Resonance – Psalm 119:54
Christians see the Jewish Scripture as a music sheet of an exquisite song. The point of the Christian song is Jesus but the harmony reverberates in the Christian’s ear from every page of the book.
Then the Christian meets a Jew. The Jew tells him that this book has nothing to do with Jesus. The Christian listens to the Jewish arguments about translation and context and is unmoved. In the mind of the Christian, the Jew is making a tragic mistake. The Jew is reading the music notes without realizing that this is music. The Jew seems to be looking at the notes as if they were a story about some stickmen climbing a ladder. How can you argue with someone about music when they are completely tone-deaf?
What the Christian fails to realize is that music is subjective. Those who composed the Jesus song used the notes that they found in the Jewish Bible but the song did not come from the book; it came from their hearts. When a person’s heart is overwhelmed with love and devotion then they hear music everywhere.
The Jewish Scripture is a book of music but it is important to bend your heart to the music of the book and not bend the book to the music of your heart.
The music is deep and the music is rich. It starts from the simple and straightforward meaning of the words. It continues through the observance of the commandments in the life of Eternal Israel. Israel’s prayer, Israel’s conversation over God’s Law and Israel’s life as God’s witnesses resonate through the ages. Each of these contributes to the overall harmony and not one of these is ignored.
The pain and persecutions of exile have caused the song to become dim in the ears of some. But for some the song rang so deeply that they gave their lives for God with happy hearts.
As time wanders along more and more people are hearing the song. The basic notes of justice, charity and holiness point to a faith and trust in the One Creator who loves us all.
This is how the song goes:
In the beginning God created heaven and earth…
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
You could say that the Christian scriptures have appropriated refrains from the music of the Hebrew scriptures, including or adapting them as the soundtrack for the portrayal of Jesus’ life, his teachings, and those of the early church leaders. A Christian will then hear the music of the Hebrew scriptures and Judaism, and of course the imagery of Christianity will come to mind.
Beautifully put. Arabic accented Sephardi speakers are closer to original Hebrew pronounciation than European-rooted Ashkenazis, who can’t capture the difference between a sin and a samekh, a caph or a qeph, a tau or a teyth, indeed these distinctions can’t be captured by Latin transliterations.
So the old resonances of a blood sacrifice for propitiation, the necessity of the sacrifice of the firstborn, the just vengeance implicit in redemption, the inbred impurity of every human soul seem strange and dissonant to the Hellenised rabbinic ear, but in perfect harmony with the heart of the books of Torah.
When the Temple is reconstructed and the animal sacrifices diligently reenacted in repudiation of the Messiah, these dissonances will become so pronounced and so hideous, a new and much more dangerous path of innovation will become necessary.
So Isaiah 56:7 is a bad chord that somehow sneaked in to the song?
No more than Isaiah 60.1-6. However sacrifices of Kedar and Nebaoith are more than just Ishmael’s livestock, it is the circumcised praise of their hearts and lives, the sacrifices of their livelihood, incidentally something the Messiah’s message is already accomplishing in Saudi Arabia and other gulf states, not deracinated Rabbinic doctrine, which conceals its light and will not proclaim it. Droves and droves of ex-Muslims worship HaShem in the Messiah in all these countries now.
Jim, Hellenic influence is a very broad term, but to be specific Rambam reads just like Plotinus, Aquinas (whom we also reject) does too but has imbibed the poison draft less deeply. I know Rambam is not the incarnation of all rabbinic theology, but he at least should be thoroughly repudiated. As to linguistics much of the church is now and has been from the outset native Hebrew speaking (with a large hiatus in the middle).
charles soper It is not the sacrifice of their livelihood in and of itself that the prophet looks forward to – it is the offering to the God of Jacob. The prophet predicts the eradication of offerings to idols, he doesn’t look forward to th
Regarding the corruption of the Hebrew language:
You insinuated that the original pronunciation of the Hebrew was lost and with it the meaning of the Torah. You insinuated, as well, that the Church was in possession of the true meaning. This you could only insinuate, rather than argue, because the notion is so absurd that if you had tried to demonstrate the verity of such a claim, you would have appeared to be perpetrating a joke. I assure you, your insinuation is no less silly than if you had composed an argument.
That you attempt to bolster the credentials of the Church by appealing to the handful of Christians that speak Hebrew today—surely you are having fun at our expense. You do not propose that such a notion be taken seriously. What percentage of Christians study the Torah in Hebrew? I must admit that I do not know, but I would be greatly surprised if it were more than one percent. Upon the paltry few that study the Torah in Hebrew, you attempt to establish the credentials of the Church as the true interpreters of Torah? Quite frequently I accuse you of arguing in a brazen fashion, but this level of shamelessness surprises even me. I am in no way being facetious when I write that I thought you must be joking when you wrote this. If I wanted to write a satire of the Christian claim to supplant Israel, this is the kind of thing I might have written with my tongue in my cheek.
As you note, few Christians historically have known any Hebrew whatsoever. A great gap exists between those few followers of Jesus two thousand years ago who presumably could read the Torah scroll in Hebrew and the small movement today of Christians learning Hebrew. During these two millenia, I wonder how it is that the Church maintained the true understanding of a book they could not read at all, while the Jewish people who studied it faithfully in Hebrew that entire time lost the essential messages. Your insinuation is more than a little far-fetched.
Regarding Maimonides and Plotinus:
I do not know why you do not tell people that Plotinus was a trinitarian of sorts. I do not know why you do not tell them that the simple, Absolute Good that he considered God, had a son, of the same substance as that god, but subordinate. I do not know why you do not tell them that human beings can only come to the Absolute Good through that secondary being.
I do not know, but I suspect the reason is because these Hellenic ideas are quite similar to Christianity. And, since you are trying to tie Maimonides to Hellenism through Plotinus, it might look bad if people realized how many similarities exist between Christianity and Plotinus. If Plotinus’ teachings are the measuring reed whereby one determines the Hellenism that inheres in a teaching, the Church comes out looking pretty Hellenistic. So, I can see why you would omit these points.
Maimonides serves as a convenient distraction. Drawing a comparison between him and a neo-Platonist avoids the task that must be done. The real task before us is to compare the doctrines of the Church with the Torah and determine if they align with one another. The Church worships a man. The Torah says that God is not a man. The Church says that God is three. The Torah says that God is one. The Church says that God is father, son, and spirit. The Torah says that God is alone and that there is no other beside Him. This is the comparison that must be made, and it is obvious that the doctrines of the Church are not Torah.
HaShem established a nation to be His witnesses. The entire nation heard God speak, and He showed them no form, in order that they would not associate God with anything in creation. Christians claim to be God’s new witnesses. But they did not hear God speak. They also saw no form—no resurrected form—but they believed it anyway and worshiped that which was forbidden, a creature like themselves. The Christian violates a fundament of the Torah. Nothing could be more clear than that he is not the witness, not the interpreter of a Torah given in a tongue he does not speak, not the guardian of the commandments he violates. It does not matter if his ideas are Hellenic or of some other source. All that matters is this: they are not Torah.
It’s so important that you wrote this, Jim, because I would never have known about these ideas from Plotinus, knowing nothing about Plotinus. And I suspect I am not the only one. It is important that a student of philosophy such as yourself can expose the weakness in Charles’s argument.
I do not see the point, anyway–and this I address to Charles–of arguing the rabbinic literature with Christians. Christians do not accept the authority of the Talmud and the rabbis. However, we do share a common ground. Both Jews and Christians accept the Hebrew Bible as the word of God. The only arguments that can bear fruit, therefore, are arguments that pit the testimony of the Hebrew Bible against Christian theology. There is enough material there to keep us arguing till kingdom come! And there is enough material there to clarify our opposing positions.
But Charles, are you playing your usual game, where you drop in, preach a little, and dance off without engaging in argument? It then becomes a futile task to clarify our differences, because you cannot talk to someone who won’t listen.
Oops, I forgot to follow.
If the loss of proper pronunciation of the Hebrew is an indication of a loss in understanding the meaning, how much worse off is the Church than the Jewish people? In the Church, it is not just an alteration in speech, a divergence of dialects, that presents a problem. The great majority of the Church does not speak Hebrew at all. When they try to read a transliteration, they cannot properly pronounce it, for it sounds strange to their ears and their tongues are unused to the words that are foreign to them. And, without transliteration, they are in worse shape, for the Hebrew letters are entirely foreign to them. It follows then that if the Jewish people do not understand the message of the Torah the way they used to do, then the Church is at a total loss to hear the message of the Torah. And if the rabbis are Hellenized, how much more so the Church? For it is the Christian scriptures that are written in the Greek tongue. By your reasoning, the music of the Torah is entirely lost on the Church and it is to a Hellenic tune to which the Church dances.
Rabbi! i hope you and all our friends here have a wonderful season of the year!
A month ago, my dad passed away with long suffering from diabetes and i had to go through some difficult time. Neverthless, i was so thankful to God for the life of him and the life given to me through him.
You said, “The point of the Christian song is Jesus but the harmony reverberates in the Christian’s ear FROM every page of the book.” This is so true. Maybe the resonance is created IN or INTO every page of the book.”
I guess many Christians will interpret the Psalm 119: 18 – Uncover my eyes and I shall look at hidden things FROM Your Torah- as “… IN Your Torah.” They don’t stand outside and receive the message FROM the Torah as it is. They like to go INTO the Torah and create or spiritualize the message. We Christians have failed to absorb the spiritual milk from the ROOT (Judaism), rather have received from other branches here and there. I’m so sad and repentant to my Jewish friends here.
Gean Guk Jeon,
I am sorry for your loss. May HaShem grant you comfort.
I am so sorry for your loss and offer my condolences.