Test of Love

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55 Responses to Test of Love

  1. Sharon S says:

    Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal ,

    Good day and Happy New Year 2022.I hope you and your family are well.

    Thank you for sharing this video. It is a good presentation.

    A question- do you have any specific target audience in mind for this presentation? As a non Jew, I am concerned that video may mislead the non Jew watching it due to the following reasons:
    a.You based your presentation on Deuteronomy 13 , which is addressed to the Jewish people who have a covenantal relationship with the God of your ancestors.
    b. Non Jewish Christians see themselves as having a covenantal relationship with the God of Israel through Jesus (John 1:12-13, Galatians 3:23-28)
    c. Non Jewish Christians do not have a covenantal relationship with the God without Jesus (i.e the God Jews pray to)
    d.As such , I fear a non Jew listening to your presentation may be led to believe that he/she can have a covenantal relationship with God without Jesus , which is obviously not true.

    There is a big difference in a covenantal and non covenantal relationship to God without Jesus
    a. Non Jews do not know that they are being judged by the God without Jesus (i.e the God Jews pray to) during Rosh Hashanah.
    Only Jews and those who identify themselves as Bnei Noach know this.
    b. Non Jews do not know that they can appeal for a lenient sentence from the God Jews pray to in the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.Only Jews and those who identify themselves as Bnei Noah know this. I don’t think this appeal is available to the Bnei Noach either.
    c. Non Jews have no means to atone for their sins . Non Jews were only permitted to present burnt offerings when the temple was still standing. Sin offerings were only available for the Israelite ( including the Levites and Priests)
    d. There is no assurance that non Jews will be resurrected at the end of days. Righteous Non Jews , according to Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto , will be resurrected as garments for Jews (refer “Derech Hashem”)
    e. Every morning , you and other observant Jewish men recite the blessing for not being created a “Gentile, slave and woman”. This to me indicates that the Gentile stand at a far inferior level .

    As a non Jew, I have learnt quite a lot about Jewish observances . I appreciate the lights of Shabbat, the Temple, the festivals , Chanukah , Purim, etc. I learnt that these observances, especially the Temple, are the reason why the world still exists. Unfortunately I am only able to see these lights from afar . I am not able to experience its direct illumination in my life.

    As such , the distinction between Jew and non Jew not only extends to Jewish observance , but also on how God relates to us. It seems God without Jesus sees Jews (i.e who took on 613 laws of the Torah and include converts ) and non Jews differently. The Torah is the defining criterion in this relationship.

    Which is why I have an issue with Jewish counter missionaries not making clear the above distinctions in their video presentations. You are luring non Jews away from the fulfilling , covenantal relationship they already enjoy (even though it may not align with your beliefs) to a less fulfilling , non covenantal one.

    Just read the Acts of the Apostles , the earliest Gentile followers of Jesus were not pagan , but were actually God fearers who were attending synagogues on a regular basis. Why did they believe in the message of the Apostles more readily than the Jews at that time?

    My request is simple- please don’t give false hope to the non Jew when there is none. Please don’t sell something that you can’t deliver.

    I am sorry if this comment offends.

    Thank you.

    • Sharon S The relationship that any human being can have with the Creator of heaven and earth is something that no idol can imitate. You can face your Father, who created you and continuously sustains every facet of your existence out of His love for you, and talk to Him directly, hear His voice as He speaks through your conscience and through the message the Jewish people retained for mankind, follow His commandments and live His law as it pertains to you. Be blessed

      1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

      • Sharon S says:

        Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal,

        Good day. Thank you for your encouragement and assurance.

        To my understanding, the main message of your video is that one who has a fulfilling relationship with God will not be inclined to listen to the message of the missionary. The missionary is only able to make an impression on those who sense something is lacking in their relationship with God.

        The Torah begins with creation and God’s close relationship with our first parents. The relationship that Adam and Eve had with God before the fall is the ideal relationship that any human being can have with the Creator of heaven and earth.

        Since the Jewish Scriptures-the Torah begins with the act of creation and the downward spiral of humanity from the sin of our first parents , naturally the reader of the Jewish Scriptures will continue reading through the Prophets and Writings hoping to see the issues with humanity from Genesis 3 to 11 resolved at the end of the canon of Jewish Scriptures. Humanity will again dwell with God in the Garden of Eden like how it is meant to be. Unfortunately I am not able to see this in the Jewish Scriptures. The story seem incomplete.

        What I want to point out is there is already a fault line in man’s (i.e humanity) relationship with God from the sin of our first parents and there is no indication in the Jewish scriptures that this fault line has been restored. This fault line would not have surfaced at all if the Torah started with the exodus narratives.

        If you disagree, please show verses from the Jewish Scriptures which states clearly that man is able to have the relationship with God like how our first parents did with Him before the fall.

        Thank you.

        • Sharon S Isaiah 11:9, Malachi 3:4, Isaiah 56:7, Zechariah 14:9, Ezekiel 37:24

          1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • Sharon S says:

            Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal,

            Good day.

            Thank you for sharing the verses from the Jewish scriptures as requested . From your replies , it seems to me that you hold that a non Jew too is able to  have a fulfilling relationship with  God (without Jesus) .

            I understand your intention is to guide your audience to the proper knowledge and worship  of God, which is important in your role as an observant Jew. My apologies if my earlier comment undermine your noble effort.

            What I am trying to put forth is that the nature of relationship between a Jewish person (including converts) with God (without Jesus) and a non Jew with the same God are vastly different. It seems to me that these differences, which I pointed out earlier , are barriers for a non Jew to have a relationship with God . I am concerned that these differences are not highlighted clearly in your presentation and in your other writings/videos. Perhaps you find these differences insignificant in light of the truth you are trying to convey to your audience?

            I understand that a Jewish person has a greater responsibility to God than a non Jew.
            However, a Jewish person who has fallen away  and is convinced of your message need to only return to the covenant , the Jewish community and the God of his/her ancestors.

            In contrast, a non Jew who believes your message  have to pay a  heavier price than the Jew.  The non Jew is forced to abandon his/her religious and perhaps cultural identity, even if he/she choose not to convert to Judaism . This non Jew has to stand apart from his/her family  and community especially when it comes to communal worship. As a result ,the non Jew have to endure sadness and isolation . It can be challenging for a non Jew to create a spiritual framework in order  to guide his/her children in the worship of the true God. There is also the risk that the non Jew  may be ostracized /excommunicated by his/her community , and may not receive community support  in times of difficulties, sickness or even death.

            The difficulties above is further compounded when the non Jew come to realize the nature of his/her relationship with God as compared to the Jew.

            I hope to have clearly explain to you the challenges facing a non Jew who chose to worship the God of your ancestors. Please bear in mind that not all non Jews are able uproot themselves from their communities like Abraham your ancestor. Our faith in God may not be as strong as Abraham’s faith in God. We have commitments to family , communities and to the nations in which we are born into. Our situation is closer to that of Naaman the Syrian ( 2 Kings 5)

            It is important for everyone to know the truth about our Creator . However the non Jew face more challenges in the journey to his/her Creator. Is truth more important than these challenges? Can the non Jew worship the God of your ancestors despite these challenges ? Please consider.

          • Sharon S Thank you for pointing out the practical and emotional challenges faced by the non-Jew should he/she choose to leave behind the religion they may have been born into and follow the God of Abraham. Those points are extremely important but at the same time I consider them self-evident. Before a person starts reading material that will potentially expose their faith as false they are aware of the chaos it may cause in their lives. However, the point that you make about the difference between the Jew and the Non-Jew in their respective relationship with God, a point that you keep on emphasizing in your comments, is not relevant to the conversation. I say this for two reasons – Most importantly, the God who created you values you, loves you, cares for you, forgives your sins, hears your prayer and feels your pain. Every breath and every heartbeat – and even your ability to have a relationship with someone is an expression of His personal love for you. The fact that He chose a nation for Himself does not make your relationship with Him smaller. Furthermore, my understanding is that if a person is in a false relationship – in other words, a relationship built on lies – it is a blessing to open their eyes to the truth even if you don’t show them a replacement relationship.

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • Sharon S says:

            Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal,

            Thank you for acknowledging the practical and emotional challenges faced by the non-Jew . Thank you for also explaining your position on your message and its implication to the general audience, in particular your non jewish audience. It is much appreciated.

            My response are as follows:
            1.The person reading your material ( and other countermissionary material) is responsible for his/her response to your message, however this person may not have full knowledge available to make an informed decision. The reading materials which you pointed out  focus more on the falsehood in core doctrines  of a certain faith (eg:Christianity) as compared to your belief systems (Judaism). The reader , especially your non Jewish audience, has little knowledge of your belief systems to enable him/her to make an informed spiritual decision

            2.The person reading this material ( should he/she embrace it ) may not be able to grasp the full extent of the chaos of leaving a false faith until he/she has actually left the false faith/relationship and embarked on a journey to learn about the true belief system

            It is important to expose a false relationship. However,  please consider to inform the audience of your message on the nature of the  replacement relationship . Is the replacement relationship  on par ,better or worse from the false relationship they are leaving behind? How is God perceived in Jewish tradition- is the emphasis more of God as  King or can they pray to Him as one would talk to a friend? This will help your non Jewish audience to grasp the full extent of the chaos and changes  they will encounter if they decide to leave the false relationship.

            Every individual’s spiritual journey is different.  There are non Jews who leave their false faith and find a better relationship with the God without Jesus. Perhaps I am the only non Jew who finds herself not having a better replacement relationship with God as I hoped when leaving the false relationship behind. Hence I would like to seek your opinion on the following question:

            Is proper knowledge and worship of God (i.e acknowledging and praying only to the One true God who creates and sustains us) is more important than the relationship one can have with Him?

            In other words, should I acknowledge God as God even though I may not have a relationship with Him?

            Thank you

          • Sharon S 1 – There are articles on my blog that articulate some of the difficulties encountered by a non-Jew leaving Christianity. I never experienced this myself but I have posted the words of others – as well as allowing comments from people like yourself. – here is just one example – https://judaismresources.net/2018/02/28/twilight-man-by-jim/

            2 – Let us imagine the theoretical situation that the true God gives no promises and/or assurances to those who serve Him. And the false god, and/or the false path gives all the assurances that you could dream of. It is still a blessing to follow the true God over the false God. In fact the Scriptures declare that it is better to take shelter in God – and taking shelter means coming under His wing without any assurances or promises, rather than trusting in another – and trusting means believing in declared promises – Psalm 118:8,9 Furthermore, the Scriptures give us to understand that God is a friend to all who take shelter in Him, without qualifying if this person is a Jew, Gentile, man or woman – Isaiah 57:15,19, Psalm 34:19, Psalm 37:9, Psalm 84:12,13 Psalm 86:5, Psalm 145:9,18, Lamentations 3:25,

            One more point. In a comment to Larry you compared the Torah’s position in the God-fearer’s life to the position of Jesus in the life of a Christian. This is inaccurate. The Torah is an expression of God’s will, it is guidance – it is not set up as an object of worship. In the life of a Christian, Jesus is not merely a path, he is a goal, an object of worship – he demands your heart.

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • Sharon S says:

            Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal,

            Good day.

            A reminder on the following question at the bottom of  my comment here https://judaismresources.net/2022/01/05/test-of-love-2/#comment-163852

            Is proper knowledge and worship of God (i.e acknowledging and praying only to the One true God who creates and sustains us) is more important than the relationship one can have with Him?

            In other words, should I acknowledge God as God even though I may not have a relationship with Him?

             I hope you will provide a straightforward reply . Your reply will really help your audience and I to make an informed spiritual decision.

            Thank you

          • Sharon S says:

            Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal,

            Good day.

            Let me explain the reasoning behind my question.

            My question is in response to your following comment:
            “Furthermore, my understanding is that if a person is in a false relationship – in other words, a relationship built on lies – it is a blessing to open their eyes to the truth even if you don’t show them a replacement relationship.”

            I understand from your video and from this conversation, you hold that a non-Jew too is able to have a fulfilling relationship with God without Jesus. As such I am puzzled by the above comment as it seemed to contradict with your position. If you hold that a fulfilling relationship is possible, then you will find it important to show the replacement relationship in addition to opening the eye of your audience to the truth.

            Once again, I hope you will provide a straightforward reply to my earlier question.

            Thank you.

          • Sharon S I believe that a non-Jew CAN have a fulfilling relationship with God. I also believe that even if he/she couldn’t have the same pleasure in their relationship with the God of truth as they would have with a false god – it is still a blessing to point out the falsehood of a false relationship 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • Sharon S says:

            Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal ,

            Good day. Thank you for replying to my question. I understand from your comment that  proper knowledge and worship of God (i.e acknowledging and praying only to the One true God who creates and sustains us) is more important than the relationship one can have with Him.

            As such , a non Jew should worship God in truth ,even if he/she may not have the same pleasure in their relationship with the God of truth as they would have with a false god.

            I brought up the comparison between Torah and Jesus to show that there are conditions attached in both Judaism and Christianity for one to have a fulfilling relationship with God.One who takes on the 613 laws will have a more fulfilling relationship with God. One who believes in Jesus as Lord will have a more fulfilling relationship with God. My apologies if my statement seems to give a wrong impression on the Torah .

            Thank you for your patience in this conversation.

          • Sharon S says:

            Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal,

            Good day.

            You stated in a few occassions “it is still a blessing to point out the falsehood of a false relationship”

            It is stated in the Talmud -Meggilah 25a-Rabbi Hanina said: All is in Heaven except fear of Heaven. It is understood to mean that man has the free will to serve God.

            Pointing to someone that they are worshipping a false god may not necessarily lead them to a closer relationship to the God of truth.

            As such , I am not sure if the blessing to point out the falsehood  is a blessing to the recipient of your message. Perhaps you may think it is as you have only met and interacted with the success stories. Every individual’s spiritual journey is different.

            I hope you will consider the main point of my message- please don’t give false hope to the non Jew when there is no guarantee that your message may be a blessing to them.

            Thank you.

          • Sharon S I heard what you have to say. I am not in your shoes so I can only begin to imagine what you feel like. However, I have to do things the way I understand is right – and I imagine that if I would find myself in a false relationship without knowing it – I would consider it a blessing if someone exposed the false nature of the relationship even if they didn’t offer a replacement. In this case – the replacement relationship (the relationship with God that the Jews believe in) happens to be a deep and fulfilling relationship. It may be more difficult to access because it demands a change of focus and perspective but the relationship is there to be had. This being the case I will continue to try to share what I see as the truth. I appreciate your sharing your perspective but I must do things the way I understand.

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

        • LarryB says:

          Sharon
          “Every individual’s spiritual journey is different. There are non Jews who leave their false faith and find a better relationship with the God without Jesus. Perhaps I am the only non Jew who finds herself not having a better replacement relationship with God as I hoped when leaving the false relationship behind. Hence I would like to seek your opinion on the following question:”

          If I could grant you any wish, what would a good relationship with the new god you believe in look like? How would you know you relationship was any good? How would you know it was bad? Can you determine if someone you know has a good relationship with god?
          What would you base that on? Do you believe a Christian can have a good relationship with god? A Mormon, Protestant etc? Does god still love them even though their beliefs are different than yours, different than mine? Does god love you as much as he loves others?

          I usually don not think this way but if I were to, a good relationship with god would be based on learning as much as I can from his teachings and incorporating them into my life as best as I can. The cookie I desire is knowledge, his teaching. The fear I have is gaining that knowledge and not incorporating it into my life. The other fear is not understanding the world and losing belief in god.
          I lost my belief in Christianity when the proof text from the Torah did not say what my teachers at the time were teaching. It seemed logical to learn from those whom it was given

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi LarryB,

            Thank you for sharing your thoughts .

            You asked “ what would a good relationship with the new god you believe in look like”. Allow me to rephrase your question as “ what would a good relationship with god look like”.

            My idea of a good relationship will be very much modeled on the New Testament:
            •To be assured that my sins are forgiven and that I am guaranteed eternal life.
            •To have a covenantal relationship with God i.e being grafted into the cultivated olive tree of Israel (Romans 11), to see myself as a child of God through faith (John 1:12-13, Galatians 3:26). More importantly to be assured that there is no distinction between Jew or Gentile , slave or free , male or female ( Galatians 3:29-a direct contradiction to the morning blessings recited by Jewish men for not being created ‘gentile, slave or a woman’).
            •A person who is close to God will know he/she is loved by God. A person who is close to God knows that God has his/her best interests at heart. A person who is close to God trust Him and believes that each and every event in his/her life are not some random set of events, but is part of God’s plan (Romans 8:28)
            •I believe a Christian , Catholic , Protestant , Mormon or anyone is able to have a good relationship with God provided they believe in Jesus as their Lord and Messiah. Jesus is the defining criterion of this relationship.
            •I can also argue that in Judaism , the Torah is the criterion in the relationship between God and humanity. A Gentile who takes on the 613 laws and undergoes a halachic conversion will have a more fulfilling relationship with God than a Gentile who only subscribe to the 7 Noahide laws. The point is there are conditions attached in both Judaism and Christianity for one to have a fulfilling relationship with God. Christianity advocates Jesus , Judaism advocates Torah.

            I learnt thanks to Muslim & Jewish counter missionaries that Christianity advocates a false relationship. I thought that the elements of the above relationship is still possible even though I worship the God without Jesus. The more I learned of Jewish tradition , the more I realize that this is not possible.

            How can I worship the God without Jesus knowing there is no assurance that my sins are forgiven, no guarantees of eternal life or that God does not see me differently for being born a gentile and a woman?

            Which is why I am asking Rabbi Blumenthal a question , what does God without Jesus that Jews pray to requires of non-Jews who do not have a covenantal relationship with Him ? Is proper knowledge and worship of Him (i.e acknowledging and praying only to the One true God who creates and sustains us) more important than the relationship one have with Him?

            In other words, should I acknowledge God as God even though I may not have a relationship with Him?

            Perhaps Larry , you can answer this question?

          • LarryB says:

            Sharon
            Unless your asking something specific I already did anwer.

          • Sharon S says:

            LarryB,

            Sorry , I didn’t get your answer. Can you repeat it again?

            Thank you.

          • LarryB says:

            Sharon
            Sorry didn’t see it. I cannot answer your question but will share some thoughts.
            “should I acknowledge God as God even though I may not have a relationship with Him?”
            It would be a start. What else are you going to do, Acknowledge Jesus as god?
            I read your Idea of a good relationship with God. You list NT quotes. For the first on your list, There was a time when I no longer felt I had a good relationship with God because I was Christian. I no longer felt assured that my sins were forgiven or guaranteed eternal life. I was praying to someone other than God “mary and the rosary” and believed a man was God, or part God and this was not acceptable to the Torah teaching. I no longer believed any of the new testment none of the promises or guarantees. So I gave it up.
            I still believed in God, not faith there is a God, belief. I have no Idea who or what God is but I believe everything around me was created not here by chance. The NT was no longer part of my life but the Torah was and my belief shifted from believing someone else died for my sins and paid the price to I have to accept responsibility for myself. It does not bother me the Torah was given to someone else or that they have a covenantal relationship with him. According to the Torah gentiles do but it is different. Also my relationship with God is not about what I get. It’s is centered around the Torah and learning what God wants for man to learn and hopefully incorporate it into my life. I don’t need a guarantee of going to heaven because If God gave me only three things to do so i could get into heaven I would probably stop trying to learn more once I accomplished the task. If he gave me 613 things to do, same thing would happen. To me that is a good thing because There is more to learn than what is easily seen in the Torah. In numbers Zelophehad’s daughters had no inheritance rights so Moses prayed to God for help.
            Did God change his mind or does he want us to seek justice because things come up and not all situations are in the Torah. Should my relationship with God be centered around what I want and what he can do for me or centered around what I can learn that he wants me to learn and do. Since i cannot give him anything the least I can do is what he asks.

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi LarryB,

            Thank you for sharing your thoughts about my question. I read your comment a few times. I admire your honesty and humility . Thank you for sharing this.

            I can relate to your experience understanding the God that the Jewish people pray to. My relationship with God is centered on what I want from that relationship . It is difficult for me to focus on what God wants or what I can give to Him.

            Even if I do focus on what God wants , it is challenging to worship Him when I am doing it with my own strength , without the assurance and promises like the ones from the NT to encourage me in this journey. I am running on empty.

            Once again , thank you for sharing this.

          • LarryB says:

            Sharon
            One correction in my post, maybe the least thing I can do is be thankful to our creator.
            I’m sure you are to. You ask a lot of questions, trying to understand no less than I want to.
            More than likely, you live your beliefs the best you can. We can all do better, right?
            I do not need the assurances you do, I’m thinking out loud here, because my faith is not that there is a God, my faith / trust is that he will treat everyone fairly and will act in the world and in my life, where he thinks it is best. In a way the part of not knowing with any assurance that I will for sure go to heaven is a good thing. That way, it’s not selfish to do what God ask of us. Anyone who does things just in case are never consistent, I am not talking about that.
            I recognize that most all the good things in my life are not solely because of something I did or planned. I was involved and participated but the outcome was never promised. There is no promise of waking up tomorrow. Somehow maybe that is what makes it easy to live without assurances. Being thankful, helps me see the good God does for all of us.
            Like the rabbi said, being thankful for our next breath.

        • LarryB says:

          Rabbi Blumenthal
          “One more point. In a comment to Larry you compared the Torah’s position in the God-fearer’s life to the position of Jesus in the life of a Christian. This is inaccurate. The Torah is an expression of God’s will, it is guidance – it is not set up as an object of worship. In the life of a Christian, Jesus is not merely a path, he is a goal, an object of worship – he demands your heart.”

          I agree with this 100%. Would you or anyone who is reading along show me where I said this so I can clarify what I was talking about?

    • LarryB says:

      Sharon
      First you say
      “I am fully aware that the God Jews pray to do not give assurances/guarantees to His own people that their sins will be completely forgiven or that they have a place in the world to come , as such I am aware that such assurance/guarantees will not be available to me either. ​It is all about doing your best and that Heaven will decide. As such I am aware and prepared to accept this even before I decided to leave the Catholic faith.”
      Equitable No guarantee for all parties
      Then you say
      ​” I learnt that the God that the Jewish people pray to does provide for His people “ the final chance to return wholeheartedly to God and receive His forgiveness.” . On Yom Kippur “God’s hands are opened wide, eagerly awaiting our repentance and reconciliation”. Are non-Jews who pray to the God that the Jewish people pray to able to tap into these opportunities as well? “”””””””This is what I am concerned about.””””””
      ​Doesn’t sound equitable. They have a holiday we don’t. Not fair. They have an extra chance for forgiveness.
      ​Question, if God gives no guarantees what’s the difference?
      ​Are you sure you’re not concerned about equitable relationship with God? They get no guarantees and everyone else doesn’t either.

      Your first post on this page is basically a list of grievances that show
      ” the distinction between Jew and non Jew not only extends to Jewish observance , but also on how God relates to us.”
      Not equitable.
      “You have an issue with Jewish counter missionaries not making clear the above distinctions in their video presentations. You are luring non Jews away from the fulfilling , covenantal relationship they already enjoy (even though it may not align with your beliefs) to a less fulfilling , non covenantal one.
      Again not equitable.
      The jews the videos Are directed at won’t be treated the same as non jews.

      I know you say that you Are Not talking about equity, but from most everything you have posted on this page clearly this seems to be bothering you quite a bit.
      Maybe that’s why the many times the Rabbi has answered your questions, others also, you do not agree with them.

      • Sharon S says:

        LarryB,

        I am not happy with the statement from earlier comment that I am seeking an equitable relationship with God with guarantees. No one has the right to judge my relationship with God. Only God can judge that.

        My comments which you quoted are merely aspirations that I hope to have in my relationship with God. I hope that God does not relate to me differently due to factors beyond my control (my race, gender, etc) as how human beings often do to each other . I hope that there are pathways where I can repent and seek forgiveness for my sins. These are the aspiration every human being have in their relationship with God. How can you see that to an attempt to seek equity? Is it wrong to ask these questions?

        Yes, the video presentation by Rabbi Blumenthal does bother me as it is clearly meant for a Jewish audience. I am concerned that video may mislead the non-Jew watching it and may lure them from a relationship with God that they already have. I have shared in detail why it bothers me in this page. I believe there are others out there who may identify with what I have shared in this page.

        I appreciate that Rabbi Blumenthal have come to acknowledge the challenges faced by the non-Jew should he/she choose to leave behind the religion they may have been born into and follow the God of Abraham. I appreciate that Rabbi Blumenthal acknowledge this relationship may be more difficult to access , even though it is possible for a non Jew to have a fulfilling relationship with God. I respect Rabbi Blumenthal’s position to continue to share what he sees as the truth to a wider audience even though he may not offer a replacement relationship.

        I also do appreciate you sharing your perspective on your relationship with God. Perhaps you are a success story of a person who is able to change his focus/perspective in his relationship with God. Good for you. Good luck in your journey

        • LarryB says:

          Sharon
          I’m sorry your angry and do not want you to think your being judged by me. It was just an observation, and I did not say what you’re doing is right or wrong. As an ex-Christian there is a memory that I used to do the same to some extent. In my prayers I strive to ask God the toughest questions possible, and it can take me weeks to figure how to ask them. Asking questions is good.
          How can I see your remarks as equity?
          I do my best to please God he treats me to heaven. That would be an equitable relationship, it would seem balanced . If he did not gift me heaven that would not seem fair.
          Now for a couple other questions.
          Do you think it is fair to censure the Rabbis videos in religious matters? Shouldn’t he be able to have his beliefs and share them with others, the same as you? Does he have to please everyone to have a free voice?

          I will consider my changing religious beliefs a success when I start living what I’m learning
          to a much greater extent.
          I have a good idea what your going through, It took me over 20 years.

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi LarryB,

            I do not intend to speak for Rabbi Blumenthal, but when one post a content publicly and allows the public to comment , one should brace for praise and censure. Likewise I should be prepared for my comments to be censured by you and others.

            The above video is also posted in the Jews for Judaism’s Youtube channel. You can find other comments to this video there . Most comments praise the video presentation but there are also harsh comments as well. Feel free to check the Youtube site and ask the same question to the one who is posting the harsh comment like what you posed to me.

            I am not concerned with Rabbi Blumenthal’s message . I am concerned that he did not specify the target audience of his message explicitly , which may be misleading to the general audience. I did apologize to him for a remark I made at the end of my first comment. I accepted his position eventually .

            We have been having this conversation for a few days now. I just want to know why are you asking me these questions now instead of at the beginning of our conversation?

          • Sharon S says:

            LarryB,

            I am sorry if my earlier comment seem harsh. I do have a tendency to be quick with my replies and not considering fully what the other has to say.

            I just want to say that I admire your perseverance for continuing your journey as a non Jew pursuing Judaism and the God of the Torah without having to convert. Wow , 20 years is a long time. I admire your patience and insight .I hope you will be strengthened to continue this journey .

            I am 4 years into this journey and I am this close to call it quits 🤦‍♀️

            May we all be strengthened . Ganbatte Kudasai

          • Dina says:

            Sharon, don’t give up, keep asking questions, take your time. Also, take a break if you need to. It’s okay to give yourself a vacation from wrestling with these issues! You might find yourself feeling more energized to continue the journey when you give yourself a chance to rest from time to time.

  2. Concerned Reader says:

    Hey Sharon, I hope you don’t mind if I chime in?

    For a start, I am a fan of the ethic of Jesus of Nazareth. I do not believe that he was bad, or that he had bad intentions for his followers, I agree with the egalitarian sentiment that all are equal before God, but something you said highlights with startling clarity the issue that I have personally with the Christian spiritual approach, despite the fact that I gained much from it.

    “•To be assured that my sins are forgiven and that I am guaranteed eternal life.”

    I find that when the Church says its relationship of worshipful devotion and faith with Jesus guarantees the above, Christianity falls headlong into the very hole that its texts and tradition claim to avoid. It emulates the very problem Christianity claimed to have with Judaism tenfold.

    The Christian critique of Judaism has always been that there is an inherent folly in the human belief that one is justified before God via their observance, because in any faith, you can “follow the rules” and still be a violent horrible garbage human being, IE your deeds are as filthy rags, God doesn’t want sacrifices given with wrong intent etc.

    I could be the most stringent observer of Halachic norms, and yet treat my fellow humans badly, (especially those outside of the community) and I will have gained nothing by my stringent observance, because I am not learning the lessons that the law of God has to teach me.

    The core Christian message is somewhat profound in the regard that it points out this problem of self righteousness. The problem is that in making this Guarantee of eternal life, outside of observance, you end up with a self righteousness that is 1000% worse than what you had before.

    Let me give you an example to illustrate, You said,

    “I believe a Christian , Catholic , Protestant , Mormon or anyone is able to have a good relationship with God provided they believe in Jesus as their Lord and Messiah.”

    All of these groups above have spent centuries in bloody arguments over how to properly worship Jesus. They all argue about which is true vs which is heretical. Our history is littered with evidence of these groups killing each other, despite their shared insistence that humans MUST WORSHIP JESUS.

    If I look to Jesus himself, he did not give a doctrinal exam prior to telling people whether they were good or bad. The good thief on the cross who was told “today you will be with me in paradise” knew NOTHING about Jesus’ alleged true nature, knew nothing of the trinity, the status of Mary’s virginity, etc.

    All that man had going for him is that he stood up for an innocent man, when he had nothing to gain by it, because Jesus did not deserve to die.

    The Christian guarantee of eternal salvation through confession of Jesus as lord makes it impossible to live out something like the parable of the good Samaritan.

    In that parable, Jesus is saying, the person who existed outside of his covenant community, outside of his group’s interpretations, eschatology, etc. was blessed by God because they DID the right thing.

    The second that a Christian says “you must make confession that Jesus is lord” you “rebuild the wall of enmity that was allegedly torn down.”

    Christians say with impunity “I am going to heaven because I believe in Jesus, while all others go to hell because they did not believe in the name of the only begotten son of God.”

    I did not get out of the Church by abandoning the example of Jesus, but by seeing that the actual faith he lived out was being marred by the worshipful devotion people gave him.

    Even in the Christian scriptures it says “all things will be under his feet, save the one who put all things under him. He will hand the kingdom to the father that God will be all in all.

    This devotion to Jesus because there is a Guarantee of eternal life is the very thing that clouds his students from actually embodying the message that he brought to them via 3 years of example.

    • Sharon S says:

      Hi Concerned Reader,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on what I stated as my idea of a good relationship with God-“To be assured that my sins are forgiven and that I am guaranteed eternal life.”

      To be assured that one’s sins are forgiven and one is guaranteed eternal life is an important message of the Gospel, yet it is understood and applied differently by the different denominations within Christianity. Evangelical Christianity, which accounts for 40% of the world Christian population, teaches that this promise is available for the one who believes in Jesus as Lord and Messiah apart from works. Orthodox Christianity, which accounts for 60% of the world Christian population, teaches that one believe in this assurance AND perform good deeds to merit forgiveness and eternal life.

      I do agree with you that the doctrine of salvation apart from works portrays Jewish observance in a negative light and is far from the truth. I learnt from the Talmud that Halachic observance is important. However the Talmud is quick to criticize those who perform these observances mindlessly, or those who perform these observances but are unkind to others. I understand that the Talmud values and teaches simple acts of kindness by random ordinary individuals. There are incidences described in the Talmud where a community is spared of famine or other calamity due to simple acts of kindness of individuals within that community.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, the assurance /provision for one’s sins to be forgiven or the ability to have a good life in the world to come is a common theme in the teachings of most major religions in the world. This is a question most people of faith will ask in their spiritual journey. The Torah does not state clearly of the existence of an afterlife. It is the Jewish tradition i.e the Pharisaic tradition-the surviving tradition in Judaism which advocates this. As such we can see that even the Jewish people have the same concerns in their relationship with God and have incorporated these provisions in their tradition.

      However, I pointed out in my earlier comments that there are minimal assurance that a righteous non Jew’s ( a non Jew who worship the God Jews pray to) sins are forgiven or that he/she will have eternal life . I shared the example of Yom Kippur in my first comment to this thread . Non-Jews do not know that God judge them on Rosh Hashanah , nor aware there is a certain period where one can appeal to God for a lenient decree. The righteous non Jew knows these , but I don’t think they can appeal to God for a lenient decree like their Jewish counterparts.

      As such , as a person of faith , I consider the above statement as an important criteria for one to have a good relationship with God. I was raised to understand God and spirituality as per New Testament theology , as such my aspirations for a good relationship with God is modeled after the New Testament. However all the criteria I listed earlier, including the statement you quoted is the aspiration of all people of faith hope to have in their spiritual journey.

      • LarryB says:

        Sharon
        You seek an equitable relationship with God. Complete with guarantees. Equal beings.
        You do your part, God does his, = happy ending for both. Nirvana/Heaven.
        I think Yom Kippur goes something like this,
        Yom Kippur marks the end of the period of judgment begun on Rosh Hashanah, the final chance to return wholeheartedly to God and receive His forgiveness. On this day God’s hands are opened wide, eagerly awaiting our repentance and reconciliation.
        No guarantee. No Equity. There cannot be. Heaven is not discussed in order to emphasize the necessity to do what’s right because it’s right, not for the reward, or to avoid punishment.

        • Sharon S says:

          Hi LarryB,

          I had not noticed your comment. No , I do not seek an equitable relationship with God complete with guarantees. It seems you have misunderstood my position because of the frequent use of the word “assurance” in my comments.

          I am fully aware that the God Jews pray to do not give assurances/guarantees to His own people that their sins will be completely forgiven or that they have a place in the world to come , as such I am aware that such assurance/guarantees will not be available to me either. It is all about doing your best and that Heaven will decide. As such I am aware and prepared to accept this even before I decided to leave the Catholic faith.

          However I learnt that the God that the Jewish people pray to does provide for His people “ the final chance to return wholeheartedly to God and receive His forgiveness.” . On Yom Kippur “God’s hands are opened wide, eagerly awaiting our repentance and reconciliation”. Are non-Jews who pray to the God that the Jewish people pray to able to tap into these opportunities as well? This is what I am concerned about.

          Think about this Larry. We know that on Rosh Hashanah, all human beings are judged, that includes you, me, our families, everyone. They don’t know but we know about this. We know that there is a 10 day period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur where the Jewish people are able to appeal to God for a lenient decree. Are believing non-Jews like us able to appeal to God for a lenient decree as well? Will God listen to the sincere prayers of a non Jew at this time? Are we allowed to show God how sorry we are for our sins by afflicting ourselves on Yom Kippur like our Jewish brethren?

          This is what I am concerned about and you can see that I bring this up in my comments here. This concern is a subset of a major concerns I have as a non-Jew who prays to the God that the Jewish people pray to as follows:
          •I appreciate the lights of Shabbat, the Temple, the festivals, Chanukah, Purim, etc. Unfortunately I am only able to see these lights from afar . I am not able to experience its direct illumination in my life. I know when Friday nights draw near that Shabbat has descended, but I cannot commemorate this special day, which occurs every week. Same goes for festivals like Pesach, Shavuos, Sukkos and so forth. I know these are special days , but I am not able to commemorate these days as I am not Jewish.
          •Does God, like the Jewish sages, see me differently for being born a gentile and a woman?
          •I want to practice what I have learnt in Judaism but I am not able to practice most of what I learnt as I am not Jewish. So why should I continue to learn?
          •What will become of my future if I worship the God that the Jewish people pray to?

          I do not wish for any non Jew who wants to worship the God of Israel in truth to go through the same journey and ask the same questions I asked in this blog and in my own life, which is why I bring up these concerns in a public platform .In my opinion , it is much better for non Jews to convert to Judaism and join the Jewish people if they want to have a true AND fulfilling relationship with the God of Israel.

          • Sharon S God accepts anyone’s repentance at any time – the story of Jonah and Nineveh (which we read on Yom Kippur) amply illustrates that truth. Yom Kippur is an additional gift granted to the Jewish people which does not diminish your access to God.

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • Dina says:

            Hi Sharon,

            You wrote that you believe that gentiles must convert to Judaism to have a fulfilling relationship with God. That is the opposite of what we believe. We discourage conversion BECAUSE it’s easier to be a righteous gentile than a righteous Jew AND have a deep and meaningful connection to God.

            I believe that the way to deepen our relationship with God is to improve our relationships with His children and treat them well. When the potential convert approached Hillel and demanded to be taught the Torah while standing on one foot, Hillel told him: What is hateful to you do not do to others. The rest is commentary–go and learn it.

            Rabbi Akiva said: Love your fellow as yourself–this is a fundamental principle of the Torah.

            There is no reason that non-Jews cannot live their lives according to these teachings.

            On the other hand–and again, I am citing my personal beliefs–the ritual observances in the Torah serve the purpose (among others, no doubt) of maintaining the survival of the Jewish people as an entity. Jews who fall away from these observances ultimately lose their Jewish line within a few generations, almost without exception. The vast majority of Jews who keep these observances sustain their Jewish line. That is why I think you do not need to worry about this part of the Torah’s teachings and that the ethical/moral teachings are sufficient.

          • Sharon S says:

            Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal,

            The people of Nineveh only knew they were under God’s judgement when Jonah announced it to them. They repented and the judgement did not come to pass.

            Most of humanity do not know they are being judged on Rosh Hashanah. Perhaps , if you point this out to the people you meet ,or share this in your video , or write about it on this blog , perhaps those who read your material may repent.

            Apologies if my comment offends.

        • Sharon S says:

          Hi Dina,

          Thank you for sharing your thoughts on non Jews and conversion to Judaism.

          The principles of Hillel and Akiva , as well as the teaching to improve our relationship with others is incorporated in the Gospels. I could just live out these teachings even if I remain a Catholic. Why go through the bother of leaving my faith behind when I can just live out these ethical teachings as a Catholic?

          A non Jew who wants to be close to the God of Israel would surely want to learn the Torah-the expression of His will to the Jewish people. As such , the non Jew will come to learn and appreciate the ritual observances as it forms the significant portion of the Torah. I left my faith and pursued the path of Judaism for a few years now. I have learnt about these observances in great detail .

          As a non Jew , I know when Friday nights draw near that Shabbat has descended. However this is what I knowingly do on Shabbat and Festivals –I treat these days as any other ordinary day , even though I know the significance of these days , because I am not permitted to commemorate these days even though I worship the God of the Torah. Sad isn’t it?

          According to Isaiah 56:6-7 ,God will bring foreigners who “keep the Sabbath without desecrating it” and who who hold fast to His covenant to His holy mountain . It is very clear that the foreigner here is the Jewish convert , not the Gentile.

          My apologies for bringing this up, I remembered you wrote a parable describing a relationship between a Jew , Gentile and a Christian at the following link https://judaismresources.net/2019/12/22/how-not-to-respond-to-a-christian-missionary-part-1/#comment-81766 . You described a couple who has 3 children , 1 living next door (the Jew) and 2 living halfway across the world (the Gentile and Christian) and the nature of their relationships. This parable is intended to be a metaphor describing the relationship of a Jew, Gentile and a Christian with God (i.e the God that Jews pray to). You explained that a Gentile have a “lesser” relation as compared to the Jew but more fulfilling relationship with God as compared to a Christian.

          I found your parable difficult to take in initially. However eventually I come to realize you were accurate in your depiction of these relationships in my comment here https://judaismresources.net/2019/12/22/how-not-to-respond-to-a-christian-missionary-part-1/#comment-160089. I shared my experience as a Gentile learning about Judaism and identified myself with John , the child who is living halfway across the world from his parents, Bob and Jill as described in your parable.

          Your parable left a big impression on me and it describes where I stand in my relationship with the God of Israel. I hope that you will take the time to read the parable which you wrote and my response to it, perhaps you will get an idea of where I am coming from.

          • Dina says:

            Sharon, I do remember the parable and your response. I seem to remember writing back to you about that. Perhaps next week I will have the time to peruse them again.

            You ask why bother leaving the Catholic faith if you can follow these teachings anyway. Why would you want to stay in a faith that is expressly forbidden by God? If your relationship with God is important to you, why would worshipping Jesus, which God has forbidden for Jew and gentile alike, help you have a better relationship?

            I’m not minimizing the difficulty of leaving a faith that had been central to your life and to your family and the emotional upheaval that accompanies such a decision. That is a different discussion. Here, I am addressing only the argument.

          • Sharon S says:

            Hi Dina,

            I would like to respond to your comment.

            Most  people are already doing what God requires of us i.e improve our relationship with His children within our belief systems. There are people who do this exceedingly well even though their belief systems may not align with yours. I learnt that God judge a person according to his/her deeds. Does God disregard the good deeds of an  idol worshipper just because this person is engaging in a false relationship?

            I pray to your God every morning by relying on the Ashkenazi Siddur (Shacharit weekday prayers) available online. I recite the prayers that are applicable to non Jews such as the Modeh Ani, Asher Yatzar, Elokai Neshama ,Adom Olam and Yigdal. I then come to the section on morning blessings and come across verses blessings to the King of the Universe , who did not make “me a Gentile”, who did not make “me a slave” and who did not make “me a woman”. Obviously these prayers are not applicable to me, but I am very aware that these prayers are about me ( a gentile and a woman) .

            We have had  conversation on these blessings in this very blog and I heard your views. I learnt from this blog and other places that these prayers are a gesture of humility on the part of the Jewish man and I should not take this seriously. I don’t know about you, but coming across these verses as I am trying to  pray to your God every morning does dent my perception of Him significantly. I can  ignore this Siddur and pray in my own way, yet these blessings are etched in my mind and it is difficult to shake it off.

            You asked “Why would you want to stay in a faith that is expressly forbidden by God?”.  The faith I left behind teaches me   that there is no distinction between Jew or Gentile , slave or free , male or female ( Galatians 3:29) in Jesus. This faith offers me a relationship that your God is not able to offer to me as a non Jew.This is important to me.

            Again, these are my personal views and this does not reflect the views of the many non Jews who have a fulfilling relationship with your God.

          • LarryB says:

            Sharon
            ” I don’t know about you, but coming across these verses as I am trying to pray to your God every morning does dent my perception of Him significantly. I can ignore this Siddur and pray in my own way, yet these blessings are etched in my mind and it is difficult to shake it off.”
            I had a problem at first when reading some of the blessings you talk about until I was told the reasons why.
            There are many different teachings among all the teachings that one must come to grip with, Imagine a Jewish convert to catholism or any of the christian religions with
            “You are from your father, the devil, and you prefer to do what your father wants. He was a murderer from the start; he was never grounded in the truth; there is no truth in him at all. When he lies he is speaking true to his nature, because he is a liar, and the father of lies.”

            Basically Jews worship the devil. Ouch

          • Sharon S says:

            LarryB,

            I fully agree with you. A Jew who converts to Catholicism ( if there is a Jew who does so out of his/her convictiom-big mistake) will have to grapple with the text you quoted. A Jew or Christian who convert to Islam will havr to grapple with problematic teachings there too.

            There are problematic texts in every religious tradition. Ouch.

      • Dina says:

        Hi Sharon,

        You are concerned that Judaism does not teach that non-Jews can have eternal life. But traditional Jews hold that the human soul is immortal. When God created Adam, who was not Jewish, He breathed into him the breath of life, called the neshama in Hebrew and soul in English. This is the immortal part of the human being. It does not die, no matter whether the human who housed it was Jew or gentile, righteous or wicked.

        • Sharon S says:

          Hi Dina,

          Thank you for your sharing on non Jews and eternal life. It makes perfect sense.

          A question- God commanded Adam in Genesis 2:15-“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

          If we understand Adam’s breath of life as the soul , then Adam should have died after eating the forbidden fruit, yet he survived. Is the breath of life as described in Genesis 2:7 same as the soul? Or is it something else?

          • Dina says:

            Sharon, according to our tradition, Adam was supposed to live forever in the physical realm. Eating the forbidden fruit triggered the consequence of finite lifetimes for the human body, not the soul.

    • Larry B and Concerned Reader Thank you for sharing these insightful comments!

      1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

    • Dina says:

      Hi Con,

      I love most of what you wrote here, with your usual eloquence and sensitivity.

      I disagree, however, with your characterization of Christianity’s critique of Jews’ observance of halacha while treating others poorly, as profound.

      It’s not profound–it’s a critique based on a profound misunderstanding of Judaism.

      Halacha guides all aspects of our lives, including our interactions with others. If someone follows halacha with 100% strictness, he cannot treat others badly because he would then be violating halacha. It is a halachic transgression to, among other things, use words to hurt someone’s feelings; contradict your parents to their face, call them names, or curse them; evade taxes; ignore the plight of the widow and orphan, etc. The Biblical commandments are examples of halacha, so one who is strictly observing halacha would not hate his brother in his heart, would love his fellow as himself, would render aid to his enemies, would never gossip, and so on and so forth.

      The Bible itself commands us to “Be holy for I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). In our tradition, this means to be holy even with that which is permitted. The classic example of this is being restrained in our alcoholic consumption.

      So if someone is following the Biblical commandments with all their halachic interpretations, it is impossible for him or her to be anything other than a stellar human being.

      Finally, long before Christianity came up with this profound criticism, Isaiah scolded the Jewish people for their hypocrisy in observing the fast days while pursuing business and demanding payment from their debtors. He reminds them that this is not the fasting that God wants, but to remove their wickedness, feed the hungry, care for others. Read Chapter 58 and you will see that the problem of hypocritical piety is not a new phenomenon, and Judaism had repudiated it long before Jesus came along. Judaism recognizes that this is an aspect of the human condition that we must strive to overcome.

  3. Concerned Reader says:

    Dina maybe I should have phrased that part about the profundity of the Christian criticism differently. It was profound for the period when it was written, to that time’s circumstances.

    I am not saying that the text’s criticism would hold much water today, nor even would it work as much of a criticism of what was later codified as proper in the Mishna and Talmuds, since those works actually criticized the same groups as the New Testament criticized ironically enough.

    Its also to the Talmud’s credit that it levied these criticisms without making the broad strokes generalizations that we find in Christian literature, and also without going global hate train and becoming fuel for antisemitism when read by gentiles.

    When the epistles and gospels were 1st written, we know that there was more than one sect. These sects argued, sometimes to the point of violence over what the proper way to observe was, and also about Rome.

    Both Jewish and Christian literature testifies to this, extra biblical information sure does, and history does. The earliest Christian scriptures were written while the temple still stood, while there was a Sanhedrin with Sadducees and Pharisees involved, under a priesthood few were fans of, etc.

    Christianity, and its writings (being written from about 55-135 CE) are 1st century documents,attempting at making a criticism of what I would say were circumstances of that period, and the criticism it levies even applies within the gospels themselves even to inter-christian debate. And we all know from even cursory glances at Christian history, they were always killing each other. Groups of Christians couldn’t get along.Debate between Paul’s school of Christian thought, and that of James for example, and the gnostics.

    Its almost apples and oranges to say that the Christian book’s criticism would apply to Judaism post temple. Its message, or the sentiment was profound, not to claim its effective.

    Looking at the stringency and even the rhetoric found in sources like the DSS, its clear that there

    • Dina says:

      A huge problem with the Christian scriptural criticism of the Jews generally is that it was leveled against them just around the time that they were or had just been slaughtered in the tens (and possibly hundreds) of thousands and forced into exile by the Romans. There is nothing benign about this criticism. It is entirely malicious, and given the time period in which it was written and its target audience (not the Jews), entirely indefensible.

      Unlike the Hebrew prophets, who directly addressed the Jewish people, exhorted them to repentance, and offered consolation as well, the Christian scriptural criticism is ABOUT the Jewish people and offers them no comfort.

      For these reasons, I cannot agree with your assessment that the time period makes the criticism relevant and profound.

  4. Sharon S says:

    Rabbi Blumenthal, LarryB , Dina & Concerned Reader,

    Thank you for your comments on the concerns I have with Rabbi Blumenthal’s video and the relationship between the non Jew and the God of the Jewish people.

    I respect Rabbi Blumenthal’s position to share the truth . I appreciate that through this conversation , Rabbi Blumenthal has come to  acknowledge the challenges that non Jews go through  after leaving Christianity and pursuing the God that the Jewish people pray to.

    I apologize for imposing my own struggles in this page. These struggles are due to my own personal weakness . In truth ,there are many non Jews out there who have developed a fulfilling relationship with the God of Israel without the need to become Jewish.

    As such, I will bow out of this conversation. Once again, I appreciate your inspiring comments.

    • Dina says:

      Hi Sharon,

      We all struggle. It’s not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of being human. In fact, the name given to the Jewish people, Israel, literally means to struggle with God. When Jacob fought the angel, he named him Israel because he struggled with God (the angel, who is God’s emissary) and he triumphed! (This works in Hebrew, of course.)

    • LarryB says:

      Sharon
      it’s very difficult to change the religion we grew up with, believed in our heart was the way. Now that it is our decision to make, we don’t want to make the same mistake again there just isn’t enough time. In order to keep peace in the family I haven’t told my family what to believe nor do I tell them what I believe, except my father who recently passed away. We didn’t discuss religion either. Although, the rest are a little tired or maybe suspicious that for everything they bring up in the new testament or belief I counter in the positive, what the torah says. My wife will stay catholic without the belief that Jesus is god which makes it easy at home. Not to much religious talk at home is good. Basically I have no one to talk to. It can be a struggle at times. Good Luck!

      • Sharon S says:

        Hi LarryB,

        I stated in my previous comment that I will bow out of this conversation. However I identify strongly with your sharing that I feel I need to respond.

        I’m surprised to hear that you come from a Catholic background. I identify with your experience as I have a similar experience with my family as well. I don’t tell them what I believe or what they should believe. My parents know I no longer attend Mass or living the Catholic life but they do have hopes for me to return to the faith when I am ready.

        You stated your wife will stay “catholic without the belief that Jesus is god”. Interesting term. I was a “catholic without the belief that Jesus is god” for almost 20 years. Catholicism, more than any other Christian denomination (apart from Eastern Orthodox denominations) , explicitly demands worship of Jesus ,which is so obvious in the rituals of the Mass and the imagery one sees in a Catholic church. I attended Mass in body , but did not participate fully in it in spirit . I did not participate in communion either.

        What I want to say is , from my experience, it is impossible to stay “catholic without the belief that Jesus is god” in the long run. I was one for many years –it is comfortable to remain in the trappings of Catholic life , but my inner beliefs does not align with my outward behavior .I find myself asking this question-where do I stand? If I die and stand before my Creator in this state, how can I justify this to Him?

        My advice is this-If your wife does not believe Jesus is God, she should stop attending Mass , block rosary prayers, etc. Make clear where do you stand as a family .This is what I did and I found a sense of freedom, an euphoria when I let go of all these trappings. My inner beliefs and outward behavior align with each other.

        I feel I need to share this with you for your consideration. Good luck.

  5. Concerned Reader says:

    A huge problem with the Christian scriptural criticism of the Jews generally is that it was leveled against them just around the time that they were or had just been slaughtered in the tens (and possibly hundreds) of thousands and forced into exile by the Romans.

    Dina, you are right, that was a huge problem. I never claimed the criticism was benign, in fact since I mentioned that the Christians were killing each other around this time, I think I acknowledged its anything but benign. I even said, its profound even though they fail to live up to the message,

    To me, its profound in that it highlights a problem common in all religions, not just Abrahamic ones. Its almost a blanket criticism of faith first thinking. Christians don’t take the advice, so it doesn’t work.

    If I believe that a divinity has given me the TRUEST guide to life, and I believe I need to have faith and follow it with full devotion to receive blessing, (which scripture claims for itself) its hard for any person to question it, and very hard to go against the grain if what I am being told to do or believe is actually wrong.

    Its also very hard for a religious person to look at another community as a good faith actor while believing that their way is the truest one.

    When the Christian Bible teaches that what you do, and your markers of community membership cant by default make you godly, (as in the parable of the good Samaritan) it opens the door to the very real possibility for a person that “hey, I might actually be wrong about something, and I should be able to reevaluate, even if God said it.”

    Part of what lead me out of Christianity in the 1st place was that very lesson that I should be cautious of following norms and belief just for the sake of norms and belief. When interacting with other Christians, I shouldn’t just by default think “hey, they are heaven bound and great just because they are Christians.”

    Likewise, I shouldn’t look at a Jewish person through the lens of Christian interpretation and think “well, I guess they don’t confess Jesus = hell.”

    I have to ignore covenant membership, preexisting beliefs, and look at the deeds of the person.

    The Christians did not live up to that lesson, they were horrible in fact, but that lesson is in there, a lesson they choose to ignore, and a useful lesson.

    I’m not even going to claim that its exclusively a Christian message, merely that I personally find it profound. I am not demanding that anyone agree with me about that, lol as it would defeat the purpose of said lesson.

  6. Concerned Reader says:

    What I want to say is , from my experience, it is impossible to stay “catholic without the belief that Jesus is god

    Sharon, I would say that christology is a contradictory sticky business, even in the most orthodox of circles, and that by the time a christian actually gets to calling Jesus “God” Jesus has already been defined out of the role of deity (in terms of a deity desiring of being served or desiring prayer, etc.) by being described as coming down among people for a purpose. I would say you would be fine, so long as nobody issues you a doctrine test.

    I would also say even the Christians who say in earnest that he isn’t god still have the devotion which makes them essentially orthodox in practice anyway.

    The Catholic story is that the singular Being of god has three distinct incorporeal personalities, (maybe he has split personality? J/K) one of these personalities willingly temporarily took off its “god ness,” not to be served by people, but to serve people, (philipians 2:7) came down, was born, lived, died, and rose again, and is explicitly said to be like humans in all ways except sin.

    When this personality came down and emptied itself of “its glory” by becoming a person,” IE like the presence in a “tabernacle” the human nature “grew in wisdom” (of who he “really” was?)

    Jesus basically becomes the walking talking chia pet version of the burning bush, who only slowly realizes that he is the burning bush towards the end of his “mission.”

    This would make sense of why this person while on earth did not walk around expressing a desire to be prayed to, to have images of him made, to be called good, or to upstage the one who rightfully bears the title of God IE Hashem.

    As I wrote in my post above, it says things in the gospels like all things are subject to Jesus, except the father. So, Jesus, even while in “god mode” is still functionally subordinate to the father in all Christian teaching. IE “made for a season a little lower than angels.”

    I think it was Jim who once wrote that its easy to understand why Jesus is called God in the Christian religion, though its biblically wrong.

    The Bible says certain characteristics apply only to God uniquely, that he wont share these characteristics, and yet the Christian Bible applies to Jesus the saying and doing of those unique things of his own will and accord.

    So, the Church has to say “well, he’s God in some sense of the term, let us spend 300 years hashing out what we mean in a confusing way.”

    As a result you get the hot mess that is the Church.

    I point this out to my Muslim friends all the time. They say blithely that Christians are just the biggest stupidest Morons for believing Jesus is God.

    I ask them, ” How many creators are there or can there be?” off coarse they answer “one.” I ask “can God share his creator-ness with another?” “no, because creating is not just what God does, its what he is, IE he is the “be-er” of all possible existence, creator is one of his names, but that indicates its his essential characteristic.” IE God cannot do the impossible, such as make a second God.

    I point out to them that Jesus in the Quran is described as creating life from non living matter, something only God does, that only God can do.

    They will say “well, he does it by God’s leave,” ignoring that their own previous statements and beliefs/philosophy about how God properly works would make that sentiment impossible.

    That is why I tell them its a bit hypocritical for them in particular to call the Christians morons for Christian belief in a divine Jesus.

    I would say that the aspect of Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy that requires a person serve Jesus as a deity kind of undercuts the aspect of the Christian story where even if Jesus is God in a body, he is kinda God in incognito mode, keeping secrets from himself. LOL

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