For the past many months an Iranian man (I’ll call him Mahmud) has been writing to me about Israel, Jews, Judaism, Islam, his country and the rest of the Muslim world. Our dialog has been a mix of friendliness and hostility.
This morning, after a long hiatus and no doubt prompted by the events in Israel, he wrote the following to me (I corrected the typos and some grammar to make his words more comprehensible):
I am glad my country [Iran] does not recognize Israel. I hope we never recognize Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu is a dirty pig. Also, Israel is tiny country but it is dangerous to the world. It is a cancer should be removed. I used the Bible as toilet paper. God gives those lands to Jews… haha. Change New Jersey name to Israel, and migrate Jews there.
I wrote the following in reply: Continue reading this post
The gospel authors started the original trend. Since then, Christian bookstores have sold untold number of books outlining hundreds of biblical prophecies, all supposedly predicting the life of Jesus. Clearly then, Christians take great comfort in believing that the appearing of Jesus and the events of his life were prophesied long ago by Israelite prophets, all of whom wrote about him in the “Old Testament”.
There’s also another trend. Whenever I talk to some of the most ardent worshipers of Jesus, it quickly becomes apparent that most of them have not read those “prophecies” in their context. They just took the authors’ word for it and used the supposed “proofs” to prop-up their own faith in Jesus and to evangelize the “unbelievers”. I did exactly that when I became a Christian in my late teens. Many of these Christians have become quite proficient at lifting various passages out of the Hebrew Bible, most often as one sentence proof-texts, much the same way the New Testament authors had done. Few care about the violence they do to the original authors’ intent since they believe that this was the authors’ original intent in the first place. In their mind, they sincerely believe that they are doing what G-d wants them to do and that there’s nothing unethical about their methods. Continue reading this post
Lorenzo Rodriguez, the mayor of Castrillo Matajudios in northern Spain, was scheduled to present the plan at a meeting Wednesday at the seat of the local government in Leon, Radio Arlanzon reported.
In addition to opening a center for studies on the culture of the Sephardim — including Spanish Jews who converted to Christianity or left the Iberian Peninsula because of persecutions during the Spanish Inquisition — Rodriguez also is seeking to initiate archaeological excavations that he said would help clarify how his town of a few dozen families came to be receive its controversial name.
On May 25, a majority of residents at a town hall meeting voted to change the name to Castrillo Mota Judios, meaning “camp Jews’ hill.” Rodriguez, who initiated the vote, believes it was the original name because the town had a sizable Jewish contingent and was changed during or before the Inquisition.
The intention to change the town’s name was published recently in the region’s official publication. If no one objects to the proposal within one month of the publication, then the town may file for an official name change with the district.
In the past few years, Paul Philip Levertoff, a Jewish-born convert to Christianity (he was baptized at age 17 in August 1895, in Konigsberg, East Prussia, after he left his family and the Jewish community) who later embraced Anglicanism (he was later ordained as a priest, becoming a missionary to the Jews), has become somewhat of an icon in the Messianic Jewish movement. Viewed as a pioneer, he’s credited with foreseeing the “rebirth” of the first century Jewish Christianity. In his writings, recently resurrected by the messianic publishing house First Fruits of Zion, Levertoff sought to amalgamate the Hasidic background of his youth with that of Christianity, as he understood it, basing himself on the New Testament and later Christian Trinitarian developments. Of course, he was not the first to do so, as many Jewish converts to Christianity tried to appeal to their former co-coreligionists, with little success, using Talmudic texts, rabbinic writings, and especially the works of Jewish mystics. Levertoff’s specialty was Jewish mysticism found in the Kabbalah and its core text, the Zohar, which he even helped translate to English. He used the Zohar and the writings of Hasidic masters to show that the Hasidic Judaism of his youth was virtually the same as the original first century Christian movement among Jews.
Elliot R. Wolfson, Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University, has written a paper titled Paul Philip Levertoff and the Popularization of Kabbalah as a Missionizing Tactic. It can be viewed here.
“We, the Jews, collectively rejected God and hung Him up on a cross to die, and thus we deserved the punishments that were heaped on our heads over the last 2000 years” - from an essay titled Why Us?, written by an anonymous Jewish convert to Christianity for Harvard Ichthus Christian journal.
Many Christians, among them those who were born Jewish, believe that Israel fully deserved the two thousand years of persecutions and atrocities it suffered first at the hands of the Romans legions and then of Rome’s descendants, the European Christians. These Christians believe that according to the New Testament Jews rejected and killed Jesus, “G-d in the flesh”, and because of that G-d has ordained, or at least allowed, as a form of justice, the persecutions and murders that befell that Jewish people. (Needless to say, Jews themselves have a wholly different understanding of the true reasons behind their exile, and some of these reasons are even positive and beneficial for the world). In other words, some people believe that it was G-d’s will to punish the Jewish people so severely. However, what does G-d Himself think? During the previous exile, in Babylonia, G-d has laid out His own feelings about this subject:
A frequent visitor to my blog, Concerned Reader, a Christian, posed the following question to me:
“Gene, I have serious questions for you. If the Christians have been deceived into believing a false prophet that G-d sent to test Israel, how are the gentiles supposed to trust G-d, or to trust his true messengers?”
What is one of the tests of a true prophet of G-d according to Bible? Deuteronomy 18:22 tells us that his predictions must come true otherwise we are to reject him. Jesus and/or the writers and editors of the New Testament have made numerous predictions of his speedy return, even within the lifetime of his immediate followers. But, here we are, two thousand years later, and from our vantage point, no matter who we are, Jews or Gentiles, we can see the rather dramatic failure of his prophecies to materialize. The Jewish people have always pointed out this, what should have been quite obvious, fact to Christians. Let us examine this issue closely.
This year, a year that I have returned to Judaism and left idolatry behind like a long bad dream, has been an especially exciting one for me. It started with Yom Kippur. It was a solemn yet joyful holy day that I have spent with my wife and kids in a beautiful hotel, with services organized by a local shul where I have good friends and often daven. The feeling was indescribable. Although I was surrounded by throngs of my fellow Jews, in unison crying out to G-d, thanking Him for His never ending mercies, I felt that it was just me alone with Hashem. Continue reading this post