I have not posted on my blog for quite a while. That’s because I have been incredibly busy with my family’s aliyah preparations. So many last-minute things to take care of….we are running on fumes, but this is all for good. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that we are actually doing this. A few decades ago I came to America and although we had our struggles adjusting to the new country, soon enough it became quite comfortable for us. It became known and familiar as we dug our roots ever deeper into its soil. It’s hard to get out of your comfort zone, to step into a very different realm, new country, new language, new culture, new ways of living. Being immigrants is not easy, and starting over again is very hard. I know, I’ve done it once before. However, this new “realm”, the Land of Israel, is our true and only home. That’s where G-d wants every Jew. It has its own comforts, far beyond the material. Hashem has blessed us beyond measure to get us to this very point and next week, G-d willing, we will set our feet (permanently this time) on the holy soil of Eretz Yisrael. My kids are excited, but I doubt they realize the big changes that await them in the “land of the living”. I doubt that I realize it myself. But here we go….
By Gene Shlomovich
To you the nations send their kisses,
But few did contemplate your end.
Exalting mortals to the heavens,
Against Eternal they rebelled.
They croon, “how lovely is our savior!”,
Like us became he, just to die.
Is he not worthy of our worship,
Won’t he be coming from the sky? Read more…
Christians and their Messianic coreligionists are always on lookout for the latest “Jewish evidence for validity of Christianity and Jesus”, that is any information that can be gleaned from Jewish sources that they believe can help support their Christian belief system and could be utilized to missionize the Jewish people. Quotes from rabbis, past or present, are especially popular, and few rabbis are as popular these days among Jesus-worshipers as one Daniel Boyarin, a professor who penned a sensationalist book titled “The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ”. This book has become a best seller for Christians and Messianics everywhere, endlessly quoted by them in their books, articles and blogs, with “proofs” contained therein rubbed in Jewish faces and used in Jewish evangelism.
But few Christians and Messianics, excited as they are to have found an avid Jewish advocate for Jesus and Christianity, know about Professor Daniel Boyarin and his other views. Perhaps they would have started taking his sensationalist opinions with a grain of salt. Thankfully, an article posted recently on Arutz Sheva news website granted us a closer look. Read more…
Christianity makes a claim that Jesus was not only “god” in a human body, but also a “sacrificial lamb” whose death atoned for the innumerable sins of billions of people, past, present and future. Although one would be hard-pressed to find support for such an idea in the Hebrew Bible, for hundreds of years Christian theology has taken it for granted that its idea of G-d becoming His own servant and then executing Himself (or rather an “avatar” version of Himself, a deity with human flesh on) to pay for the sins of His creatures is completely in accord with the Jewish scriptures. Not only that, Christians believe this is what G-d intended to do all along. (It’s too bad that Jews can’t seem to find the “obvious” clues in their own scriptures.)
So, was Jesus really sacrificed to rescue all of us from ourselves and to reconcile all “sinners” with G-d? For Christians completely immersed into the Christian worldview it’s preposterous to even consider such a question. How dare?! But to an outside observer, especially one who is familiar with the Hebrew Bible, it obvious that not only was Jesus not sacrificed “according to Biblical regulations”, he wasn’t sacrificed at all.
Jesus was killed the same way all other Jewish criminals and rebels against Rome at the time were killed – by the Romans, using a distinctly Roman method of execution. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were executed by the Romans or killed during Roman military onslaughts. One could say that they were slaughtered “like sheep”, but they were not sacrificed and their deaths paid for nobody’s sins. Besides, as the Bible teaches, each person is responsible for his own sin (Deuteronomy 24:16). Jesus was a messianic pretender, one among many, before him and after him. He wasn’t a sinless person (since there’s no such thing) and in fact, if what NT records about him is true, he was a great sinner because he was a false prophet and teacher who deceived many.
It’s true – there are many good Christians today who want nothing but to help their fellow human beings. I know quite a few myself. They are kind, generous and friendly, and unlike their predecessors, even toward the “unbelieving Jews”. However, it’s equally true that the religion founded on worshiping a Jewish man as if he were god was a catalyst for terrible hatred, suffering and death to millions of Jesus’ own countrymen as well as horrific treatment of the millions of others who were forcibly converted or slaughtered for resisting Christianity.
Some would object by saying that Christianity’s acquisition of political power is what ultimately corrupted the once “pure” message. I get it, perhaps this is so, at least on some level. Yes, religion in the hands of a political power can be a terrible thing. However, even if we were to excuse all of this pain inflicted in the name of Jesus on humanity by claiming that his followers were mere “failed” human beings, we should not forget about Jesus’ own failings that started it all. We should still remember that Jesus’ own teachings (as recorded in the New Testament, faithfully or not) sowed the seeds of hatred for those who rejected him, especially Jews. They sowed a great deal of confusion and division, chiefly among his own followers, which persist to this day. We should also not forget that his prophecies of speedy return in the lifetime of his own followers and even foes who were his contemporaries failed miserably, forever branding him a false prophet in Jewish eyes and in the eyes of those who can judge Jesus objectively. Was he the same sort of “prophet” that we still see in our own day and age when we witness the numerous and invariably Christian “prophets” predicting the end of the world in the lifetime of their own followers? Was Jesus misunderstood and were his original teachings corrupted by later church scribes? We may never know what really happened. What becomes clear, however, is that in Jesus one could hardly find a less acceptable sacrifice to reconcile us with G-d, at least from a Jewish point of view. Which makes me thankful to the G-d of Israel that He is already near to all who call upon Him, to those who do so in truth (Psalm 145:18).
I know that I have at times been quite critical of Messianic Judaism, a movement of ethnic Jews within Christianity who worship Yeshua as G-d and see him as the messiah. But today I’ve come to realization that Jesus and the Messianic Movement that worships him is what all Jews need to embrace if we are to survive as a people. Here are some reasons for my change of heart:
- Holocaust education can only achieve so much. By embracing Christianity and Jesus/Yeshua the Jewish people can be far better positioned to help Christians get rid of their ancient prejudices and realize that Jews are not so bad after all. It will be much harder to accuse Jews of deicide (murder of god Jesus) when they all love Jesus as much as the Christians.
- Perhaps Jesus/Yeshua is a deity and messiah after all. I mean, there’s no way to prove with 100% certainty that he is not, am I right? As Christians like to say, G-d can do anything, so why limit Him? Since this is the case, embracing Jesus will be a kind of an insurance policy for Jews, you know, in case we were actually wrong about him for the last two thousand years. For the very same reason, may be the Jewish people should accept Muslim beliefs as well, since they are almost as popular as the Christian ones and just as dangerous for Jews, if not more so, and we can’t prove that they are 100% nonsensical either. After all, nobody wants to end up embarrassed for making a bad decision, especially since so many people are already telling you that you are doing it all wrong.
- Jesus would have surely approved Jews and Christians intermarrying, since he told all his disciples to love one another and to join one big sheep pen. Christians and Jews mixing together the way some of them already do in Christianity/Messianic Judaism is perhaps a perfect solution for the angst some Jews feel about the rampant Jewish assimilation and intermarriage. Consider that in biology the strongest individuals are those demonstrating the so called hybrid vigor. I propose that Jews intermarrying with Gentiles in the Messianic Movement will equally produce strong “messianic people”, ready to take on the world, not bound to any specific group, especially by ethnicity. All things to all people is the best way to go, to paraphrase Apostle Paul.
- Christians always warn us that Jesus may come back very soon, at any moment (after all, he promised and he was never wrong about anything) and will destroy all unbelievers, including Jews who refuse to bow their knee to him. But what if the Christians are right? If someone told me over and over that so and so is coming to hurt me, would I not get ready for it and not simply brush it off as nonsense? Of course I would prepare, perhaps arm myself with some weapons or call the police! What better way to be ready than for Jews to start believing in Jesus and avoid this problem in the first place. This way, may be he’ll go with his wrath after some other folks, like the Muslims. Well, may be not the Muslims, since they too already believe in Jesus. But you know what I mean.
Christianity claims that by rejecting Jesus, by not accepting him either as messiah or a deity, Jews (those who survive death and destruction of being judged by G-d for their refusal to worship Jesus) will be shamefaced when Jesus finally returns. The Jewish people(but apparently not the Romans) will horrible for “murdering Jesus” 2000 years ago and will collectively cry about it. Is there any truth to these claims and what does the Hebrew Bible have to say about it?
Many Christians (including their Hebrew Roots or messianic co-religionists) believe that the Jewish people will not celebrate and rejoice when their messiah comes, as Jews believed for thousands of years. At least this will certainly not be their first reaction at all. Christianity has always held and still does, that Jews will instead grieve and mourn when Jesus returns to earth during his “second coming”. Jews will be ashamed and embarrassed at the sight of Jesus! According to many Christians, the whole of Israel will be stricken to its heart because “they killed Jesus” during his first coming, have “sinfully” rejected him both as messiah and god, and thus suffered all this time for obstinately refusing to worship Jesus as god or the the son of G-d. But will this really be the case or are these Christians grossly mistaken in their view of the future of Israel? Will Jews really mourn their disbelief in Jesus as many in the Christendom predict? Or…
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Article: No Religious Coexistence – A refutation of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s “Orthodox Rabbinic Statement on Christianity”
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim
A refutation of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s “Orthodox Rabbinic Statement on Christianity,” and a clarification of Torah’s true view of Christianity based on God’s words and the prophets.
God equates with truth, and no consideration must obscure those truths. For by obscuring truth, we mislead ourselves, other Jews, and gentiles. Jews and Christians share a close relationship today built on honesty and openness. As religions conflict on core tenets, religionists agree that all religions cannot be God’s word, for He does not contradict Himself. Only one religion is God’s word. Intelligence alone will determine this.
In his “Orthodox Rabbinic Statement on Christianity”, Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin writes: Read more…