah and mitzvot but very few of them would be interested in leaving the Catholic faith to do that. It would be good for all Jews to have a large group of Torah observant Catholic Jews who support Israel and the Jewish People. That is my vision anyway but it is early days and we start with one step at a time.

      • Annelise says:

        Yet the Jews before Jesus/Yeshua weren’t expecting a first incarnation, or a divine messiah, either… to you I think that doesn’t rule out your beliefs?

        It’s debatable whether the early Jews who followed him all believed that he was God at all… but even if they did, the question still remains as important as ever. It is also a serious issue in history that there have been Torah observant rabbinic Jews in every generation, but in most generations there have not been Torah observant Catholic Jews. And it is under the church’s own supervision that this happened. The church, which claimed to be taking over halachic authority so to speak, not only failed to give guidelines to Jews about how to follow Torah but they severely dissuaded them from ‘Judaising’. I know that not everything is claimed to be infallible, but that is a pretty foundational thing to get wrong and for so long.

        If you are looking for the people living like the righteous remnant and passing the heart of Torah on through history, I think that you will find them in the place that the church considers ‘darkness’.

    • Annelise says:

      We all have many values that are specific to our religions. But we can only dialogue if our foundational values are the same. If we all are loyal primarily to loving and following our Creator, doing what is good, and seeking out the truth, then we can begin to talk about revelation. But if either side is primarily loyal either to Jesus or to the rabbinic tradition in a way that stands equal to or above those other things that shold be our primary values…then there is nothing to talk about in the light of Torah. That person will simply be loyal to the beliefs they have, and not be able to back it up with any compelling reasons of love for God, goodness, truth.

      God willing we should all have the right foundations, and know where each of our other beliefs fits amidst them.

    • Read it and I do understand your point. There is one thing that is different for Catholic Jews than Messianic Jews or Protestants in that we believe that the Church is infallible on defined faith and morals. The Church has infallibly defined the doctrine of the Triune God and thus any fourth person is impossible. Some Catholics have tried to claim Miriam ha Kedosha as a fourth divine person of the Godhead but this is impossible for Catholic belief. As God-like and elevated as she is for Catholics she is still purely a creature even one filled totally from conception with all God’s graces and chosen as mother of the Messiah who is God in the flesh. For us she is the created female Shekhinah or Hokmah (Sophia/ Wisdom) that is the immaculate mirror of the Divinity.

      • Annelise says:

        A person could wangle their devotion-based beliefs in to any theological code, believe me. Perhaps they could say that this leader is an incarnation of the holy spirit, and that even though it seems foreign to your ears it is a true, revolutionary development in history.

        While the Torah contains no statement saying that God will not come in the form of a man who should be worshiped as God, or that God has no relationships within Himself that we could be fundamentally witness to, there are concepts repeated thousands of times throughout the Hebrew scriptures that preclude the easy acceptance of such claims. The Jewish idea has always been that everything in the sea, earth, and sky is subject to its Maker who is beyond (yet intimately close to) it all. So the fact that the apostles were not up front about any theology of incarnation or trinity, especially when their proclamation of the ‘good news’ didn’t even include these things, seems to me to show that either they were hiding their beliefs about Jesus or else the church slipped gradually towards those doctrines…based on feelings towards Jesus. How else could they be excused for not being up front with their followers about worshiping a human being, and why exactly that was to be considered an accurate thing to do?

        What do you make of the idea that Jesus also is called the mirror of God, and compared with Chochmah? A further blurring of the lines if he is to be worshipped, and any Torah-careful Jew would be right to squirm with discomfort about such lack of clarity in regards to such a clear and central commandment as the carefulness of worship.

        • Annelise says:

          (Colossians 1:15 and 1 Corinthians 1)

          Do you think that for one who is biased towards being loyal to God and His Torah but has no initial bias towards Jesus or the church, there may be more clarity in these matters of testing Jesus? Perhaps try to look at it like that.

        • Ah Annelise thats where we disagree. We see throughout the Tanakh the concept of the Triune God and the Messiah who is God. It all depends on how you read it. However I have no desire to argue about it and believe all those who are on a sincere journey to the truth will be in the Kingdom together. I surrender to the Divine Will and seek to live in it according to what I understand. If that is not enough I say “Yehi ratzon”.

          • Annelise says:

            It all depends on how you read it?

            With the last part of your post, I can relate. I grew up Christian and it wasn’t till I got to hear the Jewish side of the story that I found flaws in that faith. But it is always a scary process to try and make decisions with a limited heart and mind, so all we can really do is sincerely ask to be led, try to follow, and put our paths in Hashem’s hands. That said, the true path matters and it is wisdom to seek it out.

          • Agree totally that why i try to respect everyone’s spiritual journey even if I don’t follow that myself. My oldest brother is a JW and I am very close to him and respect his choice to follow what he believes to be true and even encourage him to do so.

        • Dear Annelise, I don’t think the Apostles were hiding anything. The Tri-une God is part of the mandate given to go to all nations baptising them in the name (singular) of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew’s gospel). John wrote that the Word (Yeshua ha Mahiach) was God and Paul talks about Yeshua being in the form of God and being the visible image of the invisible deity. So yes Yeshua is an uncreated icon of one essence (atzmut) of the Father in his divinity and a male created icon of the Divinity in his humanity whereas Miriam ha Kedosha (Mary) is the feminine created icon of the Divinity. Nachmanides (Ramban) spoke of the Sefirot as being of one essence with the Divinity whereas Maimonides spoke of the Sefirot as created lights. We would see Yeshua as the Mashiach is as Adam Kadmon both-in his Divinity uncreated sefirot in the form of Yosher, Shiur Koma and in his humanity the created male array of Sefirot. Now others may disagree but we do not consider our understanding is outside the Jewish tradition at all. The problem is we misunderstand each other because the Church has translated these Jewish concepts into Greek and Roman language in order for the Gentiles to enculturate the Gospel into their own communities.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Ramban would not Agree with your views, but there are many in scholarship who do see some links between mystical ideas like the sefirot, and trinitarian ideas. Although, nobody in any halachically conscious form of Judaism would advocate a prayer to individual sefirot, Adam Kadmon, or other metaphysical constructs. In fact that question is discussed in not a few sources. The closest evidence of parallel there is, is people’s asking of angels to carry prayers to G-d, (Selichot) but that’s not strictly a prayer to those entities at all. Many seek intercessory prayer on behalf of righteous people, ie asking somebody to offer a prayer to G-d, but not on the level of calling on anyone as an interim diary.

          • Annelise says:

            Hi Brother Gilbert,

            I don’t think it’s so clear in the context. When most Jews speak of God having a son, it means a created person (say a king) or a group (say a nation) that is His representative and intimately connected with Him. And when they speak of His holy spirit, it is like saying His breath or the means by which He makes His presence known in the earth. These aren’t naturally ‘divine’ concepts or names in Judaism, so what you’re calling a trinitarian formula isn’t so outside the Christian theological context. Likewise, to call someone the visible image of the invisible God sounds more like saying He is manifest in that person; it is a very high concept of messiah, and possibly an inappropriate way to speak of someone who is created, but it isn’t taught to be worship unless you clearly say so. The church only did so later to any degree that has been reflected in the texts. The apostles seem more interested in teaching that the moshiach and redemption have come than in teaching in awe an incarnation.

            As to the ‘Jewish concepts’ you’re talking about… it is always going to be a slippery conversation. By rights it doesn’t make sense that anything but God should exist, so talking about the distinction between Him and creation is complicated. We rely on Him completely for existence and all that is good and real is a gift from Him; doesn’t exist apart from Him. Yet the relationship between God and creation is the defining and most important relationship, and distinction, that exists, and nothing in creation can fully parallel it. To blur it is utterly wrong, and foolish. How to respect this practically, in our conversation?

            I think a couple of questions can help. God gives us kindness from Himself, but would you worship kindness as an individual entity? How about strength, or glory? Similarly, if He manifests Himself through a situation or object, would you worship the thing or the one who is made manifest?

            From here, we can ask another thing. Do you really think that the finite things that are seen by finite beings are elements of God? Or is it better to say that ultimately, they are elements of how He relates to us?

  2. Dear Rabbi,
    Thank you for your response I appreciate the sincerity and passion in which you wrote it. I apologise if I seemed condescending that was not my intention. Pope Francis wrote in a recent encyclical (which has high authority for Catholics as part of the official teaching of the Church) “…We hold the Jewish people in special regard because their covenant with God has never been revoked, for “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29). The Church, which shares with Jews an important part of the sacred Scriptures, looks upon the people of the covenant and their faith as one of the sacred roots of her own Christian identity (cf. Rom 11:16-18). As Christians, we cannot consider Judaism as a foreign religion; nor do we include the Jews among those called to turn from idols and to serve the true God (cf. 1 Thes 1:9). With them, we believe in the one God who acts in history, and with them we accept his revealed word.
    Dialogue and friendship with the children of Israel are part of the life of Jesus’ disciples. The friendship which has grown between us makes us bitterly and sincerely regret the terrible persecutions which they have endured, and continue to endure, especially those that have involved Christians. God continues to work among the people of the Old Covenant and to bring forth treasures of wisdom which flow from their encounter with his word. For this reason, the Church also is enriched when she receives the values of Judaism…”

    Catholics have no problem with Jewish people worshipping and being devoted to the One God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Catholics believe that the Divine Word who is the Son is the second uncreated partzuf of the Godhead-One God. However I will leave this discussion of the Triune God (thrice Holy God) as I don’t wish to belabour the point.

    Have you read what Rabbi Jacob Emden wrote about Jesus and Paul as they have a different perspective to you. http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/falk1a.html Here is just one paragraph of his letter. “It is therefore a habitual saying of mine (not as a hypocritical flatterer, God forbid, for I am of the faithful believers of Israel, and I know well that the remnant of Israel will not speak falsehood, nor will their mouths contain a deceitful tongue) that the Nazarene brought about a double kindness in the world. On the one hand, he strengthened the Torah of Moses majestically, as mentioned earlier, and not one of our Sages spoke out more emphatically concerning the immutability of the Torah. And on the other hand, he did much good for the Gentiles (provided they do not turn about his intent as they please, as some foolish ones have done because they did not fully understand the intent of the authors of the Gospels. I have recently seen someone publish a book, and he had no idea about what he was writing. For if he had understood the subject, he would have kept his silence and not wasted the paper and ink. There are also found among us foolish scholars who know not their right from their left in the Written and Oral Torahs and cause the people to err with their pompous pronouncements. But there are true scholars among the Christians, just as there are the chosen few among Torah scholars; and there are few of the truly great.) by doing away with idolatry and removing the images from their midst. He obligated them with the Seven Commandments so that they should not be as the beasts of the field. He also bestowed upon them ethical ways, and in this respect he was much more stringent with them than the Torah of Moses, as is well-known. This in itself was most proper, as it is the correct way to acquire ethical practices, as the philosopher (Maimonides) mentioned. We have written similarly in our Siddur. However, it is not necessary to impose upon Jews such extreme ethical practices, since they have been obligated to the yoke of Torah, which weakens the strength of the (evil) inclination without it. They have taken the oath at Sinai and are already trained in proper practice and nature. These are clear words that will not be rejected by a clear-thinking person…”

    • Annelise says:

      Dear Brother Gilbert- according to Israel’s prophets, whose authority you acknowledge, the righteous in Israel are called to be a light to the nations. What is the description of those righteous people? To me, they fit the description of Torah-observant Jews and there is nothing about Jesus in the criteria. So we find that there is a community here that is being called light of the world, and it is not enough to say that they are special; the important thing is to follow their lead.

    • Dina says:

      Hi Brother G.,

      As Rabbi B. has started another thread, I can dialogue with you here. But if you want to continue to correspond with me privately, feel free!

      You wrote, “Catholics have no problem with Jewish people worshipping and being devoted to the One God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Catholics believe that the Divine Word who is the Son is the second uncreated partzuf of the Godhead-One God.”

      I find this statement confusing because the two groups, Jews and Catholics, hold contradicting beliefs. Therefore, they cannot both be correct. Either one of us is right or both of us are wrong–I do not see a third option.

      Do you believe there is such a thing as absolute truth, or do you believe there is one kind of truth for Catholics and one kind of truth for Jews?

      Thanks for taking the time to write about your beliefs. These kinds of discussions lead to greater clarity.

      Allow me to repeat the rabbi’s blessing that God grant you comfort among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. May you hear only glad tidings henceforth.

      Best wishes,
      Dina

      • Dina thanks for your kind words and prayer I appreciate them at this sad time for my family. I am not a relativist but certainly believe in absolute truth. However I don’t think any religion or ideology is all wrong or all right nor do I think ideas are all wrong or all right- there are nuances. As a Catholic Jew I obviously believe that the Catholic Faith has the fullness of truth in regards to salvation but I do not think it has the totality of truth. There is much to learn from all which can then deepen my own faith. I have real problems with those Catholics who want to make Catholicism into a totality as they did during the Spanish inquisition and other periods. By the way the israeli movie “Ushpizin” has enriched my faith and the faith of many people of all faiths. I believe in unity but not uniformity. I hope you have a good Shabbas.

        • Dina says:

          Thanks for your response, Brother Gilbert. So here’s my question:

          Christianity holds that the Messiah can only ever be Jesus. Judaism holds that the Messiah cannot possibly ever be Jesus.

          This is the one of the main things that divide us, so which belief is true? They cannot both be true. Either one of them is true or both of them are false; there is no third option.

          Which belief is true? And then how can it be that it’s okay that one religion rejects this truth?

          • Dear Dina, We are in the process of moving house to the Huon Valley so can’t spend much time at the moment. I don’t think it is as black and white as you say. Pinchas Lapide an orthodox Jewish scholar states that it is possible that the Jewish Messiah who comes in the future may have once been Jesus of Nazareth. He writes in “The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective”:

            “I cannot imagine that even a single Jew who believes in God would have the least thing against that… Should the coming one be Jesus, he would be precisely as welcome as any other whom God would designate as the redeemer of the world. If he would only come!”

            Pinchas Lapide wrote in defense of the historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus. Of course, as an orthodox Jew he did not accept that the Resurrection of Jesus proved he was the Messiah or God in the Flesh. He wrote:

            “…If the defeated and depressed group of disciples overnight could change into a victorious movement of faith, based only on autosuggestion or self-deception—without a fundamental faith experience—then this would be a much greater miracle than the resurrection itself…”

            He did believe that this historically verifiable death and Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth showed some kind of divine approval and that Jesus was one who was important for preparing for the advent of the Messiah son of David. He also situated the Death and Resurrection in its historically Jewish cultural and spiritual context. There is a clear tradition in Judaism that the Messiah son of Joseph would be killed and then resurrected. The Talmud also teaches that the Messiah may come from among the Dead.

          • Dina says:

            Brother Gilbert has left the discussion, but for the sake of the audience, I will amend what I have written as follows:

            Christianity holds that the Messiah can only ever be Jesus. Judaism holds that the Messiah cannot possibly ever be Jesus. The dissenting opinion of two or three Jews does not change this fact, just as the dissenting opinion of two or three Christians doesn’t change this fact (interesting that Brother Gilbert didn’t present a Christian scholar who posits that the Messiah can be someone other than Jesus).

            Brother Gilbert has not responded to the challenge. I presented this challenge to Concerned Reader; he also has not answered it.

            If there are any liberal Christians in the audience who believe that Judaism is right for Jews and Christianity is right for Christians, feel free to take up the challenge.

            For your convenience, I am reposting the challenge:

            This is the one of the main things that divide us, so which belief is true? They cannot both be true. Either one of them is true or both of them are false; there is no third option.

            Which belief is true? And then how can it be that it’s okay that one religion rejects this truth?

          • Annelise says:

            Brother Gilbert, I’m curious about how people designate Jesus as a son of Joseph; his tribal lineage is traced to Judah and he clearly is described in kingly terms in the Christian scriptures.

            Anyway, if it so happens that he does come again as that king, I think that there will be no decrease in the sense of surprise from Christians who have been claiming all this time that he deserves worship and that belief in him is the only way to the Father. We can’t accept that God has a plan in which people who reject Jesus are rejecting Him, or where people who worship Jesus are going about things the right way. And because of that, although it’s possible that Jesus has been badly misrepresented and will come back as moshiach… the way that history has gone with his followers (even though good has also come from the church) makes it seem to me that the odds are against it even more than for most other eligible candidates. In any case, it doesn’t matter now because such a coming hasn’t happened for anyone to respond to it.

  3. One last comment before Shabbas. One part of me would rather be a devout Breslov Hasid living in Jerusalem and studying at Yeshivah and dancing on vans but I had to follow where I believed truth lay. I used to be quite anti-Catholic so it was rather a shock to find truth there in a faith I had always thought of as idolatrous.

    • Annelise says:

      Thanks. My faith journey also involves seeing some things in Judaism that I would love to dive into, but I hold back while trying to understand whether they are really from Hashem. That is the most important question, and hearing His voice can only usually be a process.

      So this is why we need to respect each other’s faith journeys: because many sincere people are in different places, but we are siblings on one path of trying to honour our God.

      That said, I can’t honour or respect Christianity as a religion. I believe that it obscures many precious things about truth. I will consider it, but if I don’t see truth in it then I will attack it- not because I have any great confidence in my own understanding of its falsehood, but because I am passionate about the loyalty that builds high walls against idolatry and which I presently see no entrance through for Jesus.

      I’m curious about your process of Torah-testing the stories of Jesus. Also, is it the Catholic church community that makes you accept the New Testament, or vice versa, or a bit of both- and how?

      I’d still also value hearing what you meant when you said that mentions of Christian theology are all through Tanach, it just depends how you read it. If we are looking at those scriptures for proof, or for clear indications, about how Jesus is to be understood, then we can’t do so through a lens that already favours him. To do so would be more a matter of recognising connections in hindsight of already-decided beliefs… rather than a process of testing whether a new revelation may enter a present, and God-established, worldview. Remember that there is no room for uncertainty or for guessing when it comes to whom you’re praying to, so it isn’t just a matter of finding that the theology is possible to harmonise with Torah. The question is whether it is shown to be actually real, in a way that Israel can and must rightly accept.

  4. Concerned Reader says:

    If we are looking at those scriptures for proof, or for clear indications, about how Jesus is to be understood, then we can’t do so through a lens that already favours him. Well said Aneleise

    • I am not asking you to do that but it is obvious that if we have become convinced that Yeshua is the Mashiach then we will see the whole of Jewish Scripture and tradition in the light or perspective of this Messianic prism. For us we see new levels of understanding in our Jewish traditions so that our observance of Passover is an even richer spiritual experience for us than before. I don’t think Rabbi Jacob Emden could be accused of already favouring Jesus but he comes to a totally different understanding of him than many here.

      • Annelise says:

        But since I was talking about there being no indication in scripture that the Jewish nation should be wary not to miss something this risky- and you wrote “We see throughout the Tanakh the concept of the Triune God and the Messiah who is God. It all depends on how you read it”- that’s why I wanted to clarify. As long as we are making a clear distinction between using Tanach as a reason to believe in Jesus, and on the other hand just assuming there are connections, then ok.

        • Annelise says:

          Also, it’s not up to us to write the poetry of Pesach. It’s about what is true and acceptable Torah-wise, otherwise we’re talking a hijacking of holiness.

          • Annelise says:

            I’m still curious as to how you came to believe in Jesus… how you were attracted to it, how you tested it. I noticed you talked about the resurrection as a verifiable event, and also your appreciation for Pope Francis’ inclusiveness. What else is part of the story?

            I ask not to pull it apart, because it’s a personal thing for you to choose and no one can explain their choices to anyone but God… but out of curiosity and also a desire to ask more relevant questions about the foundation of the faith you have and are presenting.

          • Like most a mixture and personal intimate encounter and intellect and study. I had an experience of Ruach ha Kodesh and received a healing gift when I was 18 by myself in my bedroom at home. I then became sensitive to spiritual things and the Presence (Shekhinah). It changed me and I was no longer anti-Catholic and anti Rabbinic Judaism. I started to become observant as a Jew and at 23 I had an encounter of the Presence in an empty Catholic Church which experience mixed with study and prayer led me to becoming a Catholic at age 24. That’s the very short version. The growing sense of the Presence of Our Lady was also part of the journey. She is my “Well of Miriam”

      • Dina says:

        Brother Gilbert, you wrote “I am not asking you to do that but it is obvious that if we have become convinced that Yeshua is the Mashiach then we will see the whole of Jewish Scripture and tradition in the light or perspective of this Messianic prism.”

        I find this very problematic. If first you have to be convinced about Jesus and then you find him in Scripture, that’s circular reasoning. In this case, one is not reading Scripture to find out what God is teaching, but rather one is reading Scripture to find support for his preconceived beliefs.

  5. Dina says:

    Hi Brother Gilbert,

    I apologize in advance for what I’m going to say, because it’s harsh. I hope you accept what I say in the spirit in which I offer it, which is the wish to achieve clarity.

    You mentioned that your desire is not to engage in a theological debate but to bring Jews together, and to garner support from Jews for Jewish Christians so as to strengthen their Torah observances and reduce intermarriage.

    This is like an adulteress who pleads for acceptance so as to support her other commitments to her husband in order to uphold the institution of marriage. After all, she says, she does cook and clean for her husband. But this woman’s “commitments” are meaningless because she has missed the point of marriage, which is its sexual exclusivity.

    Likewise, the “Torah observances” of Jewish Christians are meaningless because they have missed the point of the covenant between God and Israel, which is its devotional exclusivity.

    I don’t understand how you can expect Jews to support other Jews who commit the greatest crime against God, the violation of His covenant.

    • Dear Dina, If you feel this way there is not much point in any further dialogue with you and those who share this opinion – which is rather disappointing and sad. Michael Wyschogrod the orthodox Jewish theologian wrote an open letter to Cardinal Lustiger about Jews in the Church adhering to the mitzvot- if it is meaningless for them to do so then why did he bother to write to the Cardinal? Why do the Chabad Rabbis bother to get us to wrap tefillin etc. We will continue to practice our Jewish observances no matter what others think about them as they are spiritually meaningful to us. I see the narrowness of the Shammai Pharisees is still with us and I don’t see much difference between your attitude and that of fanatical Catholics who think we are all going to Hell because we celebrate passover and other Jewish ceremonies. Thank you for confirming for me why I love Pope Francis and the his inclusive approach to others.

      • Annelise says:

        There is a genuine tension between allowing holiness to exist in a place that is unintentionally full of wrong beliefs… that is, letting a light shine… and on the other hand feeling very sensitive about letting holy things be tarnished by idolatry.

        It is always meaningful to do a mitzvah and I think that is all an individual needs to focus on. There is probably space in Judaism to allow that, but the syncretism is still sad and actually damaging.

        Inclusiveness is good for people, not ideas.

      • Dina says:

        Brother Gilbert, you wrote that you are sorry I feel this way, but I don’t bring feelings into a discussion about the truth. The more important question–in fact, the only important question–you ought to ask, is what I wrote true? Why or why not?

        By the way, I have always been suspicious of calls for inclusion, tolerance, etc. Such calls are naive at best and disingenuous and cynical at worst. Why? Because those who call for unity want us to unite around THEIR values. Whoever disagrees is immediately written off. That is why you wrote me off as a Shammai Pharisee, in your mind one of the most terrible things I can be, no longer fit to be a partner in your discussions.

        You catch more flies with honey? Take the beam out of your own eye first. I explained the Jewish rejection of your argument. You attacked my character.

        I hope you will reconsider your words.

        Peace,
        Dina

        • Dina you called me an idolater and a great criminal. I think most people would be upset at such language and I have no desire to converse further with anyone who refers to me in such language. You are entitled to your opinion but I am entitled to be upset at such negative language towards myself and others. I came to this discussion at the suggestion of another person and I thank Rabbi Blumenthal (who obviously holds a different opinion to me but expresses himself in a civil and polite manner that is open to discussion much like my local Rabbi) but will remove myself from this discussion.

          • Dina says:

            Brother Gilbert, surely you knew that Jews hold that worship of Jesus is idolatry? Surely you knew that the Torah holds that idolatry is the greatest crime against God? I do not understand why you are hurt when I simply state the Jewish position.

            It saddens me to see that you would rather not have the sort of discussion that leads to greater clarity and deeper truth seeking. I was hoping you would be more committed to the truth than to your feelings.

            May God Who is the Father of us all lead us in the light of His truth.

            I wish you well,
            Dina

          • As Catholics believe that Yeshua is the one God who created the Universe and that gave the Law to Israel and the God that spoke through the prophets they worship the one God by worshiping Yeshua. This is not idolatry as they do not hold that Yeshua is a second God but the One God. Of course if one doesn’t believe Yeshua is the One God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and he is just a man and only a man and one worships him then that would be idolatry. Just as it was wrong for many Catholics to refer to the Jews and Romans who crucified Yeshua as Deicides. One would only be a deicide if one knew he was God and then killed him. This is why the Church has forbidden the use of this term by Catholics in regard to the Jewish people. It is Catholics who do know Yeshua is God that commits spiritual deicide when they crucify him by serious sin and refuse to repent.

          • Dina says:

            Brother G., I’m delighted that you decided to stay after all. I do know that Christians (not just Catholics but all Christians) believe that Jesus is God and that God is one. Nevertheless, Jews don’t accept that. The Torah teaches that God must be worshiped ONLY as He appeared at Sinai. Read Deuteronomy 4 carefully to see the warnings Moses delivers to the people of Israel regarding this teaching.

            According to Deuteronomy 4, any other type of worship is idolatry.

            One more thing: when we search for truth, the discussion gets heated. It gets messy. But it’s NEVER personal. Please understand that. And I ask you, again, to accept my words in the spirit in which I offer them, which is the spirit of truth seeking. I always regret when my words give offense, but I am committed to the truth–to telling the truth as I see it–as a higher value.

            Thank you for staying with me in this dialogue, and please disregard my comments where I address the audience, noting–incorrectly–your absence.

            Peace and blessings,
            Dina

          • I believe Yeshua is the God that appeared at Sinai as the Living Torah who is Sar ha Torah. After his Resurrection he entered Eternity and was the uncreated Word (Davar/ Memra) of Creation (Bereshit) spoken by the Father, he was the image of God (Adam Kadmon) in which Adam haRishon was made and He enter time and appeared to Adam in the Garden and to Moses with the Torah on Mt Sinai etc. God the Father (Ain Sof) is unseen, God the Son (shekhen Y-h-V-h) is the visible manifestations of God throughout history made present through the power of God the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh).

          • Dina says:

            Brother G., does Deuteronomy 4 support this belief?

          • Annelise says:

            There are too many conversations here, and too many people on the one side, for Brother Gilbert to feel he can discuss comfortably and in a personal, respectful manner… so I will leave the conversation as it is. I don’t think that people are necessarily being too harsh when they reject Christianity’s attempt to redefine Judaism and explain their reasons for it, and I don’t think that the idolatry issue is merely a historically-driven bias against church culture. Even so, the Internet is a hard place for discussion, and in a sense people usually learn most about others when they feel the weight of their own questions. Brother Gilbert is more defending and promoting Catholicism than questioning it, while at the same time wanting inclusion and friendship, so an inter-religious friendship might be more what he is seeking than a theological discussion?

          • Annelise says:

            What I mean is that while labels like heretic and idolator should not be thrown about loosely by the sincere, the issue of true worship has been an essentially ‘Jewish’ part of the discussion from the start and transcends personal remarks. If I were, God forbid, to say that a rabbi I respect deserves my worship, then it wouldn’t matter how monotheistic my theology may be; it would matter whether the man really was, or wasn’t, an imposter in the realm of my devotion.

            It’s hard to argue with feelings and spiritual experiences though, which is where I feel the discussion is anchored… so be well, be strong and blessed in the journey of life. It was great talking with you 🙂

          • Dina says:

            Annelise, it was great seeing you here again. I just have to respond to your comment about not throwing labels around loosely. The great divide between Christianity and Judaism from the Jewish perspective is that Christian worship of Jesus is idolatry. How can we have an honest discussion if we ignore that fact?

          • Annelise says:

            Hi Dina. I just meant that there is in some ways a difference between publicly labeling a belief as heretical, and publicly labeling a person as a heretic. We are speaking of idolatry and Brother Gilbert feels like he is being given a label (I’m not saying that anyone is doing that)… true, he has chosen to identify himself inextricably with those things… but I was saying that I want to somehow avoid letting people feel shamed and excluded. Christians have a very jerking reaction to the idolatry charge because they take it personally and, as well as thinking we are misunderstanding their trinity beliefs, they tend to feel judged. It’s hard.

          • Annelise says:

            So I meant- if possible, the sincere shouldn’t be throwing labels at each other.

            Again, not saying that people here are doing that, just that it matters to avoid the impression of it. Also, not saying that there’s no place for the labels at all, they can have meaning when people are using a place of influence to misguide others. But it will always be complicated on the personal level.

          • Dina says:

            Annelise, I disagree, respectfully. Honest discussion becomes impossible if we have to worry that Christians will be hurt when we state our position that Christianity is idolatrous. That’s the main point for Jews, so if we worry about hurting people’s feelings we would have to shut down all discussion.

            Furthermore, I don’t see Christians worrying at all about offending Jews by taking their God and linking it to an idol and then twisting their own Scripture and the writings of their own rabbis to justify it.

            The truth is a higher value than people’s feelings. And that is that.

            Obviously, someone who is in emotional pain like Brother Gilbert should be shown greater sensitivity and kindness. But that sensitivity would not include sugar coating what we believe. It would be respecting his decision to leave the discussion while taking time to heal.

          • Annelise says:

            I didn’t mean that, I think we should definitely state our position that Christianity is idolatrous. Sorry I wasn’t clear enough.

          • Dina says:

            Great, glad we cleared that up!

        • LarryB says:

          dina
          “I have always been suspicious of calls for inclusion, tolerance, etc. Such calls are naive at best and disingenuous and cynical at worst. Why? Because those who call for unity want us to unite around THEIR values. Whoever disagrees is immediately written off. That is why you wrote me off as a Shammai Pharisee, in your mind one of the most terrible things I can be, no longer fit to be a partner in your discussions.”
          Well said. Something I have noticed over the past year in some of my old stomping grounds back when I was a catholic, they no longer allow open discussion. EVERYTHING is moderated. They will boot you or never post anything that does not agree with catholic belief. I almost cannot believe it.

          Larry

          • The Church has for many years successfully run ecumenical and interreligious dialogue groups accepting, respecting and discussing the differences and embracing those things we have in common and acting on them together when possible.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Inclusion is only disingenuous when it advocates that a person abandon their principles and identity Larry, or when it sits with deaf ears. It’s a very important thing to come to know each other to the best of our ability, so we may love peace and pursue peace. Tolerance is not naive, intolerance is, as history has shown humankind again and again, yet we choose to ignore history.

          • Dina says:

            Con, Larry was quoting my words, and as usual, you misrepresent them. I did not say that tolerance is naive. I would ask that you please read the whole thread in context.

            Thanks!

  6. I will leave you and Dina a word of advice-you win more people with honey than vinegar. The language used here towards those who hold other spiritual viewpoints is offensive, harsh and negative. Maybe you should reread the story about the Gentile who wanted to learn the Torah while standing on one leg. i sense none of the love or wisdom of Hillel here only the rigor of Shammai, none of the tolerance and generosity of Gamaliel only the judgement of Caiaphas and Annas. The Catholic Church has repented for its mistakes of the past and no longer uses inflammatory and negative language towards those of other faiths maybe you should think about doing likewise.

  7. Annelise I never answered your question about Yeshua as the son of Joseph- Yeshua legally and according to Halakah was the son of St Joseph as he was conceived and born into the Jewish marriage of Mary and Joseph. There is alot more to this and there is a whole field of Josephology in the Catholic Church. Joseph is the created Shadow of the Father and Joseph while not the biological father is the ‘template’ for the masculine human nature of Yeshua.

    • Dina says:

      Brother G., while according to the Torah a person could legally adopt a child and that child could then obtain inheritance rights, tribal affiliation can only be passed by birthright through patrilineal descent. Thus, a child adopted by a Kohen could never serve in the Temple. See Numbers Chapter One on tribal affiliation.

      • Dina, I think what brother G is saying, is that while the Church believes in Mary’s virginal conception of Jesus, it does not rule out Joseph’s DNA being in Jesus. There are also Christian traditions in antiquity about him being Joseph’s literal Son. The Ebionites believed this way, though they believed the Christ dwelled in him. The Christ is taken to be “like the archangel.”

        • Dina says:

          Con, that doesn’t change the point I made. It doesn’t matter if Jesus had Joseph’s DNA, an unverifiable belief. Tribal affiliation is passed down through patrilineal descent.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            If he had Joseph’s DNA that would mean he is biologically of Joseph, as well as being raised by Joseph. As far as anyone in the first century knew, he was the son of Joseph.

          • Dina says:

            Con, so now you’re saying he’s Joseph’s son by birth? Not the son of God?

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Con, so now you’re saying he’s Joseph’s son by birth? Not the son of God?

            One view does not nullify the other Dina, or make it impossible. Jesus could reasonably be born of Joseph “by birth” with his genes, yet still from the Holy Spirit, and yet be the Son of G-d. Just because the text says, “no man has touched me,” doesn’t mean that G-d wouldn’t respect his own laws regarding paternity. Whether Jesus was born of a virgin or not, would have been irrelevant to the authorities of his day for the question of his lineage precisely because what was known at the time was that he was Joseph’s son, and his brothers were of Davidic descent. Christian tradition accepts as a mysterion, that he is son of David and son of G-d.

            http://en.m.wikisource.org/wiki/Desposyni_according_to_the_Church_Fathers

            In his Historia Ecclesiae, 3.20 (original text) he quotes from Hegesippus (c.110-c.180), who wrote five books (now lost except for some quotations by Eusebius) of Commentaries on the Acts of the Church, the following account, ascribed to the reign of Domitian (81-96):

            There still survived of the KINDRED OF THE LORD the grandsons of Jude, brother of Jesus, who according to the flesh was called his brother. These were informed against, as belonging to the family of David, and Evocatus brought them before Domitian Caesar: for that emperor dreaded the advent of Christ, as Herod had done.

            The Ebionites too regarded Jesus as biologically the son of Joseph. One belief did not contradict the other in an ancient and even Medieval context.

            (Guide For the Perplexed part II Section 6) http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/gfp/gfp093.htm

            Say to a person who is believed to belong to the wise men of Israel that the Almighty sends His angel to enter the womb of a woman and to form there the fœtus, he will be satisfied with the account; he will believe it, and even find in it a description of the greatness of God’s might and wisdom; although he believes that the angel consists of burning fire, and is as big as a third part of the Universe, yet he considers it possible as a divine miracle. But tell him that God gave the seed a formative power which produces and shapes the limbs, and that this power is called “angel,” or that all forms are the result of the influence of the Active Intellect, and that the latter is the angel, the Prince of the world, frequently mentioned by our Sages, and he will turn away; because he cannot comprehend the true greatness and power of creating forces that act in a body without being perceived by our senses.

            The active intellect is the source of forms. The active intellect is the “prince of the world,” ie the Logos of G-d. Though scriptural accounts seem fantastic, G-d does not contradict nature even when it seems that way.

          • Dina says:

            Con,

            It’s impossible to have an honest debate with you because if I say that Christians believe something, then instead of responding to that, you say, well, the Ebionites didn’t believe that. Or first-century Christians believed something else.

            Do Christians today (and I mean Christians generally; I’m not referring to the three or four Christians who dissent) believe that Jesus was born as the result of normal, natural intercourse between Mary and Joseph and that Joseph is his birth father?

            No, they do not.

            And since they do not believe that, then I can point out to them that according to their belief, Jesus was not qualified to be the Davidic King, not having had his Davidic lineage passed to him through his father.

            By the way, it’s rather shocking what you’ve done with Maimonides here. Do please read him without an agenda and you will see why Jim and I both think it is dishonest to slip that quote in.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Dina, I wasn’t posting that quote to impute anything regarding a belief to Maimonides, merely noting that he used an example of a supernatural claim, and gave a natural explanation. If such can be done for Adam, or for a hypothetical birth with angelic assistance, it can be done by Christians when discussing Jesus’ birth, that was my point. I realize that he is talking about angels and their existence in this chapter.

            However, as Brother Gilbert mentioned to you, Catholics also have in depth studies and questions about their doctrines. I gave you examples of Christians in the past who held to Christology, while believing that Joseph was Jesus’ father. You say this isn’t honest, how so? You want people to read Christianity in the most base, most fundamentalist way possible, to make your point. I’m sorry, but many Christians hold diverse beliefs, and though Jesus is said to be born of a virgin the church yet teaches that we don’t necessarily know exactly how it went down.

            I know you want to disprove Jesus on this point, but that requires you to read Christianity as if it is all one homogenous pot, and you likewise want Christians to ignore the diversity of their history. You ask Christianity to explain details of doctrine that you never ask of the Torah. You ask for levels of evidence that you’ve never asked of the Torah. You say its impossible to dialogue with me.It is likewise impossible when a person gives you evidence, and you simply say no, or that its irrelevant. I’m not placing things into a black and white box, because in truth, its not so black and white.

          • Dina says:

            Con, I’m just repeating what your own scripture says. Not interpreting, just repeating. That’s fundamentalist, now, is it?

            If we took a poll asking Christians if they believe in the literal account of Jesus’s birth resulting not from the union of two human parents but from a miraculous virgin birth, what do you think the percentage would be? Honestly!

            Read Jim’s excellent comment on this matter: https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/an-open-letter-to-brother-gilbert/#comment-16852

          • Dina says:

            Con, you leveled at me two false accusations.

            1. “You ask Christianity to explain details of doctrine that you never ask of the Torah.”

            I discuss BASIC doctrine, not details. It’s not my fault Christians can’t agree on the basics. I don’t talk about hairsplitting differences. The virgin birth is a major, basic doctrine, not a small detail. All Orthodox Jews agree on the basics. That’s a huge difference between Christians and Jews. One of the things that makes Christians so slippery to argue with is that they keep changing their minds on the major points.

            2. “You ask for levels of evidence that you’ve never asked of the Torah.”

            Not true. I asked for the same standard of evidence. If Jesus is going to claim a higher authority than Moses, let God speak to him in front of the whole nation as per Exodus 19:9.

          • Jim says:

            Dina,

            I am surprised at you! Surely by now you know quoting a text is a fundamentalist act.

            If an author claims that Jesus fulfilled scripture, they do not mean that. They mean that they have invented a midrash, the meaning of which is unknown to anyone but the author.

            If an author claims that Jesus said hurtful things, that is an interjection by the hurtful author. Surely you would not be so fundamentalist to think that when a book says that Jesus said something that they mean he said it.

            If an author claims that Jesus was born of a virgin, obviously they do not mean that either. How shallow of you! Tut tut.

            And when an author writes the Jesus rose from the dead, they really only mean that his body is still interred but his ideas live on. Only a fundamentalist would claim that he rose from the dead in fact.

            Get it together, Dina.

            Jim

          • Dina says:

            Jim, you forgot to add that I nevertheless must understand the passages where an angel calls himself by God’s name as being an actual manifestation of God or else I am ignoring the plain meaning of Scripture. You see, both ways have to be had. But I’m such a fundamentalist that I like things to be consistent.

          • Jim says:

            Dina,

            Good point!

            Jim

      • Dear Dina,

        Yeshua was not adopted he was a child born into a legal Jewish marriage. Davidic descent can also be maternal such as Hillel was a Davidic Nasi through his mother but of Benjamin through his mother. Yeshua’s mother was descended from the yibum son of Prince Nathan but biological son of his brother Solomon. Thus Jesus was born into a Jewish family with a legally recognised mother and father. In all legal sense Jesus was thus the son of Joseph and a legal descendant of Joseph’s ancestors going back to Solomon and David. Jesus was not born to an unwed mother as some like to speculate.

        However God even likes to cover all the bases by making his Son also biologically descended from David and Solomon. Luke’s Gospel shows Jesus maternal ancestry back to Nathan bar David a brother of King Solomon.

        A Chabad Hasidic article states: “…However, it is interesting to note that while it is clear from all of the above sources that the Messiah will be a descendant of King Solomon, the Zohar seems to state that Moshiach will actually be a descendant of Nathan, a different son of David. Expounding on the verse (Isaiah 40:9), “Upon a lofty mountain ascend, you who brings good tidings to Zion,” the Zohar states:

        “You who bring good tidings to Zion” is Hephzibah, the wife of Nathan son of David, who is the mother of Messiah, Menachem son of Amiel. She shall go out and bring the tidings . . .”

        The famed 20th-century Jewish scholar and kabbalist Rabbi Reuven Margolies explains that the Zohar is careful to describe the Moshiach as being a descendant of Nathan’s wife, rather than of Nathan himself. Nathan had passed away childless, and Solomon his brother married his widow, according to the laws of yibum, levirate marriage.
        In a levirate marriage, the firstborn son of the widow and the brother of the deceased is considered to be a continuation of the dead husband’s line. Therefore, Moshiach is referred to here as “offspring” of Nathan, even though he is a descendant of King Solomon. “

    • Dina says:

      This is why, if Jospeh was not Jesus’s biological father, we cannot accept that he is a descendant of King David on his father’s side, which is a requirement for the Messiah.

  8. Jim says:

    I am amazed by those who acknowledge the history of the Church but find a way to downplay it anyway: “The Catholic Church has repented for its mistakes of the past and no longer uses inflammatory and negative language towards those of other faiths maybe you should think about doing likewise.” If only the Church had just used inflammatory language! But there was much more inflammatory than their words—the auto-de-fe’!

    For 2,000 years the Church has inflicted great harm upon the Jewish people, but of late it has changed its policy. For that change, the whole world can be grateful. However, the Church has found a way to still malign the Jewish people. They make the Jewish people out to be misanthropic. ‘Why cannot the Jew be as inclusive as the Church? After all, we are done killing them now.’ The audacity of this is breath taking.

    The Church cannot just leave the Jewish people in peace. It now comes to the Jewish people and demands acceptance. And if the Jew says, “You have misunderstood and misrepresented our Torah,” then he is the villain. After all, the Church has now stopped persecuting the Jew. He has even graciously given the Jew permission to keep the Torah. Having done this, the Church demands reciprocity.

    Meanwhile the Church continues to misconstrue the Torah and the rabbis. If they can find one rabbi that did not wholly object to Jesus, they parade him in front of the Jewish community and demand that they consider the minority opinion. The Church continues to misappropriate the Torah and the rabbis, stealing a quote here and there. In their perplexity, the misrepresent Maimonides. They rashly misrepresent Rashi. They ‘find’ Jesus within the words of rabbis who clearly rejected him and call it ‘interpretation’ and respect.

    But this is not respect. If the Church is truly repentant, let it leave the Jewish people alone. Let them stop taking their books and refitting them for their own faith. Let them stop demanding acceptance from their victims. Let them stop issuing advice on how the Jewish people should be more inclusive like the Church.

    When Christians demand acceptance by the Jewish people, it puts me in mind of the story of Dinah. After Shechem raped Dinah, he wanted to marry her. This is the Church. After having harmed the Jewish people for 2,000 years, they now demand that the Jewish people accept the Church as a possible path to God. They urge the merging of the two peoples in many different ways. And they cannot understand why the Jew might decline the oh-so-kind offer. “What? We’re done killing you now. We’re done stealing your property. We’re done kidnapping you, insulting you, spitting upon you, and evicting you. Accept us.” They might as well have said, as Shechem, “I’m done raping you; won’t you be my wife?”

    It is not for the Church to point the finger at the Jewish people for their divisiveness. It would be far better for the Church to adopt a spirit of humility and stop demanding open-mindedness from others. Let the Church tend to itself.

    Jim

    • Sharbano says:

      Part of this issue at hand is “missionizing”, although most Xtian do not want to call it that. I recently saw a video sponsored by ICEJ where a speaker gave a “Xtian sermon” for about 10 minutes at the event. This event hosted the IDF. Sure, there was praise of the IDF but did such an event warrant the inclusion of a “Xtian sermon”. Does all this rhetoric of “inclusion” require US to hear what THEY say about their religion. The answer to this, by the Xtian, is that no one is, “asking You” to convert, therefore why should there be any aversion to it. “If you are strong in your faith” is the typical response. That’s just it; maybe there are those who are Not strong in faith. These are the ones who should Not have any indoctrination whatsoever. One thing Xtianity SHOULD realize is this, Xtianity has Not been the vehicle that has kept Israel from disappearing from humanity. It is Torah alone that has determined Israel’s survival. The sooner the nations realize This the better the relationship between the two will be. I have asked Xtians in the past why should theology even enter into the relationship. The response has been that they just want to “share”. I suppose this comes from the “Golden Rule”, which is NOT the Hillel version. Just the opposite. Would a Gentile Xtian offer an Orthodox Jew a “pork sandwich”. In a sharing mode he would. Jim’s response might seem harsh but there is truth in it.

    • The only Jews that suffered the aut-de -fe at the hands of the Inquisition were Catholic Jews not those who remained Rabbinic. At the time the Rabbinic Jewish community were quite gleeful that these perceived traitors got their comeupance.

    • Yedidiah says:

      Amen. To repent means to return. To the original; not to hold on to the traditions of men based upon & focused upon the name and an image of a man. It is not, “use different tools” or different approaches, whilee keeping the same goal and the same mission.

  9. Concerned Reader says:

    Such calls are naive at best and disingenuous and cynical at worst. Dina, I was quoting Larry not you. With respect.

  10. Dina, you say that I have not answered the challenge you’ve brought “can both be true.” I am not G-d, so I don’t know what kind of ironclad proof you want of a certain truth value, but as I’ve noted to you Many many times, just because truth exists, it does not make us the sole arbiters of that truth.

    G-d is not limited in his actions or choices by the Jewish or Christian traditions or communities. While you believe that Jesus (and Muhammad too) are false prophets, this does not mean that G-d didn’t in fact use them and their movement’s in history to establish ideas of himself amongst non Jews. The disappearance of European idolatry is testament to a redemptive step forward. Maimonides agrees that though both Jesus and Muhammad were wrong and false prophets, and great stumbling blocks, G- d did use their movements to bring knowledge of messiah and mitzvot.

    Also, apparently pinchas Lapide, the Meiri, Rabbi Emden, and many other scholars agree. While you may dismiss this information from a halachic perspective, out of hand, you cannot reasonably reject that there has been a sound basis in lived experience for people to have such discussions about Christianity’s merits.

    I have told you also that Gentile Christians (as opposed to Jewish Christians) came to believe in the veracity of what the Tanakh and gospels claim through their exposure to and acceptance of what they found plausible in a Christian movement. You called my contention absurd, but I noted to you that gentile Christian acceptance of the gospel message was made outside of the halachic system, and therefore based in and on their own experiences in part, so you can’t just disprove that experience using your own interpretation of the Tanach when there are similar ideas in Judaism that you cannot “prove” for your own position. You may be able to say that the Jewish students of Jesus were idiots concerning Torah, but you cannot say this to a gentile who asks you how and why it is that you believe in miracles that are not independently verifiable.

    Many Gentiles were brought straight from Polytheism, through a Christian conversion process (via a minimal halachic exposure akin to noachide laws,) sans Torah conversion. As a result, when you downplay a redemptive experience, or a piece of knowledge that a Christian possesses, (say about the virgin birth of Jesus,) he reasonably asks you, “can you prove using your criteria against my belief that Adam was made from dust?” “No, then why do you ask for external evidence for my belief that you can’t prove for your own traditional belief?

    Truth, (as far as humans are capable of knowing it,) is limited by our temporal nature. If we knew Hashem fully, or his wisdom, we would be Hashem. You can call my contentions absurd, but this is not me giving you no answer. It is you choosing to be dissatisfied with an answer that has been given to you.

    • Dina says:

      Con, the reason I’m dissatisfied with your answer is that you are answering a question I didn’t ask. I did not ask, can you prove which is true? I believe you can, but this wasn’t the question.

      The question was, how can two opposing beliefs be true at the same time?

      If I say black is black, and you say black is white, maybe it helped you in your life to believe that black is white. Maybe millions of people were helped by that belief. But it doesn’t answer the question, “how can black be black and black be white both be true?”

      All I’m saying is, how can you say that both of us are right? Either one of is right, or both of us are wrong.

      I think the problem is, you’re not understanding the question. So maybe I should ask you to restate the question in your own words. Then we’ll take it from there.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        If I say black is black, and you say black is white, maybe it helped you in your life to believe that black is white. Maybe millions of people were helped by that belief. But it doesn’t answer the question, “how can black be black and black be white both be true?”

        Actually Dina, white light contains all of the colors or wavelengths within itself, so, from a certain viewpoint, white can be “black””

        All I’m saying is, how can you say that both of us are right? Either one of is right, or both of us are wrong.

        Both can have truth value because there is evidence that Christianity has its roots in Judaism. When a Jew says that their trust is in G-d and observance of his Torah alone, the Christians can accept this(if they learn their history.)

        Christians on the basis of experience can justly say, “I have faith in the Bible, creation from nothing, one G-d, and I’m sure in the knowledge that I no longer worship the gods of my ancestors.” What you are really asking is not “can both be true?,” but “Can both be absolutely true, the way we understand things right now.”

        • Dina says:

          Con, I’m not sure you understand my question, so I think it would be helpful if you would restate it in your own words. Then we will take it from there.

          • Dina says:

            Well, Con? Will you restate my question? It will be helpful for me to see where I need to clarify what I am asking. Thanks!

    • Jim says:

      Con,

      You say that humans are not the sole arbiters of truth. True enough. Let us ask another question: Who are the arbiters of the meaning of Torah?

      We agree that the Torah is divinely authored, so I need not address the possibility that the book is strictly of Jewish origin. If we were to consider that point, we must grant that the Jewish people are those best able to determine if a practice or belief is consonant with Torah. And therefore, when anyone introduces a new form of worship, it will be up to the Jewish people to judge according to the definitions given in their book whether or not something is in accord with Torah or not. It will not be to the one introducing a new doctrine or practice to declare it himself to be aligned with Torah.

      But since we agree that the book is divinely authored, we must ask to whom did God give it to keep and guard it? I think that we will agree that it is the Jewish people. Moreover, it is evident that they were given the definitions of avodah zara and the tests for a prophet, and that they were the ones appointed to judge in these matters. Therefore, it is obvious that they are the arbiters for what practices and doctrines accord with Torah and which contradict it.

      The Jew is well within his rights to say that Christianity does not accord with Torah. We have been discussing lately the criteria for accepting a prophet. The popular belief among non-Jews in a ‘prophet’ does not lend him credibility. That is not the test of a prophet. And inasmuch as you already claim the Torah is true, you are unable to ignore the tests of a prophet prescribed by the Torah. It is true that you are not the sole arbiter of truth, and if you recognize this, then you must submit to the Torah that you claim is divinely authored and the judges and interpreters to whom he gave it.

      Consistently you have appealed to the irrelevancies to prove that your faith can be reconciled to Torah. You have appealed to your redemptive experience. This is not a test prescribed by the Torah. You appeal to the definitions of idolatry found in the university. This is not a test prescribed by Torah. If you wish to believe that Jesus is divine and a prophet, that is your choice, but you cannot make it accord with Torah.

      And you cannot appeal to the frailty of humanity in determining truth when we have an agreed upon standard. Emphasizing the Torah differently is no way to determine its meaning. You must admit that you come to the Torah with a prejudice; you have said so yourself. You have said that you believe in Torah because you believe Jesus. So then you’ve ignored the parts of Torah and the teachings of the Torah Keepers that do not accord with your opinion and seized upon those that could be read to lend your beliefs credibility. This is neither a sound test for truth or a test for what aligns with Torah.

      The modesty you profess should give you pause. You come to the Jewish people and tell them they must declare your beliefs to be taught in Torah. You tell them that they must accept your religion as a viable interpretation of theirs. You tell them that they are unqualified to judge what accords with the teachings you affirm were entrusted to them by God. Your modesty appears to be an affectation, after all.

      Jim

  11. Concerned Reader says:

    You have said that you believe in Torah because you believe Jesus. So then you’ve ignored the parts of Torah and the teachings of the Torah Keepers that do not accord with your opinion and seized upon those that could be read to lend your beliefs credibility. I have not ignored anything, nor have I seized anything. I have access to the same data as you have access to Jim. I’ve told you, I’m fine with Judaism for Jews, and for those who choose conversion.

    Jim, When have I told Jews to accept my beliefs? When have I told Jews to abandon the Torah? I have said that given freely examined history, a Christian reading can non maliciously arise from within Judaism, and I don’t need Christians to prove this, as I’ve demonstrated.

    Yes, I have reason to believe in Jesus, and yes this reason strengthens the Torah’s own credibility for its claims that cannot otherwise be independently verified. Independent verification is a test of Torah (as we see in Elijah’s test of the prophets of Baal.)

    I can appeal to human frailty, just as Jews themselves did in second temple times, in discussion between Sadducees, Pharisees, and other Jews. Divine inspiration and authorship does not mean that the community cannot falter. Even the teachers can falter, scripture teaches and demonstrates this. The blog has often implied that G-d’s promise of preserving a remnant means the people, as well as a specific legislative body. Scripture and history shows that a group of pious individuals can constitute a righteous remnant, even if not necessarily a by the book legal entity. Look at what the Maccabees did. They were priests, yet they started a dynasty that ruled in Israel and preserved the people in dire straights. Was that kosher for a priestly family to have land holdings and a royal title?

    You imply that we should ignore other perfectly good testimony (from Jewish history) and instead trust the sages who you feel are the sole arbiters. Scripture, history, and experience does not strictly limit G-d’s words to being read only through your premises, with respect. Hope all is well.

    You say that experience and Data are irrelevant, but the data is likewise gathered from Jews in history, just not the sages of today.

    • Jim says:

      Con,

      Though you have not expressed a need for Jews to convert, you have consistently insisted that they not rule Christianity as false. You have expected them to accept it in this way. It is unbelievable to me that you would even think that you have not expected Jews to accept Christianity as a valid interpretation of Torah.

      I do not believe I accused you of telling them to abandon Torah. I acknowledge that you have claimed that they are in their rights to keep Torah, even that they should. On the other hand, you do undermine the Torah. You advocate the worship of a man as a legitimate form of Torah worship. You insist on reading the Torah through your prejudices and insist that the Jews not cling to their definitions of avodah zara. You make the Torah meaningless by allowing foreign meanings to be imposed upon it.

      Be well,

      Jim

  12. Dear all, I will have to bow out of the discussion. Annelise is right and I am probably too sensitive and emotional at the moment due to the suicide of a close family member last week and I am in the middle of moving houses. So thank you for the discussion.

    • Jim says:

      Brother Gilbert,

      I am sorry for your loss. I hope you find comfort in this difficult time.

      Jim

      • Dina says:

        Brother Gilbert, I’m sorry that what was going to be a distraction to take your mind off your pain has only increased it. May you find comfort soon.

        Peace and blessings,
        Dina

    • Annelise says:

      Every blessing and comfort, Brother Gilbert. We all experience that the simplest, deepest place of clinging to Hashem, regardless of our present understandings, is where He is known most closely. I hope your family can find peace in the sadness and pain.

  13. Jim says:

    Con,

    Regarding your comment here: https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/an-open-letter-to-brother-gilbert/#comment-16847

    It is nearly inconceivable that you would quote (and show that you do not understand) Maimonides in the same thread as that in which I wrote:

    “In their perplexity, the misrepresent Maimonides.”

    I urge you to read Maimonides again, without your Jesus-colored glasses on this time, and actually try to understand him. Begin without an agenda beyond understanding Maimonides. Read him carefully, not ready to seize upon phrases that sound vaguely Christian.

    Jim

  14. Sharbano says:

    CR, I suggest you read the beginning of that Chapter from the Rambam. Your conclusions misses the mark. The way you and others have used sources would suggest certain Rabbis were secretly espousing Xtianity. The Rabbis, along with Torah, are given over to distortions using the method of eisogesis, where the interpretation certainly is speaking of the opposite. Do you Really think the Rambam would agree with your assertions and conclusions. The continuity of his writings would certainly suggest the opposite.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      I know that Rambam does not espouse Christian ideas Sharbano. The point I was making is that the Rambam, like others is able to see in biblical language about angels, that G-d does not contradict his own natural laws, even when a miracle seems to indicate such. I am not saying that Rambam secretly believed in the virgin birth. Not at all.

      • Jim says:

        Con,

        You should have heeded our advice and reread the passage from the Guide. In fact, if you had read the preceding sections of the Guide that would have done you much good, as well. Maimonides is not addressing the issue of miracles. He is discussing natural law. At least in this passage, he is not saying that miracles conform to natural law.

        Jim

        • Jim says:

          Con,

          One other note:

          I recalled you calling upon this passage once before, making insinuating comments about the “Active Intellect”, “the Prince of the world,” which you linked to the Greek logos.

          Here is your ‘hint’: “It’s interesting that the Rambam mentions the active intellect, and calls it the Sar Ha Olam, (that’s Rambam’s equivalent of Philo’s logos btw) interesting huh?”

          You never did elucidate what was so interesting about it, so I will tell you what I find interesting with it. He is not referring to anything remotely resembling Jesus. Only a superficial reading would allow one to look at those phrases and see anything Christological in them at all. He is writing about natural law, that all things act according to the design of the creator and are not dependent upon intelligences at all. He is disabusing people of mystical notions, that individual beings come and perform all the natural functions of the world, like so many fairies running about and doing things out of sight of humanity.

          I find it even more interesting that you harp upon the similarities between Maimonides’ conception of the Active Intelligence and the Greek “logos” when he means nothing like what the Church means. In fact, his argument is in direct opposition to Christian authors like Augustine on this point. Yet you get all excited about the use of homonyms, ignoring the definitions of the words employed altogether.

          Jim

          • Jim, do you think that there were no Christian authors that agreed with the Rambam about natural law, allegory, angels, etc.? Aquinas for instance? You say I’m misreading the sources, but there are Christian authors that come to the same conclusions as the Rambam yet while using Christian terminology from within the Christian tradition and context, that’s the point I’m making.

            I’m not nefariously hinting at anything “Christian” that the rabbis secretly believe in. I know there are huge differences in our traditions, but there are historic links that are easily traceable.

            Please Stop imputing such nefarious motives to me. There is a difference between a little sarcasm and malicious intent.

            The point is that there are philosophical strata within Jewish and Christian tradition too where Christian philosophers come to similar conclusions as Jewish philosophers do. Do you think it Is only a flat coincidence that most of the scriptural passages that the Church traditionally says refer to the uncreated Son of G-d, the rabbis say refers to the created Sar ha Olam? Is it coincidence that the argument over the nature of this angel is seen in Talmud? It doesn’t seem to be mere coincidence that these things are also seen in a way as conveying through allegorical language synonyms for natural law by philosophical thinkers within both traditions. Do you think so?

            I’m sure you also know that many early Christians knew of the traditions of an “angel of great council” which they saw as the pre incarnate Jesus/logos. In Philo, the Logos was seen as a created idea, the pattern of nature, which he called Son allegorically. The Arian Christians, and the Ebionites, like the rabbis, held that the Logos/Sar ha Olam/active intellect was created, not uncreated, depending on their philosophical background . My point was, there are similarities, that Span long periods of time, and diverse contexts, that go beyond coincidence.

        • Concerned reader says:

          I know he’s talking natural law Jim. Scriptural language can be read in natural terms. I can read thanks.

      • Sharbano says:

        It’s unacceptable to use writings from the Rambam, and others, to further your own view of theology. Certainly you are not suggesting that he, and other Rabbis, would adhere to your methods of elucidation. To be blunt on the matter, it is nothing short of theft, by using that person’s writings to say what You want it to say. You are appropriating his writings for Your own benefit. I realize the purpose is to give a semblance of credibility to Xtian theologians but that is only credible when both are in agreement. The Rambam clarifies exactly what is agreed upon.

        • I’m not using the texts of Maimonides in an attempt to further my own interpretation please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying the rabbis agree with the Christians at all, I know they vehemently disagree. I’m only noting that there are certain theological ideas in both traditions, with visibly traceable historical connections, that we can see developing over time, in various thinkers, that have shared historic roots, but which developed very differently in their respective Jewish and Christian contexts.

          The Uncreated Son, second person of a triune godhead, is an interpretation that likely originally spawned from discussions about the Sar Ha Panim.

          Some traditions say that Enoch became that angel, while the Christians have the reverse (the “angel” who is the “son” that became Jesus. The point? We can observe the links clearly. There were even Christians historically who agreed that the Son/Sar ha Panim was a created being.

          • Sharbano says:

            It’s quite informative that you use the phrase “while the Xtians have the reverse”. Also informative is this: ” that have shared historic roots, but which developed very differently” This is the sum of the Xtian narrative. It departed from Judaism and became the antithesis and in so doing the Jews left the religion. If it really had the answers that you ascribe to Talmud etc then many more would have continued to follow it.

            You’ve attempted to assign some mystical teachings of Judaism to your reasoning to enhance the Xtian narrative but you have taken “words” that would seem to suggest a comparison where there is none. Without a complete and thorough understanding of Torah and other sources you are merely using the words without the benefit of understanding their ultimate purpose and usage. As with any study, one cannot grasp the concepts without the underlying fundamentals. It is like trying to understand Chemistry without a knowledge of the nomenclature. You first have to understand the nomenclature of this Jewish teaching in order to understand its concepts. You are using what You “assume” to be its essence but is far from its true essence. The ignorance of those in the beginning has resulted in this divergence and allowed it to become unrecognizable to Jewish principles.

  15. Jim says:

    Con,

    One of the reasons you have told us that you post comments here is to help Christians who stumble blindly onto the blog not be confused and dissuaded of their Christianity. I wonder how your innocents are appreciating your efforts at this point.

    According to you, if I recall correctly from the discussion on the Gospel of John, the hateful vitriol of Jesus that appears in that book is an insertion by the author spurred on by the Jewish exclusion of Christians from the synagogue. This being the case, the Gospel of John is an unreliable book for determining the teachings of Jesus. It has been corrupted by the author’s agenda. This in mind, it would be best to exclude the Gospel of John from religious instruction. It should probably not appear in the NT, particularly as the author places his words in Jesus’ mouth.

    Now, you have written off Matthew and Luke as well. In Matthew, Jesus is clearly not formed from the sexual union of Joseph and Mary. It would be one thing to say that Jesus was the ‘Son of God’ in a way different than the rest of humanity, but not by birth. However, this is not the story Matthew is getting across. If he were, he would not tell us that Joseph was going divorce Mary. And his citation of Isaiah 7.14, as absurd as it is taking the story of the virgin birth literally, would become even more absurd if linked to an allegorical virgin birth. Matthew writes that Joseph “had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son,” a detail of no import if he is not writing of a virgin birth through non-natural means (1.25).

    Luke is also clearly referring to a virgin birth. He has Mary asking how she can conceive of a child inasmuch as she has never had sexual relations with a man. And the angel does not reply that he means that once she sleeps with Joseph she will have a special child, but that she will be overshadowed by the “power of the Most High” (1.26-38). It is clear that he is not writing mere allegory either, but taking this to be a miraculous event.

    So, Matthew and Luke, from what you have said are unreliable books as well. They have introduced fantastic elements to which the Jewish followers of Jesus did not subscribe. They have misled the gentile believers with their fantastic narratives. And John has done so as well, attributing words to Jesus that were mere reflections of John’s own biases. (I use the names attributed to the books for ease, not because I take them to be the authors.) Of the four gospels, so far you have discredited three of them.

    I cannot imagine that this shores up the faith of your illusory innocents. I am highly dubious that they are grateful that you are there to defend their faith from the Jewish (and Noahide) infidels. Rather than comforted by your words, they are most likely agog at the effrontery you offer their faith. In your effort to shore up their faith, you undermine it. You have made the gospels, at least three of them, out to be wholly unreliable documents. I do not think the innocents will thank you for this.

    Jim

  16. Jim says:

    Con,

    You have imputed me with the charge that I ask you to ignore data, that it is irrelevant. To that I answer:

    To the contrary, you have ignored all the data that contradicts the conclusions at which you too readily arrived, cherry picking and misrepresenting data to shore up your inappropriate devotion to a man. Moreover, these things have been brought to your attention many times.

    You have argued that Jesus led an exemplary life. I argued that to the contrary, Jesus led a blameworthy life on multiple counts, some of which you still have not answered, including his desecration of the Sabbath and failing to honor his parents. Moreover, very few details of his life are known, so it can hardly serve as an example. You have ignored this and other points, because it does not suit your belief.

    You have asserted that Jesus is divine. This is mere assertion devoid of any substantiation, an assumption on your part. I have pointed out that no one has any experience of Jesus’ divine nature. This you ignored to make a petty point about my phrasing things in the present rather than the past. However, the argument itself you did not answer and cannot answer.

    You have asserted that worship of Jesus is prescribed in Torah. This is baseless. You have ignored that date provided in Deuteronomy that denies that one should worship anything other than God as revealed at Horeb. The book also emphasizes that God assumed no form. You have ignored this data altogether, appealing to definitions of idolatry arrived at through sources other than Torah and the fervent belief of those who believe in him.

    To justify your belief, you have argued that Jesus is like Moses. I have shown how very different the claims of the Church regarding Jesus are from the treatment of Moses in Torah. People do not worship Moses. They do not assert a divine nature to him. They do not claim to have visions of him. All of these points you ignore and treated as a personal attack. It is more data for you to ignore.

    You asserted that Jesus only pointed the way to God. It has been pointed out that this is blatantly untrue. When he came, he came to the Jews who already knew how to serve God. You have even ignored data from your NT that has him telling the Jews that no one can come to the Father except through him, drawing attention to himself and not to God. Moreover, you have ignored that Jesus rewrote Passover to be about himself. This data you have ignored.

    You have erroneously argued that the NT is consonant with the Torah. It has been shown that the two systems are incompatible. Among the data you have ignored is the fact that the NT and Torah are contradictory systems. The NT is a logical impossibility. Either, the Torah is true, and therefore the NT is false. Or the Torah is false, and therefore the NT is false. This you have neglected as well.

    As to cherry picking your sources, it is obvious how you know which Jewish ‘traditions’ are to be given our attention and which are not. Those that affirm allegorical readings of the Torah, eisegetical readings of the Torah are to be credited. It does not matter whether or not they would affirm Jesus or not. They serve to give you license to misrepresent the Torah, to read it with a prejudicial eye, and to put upon it whatever meaning you can find. You do not study their methods to know how to apply them. You seek only justification for the NT’s own warped readings.

    If a traditional Jew writes something that sounds like an echo of Church doctrine, you are all for quoting him. Of course, you dismiss the rest of his work, seizing upon a sentence here, a paragraph there, whatever can be turned to an affirmation of your faith. You do not concern yourself with what the misappropriation of their work would mean to them or their students. You read their works like you read the Torah, with a highlighter in hand so that you can re-emphasize their work.

    No, Con, I have not asked you to ignore data. I, and others, including Dina and R’ Blumenthal, have drawn your attention to much data which you have ignored. You have ignored the contradiction between the NT and Torah. You cherry pick. You rewrite and reinterpret to suit your need. It is not that I have said that data is irrelevant; it is that you have treated the data that contradicts your belief as irrelevant.

    Jim

  17. Concerned Reader says:

    The thing is Jim, I don’t need to rely on my faith claims at all to say what I’ve said, I’m just observing history as it has played out. If only one rabbi, at one time in Jewish history, had noted some minor parallels in his ideology that seemed similar to Church doctrine, I would say that your objection has much merit Jim. That however is not the case when we look at history objectively.

    Philo, the two powers sectarians in the Talmud, the pre Christian and Christian Gnostics, Maimonides, Saadia Gaon, the authors of the Targums, the Dead Sea sectarians, and even modern observant Jewish messianic movements today have all shown that they have had some very strong parallels with Christian concepts in their ideologies, including but not limited to the logos/son, a dying messiah, atonement through death, resurrection, etc.

    One odd parallel here or there would indeed be a context wrenching misuse on my part, but this is not the case with phenomenon that have recurred in Jewish history at numerous times independent of Christian involvement! Jewish and gentile scholars from all levels of religiosity and discipline have noted these similarities, not just little ole me. You continually downplay this as irrelevant. You say to listen to the community testimony, but you likewise want us to ignore as only “mere heresy” the evidences within said community’s history that the prevailing interpretation finds unflattering.

    This information is true and verifiable by unbiased readers independent of Christianity, and independent of my opinion or testimony.

    I am aware that the rabbis do not come to Christian conclusions, I never said they did, but the ideas and parallels with Christian ideas are there in Jewish history with or without me at various points in Jewish history.

    The NT is a logical impossibility. Either, the Torah is true, and therefore the NT is false. Or the Torah is false, and therefore the NT is false.

    Jim, if the astounding claims made by the NT are false and logically impossible, (even accounting for the available examined historical evidence that these types of beliefs arise within Judaism,) I ask you then, what is the likelihood that your astounding faith claims in Judaism are more truly logical or likely in the absence of such historical evidence being verifiable outside of the Jewish community?

    When you can prove as more logical and likely, your traditional premises for Judaism’s claims better than I, Without relying exclusively on your own faith community’s testimony, let me know.

    I am not harmed if you disprove Christianity. If you do, that’s well and good for you. Consider though, if you disprove Christianity as a positive godly movement with an impact on the world, you still have much ground to tread in order to prove Judaism’s own validity according to this standard you are applying to Christianity. Your standard for dismissing Christianity’s claims applies all the more strongly to Judaism once you have sufficiently disproved Christianity. Consider that carefully.

    Remember, Just because any religious book or religious community says something happened doesn’t mean a thing actually happened. You do need external evidence. I have provided ample external evidence that doesn’t need the Christians, their tradition, or their text to be verified as plausible. Your claims by contrast are tied almost exclusively to the testimony of your faith community.

    Just because the followers of any faith system (Christianity, or even Judaism) say something is true doesn’t mean that the statement or belief is true.

    I have shown that it is verifiably certain, independent of my testimony and also independent of Christian testimony that Christianity caused the downfall of European polytheism, and that it (along with Islam) made many people monotheists.

    It is likewise true and verifiable that various ( not just one or two) parallels exist between Christian ideas and Judaism, and in several different authors at various different times. This is historical fact. These ideas have recurred in Jewish history without Christians. Much of the evidence I have brought is ignored, and not dealt with.

    • Dina says:

      Con, you didn’t even begin to answer Jim’s arguments. Read his comment carefully. You’re missing something.

    • Jim says:

      Con,

      Thank you for establishing my point more strongly than I could have possibly articulated. I note in particular that you misrepresent my words on the very page in which I wrote them. Could there be any more definitive proof of the way you ignore data, misquote, and misrepresent? Observe:

      I wrote: “You have erroneously argued that the NT is consonant with the Torah. It has been shown that the two systems are incompatible. Among the data you have ignored is the fact that the NT and Torah are contradictory systems. The NT is a logical impossibility. Either, the Torah is true, and therefore the NT is false. Or the Torah is false, and therefore the NT is false. This you have neglected as well.”

      You quoted: “The NT is a logical impossibility. Either, the Torah is true, and therefore the NT is false. Or the Torah is false, and therefore the NT is false.”

      By ignoring the first half of the paragraph, you are then able to reinterpret what I wrote to suit your own agenda: “Jim, if the astounding claims made by the NT are false and logically impossible, (even accounting for the available examined historical evidence that these types of beliefs arise within Judaism,) I ask you then, what is the likelihood that your astounding faith claims in Judaism are more truly logical or likely in the absence of such historical evidence being verifiable outside of the Jewish community?”

      What folly! It was not the “astounding claims” I called out as illogical. I have not denied that God could work miracles. By omitting the first half of the paragraph, you miss the point entirely. The NT is impossible logically, because it posits a system incompatible with the Torah. I have pointed this out in our conversations at least twice before, once rather recently if I recall correctly. Because the NT affirms the Torah, then it must be compatible with it. Since it is not, the NT is a logically invalid document. It has nothing to do with its “astounding claims,” at least one of which you deny anyway.

      Could there be any clearer evidence of your cherry picking, of hearing only what you want to hear?

      There is little more to address in what you wrote, because it continues to ignore all the points in which you have been refuted. Dina summed it up well when she said that you did not answer my arguments. When you pull in Maimonides, the Targums, Saadia Gaon, and the like, you only prove my point, because none of these men affirmed your beliefs, but by seizing on superficial similarities you are able to read your faith into their works. It is clear that these men would reject your understanding of their work, but you care more for what you can make out of what they wrote than what they wrote.

      But I will address two other points, because it shows the nature of your cherry picking. No one here has denied that Christianity helped put down various other forms of idolatry. However, it also led to much of the violence of the world. It replaced the worship of Zeus with the worship of a man. According to your own books (which as has been noted you do not actually believe) Jesus spoke out against those Jews who taught the world about God and put them on the path to observing the Noahide Commandments. You take the one fact, that Christianity helped end polytheism and ignore all the other facts, because that one fact suits your agenda.

      And the second point is that you apply tests that bolster your faith rather than establish it. You ignore the tests of a prophet prescribed by the Torah, a book you claim to affirm, though I’ve never seen proof of that. The fact that you have to invent your own test, rather than subject Jesus to that prescribed by God is quite telling. This is the very heart of cherry picking. For every one fact that seems to affirm your faith, you ignore five that show it to be false. You should be bothered that Jesus could not fulfill the tests of a prophet prescribed in Torah and that you needed to invent your own.

      Jim

      • Dina says:

        Jim, you’ve got it all wrong. The NT is much truer than the Torah, which is only true because Jesus happened to believed it, as a side point. If you had thought this through, you would have seen it. Here’s why the NT is so much truer than the Torah.

        On the one hand, we have historical, extra-biblical verification of the following set of facts:

        1. There was a Messianic claimant named Jesus.
        2. He was crucified by the Romans.
        3. His followers claimed he was resurrected from the dead and ascended to heaven in his resurrected state.

        On the other hand, we do not have historical, extra-biblical verification of the following set of facts:

        1. There was a man named Moses.
        2. The people he led claimed to witness the revelation of God on a national scale.

        Ta-da!

        • LarryB says:

          Dina
          Christians say they believe in the Torah because Jesus did, so really, they “have”to. I wonder what is the difference between muslim belief in the Torah and christian belief. Both seem to agree with it until it it disagrees with eiher the koran or the NT.. Oh I can hear them say , no it doesn’t, along with posting pages of cut and paste scripture presented as proof. Even when they talk to the the very people G-d made a covenant with to keep the torah, they disagree. Why? Because it diasgrees with “their” religious beliefs. They will tell you the keepers of the covenant are wrong. G-d can perform any miracle they can dream up except the one where the teaching G-d gives to the Jewish people to pass on. You can point out their more than tainted history, doesn’t matter. Wrong will never admit it is wrong.

          • Dina says:

            Indeed, Larry, and the Prophets tell us this won’t change until the redemption of Israel, may it come speedily in our days!

      • When you pull in Maimonides, the Targums, Saadia Gaon, and the like, you only prove my point, because none of these men affirmed your beliefs, but by seizing on superficial similarities you are able to read your faith into their works.

        Jim, you misunderstand my point. I’m not imputing Christian faith to these thinkers, or their works. I am however noting a shared theological construct that both communities employ, though both employ and understand it in very different ways, even contradictory ways.

        Logos, Son, Spirit, Sar Ha Panim, Active intellect, Kavod Nivra, Memra, Shekinah, all share common themes and functions in both faith traditions. Prophetic inspiration, revelation, euphemisms for natural law, an indication of a degree of immanence of the divine presence, etc. are usually indicated by the usage of these terms in both traditions within their contexts. I am saying Judaism has its concepts, and Christianity has its concepts, both are different, but both share historically discernible roots and even connections in usage and meaning. We both define and understand things through our respective contexts, but to intimate no contact, no real similarity, is not historical. My intention is not to downplay the interpretive and ideological differences between Jews and Christians. I’m looking at the concepts in use (in their respective contexts) and I see a historical connection and continuity, even with clear differences.

  18. You have asserted that Jesus is divine. This is mere assertion devoid of any substantiation, an assumption on your part.

    Same goes for your notions of G-d, unless I’m wrong? Let me know the next time you yourself speak to Hashem directly and he answers you. Record it on tape for posterity if you don’t mind. 😉 all sarcasm aside, we know that faith plays a role.

  19. Jim says:

    A parable—

    A man, who was known for his sexual adventures, decided to take a wife. He found a woman with whom he thought he could start a family, but she had one condition. She wanted him to put an end to the womanizing. To this condition, he readily agreed.

    And he did cease his promiscuous ways, except that he took himself a mistress. He only had the one mistress, and he cared for her, much as he cared for his wife. Eventually, his wife found out. Obviously, she was angry and hurt. She filed for divorce.

    The man could not understand his wife’s behavior. “Honey,” he said, “I do not understand what you are so angry about. I did exactly what you asked. I do not entertain the large number or women that I used to do. I know you did not want me to have meaningless sex, so I quit that. But my mistress, that was not meaningless sex. It was just her, and I loved her very much. And I know that’s what you wanted for me, not to have sex with women I hardly knew, but only with women I knew and cared for deeply. I replaced all the faceless women with you and my mistress. I thought you would be happy.”

    The point: Replacing a pantheon with one idol is not the goal. The Christian, employing jargon and incomprehensible arguments, tries to justify the worship of a man as monotheism. Not only is this not monotheism, just as the man above is not monogamous, but the end goal is not monotheism for monotheism’s sake. One owes his devotion to the Creator and Sustainer of life and to no one else.

    Consider that in the parable above, the man could have been monogamous. He could have slept only with his mistress. That would miss the point. His devotion ought to be to his wife alone. He is not to practice monogamy for the sake of monogamy.

    Any worship of a man violates one’s duty to his Creator.

    Jim

  20. Jim says:

    Con,

    Aquinas may link the idea of the Word with natural law, but he also links it to Jesus as a part of the Trinity. The one idea may be similar to Maimonides; the other clearly is not. You incessantly blur distinctions and tell the Jews that Christian ideas are basically Jewish, while ignoring their points of diversion. If Dina, for example, writes that an idea is incorrect, your response (probably 99%) is not to prove the idea through argument, but to ask, “Oh yeah? Then why did Jew X espouse this idea?” And when we show that they have a different understanding, you ignore those differences and retreat to just showing that there are similarities.

    So what if there are similarities? No one ever said otherwise. But the differences make all the difference in the world. You minimize those differences at every turn with the insistence that the Jewish people not exclude Christianity as a proper form of worship. But your insistence relies on cherry picking. You emphasize the similarities and ignore (or only nominally acknowledge) the differences, some of which are huge.

    It is a huge difference to write of Jesus as the Word and natural laws as the Word. The ideas themselves are two entirely different things. And we cannot pretend otherwise.

    Moreover, anybody can witness your cherry picking on this very page, which you still have not acknowledged. You truncated my words and spun them in a way I clearly did not write so that you could argue with a straw man. Moreover, you have failed to acknowledge that Rambam was not referencing miracles in the passage you quoted, and that it does nothing to prove that the birth of Jesus would have been a natural event.

    Jim

  21. Jim says:

    A parable–

    Once there was a foolish man who had an enemy whom he hated with an implacable hatred. He wished to find a way to poison the man. He discovered that his object of hatred had a fondness for strawberry shortcake, and this gave him a plan. He would lure his enemy to his house with the promise of strawberry shortcake… and cyanide.

    His enemy, unable to resist the lure of strawberry shortcake, and assuming that his host had decided to make peace with him, accepted the invitation. The foolish host decided the best way to entice his enemy was to make the strawberry shortcake right before him. He cut up the freshest strawberries and made a compote. He baked the shortbread fresh, the sweetest smell emanating from them. And whipped the cream fresh before his enemy’s eyes. And once everything was prepared, he covered the shortbread with the compote and fresh strawberries. He topped them both with the whipped cream. And then, before his intended victim eyes, he sprinkled a clearly marked vial of cyanide over the dessert.

    His guest refused to eat. The foolish man could not understand it.

    “But it has the freshest strawberries, just as a shortcake should. Do you not acknowledge this?”

    “Yes, I do. But–”

    “And does that shortbread not smell like the best you’ve ever smelled?”

    “Yes, but–”

    “And does not strawberry shortcake usually come with whipped cream?”

    “Yes, but–”

    “Then I do not understand you! I know you love strawberry shortcake, and I have labored very much to make the best strawberry shortcake I could. And yet you refuse to eat?!”

    “I do. You have indeed used many of the best ingredients, but you have added a poison. Surely this would kill me.”

    The foolish man was outraged: “This is just like you, to seize upon small differences! This is why I hate you, and there shall never be peace between us!”

  22. Jamo77 says:

    Wow I use to see Brother Gilbert at the parish I use to go here in Perth. What a small world.

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