Sufficient

True prayer is a service of the heart. Saying words and singing songs can only be true prayer if these activities are an expression of a heart that sees itself as beholden to God in submission and thanks. Prayer is all about acknowledging that every iota of existence, especially my own existence, belongs exclusively and absolutely to God. Prayer is gratitude and awe. Gratitude for the gift of existence that is underserved. And the awe is the awe of one who is utterly helpless standing in the presence of the Master of all.

Prayer is worship and the worship of the Jew is a heart that allows itself to be drawn to the majesty and wonder of the Creator of all.

The Christian Scriptures claim that Jesus prayed. Was this lip service? Was Jesus’ prayer a mere recital of words that do not flow from a heart that is bent in submission and filled with gratitude and awe?

Let us give Jesus the benefit of the doubt. Let us assume that his prayer was a true prayer that acknowledged God’s absolute sovereignty over his own person. If it were anything less, then Jesus would have never prayed.

So who was Jesus praying to? Was it not the same God to whom all of his Jewish brothers and sisters were praying to? Did Jesus not allow his heart to be drawn to the greatness of Israel’s God?

Please consider the following. If the One to whom Jesus prayed was a sufficient God for Jesus why then is He not a sufficient God for you? What will you be missing if you do not give your entire heart to the God that the Jewish people pray to? Why do you also find the need to give your heart to Jesus? Is the majesty of God not enough for your heart that you need to supplement it with the attraction your heart feels toward one of His subjects?

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204 Responses to Sufficient

  1. charles says:

    When Abraham interceded with God’s messenger, why is the latter repeatedly called ‘LORD’?
    Why then did he dare not pray directly, but go through this Mediator?
    We have already multiplied similar examples.

  2. Annelise says:

    This is a strong point, to me… Jesus prayed the words of human gratitude and awe towards the Creator, placing himself publicly on the ‘created’ side of the relationship between God and creation.

    The last question is less compelling perhaps…lots of Christians feel that they worship Jesus not because it’s what they want, but because it’s what they think God revealed…so in that sense they just see it as accepting and obeying a revelation. I don’t think that’s accurate, but still, they might not feel that they are merely following their hearts.

    In any case, I think your main point here is especially valid because the Hebrew scriptures make numerous clear declarations about all things in the earth and sea and sky (includng all animals and humans) owing this gratitude and awe of the created towards God. It’s repeated in a very central way that the things in these realms aren’t objects of worship.

    So for Jesus to be considered an exception, we would need to see really clear proof of that. What we have instead is the fact that there isn’t even a clear claim of deity from Jesus or the early church about him, and there are things that send the opposite impression- such as Jesus praying, the disciples refering to him and God separately, and the absence of any clear discussion about why including a human in the worship of God would be no risk of idolatry. That should have been a foundational conversation if that’s what they were doing unambiguously from the start. It seems like the churches had him in a blurry category of ‘revealing God’s glory’ and didn’t address till later whether this role would fit in the position of a created manifestation (owing worship) or of the Creator (deserving it). That’s a very troubling ambiguity when it comes to the practical side of things, and doesn’t fit in with the clarity and caution of the law and prophets on the issue of not worshipping any created being.

    Some might say that Jesus prayed so as to fulfill his role as part of Israel, and that his submission to the Father was still as a person within God. Yet by praying as Israel, he was demonstrating his inclusion within Israel’s distinct meaning of worship: that is, affirming that they are created beings standing before God, as a model for all the world to follow.

    • Annelise says:

      In less words…I think you’re very right about the public impression he was sending by standing as one of the worshippers, in the context of prayers that are all about being on this side of the relationship between Creator and created.

  3. Ezra says:

    A conundrum: if Jesus was G-d in the flesh like Christians say he was, then why did he pray to G-d? Was he praying to himself?

    You’ve mentioned some great points. I love your blog and your work.

    • Eliza says:

      ? I thought they say he was messia, not god?

      • Annelise says:

        They say he was both. Which is odd, considering how the Hebrew prophets spoke about God and the messiah separately and in relationship with each other.

        I think that the Christian scriptures describe Jesus as being the greatest expression of God’s glory and presence and wisdom in the world. Later, people misunderstood this to mean that the early Christians thought Jesus was actually God. They also had the same confusion regarding the ruach hakodesh (holy breath/wind/spirit of God’s movement in the world). So they devised a trinity concept of God ‘including’ three people- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit- and said all three are actually totally unified yet distict. It doesn’t make sense but they say it’s a revealed mystery.

        • Eliza says:

          That actually makes some sort of sense to me….
          I love how you know so much…. how do you?

          • Annelise says:

            I was raised Christian, and only got to know Judaism after meeting some rabbis- one was my lecturer at university, and the other is the family friend of my Jewish Christian classmate. So I learnt a lot from Jews for Judaism, and my understanding of Christian beliefs comes from growing up in Christian communities.

            There is actually some debate about whether certain verses in the Christian scriptures do claim Jesus to be God, for example in the book of John and a few other places (which are believed to have been written a bit later than the earliest ones). There are a few different valid explanations for those, but the majority of the Christian scriptures seem to see Jesus as the messiah who was created first before anything else and has great power and honour, and is even the manifestation of God’s glory, yet is still a created being and God’s 2IC. Christians can explain how it all fits with their trinitarian view of Jesus as God’s son and yet also as God…but I don’t think those are the most natural readings. And there are other pre-Christian apocalyptic texts from just before Jesus’ lifetime that had similar impressions about who the messiah would be on a cosmic level, but without deifying him, and it seems that Jesus’ followers saw him like that too, at first.

            But for me this isn’t the important reason for not accepting him as God incarnate. After considering how the Torah warns its followers to be utterly careful to worship God alone, and how the prophets describe everything in the sea and sky and land as being made by God, I don’t think that any follower of Torah could rightly worship a human being while even a grain of doubt exists regarding his deity. Also, the Torah has a process for identifying a true prophet, but not for identifying a true claimant to deity, which would be a much bigger issue. So even if Jesus did miracles and claimed to be God, I don’t that would erase alternative explanations enough to create the kind of clarity in worship that Torah describes. I heard someone put it well by saying that the only evidence that would be enough to make him worship Jesus would be perhaps if the Torah had been written differently. If the Torah is true then the worship of Jesus isn’t an option.

            There are some Christians who do believe that Jesus was just the messiah and not God. But I don’t think they can explain how it could be that for the majority of Jews since Jesus’ time, he has been presented to them as an object of worship…so they couldn’t accept him based on what they knew. The only sincere Torah followers for well over a millenium are the middle ages were those who rejected Jesus. I don’t think this would be a reasonable scenario for the real messiah, so I don’t consider him to be even a non-divine messiah.

          • Eliza says:

            Thanks for explaining.
            I’m in awe of how you’ve really worked through it…

          • jasonannelise says:

            I felt I really had to because the community I was raised in was very emotionally and practically devoted to God in the Christian context…I felt that way too and I couldn’t let it go without being quite sure. I was lucky to have access to lots of resources through the people I met, the biblical studies department at uni, and through the Internet.

            I find it hard that I can’t find similar clarity about whether the Torah is really from God. But I’ve come to realise that the agnostic and the believer have something in common at the very deepest part of the heart. None of us can rely on our own understanding for a sense of security, because human understanding is limited. So if there is a caring God then we all 100% rely on him to sustain and guide us, whether we know a lot or only a little, as long as we’re open to that.

          • Eliza says:

            Thanks for sharing…

  4. mr.sonic says:

    “lots of Christians feel that they worship Jesus not because it’s what they want, but because it’s what they think God revealed…”

    compounded gods.

    god reveal x through/to y, every time y utter x , one should bow before y and take y as god. makes no sense why almighty god would even think about allow worship of another because of what he revealed.

  5. “After this manner therefore pray ye:
    Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
    Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
    Give us this day our daily bread.
    Frgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
    And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
    For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen”

    — Yeshua

    • Eleazar says:

      Luke 1:4 has it as “forgive us our sins” in the Greek. Are you saying Jesus had sins to be forgiven or that this prayer model was meant for everyone except him?

      • Brother Eleazar! That’s an interesting point!
        Please notice that Yeshua did not say, “let us pray like this… forgive us our sins…”
        He said, “When YOU Pray, say… forgive us our sins…”

        As you know, the main audiences of the Matthew’s gospel are the Jews; whereas, Luke’s are the Gentiles. Probably, Matthew put “Feileima- debt” as something to be forgiven because the Torah emphasizes on the shalom relationship among the fellow Jews. Maybe Luke put “hamartia- sin” as something to be forgiven because the Gentiles were not given the commandments of God in the Torah, which clearly define what the sins are.

        • Eleazar says:

          The problem is both texts are describing the same event. Did Jesus say Feileima or did he say hamartia? One of the two would have to be an altered version and thus a lie and deception. How can you trust a scripture that does such things?

          • Elazar and Gean Either way – By putting forth this prayer Jesus was giving his audience to understand that God will forgive your sins when you turn to Him with sincerity 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • Brother, how do you know both texts must have happened at the same time and in the same place? Matthew’s accout on the lord’s prayer occured in Yeshua’s early ministry; as a part of Beautitude on the Mout of Galilee (Matthew chapter 5). AFTER that, feeding of 5ooo (Mt 14:13-21) and Transfiguration occurred (Mt 17:1-13). Whereas, feeding of 5000 (Lk 9:10-17) and Transfiguration (Lk 9:28-36) occurred BEFORE Yeshua’s second teaching about the lord’s prayer in Luke 11:1-4. The context, the timeframe, and the contents of the lord’s prayer are obviously different. Therefore, we can assume that Yeshua taught the prayer twice.

          • Annette Leon says:

            It has taken me a long time to find who the real ( Jesus ) is. I call him YESHUA away from the Greek god…. Yes I agree with you. ( Save us from our sins..) He was Human…! ! ! ? ? 🔯 🔯

  6. Eleazar says:

    Well, Gean, there are several places where Jesus is said to have said or done something and the same thing takes places at different times and circumstances. For examples, I refer you to Tovia Singer’s crucifixion table, in which most of the details do not match at all from one gospel to another. You assume its because he did the same thing twice,even introducing the prayer the same way each time (This then is how you should pray. And BTW, why would a Jew ask Jesus how to Daven?), but many scholars believe its because the text is recorded differently in each gospel because the event either because it is fiction or because the recording of the event took place so long after the event that there is great disagreement as to when it happened and what actual words were used. Regardless, you say Jesus says the prayer one way for Jews and one way for Gentiles. But I’m pretty certain his audience was Jewish both times.Jesus said, “I am sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”. Thus, his teaching was meant for Jews both times.

    One of the most committed Christians I know admitted to me personally that, in his words, “The New Testament is a mess”.

    • Brother Eleazar, Yeshua was SENT only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Yes, if you look the NT carefully, it is amazing to see that all the houses Yeshua entered was all Jews’ houses!! He could have entered but he did not. If you find one, please let me know. Whereas, his teaching was recorded and written in the NT. The NT books were not sent only to the Jews, they were sent also to the Gentiles; i have it on my hands!

      The gospel accounts seem to be inconsistent within itself; however, this fact proves that the four gospel writers honeslty recorded as to what they have heard and witnessed without having a quadripartite conference where they made up stories and matched all the details to creat a religion called Christianity. The inconsistencies of the historical records within the Tanakh cannot make anybody call it a mess. I believe that Every verse and phrase and even spelling and grammar have all its intended meanings. God has designed it that way so that we could continue to get curious and discuss – like Talmud Sicha at Yeshiva or Q.T. Sharing at Christian cell groups.

      In 2005, i had once stood up at LAPD yard. Many reporters from TV broadcasting and news papers in LA gathered to record my witness and to take pictures of my family. The story went like this. A month ago from that flashlighting day, i was driving on the Hill Avenue in downtown LA to go to Pasadena. There were two babies and my wife in my car. All of sudden my son (22 months old) had a seizure (at that time, my wife and i didn’t know what that was!), so my wife got freaked out and i stopped the car and took him out. It was on crossroads between Olympic Blvd and Hill Ave. My wife kept crying and yelling, and i kept calling “O God O Lord!!” He did not seem to breathe, his eyeball was rolling back to all white, obviously he was dying pale. Some Latino workers and koreans gathered around us trying to help us, showing all gestures to pound his back to take somthing stuck out of his throat. One lady rushed to us from her parking lot, introducing herself as a pediatrician, and as soon as she watched what was happening, ran to the Olympic Blvd and tried to catch police car or 911. Finally, two policemen came and treated him emergency care and a white milk chuck vomitted out of his throat. A little later, 911 came and took him to the hospital. After my son’s fever seizure was taken care of, we went back hom from the nightmare in downtown LA.

      Now, brother, this is what i have written from the very memory in my mind. I was there. I saw and heard almost everything in that situation. I described as far as i can remember in front of the reporters. You know what? I saw newspapers description was a little different from KCAL news! I saw one internet news channel copied another internet news company’s report (which had some slightly wrong information; my son was 22 months and my daughter was 12 months – but they said 11 months) and pasted on their website. Even myself, i can’t exactly remember all the details. Maybe you could find the misspellings in my paragraph written by the very witness- myself.

      Brother, now i know when someone witnesses what he saw or heard from his own experiences, it can be recorded in variuos ways with minor differences. The difference cannot deny its historicity, rather spark curiosity. Tanakh and NT have not contain great inconsistencies, rather trivial inconsistencies. And if the spirit of God illumines our eyes, we will see the intention of the author. I hope this helps.

      • jasonannelise says:

        Gean Guk Jeon, I’m so glad that your son was ok. It’s a great relief that he got through it all fine.

        About Jesus/Yeshua… Some of the psalms are about the adoration of created beings towards their creator. Assuming that Yeshua took part in those prayers publicly together with others, do you think it would have implied to the people around him that he was standing before God with the surrender and gratitude of a fully created being?

        • jasonannelise says:

          For example, I think that Yeshua would have prayed the Shemoneh Esrei almost as it is now; perhaps Rabbi Blumenthal could clarify whether that’s historically true. So then he was very much publicly identifying with the attitude of the congregation in that prayer.

        • Thank you brother Jasonannelise for your heartfelt words for the accident. Yes, it was all by grace of God. I don’t know how Yeshua recognized himself whether as a created being or agent of creator before the crowd. One thing i remember is that he often used word “God SENT me…” and he called himself “son of man” and called God “Father.”
          Shabat Shalom bro.

          • Annelise says:

            Sorry I assumed you were trinitarian, many of the Christians I know are.

            I think that if someone believes that Jesus was messiah but not God, there’s still a problem with accepting that belief. From just a few hundred years after Jesus’ life, and for over a thousand years after that, there are no known Jewish communities who followed Jesus as a non-divine messiah. So what community was the righteous remnant of Israel at that time? And Jesus was usually presented to traditional Jews all throughout that time as someone to be worshipped, which would mean that according to such a belief, the messiah was presented to Israel in the form of an idol for all that time. I find it impossible to think that the Jews of the middle ages should have accepted Jesus at all, even as a non-divine messiah, when almost all of the churches were presenting him as an object of false worship.

          • Annelise, let me have some time to study on Christians in Jewish community in the first four centuries.

            I have a question about Jewish morning prayer. Whenever i hear Chrisitan pastors quoting the formula of Jewish morning prayer which goes something like ” Blessed be the God of the universe who made me not Gentile, slave, and woman.”
            Whenever they say this is Jews’ everyday morning prayer, i am much worried because that might cause to create antisemitic feeling among gentiles. I guess they are quick to generalize it.

            Open question for Jewish brothers and sisters:
            Is it true that this is recited in every lip of the Jewish men in all synagogues on the world? Or Is it a tradition of the sects of Judaism, influenced by Hellenism or something?
            What is the common morning prayer for Jewish men?

          • Annelise says:

            PS The Shemoneh Esrei is also called Amidah prayer, it predates Jesus/Yeshua. It has sections of praise for God, asking for God’s help, and gratitude. Perhaps none of the sentences are specifically only able to be spoken by a created being, but the overall attitude of the congregation, while praying this, absolutely involves a personal affirmation of relying on the Creator’s hand for sustainance.

          • “None of the sentences are specifically only able to be spoken by a created being?” Sorry I don’t get it.
            Then only creator is able to speak the sentences??

          • Annelise says:

            Sorry, I didn’t write that sentence very clearly.

            Created humans can and do pray thise words. I meant to say that perhaps a Christian could argue that even if Jesus was ‘divine’ and a ‘person of God’, he would still have been able to speak the words of submission, love, and dependence on the Father. But I was trying to say (like in Rabbi Blumenthal’s though in this blog post) that Jesus prayed as one member of a congregation that was standing before God in intent awareness of their reliance upon Him, because He is their Creator. When Jesus prayed as part of that group, I think it gave the public impression that he believed he was not God.

  7. Eleazar says:

    >>>>> And if the spirit of God illumines our eyes<<<<<<

    And this is how every conversation with a Christian one does not agree with ends.
    Best of luck.

  8. Dina says:

    Following.

  9. Concerned Reader says:

    Bravo Annelise, Bravo. By showing people how to pray, and how to relate to G-d, Jesus showed that this was his own self understanding of the ideal relationship between himself and G-d.

    Whatever Jesus’ ontological status was (divine or human,) the way that he behaved showed that he desired submission to G-d the Father as it is defined by the covenant, not submission to himself, or glory, or honor for himself.

    In fact, if Jesus desired glory for himself, he could not possibly have repaired the sin of Adam as the New Testament claims, because seeking for glory for the self apart from the father’s will is what got Adam booted out of Eden to begin with.

    That’s why Paul of Tarsus says the following in 1 Corinthians 15:28 “When he has done this, (when G-d has submitted earthly authorities to his king Messiah) then the Son himself will be made subject to him (G-D) who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.”

    If Jesus was to sit in the temple of G-d, to be worshiped by humans as if he were G-d, then this would be a disaster, and a direct repeat of Adam’s mistake. (revelation 13 confirms that.)

    Jesus himself asked G-d “let this cup (my suffering) pass from me, YET NOT MY WILL, BUT YOUR WILL BE DONE.”

    Jesus wants the will of his father to be done, not his will. A man called him good, and Jesus said “why calllest thou me good, none is good but G-d!” Jesus in this sentence EXCLUDES himself as a man from any possibility of seeking worship for himself as a divine being beside the father. HE WONT EVEN AGREE TO BEING GOOD, much less being G-d!

    When people wanted to make him king by force, he refused it (John 6:15)

    Christianity got lost in the weeds with its theological obsessions and mystical speculations over whether Jesus was a created or an uncreated being. Because of that obsession, the message of Jesus is lost. Follow the Father for his own sake, keep his commands.

    Even if you are of the camp that says Jesus was the eternal Son of G-d, or G-d the son, and therefore is fit to receive divine worship, consider that opinion up against the following.

    Philippians 2:6-8

    6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (before he took on a human nature or human likeness, it says he thought it not robbery to be equal with G-d.) At this point a physical being named Jesus of Nazareth existing in the shape of a human man on earth is not yet existing. (no human nature exists yet in relation to the “son.”)

    7 But made himself of no reputation, (NO REPUTATION FOR EQUALITY WITH G-D!!) and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (Deuteronomy 4:16 says explicitly not to worship ANY SHAPE, and lists the form of A MAN AND A WOMAN 1st as things not to make images of for worship.

    8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (humbled in relation to who? G-d the father!)

    Christians today worship the incarnate son of G-d, or G-d the Son (a body of flesh) with the same devotion and service that they do G-d the father. They look at a human shape on a cross, and say “that is G-d who died for me.”

    If a person is Catholic, they may even look at the Eucharistic host, and adore it too as the real presence of the Logos in a body, a body of bread.

    This seems to me contrary to Jesus’ words, even if you believe that he is actually the deity walking around in a body.

    Why is that?

    When describing what the “Son” is, the NT says the following Colossians 1:16-17 “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and INVISIBLE, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

    What does it mean to be the image of something invisible?

    It means, you comprehend the effects, even when you do not PHYSICALLY SEE ANYTHING. The New Testament describes G-d as an invisible spirit, not a physical being. Everything John assigns to the Logos, proverbs assigns to wisdom. “wisdom” is not a physical thing, it is something we sense, with mind and heart, a thing we comprehend. You cannot contain it.

    the only “sight” of G-d that the New Testament actually discusses is sight of the heart, or of the minds eye, IE Beatific vision, (comprehension) not physical sight of G-d. (Mathew 16:16-17) flesh and blood does not reveal the “sight” of G-d, but a pure heart. (Mathew 5:8)

    If you somehow believe that Jesus as a flesh and bones being deserves worship, consider that the New Testament tells us that while he existed in this world with a human brain, and a human body, the incarnate word lacked the knowledge that only the father possessed, whether that was by choice or by nature is irrelevant. (Mathew 24:36)

    If you worship the man on the cross as G-d, you are acknowledging that you are worshiping a human shape that lacked knowledge that only G-d the father possessed.

    Worshiping Jesus this way would be like worshiping the temple, or praying to the burning bush for some atoning sap.

    Remember that Jesus compared himself to the serpent of brass. The very same serpent of brass that was declared an idol and had to be destroyed, despite initially working for G-d’s purpose, and being made by Moses.

    The miraculous work of G-d was comprehended and observed when people gazed at the serpent of brass.

    However, the minute people looked at the serpent of brass itself as the subject and source that was granting them relief (made it an object of worship, and necessary manifestation,) it had to be destroyed.

    The Churches (all of them) have made Jesus into the new Nehushtan, the serpent of brass which they declare is a necessary component of proper faith in G-d.

    • Dina says:

      Con, I think Unitarian Christians would agree with you and insist that they do not worship Jesus as God. What would you say to them?

    • tony says:

      hello , what would you say to christians who say the following :

      “the Jews made god in the idol/image of a COW”

      “god MADE himself in the form of WALKING and TALKING human being/god EXisted as a human being ”

      it appears to me that christian need their god to make movement, they are not happy with idol which just sits there . i have been listening to benjamin somer , he mentions about spirits of gods FRAGMENTING and entering into idols. what would the christian say in this regard ? and if they need moving gods, goddess ishtaar was known as planet venus.

      • Jim says:

        Tony,

        I hope you do not mind if I answer your above comment, though you directed your questions to Concerned Reader and Dina. The idea that the Christian world was looking for a mobile god, one that would appear more potent that a stationary statue is interesting. However, I do not think that is a good read. In the polytheistic world, nothing would prevent one from worshiping both a human being and an idol. No trade off need be made, and in fact, the Roman world often did worship human beings after their deaths, elevating them to some level of deityhood. One tale of Romulus has him ascending into the clouds to godhood, for example. This was not a statement about the impotence of other idols, because they did not see the idols as the gods themselves. So, rather than attempting to make the idols more potent, I believe that the Christians wanted a god more accessible than how they viewed God. They wanted a god that was more human than God, not more human than statue.

        The Platonic schools had theorized that God could have nothing to do with the physical world. This was based on the mutability of the physical world, its corruptibility. They saw God as non-physical, unchanging, perfect and pure. Because of how they defined “love,” they could not see God as condescending to give form to a physical world, to manipulate lesser stuff. According to Platonic thought, love is a desire for the good. (See for example, Plato’s “Phaedrus” and “Symposium.”) So, God, being the ultimate good—being pure incorruptible essence—eternally loves himself. He is totally focused on himself and could never change that focus to some other thing, because then he would be loving something less than the ultimate good. But in his abundant love for himself, a sort of exuberance leads to the creation of something like himself, a slightly lesser god but of the same basic substance, also considered eternal. This being would form the physical world and would serve as something of an intermediary between God and creation. (Note that he does not create the world, because matter, though constantly changing, already exists. He only gives it form; he orders it. Please note also that this is a simplified view for the sake of brevity.)

        The Christian worldview did not wholly accept Platonic thought. However, it was influenced by Platonic thought. Because Christianity accepted the Torah’s teaching that God created the world, they did not hold that He was detached from humanity on the grounds of their corruptible physical forms. But, it did teach that God was separated from humanity due to their moral imperfection. Like in Platonic thought, this separation would require an intermediary, someone to bridge the gap between God’s perfection and man’s imperfection.

        So, the Christian was not attempting to make an idol that had powers that statues did not have. Instead, he was making a god more accessible to himself than a god that could have nothing to do with imperfection, who was detached, who was remote. This intermediary god would make God approachable. The unfortunate truth, however, is that this god would not serve as a bridge from Man to God but a wall between Man and God. Rather than approaching God, the followers of Jesus would move farther away from him.

        Jim

        • Sharon S says:

          Hi Jim,

          Thank you for your comment . I find your comments insightful and informative.
          You stated the intermediary G-d (Jesus) would not serve as a bridge from Man to G-d but a wall between them.

          I don’t agree with that . I have always regarded Jesus as a bridge . Thanks to him mankind is aware and have grown to love the G-d of Israel . Christianity offers what I have not found in other religions thus far-relationship with G-d . I have never felt more closer to G-d than when I was a Christian.

          We have to consider how walls can be established between Man and God- treating a fellow human being/groups of people poorly in the name of religion can also create walls in the poor fellow’s mind towards G-d. Jesus broke those walls , by reaching out to the poor and marginalized in his lifetime and to all humanity through his death and resurrection.

          Another point to consider-idolatry does not necessarily mean worshipping a physical being. It can be career , traditions or anything under the sun-things that G-d has blessed us with to carry out his will (means) ,we turn it into an end.

          The question is how should one view Jesus? If Jesus is only the means then Christians should not have deified him . However is it sufficient to approach G-d without Jesus as the intermediary (means) ? If Jesus did not come to the scene would Man’s relationship with G-d improve? You can clearly see from history -from creation to Noah’s generation and beyond how most mankind , except the Jew has regressed in the relationship with our Creator . Jesus brought the knowledge of the G-d of Israel and the Jewish scriptures to mankind -some of the laws and precepts in it are made available and followed by the masses as well- thereby improving our lot and standing with our Creator .

          Again , thank you for your comment. Apologies if my comments missed the mark.
          Your opinion is most welcome.

          • Eleazar says:

            The Christian trinity is not the God of Israel.

            The God of Israel condemns human sacrifice and human blood upon the altar, which Christians believe is the real bridge.

            The God of Israel would never say to eat a man’s body or drink his blood, both of which Christians symbolically carry out several times per year.

            The God of Israel condemns worship of a human being.

            Christians see Jesus and his human sacrifice as a bridge for themselves, but a wall of everlasting condemnation for those who do not believe in the human sacrifice and “eat the body and drink the blood”.

            Biblically and by Torah law, an idol is a literal thing that is consciously worshiped or worshiped through. Confused priorities in life or “whatever occupies your thoughts more than God” are not worship and are not biblically defined as idols.

            Christians are not getting closer to the God of Israel by violating His Commandments in denying the grace of the God of Israel by worshiping a human being and accepting human blood sacrifice as mankind’s only means of atonement.

            That is NOT the God of Israel. That is paganism.

          • LarryB says:

            Sharon S
            “I have always regarded Jesus as a bridge”.
            You could say the same thing about Horace’s tree. 🙂
            https://judaismresources.net/?s=Horace’s+tree

          • Sharon S says:

            Eleazar and Larry B,

            Thank you for your replies .

            Now I shall repeat the question to both of you.
            If Jesus did not come to the scene would Man’s relationship with G-d improve?

            1.If yes ,kindly quote scripture references from the Torah to support (with regards to ALL of mankind)
            2. Please do not give scripture references to justify why worship of Jesus is wrong (for example , the references Eleazar just quoted-blood sacrifice and all that) in order to answer the above question.

            I want to know what Judaism has to offer to mankind on its own merit.

            Thank you.

          • Dina says:

            Sharon, the Torah doesn’t talk about Jesus at all, so how can you ask for proof from the Torah that if Jesus hadn’t come, mankind’s relationship with God would have continued to improve? Perhaps I misunderstood your question?

            If I have understood your question, then it’s like asking what the world would like today if Karl Marx hadn’t written Das Kapital or if Hitler had never come to power. The answer is unknowable.

            What does Judaism have to offer on its own merit? That’s a fair question. Judaism doesn’t seek to offer anyone anything but to ask, what does God want of us? It’s about worshiping God, not seeking benefits for ourselves. However, because God is good, following his commandments is good for us too. Judaism emphasizes a strictly monotheistic relationship with a personal God and all the ethics that you know are associated with Judaism (such as the Ten Commandments and Leviticus Chapter 19). I don’t have time to write more today, so I hope this answers your questions at least somewhat!

          • LarryB says:

            Sharon S
            I reject your question and Torah restrictions for worshiping idols.
            “Please do not give scripture references to justify why worship of Jesus is wrong (for example , the references Eleazar just quoted-blood sacrifice and all that) in order to answer the above question.”
            If I cannot refer to the Torah what source would you like me to use?

          • Sharon S says:

            Dina,Larry B,

            I apologise if my question confuse you.
            I just want to know what Judaism has to offer to mankind on its own merit.

            Dina,thank you for your answer.It does answer the question . I hope you could do more of this in the future.Have a good Shabbat.

            Larry B,I hope the revised question makes it clear where I’m coming from.That is why I requested not to give scriptures that justify why worshipping Jesus is wrong.

            Thank you

          • LarryB says:

            Sharon S.
            I also think Dina gave a great answer to your question will leave it at that. Thanks for clarifying.

          • roger says:

            “What does Judaism have to offer on its own merit? That’s a fair question. Judaism doesn’t seek to offer anyone anything but to ask, what does God want of us? It’s about worshiping God, not seeking benefits for ourselves. However, because God is good, following his commandments is good for us too. Judaism emphasizes a strictly monotheistic relationship with a personal God and all the ethics that you know are associated with Judaism (such as the Ten Commandments and Leviticus Chapter 19). I don’t have time to write more today, so I hope this answers your questions at least somewhat!”

            i know what these christians are saying, they think that before jesus, no jew was able to master over lust, hate and anger. we all know this is a lie because the whole point of a God giving revelation to creature is to help them to master over lust, hate and anger. jesus is ABSOLUTELY not needed to help person become a better person.

          • Jim says:

            Sharon,

            Thank you for the tone of your disagreement. Too often disagreement on the internet is expressed without civility, and it is quite pleasant to read disagreement without disrespect. In that same spirit, please allow me to explain some of the ways in which Jesus serves as a wall between humanity and God rather than as a bridge.

            The supposed need for Jesus is based on a lie, one told about God. The Christian makes God to be unforgiving, indeed, unable to forgive. It contradicts direct statements in Tanach regarding God’s mercy. An obvious example is found in Ez. 18 and Ez. 33. In those passages, HaShem promises forgiveness to those that repent. He counts as righteous those that turn away from wickedness and resume practicing His ways.

            Christian doctrine makes a mockery out of the statement that HaShem is slow to anger. According to Christian doctrine, the smallest infraction separates one from God eternally, making one worthy of eternal torment. In what way then can God be called “slow to anger”? The statement becomes meaningless, just something nice to say about God, but without having any truth; and, lacking all truth, it lacks ability to comfort those who would trust in His mercy.

            That God is paternal toward His creation is denied by Christian doctrine. While they call God a “Father,” Christian doctrine contradicts this, for their god expects the impossible. He demands from imperfect creatures perfection. This is not only the antithesis of paternalistic love, it is irrational.

            In this way, Jesus serves as a wall between humanity and God. Christian doctrine separates humanity from God entirely. This God is unappeased by repentance: He demands the blood of an innocent.

            Because Jesus is supposed to be that innocent, he receives the devotion that is owed to God. Devotion is owed to those that have done one a great kindness. In the Christian story, the one that has done humanity the most good is not God; it is Jesus. While God could not forgive humanity, even if he wanted to do so, Jesus obtained that forgiveness. And he did it through accepting upon himself suffering, the suffering deserved by others. Even if one did not deify Jesus for this, one would bear him the much greater gratitude. One consequence of this is that, for many, God is to be feared, while Jesus is someone to be loved. God is all wrath, and Jesus is all mercy. Conversely, if one does not see God as only to be feared, the need for Jesus still makes God to appear basically impotent. God is willing to send an agent to secure His forgiveness due to His love for the world, but He Himself does nothing. His love does not involve His suffering. His agent does all the hard work. God’s love costs Him nothing, while Jesus’ love is expressed through great sacrifice. These ideas—even when they are not articulated but only linger in the psychology of the believer—keep one at a distance from God. The greater part of one’s devotion goes to a human being, who is more capable of loving and being loved than God is.

            This is reflected in the way the Bible is read by the Christian. When he reads Tanach, he scours it for indications of Jesus, the object of his affection. He treats the Torah as a scavenger hunt. Jesus becomes the main topic for him. The duties prescribed by God become a secondary concern. It is not that he does not consider these at all, but they are not his primary focus. Generally speaking, when a Christian reads the Bible for how to live his life, he reads the NT. The “Old Testament” is there to point Jesus.

            This is the natural outcome of Christian theology. The duty to obey God arises from gratitude. When one realizes the good that God has done one, then he will follow God’s commandments, even more so when he realizes that those commandments benefit himself. But, for the Christian, the greatest good done to him was performed by Jesus. Therefore, when he fulfills God’s commandments, it is usually because Jesus told him to do so. That is to say, he is really fulfilling Jesus’ commandments, not God’s, because of the debt of gratitude he owes Jesus.

            This can be seen in the way that the Lord’s Supper replaces Passover. The Christian story minimizes the work of God. Both stories are stories of liberation. Passover is about God freeing the Jews, a work limited to one people. The Lord’s Supper is about Jesus freeing humanity, a work universal in scope. The liberation of Passover is from the bondage of physical slavery. The liberation of the Lord’s Supper is from the bondage of spiritual slavery. God would lead the Jews to the Promised Land, but Jesus would lead believers into everlasting life. In all ways, Jesus’ work is made to be the greater, and so his feast replaces that implemented by God. In the Christian story, God is minimized and Jesus is magnified. So, the believer replaces God’s commandment with Jesus’ commandment, and he makes God’s work to be nothing more than a foreshadowing of the greater work that would be done by Jesus.

            Moreover, because Jesus is the focus of the Christian, he does not mind if the words of God are misrepresented, as long as those misrepresentations serve to support his love of Jesus. If God were the object of his affection, he would object to the distortion of His words. But this he does not do. In fact, he justifies each twisted verse, each misquote, each false meaning. Of course, he will defend the words of Jesus; those are teachings with which no tampering can be tolerated. But, the words of God—those are fair game.

            These things I do not write to indict the Christian. I write them only to show the ways in which Jesus is a wall and not a bridge. First, the Christian becomes separated from God by the notion that God is unmerciful and unforgiving, either because He is incapable or unwilling. Then, Jesus becomes the greater object of his affection, the one to whom his devotion is due. Jesus’ love is made to be greater than God’s by both its efficacy and its self-sacrificing nature. So, the Christian seeks to fulfill God’s will, but because it is the command of Jesus. He reads the words of God to find Jesus, even tolerating misrepresentations of those words in order to find Jesus in them. These are indications that one is not led to God through Jesus, but that Jesus is an interposition between humanity and God.

            Jim

          • Sharon S says:

            Dear Jim,
            Thank you for your comments, though it came in a bit late . You have put forth very good arguments as to why Jesus serves as a wall , rather than a bridge between man and G-d.

            Unfortunately , you have not answered the question “If Jesus did not come to the scene would Man’s relationship with G-d improve? ” .

            I hope that you could put aside Jesus and Christianity and answer the question honestly , based on the Torah and your knowledge of Judaism.

            I would like to commend Dina again for being honest on the nature of this blog -it is a counter missionary blog (tagline notwithstanding) , so all comments will be in relation to Jesus and Christianity . Hence I would understand if you do not reply to them -or if you reply them within the context of Jesus and Christianity.

            Thank you.

          • Jim says:

            Sharon,

            I am sorry. I do not understand your question: “If Jesus did not come to the scene would Man’s relationship with G-d improve?” Do you mind rephrasing or clarifying for me?

            Jim

          • Sharon S says:

            Dear Jim,

            I have explained the question at https://judaismresources.net/2018/07/18/sufficient/#comment-42561

            Thank you.

          • Jim says:

            Sharon,

            Thanks for directing me to this comment. I will answer as soon as I am able, but it may take me a few days, depending on what I must get done here today.

            Jim

        • tony says:

          Hello Jim

          are there any arguments recorded in the hebrew bible which have something like :

          “God is too holy to approach directly, we need our intermediaries because we get close to God through them ” ?

          this is what the modern christian seems to be saying. the intermediary is god, but an emptied version of god in heaven.

        • tony says:

          “The unfortunate truth, however, is that this god would not serve as a bridge from Man to God but a wall between Man and God. Rather than approaching God, the followers of Jesus would move farther away from him.”

          i have asked christians if it is possible for them to worship the father without involving jesus in their worship, they are unable to and think that it would be blasphemous to approach the father directly.

    • tony says:

      i don’t understand why christians have a problem with worshipping a flesh being . if i went to post resurrected jesus and shot him with machine gun, would jesus die? if not, then the flesh in a sense has become like the “invisible spirit” which is hiding in body of jesus. so why they have a problem with worshipping flesh makes no sense to me. having belief in an immortal flesh god should not be seen as idolatry in christian beliefs.

      “Christians today worship the incarnate son of G-d, or G-d the Son (a body of flesh) with the same devotion and service that they do G-d the father. They look at a human shape on a cross, and say “that is G-d who died for me.””

      immortal spirit in mortal flesh. mortal flesh becomes immortalised. look, if christians can have god BECOME created and weak, then they can REVERSE that and have it exist as immortalised flesh being.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        i don’t understand why christians have a problem with worshipping a flesh being . 

        They absolutely should have a problem with worshiping a man of flesh, even if it becomes “immortalized flesh.”

        But why? Because according to their own gospel, even a false prophet can do miracles and decieve people. (Revelation 13)

        IE if one man can be claimed to be G-d in a body, anyone else can make the same claim.

        Thats why the texts say that faithfulness to the commandments is what counts.

        In fact, Jesus’ divine nature being described as a physical fleshly reality, and worshipped as such, is already considered a heresy even by the Orthodox Christians themselves, ie the heresy of Mormonism.

        G-d said in Deuteronomy “guard yourselves very carefully lest you become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, the image of ANY SHAPE.”

        Right after this it says not to worship the “whole host of heaven” IE if G-d has an entourage of messangers/angels/manifestations, they should not be worshipped.

        I too have read Dr. Sommer’s book. His model of “divine fluidity” may explain some ambiguities in scripture, but regarding the question of who is supposed to be the sole object of divine service, scripture shows it unambiguously to be G-d the father, even if you factor in Jesus.

        Dina, unitarians run into the issue where they say catagorically that Jesus is NOT G-D, but that NONETHELESS they (little w) worship ie Proskuneo (honor) Jesus because they believe that if G-d desires it, they must honor him.

        The problem is that the oldest form of worship, ie the veneration of ancestors rests on the same premises. “My ancestor is gone, but I honor him with this, or with that.”

        “Im not praying to this image, it just brings to mind the wisdom of my teacher when I gaze at it.”

        It devolves into idolatry either way, because Jesus is still the only way that they can see someone as properly relating to G-d.

        In my opinion, Islam has the same issue with Muhammad. Even though they all say that Muhammad is not a deity, if you dont follow according to their prophet, or worse, if you draw a picture of this fully human man, they may inflict bodily injury on you.

        In seeking not to give undue honor to a man of flesh, they inadvertently do exactly that.

        • tony says:

          quote :
          In fact, Jesus’ divine nature being described as a physical fleshly reality, and worshipped as such, is already considered a heresy even by the Orthodox Christians themselves, ie the heresy of Mormonism.
          end quote

          mormons do have a point.

          imagine a pagan in the past believed that his god came down as 100 % human which did not need to eat, sleep, rest etc etc ….

          what will be the argument then? maybe that it requires a body and needs location to exist.

          if we concentrate on post resurrected jesus , he now has “immortalized flesh” and christians should have no problem worshipping this flesh because it is no longer on created level.

          many christians think god is CURRENTLY existing as “fully human and fully divine ” in one person.

          i will say again, the christians believe that the invisible being CHANGED and became creature like you and me. now lets REVERSE THIS .created becomes divine. i see no problem from philosophical and logical angle why christian polytheists shouldn’t worship the flesh. they don’t really care about what scriptures say, if they did, they would never had said that god became man.

        • tony says:

          you said you listened to somer, do you mean these podcasts?

          http://podcast.foundjs.org/size/10/?search=sommer

        • Dina says:

          Thanks, Con, great answer!

  10. I really want to know how the common Jewish men’s pray in the morning.
    Hello~

  11. Eleazar says:

    Roger wrote: i know what these christians are saying, they think that before jesus, no jew was able to master over lust, hate and anger.

    The truth is, Roger, no Christian ever has either….including Jesus.

    People who follow this blog closely know that other than worshiping a man and believing they go to heaven because of a human sacrifice, this is my main argument against Christianity. It simply does not deliver on its biggest promise.

    The book of Hebrews main argument for the superiority of Christianity over Judaism and Torah is that Christianity results in a person that does not need any further sacrifices because the REAL Christian does not purposely sin….ever. That those Jews who sacrificed could not by those sacrifices year after year become perfect enough to approach God ( a fallacious argument on its face, since Torah NEVER says that only by blood sacrifice can a person be forgiven and redeemed, NOR does it ever claim that such a sacrifice is what makes you perfect, OR that absolute perfection is required for salvation). While Hebrews teaches that those who believe in Jesus receive the indwelling spirit of God that prevents you from sinning through acceptance of the human blood sacrifice. That is why Hebrews then goes on to say that anyone who sins on purpose after accepting the blood of Jesus no longer has atonement because Jesus cannot be sacrificed a 2nd time to cover those sins committed after accepting the 1st sacrifice.In the NT’s own words, “Counted the blood a common thing”, “crucified Christ afresh”, “trampled the son of God underfoot” and “insulted the spirit of grace”. According to Hebrews, to not become literally perfected by the blood of Jesus brings a certainty of damnation.

    In truth, to believe you need to accept a human sacrifice and worship a man is the ultimate insult to, and rejection of, God’s spirit of grace.

    • Sharon S says:

      Hi Eleazar,

      I would like to know further about G-d’s “Spirit of Grace”.
      Is this stated anywhere in the Tanakh?

      I have always come across the term “unfailing love” especially in Psalms
      – is that what you mean by grace?

      No offence , but listening why product B-Christianity/Jesus is faulty to justify superiority of product A-Judaism can sound boring after some time.That is what I think after listening to the same rhetoric over and over.

      So please tell the world why Product A is superior on its own merit.
      I don’t see that comments often in this blog -other than it being used to discredit Christianity.

      I think highlighting the merits of Judaism on its own generates a much more
      positive discussion.

      If you notice at the top right hand corner of this blog ,it states “Judaism Resources-Tap into the strength of Judaism”. It gives me an impression that this blog is meant to showcase what the strengths of Judaism.

      Unfortunately the materials and comments hint of a strong “Keep Out” sign.
      Please do correct if I’m in error.

      Have a good Shabbat.

      Thank you.

      • Eleazar says:

        Sharon wrote: I would like to know further about G-d’s “Spirit of Grace”.
        Is this stated anywhere in the Tanakh?
        -And –
        So please tell the world why Product A is superior on its own merit.

        My answer to both:

        “Who is a God like you,
        pardoning the sin and overlooking the crimes
        of the remnant of his heritage?
        He does not retain his anger forever,
        because he delights in grace.
        He will again have compassion on us,
        He will subdue our iniquities.
        You will throw all their sins
        into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:18, 19

        Grace is why Judaism, “Product A” as you call it, is a higher view and the God of Judaism a superior God to the co-opted quasi pagan trinity of Christendom. And this text is a clear testament to God’s spirit of grace (which is not a third god-person, BTW). No blood sacrifice, animal OR human, is mentioned. I found it ironic that C.S. Lewis once stated that grace was what separated Christianity from other world religions. But he had it wrong. Christianity, in its insistence that God is unable to grant salvation without belief in and worship of a man and by the acceptance of a human sacrifice, is the very denial of a God of grace. Please compare the following texts:

        Product A – Micah 7:18,19- He does not retain his anger forever,
        because he delights in grace.
        He will again have compassion on us,
        He will subdue our iniquities.

        Product B – Hebrews 10:26,27- For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

        I chose Hebrews 10 because it was written for the sole purpose of being a treatise on the superiority of Christianity vs Judaism from the Christian perspective presented in the New Testament. Verses 1 and 2 spell out the entire argument against Judaism: that is, that Judaism and Torah cannot produce perfect people, while Christianity can and does. And if it doesn’t, then you can look forward to the result in the text above.

        Another thing to consider in your comparing “products A and B”, if you haven’t before. Christianity’s holy days were founded hundreds of years after the supposed events that inspired them and are in fact co-opted pagan celebrations mixed with Christian legends. Jewish holidays were founded either at the time or just following the actual event/miracle they are commemorating. Purim was founded by Esther and Mordecai themselves to commemorate a series of events that saved the Jewish people in Persia. Passover was established at the time it happened.Even Hanukkah, a non-biblical observance, was officially established the year following the miracle of oil.Judaism has never had to draw on legends long past for any of its Biblical holy days/holidays, the most important of which are directly commanded in scripture.

        Not a single Christian holy day observance is commanded by God or mentioned in scripture, not even in the New Testament.
        I hope this helps.

  12. Concerned Reader says:

    Sharon S.

    1. Judaism does not hold you responsible for anyone else’s sins.

    2. No teacher is deemed infallible. (no risk of a Papacy or a Joseph Smith in Judaism.)

    3. You do not need to be a member of the Jewish faith to be worthy of dignity as a human.

    4. Because Judaism has its focus on a person’s free will vis ethical actions, sectarianism is less virulent or prone to violence.

    5. Because of the emphasis on the Shema, and insistence on G-d’s utter uniqueness vis the question of worship, it is very rare for Jews to put stock in things like Demons, End Time speculations, faith healing hucksters etc. and this is a natural defense against the many forms of advantage people try to take.

    6. Because Judaism believes that miracles do not prove a prophet to be right or valid, Judaism is much less prone to being taken advantage of generally.

    7. Judaism does not make unilateral decisions about the afterlife or who gets in.

    8. Judaism has the benefit of being the root faith of all 3 Abrahamic religions. The claims of Judaism serve as a baseline criteria about which all the 3 traditions can actually agree.

    That baseline opens the real possibility that we can choose not to fight about the things that the sister faiths of Christianity and Islam have always insisted be fought about.

    9. Judaism’s traditional interpretations keep ideas fresh, but also keep sectarian squabbles at bay.

    IE you would never need to have the kind of theological disputes that lead to centuries of Christians killing other Christians. Judaism says “the secret things are for G-d and not for man.”

    10. Even when sectarianism arises in Judaism, the centrality of Torah law serves as a safe means for those who disagree about theology to be able to make inroads to reconciliation.

    (You wouldn’t see the likes in Judaism of the purge of the Judaizers or the Gnostics that we saw in Christian history. )

    • Sharon S says:

      Hi Concerned Reader,

      Thank you for your reply . It is very informative.
      Actually , I find your comment at https://judaismresources.net/2018/07/18/sufficient/#comment-42528 very enlightening. It really made me think and review my assumptions about Jesus.

      It was also one of the triggers for my comment to Jim as well.
      Since you are very knowledgeable on religion , I would like to do an about turn and ask you the initial question I posed in my comment:
      “If Jesus did not come to the scene would Man’s relationship with G-d improve? ”

      Now , I know this question was not taken too kindly (I hope no one here think I am a closet missionary) , but please hear me out:
      1.You can clearly see from history -from creation to Noah’s generation and beyond how most mankind , except the Jew has regressed in the relationship with our Creator .
      2. What I learnt thus far is that the command of G-d i.e the 7 laws are not adhered to , or at best adhered to but out of necessity to maintain civilization -it was not followed out of obedience to G-d.
      3. Only the Jew is given revelation at Sinai- hence the Jewish nation is the sole nation that is on a higher spiritual plane than the rest of mankind.
      4. In the Hebrew Bible , one can always find references to the nations , who worship idols of “wood and stone” , and their foolishness of doing so.

      The above points (1 to 4) is what I gathered from my very amateur studies of Judaism worldview , on my own and through discussion with Rabbi Blumenthal .

      Now , if Jesus haven’t come to the scene , this is what I imagine would probably happen:
      1. I will be a Hindu/Buddhist/Animist today and still be worshipping idols of wood and stone , stars, tree -whatever under the sun.
      2. I would be aware of the elements of the 7 laws-not to kill,steal ,etc -but I will be doing it to preserve civilization or conscience -not out of obedience to G-d

      So , how is my standing with G-d?
      I would be guilty of idolatry without really being aware of it in the first place.

      Impact of Jesus coming into the scene:
      1. I come to know Jesus and the G-d of Israel through him.
      2. I have access to the Jewish Bible -and the knowledge of G-d and his commands-though distorted by the teachings of the Church
      3. Instead of worshipping idols of wood and stone , stars , etc-I now worship the G-d of Israel , though in a distorted way via partnership , or “shituf” .
      4. If I research and assess my assumptions -I will eventually come to a realization that my beliefs in (3) are wrong -which is what all of us have come to realise here- we all make life changing choices to worship the G-d of Israel in truth.

      Now which is scene is better ? With or without Jesus?
      Which scene shows a better standing with our Creator? Outright idolatry or shituf?

      I need to side-track a bit here.
      I know the standpoint of this blog that the Trinity is idolatry for both Jew and Gentile-but there are differing opinions out there -one opinion I read says that shituf or “belief in an intermediary” is not forbidden to the Gentile but it is an unrighteous belief.
      I have also discussed this matter extensively with Rabbi Blumenthal as well.

      Hence , that is why I state in my initial post that Jesus improved our lot and standing with our Creator . I would like to further specify that Jesus improved the Gentile lot and standing with our Creator.

      I do admit that Jesus’s coming has a negative impact for the Jew. This is because the Jewish people are on a higher spiritual plane than the rest of the world.

      Appreciate your opinion on this matter.

      Thank you.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Sharon S, the 1st thing is that Shituf is not “permitted” in the sense of a person directing worship, but only in the sense of someone oath taking.

        IE lets say that a Platonic philosopher said, “I swear by the great highest god that I am telling the truth about X.”

        All Shituf allows is that a Jew knows they can take this oath seriously. As you are aware, even Polytheists tend to have a head of the pantheon that they designate as the most important. Shituf just means that in the context of an oath or testimony, if someone swears by G-d, but they believe that he has parteners, their testimony can nonetheless be trusted.

        As to your question about whether Jesus improved the world, I would ask you this in a serious fashion.

        Did Muhammad improve the world?

        Muhammad brought a theological knowledge of the one G-d (without it containing much of the mystical baggage of Christianity that has caused harm and made Christianity have a negative impact.)

        IE no trinity, no incarnation, (and none of the bloody feuds over mysticism) no necessary requirement stated outright to insist on accepting his person for salvation. Muhammad brought a knowledge to billions of Arab pagans. That doesn’t make it good

        (even though they dont strictly have to, Muslims still insist that a person MUST accept Muhammad to serve G-d properly.)

        IE the Quran actually tells Muslims not to show compulsion in your religion, and to trust the people of the book, and ask them for guidance if they need it.

        Now, we both know that even though the Quran contains that good advice, it doesn’t negate what is bad, and it hasn’t stopped the Muslim countries from doing the exact opposite of what they should do.

        That is how I would answer your question.

        If Islamic extremeists can still do such harm in the name of their faith, (when their opinion of monotheism stands closer to Judaism,) then how can we ask if these sister faiths made the world better?

        The world has the same problems, but exacerbated by the fact that you now have 3 faiths, two of which claim a monopoly on the truth.

        I do not think Jesus was an unethical guy, but I cannot say that the faith he started made the world objectively better. In fact, it made the world ignore his ethical advice in order to prop up his death, at the expense of peoples lives.

        In fact, I would say that a key part of what the messianic hope means to Jews (which Jesus’ movement rejected,) is that the world can always be made better if you try, and its a human being’s purpose to make this world better.

        In Judaism, being made in the image.of G-d means you have the dignified position of bettering the world, not consigning it to a fallen state.

        For years as a Christian, I saw the toxic apathy Christians took towards the needs of others outside of their community, the willingness to shift blame for their problems, and the inability to effect real change because they believed with all their heart that their deeds were filthy rags, and the only way to do anything was for Jesus to bear the burden.

        • Dina says:

          Sharon, I’ve given more thought to your question on what Judaism has to offer.

          I think the more pressing questions are, Is Jesus God? Is Jesus the Messiah? All other questions pale in significance compared to these two.

          What does Judaism have to offer? The truth.

          And truth is the highest and most noble calling.

      • Dina says:

        Sharon, you wrote that if not for Jesus, you would likely have been a Buddhist or Hindu (why not Muslim?) or some other kind of pagan. There is a bit of history that I think is fascinating and might make you reconsider that notion.

        During the Second Temple period, many gentiles flocked to the Temple during the holiday pilgrimages along with the Jews. Many attended synagogues and lectures and were known as God-fearing gentiles, or “God fearers.”

        When the Jesus movement, having failed to attract Jews, turned to the gentiles, they lured many of these God fearers to their camp. Therefore, I think it’s likely that had Christianity not taken root in the West, the God fearer movement would have continued to grow.

        But all this is speculation. As I said last time, the answer to your question is unknowable, and God had other plans.

        You also said, “Listening why product B-Christianity/Jesus is faulty to justify superiority of product A-Judaism can sound boring after some time.” I’m trying to figure out what you are saying here. Are you saying that you are bored by claims that Christians are wrong to assert the superiority of Christianity over Judaism? Or are you bored by claims that Judaism is superior to Christianity? Or are you bored by claims that Christianity is faulty in order to justify the superiority of Judaism?

        Since I don’t understand which of these you mean (or I may be wrong on all counts!), I hope you will forgive me for taking the liberty of answering all of them. Before I do that, please don’t worry about asking questions that we might find uncomfortable. This blog is about seeking the truth, and the process can be messy, it can be fraught, it can be rancorous and heated and passionate. But I believe that we will get there in the end!

        So…are Christians wrong to assert the superiority of Christianity over Judaism? (I will not assess the degree of boredom this question induces :)). The answer is, yes, of course they are. Christianity claimed to lead its followers on a moral path that is superior to Judaism. Yet its history is splattered with the blood of countless Christians and non-Christians, all people created in God’s image, simply because other Christians followed a different theology or non-Christians were regarded as less than human. All you need do is examine the community that followed Jesus and the community that followed Torah over the past two millennia to see which religion created a better society. Jews were exemplary citizens of every host country they lived in, paying their taxes, helping each other, and refraining from barbaric and bawdy behaviors (for example, Jews engaging in drunken brawls at taverns is not something you hear about). Were they perfect? Of course not. Were they better off morally and ethically? Of course they were.

        Therefore, Christians are wrong to assert the superiority of their religion over Judaism.

        Are you bored by claims that Judaism is superior to Christianity? Perhaps you are, but I think it is fair to say that every religion’s adherents believe theirs is superior to all others. That said, Jews are not in the habit of telling everyone that. All Jews want, and have ever wanted, is to be left alone to worship in peace. Alas, Christians still won’t leave Jews alone, and that is the only reason for this website. I assure you, Sharon, if Christian missionaries would not proselytize Jews, this website would not exist.

        Or are you bored by claims that Christianity is faulty in order to justify the superiority of Judaism? Again, leaving aside the boredom factor, this question is unfair. Jews do not seek to claim that Christianity is faulty in order to boost their faith. Judaism can stand on its own whether Christianity is inferior or not. It is Christianity which needs to knock Judaism in order to have a raison d’être. Please compare the writings of Christians, beginning with the New Testament, including the writings of the Church Fathers, and down through the centuries to Martin Luther and beyond, to the writings of Jews beginning with the Talmud and down through the centuries.

        I think the results will shock you. While Christians, in their writings, are obsessed with Jews and Judaism and poured torrents of ink to demonize them, Christians and Christianity are barely mentioned in the writings of Jews–and when they are, it is usually only in passing and with indifference. The irony is, Jews had the more right to feel bitter toward Christians, since by the time the Talmud was being compiled, persecution of the Jews had already begun. Talk about turning the other cheek!

        Even today, Christians still teach each other about the inferiority of Judaism through their New Testament in order to justify their belief. Yet Jews do not talk to each other about Christianity for the most part.

        So can you imagine how it sounds to a Jew to hear a Christian say that our rhetoric regarding this is boring?

        There was a Christian who used to comment on this blog that hearing Jews discuss Christian persecution of Jews is boring. It’s galling, to say the least.

        By the way, there is a Sharon who posts here from time to time. I actually discussed with her the topic of Christian persecution of Jews and she read a book I recommended on the subject. Are you the same Sharon?

        Keep asking questions! That’s the best way to achieve clarity. And I hope I haven’t bored you too much 🙂 !

        • Sharon S says:

          Hi Dina,

          This is the same Sharon who have read 2 out of the 3 books you recommended and have actually visited some of the sites where the acts of persecution actually took place recently- like the site where inquisition activities were carried out . If you plan to visit Europe , there are many “Jewish Heritage” tours that you can book online before your trip -it is very informative ,eye opening and in some places -physically challenging (need to walk up steep roads).

          The tag line at the top right corner of this blog is ” Judaism resources-tap into the strength of Judaism” .

          I have listened to both Muslim and Jewish missionaries/counter missionaries -so I have been hearing criticisms of Christianity for a very , very long time . I admit it do make me sick to hear them at times (“wrong to assert Christianity’s superiority”/”Christianity is faulty”) but I’m pretty much used to it.

          However there comes a time when I get bored listening to all these criticisms and wanted to learn the strengths of Islam and Judaism on its own terms . Let’s forget about Jesus and Christianity and see what Judaism has to offer . I don’t see that often in this blog . Do correct if I’m wrong.

          In addition ,the further I study these faiths , there seem to be some “red flags” (refer to my comment to Concerned reader below) .I wondered why has this not been declared in the blog, or perhaps I missed it? These information need to be considered in the critique of Christianity so that all can see the full picture. It may be “material” to some readers out there .

          You say that the reason this blog exist is because Christians won’t leave the Jews alone -which means if Christians eventually do stop bothering Jews than this blog cease to exist? To me that defeats the purpose of the tag line -tap into the strength of Judaism.

          I truly appreciate you being open . Thank you.

          • Dina says:

            Sharon, this is indeed a countermissionary blog. It was founded for the express purpose of showing Jews who had been led astray by missionaries why their newfound belief is wrong. That is why nearly all the articles on this blog are based on some idea of Judaism versus Christianity. If you want to learn about Judaism only, this is not the right place for it (tagline notwithstanding). I recommend aish.com and simpletoremember.com to learn about Judaism. These two websites are primarily interested in outreach to secular and/or unaffiliated Jews, but I think you can learn much of value there.

            Rabbi B. has always been extremely tolerant of difficult questions and discussions of hard truths. I don’t think you need to worry about asking the tough questions here. Judaism does have elements that are hard to understand or can be very uncomfortable, and we do not shy away from challenges to these ideas.

            I’d like to add a little more to Con’s answer to you on the higher nature of the Jewish soul. It is true that many Jews believe this. It is true that they have believed this for centuries. But even Jews who believe this also accept that all humans are created in God’s image, and therefore all human life is sacred. That is why this belief has never translated into Jews acting violently toward or murdering non-Jews.

            A big fear among Arabs with the creation of the Jewish state was that as soon as Jews attained some power they would treat Arabs as they themselves had been treated at Arab hands. This fear is one of the causes of the flight of hundreds of thousands of Arabs from the Jewish state after she won independence. Yet ask any Israeli Arab if he would rather live in Israel or any other Arab country. The answer is very telling! Although the state is secular, the sacredness of human life and justice for all are so ingrained in the Jewish psyche that secular Jews cannot easily give them up.

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Dina,
            Thank you for being honest about this.

  13. Sharon S says:

    Hi Concerned Reader,

    Thank you for your brilliant answer . Yes , I do agree with your assessment on Muhammad and Islam . Muhammad did bring a lot of good to the Arab pagans by bringing them to the knowledge and worship of the one G-d . However that does not mean that its adherents brought good to the world -which is an analogy of Jesus and Christianity as well.

    So what I got from your analogy -mankind’s lot or standing with G-d is no better with or without these two figures entering the world scene. There was an awareness of G-d and His laws , but adherents of these two faiths committed terrible acts in His name , thereby breaking His commands and going back to square one . Please correct if I’m wrong.

    You have mentioned “You do not need to be a member of the Jewish faith to be worthy of dignity as a human.” and “In Judaism, being made in the image.of G-d means you have the dignified position of bettering the world, not consigning it to a fallen state. ”

    I want to bring to your attention the following article by Dr. Menachem Kellner – Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Jewish Thought at Shalem College (Jerusalem) and Wolfson Professor Emeritus, University of Haifa in the article at the following link:
    https://www.jewishideas.org/article/orthodoxy-and-gentile-problem

    “Looking around me today, what do I see? A very different Orthodoxy. I want to focus here on only one aspect of the “new Orthodoxy”: the emphasis on the metaphysical, innate, inherent, absolute difference between Jews and non-Jews. There is, admittedly, a long history to this idea, dating back at least to R. Judah Halevi (and, if one believes that the Zohar was written by R. Shimon bar Yohai, then back to the third century at least). In the Judaism in which we were raised, however, this history was unknown, ignored, or glossed over. [5]”

    I have been listening to criticisms to Christianity’s condemnation of those who do not believe in Jesus and how Judaism respects the dignity of man . I agree that Christianity view the actions of those out of its faith system as futile as man is deemed sinful by nature . There is a more positive view in Judaism -, however mankind are affected by the sin of Adam . The patriarchs and the Jewish people are able to partially remove the negativity and it is their calling to counteract that negative impact completely from the soul of mankind. This is a result of my discussion with Rabbi Blumenthal.

    As to shituf , kindly refer excerpt from Moshe Weiner’s “The Divine Code” at the link below:
    https://asknoah.org/wp-content/uploads/the-divine-code-web6.pdf

    “It has previously been explained that some Rabbinical opinions
    maintain that a Gentile is not forbidden to [only] believe in the
    mistaken concept of an intermediary to G-d, and this includes a belief
    that another entity exists that is fitting to respect because this is the
    will and honor of G-d. The Rabbinical opinions that say this is not
    forbidden admit that it is forbidden to perform any type of worship
    service for the supposed intermediary. Nevertheless, if such a belief
    itself is not forbidden, it is likewise not forbidden to swear in the name
    of G-d combined together with the intermediary that one believes in as
    another divinity.”

    What I gather from discussion with Rabbi Blumenthal with regards to idolatry as follows:
    a. Both outright and partnership idolatry is prohibited to both Jew and Gentile.
    b.Some opinion allow partnership provided that primary worship is directed to G-d
    c. No explicit prohibition of idolatry to the non Jew but it is implied in the Jewish Bible

    In conclusion , I am aware that discussion of these items may be frowned upon this blog . I would also like to apologize to Rabbi Blumenthal for that , and for bringing up his name in this discussion . These matters came about from an honest study of Judaism and the materials I found are from Jewish sources . I have discussed them with him and he has been very open to look into them and respond accordingly , of which I am grateful.

    The reason I bring these matters up in the blog is to highlight that there are uncomfortable truths in Judaism as well , that needs to be brought up and discussed so that all can come to the truth , to mutual understanding and respect . I still believe that Judaism has the truth that all man seek , however we need to bring all truth , good and bad to the table and not gloss it over.

    Whether it is appropriate to continue discussing these things on this blog , I leave it to Rabbi Blumenthal as the blog owner.

    I shall not comment any further.

    Thank you.

    • Sharon, Dina, Concerned Reader, Elazar and Jim I was out of the country for a while without access to the blog. I feel truly blessed by the conversation that took place on the blog while I was gone. Sharon your questions are great. I will not answer all of them now but I hope to get to them in the near future. I see that Concerned Reader, Dina. Elazar and Jim did much to clarify things. For now I will just add two things. A dimension that Judaism offers is respect for honest questions. And that although this blog was originally established to counter the missionary arguments I would want it to move towards clarifying Judaism (hence the tagline) – I accept your rebuke Sharon – but I will point out that many articles do bring out the strength of Judaism – there should be more and I hope to share them in the near future. Thanks to all of you

      1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

      • jasonannelise says:

        I haven’t been following the discussion closely enough to really get an idea of context and be able to comment; I’ve just seen a few of the comments come up in my email inbox.

        Just wanted to mention that I agree that Judaism in general is open to honest questions. Of course in any culture, including sometimes in Judaism, people feel uncomfortable with certain questions and aren’t able to truly hear or respond to them well. But in general, Judaism is one big community of conversations about what is important and what needs to change.

        And these conversations really do bring change. It may be too slow at times, because (among other reasons) people are humbly hesitant to lose any wisdom implicit in the teachings of generations prior. But the global Jewish community is also remarkably dynamic. The discussions within Judaism have also often inspired many powerful and influential observations regarding human nature and broader society.

        Personally I have lots of questions about whether any religion is true, but I still feel I’ve learnt the most from this Jewish conversation, and I feel that even my questions are best understood by religious Jews. Perhaps it depends where we are and whom we meet, as well.

      • Welcome back myphariseefriend! Rabbi, I do want to know if there is a common Jewish mens’ morning prayer pattern which goes like “Thank to the God of the universe who made me not slave, gentile, and woman…” I do not want to criticize it, nor i deserve to. If it is true, it is their honest thankful prayer to God for how God made them. I just want to know whether it is a part of Talmudic traditions (thus there are many other patterns or types or sidur? of morning prayer) or general and common trandition of the Jews. I am asking this question third time, and no one in this blog answered yet.

        • Gean Guk Jeon Yes, there is such a prayer. The point of the prayer is that a Jewish, free, male has more Torah obligations than a non-Jew, or a slave or a female. The prayer is thanking God for the Torah obligations.

          1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • Finally i got the precious knowledge.
            Your explanation of “The point of prayer” is so precious that i can teach gentiles who might misunderstand the Jewish religion. Thank you so much. Please know that i am learning lots of treasures of Judaism and truth of gospel through many debates in this blog.

  14. Concerned Reader says:

    Sharon S, Zohar is not the law of Moses. It is a midrash, and therefore nobody is obligated to believe it.

    Any notion in hassidic philosophy that says a gentile has a lesser soul, or is of lesser worth does not have any legal backing in the Bible.

    You can ask anybody on this blog how I feel about that particular theological notion that some try to pass off as Torah based. I have spoken out against that idea here before.

    A Jew does not have a higher soul, he has more commandments. That is what that metaphor of a Jewish soul means.

    If any text tries to make it out to mean more, they are ignoring many texts that state that stranger and native born are equal.

    “There was an awareness of G-d and His laws , but adherents of these two faiths committed terrible acts in His name.”

    Not only did they commit terrible acts, but they did so with the blessing of their teachers and their “newer and better” doctrines.

    All that Rhetoric against the Pharisees spoken by Jesus had a real world and bloody negative impact.

    When the crowd in John’s gospel says “his blood be on us and our children forever,” that verse was taken as gospel by centuries of Jesus believers who would charge Jews with deicide.

    There is a saying. “If it is new, its not Testanent, and if it is Testament, it is not new.”

    There is nothing moral that a Christian can do that a Jew is not also capable of doing. Nothing ethical in the New Testanent is really new, and what is new in it has extreme potential to be unethical, as centuries of violent Christian history has shown.

  15. Jim says:

    A brief note—

    At various points in the conversations that have taken place in these comments sections, followers of Jesus have put forth the notion that they can feel his presence. Because of this, they know that he is active in their lives, making a difference in the world to bring people closer to God. They know that he is either God or the Messiah, depending upon who is making the claim, and any arguments that run counter to the claims made on behalf of Jesus eventually run into the subjective test proposed by the believer: they feel Jesus. These feelings, however real they are to those that experience them, are no indication of truth, and anyone that seeks the truth must not rely upon their feelings as a guide.

    It is a danger into which one easily falls to be guided by his emotions. One who is secretly in love with another, particularly if he is young, often finds himself interpreting the actions of his beloved through his own emotional state. If he is fearful, he reads her actions as a rejection. If he is hopeful, he reads the same actions as indications of returned affection. This happens all while the beloved has no knowledge of his feelings and is neither rejecting nor encouraging them. His emotional state says nothing about the reality.

    That a believer senses the presence of Jesus is no indication that Jesus is actually with that person. Consider the child, alone in his bedroom at night afraid of the dark. As he lies there, and his imagination runs wild, he becomes convinced that something is with him. Yet, when the lights come on, the child discovers that he is indeed alone. The certainty that some malevolent being was hovering just out of arms reach is proven false, and he is comforted by the revelation that no threat is present. It matters nothing if the imagined presence is malevolent or benevolent: the presence of such a being is not discovered through one’s emotional state or through some vague sense. The belief that such a being is present does not make it so. A sense that Jesus is present in one’s life is no more reliable than the belief that a monster lies in the closet. The light of Torah dispels any notions that Jesus is present but unseen; it subjects one’s subjective feelings to Torah’s objective truth.

    That feelings do not guide one to truth, Jesus’ followers ought to recognize. They do not credit the feelings of those of other faiths. They do not, for example, give credence to the “burning in the bosom” that the Mormon promises to those who pray to discover whether or not the revelation of Joseph Smith is true or not. It is not that Jesus’ followers do not believe that such a feeling will happen. It is that they believe that such a test is not a good indicator of truth. And he is right. But his own subjective feelings as to whether or not Jesus was a prophet, Messiah, or a god are not a good indicator of truth either.

    Recently, Netflix released a documentary called “Wild, Wild Country,” which covered the time of the Rajneeshes in Oregon. It is fascinating how differently the Baghwan Shree Rajneesh (from here on, “Rajneesh”) was perceived by his followers and his opponents. His followers saw him as the most beautiful man that ever walked the earth. The felt refreshed in his presence. They could feel the holiness radiating from him. Oregonians saw Rajneesh in the opposite light. They felt that a great oppressive darkness surrounded the man. They saw him as almost demonic. It is impossible that these two views of Rajneesh could be right. So, whose subjective feelings are to be trusted?

    The only answer is not to trust one’s subjective feelings.

    It is no different with Jesus than it is with Rajneesh. The claims of Jesus must be subjected to Torah, not to one’s feelings. The missionary often says that he can demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah or that he is divine from the Torah and the Prophets. Yet, when his demonstrations are proven to be empty, he takes refuge in his feelings. Those feelings are illusory. The test of the truth of a claim is made by reason, by the careful consideration of the facts. It is not made with the feelings. One that subjects his mind to his reason deceives himself.

    Jim

    • Eleazar says:

      I was in Oregon during the Baghwan’s time in Antelope. To me, he was a con man who had duped his followers for personal gain. The whole thing was a scam, and there was nothing spiritual about it. That and he looked like Cheech Marin in a beard and a Punjabi.

  16. Jim says:

    Sharon,

    It is difficult to say with certainty what the world would look like without Jesus. This does require a bit of speculation. It is to imagine an alternate history, but doing so in terribly difficult. I cannot say what the world would have been like if Jesus had not come into it, but I propose that one possibility is that the general relationship of humanity with God would be much improved.

    At the time of Jesus, non-Jews were already coming to the Jewish people to learn about God, independent of and preceding Jesus’ ministry. As far as I know, it is unknown how significant the numbers were, but this “movement” did exist. So, it is not clear that one would be left with nothing but Animism, etc., if the Jesus movement had not come along.

    Indeed, it is quite plausible that the Jesus movement prevented the seed of Torah observant non-Jews from flowering into a larger movement. While the Jesus movement can be seen as improving the non-Jewish world’s view of God, it harmed the non-Jewish world in a significant way. It turned the non-Jewish world away from their teachers. It is the Jewish people that carries the testimony of God into the world (see, for example, Deut. 4). But, the Jesus movement poisoned the minds of the non-Jewish world against that nation of priests, which ultimately has led to the corrupted understanding of God and His Torah. So, even if the Jesus movement offered something better than Animism and the other religious philosophies you mentioned, it also offered something worse than what was available at the time. Just as Jesus serves as a wall between humanity and God, the Jesus movement has served as a wall between the non-Jew and his teachers, the Jewish people.

    I apologize for taking so long to respond to this question. Originally, I had intended a longer answer, but I do not believe it is necessary. The teaching of the Jesus movement regarding the Jewish people is well known. It is equally well known how the Church silenced the voice of the Jewish people. So that, I think it can be asserted with reason that the Jesus movement co-opted and corrupted the work that was already being done on behalf of the non-Jewish world. It is quite possible that the Jesus movement prevented the non-Jewish world from growing closer to God than it otherwise would have done.

    Jim

    • Sharon S says:

      Dear Jim,
      Thank you for taking the time to reply to my question . I appreciate it very much.
      Allow me to summarize the main points from your two comments as follows:
      1.If Jesus had not come to the scene, would man’s relationship with G-d improve? Yes
      2. Jesus created a wall between man and G-d
      3. There was movement of Torah observant non Jews at the time of Jesus
      4. Jesus movement prevented the seed of Torah observant non-Jews from flowering into a larger movement-it co-opted and corrupted the work that was already being done on behalf of the non-Jewish world
      5. Jesus movement served as a wall between non Jew and their teachers, the Jewish people.

      My reply as follows:
      1. We have moved on from the holocausts , progroms etc . Although anti semitism still exists , Jews are currently living at a time where they have the opportunity to be our teachers.
      2. There seems to be hesitance from the Jewish people to take on this role.This is from the recent conversation that I had here and my observance on the blog.
      3. The testimony from G-d are conveyed as an attempt to prevent members of the Jewish community from being lured by Christianity missionaries , rather than an active attempt to teach non Jews .
      4. I have always been impressed with Abraham-I learnt that he was very hospitable and taught all that came to him the knowledge and truth of G-d
      5. In fact Abraham interceded to G-d for the fate of the righteous people in Sodom.If he can see that there is potential for good in non Jews , why can’t his descendants see it as well?
      6.You mentioned that the Jesus movement created a wall between the non Jew and their teachers. Our teachers are currently at a better place in history , why aren’t they willing to teach? Who is creating the wall here , the Jesus movement or our teachers themselves?
      7. Perhaps I was misled on the purpose of this blog from the tagline and this may not the best platform to learn these truths . If that’s the case please consider to change the tagline to “Keeping Jews Jewish”.

      Thank you .

      • Eleazar says:

        Sharon wrote:
        “2. There seems to be hesitance from the Jewish people to take on this role.This is from the recent conversation that I had here and my observance on the blog.”

        You are absolutely correct. I see the same hesitation at shul and in the Jewish community. I would like to see the Jewish community pick up the torch of truth and carry it to the world. But I also know I needed no Jewish missionary to find my way to the light of Torah. The Jewish people have done well in preserving Torah over the millenia. God can and does lead the sincere seeker to the truth of the Jewish faith.

      • Jim says:

        Sharon,

        Your dissatisfaction with the lack of teachers is understandable, and, to some degree, I share it. I desire very much that we as non-Jews should have more teachers available to us from the Jewish people. I believe that this would be a great benefit to the world. However, I also believe that we need be patient: change comes slowly.

        It is not only holocausts and pogroms that have rendered the voice of the Jewish people mute. The Christian world has long asserted that the Jewish people were hypocrites, legalists, and killers of God. They have believed and vocalized the notion that the Jews could not understand the message of the Torah with which they were entrusted. Christians have deeply drunk the message that the rabbis are “the blind leading the blind” and that they strain at gnats while swallowing camels. To this day, Christians accuse the Jewish people of purposefully avoiding scriptures that seem to have a Christological bent. The campaign of the Church to discredit the Jewish people has not ended, regardless of the lack of pogroms.

        Because of this, few students come to the Jewish people looking to learn. Certainly, the number is larger than it has been in a long time. But, this is a new phenomenon in a sense. A large number of students has not come looking for Torah instruction from the Jewish people in 2,000 years. The current Noahide movement only goes back to the 1980’s. It is younger than I am. In that time, quite a few rabbis have been of enormous help to the non-Jewish world, teaching the nascent Noahide movement. Moreover, a number of books have been published on the Seven Laws, and various websites are up devoted to instructing the non-Jew. While, local teachers are rare for many Noahides, some resources are available. This is remarkable, considering that the Holocaust was performed less than 100 years ago and that the non-Jewish world has only lately become interested in learning Torah from Jews in any significant numbers. If the Noahide movement continues, I believe that in time more teachers and teaching will become available to the Jewish world.

        But, I imagine that certain factors make the Jewish people reticent to teach more widely too quickly. One such factor is that not all that come claiming to seek to be taught are sincere. Christian missionaries sometimes portray themselves as students when really, they come to preach. The request for instruction is only to gain them entry to the Jewish world. The false humility of such students is a cloak wherein are hid their true intentions. And their professed love of the Jewish people is a device to bring the Jew into the Church.

        A second kind of Christian claims that he desires to learn from the Jewish people, but, though he does not aim to proselytize, he is no more sincere than the first. This “student” has his own agenda for learning Torah, to support his Christian belief. His agenda is to learn Torah and then twist it to his own ends. He turns the Torah into a prop, perverting its meaning to justify his beliefs. He uses the Torah, abuses it.

        One such gentleman came to my house, asking me to teach him about the Jewish holidays. I told him that this was not an area that I, as a non-Jew, busied myself with overly much. But, I told him I would tell him what little I knew. When I began, however, he immediately started to rewrite what I said to make it support his Christianity. So, I told him that I could not continue, because I would not be party to his twisting the Torah in order to support the worship of a human being. Instead, I talked about what the Torah teaches on idolatry. He listened and took notes, but, of course, he never asked me about Torah again. (For which I was thankful: I am not a Torah scholar, and I do not profess to be one.)

        And, I do not think Christians are the only difficulty for the Jewish people in regard to teaching. Among Noahides, it seems to me that certain problems exist. Many Noahides are former Christians, and they believe they know more than they really do. Many have spent their whole lives learning the “Old Testament,” and so they have a familiarity that deceives them. They think they need only drop the Jesus-part of their understanding, and then—boom!—they have got Torah. But, it is not so. In my opinion, the non-Jew really has to go back to square one and start learning all over again. After all, if he did not understand one of the fundaments of Torah, it is quite likely that he does not really understand the rest, and he should not believe himself to be expert except in this one arena. He must come to understand that he has not really understood it at all, and he must patiently build up a new understanding. However, one sees that some Noahides quite confidently assert their expertise, even after learning that they have not understood the basics.

        This is sometimes reflected in the disdain shown for the Seven Laws. I have heard from several Noahides a dismissive sentiment when it comes to the Seven. Some have said something to the effect: “Big deal. Who doesn’t know not to steal? That’s all God wants of me?” This outlook on the Seven means that he does not wish to study them further. He wants something else: he wants to wear a kippah, keep the Sabbath, or affix a mezuzah to his door. He wants to be Jewish without being Jewish, his own brand of Jewishness. And, he does not want to be told that he ought not do these things. Teaching such a person must be difficult, because one does not wish to lead him astray by indulging his own ideas, nor does one want to alienate him by making him feel that he has no real religion and is only expected to keep the simplest of ethical codes.

        For some Noahides—perhaps many—a certain amount of jealousy exists, which carries with it dangerous undertones. It is not just that they feel that the Jews have Sabbath, so the non-Jews should have Sabbath. They believe that the Jew does not really respect the non-Jew. A few years ago, some Noahides were angry that the rabbis questioned what it meant that Noah was righteous “in his generations.” One rabbinic explanation argues that Noah would not have been considered as righteous in another generation, which argument compares Noah disfavorably to Abraham. The Noahides in question assumed that the rabbis were intolerant of the idea that a non-Jew would be singled out for his righteousness, and for this reason they made Noah to be inferior to the father of the Jewish people. The assumption of the Noahides is incorrect and neglectful of the rabbinic argument, which was not, in fact, rooted in Noah’s non-Jewishness. Still, this group of people found this to be an outrage.

        Indeed, some non-Jews are annoyed by the fact that the Torah was given to the Jewish people and relates primarily to the Jews. They have taken it upon themselves to focus upon righteous non-Jews in the Torah and celebrate them. This might appear laudable, but it speaks to a mindset that misses the entire point of the Torah.

        These are some of the challenges that face the current age. They are not insurmountable—I think. But they will likely take time to be overcome. As time goes on, it may be that more Jewish teachers are available to the non-Jewish world or that a greater body of reading material exists. The difficulties I have enumerated probably mean that this will not happen quickly, at least, not as quickly as we might like. Nevertheless, if sincere non-Jews continue to come to the Jewish people asking to learn the Torah that applies to them as non-Jews, I believe more teaching will become available.

        Jim

      • Jim says:

        Sharon,

        Regarding the tagline of the website:

        Of course, it is not my website, so it is not up to me to change it or not. But, allow me to present a case for leaving it the way that it is.

        I believe that many non-Jews have benefitted from R’ Blumenthal’s website and have been educated regarding the basic tenets of Judaism. My guess is that Larry, Annelise, Cflat7, and Southern Noahide number among those non-Jews that have learned basic Torah principles from the writings of R’ Blumenthal. I may be mistaken, and I certainly cannot speak for them, but I can say that I have so benefitted from R’ Blumenthal. One of the challenges of his work is that it is geared not just toward the ignorant but toward the miseducated. It is more difficult to learn when one does not realize that he does not know something. Similarly, the teacher’s task is made more difficult when the student has false beliefs rather than recognizing his ignorance.

        One of the strengths of R’ Blumenthal’s work is that it relies upon the basic concepts of Judaism to counter the false claims of Christianity, rather than relying only upon countering each verse. R’ Blumenthal gives over the fundaments, those truths that cannot be violated by a teacher. So, when one learns from him why Christianity is false, he learns also the fundaments of Torah.

        In this way, R’ Blumenthal does help one “tap into the strength of Judaism,” and has exceeded the task of “keeping Jews Jewish.”

        Jim

        • Sharon S says:

          To Jim & Rabbi Blumenthal,

          Jim , thank you for taking the time and your patience in addressing the concerns I have raised . I may not be fully aware on the realities of Jewish Christian relations in the West .Your explanation is an eye opener for me.

          Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal . I checked the “About” link on your blog . It states “Welcome to 1000 verses. This blog has been formulated to help you read the Jewish Scriptures and find God’s truth from the perspective of God’s first-born son; the people of Israel (Exodus 4:22, Jeremiah 31:8).” I learnt to read the Jewish Bible (the Old Testament that I have with me) from the perspective of the people of Israel thanks to studying your articles and looking up all scripture references contained therein. I am most grateful. Thank you.

          During this process , I come to realize of my place as an outsider reading into a conversation between G-d and the people of Israel . Hence the 10 commandments and the Torah are actually commands /precepts commanded upon the Jewish people alone . I was especially curious on the prohibition to idolatry-is there any explicit command to the non Jew in the Scriptures ? Upon further checking I realized that the prohibition of idolatry to the non Jew, in particular shituf is a subject to debate and the fact that it is an implied , not an explicit command to the non Jew.

          I listened to another Rabbi claiming that those who persist in the belief of the Trinity has no place in the world to come. His video , coupled with the basic Torah teachings in your blog made me abandon my faith . I would not have done that had this information been made available in the first place . I was persuaded rather than being educated.

          Much have been said about the Christian Scriptures contains extensive hate speech for the Jew and bare mention of Jesus/Christianity in rabbinical texts . However one fact that is glossed over is the anti Gentile verses which are quite significant in these texts. I admit there is a difference between Gentile and Christian . However to not acknowledge the existence of anti gentile texts in the critique of Christianity is not showing the full picture . All facts , good and bad have to be laid out on the table .

          I followed this blog based on the tagline “tap into the strengths of Judaism” . . I thought that this blog will teach me the truth – and yes , it did lead me to the truth . However it did not show the full truth ,as shown in the above examples.

          In a recent conversation , I found out the nature of the blog -it is established as a counter missionary blog .Its critique of Christianity is to show the Jewish believers of Jesus why their new found faith is wrong. I realized that perhaps the intended audience is for the Jew , hence the distinction of idolatry for Jew and Gentile as well as anti Gentile texts is perhaps given knowledge within the Jewish community which may not be relevant to the discussion . Had this blog been about reaching out to non Jews as well as Jews , perhaps these differences would have been considered relevant and discussed.

          Rabbi , I do not mean to undermine all your hard work and effort in this blog and elsewhere. I have highlighted these facts to you in our e-mail conversations before this . The reason I do this is to alert other truth seekers out there , other non Jews who might be questioning their Christian faith and who may come to your blog or other blogs of this nature. I want them to know that ‘one truth does not fit all’ when it comes to Judaism . There are distinctions and differences in obligation between Jew and non Jew . The truths in the Jewish Scriptures , though relevant to all humanity is still explicitly directed to the Jew alone . There are no clear guidelines for the non Jew (at least in the written Torah).

          Hence , this is my justification that way this blog is moving , is more in keeping with the tagline “keeping Jews Jewish”, rather than “tapping into the strengths of Judaism”.

          Do correct if I’m in error. Thank you.

          • Shalom, Sharon S. The God of Israel is God of universe. I believe, and i hope so that Judaism is meant to enhance justice, love, and peace in all humanity. They are the priest to the nations and the steward of the Word of God. All the tribes of the earth must have Jews because they will be blessed in the seed- the covenant people of God (Gen. 12:3)

            Last week, the young adult group of my church visited upon a 111 years old church in Seoul. it was originally a small house church, planted by a 23 years old Jewish young man in 1907. Alexander Pieters was from an Orthodox Jewish family in Russia. He wanted to experiece the greater world. So, he roamed about in Middle East and Asia to find his vision for his future and finally ended up in Nagasaki, Japan in 1895. With the desire to know the truth, he searched and found a reformed Christian church and he came to believe Yeshua as the messiah.

            He came over to Korea as a colporteur, selling and distributing many roughly translated New testament. He also planted house churches in Korea. How amazing! The Jewish young man spread the God of Israel on the Korean soil! However, his heart was toward introducing the Jewish Scriptures to the Korean people, so he started translating Pslam into Korean; he was a quick learner of English and Korean (he already had expert knowledge in Greek, Latin, German, and of course Hebrew). After he studied at MacCormick Seminary and came back to Korea as a ordained pastor- missionary, he was a core member and the leader of Old Testament Translation team. Now, the Korean people is so much blessed with the truth in Tanakh and blossomed with love and support toward Israel and the Jewish people. All these blessing started from one Jewish man.
            Genesis 12:3 has been fulfilled in the history of Korean people.

            I guess “keeping Jews Jewish” includes not only keeping the regulations, commandments, and holidays within their own ethnic society, but also includes doing the work of God who created both Jewish and non Jewish world, with the passion of God whose glory will be filled in the whole earth.

          • Jim says:

            Sharon,

            Thank you for continuing to present your thoughts and questions, which enables us to converse with the eventual goal of clarity. Thank you also for your patience; I know that my answers do not come quickly. Your most recent comment has a few different topics, all of which are worthy of discussion. I shall not take them all up in this one comment, but as I have time, I will try to address them. One topic I would like to address specifically is idolatry and the non-Jew. For now, however, I must content myself with a brief introductory remark.

            Let us put aside the halachic question for a moment and consider only philosophically whether or not a non-Jew should worship Jesus (as long as he does so in partnership with HaShem). If the non-Jew is concerned with truth, he will not continue to worship Jesus, regardless of what questions regarding the non-Jew and shituf might be. Jesus is not a god. He is a man. And, no man deserves worship. Once one knows this, if his desire is for truth, then he will no longer worship Jesus, a mere human being.

            Moreover, if one wishes to be close to HaShem, he will not worship something other than HaShem. He will not seek to please Jesus or dedicated his life to Jesus. His reason for keeping divine law will not be because Jesus also spoke them. Rather, he will devote himself to pleasing HaShem, keeping His laws, because they are His will. He will worship only HaShem and nothing else in conjunction with Him. The focus of his life will be to please HaShem, to serve HaShem, and to make his life comport entirely to the will of HaShem. He will thank HaShem for each moment he lives and each commandment he is able to fulfill. And he will not allow himself to be distracted with false gods. The question will not be whether or not he will be punished for worshiping Jesus. He will not worship Jesus, because he wants nothing to distract him from God.

            A parable:

            Before the internet, a man and a woman had become pen pals. Through their letters in the course of time, they fell in love. And, they decided to meet, having never seen one another before.

            The woman worked in a bookstore and was herself a collector. She had a particular fondness for the poetry of Emily Dickinson of which she had informed her suitor. And, as she had informed him of her love of books and poetry, she informed a fellow shopkeeper of her beau. This second woman fell in love with the man by proxy, carried away by the stories she heard from her friend. When she heard that the young woman was to meet her beloved pen pal, she decided to beat her to the punch. She found out where they were meeting and arrived early to pose as her friend.

            When the man arrived, he was greeted by the second shopkeeper, who passed herself off as his pen pal. He was delighted to meet her, of course, having never seen his actual beloved. Quickly, she hurried him away from the place of their meeting to avoid discovery. They went to a restaurant together, where the man professed his love. He presented the woman with a rare original edition of Dickinson’s poems.

            The real pen pal was heartbroken when he stood her up. She walked through town, wondering what might have gone wrong, and by chance, passed the restaurant wherein the man and her friend were dining. She saw them through the window, her friend admiring the volume of poetry before her. She became suspicious and entered the restaurant to investigate. And soon, the whole thing was sorted out.

            The man was terribly apologetic. He explained how the poetry was intended for her, as were all his professions of love. She was forgiving, counting each profession of love intended for her as if it had been truly given her.

            Now, do you think he ever went out with the second woman again? Rather, when he learned that she was stealing his affections, he wanted nothing more to do with her. And, if he had gone out with her again, do you think his pen pal would be so forgiving a second time? Not at all. His misplaced affections were a result of ignorance the first time. A second date with her friend would end his relationship with herself. It would be obvious to her that he did not really love her.

            Similarly, many have worshiped Jesus out of ignorance. But their intentions were good; they wanted to be close to HaShem. After recognizing the truth, if they want to be close to HaShem, however, they must not go back to worshiping Jesus, not from fear of punishment, but out of love.

            Jim

  17. Sharon S says:

    Dear Jim,
    Thank you for your continued response to my comments . I appreciate your interest in some of the points raised , your courtesy and most importantly your patience.

    I need to clarify my background here because it may have a bearing on this discussion . I come from a Catholic background . However my knowledge of absolute monotheism , belief in One G-d and prohibition of idolatry , including partnership is formed through my study of Islam -from its missionaries , its books down to its religious text . My convictions of idolatry and especially of partnership (shirk) is formed thanks to Islam-most notably through the stories of Abraham (Prophet Ibrahim) in the Quran . Islam regarded idolatry and partnership idolatry as the worst of sins and the prohibition of this is incumbent to all humanity .This prohibition is explicitly stated in the Quran.

    Naturally , I followed this blog (ironically I found this blog through a link in a muslim blog that I used to follow) with the understanding that Judaism , being a strictly monotheistic faith will have the same ideas on idolatry and partnership as Islam . I realized now that there are significant differences between these two faiths when it comes to this . Partnership idolatry is not as severe as outright idolatry and that there are no explicit prohibition to idolatry for non Jews in the Jewish Bible (written Torah) . However, according to Rabbi Blumenthal , the Torah implied that prohibition to idolatry was given to non Jews as part of the 7 laws. I searched relevant verses in the Talmud and other sources but cannot find the exact proof (exact proof here meaning exact sentence or directive).

    I am absolutely convinced that idolatry is wrong . I was absolutely convinced that partnership idolatry is wrong too thanks to Islam . However , studying Judaism’s stand on idolatry , especially on the non Jew has made me confused . Yes , G-d is our Creator and He alone should be worshipped . However there are no specific directions or prohibitions and even if there are , they might be lost , owing to the disobedience of the nations (I understand this from Avoda Zara 2b). Logically speaking if there are no explicit command , then how can the non Jew know the full extent of this prohibition ? The non Jew may observe nature and from his/her reasoning may come to realize that there is a First cause . The non Jew may cease worshipping idols . However at certain point he/she may wonder if it is sufficient to worship G-d alone without the “aid” of certain beings and deities.

    It’s like applying for a job at a prestigious company . There are many job applications for a single opening in the company . You are one of those applicants and you happen to know someone working in the company . Will you just wait to be called for the interview ? Or will you approach your acquaintance to make a recommendation on your behalf to human resources ?

    Thank you

    • Annelise says:

      Hi Sharon,

      I haven’t read all the conversation again, but just in reply to your last comment. The way I understand the lesser level of prohibition for non-Jews is that it is meant to be a leniency, not an ideal. Jews believe that at Sinai they explicitly entered a covenant with the Creator alone, whereas the nations weren’t included in that covenant experience. Therefore, perhaps they can’t be *judged* for holding other beings in association with God in their worship. However, the nation of Israel is meant to function in a priestly role as a light to the nations, and the prophets give glimpses of a world in which everyone is at a higher level of the knowledge of God as the One Creator. That is the ideal.

      Also, keep in mind that this is only the opinion of some rabbis. Other rabbis disagree and say that any assocation of another entity with God in worship is plain idolatry. This concept only affects the way a Jew classifies a Christian halachically for practical reasons of association with them. But it is a ruling with no practical significance for non-Jews. Any non-Jew actually seeking to obey God according to Judaism won’t be interested in following a leniency in the area of idolatry; they will be looking to reflect the same light that is reflected by the testimonial nation.

      Another thought about Islam and Judaism and absolute monotheism. Muslims sometimes shudder at the idea that God could be metaphorically portrayed in the Hebrew Bible as a human husband or having an ‘arm’ of strength in the world, etc. However, there is a clear understanding that these are purely metaphors, and any belief otherwise would violate the central and clear message of Torah. And keep in mind that any and all reference to God involves metaphor.

    • Jim says:

      Sharon,

      My apologies for the time between responses. My schedule is a little busy, and it will likely remain busy for a while. In a little over a month, I am moving, and I have quite a few other things for which I am responsible at the same time. Please forgive me if I seem neglectful.

      Various topics remain from your comments. In particular, I would like to take up idolatry a little more fully that I have in this conversation. However, I am going to delay that for a moment to address a related topic. You posited that a reasonable person might come to the idea that God could best be approached through an intermediary. And, you ask how such a person, with no direct prohibition in the Torah issued to the non-Jew could know that such worship was prohibited to him.

      Let us call this person a philosopher. For whatever reason, he believes that he must approach God through an intermediary. But, the philosopher must realize that much of his work is speculative, and that it is quite possible that he might have made a mistake somewhere in his reasoning. For example, he might rest his argument on an analogy like the one you have drawn between a potential employer and a candidate, but it is possible that the metaphor is incorrect. Without communication from God, he cannot be sure that he knows what God would want.

      This has been a major problem for philosophers throughout history. For example, certain schools held that God could not have anything to do with the physical world. They did believe that a mediate being, a demiurge, created the world. And they believed that God could only be approached through the demiurge. But, this is incorrect. Their speculation was just wrong.

      Returning to the philosopher: because he knows that his speculation may be wrong, when he realizes that the Torah is true, he rejects his own speculations. It no longer matters what he thinks about God. God has communicated His will to the Jewish people. It is to them he must go. It is upon them he must rely.

      But he might take an intermediate step. He might see if he can verify his own ideas by looking within the Torah. He focuses on those passages that show how God relates to non-Jews, considering that Israel has a special relationship with God and some of what is written in regard to them might not apply to him. This means that Genesis will be his primary source of information. And, when he reads it, he will find that no intermediary was necessary for him to approach God. Adam spoke directly with God. So, did Noah. When Noah brings a sacrifice, he does not bring it to an intermediary. He does not pray to a spiritual being, asking him to secure divine favor for himself. He reads that Abraham declared the name of God to the people living in Canaan, but he never sees Abraham teaching people the intermediary through whom they can approach God. He has insufficient evidence to support his earlier speculation.

      At this point, then, he must abandon it. It seemed reasonable, but it turns out it was wrong. If he goes on to approach God through an intermediary anyway, then he will be following his own imagination or inclination, not divine command.

      But, a friend might approach him with the objection that no Torah verse explicitly rejects approaching God through an intermediary. The philosopher is likely to respond that, if he puts an intermediary between himself and God, that can only put distance between himself and God. Moreover, he does not know what formula he should use or who that intermediary should be. He cannot point, for example, to Noah praying, “Oh so-and-so, please seek to obtain my favor with God, etc.” It is safest for him to abandon the whole notion altogether, inasmuch as he has nothing to recommend it to him from the communication from God. In order to worship God through an intermediary, he will have to create his own religion. But, the philosopher is not married to his own opinion; he wants to know the truth and live in accordance with it.

      The philosopher will recognize, too, that his understanding of Torah must come through the Jewish people, to whom Torah was given. He will see that the laws that Adam had were not enumerated at the point he received them. So, he cannot expect a verse that lays out the details of each of the Noahide Laws. He will see that he must rely upon the Jewish people to gain understanding of the laws. The lack of a specific verse to counter his own speculation will not bother him, because the Jewish people will tell him that one should not worship God through an intermediary. And, as they are the guardians of the Torah, he will rely upon their wisdom.

      I hope that this helps clarify some questions regarding “partnership” and intermediaries. If not, I offer my apologies.

      Jim

      • Sharon S says:

        Dear Jim,

        Thank you for your willingness to engage me in this conversation , despite your busy schedule . I apologize for bringing up new questions and thoughts to your comments . However as always I do appreciate your patience and effort.

        Your have put in a very accurate picture from the analogy of the philosopher in order to address the question on gentile idolatry . I would be of the same mind as the philosopher. If one seeks the truth then it is absolutely wrong to engage in idolatry or worshipping G-d through an intermediary .

        There is just one more aspect to consider. You mentioned that the philosopher must rely on the Jewish people to gain understanding of the laws. Now imagine the philosopher coming across Deuteronomy 19-20. He read commentaries written by his teachers and found that these verses are meant to emphasize Israel being set apart from the other nations when it comes to worship . Some commentaries do imply that the worship of G-d through an intermediary is an accepted norm . What would the philosopher do in this situation ? How would he perceive G-d , His Torah and his teachers ? If not addressed , would it not put a distance between them?

        In this regard , I do notice that there is very little meaningful input from the Jewish side , be it Rabbi Blumenthal and others to the issues I have raised during these past 2-3 weeks . It has primarily been a conversation with you , with Annelise and Gean chipping in , of which I’m grateful. I was hoping for a meaningful comment or a post from them to specifically address these matters . I wish they could respond with the same passion and fervor as how they would respond a Christian missionary . I am very disappointed.

        To Rabbi Blumenthal and other Jewish commenters , I would like to know what exactly is your calling and position in the world ? Is your role:
        a. As merely tools to show the world that G-d exists and nothing else (Ezekiel 36:20,23)?
        b. As priests and teachers (through words or actions ) to the world ? Then you would care about addressing these concerns. (Exodus 19:6, Isaiah 42:6, Isaiah 43:10,Isaiah 45:14, Isaiah 49:6,Isaiah 52:11,Isaiah 60:3, Zechariah 9:23)
        c. As kingdom of priests only? This would mean that teaching the nations about G-d would not be priority or something to be considered at all. (Exodus 19:6, Isaiah 52:11)

        I live in a country many considered to be anti semitic ,hence there is zero interaction with Jews where I am . My main interaction and observation of the Jewish people is through this blog and email conversations with Rabbi Blumenthal. My observation shows your role is more of a (c ). Do correct if I’m wrong.

        Thank you.

        • Annelise says:

          Hi Sharon,

          I have had the experience of Jewish teachers making lots of time to answer my questions. At other times I’ve found them to have not much time to spare.

          There’s always another side to the story…it’s better to listen than to judge…this is a busy time of year in the Jewish calendar, and many religious Jews have quite a few children, including young ones, and may also go to work and have community commitments. If they’re men they tend to have busy wives to support as well as extra study and prayer commitments each day. I imagine Rabbi Blumenthal will usually comment if he thinks a question has gone unanswered by everyone else.

          We can’t use anecdotal experiences to characterise a person, let alone a global community. And none of us is really entitled to expect someone else to make a time investment if they haven’t promised to.

          • Annelise says:

            It’s also a sign of a healthy community atmosphere when the leader doesn’t need to make all the statements about everything…but everyone’s words have equal status as long as they make sense as answers. I think that the rabbi intends for this blog and its comments to bring light onto issues and insight to people who are thirsty for it.

            The Western image of Jews has historically been one that is ‘larger than life’, rather in positive or negative ways. Many Jews rightly try to keep their personalities out of the spotlight when Christians are seeking regarding Torah, to let God and wisdom and the collective testimony of Jewish history be what is clung to. Don’t mistake that attempt at humility, and allowing everyone’s voice to have equal respect in the conversation as an expression of apathy 🙂

        • LarryB says:

          Sharon
          Do you have an example of the commentaries you mention?

          • Sharon S says:

            Dear Larry,

            I got these commentaries at https://www.sefaria.org/texts , which should be a reputable source for Rabbinic texts

            Sforno:
            He arranged for them to appear in a manner appropriate for the needs of each respective nation , according to their individual difference . This very fact proves how wrong those are who believe in the universe’s existence being the result of the “big bang” i.e forces , sources of energy , which operated without design , happenings which are totally random , haphazard . How could zodiac signs be of significance unless a superior intelligence had arranged for them ?

            Rashi:
            AND LEST THOU LIFT UP THINE EYES to ponder on the matter, and to set your heart to go astray after them.
            WHICH THE LORD ASSIGNED to give light to them (to all peoples) (Megillah 9b). — Another explanation: which God assigned to them as deities; He did not prevent them from going astray after them, but He allowed them to err (to slip) through vain speculations, in order to drive them out from the world. Similarly it states, (Psalms 36:3) “He (God) made him err (slip) through his eyes (i.e. through what his eyes behold) until his iniquity be found and he be hated” (Avodah Zarah 55a).

            Ibn Ezra:
            the sun or the moon which are the great lights [Genesis 1: 16]. After mentioning the stars, Scripture proceeds to give the general term all the heavenly bodies: the planets (which are luminous like stars), the constellations, and their shapes.
            be drawn away [Hebrew: niddaḥta] like a man who slips [Hebrew: yiddḥeh] and falls.
            allotted It is well-proven that every nation has a designated star. Every city, also, has its star. God has granted Israel great stature, in that God is their Advocate: they have no star, for they are the “inheritance of God ” [II Samuel 20: 19].

            Rashbam:
            in order to provide light. According to the principal meaning of the text the meaning is that these celestial bodies were put at the disposal of all nations to serve them. By doing so G’d wanted to show that He is not concerned about their competition as influences that could override His authority in the universe.

            Chizkuni:
            “unto all the peoples;” the luminaries shine for all of mankind, regardless of their religious orientation. They shine equally for the dumb and the intelligent, the righteous or the evil doers. Anyone who worships such phenomena which do not distinguish between different categories of creatures, must surely consider himself as having been greatly humiliated by such “gods.”A different interpretation about the words: לכל…..אשר חלק העמים, “which He has assigned to all the nations.” According to this approach, the phenomena in the sky are indeed intended to exert a degree of awe for all the other nations, barring the Jewish people. You, the Jewish people whom G-d has chosen as His inheritance on earth, it behooves not to bow down to any power but to Him. They need not be in awe of any other phenomena in nature.

            Avoda Zarah 55a:
            Rav Yehuda said to Rava bar Rav Yitzḥak: Now, were I dead I would not have been able to tell you the explanation of this matter. It is therefore good that you reminded me of this matter while I am alive. The explanation is as Rav says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “And lest you lift up your eyes to the heavens, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, even all the host of heavens, you are drawn away and worship them, and serve them, which the Lord your God has allotted [ḥalak] to all the nations under the whole heaven” (Deuteronomy 4:19). The verse teaches that God allowed the nations to be misled [sheheḥelikan] by matters that seemingly indicate that idol worship is effective in order to expel the nations from the world due to their decision to engage in idol worship.

            Megillah 9b:
            Instead of Moses’ assertion: “I have not taken one donkey [ḥamor] from them” (Numbers 16:15), they wrote in more general terms: “I have not taken one item of value [ḥemed] from them,” to prevent the impression that Moses took other items. To the verse that discusses the worship of the sun and the moon, about which it is written: “Which the Lord your God has allotted to all the nations” (Deuteronomy 4:19), they added a word to make it read: “Which the Lord your God has allotted to give light to all the nations,” to prevent the potential misinterpretation that the heavenly bodies were given to the gentiles so that they may worship them.

            You may also refer to the following article at https://anshesholomnewrochelle.org/sermons/gentile-idolatry/

            Thank you.

          • Annelise says:

            Some thoughts from my perspective about the quoted passages…

            Sforno lived in a time when astrology and monotheism were widely accepted to be compatible: the heavenly powers were spoken of as servants of the Creator. So he wasn’t directly commenting on idolatry; he was saying that the Torah affirmed the belief in monotheistic astrology and that he believed this was a proof that there is created order in the universe.

            Rashi wasn’t promoting gentile idolatry, but saying that it was a destructive path, which God allowed to exist as a natural consequence of people/nations not being interested in loyalty towards Him. Avodah Zara 55a says the same.

            Ibn Ezra believed that every nation/city had a star as its ‘angel’. In his day and age, he probably also believed that each star has a soul and that celestial powers are part of the created world just like the actions of people are. So he also wasn’t discussing idolatry, but instead saying he believed Israel has special protection from God, away from the tumultuous (yet natural and created) spiritual influences he perceived were upon the world.

            Rashbam only said here that the heavenly bodies serve the nations by giving them light; he didn’t say that people should worship them.

            Chizkuni seemed to be saying that it is humiliating for a created being (human) to worship another created being (heavenly entity). I don’t know exactly why he had the opinion that it was appropriate for gentiles to be humiliated in that way. It may be in line with an older concept about how all the nations were offered the Torah, but chose not to accept it, therefore they weren’t given the same insight or clarity. In any case he is saying that having spiritual awe towards celestial beings is an attitude that is demeaning for all created beings, including gentiles.

            Megillah 9b says that the verses aren’t about heavenly powers but rather heavenly light.

            Regarding the idea in the weblink describing how Israelite worship seems to have evolved from monolatry towards monotheism, I do see how there is a case for that. It’s a complicated topic that I haven’t looked into as much as I’d like to.

          • Sharon S says:

            Dear Annelise,

            Thanks for your explanation on the commentaries.I appreciate it very much.

            I understand the situation better thanks to your comments.

          • Annelise says:

            Hi Sharon,

            You’re welcome…I’m not very well read in rabbinical writings at all, but the old idea of monotheistic astrology clarifies the subject a lot. It was widely discussed in the Middle Ages in Jewish, Christian and Islamic communities.

        • Dina says:

          Sharon, I am sorry I haven’t had the time to give your questions the answers they deserve. I have been unusually busy this summer.

          You asked about the role of the Jewish people. My understanding is that God gave us the Torah and our job is to be obedient to Him by fulfilling His commandments to the best of our ability. The natural result of following God’s commands is that we become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, a light to the nations, etc. So our obligation is not to go to the nations to teach them Torah—in fact there is not even a hint of such an obligation in the Torah.

          That said, if a non-Jew wants to learn, we are generally eager to teach.

          I agree with Annelise that your expectations of the Jewish people might be a little high. Unfortunately, a lot of non Jews have little to no contact with actual Jews and therefore paint a picture in their minds that is either unfairly negative or overly romanticized. The truth is, we’re ordinary folks just like you, entrusted with a different mission, but nevertheless still just regular people.

          As Annelise pointed out, we tend to have a lot of kids and often both parents work so we can afford to send our kids to private Orthodox Jewish schools. The demands of Jewish life are rigorous, so I plead for your patience. I might not have more time for a post of this length until after the Jewish holidays (till the end of September), but if I do I will make it a priority to respond.

          To that end, if I can trouble you to put together a list of questions you would like for me specifically to answer, that would be helpful for me to formulate a response.

          Thanks for your patience and understanding!

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Dina,

            Thank you for your feedback,despite your busy schedule.I appreciate it very much.

            Yes, I did develop a romanticized picture of your people ,and my expectations are a bit high. But hey,it was also fed by the romanticized notions of your people from the blog posts and comments here.

            My questions are in my comments and there is no need to articulate them again.

            Anyway ,it’s really nice knowing you.I do learn a lot of things from you through our conversation here.Do take care and all the best in your future endeavours.

            Sharon

          • Annelise says:

            What you said about the Jewish people speaking about their mission in a romanticised or grand way does make some sense. This is the language of the biblical prophets, though.

            It originally came in a two-part form: the prophetic message was extremely harsh on Israel’s disobedience, and on the other side there was a message of deep comfort and a promise of restoration to national and spiritual glory. The book of Jonah is a particularly good metaphor to show the concept of Israel’s role during the time of being scattered among the world: God will use them to bring light and healing to other nations, and it is up to them to decide what their attitude is about that 🙂 Yet there is also a sense in the strongly Orthodox Jewish community of wanting to stay separate from pagan and secular ideologies and influences, and a lingering wariness of gentiles in the culture due to European history. There are so many sides to it and they are emphasised in various ways at different times, and by different people.

            I think many individual religious Jews think of themselves as everyday people with their own personal strengths, weaknesses, interests and situations just like anyone else…and yet they see their connection to the heritage of their nation as being what is special. And of course gentiles can join that covenant and convert if that’s what they want to do, and if their situation permits it…but most Jews I know will emphasise that the personal relationship a gentile can have with God is also very close to Him. After all, we rely on Him not only for being created in the past, but He also sustains us and all things, even time and place themselves, continuously. So Judaism teaches that He is closer to all of us than anything else, and often draws on the idea of gratitude for every breath as a gift from Him. Existence isn’t seen as just a mechanical gift, but a deeply personal one, and clinging to the Creator of our hearts on an existential level is a kind of worship that is for everyone.

            I myself struggle with questions about the truth of Torah, but I believe strongly that both Jews and gentiles are blessed to learn from the Jewish paradigm. It gives a lot of light to the space of many other questions and paths of seeking wisdom. A lot of Jews I know see that inheritance as precious and are careful to preserve their nation through following Torah, and strengthen their collective national memory through their customs and traditions…as well as feeling that all humans, Jew and gentile, can be beneficiaries of the Jewish heritage. So in a ‘national’ sense they feel separate, but in a ‘personal’ sense many Jews I know don’t act as if they are superior to gentiles. (Of course it depends very much on who you’re talking with and what their life experiences have been.)

      • Sharon S says:

        Dear Jim,

        A correction to my earlier comment. It’s supposed to be Deuteronomy 4: 19-20 .

        Thank you

  18. Sharon
    There is no question that God did prohibit Gentiles from worshiping idols – its just that there is no direct verse addressing them with the commandment.
    And why do you compare worship to “applying for a job”? Worship is opening your heart and with the One who created your heart, your heart will find all it wants.

    • Dina says:

      I would like to add: do you need someone to speak to your husband on your behalf?

    • Sharon S says:

      Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal & Dina,

      Rabbi Blumenthal , I am just demonstrating a spiritual reality common among non Jews . One may feel the need to seek assistance of an intermediary in worship , just as how one needs the help of a well connected person to get noticed in the real world.

      This is also implied in Deut 4:19 : And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven.

      Some of the commentaries I read state that G-d has given over the heavenly array to all the nations except Israel – G-d’s inheritance. Hence it seems that idolatry among the nations is an accepted reality in the Torah .

      How can I be convinced that G-d prohibit idolatry among the gentiles when there are no direct verses as proof? Judaism is all about reason .Proof is needed to establish truth- why the exception here?

      Dina, Israel has a covenant relationship with G-d , which is a marriage relationship. This is an exclusive relationship . Hence G-d is “Husband” to Israel , not to any other peoples. I used to think that G-d is our “Husband” and “Father” as a Christian . However I have to realign my thinking thanks to looking at the the Jewish scriptures from the perspective of an outsider reading into a conversation between G-d and your people. So , to answer your question , it seems there is a need to have someone to speak on behalf to your “Husband”.

      Thank you.

      • Dina says:

        Fair enough, Sharon, but God is the Father of everyone.

      • Annelise says:

        “…For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea…” (Habukkuk 2)

        • Annelise says:

          And when Jews welcomed me as a non-Jew into their homes and shared their experiences and beliefs, they didn’t pose as intermediaries to God but simply as fellow humans with a valuable heritage to share. These were individuals from a number of communities around me.

  19. Dina says:

    Hi Sharon,

    I find myself with some time on my hands, so as promised, I am devoting that time to responding to one of the issues you raised. You raised a fair challenge. You acknowledged that while Jews didn’t write horrible things about Christians (especially as compared with the venom directed at Jews from Christians and especially in light of Christian persecution), nevertheless, you found unfavorable statements about gentiles generally in Jewish writings.

    Context is important, and these statements were made in a context of observation of the world around them. During ancient times, all cultures had barbaric practices that are often glossed over in the study of history. The Romans, for example, rejected newborns who were not perfect, leaving them to die on the mountainside. It was acceptable to kill your child in the course of disciplining him. Women were treated like chattel. And slaves were forced onto the arena to die horribly as gladiators for the entertainment of the masses. This is beside the wholesale slaughter of innocents that occurred from time to time.

    The brutality of the Vikings is likely well-known enough that I need not describe it. Human sacrifice was practiced by the Greeks, Romans, Celts, and Druids.

    Most of the horrific suffering endured by people was inflicted on them by other people.

    In addition to this, every culture that Jews found themselves in, be it Roman, Greek, European, Christian, Muslim–whatever it was–they found themselves oppressed.

    In this context, the negative statements about gentiles seem unbelievably restrained. There is certainly no comparison with these types of statements and with those directed against Jews.

    It must be pointed out that circumstances hardly improved as civilization marched through the Dark Ages toward the Holocaust.

    Jews looked at the mad, mad world around them and said, “Thank God I’m not a part of it.”

    I hope that clarifies!

  20. Dina says:

    Sharon,

    I’d like to address your question of idolatry.

    The Torah is a letter from God to the Jewish people. When a writer crafts a message, he must keep his target audience in mind. He will use a context that is familiar to his audience. His audience will get his private jokes.

    The Torah can only be understood through the national experience of the Jewish people. It is written in a specific context. With private jokes, as it were. It is not a history book. It is not a complete record of all of Moses’s teachings–rather, it is the lecture notes version. The book itself testifies that the primary mode of transmission is from parent to child. The parent provides the context, the extra material not found in the Torah.

    When a gentile reads the Torah and expects he has understood it, it is as if I were to read my friend’s husband’s love letters and think I get the inside jokes.

    The only way a gentile can properly understand the Torah is by asking the Jews what the Torah teaches. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if the Torah doesn’t address gentiles specifically on the question of idolatry. Jews understand nevertheless that the prohibition applies. Noah was not a Jew. He was expected to serve only God.

    Similarly, the prohibition against murder is not specifically addressed to gentiles. But I don’t think anyone would assume that there is any fuzziness about the prohibition to murder.

    The Jewish tradition holds that God gave the Torah to the Jewish people to obey His myriad commandments, but only seven categories of commandments, known as the Seven Noahide Laws, are incumbent upon gentiles.

    I hope this helps.

  21. Dina says:

    Sharon, please let me know if you have other questions. I skimmed over the comments but am sure I missed a lot of points! I appreciate your penetrating observations, as they help me think more deeply about my own beliefs and lead to greater clarity.

    • Sharon S says:

      Hi Dina,

      Thank you for your effort in going through my concerns and addressing them in your latest comments . I appreciate it , more so that you take the time out from your busy schedule to look into them.

      Yes , you are right . There are many points I raised in my previous comments here. I actually went through the comments myself and organized these concerns into 6 main themes for you and others interested . I have also included summaries of your latest comments and my counter questions as well . So here goes:

      https://judaismresources.net/2018/07/18/sufficient/#comment-42603
      https://judaismresources.net/2018/07/18/sufficient/#comment-42655
      https://judaismresources.net/2018/07/18/sufficient/#comment-42675

      1.Observations on the role of the Jewish people
      2.Observations on 1000 verses
      3.Observations on the Jewish Scriptures
      4.Observations on the Anti Gentile verses in Rabbinical texts /Jewish Tradition
      5.Observation on Gentile idolatry in Judaism – a comparison with Islam
      6.Observations on Judaism from the perspective of a gentile truth seeker

      1. Observations on the role of the Jewish people
      a. The Jewish people are currently living at a time where they have the opportunity to be our teachers . Yet there seems to be hesitation from them to take on this role.
      b. The testimony from G-d are conveyed as an attempt to prevent members of the Jewish community from being lured by Christianity missionaries , rather than an active attempt to teach non Jews .
      c. This attitude is unlike that of Abraham who is their ancestor . I learnt he was hospitable and taught all that came to him the knowledge and truth of G-d
      d. In fact Abraham interceded to G-d for the fate of the righteous people in Sodom. If he can see that there is potential for good in non Jews , why can’t the Jewish community today see it as well?
      e. The Jewish people are at a better place in history , why aren’t they willing to teach? Who is creating the wall between man and G-d , the Jesus movement or the Jewish people themselves?
      f. What exactly is the role of the Jewish people in the world? Is their role:
      i. As tools to show the world that G-d exists and nothing else?
      ii. As priests and teachers? Then they would care about addressing these concerns (listed below).
      iii. As priests only? This would mean that teaching the nations about G-d would not be priority or something to be considered at all.

      Note: You have addressed this theme in your latest comment :
      i.The job of the Jew is to be obedient to Him by fulfilling His commandments to the best of our ability.
      ii.The natural result of following God’s commands is that we become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, a light to the nations, etc.
      iii.Obligation is not to go to the nations to teach them Torah

      My response – What about Abraham ? He taught those around him the ways of G-d (Genesis 12:8)

      2. Observations on 1000 verses (related to (1))
      a.The actual nature of the blog and the way it is moving , is more in keeping with the tagline “keeping Jews Jewish”, rather than “tapping into the strengths of Judaism” which is it’s official tagline.
      b.This blog does not show the full truth about Gentile idolatry and anti gentile texts in Rabbinical texts/Jewish traditions.
      c.This is a counter missionary blog , hence these areas might be given knowledge within the Jewish community which may not be relevant to the discussion . If the blog is established to reach to non Jews , these areas may have been considered relevant and discussed.
      d.I need to alert truth seekers out there , other non Jews who might be questioning their Christian faith and who may come to this blog or other blogs of this nature .

      3. Observations on the Jewish Scriptures
      a.I come to realize of my place as an outsider reading into a conversation between G-d and the people of Israel
      b.The 10 commandments and the Torah are actually commands /precepts commanded upon the Jewish people alone .
      c.The prohibition of idolatry to the non Jew, in particular shituf is a subject to debate and the fact that it is an implied , not an explicit command to the non Jew.

      Note: You have addressed this theme in your latest comment :
      i. The Torah is a letter from G-d to the Jewish people
      ii. The Torah can only be understood within the national experience of the Jewish people
      iii. A gentile can understand the Torah by asking the Jew what the Torah teaches
      iv. Torah doesn’t address gentiles specifically on the question of idolatry. Jews understand nevertheless that the prohibition applies.

      My response – Then why is there no consensus in the Jewish community regarding partnership idolatry and the gentile ? If the Torah prohibits idolatry to all , then there should be unanimous consensus in the Jewish community on this matter.

      4.Observations on the Anti Gentile verses in Rabbinical texts /Jewish Tradition
      a.Anti Gentile verses which are quite significant in rabbinical texts , which has been glossed over
      b.There is a difference between Gentile and Christian .
      c.However to not acknowledge the existence of anti gentile texts in the critique of Christianity is not showing the full picture . All facts , good and bad have to be laid out on the table .

      Note: You have addressed this theme in your latest comment :
      i. The negative statements about gentiles seem unbelievably restrained
      ii. There is certainly no comparison with these types of statements and with those directed against Jews.

      My response- Yes , I do agree with you on this one. Perhaps “anti gentile” may not be a suitable word to describe verses in these texts pertaining to the gentile. I admit of just reading snippets of the Talmud on gentiles , where I come away with the impression that gentiles have certain flaws or are incapable of doing good –or are we rewarded as much for the good that we do? It is of a lesser degree than the inherent sinfulness of man in Christianity . Nevertheless I still find it disturbing.

      5.Observation on Gentile idolatry in Judaism – a comparison with Islam
      a.Islam regarded idolatry and partnership idolatry as the worst of sins and the prohibition of this is incumbent to all humanity .This prohibition is explicitly stated in the Quran.
      b.Initial understanding that Judaism would have the same ideas on monotheism as Islam.
      c.However there are differences in the two faiths- Partnership idolatry is not as severe as outright idolatry and that there are no explicit prohibition to idolatry for non Jews in the Jewish Bible (written Torah)
      d.This has caused tremendous confusion . If there are no explicit command , then how can the non Jew know the full extent of this prohibition ?
      e.Confusion arise from reading commentaries of the Jewish Sages/Rabbis by the non Jew. I highlighted the example of Deuteronomy 4:19-20 which seem to permit gentile idolatry (worshipping G-d through an intermediary)
      f.These concerns are not being addressed , which can put a distance between the gentile truth seeker , his teachers (the Jewish people) , G-d and His Torah.

      6. Observations on Judaism from the perspective of a gentile truth seeker (from 3,4,5)
      a.There are distinctions and differences in obligation between Jew and non Jew
      b.The truths in the Jewish Scriptures , though relevant to all humanity is still explicitly directed to the Jew alone.
      c.There are no clear guidelines for the non Jew (at least in the written Torah).
      d.‘one truth does not fit all’ when it comes to Judaism

      I understand this is an especially busy time of the year for you and other Jews out there . You can take your time . There are no worries if you feel that this blog is not a suitable avenue to discuss this . I leave it to you to decide.

      However if you choose to address it here then I will be most grateful -for it shows your openness to discuss these things and to move forward.

      Thank you.

      Sharon

      • Annelise says:

        Hi Sharon,

        I think that the question of shittuf has usually been only a question of whether a Jew who has a business partnership with a gentile may take the gentile to court if the business partnership ends, so as not to lose his share of the business. It isn’t saying that the false worship of the gentile is good or ideal or desirable; it’s a practical ruling so that a Jew isn’t cheated in business.

        A few rabbis have, much more recently, suggested that this might be extended to mean that Jews don’t have to condemn Christian worship. Again, this doesn’t make it an acceptance of the worship of Jesus. I think it’s more because with all the antisemitism that has existed, and lies barely dormant even at the best of times, it has at many times been life-threatening for Jews to publicly accuse Christians of idolatry. Also, idolatry potentially carries a death penalty, and of course people would want to spare their neighbours from that. But the Jewish heritage is to be a light to the nations about the one God.

        Apart from having a lot to juggle time-wise, a lot of Jews have experienced the way that Christians constantly twist Jewish scripture to include Jesus in it; I’ve seen Christians get angry and threatening about it too. So they say, ok, we’re here if people want to come to us. But there are rabbis who are focusing on Noahides (I’ve spoken to some), and actually the first religious Jew I ever came to know was teaching a biblical studies class to a group of mostly non-Jews in a public university.

        • Annelise says:

          PS- I meant, taking them to court, which may result in them swearing an oath with an idol in mind.

          • Annelise says:

            …and from a number of Jews for Judaism rabbis, Rabbi Blumenthal included, I’ve seen very generous giving of time towards answering non-Jews’ questions; trying to articulate Judaism in a way that will let its core concepts make sense to anyone without a Jewish heritage, as this blog intends; and thinking deeply about how to help their communities be more open to gentiles. It would be futile to do outreach among non-Jews, but they try to let the light shine with as much purity as they can where they are so that their neighbours might be blessed by seeing it and perhaps coming closer to start asking questions.

          • Annelise says:

            …Sorry for a fourth comment in a row, it’s a bit fragmented- I forgot to emphasise also that lots of rabbis do publicly say that Christian worship is idolatrous, even though it is risky for them to do so. I would agree with this perspective, while adding that the idolatry of Christianity is accidental- they are trying to worship the one God and getting confused about how to do that. So it actually is qualitatively different from someone intending to worship finite powers.

      • Dina says:

        Wow, Sharon, thanks for taking the time to review all your comments and summarize them for me. I hope I’ll have time in the coming days to answer here and there. Thanks also for your patience!

      • Sharon, i want to say “good job” on this well summarized comparison of the Jews and gentiles. You said, “Torah doesn’t address gentiles specifically on the question of idolatry. Jews understand nevertheless that the prohibition applies.” At Sinai, when the people of Israel received the Torah through Moses, there were very small number of gentiles included in the congregations. The majority was Israelites. I guess that’s why the Torah doesn’t address gentiles specifically on the question of idolatry. However, the Jewish people have cherished, i strongly believe, the passion for manifesting the glory of God not only in their own people but also throughout the whole world. Their national experience of destroying the high places of idolatry of Baal, Asherath, Dagon, in the land of promise proves that God still wants to be worshipped even in Gentile world.

        I guess God teaches the humanity in order. He makes His disciple- Israel true worship of God, and then He let His disciple teach another student- gentiles. I am looking at the history of Israel now; In the time of Tanakh, God might have focused on making His disciple- Israel, teaching them of blessing through true worship and cursing through idolatry. They learned this not only through words and books but also through national experience. The teacher Israel not just a lecturer but a WITNESS to the gentile world about the true worship of God. I believe that God has been waiting for the appointed time until Israel is ready to witness through their full experiences.

        When the gentile general Naaman experieced the power of God of Israel, he promised to abandon the idoltry rather to do true worship of God. Yet surprisingly the prophet Elisha has not taught the gentile actively about the true worship in 2 Kings 5:17-18 :

        ” And Naaman said, “Now, if only your servant be given a load of earth as carried by a team of mules, for your servant will no longer offer up a burnt-offering or a sacrifice to other deities, but to the Lord. .For this thing may the Lord forgive your servant; when my master comes to Beth-Rimmon to prostrate himself there, and he leans on my hand, and I will prostrate myself in Beth-Rimmon; when I bow in Beth-Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this thing.”

        The teacher- Israel’s response for the gentile student was, “Go in peace”. That’s it.

        I believe the time for the gentiles to know the true worshp of God has not come yet. God might have needed to write down more chapters of the Tanakh through the ups and downs of the history of His own people. When the Tanakh has been closed and 400 years had passed, and the Jewish prophet Yeshua and his disciple knew the time has come.

        Yeshua said to the gentile woman, ” Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him”

        The Pharisee Paul could not stand with the gentile worshippers of Jupiter and Mercurius,
        “Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein.
        Who IN TIMES PAST SUFFERED all nations to walk in their own ways.
        Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”

        I see God’s suffering in Elisha’s saying of “Go in Peace” to Naaman who found the true God but bound the idolatry. and Now I believe whether most of Christians worship in Shituf or orthodox way, the God of Israel is not unhappy with them.

        • In the history of Christianity in Korea, many Christian leaders have been put into prison and martyred because of their rejection to the idolatry of Japanese emperor worship during 1920s, 30s and 40s. Even today, millions of Korean Christians including my mom have been struggling with (actually fighting against) bowing down at ancestors’ photo set up on the table for big family meals during the major holidays EVERY YEAR. They suffer from persecutions by their families and relatives who have no Judeo-Christian faith. We have been doing this because of the first and second commandments of the Ten Commandments.

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Gean,

            Thank you for your comments. I appreciate it very much.

            I can identify with what’s going on in Korea. Ancestor worship is a must in East Asian cultures ,especially during major festivals like the lunar new year. It must have been tough not to bow when almost everyone in your extended family is doing it – for not doing so is a sign of disrespect and it can affect harmony in the family.

            Your mother must be a courageous woman for refusing to bow during these gatherings . It may not have been easy for you and your family when these festivals come around. I understand Chuseok , a harvest festival is around the corner?

            It is tough , but we need to continue being obedient to G-d . Hope you and your family will be encouraged and strengthened at this time.

          • Sharon!! How come you know Chuseok?? Just got startled at seeing a Korean word in this blog.

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Gean,

            I used to watch many Korean drama series .
            These dramas portray Korean culture and promote good values such as love,loyalty and filial piety.

            I remember the theme of these dramas will revolve around Chuseok this time of the year.

          • Annelise says:

            What a meaningful understanding the two of you have there…that exchange was beautiful to read. It’s amazing how people find each other across the world.

            Strength to you and your family, Gean Guk Jeon. One of my best friends is a Chinese convert to Christianity, and she married a Messianic man with mostly Jewish lineage. It’s very hard for her and for her family to come to terms with her not following their ancestral worship or traditions.

  22. Eliza says:

    I love this post!
    God is god, the infinite is the infinite, what is the point of a mediator?
    Not that I know if Judaism is true or not, but this makes sense either way.

    • Annelise says:

      It’s interesting how technically, most forms of Christianity don’t involve an intermediary between us and God because they believe that Jesus is God. But mentally and emotionally, I don’t think it works like that. Christians will say that God is present in the world now, yet they are waiting for Jesus to “come back” in a personal sense. They will say that the members of what they see as the trinity are fully one, yet speak of them separately and as if Jesus is an intermediary between humanity and God. And so emotionally there sometimes is an element of God the Father being more distant and of Jesus’ presence being more personal, even if their theology would contradict that.

      I also don’t know if Judaism is true or God is knowing and caring. But Judaism definitely adds stability to the search by eliminating Christianity’s shifting ground regarding God’s connection the world.

      • Eliza says:

        I’ve never really understood the trinity….
        I’ve lots of religious christian friends and sometimes I wonder how they can be so devout. I never really realised that Jesus is considered to be god. Though I doubt they all think that, for that’s just, I mean, c’mon, how can a god be dead? If a god is dead than it ain’t god for it ain’t all powerful…. but as an intermediary, well why not? He could be that, even if he’s dead.
        But why speak through someone else if you can go directly to the source? Hmm, I should really work through it all. Just, way too complicated and no clue where to even start.
        Although, another thing I wonder about. They all believe the Old Testament is true (all as in religious Muslims, Jews, Christians), why then would there need to be a new one?

        • Annelise says:

          I think most Christians (Catholic, Evangelical, etc.) believe that when Jesus died, his soul was still alive and they believe that he willingly allowed his body to die as a gift to humanity. They think he was essentially taking away the spiritual death that comes as a penalty of rebelling against God, because believers consider themselves to be joined to him in his death and resurrection in a spiritual sense of redemption and freedom from sin’s consequences for the human race.

          Those who believe in the trinity concept see it as a complete that God has revealed and that they should accept for that reason, but they think it can’t be understood by human minds. There’s something fair about that. However, there seems to have been an evolution of Christian doctrine towards that point, since sometimes the Christian scriptures speak of Jesus and God (rather than always saying Jesus and ‘the Father’)…and there is no clear statement of faith, or even clear conversation, about Jesus’ divinity in the first century. And of course it simply doesn’t fit with Torah to start worshiping someone as God if there is any doubt whatsoever that it may be false worship, so the fog around this topic in early Christianity is really problematic.

          About why there could be a newset of scriptures, Christians rightly see that the redemptive passages in the Hebrew Bible point towards a spiritual redemption as well as a return from exile, and they believe that it all points towards Jesus as messiah (begun in the past with his teachings, ‘atoning death’ and ‘restorative resurrection’, and to be completed in future). So they see continuity between the two. Some believe that the Torah laws still have to be literally followed by Jewish Christians, while others believe that these laws have been transformed into a spiritual, ethical version of the law since the coming of the one they think was messiah.

          It’s hard for a lot of Christians to read the Hebrew scriptures without seeing lots of passages as pointing to Jesus…rather than potentially all having non-Christian explanations. And it’s also hard for devout Christians to consider the idea that Jesus may not be God because they wouldn’t want to betray him if he actually were God, and because Christianity connects salvation from hell with holding a cognitive belief and emotional loyalty to Jesus. Questioning the Christian scriptures can also destabilise their entire reason for believing in the Torah and in God at all, which can be overwhelming as well.

          • Annelise says:

            Missed a word- *Those who believe in the trinity concept see it as a complete mystery…

          • Eliza says:

            Okay so I have to re-read it because I stopped focusing half way through…

            The first part of what you said (when I was still focusing 🙂 ) about jesus being messia/god/spiritual redemption, well it theoretically makes sense. A convoluted sense, but sense nontheless. For in a way than by dying he could be dying for everyone else in the future. Although in that case it means that anyone could be as ‘bad’ as they want because Jesus has atoned already for them…. And on that point, if he took away the ‘rules’ with his death than they really could do whatever they want for Jesus is god.

          • Annelise says:

            Christianity definitely does have some convoluted answers when it comes to the idea of who Jesus was.

            About whether atonement means that disobedience to God is acceptable, they think not. Christians believe that receiving forgiveness inspires obedience, and also that sincere believers will seek out what God wants. This is similar to the Jewish concept of repentance in that Jews are deeply encouraged to obey God even though forgiveness is a possibility.

            A lot of Christians believe that the ethical and devotional elements of the Torah remain relevant, while the ritual parts are obsolete because they supposedly represented or prefigured elements of what Jesus is said to have ‘fulfilled’. This is their interpretation of a law written on people’s hearts rather than on stone.

            But then there are other Christians (including probably the authors of the Christian Bible) who think that the written law is still binding even while believing in Jesus.

        • Sharon S says:

          Hi Eliza,

          It seems from your comment that you are someone who is keen to seek the truth.You are a sincere person .Your questions do surprise me ,as they are simple yet profound.

          I do identify with your statement that it is too complicated and you don’t know where to start.I remember asking similar questions myself and the quest to answer them caused me go on a very long and winding trip (which never seem to end).It is complicated and many a times I wonder if the search is futile one.However this trip has opened my mind and enable me to meet interesting people-people who challenged my assumptions ,who forced me to learn and increase my knowledge as a result .

          I believe you have started at the right place through asking the right questions. Start with the Source and explore from there .Strive to educate yourself.It may take a lot of searching, probing ,lots of reading and most importantly prayer to G-d as how you understand Him. In addition you may need to wrestle with hard truths ,which may challenge your worldview and come to a decision as to how to deal with them .

          Most important is not to give up when things don’t seem to fall into place.Pray and continue doing what you believe is right. Continue to ask yourself and others who are knowledgeable more questions,like what you are doing now.

          Take care

          • Eliza says:

            Thanks Sharon! That’s so nice of you….

            I’m actually beginning to pray to god, beginning to be okay enough with the concept of an infinite power who’s through limit created a world. and want to connect to this god – well sometimes anyways.

            How long did it take you to work through what you believe?

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Eliza,

            Your welcome . I hope it helps.

            It took twenty years for me to work my way through this .I started by exploring another religion for many years before coming here.

            I am still working my way through this -the journey never stops.

            Each individual may have different experience. Your experience may differ from mine. Good luck.

          • Eliza says:

            Thanks Sharon!
            I finally read through all the comments on this post and understand – a little
            – where you’re coming from.

        • tony says:

          “I think most Christians (Catholic, Evangelical, etc.) believe that when Jesus died, his soul was still alive and they believe that he willingly allowed his body to die as a gift to humanity. They think he was essentially taking away the spiritual death that comes as a penalty of rebelling against God, because believers consider themselves to be joined to him in his death and resurrection in a spiritual sense of redemption and freedom from sin’s consequences for the human race.”

          what is spiritual death and
          how does willingly allowing to kill a physical thing fix an invisible thing ? jesus kills his flesh willingly and that act has solved an invisible problem ?

          • Eliza says:

            lol this sounds good. None of us here are saying what we believe. Or not in this conversation per se. Rather trying to understand what others believe and where they’re coming from.

            How does physicality fix spirituality? Well the physical is just a cover for reality, a conduit, so maybe the killing was more than just physical death but a spiritual high.

          • tony says:

            ” so maybe the killing was more than just physical death but a spiritual high.”

            what is a “spiritual high” ? is a “spiritual high” dependant on shedding flesh before the experience of “spiritual high” ?
            i honestly don’t understand what you said, please explain.

          • Eliza says:

            I thought I replied to this and for some reason can’t see the response.

            I think sometimes when a person removes the physical it allows for true connection.

  23. LarryB says:

    Annalise
    “I also don’t know if Judaism is true or God is knowing and caring.” How can you even know there is a god?

    • Annelise says:

      I meant, whether the infinite source and sustainer of all finite things is knowing and caring.

      • LarryB says:

        Annalise
        I’m confused as to why you now substitute infinite source for god. What do you mean as infinite source?

        • Annelise says:

          Isn’t that what Judaism means when speaking of God? It’s not about worshippong a particular finite power, it’s about worshipping the infinite source of existence- in the context believing that there is personal, intelligent, loving communication to us from this infinite.

          • LarryB says:

            Annalise
            I have been following you for sometime now and have never heard you express god in that way and just wanted to make sure what you meant. I think the teaching is a particular infinite source. Would you consider that different from your belief?

          • LarryB says:

            Annalise
            I have another question and if you don’t wish to answer I won’t ask anymore questions. You said you don’t know if Judaism is true. Does that include the Torah?

          • Annelise says:

            I think that Judaism doesn’t define God as anything, how could we define him without comparing him to what is finite…but instead, Judaism defines his particular actions in the world and way of relating to us. That’s how I understood it anyway.

            I don’t know if Torah is true…of course some aspects must certainly be historical, but sometimes it’s hard to tell which. Ancient Near Eastern memories of history were often recorded with symbolism mixed in, not to be dishonest but because it conveyed their beliefs. So how do we know what was recorded literally? I want to learn more though about this.

  24. Jim says:

    Sharon,

    In a couple of posts, you have compared Judaism to Christianity or Islam. In making these comparisons, you suggest that Judaism does not measure up to those religions in one way or another—at least it does not deliver what you would expect after your experience with those other two religions. However, in doing so, you have skipped an important step. In comparing them, you have implied that they have an equal claim to the truth. The first comparison that must be made between these religions is whether or not they have an equally valid claim to the truth, and, if it is found that any of them lack a legitimate claim, then any further consideration of its teachings is unnecessary.

    Among the religions of the world, and certainly among these three, only Judaism has a valid claim to truth imparted by God. Of course, any religion will happen to be correct on any number of points, but this does not mean that it has legitimate claims to having received any communication from God. When a human being happens upon a truth, he either gets it through the proper exercise of reason, from someone else, as in the case of a received tradition, or he hits upon it accidentally. That he knows a truth is quite useful, but, because he is human and his reason fails him upon some other point, or because the tradition is wrong on some point, or because he is unlikely to accidentally hit upon the whole of the truth, he will err on some other points. All the religions of the world, except Judaism, have this problem, because their wisdom is not divinely given. When one studies them, then, one takes in error as well as wisdom. It is proper, then, that one seek divine knowledge if it is available to him.

    Thus, one must be able to identify which religion, if any, contains communication from God, which one has divine knowledge rather than the products of human thinking. Some means of testing a prophet must be available to differentiate the claims of one religion from another, the claims of one religious leader from another. If no means can be found to identify which prophet has heard from God, then all religions must be likewise rejected, for, if the claims of one prophet are accepted, then the claims of all must be accepted. And, because the various religions contradict each other upon various points, it is impossible that they are all equally true.

    (I use the term “prophet” here loosely. Properly, it should mean something like, “one that carries a message from God.” However, I am using the term to mean, “one that has special knowledge imparted to him either from God, another agent of God, such as an angel, or has had a spiritual experience and shares it with others.” Therefore, Siddhartha Gautama, commonly called the Buddha, is a prophet in this second sense, because, though he does not carry a message from God, he does have a spiritual experience and brings knowledge of that experience to others. Any number of gurus, preachers, and the like will fit this definition. The claims of all can be tested in a similar way.)

    The test most often proposed by members of various faiths is subjective. What one usually finds is that the believer is given a sense that something is true. It may be impressed upon them by a holy spirit, as in Christianity. It may be a burning in the bosom, as in Mormonism. Whatever the case, the potential convert is told that he will feel the truth of the religion if he prays or meditates or practices the religion long enough.

    This test is obviously faulty. If two people sense their religion is correct and the other person’s is incorrect, they cannot both be correct. At least one of them must have an untrustworthy sense of what constitutes a spiritual truth or divine message or whatever might constitute a true religion. Moreover, except in religious matters, no one believes this to be a means of arriving at truth. One’s feelings are not the validation for a logical proof, a geometrical proof, or a political argument. One may feel like his spouse is having an affair, but be quite wrong. His feelings are not a measure of the truth of the matter. Feelings are influenced by all manner of things: lack of food or sleep, a sense of rejection, the ego—so many are the influences on one’s feelings that they can hardly be catalogued in this brief comment.

    Some other tests of a prophet may be applied by the proselytizers of a religion; yet, these too will be subjective. For example, they will say that if one reads the holy words of their prophet, one will see that they can have only be given by a divine source: no man can have invented such words. Or, as with Christianity, they may appeal to prophecies fulfilled by the prophet (i.e. Jesus), even though the prophecies they quote are no such thing. In this case, they rely upon ignorance of the text to imply an objective standard being met. Only later does it become apparent to the convert that the prophecies were not an objective standard, that they were misrepresented and a subjective standard applied to the text in order to give it Christological import. These and other tests acknowledge an objective standard must be met, but still rely upon subjective tests.

    The necessity of these subjective tests comes from the fact that, because prophets have private experiences, they cannot be verified as true or false. One cannot know whether or not Siddhartha Gautama experienced Nirvana while he meditated. One cannot know whether or not an angel spoke privately to Muhammad or if a different angel spoke to Joseph Smith and gave him the golden plates from which he learned Mormonism. One cannot know if Jesus heard from God or even rose from the dead. All of these are private events for which too little proof exists to establish them. Therefore, the practitioners of these religions invent subjective tests to establish in the minds of potential converts the validity of their prophets. And choosing one over another is more a matter of taste than judgment.

    What one must seek is an objective test that can be applied to the prophet. The essential problem is this question: how can one know that this prophet received this message? What credentials can he provide? Who will testify on his behalf that he is a prophet—another unverified prophet?

    It is desirable that God appoint the prophet publicly in order to credential the prophet. Only one religion has a prophet publicly appointed by God in the full view of the people: Judaism. Only Moses received his prophecy openly, so that an entire people could know that he heard from God. It is this public prophecy that gives Judaism its credibility, a credibility not shared by any other religion in the world, including Christianity and Islam. Moreover, Moses received a double-appointment, for, after hearing God speak, the people ask for Moses to deliver God’s teaching to them (Ex. 20:18-19). So, Moses is chosen by both God and the people to whom he will serve as prophet. No other religion has this level of verification or anything close to it, to which fact the Torah draws attention (Deut. 4:33).

    This is the first and last point upon which Christianity and Islam—indeed any other religion—must be first compared to Judaism: does it have greater, lesser, or equal authority to Torah? And, all of them fall far short of Torah. Not one of them has a credible claim to prophetic authority.

    Once this is known, it is useless to draw any farther comparisons between them. The Torah’s wisdom is divine; the others cannot be known to be divine. Any further comparison between Judaism and other religions should be left aside. The sources of those other religions must always be in doubt; they must be abandoned. One must instead fix himself upon the Torah, studying in it divinely authored truth. Wherever a deviation occurs between Judaism and another religion, it must be assumed that the other religion, which lacks verification, is at fault. Studying such religions only leads to confusion.

    Jim

    • Annelise says:

      Hi Jim,

      How do we know that the exodus and Sinai events recorded in Torah are literally accurate? In those times, plenty of metaphor and symbolism were accepted, and expected, in describing a foundational event or idea. At the point when a large percentage of Israelites accepted the Hebrew religion, would they have minded if someone embellished the account in a way that underscored their belief in Hashem being greater than other gods and of Moses being the greatest prophet? Would exaggerating the numbers of those who came out of Egypt have seemed like a lie, or an expression of national unity? In the ancient near eastern way of telling ideas through representational language, there was a much less clear divide between metaphor and literal accounts, because both are valid ways of expressing perceptions of truth, and modern historical methods hadn’t been explored in such depth.

      Consider how many Jewish historical parables are preserved from the great sages of Judaism, which some people believe are unquestionable history. There is also evidence of multiple versions of biblical texts having existed, and the currently canonical version took hold of the entire nation, for this reason or that.

      I think it’s clear that some Israelites came out of a slavery situation in Egypt, and had experiences that are reflected within the biblical texts. But it’s strange that there would be no other evidence at all of it, if the numbers and the devastation of Egypt were as large as described. The Bible itself speaks about how non-Jews like Rahab joined the Israelites, and this may have been an expression of a larger phenomenon that is toned down for the sake of expressing the Sinai community as the origin for them all. But what exactly happened? I don’t know if we can sift out the exact details, with a historical method approach.

      In the end, that argument still relies on miracles anyway: the belief that the miracles surrounding Moses’ ministry were greater than any other. But there are certainly ethical questions about some elements of Torah that seem not to follow its usual principles of justice, things that can be explained either as the usual territory grabbing and religious control, even religious genocide, or else as the unusual event of God actually commanding it. And people who don’t accept the laws are socially condemned, if not worse. (The same all applies to Islam- and Christianity has a different but greater set of reasons for doubt.)

      So what level of miracle certainty do we require in order to put our support behind the authority claim by the Torah-affirming community?

      • Annelise says:

        PS Some of the greatest miracles attributed to the Torah faith include the survival of the Jewish nation, and the revival of the state of Israel. But there is an alternative explanation that Jewish survival has more to do with the particular nature of the community, how it separates itself ritually from other nations, yet there is great appeal in its strong social justice mindset and relational monotheism. And doesn’t Islam use a similar argument in saying that the speed of its conquest (rather than length of survival) was unique and thus miraculous? So to me it remains unclear, even though I so much want to believe that Judaism and its people are inspired with spiritual truth.

        As to the state of Israel, the Zionist idea of establishing a Jewish nation with a Jewish government in an area that was for so many generations shared between peoples doesn’t seem to have a secular justification apart from the values of colonialism. So it needs to be questioned itself, before it can stand as evidence, as far as I can understand. (I think the issue of true democracy being incompatible with the Islamic expansion effort, and self defense from that, is a huge but separate part of the issues in that region.)

        • Annelise says:

          PPS I don’t want these questions or objections to come across as a personal attack at all. I love and and very endebted to Judaism and its followers, and I believe that humility is even more important than skepticism. Somehow, Sukkot seems like a time and place where questions feel more possible, and the intensity of uncertainty feels more bearable.

        • Dina says:

          Annelise, I don’t see the relevance of the State of Israel to the discussion (I suppose you’re responding to a point made elsewhere on this thread), but I do find odd your contention that Zionism cannot be justified on secular grounds and is colonialism.

          First, why should the Jewish nation, alone among nations, be denied a homeland?

          Second, why does the creation of Pakistan (a large parcel of land created as a separate country from India and causing a crisis of millions of refugees) not elicit a similar reaction from you or anyone else?

          Third, based on your contention, there is similarly no justification for the United States of America, or, for that matter, Australia. I wonder what your thoughts are on that, and what are we supposed to do about it?

          Fourth, Israel has been the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people for over 3000 years and there has been a continuous and unbroken Jewish presence on the Land since. When European Jews began to migrate to the Land in the nineteenth century, it was a barren wasteland, and then Arabs from neighboring countries began flocking to the Jewish settlements, lured by the economic opportunities afforded by the Jews.

          Based on all of these, a characterization of Zionism as unjustified and colonialist is, to understate the case, hardly fair.

          • Annelise says:

            Hi Dina, I didn’t mean that Israel bears greater blame than other nations for their histories. I brought it up because the re-establishment of Israel is usually cited as a miracle and fulfillment of prophecy. So it’s a side point. But I think it does illustrate how Torah beliefs affect policy and so possibly the weighing of justice

            I also don’t think there’s a fair leap between sharing a land with neighbours for an extended time, and then asserting governance over them. The media is defininitely antisemitic and influenced by pro-Arab groups, but I think that people are also questioning Israel’s right to call its origins blameless and utterly just. That’s something that many nations are trying to step away from in telling our histories and dealing with the impacts.

          • Dina says:

            Annelise,

            There is a huge gap between saying that Israel’s origins are blameless and utterly just and harping on the fact that Israel asserted governance over her neighbors.

            Even many among Israel’s supporters do not assert that Israel’s origins are blameless and just (especially those who have studied the history of the region). I would say, the overwhelming majority. That said, no other group of people had a cause more just to seek a homeland than a nation that had lost 70% of its people in the recent Holocaust and who were hated and persecuted everywhere they went for thousands of years, both in the West and in the East.

            And the land for which they had been yearning for millennia seemed a natural choice.

            To call this colonialism, as if the Jews were greedily expanding an empire, is despicable.

            It’s utterly unrealistic to “share a land with neighbors” because every country must have a government. In this case, the Arabs switched from being governed by the British to being governed by the Jews, who were a whole lot nicer to them than their own Arab counterparts in other countries would have been. Since Israel’s inception, Israeli Arabs have had it way better in Israel than Arabs in any other Arab country. Furthermore, if Arabs leaders in other countries hadn’t flipped out over the creation of Israel, Israeli Arabs would have stayed put and there likely would have been no conflict.

            The focus on Israel’s origins and the double standard to which she is subjected are unacceptable and inexcusable to anyone who cares about eradicating anti-Semitism.

          • Annelise says:

            Hi Dina,

            I didn’t mean the Jews were engaging in colonial expansion. I meant that some people say there is no discussion left because the land was fairly won via warfare. I don’t think that’s a good answer, why should war be considered fair? In Australia we don’t say that Europeans deserve to govern the nation due to previous military conquest. We have a multicultural society with a democratic process, where people of any race can be in government. If you were only saying, “It isn’t safe to allow Islamic law to take over our democracy,” then there would be a fair conversation. But to say that a land that is a homeland to two peoples should be the nation of only one of them doesn’t make sense to me from a secular point of view.

            I’m not antisemitic and it shakes me emotionally to be described amongst those who maliciously attack or persecute others. We should be able to have a nuanced conversation, even one that is heated and exacting, without using the language of disgust to reflect morally on another individual in the conversation. That comes across as a personal attack, which is different from plain factual disagreement and/or describing vividly the effects of any injustice. Words of personal attack can be retraumatising for the people who have been systematically put down in previous relationships. They can make a truly hateful and/or narcissistic person become only more blindly cruel. And they can normalise the replacement of logical persuasion with social persuasion. I feel that we should all also be careful in conversation with Christians, to focus on communicating our ideas and experiences, rather than talking about others’ personalities, personal flaws, or motives.

            I think it would be ok to say that you believe that rhetoric against Israel stem from antisemitism and support it; I agree. But that’s not to say there can be no fair discussion or criticism of it at all. Even someone who believes in Zionism more generally, and thinks that Palestinian leadership bears most of the responsibility for the suffering in the region could question some of the claims given for Jewish governance of the land at this time and in this way. I may be wrong, I know; it all seems complicated.

            Sharon, I want to reply to your comment too, but need to think through it a bit more.

            And Jim, I hope everything goes so well with the move and settling in.

          • Dina says:

            Annelise, I’m sorry that sounded like a personal attack. I was making a general observation that I find certain rhetoric against Israel anti-Semitic. I don’t believe there is an anti-Semitic bone in your body. In fact, you are one of the kindest and most sensitive people I have ever had the privilege to meet on this blog.

            Still, some of the arguments and language in your comments on Israel are unfair, to say the least. And while I don’t believe you personally harbor any ill feelings to the Jewish people, some of the language you repeated is used by people on the left with strong anti-Israel animus. (Anti-Israel = anti-Semitic, so I am surprised to hear you repeat their arguments.)

            It seems to me that your research into this matter is one-sided.

            Let’s take your statement that it’s wrong to say that Israel fairly won land in a war.

            Israel did not engage in any war of expansion but was unfairly and maliciously attacked by other Arab nations whose wish then (as now) was to eradicate the State of Israel. Over and over again. In one of these unprovoked wars, Israel secured more land that made its borders more defensible. Had the Arabs decided not to attack, Israel would have no need of these defensible borders; Israel would not have taken the land in the first place.

            Your statement that Israel is a homeland to two peoples reflects–forgive me for saying this–ignorance of the history of the region. Israel was never a homeland to the Palestinians. Before 1948, there was no “nation” of Palestinians. They were mostly Arabs from Jordan, with some hailing from other Arab countries in the region, who had flocked to Israel in the late nineteenth century in search of the economic opportunities afforded to them by Jewish settlers from Europe.

            While there is zero history of Palestinian claim on the Land of Israel, there is loads of history of Jewish claim on the land, of which I am sure you are aware.

            I do not think there can be any fair discussion of Israel’s legitimacy, inasmuch as there is no such thing as “fair discussion” of the legitimacy of any other country in the world. I would like to know why there is no discussion of the legitimacy of Pakistan, which created far more refugees than the State of Israel. If you want to have a fair discussion, you must answer this.

            I would also like to know why no one discusses the approximately same number of Jewish refugees who fled Arab countries due to real persecution and whom Israel absorbed without fanfare. I would like to know why the Palestinians, alone among all the refugees in the world, are kept in permanent refugee status and why, since 1948, other Arab countries have refused to grant them citizenship. If you want to have a fair discussion, you must answer this.

            I would like to know why you failed to mention that the Palestinians turned down three generous offers for a Palestinian state from the Israeli government. In any “fair discussion” of the legitimacy of Israel and the unfairness of one people governing another, this omission is glaring and shocking. If you want to have a fair discussion, you must answer this.

            I would like to know why the onus for peace is on the Israelis, who want nothing more, while the Palestinians, whose sole objective is to destroy the State of Israel, are given a free pass to engage in murderous terror attacks. If you want to have a fair discussion, you must answer this.

            A few weeks ago, my daughter’s teacher was brutally murdered, stabbed in the back, by a 17-year-old Palestinian, while out doing errands for his wife. Where is the outrage?

            My apologies in advance for the heated rhetoric, but this topic has a tendency to generate such heat.

            So I hope you won’t feel cowed from asking further questions and I certainly hope you don’t take any of this personally.

            If I may recommend a book on this topic, Joan Peters’s From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab–Jewish Conflict over Palestine is an excellent start.

          • Annelise says:

            I know you’re right that the media is singling out Israel in a bizarre way, given that the Palestinian (and wider Muslim) desire to take over the whole land is no less than what people complain of in the ideals of Zionism, and is more violent. I don’t support the Palestinian national movement as such.

            But I read that 2/3 of Gaza’s inhabitants are refugees, or descendents of refugees, from areas in Israel. There were more Arabs than Jews in the land, when Jews received most of the land. Some of the peace offers were rejected because they seem too limited. And families who have lived in an area for at least a few generations (or even much longer) are excluded, while others whose direct family link to the land goes back centuries/millenia are given free access to the towns and villages that others fled due to fear (which is significant, regardless of the cause of that fear). If Israel only says they can’t return because it’s a threat to democracy and safety in the region, then there’s something to work with in the peace process. But if Israel says that they can’t return because it fundamentally isn’t a home for them…what is that? How many generations does a family need to live somewhere before it’s their home?

            I don’t know all that much about this conflict, though I think I’ve heard more information from the kind of resources you’re citing than I have from the other side. But I don’t know that I’m simply repeating the other side’s arguments, since I disagree with many of them. But a few seem important.

          • Annelise says:

            I meant- families who have lived in an area for at least a few generations (or even much longer) are excluded, while others whose direct family link to the land is from centuries/millenia ago are given free access to the towns and villages that the others fled due to fear.

            My main concern is that rather than just saying they can’t return for security reasons, Israel is also saying that these areas aren’t their home…but for a real amount of time, they have been their homes. European Jews have a very strong connection to the land historically, and they are largely the ones who revitalised the land and really made it livable. Nonetheless, in terms of the last couple of centuries, the majority of European Jews were newcomers into an existing social dynamic, upturned it, and refuse the return of genuine refugees not only for security reasons but in order to deliberately displace them.

          • Dina says:

            Annelise, you wrote that you don’t know all that much about the conflict, and that is all too obvious from some of the things you wrote here (some of which are blatantly untrue and some which reflect a lack of understanding of the complexity of such issues such as the right of return). It isn’t fair to make judgments until you get all your facts straight. I presented some to you, but based on your response, either you did not read what I wrote or you are not hearing me.

            I still highly recommend the book From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters.

            One more point for you to consider. Non-Jews who want to pass judgment on the Jewish people for their behavior generally should approach this with great humility, seeing as how in every single instance of “conflict” between Jews and non-Jews, history has always vindicated the Jews. Sometimes it took a long time (about a thousand years in the case of the Crusades) and sometimes it happened quickly (a few years in the case of the Holocaust). But it always happens.

            I use ironic quotations marks for the word conflict because it’s always one sided. Jews have never sought to cause friction between them and others.

            Since history has a tendency to repeat itself, I am confident that history will vindicate Israel as well.

          • Annelise says:

            I think that most of what I’ve heard (presentations and conversations) has been based on ‘From Time Immemorial’. I’ll get a copy though.

          • Annelise says:

            PS I didn’t say the right of return should be implemented…but that’s because of security and the extreme scale of Palestinian Arab dreams for the area.

            All I’m saying is that I don’t like the rhetoric that it wasn’t really their home for any significant length of time, that their societies weren’t upturned, that it’s ok to displace them and expect them to find somewhere else to live. Not simply by stating the legitimate safety concerns, but also by minimising their connection to their home towns.

          • Dina says:

            Annelise, I’m responding to this comment:

            https://judaismresources.net/2018/07/18/sufficient/#comment-42953

            Two major issues, but first it must be pointed out that you haven’t responded to most of my arguments, which you can find here:

            https://judaismresources.net/2018/07/18/sufficient/#comment-42941

            The first issue is that you take issue with the rhetoric. With apologies in advance for my bluntness, your like or dislike of the rhetoric is not relevant. The only thing that is relevant is the truth, however unpleasant it may be.

            You stated that some of the rhetoric you dislike regards the notion that it’s fine to displace Palestinians and expect them to find someplace else to live.

            Can you substantiate this remarkable statement with documentation from mainstream sources? (Fringe groups need not apply). If you cannot, I know you will apologize for maligning Israel.

            Maybe I’m wrong, but I have never heard any talk among supporters of Israel about displacing Arabs, never mind expressing comfortability with the idea.

            You may have heard the dismay expressed by people of common sense and good will in response to the Arab world’s keeping the Palestinians in a permanent refugee status and refusing to absorb them and grant them citizenship, unlike the refugees of the rest of the world. These people will also point out that at the same time that roughly 600,000 Arabs fled Israel (mostly of their own volition and at the urging of Arab leaders, not because the Israelis chased them out), approximately the same number of Jews fled Arab countries to Israel, escaping real persecution. They will remind you that while Jordan and Lebanon and other Arab countries refused to absorb the Palestinian refugees, the fledgling state of Israel with its far fewer resources absorbed the Jewish refugees without complaint or fanfare. These people will ask you why the Arabs wouldn’t do for their brethren what the Israelis did for theirs?

            That’s a far cry, Annelise, from suggesting that displacement was okay and they should find another place to live.

            In addition, it must be emphasized that most of the refugees left because their Arab leaders promised them that they would drive Israel into the sea in no time and the refugees would then be able to return and take over Israeli homes. Some left out of fear that now that Jews had some power, they would retaliate for all the suffering inflicted on them by Arabs for about two millennia. The fear was unfounded, of course.

            (By the way, it is helpful to remember that while Jews in the West were suffering horrific persecution at the hands of Christians, Jews in the East were suffering horrific persecution at the hands of Muslims. The argument that Arabs treated Jews well until the creation of Israel is a lie pushed by Arab propaganda.)

            You mentioned that the Israelis argue that Israel wasn’t the home of Arabs for any length of time. This argument is, to my knowledge, made only in response to the Arab claim that Jews have no historic connection to the land. The correct response to this malicious fabrication is that Israel is the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people and that the Jews have maintained a continuous presence on the land, whereas the Palestinians are actually Jordanians and Arabs of other nationalities who began flocking to Israel in search of economic opportunity when Jews started settlements there in the late nineteenth century. Jews built up the wasteland into the thriving country it is today; before they arrived the land was barren. The only Arabs there then were some nomadic tribes.

            This is an argument to resolve who has the greater claim to the land, not to decide to throw Arabs out.

            You have misrepresented this argument.

            You wrote that you don’t like Israel supporters saying that Arab societies weren’t upturned. I don’t know anyone who says that! But I will tell you this: with rare exceptions, their societies weren’t upturned by the Israelis, and so the Israelis are not to blame for this.

            On the other hand, the Israelis upturned one of their own societies, forcing hundreds of men, women, and children at gunpoint to relocate from Gaza and leaving intact for the benefit of the newcomers extremely prolific and lucrative greenhouses. Hamas took over, destroyed the greenhouses, and turned Gaza into a launching pad for rockets, thousands of which have landed in Israel to date.

            (In another comment you wrote that the offers for statehood were turned down because they were limited. This is not true. First, the logic makes no sense. Why not take what you can get, and then expand it from there? Second, Mahmoud Abbas admitted that had he accepted the offer, he would be a dead man walking, namely, a target for assassination, because the Palestinians are not interested in a two-state solution. They will accept nothing less than a one-state solution, with the complete destruction of Israel. Don’t take my word for it. Read the charter of Hamas, the rival party to Abbas’s Fatah party. It explicitly calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.)

            The second issue is a much larger one, and very disappointing. You write about your dislike of pro-Israel rhetoric, but surely you are aware of the rhetoric emanating from Gaza and the West Bank? Rhetoric which makes Nazi propaganda look tame by comparison? What gives, Annelise? How could you misrepresent pro-Israel arguments, which even with your spin are nothing compared to the venom Palestinians pour out of their TVs, radios, and even children’s school textbooks, without batting an eye? To call this a double standard would be to understate the case by a million miles. I could hardly believe this of you.

          • Annelise says:

            Hi Dina, I’m not sure that we’re quite hearing each other. In any case I need to let the conversation rest, the only reason being that I’m going through some stressful experiences in other parts of my life closer to home so I need the emotional space. I mostly agree with the things you mentioned.

          • Dina says:

            I hope things work out for you and I wish you well.

          • Annelise says:

            Thanks, Dina.

          • Dina says:

            As for the miraculous nature that people cite, it’s kind of easy to see why. There is no other case in the history of the world of a people exiled from their land, weakened and scattered all over the world, who maintained their national identity and then returned to their ancestral homeland. It’s hard not to be awed by that!

        • Shalom Annelise.
          How do we know it is a true religion? Your logics are reasonable in terms of a study of comparative religion. However, one thing stands out as a key distinguisher. The words written in canon and words spoken in the community are really fulfilled in history or not!

          Isaiah 55:11-12 “so shall be My word that emanates from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, unless it has done what I desire and has made prosperous the one to whom I sent it. .For with joy shall you go forth, and with peace shall you be brought; the mountains and the hills shall burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap hands. .Instead of the briar, a cypress shall rise, and instead of the nettle, a myrtle shall rise, and it shall be for the Lord as a name, as an everlasting sign, which shall not be discontinued.”

          The re-establishment of Israel and her unmatched growth is itself the proof of the truth of the Judaism. Isaiah said “it is an everlasting sign.” There have been so many factors to press down her growth and prosperity for the past centuries, however, it has been happening in our days. What can we say?

          As a side note, i believe that Judaism needs Christianity because many prophecies of an everlasting government and worldwide reign of the Messiah had seemed to fail when the temples and the Davidic kingdom have been destroyed. However, Christianity succeeds it in spiritual sense, and in our days, the two religions become united together so that the prophecy is continued to be fulfilled in both spiritually and literally. Jerusalem March is a good example because it fulfilles Zechariah 14:16, “.And it will come to pass that everyone left of the nations who came up against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to prostrate himself to the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to celebrate the festival of Tabernacles.”

          • Annelise says:

            History contains a lot of unique and amazing events. I find it hard to know on what basis we would say that a great success implies God’s approval. The prophecy of a return from exile makes sense as being spoken and written in a time when that was yearned for deeply, as it has been for very long since.

            I think that if Judaism is true, it doesn’t need Christianity to help fulfil it. I’ve written earlier here about my thoughts on Christianity. Regarding the Jerusalem March, maybe that’s a deliberate attempt to fulfil prophecy? It seems like a missionary attempt to indirectly evangelise, through showing love to Jews and hoping that those with a need for friendship or support will feel the aura of acceptance and care and decide that this is a spiritual experience… As well as an event where Christians can feel involved in a large and meaningful movememt. I know that it is often extremely sincere, with no deceptive intention. But I find it questionable because it doesn’t really address the issue of proving that Jesus deserves worship beyond any doubt or alternative explanation. It draws people in to the Christian experience through a different gate of the heart.

          • Shalom Annelise,
            Yes, as you said, i was one of the marchers who was extrememly sincere with no deceptive intention. More correctly, my 3 hour crazy, fanatic, and entertaining dancing on the street was to show them the repentance from Chriatian side. That’s why i was often in tears while i was dancing. By the way, are you a wife of Jasonannelise??

          • Annelise says:

            Hi Gean Guk Jeon,

            The joy of forgiveness and closeness to God is familiar to many of the Orthodox Jews you saw there, too. I heard one rabbi say that the joy of dancing on Simchat Torah is proportional to the depth of repentance on Yom Kippur. And the joyous dancing of Purim is similar, from the angle of accepting God’s completely unconditional love.

            Jasonannelise is the username that came up when I was signed in with my joint email account 🙂

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Gean & Annelise,

            I am currently reading “Ten from the Nations-Torah Awakening Among Non Jews” -a collection of personal stories from non Jews and Jews edited by Rivkah Lambert Adler. The editor is an orthodox Jewish educator based in Israel. You may refer to the link here
            http://www.tenfromthenations.com/

            These are stories of individuals from various backgrounds coming to a deeper faith in G-d and having great love for the Jewish people and the Torah (voices of the nations) . These are also stories of Jews who were raised with a certain perception of the non Jew and how they overcome these fears to fulfill their role as light to the nations.

            Some of these individuals consists of Christians who are disgusted with anti-Semitism in the Church and are doing all they can to make things right . Then there are those who have left the Christian faith and are Bnei Noach . Though their beliefs vary , there is one thing they have in common-love for G-d , His Torah and Israel. I am amazed at their deep love and their humility towards the Jewish people.

            I am also amazed on the efforts of Jewish educators , activists and Rabbis to teach the Torah to the nations although there is limited support from the Jewish community around them and how their perception of the non Jew has changed from the one they are raised with in that process .The editor herself wrote that one cannot paint all non Jews with the same brush.

            I may be wrong here ,but reading these stories shows me that two things must happen before things we hope for will come to pass. First ,we should be humble towards the Jewish people -they have the knowledge of G-d and like it or not we have to go to them .
            Secondly being lights is only possible when the Jewish people themselves are comfortable being in that role . This can only be possible when the Jewish nation are established in Israel -then “The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem”. I see this currently happening in a small way from the efforts shown by the contributors of this book . Let us do our part for better things ahead.

          • Annelise says:

            Sharon, that sounds like a really interesting book! Thanks for sharing it with me.

    • Sharon S says:

      Dear Jim,

      Thank you for your response to my comments .It has been quite a while. Yet I appreciate that you look into them.

      The Torah is revealed to Israel and not to any other nation (Psalm 147:19-20) , hence although it is divine truth but this truth is revealed to a single nation . Moses’s prophetic office , though publicly validated by G-d is meant for the children of Israel alone. I could not find a statement in the written Torah, which hints that the Sinai revelation as a guidance to all humanity as well. Do correct me if I am wrong.

      Islam and Christianity regard Moses as a mighty prophet and Sinai revelation as a historical fact. I remember listening to a speech made by Yasmin Mogahed ,an Egyptian born US Muslim author to her American muslim audience for an event ,held shortly after Donald Trump’s presidential election victory . Her speech was based on the exodus narrative as described in the Quran , in particular the flight of the Children of Israel from Pharaoh which resulted in the drowning of the Egyptians in the Red Sea. She told this story from an Islamic/Quranic perspective to encourage her muslim listeners , discouraged by Trump’s presidential victory and worried for their future to believe that G-d is on their side. The Scriptures of Islam and Christianity repackage the Torah narratives by bringing out its universal elements so that the message will be relevant and appreciated by humanity.

      You stated “One must instead fix himself upon the Torah, studying in it divinely authored truth”. I am aware that the 7 laws for humanity are part of the Sinai revelation. However these laws are not explicitly stated in the written Torah . One have to go to the Oral Torah in order to ascertain that this is so. The Rabbis of the Talmud derive 6 out of the 7 laws from Genesis 2:16-17(refer Sanhedrin 56b) based only on their interpretation of certain words and phrases in that verse ,for example –the phrase “and..commanded” imply a system of commandments i.e to establish courts .

      Is there any difference between the authors of Christian scriptures and the Talmudic Rabbis on the interpretation of the Jewish Scriptures? Why do you criticize Paul’s interpretation of Scripture in your writings and not consider this? How is believing in a Triune G-d based on a number of verses which imply plurality of the Godhead any worse than taking on the 7 laws , 6 of which is derived from just two verses of scripture?

      I remembered reading your article “Twilight man” in which you wrote (to another non Jew) “Just know that the Torah does not see you as an inferior being.” The more I study the 7 laws , Jewish scriptures and reading rabbinic commentaries the more I come to conclusion that the Torah does see me as inferior.

      You are right in saying my comparison of Judaism with Christianity and Islam imply that these faiths have claims to truth. These are universal faiths .There are no additional barriers such as birth , ethnicity or election in one’s relationship with G-d in Christianity and Islam other than consequence that arise out of belief or disbelief in its message (salvific exclusivity). Believers of these faiths stand on equal footing. There are no difference in laws and observances among believers , unlike the different set of laws and reasoning behind them for the Bnei Israel and Bnei Noach in the Torah structure. G-d is represented as actively reaching out to all mankind through either sinless sacrifice or through the continuous revelation of His Will via prophets and messengers to all nations -not giving up or “divorcing” a large section of humanity after the Tower of Babel episode and the subsequent “lost” transmission of the 7 Laws to humanity in the Torah.

      I derive the conclusions above through reasoning. It makes sense to believe in a prophet that has a public validation from G-d . However one has to consider the target audience and goal of his prophetic office . Should one devote to studying a message that is divine , yet not directly addressed to him/her or worse has the potential to divide and create a sense of superiority/inferiority of some over others ? Is the worldview of the Torah (concept of divine election on the basis of ethnicity-we can’t choose to be born Jew or non Jew) feasible in the age of globalization and breaking down of racial/class/gender barriers ? Is that what our Creator wants us to be –divided and not appreciating our diversity and our own worth?

      To my understanding, the Torah calls on man to engage his/her mind and reasoning to ascertain truth. Please advise if this method is subjective as well. Thank you.

      • Jim says:

        Sharon,

        Sorry about the delays: I am in the middle of a move. That and some other responsibilities are slowing me down.

        Jim

        • Sharon S says:

          Dear Jim,

          Your comment caught me by surprise because I thought the points I raised would have been forgotten by now .I did not wish to respond initially because you do have a valid point.Upon further thought I realised there are other things for you to consider as well,hence my reply.

          I really appreciate you taking the time to put forth insightful and well thought out comments despite your busy schedule.I learn a lot from our conversation and your posts and comments on this blog .

          I can see you have a heart for the non Jew , Torah and the relationship between the two.I am encouraged from reading your posts on these themes .I hope you will continue to write more of these posts in the future. Please take the points raised as honest feedback .I hope you will address them in future posts.

          Thank you.

  25. Jim says:

    Annelise and Sharon,

    Please forgive the delayed response to your comments. As I mentioned, my family and I are in the middle of a move. The move was complicated when we were unable to move into our new home and had to look for a different one. Today, we move into a lovely house in a village. I will not have internet set up for a few days. But, I am not ignoring your comments. I have them printed out in a folder, so that I will hopefully not overlook anything. I hope by next week to respond to both of you. (I will be gone this weekend, visiting my sister and brother-in-law.)

    Oh, and Annelise, I am not offended by your questions. Please do not worry about such a thing. One must be allowed to ask honest questions, if one is to pursue truth.

    Jim

  26. Dina says:

    Sharon, I hope to find the time next week, God willing, to track down the summary you wrote for me of all your questions and finally address them. The Jewish holidays ended tonight, so I expect to be slightly less busy!

  27. Dina says:

    Sharon,

    I found your post https://judaismresources.net/2018/07/18/sufficient/#comment-42743 where you kindly summarized all your questions, my responses, and your further challenges, and now I will finally take a stab at answering them. I thank you for your patience! You waited a long time for this.

    You organized your questions into several categories, so I will follow those here.

    On the Role of the Jewish People

    After some back and forth on this, you asked why we don’t follow Abraham’s lead and teach the rest of the world about God.

    To answer simply, obedience to God means obedience to His commandments, not doing anything the patriarchs were recorded as doing. For example, Abraham also married his wife’s maidservant and kicked his son out of the house. He moved to the Land of Canaan at God’s command. It doesn’t immediately follow that all Jews should do all these things. Although if you’re a Jew and you can move to Israel, that’s great :)!

    To answer more speculatively, Abraham was not a Jew. There was no Jewish nation yet, and the terrible scourge of anti-Semitism did not yet exist.

    We now live in a time where the Jewish nation exists, and frankly, most of the world hates us. For that reason alone, for the sake of our safety, the lower profile we keep, the better off we are.

    Our experience has been, even in modern times, that Christians and Muslims are not open to our teaching. In my mind, who is creating the wall is not even a question. Christians still teach other that Judaism is evil; the New Testament itself contains the seeds of this idea. The Koran–well, you know what the Koran says about Jews. Even peace-loving Muslims who don’t hate Jews have little to no respect for Judaism.

    On the Tagline for 1000 Verses

    Rabbi B. answered this. If you still have further questions, please feel free to ask.

    On Idolatry in the Jewish Scriptures

    You ask why there is no consensus in the Jewish community on idolatry for gentiles. The fact is, no one disputes that idolatry is forbidden to all gentiles. The consensus on this is unanimous. I’m not sure about avodah zarah be’shituf (worshipping God through an intermediary). I may be wrong, but here’s what I understand: partnership idolatry is forbidden to all gentiles. However, in Rabbinic law, there are rules regulating business relationships with idolaters. The question then arose if those who worship God through an intermediary are also subject to these rules, not whether they are permitted to continue their worship. I may be wrong, and I hope Rabbi B. will step in to clarify if I have misrepresented this.

    You devoted another section to this topic, so I’m combining that here because I think I answered most of the questions in the other section. You ask a really good question. Deuteronomy 4:19 seems to imply that God apportioned to the gentiles the worship of the heavenly bodies. The classical commentaries on this verse discuss this very question. One answer is to be found within Jewish tradition. According to Jewish tradition, God gave all the other nations the opportunity to accept the Torah, but they rejected it. Therefore, God did not prevent them from straying into idol worship.

    On Anti-Gentile Writings

    While you agreed with my response on this, you nevertheless find it disturbing. You conceded that you had only seen snippets, so I assume you might have seen these out of context. For example, I am not aware of any texts that teach that gentiles are not rewarded as much as Jews for the good they do or that they are incapable of doing good.

    That said, please remember that the writers of these rabbinic texts were extremely civilized human beings living in a world where people didn’t blink at the murder of innocents, and where they were surrounded by oppressors on all sides. Civil rights and social justice were still foreign concepts for the rest of the world. For these writers to have not a single negative opinion about the people amongst whom they lived would be strange. Considering all this, I reiterate my former statement that they were in fact unbelievably restrained. It’s obvious in all their writings about gentiles (which contain many positive statements as well) that they viewed their non-Jewish counterparts with compassion as humans created in the image of God. Here are some examples:

    The righteous of all nations will have a share in the world of eternal bliss (Tosefta
    Sanhedrin, XIII:2).

    If a pagan prays and evokes God’s name, Amen must be said (Jerusalem,
    Berachos, 8).

    Antonius once asked Rabbi Judah the Prince, “Will I have a share in the world to
    come?” To which the latter replied, “Yes.” “But is it not written, ‘Nothing will
    remain in the house of Esau’?” “True,” Rabbi Judah answered, “but only if they
    do the deeds of Esau” (Avodah Zarah 10b).

    No one can become a Kohen or Levite unless he is so born. But if anyone wishes
    to become a holy and religious man, he can do so even though he is a pagan.
    Kindness, holiness, and piety are not hereditary and are not the possession of an
    exclusive race or nation. Justice and piety are acquired through one’s own deeds
    (Numbers Rabba, 8).

    Heaven and earth I call to be witnesses, be it non-Jew or Jew, man or woman,
    man-servant or maid-servant, according to the work of every human being does
    the holy spirit rest upon him (Yalkut, Section 42).

    Whether Israelite or heathen, if he only executes a righteous deed, God will
    recompense him for it (Tanna Devai Eliyahu, Section 13).

    On the Perspective of the Gentile Truth Seeker

    I don’t understand what you are asking, so here is the quote of your statements:

    a.There are distinctions and differences in obligation between Jew and non Jew
    b.The truths in the Jewish Scriptures , though relevant to all humanity is still explicitly directed to the Jew alone.
    c.There are no clear guidelines for the non Jew (at least in the written Torah).
    d.‘one truth does not fit all’ when it comes to Judaism

    If you can clarify what you are asking here, I will try to take another stab at answering.

    I hope this helps!

    • Sharon S says:

      Hi Dina,

      Thank you for looking into these questions and responding to them . I have read your replies to the points raised and would like to respond to them . Apologies for going back and forth but some things need to be clarified . I will quote some of your comments and my response to them . It is a bit lengthy so please bear with me:

      1. Observations on the role of the Jewish people
      a.“To answer simply, obedience to God means obedience to His commandments, not doing anything the patriarchs were recorded as doing”
      “Abraham was not a Jew. There was no Jewish nation yet, and the terrible scourge of anti-Semitism did not yet exist.”

      My response:
      Isn’t the Abraham , Isaac and Jacob your ancestors though they are not Jews? Isn’t the establishment of Israel and the giving of the Torah a promise that G-d made to Abraham , a non Jew as per verses below?

      Genesis 18:16-18
      “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.[c] 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

      Isaiah 51:1-2
      “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness
      and who seek the LORD:
      Look to the rock from which you were cut
      and to the quarry from which you were hewn;
      2 look to Abraham, your father,
      and to Sarah, who gave you birth.
      When I called him he was only one man,
      and I blessed him and made him many.”

      b. “We now live in a time where the Jewish nation exists, and frankly, most of the world hates us. For that reason alone, for the sake of our safety, the lower profile we keep, the better off we are.”

      My response
      I am aware of the continued existence of anti-semitism in the world . However the circumstances have changed for the better . The state of Israel is established and the Jewish people have a homeland . Israel is still standing despite the threats to its existence and wars it has engaged with nations and peoples hostile to it. It still exists despite the lack of support and criticisms against it by most nations in the world , including the leaders of my country .You should be amazed and proud that G-d has established your nation in the eyes of the world despite all odds stacked up against it . Why should you cower in fear when He has done so much for you and your people-His inheritance?

      c. “Our experience has been, even in modern times, that Christians and Muslims are not open to our teaching”

      My response
      I strongly disagree on this one . There are many among the nations who thirst for the teachings and truths you and your people have received from G-d . I would like to recommend the book “Ten from the Nations-Torah Awakening Among Non Jews” -a collection of personal stories from non Jews and Jews edited by Rivkah Lambert Adler. The editor is an orthodox Jewish educator based in Israel. You may refer to the link here http://www.tenfromthenations.com/

      I have visited her website , listened to her videos and interviews as well as read the book. This thirst is not only among Christians but also among Muslims as well .

      2.On the Tagline for 1000 Verses

      “Rabbi B. answered this. If you still have further questions, please feel free to ask.”

      My comments:

      Rabbi Blumenthal has indeed answer this question .Again , one has to go back to the original purpose of the blog – to counter the efforts of missionary in targeting Jews for proselytization by putting forth the strengths of Judaism. I noticed that articles on Jesus, Christianity etc , including “Sufficient” are written from the perspective of one Jew reminding another Jew (one who is bent towards Christianity ) his/her status as a member of the covenant nation and how he/she should hold fast to the covenant . This may cause confusion when a truth seeker reads an article on idolatry for example and thinks that the message in the article is addressed to a universal audience and did not probe further . Also these articles may be picked up by muslim blogs to bolster their claim for prohibition to idolatry and for their Christian bashing.

      In additions the videos posted in this blog comes with the tagline “Keeping Jews Jewish”. Why can’t this tagline be applied to the blog as well? This is not consistent. I will always exercise some caution whenever I listen to a “Jews for Judaism” video because the tagline tells me that the message though positive is not meant for non Jews . If the tagline reflects the purpose of the blog than it will avoid misunderstandings such as these.

      After all , you have also implied that the role of the Jewish people is to obey the commands and teaching the nations (in the example of Abraham –the non Jew ) is not one of them . So why don’t just change the tagline to reflect that direction?

      3. On Idolatry in the Jewish Scriptures

      “Deuteronomy 4:19 seems to imply that God apportioned to the gentiles the worship of the heavenly bodies. The classical commentaries on this verse discuss this very question. One answer is to be found within Jewish tradition. According to Jewish tradition, God gave all the other nations the opportunity to accept the Torah, but they rejected it. Therefore, God did not prevent them from straying into idol worship.”

      My response
      I have compared the prohibition to idolatry in Judaism to Islam in my previous comment .It seems from your response that idolatry among the nations is an accepted reality in the Torah . The prohibition to idolatry is incumbent to the Jewish people . However unlike the Torah , the Quran prohibits idolatry and especially partnership idolatry to all mankind . The commands of the Torah are for a particular nation and it seems G-d does not care how the rest of humankind worships Him. The commands of the Quran is universal for all. G-d is represented as continuously reaching out to all humanity . I can’t see that in the Torah .

      4. On Anti-Gentile Writings
      a. “I am not aware of any texts that teach that gentiles are not rewarded as much as Jews for the good they do or that they are incapable of doing good.”

      My response
      Please refer to the following texts:
      Avoda Zara 2a-3a

      The Gemara asks: And from where do we derive that they did not fulfill them? As Rav Yosef teaches in explanation of the verse: “He stands, and shakes the earth, He sees, and makes the nations tremble [vayater]” (Habakkuk 3:6): What did God see? He saw the seven mitzvot that the descendants of Noah accepted upon themselves, and He saw that they did not fulfill them. Since they did not fulfill them, He arose and nullified for them [vehitiran] the command to heed these mitzvot. The Gemara asks: Do they gain from not obeying, as they are now released from the obligation to fulfill these mitzvot? If so, we find that a sinner profits from his transgression.

      This serves to say that even if they fulfill the seven Noahide mitzvot they do not receive a reward for their fulfilment.

      The Gemara asks: And are they not rewarded for fulfilling those mitzvot? But isn’t it taught in a baraita that Rabbi Meir would say: From where is it derived that even a gentile who engages in Torah study is considered like a High Priest? The verse states: “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My ordinances, which if a person do, and shall live by them” (Leviticus 18:5). It is not stated: Priests, Levites, and Israelites, but rather the general term “person.” From here you learn that even a gentile who engages in the study of Torah is like a High Priest. This demonstrates that gentiles are rewarded for fulfilling mitzvot, despite the fact that they are not commanded to do so.

      Rather, the verse serves to tell you that they do not receive as great a reward for their fulfillment as one who is commanded and performs a mitzva. Rather, they receive a lesser reward, like that of one who is not commanded and still performs a mitzva. As Rabbi Ḥanina says: Greater is one who is commanded to do a mitzva and performs it than one who is not commanded and performs it.

      Avoda Zara 3b :
      “The gentiles say before Him: Master of the Universe, give us the Torah afresh and we will perform its mitzvot. The Holy One, Blessed be He, says to them in response: Fools of the world! Do you think you can request this? One who takes pains on Shabbat eve will eat on Shabbat,but one who did not take pains on Shabbat eve, from where will he eat on Shabbat? The opportunity for performing mitzvot has already passed,and it is now too late to ask to perform them. But even so, I have an easy mitzva to fulfill, and its name is sukka; go and perform it.”

      “Immediately, each and every gentile will take materials and go and construct a sukka on top of his roof. And the Holy One, Blessed be He,will set upon them the heat [makdir] of the sun in the season of Tammuz, i.e., the summer, and each and every one who is sitting in his sukka will be unable to stand the heat, and he will kick his sukka and leave, as it is stated: “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” (Psalms 2:3). The Gemara asks: Why does God heat the sun over them? But didn’t you say that the Holy One, Blessed be He, does not deal tyrannically with His creations? The Gemara answers: This is not considered dealing tyrannically with the gentiles, because for the Jewish people as well, there are times when the season of Tammuz extends until the festival of Sukkot, and in such years sitting in the sukka causes them suffering. The Gemara asks: But doesn’t Rava say that one who suffers in the sukka is exempt from performing the mitzva of sukka, and under these circumstances even a Jew is permitted to leave the sukka? If so, why are the gentiles criticized for leaving? The Gemara answers: Granted that one is exempt from performing the mitzva and is permitted to leave his sukka, but should one kick it?”

      “The Gemara resumes its narration: Immediately, the Holy One, Blessed be He, sits and makes sport of those gentiles, i.e., He laughs at them, as it is stated: “He that sits in heaven makes sport, the Lord has them in derision” (Psalms 2:4). With regard to this verse, Rabbi Yitzḥak says: There is no making sport for the Holy One, Blessed be He, but on that day alone.”

      Bava Batra 10b

      It is taught in a baraita: Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai said to his students: My sons, what is the meaning of that which the verse states: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but the kindness of the peoples is sin” (Proverbs 14:34)? Rabbi Eliezer answered and said: “Righteousness exalts a nation”; these are the people of Israel, as it is written: “And who is like your people Israel, one nation on the earth?” (I Chronicles 17:21). “But the kindness of the peoples is sin,” meaning that all the acts of charity and kindness that the nations of the world perform is counted as a sin for them, since they perform them only to elevate themselves in prestige, as it is stated: “That they may sacrifice offerings of pleasing aroma to the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king and of his sons” (Ezra 6:10). Even though they donated offerings, they did so only for their own benefit.

      What I derive from these verses as follows:
      •The reward of a gentile for fulfilling mizvot is lesser than a Jew as the gentile is not commanded but still fulfills it
      •The gentile is incapable to perform a simple command by G-d i.e setting up and staying in a sukka. In fact the gentile “kick the sukka” . Yet today there are many Christians who congregate to Jerusalem or create sukkas where they are and stay in them during Sukkot . They do it out of love for the G-d of Israel and solidarity with the Jewish people .
      •All acts of charity and kindness of the nations “is sin”. Does this imply that all the courageous acts of justice , charity and mercy done by non Jews all over the world is of no worth –rather G-d look at it as “a sin” ? How is it any different from the concept of original sin espoused by Christianity? Christianity started as a sect of Judaism – the apple does not fall far off from the tree.

      b.“I reiterate my former statement that they were in fact unbelievably restrained. It’s obvious in all their writings about gentiles (which contain many positive statements as well) that they viewed their non-Jewish counterparts with compassion as humans created in the image of God.”

      My response
      Yes , I do agree with you that the statements are restrained , unlike Matthew 23 . However the above texts shows that gentile is far more inferior than the Jew , not as humans created in the image of G-d

      5. On the Perspective of the Gentile Truth Seeker
      “I don’t understand what you are asking, so here is the quote of your statements:
      a. There are distinctions and differences in obligation between Jew and non Jew
      b. The truths in the Jewish Scriptures , though relevant to all humanity is still explicitly directed to the Jew alone.
      c. There are no clear guidelines for the non Jew (at least in the written Torah).
      d. ‘one truth does not fit all’ when it comes to Judaism”

      My response
      These are my conclusions from the little information I gained from exploring Judaism and following this blog . It seems these conclusions are confirmed correct from our conversation . There is no need to respond to them if you agree.

      Thank you.

      • Sharon S
        Thanks again for your comments and questions. It is this type of discussion that will lead us all closer to truth.
        Here are some partial answers to some of your questions (perhaps I will have more time in the coming weeks – but for now I hope this will help)
        1 – About the role of the Jewish people.
        Now that we stand in a covenantal relationship with God, our primary concern is to fulfill the direct commandments of God. We trust that this will be the greatest benefit for all of God’s creations.
        2 – The tagline of this blog
        Here are some sections of the blog which I had in mind when I posted that tagline
        https://judaismresources.net/category/the-righteous-gentile/
        https://judaismresources.net/category/addressing-atheism/
        https://judaismresources.net/category/judaism/page/3/
        Not every article is addressing the gentile reader, but I feel that these articles would help the reader (Jew or Gentile) by highlighting the strength of Judaism rather than focusing on the weakness of Christianity – hence the tagline.
        3 – Idolatry in the Torah (Jewish Scriptures)
        The Torah is not addressing the world in a direct way but Gentiles can learn indirectly what it is that God expects of them – a verse such as Daniel 5:23 or a passage such as Isaiah 44 make it clear that God expects Gentiles to avoid idolatry and that they should be able to figure this out on their own.
        4 – On the antiGentile passages in the rabbinic writings.
        As a general rule these passages are talking about the Gentiles, not as individuals, but as national entities.
        As national entities, the Gentile nations did not maintain a tradition of “commandment” that goes back to Noah – therefore they cannot, as national entities live under the awe of true commandments – (this one affects the individual as well – but only because of the sin of the national entity)
        The passage about the Sukka clearly refers to those who have still not understood the truth by the time the Messianic era rolls around and not to all gentiles.
        And the passage about the charity of nations is also clearly talking about the nations as nation-units, national entities and not about individuals. I would add that even as national entities the Talmud is speaking in generalities and not making a hard and fast rule.
        I hope this helped
        Please continue to ask and question

        • Sharon S says:

          Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal,

          Thank you for replying to the points I have raised in this thread .

          I agree these discussions have led me to greater clarity and truth -uncomfortable truths about
          G-d ,about the role of your people and also of this blog . I come with a set of expectations and saw it unravel one by one as I went along. I condensed my observations and highlighted them with the hope that it might be refuted -like how you ,Dina and others refute arguments of Christians in this blog to shreds .I was surprised and sad to find that Dina and your replies confirmed these observations.

          I do not wish to undermine your work ,but can I suggest that you review your articles in the light of these truths? For example you have made some assertions such as the inherent Godliness of mankind and the relationship man shares with G-d in Christianity Unmasked-one of the earliest articles I read on your blog . Since all these truths are laid out on the table ,some of your assertions can be quite misleading to the truth seeker out there.

          I admit there is a high expectation on my part which was fed by the ideal Jewish nation as espoused by the prophets and championed in your arguments ,notably against Dr Michael Brown . It is very different in reality.

          I have no questions to ask .These truths answers all questions .It has been nice knowing you .Thank you for your guidance all this while . My apologies if my queries or comments -be it here or in our emails are offensive .All the best in this blog and your other endeavours .

          Sharon

        • Sharon S says:

          Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal ,

          I would like to apologize for my comment. I overreacted and did not properly consider your replies .

          Thank you for responding to my comments . On further thought I do have further questions , which I have raised to Dina in my comment at https://judaismresources.net/2018/07/18/sufficient/#comment-42993 and https://judaismresources.net/2018/07/18/sufficient/#comment-43003 . Your input will be much appreciated, but please take your time.

          I will do my best to accept whatever replies come with an open heart.

          My apologies once again . I realized I have been very unjust towards you . Thank you for your guidance all this while

          Sharon

      • Dina says:

        Sharon,

        The reason I pointed out that Abraham was not a Jew was only to highlight the fact that anti-Jewish sentiment did not yet exist. This does not negate what you wrote but makes it irrelevant; do you see what I mean?

        My answer about anti-Semitism is only speculative, but I do need to say this: of course I am proud of my heritage, of the triumph of our survival, and of God’s favor in sustaining my people against all odds. But we’re not out of the woods yet. Only 70 years ago my own relatives were killed in the Holocaust. Today we are witnessing a rising tide of anti-Semitism sweep the whole entire world. Forgive my bluntness, but it’s easy for you to tell us to be brave; it’s not you who is inviting trouble. Still, my main point is that teaching gentiles is not commanded. That might be a disappointing truth, but it’s the truth. I can’t change that.

        Here is something to ponder. The Torah contains 613 commandments, laws which govern our lives from what we eat to when to work to how to conduct our business to how how to treat the poor–and so on and so forth. Some of these laws are unbelievably detailed. Yet in this whole book of instruction, God did not see fit to command us to teach the gentiles. Why do you suppose that is? And should we simply ignore that glaring omission? Should we assume this was an oversight on God’s part?

        I can’t answer to your quotes about gentiles because I would want to check the original sources for mistranslations or out-of-context quotes, but my ignorance of Aramaic is an impediment. I hope Rabbi B., who did partially answer, can provide more guidance here.

        Nevertheless, the positive quotes that I submitted to you flatly contradict your assertions that traditional Judaism believes that gentiles are not rewarded for the same mitzvos and that they are incapable of doing good. This point cannot be ignored.

        One other point about Talmudic quotes: they do not rise to the level of Scripture, which is God’s words. The Talmud recorded the opinions of all the rabbis of the time and did not censor anything, so there are many opinions in the Talmud that today remain just that–opinions–and they are not binding today; nor do they have the force of law. For example, the Talmud recommends certain types of healing that we do not follow today. For another example, the Talmud records a great many disagreements among the rabbis over various issues. So to take one opinion in the Talmud and say that this is the traditional Jewish perspective makes no sense.

        An extreme analogy to illustrate the point: During the debate over slavery, Christians who supported slavery used the Bible to prove their case, while Christians who sought to abolish slavery used the same Bible to support theirs. If someone were to take a quote from a pro-slavery Christian and claim that is the traditional Christian perspective, that would just make no sense.

        I’m not sure what bothers you the most, but I sense that the fact that the Torah addresses the Jew only and not the gentile disturbs you deeply. I can certainly empathize with that. If I were not Jewish I would probably find that disturbing as well. I did tackle this in my previous post, and while I have nothing to add to that, I do acknowledge that for a lot of non-Jews and even a lot of Jews, the whole concept of chosenness and the idea that God gave a guidebook to just one small people are uncomfortable ideas.

        I suspect you were hoping we would rip this idea to shreds, but I’m sorry–this is not a contradiction to Judaism.

        You’ve been seeking the truth for decades, which is amazing. It’s a difficult, sometimes tedious, sometimes grueling task, and I admire your fortitude. Your next step might be determining if the Torah is true. There is no way to definitively prove this, but there are compelling arguments, and you can weigh them for yourself and see if you agree.

        The Torah itself gives proof of its credibility with the mass revelation argument. Rabbi Keleman does an excellent job of presenting this argument in this video:

        https://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/proof-torah-true/

        There is a great philosophical argument in this essay:

        https://ohr.edu/explore_judaism/living_up_to_the_truth/living_up_to_the_truth/992

        I hope these help. Please don’t give up. Keep searching, keep asking, and best of luck!

        • Dina says:

          One more thing: the reason I think the next step is determining the truth of the Torah is that if you find it to be true, you can accept all of it, including all the uncomfortable truths, with a clear conscience. If you find it to be false, you can reject all of it, as well, with a clear conscience. So either way, this next step will, I believe, bring you peace of mind.

          • Annelise says:

            I also think that Dina’s point is very central, about determining whether the Torah is true…and thus being able to either accept or reject both the comfortable and uncomfortable parts. Often, people judge a claim to religious revelation based on whether or not they like it. But our feelings and opinions can be so deeply influenced by the social paradigms and philosophies around us all of which are limited by our human lack of full perspective. So the question is more: is there any clear reason to think that this message comes from God? If so, then we surrender to it, to whatever extent the weight of the evidence makes right.

          • Dina says:

            Exactly right!

        • Sharon S says:

          Hi Dina,

          Your comments are painful to read but they are honest . At this point I would like to let matters rest -you have very strong points . However your comments , strong as they may be shows me that G-d , your Creator and mine is particularistic and your people an inward looking people . Hence I would like to reply in order to confirm if this is so.

          1. -G-d did not command the Jewish people to teach the nations.
          -G-d gave 613 commandments to the Jewish people yet He did not see fit to command
          the Jewish people to teach Gentiles.

          Reply :
          a. To my understanding , Israel is to be a “Kingdom of priests” and “a holy nation” . One article I read in the Chabad website states “Just as the Cohanim bond the Jewish people to G‑d, so the Jews, as a Kingdom of Priests, bond the whole world to G‑d.”

          The priestly class is supposed to “teach your precepts to Jacob and your law to Israel” (Deut 33:10) . This means the descendants of Aaron are supposed to teach Israel in addition to doing their priestly duties in the temple. Rabbi Blumenthal states in his writings that Israel’s responsibility as priests is to carry G-d’s message throughout the corridors of history – a weighty and dangerous responsibility it bears on behalf of humanity . What about the teaching G-d’s precepts and laws to humanity as well? Why focus on one angle and neglect the other?

          b. You stated that the 613 laws are detailed and govern most areas in life . Does that mean that the principles and truths behind them are not applicable at all to the non Jew? I learn that the Jew need only to teach the 7 laws, which is more of 7 headings or classes of laws in contrast to 613 individual laws . If an individual choose to take on additional laws he/she may do so on a voluntary basis a. I don’t see all the 613 as applicable to us Gentiles –in my opinion there is no need to observe Kashrut or any other laws that sets Israel apart from the other nations or Sabbath for that matter, unless if one considers conversion . However I do need to learn laws that can bring me in a better standing with G-d and with other people .

          We non Jews are born without Torah . We know of G-d and His requirements from traditions we are born into and from our experience in life. Some of us will realize that our traditions are faulty, that there is a Creator , He has intervened at a certain time in history and He has given a guidebook to a specific nation .Do you, as a member of that nation expect us to say “Well , good, praise G-d ” and ignore this guidebook completely ? Do you think that is what G-d desires from His creation?

          c. The prophets , especially Isaiah declares Israel to be G-d’s witnesses . There are quite a number of verses which states that Israel is to play a more universal role (Isaiah 42:6, Isaiah 43:10,Isaiah 45:14, Isaiah 49:6,Isaiah 52:11,Isaiah 60:3, Zechariah 9:23) consistent with G-d who is the Creator of all .

          The question is what exactly is Israel’s role as G-d’s witnesses? Who should Israel witness to? If the answer is the nations, is it a passive witnessing whereby the nations see Israel as carrying G-d’s message alone and punished for the slightest transgressions (Isaiah 52:11)? Or Israel being an active witness of G-d’s truth to individuals keen to listen (Isaiah 42:6, 43:10,49:6)?

          Another point –is Israel’s role as “light to the Gentiles” contradictory to the Torah , since G-d does not command Jews to teach Gentiles?
          I find the following link helpful- http://www.acjna.org/acjna/articles_detail.aspx?id=102

          2.Abraham’s example is irrelevant (i.e to follow his lead and teach the world about G-d)

          Reply:
          I don’t understand why you see Abraham’s example as being irrelevant . If G-d chose Abraham as the progenitor and Father of your people then isn’t his example relevant to your own role as a Jew?
          I posed the same questions (on the role of the Jewish people) to another Rabbi and he came back with response that is totally different from yours citing the example of Abraham in his reply.

          3.The positive quotes that you provided contradict my assertions that traditional Judaism believes that gentiles are not rewarded for the same mitzvos and that they are incapable of doing good.

          Reply:
          In my summary of points I mentioned “I come away with the impression that gentiles have certain flaws or are incapable of doing good –or are we rewarded as much for the good that we do?”
          You have provided Talmudic pieces that which shows that the righteous deeds of gentiles is indeed recognized. I have put forth Talmudic pieces which shows that gentile is not rewarded as much for the good that we do and there’s one piece which states that the acts of kindness and charity of the nations is regarded as “sin”.

          Please read Rabbi Blumenthal’s reply . There is a distinction between the individual and the nation . The nations cannot live under the awe of the commandments. Hence whatever we non Jews do as a nation is regarded as “not commanded” or “not rewarded” because it is not done out of conscious reverence for G-d .

          The gentile who does not steal , kill , etc for any reason other than consciously obeying G-d’s commands is not rewarded as much. I have watched videos and read articles written by a few Rabbis on this.

          4. The Talmud does not rise to the level of Scripture, which is God’s words-it records opinions and many disagreements among the Rabbis

          Reply:
          What about the 7 laws? There is no mention of it in the Mishnah (if you know of it kindly provide the tractate name) . It is mentioned in the Talmud as coming from the Baraita -which I cannot find at all . One can find the 7 laws and its details only in the Talmud .
          If what you say is true , then is the 7 laws just an opinion by the Rabbis as a mechanism to regulate Gentile behavior in Israel and Jewish-Gentile business relations and not a divine command?

          5. The fact that the Torah addresses the Jew only and not the gentile disturbs me deeply
          Reply:
          I am not disturbed about this as much as the Jew does not see the need to teach its truths to the world.

          6. Your advice that my next step might be determining if the Torah is true
          Reply:
          I thank you for your sincere effort to advise me . However I see it as “rubbing salt on the wound”-more so since it comes after you argued that G-d did not see fit to command the Jewish people to teach Gentiles.
          In addition , what is the point of my ascertaining whether the Torah is true when all I can afford to do is say “Well , good, praise G-d ” and unable to learn its truths because you do not see it as a command to teach me?

          • Dina says:

            Sharon, the last thing I want to do is cause you pain, and I am sorry for that. I am dismayed, however, that you took my advice to determine the Torah’s truth as rubbing salt in your wound. My point was that this would give you peace of mind, because you could then with a clear conscience accept painful truths or reject them as falsehoods. I would also like to add that if you don’t accept the Torah as true this conversation is meaningless and pointless (forgive me!) and that we should be spending our time first discussing that, and then moving back to this discussion. I hope that makes sense!

            You wrote that you would like to let matters rest, but continued with a bunch of challenges. Would you like me to address them?

            If not, there is one point I must clarify. The Talmud doesn’t only record opinions; it also records laws, both Biblical and rabbinic. The Seven Noahide Laws fall under the category of Biblical law, although they are not expressly stated in the Bible.

            Let me know if you would like me to continue, and God willing I will do so next week.

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Dina ,

            I would like to apologize for the “rubbing salt on the wound” remark . You were trying to help and to provide some direction. The essay you suggested is really helpful and I can really relate to it . Thank you. I appreciate it very much.

            I do believe that the Torah is true . But what should I do with this truth? Should I ignore the Torah completely because it is not addressed to me? Should I ignore the Torah completely because the Jewish people I know say they are not commanded to teach it? Is this the will of my Creator , the author of the Torah that I should ignore this guidebook completely on the basis of the above?

            Initially I would like for matters to rest . However your view seems to give an impression that G-d is for the Jews only and that your people ,being His ambassadors are inward looking .I don’t believe this is true due to the reasons I have put in my previous comments , which I shall summarize here:
            •Israel’s role as kingdom of priests . Priests cannot exist without a laity . The Cohanim are priests for the Jewish nation (laity) , so Israel should be priests for mankind (laity).
            •The Cohanim are supposed to teach G-d’s precepts to Jacob on top of their priestly duties (Deut 33:10). Why can’t this role apply to Israel and humankind as well?
            •Israel’s more universal role in Prophets , in keeping with G-d as Creator of all . Is Israel’s role as “light to the Gentiles” contradictory to the Torah , since G-d does not command Jews to teach Gentiles?
            •Israel’s role as G-d’s witnesses. What exactly is Israel’s role as G-d’s witnesses? Who should Israel witness to? If the answer is humankind , then should Israel be a passive witness (bearing the message alone) or an active witness (sharing the message to those keen to learn the ways of G-d)?
            •Relevance of Abraham’s example in the role of the Jewish people

            I would like to discuss the above with you in order to confirm if my initial impression is true . I also hope- for myself and others that this discussion will shed light on how should we (non Jews) respond to the truth of the Torah in accordance with what G-d desires from us.

            Thank you.

          • Annelise says:

            I’ve heard that it’s both ok and worthwhile for non-Jews to read Torah and learn about Judaism, even the Talmud, in any area of study that can shed light on the spiritual principles behind the Noachide laws. Further to that, most public classes for Jews these days are designed to be appropriate for a mixed audience of Jews and non-Jews, religious and non-religious, etc., so there is no need to discourage a non-Jew from learning in that context.

            In my experience, including on this blog, Jews are more than happy to answer our questions (time permitting). I see a lot of the posts here as being written with the intention to try and express the heart of Judaism in a way that is accessible to every reader.

            There’s a long way to go in some synagogues in terms of really finding an open place towards non-Jews, but that said, you may be just as likely to find people in shul who are encouraged by and supportive of your journey. The priestly role may usually work best in the sense of setting a living example… yet in the context where non-Jews actually want to learn, I see most religious Jews (including those writing here) considering teaching to be a natural extension of that example-setting.

          • Dina says:

            Hi Sharon,

            It seems I have given the wrong impression or misunderstood your questions. I do not believe that Jews have a responsibility to actively proselytize amongst the non-Jews, i.e., become missionaries for Judaism. Nevertheless, we do not turn away anyone who comes to us to learn. Anyone who wants to learn Torah from the Jews is welcome. In fact, I have argued on these pages that because the message of the Torah was crafted for a Jewish audience and can only be properly understood within the collective national experience of the Jewish people, gentiles who want to understand should approach the Jewish people for clarification.

            The Torah was given to the Jewish people, but her truth is universal. Thus, non-Jews who believe in the truth of the Torah should certainly study, at the very least, the portions that are relevant to non-Jews.

            While the overwhelming majority of the Torah’s commandments are only for Jews, we do not have a monopoly on a relationship with God, who is the Father of us all. God is for everyone. I do not see where I wrote that God is only for the Jewish people. If you can find such a statement from me, please show me so I can correct that.

            I do object to your characterization of Judaism as particularistic. Of the three Abrahamic religions, Judaism is the only one that is universalistic, accepting into her heaven not only adherents of the faith but also righteous people of all faiths and no faith. Your Talmudic quotes notwithstanding, traditional Jewish belief holds that anyone who lives a decent moral life regardless of his or her faith has earned a place in the World to Come. God is not only just, but also merciful, and He takes into account the circumstances of your life. If you are a sincere Christian or a sincere Hindu or an adherent of any other religion or even an atheist who truly believes what you believe because you were indoctrinated into that belief system or sought the truth as best as you knew how or whatever, you can’t be faulted for what you didn’t know.

            When the prophet says that God created the Jewish people to be a light to the nations, it is not a commandment of “thou shalt be a light to the nations”; rather, it is a description of what happens when the Jewish people follow the Torah and live by its teachings. This is borne out by history. The fact is that anyone with eyes to see knows that throughout history, Jewish religious societies have been model societies in every host country we have lived in. Not perfect, but certainly superior to the surrounding cultures in both a moral and ethical sense. This is how we are a light to the nations.

            When the prophet says “You are My witnesses” that is also not a commandment of “thou shalt be My witnesses” but rather a description of our function. The very fact of the survival of the Jewish people against all odds testifies to the existence of the one true God of Israel; thus, we are witnesses by default. Furthermore, throughout history, Jews have testified to God’s truth by refusing to accept the message of Christianity in the West and the message of Islam in the East at great personal cost and even unto death.

            So while we are warm and welcoming to anyone who comes to us with questions or who simply wants to learn, we do not see it as our mission to actively recruit non-Jews to convert to Noahidism (I think I made up that word). We are a light to the world by our living example, and we are God’s witnesses through His intervention on our behalf to keep us alive and by testifying to His truth by resisting the conflicting messages of surrounding cultures.

          • Shalom brother Sharon!

            As i read through the recent conversations on this blog, i came to ponder how Ezra and Yeshua taught the truth of the Torah.

            Ezra prepared his heart to seek the Torah of the Lord to perform (1st) and to teach (2nd) in Israel… (Ezra 7:10)

            Yeshua began to DO (1st) and to TEACH (2nd)… (Acts 1:1)

            Maybe God did not command the Jews to teach gentiles because He wanted to see their obedience and performance first and then display the divine blessings in the nation of Israel, which come from their obedience to the gentile world. God teaches the mankind with evidence not with mere words and theories.

            Simple truth is that if God wanted them to teach gentiles, HE would have commanded it!

            As Dina explained what it means to be “a light to the nations” , i guess we need to pay attention how the Prophets chose the word “LIGHT.” Not ” teacher to the nations” but “LIGHT to the nations.”

            I believe Yeshua expounded it well.
            “Let your Light so shine before men that they may SEE YOUR GOOD WORKS (Torah observance) and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Mt 5:16)

            The national obedience to the Torah is itself the Light- shining to mankind so that the gentiles learn the Torah.

            Brother Sharon, we dont have to push the Jews to come to the North Pole and hold a Torah conference in igloo. We can go to the Jews and bless them and learn feom them. The Torah COMES FROM Zion, not Zion sends forth the Torah.

            One of the most terrible misunderstandings of Christian interpretation of Genesis 12:3 is that the Jews- the seed of Abraham have responsibility to flow the blessing into the families of the world (gentiles).

            They translated “all the families on the earth will be blessed THROUGH you.”
            As if the covenant people must bless gentiles, teach them the Torah, and serve the nations.
            They preach that since the Jews failed this task, God had transferred it to the church???
            Wrong @@@@

            It should be translated as “all the families on the earth will be blessed IN you” That is why the New Testament is obsessed heavily with the phrase “IN Christ” not “THROUGH Christ.”

            The Israel’s Messiah, the King of the Jews, THE SEED of Abraham and David, is the source of blessing. Gentiles must come to and learn from him- the word of God, the Torah, the Covenant.

            Church must plant blessing in Israel and the Jewish people, not expect them to come to us and bless us or teach us the Torah. If anyone blame Jews not to teach gentiles the Torah, he or she blame Yeshua also because he was not sent to the gentiles but only to the lost house of Israel.

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Dina,

            There is a difference between teaching and proselytizing . I don’t recall stating that Jews are supposed to proselytize to other nations. However please highlight if any of my comments hint of that.

            I took offense of your statement ” Yet in this whole book of instruction, God did not see fit to command us to teach the gentiles. Why do you suppose that is? And should we simply ignore that glaring omission? Should we assume this was an oversight on God’s part?” That statement gives me the impression that G-d is for the Jews only and that is why I would like to clarify if this is true .

            I am glad that you have torn my assertions to shreds .

            I am aware that there is an belief among Jews that as long as your community fulfills the 613 commands , the world will be taken care of . I come to know about this through reading ““Ten from the Nations-Torah Awakening Among Non Jews” . I believe that you and Rabbi Blumenthal subscribe to this belief . However I am also aware that many Jews see Abraham’s example as a teacher as relevant to their role as Jews . These Jews see themselves as active witnesses .They believe that being “Light to the Nations” include teaching Torah truths relevant to gentiles apart from fulfilling the commands .

            You have put forth valid points , so I rest my case . However I am encouraged by the fact that there are Jews out there who see themselves called to a teaching role despite not being commanded to do so-following in the steps of Abraham . I hope they will continue their noble effort.

            I admit to misunderstanding your comments at times . My apologies for that and also if at any point my statements offends your Jewish sensitivities.

            Thank you.

        • Shalom sister Dina,
          “And should we simply ignore that glaring omission? Should we assume this was an oversight on God’s part?” I have pondered your questions and was led to the Garden of Eden where God has given instruction about the tree of knowledge of good and evil only given to Adam before he made a woman out of the man. Do you think Adam wasn’t responsible to share the knowledge of God’s commandment with his wife? I see that there is glaring omission for the Jews to teach gentiles; however, the husband Israel isn’t responsible to teach his wife the church? (i hope my calling of the Jews as husband and Christians as wife don’t offend you; i say this out of the N.T. theology)

          • Annelise says:

            Hi Sharon,

            The Torah principle of compassion for foreigners suggest that anyone desperate to learn should be taught. And the book of Jonah suggests symbolically that the role of the Jewish nation in exile (personified in ‘Jonah’) is to actively and vocally declare righteousness.

            However, this would look different depending on the context, and each individual person has their own abilities and responsibilities. For many, living their lives in society as people who are visibly Jewish is a strong way to be an ambassador, and questions or conversations can arise from that. Others are taking on more of a role of teaching non-Jews, as you know.

            Don’t be dismayed by the slow pace of change in Orthodox Jewish perspectives. It’s a very large, worldwide community, and there is a sense of being extremely tentative when adding to or amending the interpretations passed down from the past… so as not to lose anything important due to haste. There are also other politics involved. But it can and does happen that some old interpretations become seen as incomplete.

            As to whether the God of the Bible sees anyone as being more important that you or I…I’m not sure that this is something we can measure from an individual perspective. If the infinite one and creator of my innermost being cares about me and reaches out to have a relationship with me, then that is absolutely everything I could want…the nature of someone else’s relationship with Him doesn’t impact on that reality for us.

            Noachides often struggle with the lack of customs and ritual involved in being a non-Jewish follower of Torah. They let go of so many of the cultural customs, celebrations, and stories that they grew up with, and lose their religious communities…yet they don’t find that Judaism answers the yearning of non-Jews to have religious customs, celebrations, and belonging-identity stories of their own. In my experience, this feeling is strongest during the crisis of identity and sense of a loss of part of the self that comes when letting go of the beliefs and social circles that we were once anchored in. Yet when the turmoil settles, in the quietness of simply living compassionately and humbly in the world, there are rhythms, celebrations, paths of wisdom, creative expressions that reflect our heart, and a place of belonging…these are found and formed along the simple road of valuing friendship, compassion, mental health, and hope in God.

            Rabbi Blumenthal has written about valuing the anchors we have up until this point. There may be a lot of insecurity, confusion, and loss of direction and foundation…yet what can we hold onto now and rest upon? The remembrance of gratitude for those anchors we do already have brings a meaningful measure of peace.

          • Annelise says:

            PS Notice the theme in the book of Jonah that God is everywhere, not just in Israel. From the ends of the earth to the depths of the ocean. Many other prophets give comparable imagery, that God is the God of the whole world and that by turning from idolatry there is a rightful connection with Him that is intrinsic in all creation.

          • Dina says:

            Annelise, thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts. You have such great insight!

          • With Sister Dina’s silence and conversation with brother Sharon, i think i come closer to the truth. NOt so much Adam is responsible to teach his wife as Eve should have come to her husband and asked the truth about the tree of knowledge of good and evil. “Hold on Serpent, let me come back to you. I need to ask my husband about the tree.”
            NOw i know why the Pharisee Paul ascribe the Fall to eve rather than Adam. NOw i can see more clearly why Yeshua and James urged hearers and recipients to ASK, ASK wisdom, and ASK.

  28. Eleazar says:

    Gean, why is it that every time someone makes a clear JEWISH point using Torah, you take that same text or point and say how it has illuminated the “truth” of the New Testament even more, when it obviously hasn’t? You will never be able harmonize Torah and Christianity the way you deceive yourself into thinking you will or have. Those places where you believe you have done this always requires a leap of logic or the redefining of obvious terms.Or in this case, you are backward of what Paul taught.New Testament theology teaches that Adam was responsible because he was not deceived, but made a clear choice. Nowhere in the NT is the fall attributed to Eve. Paul said Jesus was “the 2nd Adam”, not the “2nd Eve”, and that Jesus passed the test that Adam failed (which of course is untrue because Jesus sinned more than Adam did). Paul’s other point was that women are easy to deceive, so they should not be leaders in the church as in the text below.

    1Timothy 2:12 “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man; she is to remain quiet. 13For Adam was formed first, and then Eve. 14And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman who was deceived and fell into transgression.…”

    I have an Adventist friend who does the very same thing, only he is honest enough to admit he is TRYING to read Christianity into the Torah. He calls it “putting on his Jesus glasses”. He makes no pretense of objectivity and feels entirely justified in his bias because “holy spirit”. He STARTS with the premise that Christianity is true and that Torah MUST be consistent with his own beliefs. Thus, he is able to read Christian doctrine into anything if he just finds a “root” of word, or an out of context sentence, or a person who has one quality that reminds him of a NT character.

    All I can do is shake my head.

    • Shalom Shalom brother Eleazar! Thanks for challenging.
      When i find the ‘truth’ of N.T. illuminated by the Jewish points, i find the ignorance of majority of Christians influenced by replacement theology and the mysterious wisdom of God who has concealed the truth about Israel and the Jews before the eyes of church. Also i am not advocating the Christianity (in fact, brother, my heart loves the Jews more than Christians, i don’t know why), rather interpreting the N.T. as it is, not biased by any Christian doctrines or traditions but as it is in literary, grammatical, and historical context of the text as far as i know.

      Now, your understanding of Pauline theology about the relationship between Adam and Jesus is very intriguing, and i will come back to you soon since i have been studying it for a couple of days. Thank you brother.

      • Annelise says:

        Hi Gean Guk Jeon,

        You wrote about how you believe it to be a mystery that the church has been grossly unaware of the importance of the biological nation of Israel. And I think you would consider it a mystery, too, that almost all of the righteous and Go-fearing Jews of history have not been able to recognise Jesus as their messiah.

        These are two huge issues that would shed doubt on the Christian claims.

        I believe that every claim to authority and wisdom should be allowed to be tested. Even Jesus’ claims, and the claims of the church about him, should be rigorously questioned, because it’s so serious if these claims are false. There is not necessarily any pride or wrongdoing in seeking proof that Jesus really is the one he has been said to be..and that has to be done with an openness to discovering that he may not have authority at all.

        I personally don’t feel that the Christian miracle claims, or the feelings of people in Christian communities, are enough proof to cause me to accept the above ideas as mysterious truths.

        • Yes brother Annelise, “Christian miracle claims and feelings of Christians ” are not enough proof to give anyone credibility of Christianity. The N.T. does not teach it either. The credibility of Christianity will be recognized when the church unveils its eyes to see Israel as the kingdom of God and the Jews as the eternal covenant people and when it witness

        • and when it witness to the world through their godly lives and good works as the Messiah has taught. “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:5)

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