Correcting Some Misconceptions

Correcting Some Misconceptions

In the recent conversation with Brother Gilbert, some inaccurate statements were posted on this blog. For the sake of truth I do not want to leave those statements unchallenged.

Rabbi Yaakov Emden was quoted with some positive words about Christianity’s founders, Jesus and Paul. But this did not stop him from labeling Christianity as idolatry for Jews as well as for Gentiles.

Brother Gilbert insinuated that the negative characterization that the Christian Scriptures presents of the Pharisees holds true for the Shammai sect of Pharisees. This is untrue. No sect of Pharisees acted as did the Pharisees portrayed by the Christian Scriptures. Every written record bequeathed to us by history demonstrates that the Pharisees were the precise opposite of what the gospel writers would have us believe.

Brother Gilbert told us that the Church has repented for its crimes against the Jewish people. I would think that repentance for the vicious murder of myriads of innocents needs to go a bit farther than some apologetic words.( In this context, I recommend the book; A Moral Reckoning, by Daniel Goldhagen, which analyzes the attitude of the Catholic Church toward its own sins.)

Finally, Brother Gilbert alleged that when the Church burned people alive at the stake, that the Rabbinic community rejoiced because the victims of the Church were generally traitors to the Jewish faith.

This accusation has no basis in fact. The records that we have of the times demonstrate that the Rabbinic community yearned for the return of their brethren who had been forcibly converted. There is no record of any joy expressed by the Rabbinic community at the occasion of the murder of their brethren.

What history has bequeathed to us is a record of Catholic joy at the death of those who had been forced to convert to their faith of “love.” The auto da fe, where “heretics” were burned alive, were public spectacles designed for the entertainment of the Catholic faithful. For a Catholic priest to accuse Jews of rejoicing over the cruel deaths inflicted by the same Catholic Church is the height of hypocrisy.

I invite Brother Gilbert to rejoin the conversation on this blog. I cannot guarantee that every last commenter will respect your feelings, but I think that I can say that the discussion, no matter how painful, will ultimately lead to greater clarity. And clarity is a great gift.

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Thank You

Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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8 Responses to Correcting Some Misconceptions

  1. I suggest that you study history a bit more. I began studying the crypto-jewish phenomena over 30 years ago some years before I became a Catholic. It is Jewish historians such as Cecil Roth that tell of the Jewish community initially rejoicing over Marrano persecution not a Catholic priest (by the way if that means me I am not a priest but a monk or consecrated brother). It would seem you wish to whitewash Jewish history just as some Catholics wish to white wash Catholic history. By the way some of my ancestors died in the auto-de-fe in Mexico. The Talmud itself condemns five groups or kinds of Pharisees (see Sotah 22b) while approving of two kinds. And I could go on but I would encourage others to study these things for themselves.

    • Brother Gilbert
      I too have studied history. I study original documents. The response of the rabbis of the times reflect the attitudes – yes there was anger at those who converted – directed mainly at the bigwigs – but the general attitude is deep pain. The Catholics on the other hand – ?
      As for the Talmud recording five types of Pharisees – these were not sects but types of individuals.
      So yes – please do study some history.

  2. Dina says:

    Just following. Thanks.

  3. CalebA says:

    Just following. Thank you very much

  4. Concerned Reader says:

    Click to access AntiRAMBAM.pdf

    Some may find this to be of some relevance.

  5. Jim says:

    Brother Gilbert,

    When I pointed out that the Church acknowledges its faults nominally and then attempts to make them lighter than they are, did you not note with irony that you then did just that? I drew attention to the fact that while the Church complains that the Jewish people use harsh words, the Church has used much more than harsh words. Their actions have been harsh to those who did not accept her message. You called the language here inflammatory. I pointed out that the Church employed literal fire against her perceived enemies. At that point, you took it upon yourself to magnify the guilt of the Jewish people and minimize the guilt of the Church.

    Do you really think that the Church can be excused of her great crimes because the Jews in the auto-de-fe’ were not Rabbinic but Catholic? How could that possibly lessen the crime?

    But let us look at why they killed Catholic Jews. It was not their Catholicism that bothered the Church. No, the Church had made the lives of “Rabbinic Jews” quite unbearable at various times during the Middle Ages. And so, there were Jews who found it easier to convert to Christianity. But that left a question in the mind of the Church: did these Jewish converts to Christianity really mean it? Maybe they had only converted to avoid persecution. Maybe they really, in their heart of hearts, were “Rabbinic Jews”. Maybe they were sheep in wolves’ clothing.

    Unable to trust their new converts, they hounded them. They got what they wanted from them, but they could not be happy with that. And so, they tormented them. They could never be certain that the Jewish Catholic was more Catholic than Jewish. In her insecurity, the Church oppressed even the Jew who yielded to her.

    So, how can you minimize that? It would not matter if none of the victims were Jewish; the Church would still be guilty of horrific crimes. So for the Church to now turn to the Jewish people and accuse them of employing too harsh language is incredible. Again I say, if only the Church had just employed inflammatory language!


    • Dina says:

      Jim, what you wrote is so poignant:

      “Unable to trust their new converts, they hounded them. They got what they wanted from them, but they could not be happy with that. And so, they tormented them. They could never be certain that the Jewish Catholic was more Catholic than Jewish. In her insecurity, the Church oppressed even the Jew who yielded to her.”

      To Brother Gilbert, I ask, are you open to reading about this history from a different perspective? If the answer is yes, then may I recommend Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s solidly researched book, A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair. It makes for some painful reading and you might find it disturbing, but I would be curious to get your thoughts on it.

      Peace and blessings,

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