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Should Messianic Jews be allowed to make aliyah into Israel?

September 22, 2015

jesus-worshipFrom a recent messianic blog post titled Let Messianic Jews Make Aliyah To Israel

…… Messianic Jews desperately need the same protections as any other Jews for we, too, are in danger of being targeted and killed. To deny them entrance to their homeland, is tantamount to reaching the shores of a safe haven in a ship filled with those who paid all they had in order to escape the Nazi concentration camps only to be turned away by those countries and sent back to suffer that eventual fate.

I, too, am a Messianic believer and have lived in Israel for more than 20 years.  I am a homeowner, beloved and respected in my neighbourhood.  I am a career person who has been gainfully employed in the field of education almost since my arrival to the land.  In fact, I have been a member of a kibbutz and graciously accepted by those living there.  I have contributed in many significant ways to the economy and social fabric of this society, and I am able to have done so simply because I immigrated at a time when Google nor Nefesh b’Nefesh existed.  Today, I would also be locked out…..

It is time for the doors to be opened and welcoming to all Jews regardless of their opinions and views, so long as they are willing to live as law-abiding citizens with respect and deference to others and to their government.  It is time to put aside this particular phobia and accept the fact that Jews do not come in one size and shape.  Among the Jews in the Land are those who are Buddhists, Scientologists, and even Jews who don’t believe in the existence of any God and reject or even abhor religion and Jewish observance.  All are afforded the right to live here and the protection which comes with that right…

My reply:

Former “Messianic Jew” here…. During my many years as a Jesus-worshiper, I too felt very sad and indignant that “Messianic Jews” like me were officially barred entry into Israel. I mean, they let everyone else in, right? However, I have since seen the providential wisdom behind this. The reason that Jewish-born converts to Christianity (i.e. Jews who worship a deified dead man Jesus/Yeshua as a deity) pose a danger to other Jews in Israel (and elsewhere) is because they are religiously obligated / commanded by the New Testament to spread, either actively through organized evangelism or more passively (by “sharing the gospel” with Israeli friends), their worship of their man-god (a.k.a. idol) to other Jews, while the same cannot be said of Jews with any other ideology.

It’s not about being good citizens, serving in the army, paying your taxes or being a good neighbor or a coworker. It’s not about knowing who messiah is. It’s about the fundamental and active tampering with the very core of what it means to be a Jew through introduction of worship of and allegiance to a false “deity”, a man-god worshiped by the nations, the gravest violation that there’s is for a Jew.

Worshiping a mortal, long dead man as if he were Hashem, The G-d of Israel. Practicing and promoting a two thousand year old idolatry among the Jewish people. That really is the pivotal point of Christianity and its foremost difference with Judaism. Its grave implications most Messianic Jews fail to fully grasp, just as they fail to judge it from G-d’s perspective as outlined in the TaNaKh. But they do see it as a “problem”, one that must be overcome in the face of Jewish objections, a sharp thorn when trying to evangelize those Jews who know at least something about their heritage. Which is why most Messianics and Evangelical missionaries to Jews, both in U.S. and Israel, rarely bring up the Jesus’ “deity” when trying to inoculate their Christian beliefs into their targeted audience, choosing instead to focus on their man-god being a “messiah”, a “tzadik’ or a “promised Jewish king”.

Should “Messianic Jews” (those who are Jewish halachically, that is born to a Jewish mother) be legally allowed into Israel? My answer is no, they should not be, at least not during the time of peace. Still, they are victims too, victims of assimilation, of ignorance brought on by lack of Jewish education, of targeted, well financed, refined Christian proselytism. They are not wicked people who truly wish to harm anyone, but they are gravely ill patients with a very dangerous, communicable infection called idolatry. Others, e.g. vulnerable Jews, must be warned about and protected from it. However, if the Jewish converts to Christianity were to face real threats of physical persecution by either their Christian or Muslim neighbors and they truly have nowhere else to go, I would say that they should be allowed to enter Israel (with all precautions taken), to save their lives and in the hope that perhaps they or their children will one day see their folly and return to the G-d of Israel, turning away from dead, mute idols that do not save. May they repent and seek Hashem this Yom Kippur and rejoin their people.

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108 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    September 22, 2015 9:58 am

    “They are not wicked people who truly wish to harm anyone, but they are gravely ill patients with a very dangerous, communicable infection called idolatry”.

    This is the main point to me. They may be very nice people, but they cannot be allowed to bring idolatry into G-d’s holy land. It is an affront to G-d and in the long run damages both the land and Jews.

    Great post Gene.

  2. Jim D. permalink
    October 14, 2015 10:05 am

    In people’s experience here, what are the most effective approaches to help MJs see the light?

  3. October 14, 2015 12:42 pm

    Jim, in my experience (not just personal, but with other MJs), showing them from the TaNaKh how the supposed prophecies about JC were faked and used completely out of context in the NT works best. However, this only works for someone who is at least somewhat biblically literate and not of charismatic/emotional persuasion. For those other types, almost nothing will persuade them because you just can’t reason with them on an intellectual level.

    Also, reintroducing them to a Jewish community (e.g. inviting them for Shabbat, to shul or various community events) may also help soften up their ingrained resistance to real Judaism. Sometimes a spouse of a MJ (even a Gentile one, which is more often the case than not) may be easier to persuade (saw this happen at least two times) and then this helps the MJ be more open (since they now have someone at home who will advocate to return to Jewish community).

  4. Jim D. permalink
    October 14, 2015 3:08 pm

    Gene,

    Interesting. Well, I imagine both components anchor every MJ’s experience to varying degrees, but it’s the emotional part that’s really the glue. I agree, it’s the hardest thing to work with. I think it’s relatively easy to show how the text doesn’t support the theology, but it’s the feeling that people don’t want to give up. Not to mention the fear of what they risk by rejecting the NT and the loss of their faith-based relationships, which can often include one’s community, friends, spouse and children. I think inviting them back into a community would help with at least some of that. But certainly not all. If they’re single, that’s much easier.

    When you speak of approaching the Gentile spouse of an MJ, is that really an avenue? Aren’t most of them strong believers themselves?

  5. October 14, 2015 3:26 pm

    “When you speak of approaching the Gentile spouse of an MJ, is that really an avenue? Aren’t most of them strong believers themselves?”

    As I noted, I’ve seen at least two cases of Gentile wives of MJs being persuaded BEFORE the MJ himself was. One wife later converted while another is studying with a rabbi. Of course, it depends on the spouse. I’ve seen cases where the Gentile wife was very much against the real Judaism and only barely tolerant of the messianic shtick – in those cases it’s very hard for the MJ to break free and explore his options, since this may very well entail divorce and all the related heartache.

  6. remi4321 permalink
    October 15, 2015 6:34 pm

    There is a big emotional aspect out of it. I have been told more than one that “Jesus is their life and that they do not need proofs.” Often it only finishes in an arguments, or most of the time, they only want to preach on you. Every objection is “blindness on the part of the unbeliever”. I would say that it is best to avoid saying that Jesus is an idol, because if you do so, the person will not want to listen to anything you say, but ratter point to the fact that he cannot be G-d.

    Maybe it was just a coincidence Gene, that the non-jew changed his mind first. There is always one spouse that has a less blind faith in Jesus than the other. For me, I was preaching and I decided to preach the truth wherever it was leading. I thought “well if Jesus is the messiah, it should be obvious in the Tanakh”. I worked fine for about 2 preaching, but after, I had to come back on the same bible verses over and over again. It did not work that well to preach a D’var on a messianic way. But again willingness it the key.

    What helps, sometimes, is when you were actually a “Messianic”. Why a true follower of Jesus would depart if it is written you cannot do that in the new testament. Some will just say that you were never saved, other would say that you felt from grace (whatever it means), some will just believe that you are still saved, but are confused. But still most will wonder why, and that may be a good point to start.

  7. Concerned Reader permalink
    October 15, 2015 9:26 pm

    The best way to honestly reach out to the Christians (as I’ve learned,) is to show them the historical Jesus, not to bash their faith. They will later see how the mythos is manifestly transparently faulty.

    Ask them about texts like Mathew 23, Acts 15, the ethical core of the whole NT narrative, show them early Christian manuals of discipline with specific rules of conduct, (contra their faith alone doctrine,) show them the Ebionites, etc.

    For an example, if Jesus was so anti pharisaic why does he accept rabbinic definitions of proper practice and also use their forms of argument?

    For example, when Jesus’ disciples pick grain (promoting the anger from the pharisees for violating a category of work on shabbat,) Jesus doesn’t say, “hey that is not actually directly mentioned in the written Torah!” He says, “my disciples are hungry, and David did the same thing,” IE he uses a principle of Pikuach Nefesh. Every violation for which Jesus is accused can only be rightly historically understood in the context of second temple halachic arguments. Show the Christians this. It has an impact.

    Another example is the argument over his disciples washing the hands. In the second temple period only the priests observed this custom, and the Pharisees took it on as a sign of piety.

    Yet another example is when Jesus uses a point of rabbinic custom (circumcision on shabbat,) as grounds for one of his healings because it brings glory to G-d. There are no details like that about circumcision mentioned in the written Torah.

    Simply show them that Jesus is more a Jew than anything else. Exchange the myth for the man.

  8. October 16, 2015 11:11 am

    From the comments above we can see that there is a number of different approaches. Of course, all of them require willingness on the part of the person to let go of their pride and preconceived notions, and more importantly and something that precious few will attempt, willingness to risk everything (including “eternal life”, family, reputation, livelihood etc), all for the sake of getting to the deeply buried truth, to know Hashem as He revealed Himself.

  9. Jim D. permalink
    October 16, 2015 6:50 pm

    Everyone’s comments are revealing. And one common thread, which is no surprise, is that one of the greatest challenges is dealing with defensiveness. So, I’ve come up with an idea that I’m going to try out. Call it the “Aikido” technique.

    I took a handful of Aikido lessons many years ago. I didn’t keep up with it unfortunately, but I did learn something fundamental that applies to any flow of energy, whether physical or emotional/intentional. Aikido works, and it works for people who are faced with a larger and stronger opponent, not by resisting or blocking an attack, but by redirecting it. For example, if someone throws a punch at you, you quickly pivot just off the side of the trajectory (so you don’t get hit!), and redirect the punch by using certain handholds and motion techniques. But it doesn’t involve any resistance. You direct the attack in a different direction by moving with the motion of the attacker, not against him. This principle has always remained in the back of my brain, and this is why it occurred to me to apply the approach to discussions with MJs.

    My plan is not to approach an MJ as a teacher of the truth or to debate, but rather, to present myself as a bit naive and invite the believer to explain to me why Jesus is the Messiah prophesied in the Tanakh and why he is God. I will go grab my JPS Tanakh that I keep in my car, and refer to it during our discussion. As we speak, I will read the verses, including the entire chapter (which is what usually reveals the truth), and say something like, “Hm. Well, I’m not sure that’s clear from what the verses say. They seem to say [such and such], right?”

    In other words, instead of making a direct challenge, which causes instant defensiveness and denial, lead and redirect them down the path and have them try to explain themselves. If it’s done with some skill, it might prove to be an effective technique. I’m going to try this in the coming months when I get the chance, and I’ll let you know how it goes.

  10. Jim D. permalink
    October 16, 2015 6:50 pm

    And Shabbat shalom!

  11. October 20, 2015 12:50 pm

    Hi Jim, that’s what I do when my friends and my brothers at my congregation try to convince me. 98% of the time is works just fine. The only problem is when you don’t have a bible and they push an argument on a verses you are not that familiar with. Also, the one that tries to convince you doesn’t want to be convince of the opposite. They want to win the argument and prove they are right, unfortunately, they usually don’t listen to what I say. I got used to that, too much fear to even think that what I say makes sense and there are 365 “OTHER” prophecies that proves Jesus anyway. 365 times 0 equals…

  12. October 20, 2015 12:58 pm

    “that’s what I do when my friends and my brothers at my congregation try to convince me. 98% of the time is works just fine”

    Remi… do you still attend that messianic church and if yes, why???

  13. October 20, 2015 5:05 pm

    Yes I do. Why, good question though. Well, I am the only one driving, so I have to drive my wife and son (I feel bad to drive him there, but hope that I will be able to, one day, share what I believe without any arguments). Second, I have a friend who is 81 and cannot walk, so she asked me to drive her and do the grocery for her after. I started doing that before I stop believing in Jesus. But mostly, it is to keep peace in the family. It has been exactly one year since I told them I did not believe that worshipping Jesus was right and it has cause a lot of arguments with my wife and friends. I don’t take the communion, nor pray or sing there. (Once in a while I feel tempted to sing, because they sing to G-d, not to Jesus, but it happens after that they add “the lamb” or other Christian theology, so I refrain to sing at all.)

    I also went to the Synagogue a few times, but that was also causing a lot of tension.

    One Sabbath at a time. :)

  14. October 21, 2015 9:45 am

    You are in a tough spot Remi, but I am sure you’re doing the best you can, under the circumstances.

  15. KAVI permalink
    November 1, 2015 2:13 pm

    Shalom!

    If modern rabbinate Judaism was true, there would be no need to fear aliyah by Messianic Jews— for G-d’s Truth always prevails over evil.

    The prophet Isaiah did ‘missionary’ work by announcing the Basar of Truth to Israel— Isaiah’s message was that Elohim’s free gift of forgiveness of sins came through faith in the coming Redeemer.

    Yet Isaiah was executed for his ‘missionary’ work.

    And like the days of Isaiah, MJ’s now living in Israel may indeed act as emissaries of the Basar by continuing the work of Isaiah, Moses, and the Prophets— peaceful action which often enough has been met with a violent reaction of the ultra-Orthodox.

    Today, Israel is a nation dominated by secularism. Is it not naïve to believe that atheists and agnostics do not perform ‘missionary’ work by openly expressing their wickedness in evil words and evil deeds?

    So, the attempt to stop MJ’s making aliyah simply because they may potentially perform ‘missionary’ work is just another excuse the Orthodox trumpet in order to jealously retain religious power over the people.

    But the Basar of Truth announced long ago by Isaiah and the prophets will not be stopped— their message that G-d’s forgiving mercy that can only be found in the One Echad Elohim— The Ancient of Days, Yeshua HaMashiach, and Ruach HaKodesh— can never be stopped.

  16. November 2, 2015 9:40 am

    “If modern rabbinate Judaism was true, there would be no need to fear aliyah by Messianic Jews— for G-d’s Truth always prevails over evil.”

    Kavi.. that’s a foolish, uninformed talk on your part. Why does G-d in His Torah forbid idolatry and especially incitement to idolatry of a Jew and even requires that if a town within Israel turns to idolatry, it should be completely destroyed? To listen to you, G-d shouldn’t have bothered to give these instructions about what Jews are to do with idolaters since “G-d’s Truth always prevails over evil.” and that evil will somehow go away on its own, without any action on the part of the righteous people.

    “If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known,” gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.” (Deuteronomy 13:6-11)

    “Messianic Jews”, or Jewish converts to Christianity, seek to entice Jews in Israel to worship Jesus, a Christian idol, as if he were a god. To worship a man, a dead mortal man, as a deity! And you think that Jews should ignore warnings in Torah regarding such a grave sin?

  17. Jim D. permalink
    November 2, 2015 1:13 pm

    Jesus was not god — plain and simple. Christianity is not an extension of Judaism, it is a hijack of Judaism, and teaches idol worship. Israel exists not simply as a secular state, but founded on Judaism. Therefore it is right for the state to bar messianics. They should not be allowed to evangelize there.

    Here’s the TRUTH, which you so proudly think you have in your NT fiction.

    The way for Christian theology was paved by Paul, who, not knowing Hebrew, relied on the faulty translation of the Hebrew scriptures in the Septuagint. Paul had epilepsy of the variety that includes auditory hallucinations, perfectly described in his account on the road to Damascus. From that, Paul, the brilliant but hopelessly misguided Hellenistic philosopher, constructed a view of Jesus as God’s son, whose death redeemed.

    A perfect example of this is Paul’s interpretation and application of Galatians 3:13, where he quotes Deuteronomy 21:23 as,

    “His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled , which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.” (KJV)

    From this he states that Christ took on the curse of all, and therefore redeemed all with his death on the cross.

    HOWEVER: This is entirely wrong. That is NOT the correct translation and meaning of the Hebrew text. It is the incorrect translation from the SEPTUAGINT. The correct translation is almost impossible to find in Christian bibles, compounding the problem for modern readers.

    The correct meaning of the verse is that even if a criminal deserving of death is hung on the gallows, his body must not be left for long (overnight), because man was made in the image of God and therefore to publicly display a corpse is direct affront to God — NOT that God curses the hanged man — and doing so defiles the land. All sin defiles the land. That is why the verse says to take down the corpse, to avoid defiling the land. Think about it: If a man is cursed, does that defile the land? No, man’s sins defile the land, and leaving a corpse up overnight would be a sin, so the command is not to do it. The hanged man was still dead — he would not defile the land unless and until he was left on the tree overnight.

    But Paul didn’t understand Hebrew! So he read the text just as you have in your Christian bible, misunderstanding it’s meaning. Ten he used it to support his concept of the redeeming work of Jesus on the cross. TOTALLY WRONG! There are many more examples of these blunders by Paul. His uncontested letters are riddled with them.

    Paul’s theology and writings came first. He also wrote his own gospel, to which he referred many times. The rest of the NT writings — including the gospels — came AFTER, and built on Paul’s misconceptions, and over the course of a few decades turned Jesus, who in Paul’s eyes was NOT God, into the full-blown god-man who you worship.

    Paul was ignorant and you are ignorant.

    Jesus was NOT the messiah, he redeemed NO ONE, he was NOT the son of God and he was NOT God. It’s a myth, a delusion, and completely FALSE. To worship Jesus is IDOL WORSHIP, and the NUMBER ONE SIN FOR JEWS.

    Yes, the Christian mission to Jews and MJ missionary efforts should absolutely be BARRED in Israel — no if’s and’s or but’s. So stop spouting your ignorant nonsense, “Kavi”.

  18. November 2, 2015 1:55 pm

    Paul did not know about Judas as well. 1 Corinthian 15:5 says that Jesus showed himself to the 12, not 11. The vulgate made a correction of the original text, et quia visus est Cephae et post haec undecim. Undecim, in latin is eleven. “un” means one. Or maybe Jesus forgave him and was resurrected after he hanged himself,.. and was again with the 11. Or maybe it is just something they added in the story after. Or maybe Paul did not know and that would mean the 1 Corinthians was not inspired at all. Or maybe the 12, does not mean the 12 disciples, it means the “office”, or maybe it was twelve random people, not the disciples. Go and pick whatever fits your theory. But of course it is not a contradiction ;)

  19. Jim D. permalink
    November 2, 2015 2:16 pm

    You sure you’re not Jewish, Remi? Because from your comment, I’d say you’re as blind as “the Jews”. Lift the veil, man!

  20. November 2, 2015 2:29 pm

    hahah, I had a blind faith, I was walking strong on my faith, until I hit my head. BONG! So I had to open my eyes, and I realized I was totally out of the path. I was not heading to the celestial city, but to the city of destruction. So I am telling everybody to open their eyes, but to no avail, because as they tell me “their master tells them to keep their eyes close to go the the celestial city.” And they accuse me of “being the Devil, and tempting them to depart from the way”. And they tell me that “I have scales in my eyes, I must close my eyes to be able to see, I was cheating, and did not have my eyes fully closed, because if I had my eyes really closed, Jesus would have keep them closed”

    Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. John 20:29

  21. November 2, 2015 2:45 pm

    Remi has been “judaized.”

  22. Jim D. permalink
    November 2, 2015 2:57 pm

    And be sure to send all your tithes to the church.

  23. remi4321 permalink
    November 2, 2015 6:17 pm

    I had fun in my messianic congregation this week. They were talking about the fear of the L-rd and what the Hebrew for “fear” meant. That it did not mean that we should be terrified, but more reverent. Then they talked about the Love that we should have for G-d (the Shema)

    They don’t usually allow questions, but now they did, so I raised my hand and asked “So, I understand for a Christian, what it means to fear G-d, but what about a Jews, does the Hebrew word has a different meaning? And what about a jew who does not believe in Jesus, can he love G-d without Jesus, especially that those bible verses are in the Tanakh?”

    He struggled to answer my question, suddenly, the fear of the L-rd, for the Jews meant that they should be terrified. He just did not answered the second part of my question…

    Anybody read the book “The fourth Gospel, tales of a Jewish Mystic”?

    I found it at the library and wanted to have your idea, I thought that John, or whoever wrote John was a gentile, for the way he wrote about “the Jews”, but his theory made sense…

  24. Concerned Reader permalink
    November 3, 2015 9:26 am

    Most scholars date John’s gospel to 90 CE, and believe it was likely written by a Jew (probably a very Hellenized person,) but yes, a Jewish author who is writing 20 years after the destruction of the temple, and who is not exactly welcome in synagogue.

  25. Concerned Reader permalink
    November 3, 2015 9:32 am

    Its actually a misconception to see the dualism and rhetoric of the NT as exclusively Christian. The dead sea sectarians also believed in dualism, strict predestination, IE sons of light and darkness, and saw all outsiders as totally off the path. When you put this literature into its context, its not surprising to believe the author may have been Jewish. We have to remember, Judaism was much more divided in the second temple period. Lots of sectarianism and arguments about who had authority. History seldom fits any one religions view of its own origins and circumstances.

  26. remi4321 permalink
    November 3, 2015 11:38 am

    Thanks CR, that makes a lot of sense :)

  27. Jim D. permalink
    November 3, 2015 1:31 pm

    CR,

    I presume you’ve studied the critical extraction of the more likely authentic sayings of Jesus (Vermes and others). Taking only those into consideration, do you know how well they align with the Essene worldview?

  28. remi4321 permalink
    November 3, 2015 4:08 pm

    This is really interesting, but how do you approach a MJ or xtian with that information? None of this is thought in the preaching (only proving Jesus is thought at church and no opposition is allowed). Most likely, if I talk to any MJ, he will just throw “every single word in the new testament is inspired and their is no contradiction. All saying Of Jesus are accurate even if they are recorded 50 years after he said them because they were inspired by the Spirit. Things might look like contradiction, but there must be an explanation and that won’t make me doubt!” CR you might be more skilled in all this, but for most people, they are not really skilled in the Talmud / sect of Judaism / history of the second temple period to be able to have a good shot at it.

    P.S. I hate when “messianic” preacher or rabbi read the talmud only to prove Jesus. Can people be honest and unbiased for once.

  29. Jim D. permalink
    November 3, 2015 4:27 pm

    Remi,

    They love to bash “the rabbis” and the Talmud, but then have no problem quoting from those same sources when trying to support their beliefs. Hypocrites? Of course not! We saw a sample of that here from the guy who calls himself “Kavi”.

    No, I wasn’t asking CR my question regarding this discussion about dealing with MJs. I was just curious about it as a separate issue.

  30. November 3, 2015 5:30 pm

    I know, but it came back to what CR said about showing who the real historical Jesus was. He said for him it was the best way to reach to christians. That would have been nice it I could use some historical perspective to talk to people about the real Jesus.

  31. Jim D. permalink
    November 3, 2015 6:25 pm

    Remi, the problem with trying to get to the historical Jesus through distinguishing his more-likely authentic sayings from those that are highly unlikely, is that it takes too much time. A person would have to read a book like The Authentic Sayings of Jesus, by Geza Vermes, and be willing to accept the text-critucal approach. I think there are easier ways, like simply picking some of Jesus’ quotes regarding “the Law”, sacrifices, his own observance, etc, and contrast them with internal Gospel inconsistencies or Paul’s delusionary declarations.

  32. Concerned Reader permalink
    November 3, 2015 7:06 pm

    Remi, the problem with trying to get to the historical Jesus through distinguishing his more-likely authentic sayings from those that are highly unlikely, is that it takes too much time.

    Jim, yeah it does take a lot of time, but Christians can’t well call you a hypocrite (nor will they) if you can actually show Jesus’ Judaism to them.

    I don’t think its likely that the dead sea sectarians were Essene, so we don’t actually know much about the Essenes in order to compare them to Christians.

    The Dead Sea Sectarians seem to me to be an offshoot group of priests who had issues with the purity halacha in the temple, so they left. The literature in their library is diverse, so it gives us more a general sense of ideas that may have been prevalent during the era immediately before Christianity’s appearance among different sects. Their purity standards were very strict, and their view of the temple seems to suggest being centered around it. As such, we can’t really say how much the Essenes influenced or didn’t influence early Christians.

    Jesus seems to me to be a preacher who had hillelite influences, but also apocalyptic non normative views. I have read Vermes, Jesus seminar materials, etc. I actually got my undergrad degree in comparative religions, and personally focused on Christianity.

    The big reason why most Christians don’t engage in dialogue is because they haven’t been exposed, and they feel defensive about doctrine. You might encourage them to read some books on the subject of Jesus’ Judaism, that way your inquiries aren’t intrusive, or deemed threatening. I found it helpful in studying Judaism to read things in the Siddur. No Christian who reads from the Siddur will accuse Jews of legalism ever again.

    Even when I was a religious Christian I wasn’t threatened by Judaism, Torah observance, or anything, because I knew my faith’s history.

  33. KAVI permalink
    November 3, 2015 11:49 pm

    Even if one does not believe that G-d came from Heaven to temporarily take on flesh to redeem mankind, there are still two unanswered orthodox excuses that are ‘selectively’ applied:

    [] ‘Jewish idolatry’ is a very broad sin which would include:
    * Jewish Atheists
    * Jewish Agnostics
    * Jewish Buddhists
    * Jews who elevate the Talmudic mythologies above the Torah and the Prophets
    * Jews with idolatries of Pride, Anger, Greed, and/or Lust
    * etc.

    [] ‘Missionary’ work is not restricted to religious activity– EVERY breathing soul is a missionary of their beliefs.

    ____________________

    These two false criteria ‘discriminately’ used to prevent MJ’s from making Aliyah have already been partially debunked by the Israeli Supreme Court. In addition, we find at least one poll [Jerusalem Post] which shows that 78% of native Israeli’s favor MJ’s making aliyah.

    So, the unbiased evidence points only to the religiously power-hungry, jealous Orthodox who attempt to stop MJ’s making aliyah and hide the Basar of Isaiah and the Prophets. But their actions will ultimately fail– as the Spirit of G-d moves, He will simply overcome the barriers and continue to redeem His people through their faith in Yeshua by working within the borders of Israel itself.

    Do the Orthodox really believe that they can build walls high enough to stop the Truth of Elohim’s Grace through Yeshua from pouring down into the hearts of mankind?

  34. November 4, 2015 12:21 am

    Kavi… You have a habit of first creating your own definitions out of thin air (e.g. what is considered idolatry in Judaism and what is “missionary activity”), and then you proceed to strike them down. What is that sort of argumentation called?

    You are anti-Jewish, Kavi, because you are anti- the faith of the Jewish people and also anti- the people who practice it. And in the end, you are an idolater, part of the masses of the nations still angry at Jews for rejecting their attempts to shove their beliefs down Jewish throats, spurning your whole world view along with your long-diseased “man-god”. And since you are anti-Judiasm, you are also against the G-d of the Jews.

  35. Jim D. permalink
    November 4, 2015 1:19 am

    I have just made a $100 donation in Kavi’s honor to Yad L’Achim, the leading Orthodox anti-missionary organization in Israel. The more crap Kavi posts, the more donations I’ll make in his name!

  36. KAVI permalink
    November 4, 2015 8:45 am

    Jim,
    Does your donation to Yad L’Achim mean that you have converted to embrace strict Haredi Judaism?

  37. November 4, 2015 9:57 am

    “Does your donation to Yad L’Achim mean that you have converted to embrace strict Haredi Judaism?”

    Most, if not all, of the “lost” Jews Yad L’Achim seeks to protect or rescue are not haredi. (Not that being a haredi is somehow an “evil” choice for a Jew to be as you are implying in your anti-Judaism thinking). There are also haredi medical emergency groups in Israel who help all Jews (and non-Jews) and numerous charities – donating to them doesn’t make one “haredi”.

  38. remi4321 permalink
    November 4, 2015 11:57 am

    Hi Kavi, I would not necessary say you are anti-Jewish. I will just try to recall a comment that Rabbi Skobac answer to one of my facebook comment (that’s when I had still an account). He said that most Messianic have a genuine love for the Jews even if their motive is to convert them. They just hate Judaism. The question I asked was “can a MJ love the Jewish people if their intent is to convert them”. Can love with an intent be genuine love? It has a lot to do with Christian world view of black-and-white philosophy. Evil vs good, sin or no sin, black or white, but since the year that I have been a non-Christian (Youhou, since the Noah D’var last year I came out of the religious closet!) I came to the conclusion that most people try their best to understand life and after-life. We are some times, just at different levels and sometimes in the wrong direction. And the worst is, everybody think they are right and don’t want to change their mind! What a mess… Anyway, Kavi I will ask same question that I ask my preacher (he actually does not call himself rabbi)

    1- What does the Hebrew word “fear” means for follower of the way?

    2- What does the Hebrew word “fear” mean for a Jew?

    3- Can a Jew who does not believe in Jesus Love G-d?

    Thank you

  39. Jim D. permalink
    November 4, 2015 12:17 pm

    “Jim, Does your donation to Yad L’Achim mean that you have converted to embrace strict Haredi Judaism?”

    Kavi, Does my donation last year to Doctors Without Borders mean that I am a doctor? This is exactly the same question you asked. Do you see how illogical it was?

    I invite you to pause and reconsider your internal thought process. You have learned certain practical skills, such as writing with proper spelling and grammar, etc., and when you “work on” an idea you do put your thoughts together in a logical order and present them with some clarity. Like applying your accounting and bookkeeping skills at your job.

    But your underlying assumptions, presumptions and the bases for your presented arguments are not logical or well-founded at all. In your parlance, you think like a bookkeeper, not a controller. Yet you’re engaged in discussions that require the ability to have an flexible, critical and discerning mind. This is why you keep hitting the wall. Best for you to simply go to services at your Hebrew Roots church and be satisfied with that, and refrain from continuing to embarrass yourself.

  40. remi4321 permalink
    November 4, 2015 1:33 pm

    And I help a poor 5 year old with World Vision… I must be a Christian :(

  41. November 4, 2015 1:38 pm

    “And I help a poor 5 year old with World Vision… I must be a Christian :(”

    No, but that five year old may become one, since “evangelization is an integral part of development work” among people who work for World Vision. Not to mention that World Vision has been consistently anti-Israel, starting with its founder.

    Sorry, Remi:)

  42. November 4, 2015 1:49 pm

    This is hard, I know. What is the most important? As per WV, they say they do not evangelise… True or not?

    http://www.wvi.org/faqs#7

    As per anti-Israel, they look like they agree with a 2 state position.

    http://www.worldvision.org/press-release/response-recent-criticism-world-visions-position-and-work-middle-east

    It boils down to this,.. Do I totally agree with World Vision? Do they say the truth in their website? I still think it is important to help that little boy, and G-d knows my intent. My motive goes beyond the religious background of the organisation. I know too many Christians who are ready to throw stone at organisation because they do not have the same world-view than they. If we bother too much about these (and I know we have to in a certain extent), we may finish and help nobody else but our wallet…

  43. November 4, 2015 4:04 pm

    Remi… not trying to give you a hard time, but would you support a Muslim charitable organization which didn’t directly spread Islam, but did work with local mosques and imams to indoctrinate the poor children they are helping with Islam?

  44. November 4, 2015 4:16 pm

    Said like that, it looks awful, but I will not go back to that commitment to that boy. They may work with churches to help provide the resources, I don’t know how much those church (catholic?) will spread their belief. It does not look fair if they do such a thing… it’s the way that christians do though… All help that they give to Israel will in a way or an other be used to share their faith in their false messiah, Yeshuahahah Hamachum! And again, it come to their main intent? Are they helping to help others, or are they helping for unbeliever to see your good works and they should glorify your Jesus/god the son in the heavens.

    But G-d knows what their intent is…

  45. November 4, 2015 4:31 pm

    From their Who We Are page: http://www.worldvision.org/about-us/who-we-are

    World Vision is an international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice, and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God.

    We pursue this mission through integrated, holistic commitment to: 

    • Transformational development that is community-based and sustainable, focused especially on the needs of children.
    • Emergency relief that assists people afflicted by conflict or disaster.
    • Promotion of justice that seeks to change unjust structures affecting the poor among whom we work.
    • Partnerships with churches to contribute to spiritual and social transformation.
    • Public awareness that leads to informed understanding, giving, involvement, and prayer.
    • Witness to Jesus Christ by life, deed, word, and sign that encourages people to respond to the Gospel.
  46. November 4, 2015 4:41 pm

    I believe that Israel should reject funds from Christian missionary organizations and reject assistance from them.

    In Ezra 4, we have enemies of Israel offering to help Jews (who were struggling to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem), but were rebuffed:

    When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the L-rd, the G-d of Israel, they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.”

    But Zerubbabel, Joshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, “You have no part with us in building a temple to our G-d. We alone will build it for the L-rd, the G-d of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us.

    The Jews knew that the “helpers” had ulterior motives, even if they claimed to worship ‘your G-d”. So it is with many Christians – they may emotionally “love Jews”, but what they ultimately want to see is Judaism done away with and Jews embracing Christianity and worship Jesus. I am sure that some Christians may not fall into this trap and do love Jews in truth without any theological and eschatological strings – but that would be despite their Christian doctrines.

  47. Jim D. permalink
    November 4, 2015 4:48 pm

    Remi,

    There are other assistance organizations you can donate to instead that are either Jewish and help all regardless of religion or ethnicity, or who are not Jewish but are friendly toward Israel and do not evangelize.

  48. November 4, 2015 5:26 pm

    Yes, but I started given to them before I was aware of those facts. I just don’t think it would be fair for the boy just to cancel… I will not do the same mistake twice though.

  49. November 4, 2015 5:30 pm

    Remi, from what I know about World Vision, you don’t directly sponsor any child. Your money goes into a general fund and funneled to some community and you may get a “photo” of some child to “personalize” your donation. So, if you stopped your sponsorship, no children will be “dumped” as a result. World Vision is probably the largest Christian charity around.

  50. November 4, 2015 5:41 pm

    I will think about it… it might be hard to convince my wife (we both give to the organization), especially for the reasons mentioned. Thanks for sharing your concern, I will think twice next time :)

  51. Jim D. permalink
    November 4, 2015 8:18 pm

    Remi, this is certainly personal, and I don’t want to intrude. But I’d like to offer my views in general.

    This kind of thing is a difficult situation if both partners earn and pool their money. But if they are separated at all, you could tell your wife that she can continue to make her monthly payment with her funds, while you send yours to a different cause. But if you both bring in the bacon… no wait, that’s not right… if you both make the bread, then its probably not worth fighting over.

    In general though, I think we have to live our beliefs. We cannot simply believe in something and then not act accordingly. It creates internal discord and we then lack integrity in the broader sense of the word.

    My wife doesn’t work, and she tithes everything I give her for groceries, gas, shopping, etc., just as if it’s her income. When I learned that she was giving money to the messianic “synagogue” she goes to, I told her that she simply could not continue to do that. I had no issue with her donating to a church that didn’t have a program for evangelizing Jews, but definitely not otherwise. She was really mad and we had a fight over it, but I couldn’t stand the idea that my money was going to support those efforts. So I decided to stick to my guns, regardless of the outcome, even if it would have led to divorce. But after a bit, things calmed down again.

  52. Concerned Reader permalink
    November 4, 2015 8:34 pm

    Gene, how can giving to charity through a Christian organization, (like the red cross) be an issue? Naamaan the Syrian had to help his monarch in his day to day life and duties, and the prophet Elisha didn’t stop him even though the king was an idolater. Christians may be mistaken in theology, but much of the aid offered in the western world is through Christian organizations.

  53. Concerned Reader permalink
    November 4, 2015 8:46 pm

    I find it very problematic that some seem to have a problem with someone giving to the world vision charity just because of the Christians. Without the Christians there would be much less infrastructure, aid, healthcare, clean water, etc. in less developed nations. I don’t think G-d would judge a monotheist for being motivated by compassion.

  54. Concerned Reader permalink
    November 4, 2015 8:49 pm

    world vision has an A- on charity watch https://www.charitywatch.org/ratings-and-metrics/world-vision/176 It is not known for being dishonest with funds.

  55. Jim D. permalink
    November 4, 2015 9:37 pm

    “I don’t think G-d would judge a monotheist for being motivated by compassion.”

    Not speaking for Gene of course, my personal opinion is that wile I completely agree with everything you’ve said CR, I personally would not contribute to a charity who attempts to proselytize Jews as a targeted audience. I think that Christian charities operating in Israel do exactly that, even if it’s not stated in their charter. It’s just part of the deal there. Now, if a Christian charity is working in other countries, then sure, its always possible they may encounter a few Jews here and there, but it wouldn’t be one of their objectives, and therefore wouldn’t, and doesn’t, influence my giving. As far as Israel goes, I make donations only to Israeli charities.

  56. November 4, 2015 9:38 pm

    “Gene, how can giving to charity through a Christian organization, (like the red cross) be an issue?”

    CR, it’s an issue for Jews and Noahides specifically, because Christian organizations use charity as one of the main vehicles to “spread the gospel” and thus spread and entrench idolatry which focused, first and foremost, on Jesus as god, “savior and lord”. There’s nothing wrong with charity, but from a Jewish point of view, Jews (and by extension Gentiles affiliated with Judaism) should NOT contribute to the propagation of the Christian dogmas around the world (and by extension, in Israel, since many Christian charities operate there as well and seek to proselytize Jews passively and actively).

    I don’t begrudge Christians contributing to whoever they want. Neither do I disagree that Christian (and any other) charities do help alleviate some suffering in this world. So, good for the people benefiting from the donations given to charities. But no Jewish or Noahide funds should go toward ANY religious organization that seeks, directly or indirectly, to proselytize the masses toward embracing worship of a man as god, which is idolatry. Instead, other charities should be sought out, and there are many out there, serving people of all backgrounds.

    “[WV] is not known for being dishonest with funds.”

    Nobody here has accused WV of dishonesty.

  57. Concerned Reader permalink
    November 5, 2015 1:44 am

    do you feel that chabad’s charities should be avoided?

  58. Jim D. permalink
    November 5, 2015 1:54 am

    CR, I assume you’re asking Gene, but just my two cents:

    I’m a member of a Chabad, and so I’m sorry to say this, but I don’t think of them first when it comes to making additional charitable donations. I think they don’t spend much of their money on external efforts, and when they do, it’s usually done on a one-off basis by a local Chabad that’s in the thick of a disaster. But even then, I believe they primarily cater to their own. There are other Jewish organizations that put donations to much better use in terms of broader assistance to the needy.

  59. November 5, 2015 7:53 am

    No CR, why would I?

  60. KAVI permalink
    November 5, 2015 8:35 am

    Remi,
    In answer to your questions:

    [] As to the “fear of the L-rd”— I personally do not see why the pastor made any distinction between those who follow modern “Rabbinate Judaism” to those who follow “The Way” [i.e., the Mashiachim]

    [] As to loving G-d— Without question, those who follow Rabbinate Judaism can zealously believe and experientially feel a love toward G-d.

    ________________

    I think, on a practical level, to fear G-d is to “turn away from evil” [Proverbs 3:7]

    I also think, on an emotional level, the presence of G-d has brought a wide spectrum of reactions ranging from:
    ** Sheer Terror [Mount Sinai] to
    ** Reverent Friendship [Abraham] to
    ** Sheer Joy [David – Psalm 16:11]

    _________________

    The Mashiachim believe they overcome the “Terror of G-d” by making peace with Him through faith in L-rd Yeshua.

    My question to anyone is— How does modern Rabbinate Judaism overcome the “Terror of G-d” and assure the pathway to the ‘sure mercies of David’ found in Psalm 32?

  61. November 5, 2015 9:04 am

    “My question to anyone is— How does modern Rabbinate Judaism overcome the “Terror of G-d” and assure the pathway to the ‘sure mercies of David’ found in Psalm 32?”

    Why do you think that Jews need to overcome the fear of G-d? The fear of G-d is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). Which makes sense in regards to those Christians who believe they overcame “fear of G-d” – they also forfeited wisdom as well.

  62. November 5, 2015 12:12 pm

    Think about it Kavi:

    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.

    For a Christian, it should not be “fear” in the sense of Terror with thunder. Your loving Jesus died for your sins and god the fahter pardons all your sins. So you have to understand it in the sense of respect. But for a Jew which received the command “You must fear the LORD your God and worship him and cling to him. “, if your jesus really died for his sins, then it means that he should tremble. So there is two definitions of “fear”.

    The Jews also received the commandment to “Love G-d (Deut 4)”. This is, according to your belief impossible. There is one way to g-d, and all Jews worship him with lips only. A Jew, without the holy spirit, cannot love god. “You are form your father the devil” Jesus said. Unless you agree with that, then it means that honest Jews that love G-d finished in Hell for the rest of their eternity.

    Or reverse the coin, that means that lots of Jews refused to bow down to the cross, because they loved G-d and wanted to keep HIS commands (for fear of the L-rd), and according to you, those people are in Hell right now.

    I LOVE Psalm 32, read it for yourself, David told his SINS to G-d and He forgave him.. No atonement!

    Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
    I said, “I will confess
    my transgressions to the Lord.”
    And you forgave
    the guilt of my sin.

    Many times, David was saying that his enemies say “Where is your G-d? There is no help for him (David, a Jew who did not believe in Jesus) in G-d” But the wicked said “Nothing will ever shake me.” He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.” “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees.”

  63. November 5, 2015 12:32 pm

    “I LOVE Psalm 32, read it for yourself, David told his SINS to G-d and He forgave him.. No atonement! ”

    Remi…. David could say that only because he already knew (prophetically) that G-d would be born as a man in a distant future and that G-d would die for David’s sins as sacrifice to G-d to appease G-d.

  64. Concerned Reader permalink
    November 5, 2015 12:35 pm

    Gene, I ask because there are some in Chabad who treat the rebbe exactly the same way as the Christians treat Jesus. Yes, its true it is a tiny minority, nut that’s why I ask.

  65. November 5, 2015 12:38 pm

    “its true it is a tiny minority”

    So tiny, in fact, that it’s not even worth asking and especially implying that a few oddballs in any way represent Chabad enough to question one’s donations to them:)

  66. Concerned Reader permalink
    November 5, 2015 12:59 pm

    Gene, its a large enough number that we’ve seen videos of 770 where hundreds of hassidim are bowing and kneeling at the Rebbe’s chair! Its a minority, but its hardly insignificant. People have had to write books against the messianism of Chabad, so I wouldn’t say its not worth mentioning.

  67. November 5, 2015 1:25 pm

    “770 where hundreds of hassidim are bowing and kneeling at the Rebbe’s chair! ”

    OK, show me that video – are they calling Rebbe “god” or are they referring to him as “messiah” and “king”? Jewish messianism is not the same thing as Christianity’s worship of man as god. It’s not sin to consider this or that person a “messiah” (G-d’s anointed Davidic king) in Judaism, even mistakenly. That’s a common mistake Christians make when they look at Jewish messianism, because they believe that only “G-d” can be messiah, not a normal mortal human being (which is what Jews believe). So to them, to think of anyone else but Jesus as “messiah” is idolatry! (And apparently that’s the view you still seem to hold for some odd reason!)

  68. Concerned Reader permalink
    November 5, 2015 4:10 pm

    Do you think I can’t tell the difference? Come on man! You apparently missed the point of the parable. You don’t need to call a man divine to treat him as if he is. Just put rebbe worship on google. They may be singing Yechi, but there are salutes to the rebbe’s seat, almost bowing, etc.

  69. November 5, 2015 4:28 pm

    “You don’t need to call a man divine to treat him as if he is. ”

    In Judaism, bowing to a king or hailing him is not treating him as “divine”. Look in the TaNaKh. I’ve seen Jews (Sephardics) with my own two eyes in my own synagogue who would bow their heads low to kiss a regular rabbi’s (not a Rebbe!) hand. This is a Sephardi custom of how one is to approach a sage. That’s not “worship”, but you CR can’t tell the difference, can you? (Granted the bowing and kissing hands is odd to me and against my “democratic” ideals and modern sensibilities, but that certainly not of out the norm of Jewish history).

  70. Jim D. permalink
    November 6, 2015 12:31 am

    CR, you are quite wrong.

    I have close friends at Chabad and most of them are rabbis. Not the rabbis who lead services there, but among the congregation. I’m particularly close to a couple of them, and last Shabbat I made it a point to ask one what many of them believe about the Rebbe. Specifically, I wanted to know if they think that he was Moschiach and is coming back.

    He was slightly uncomfortable with the question because he knows that I do not share their viewpoints on many things, but he honors our friendship enough to be honest with me. He said that in their view, every generation holds an individual who has the potential to be Moshiach, and Chabad still believes that the Rebbe was the most qualified of this generation. I then asked if they believe he will be resurrected, (and, honestly, I couldn’t believe this question was coming out of my mouth directed toward a Jew).

    But my discomfort was from my associating resurrection with Jesus. However, it’s not the same at Chabad. Lubavitchers are a mystical group. This is something I have come to understand. And so, his response was that indeed, some believe he will be bodily resurrected, and so they are just praying and waiting.

    However, even those who view the Rebbe as having come to earth from some spiritual plane that 99.9999% have never experienced, even those who still believe he was Moschiach, and even those who believe he will return, do NOT — not for one second! — believe he was God, or any aspect of God. If they bow to his chair (and I saw no bowing in the YouTube videos by the way), or pretend to receive wine from him, or believe his spirit is still with them, etc, that’s one thing. But in no way do they worship him as God. He left a huge, vacant space when he left this earth, and they miss him and his leadership. They may revere him above all men, and they may even believe he’s coming back, but in no way do they consider him divine or worship him as man-god.

  71. Concerned Reader permalink
    November 6, 2015 1:36 am

    “They may revere him above all men,” EXACTLY! What you guys aren’t getting is that there are literally billions of “idolaters” who only do that type of veneration in their systems. Whole polytheistic ideologies exist that are only about veneration of regular people or sages.

    You say, “in no way do Jews worship the Rebbe as G-d,” but you seem to assume that everyone shares the Torah’s definition of the divine. Many culture’s exist that have no notion of G-d as Torah would define the idea. That’s what I’m saying. In the videos people are davening facing the rebbe’s chair, saluting, etc.

    “However, even those who view the Rebbe as having come to earth from some spiritual plane that 99.9999% have never experienced,” doesn’t this give you pause? The rebbe’s soul is treated as special, and inhabiting a special place in the heavenly realm before he came. Ponder what you just wrote for a moment. The chabadniks who hold these views are almost identical to the Ebionites.

  72. November 6, 2015 9:11 am

    ” but you seem to assume that everyone shares the Torah’s definition of the divine.”

    CR, as far as Jews are concerned, idolatry is defined solely by Judaism and Jews through the lens of Torah and halakha. How other religions may define it, it’s irrelevant for the purposes of determining what is and isn’t idolatry.

  73. concerned reader permalink
    November 6, 2015 10:12 am

    Ok, so it would seem you are simply free to judge all other cultures on the planet as idolaters (in accprdance with your interpretation of halacha) without even learning what they actually teach in their religions or how they undetstand them?

    You will never be accurately nor justly judging anything if you start with the assumption of your own correctness. Christianity has demonstrated how flawed that line of reasoning is. Judaism taught me to question, asked of me that I carefully examine the claims of my previous beliefs, it told me not to blindly trust, but again and again that standard applies to others, and not Judaism? You realize your argument boils down to Judaism is right because Jews say so, and Jews are the ones who get to interpret the standards G-d set, so its Jews that define idolatry. Well Gene, Jews are not infalible. Your own history has seen the replication of Christian like mythology, in communities that are orthodox, but you get to decide who is in? Thats good for you, but absolutely absurd. I cannot trust a belief system that tells me to question others, to be critical of others, but that cant face that same inquiry for itself.

  74. November 6, 2015 10:29 am

    “I cannot trust a belief system that tells me to question others, to be critical of others, but that cant face that same inquiry for itself.”

    CR, Judaism rests on the fact that G-d has revealed Himself to the masses of Jewish people, the whole of Israel, and demonstrated Himself to them and His divine powers as only He can do. The Torah reminds us of his fact over and over. The reality of those events was transmitted directly father to son, son to grandson, and so on among millions upon millions of Jews. This means that Judaism doesn’t base its claims on “beliefs” (e.g. “faith in things unseen”), “mysteries” and “miracles” revealed to a select circle of a few close friends (as happens in virtually all religions) but on the direct national experience.

    As it says in Deuteronomy 4:

    Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the L-rd your G-d at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.” You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness. Then the L-rd spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice.

  75. Jim D. permalink
    November 6, 2015 12:11 pm

    “They may revere him above all men,” EXACTLY! What you guys aren’t getting is that there are literally billions of “idolaters” who only do that type of veneration in their systems.”

    CR, What I meant by this is that they see the Rebbe as more spiritually elevated than anyone else they know. When I said they revere him above all men, perhaps I didn’t choose my words carefully enough, because I didn’t expect you would interpret it this way. I meant it in the way that he is viewed as a man among men. So, if you are convinced that your presidential candidate of choice if the most qualified among all candidates in the current race, then you regard him or her as being above the rest. That is what I meant, no more.

    However — that being said, I have no interest in blindly defending them. I will have a follow up conversation tomorrow with my friend. What questions would you like me to ask? Of course, I won’t say that they are from anyone other than myself. Let’s get to the bottom of this once and for all.

  76. Concerned Reader permalink
    November 6, 2015 4:59 pm

    This means that Judaism doesn’t base its claims on “beliefs” (e.g. “faith in things unseen”), “mysteries” and “miracles” revealed to a select circle of a few close friends (as happens in virtually all religions) but on the direct national experience.

    I know what Deuteronomy 4 says Gene. The problem with your statement is that (just like the Christians and their NT) You have only the one source (the Torah) and one group of people, (the Jewish people) making claims that cannot be historically verified by any outside unaffiliated group, (just like the Christians.) You even have Messianic systems develop that are just like that of the early Christians, but the Christians are theological poison and wrong.

    You make the claim that you’ve received direct revelation, but there is no way for anyone on earth to check or verify your claims independently of your own or the book’s own testimony. BTW Judaism does have miracles that should be verifiable. The death of the firstborn, Joshua stopping the sun in the sky, (the whole world would have noticed that one,) etc.

    When you say “we are not based on beliefs” that is ludicrous. Your faith is based on a ton of miracles, and a claim of national revelation that cannot be independently tested, or established, the way anyone would test to establish any other historical event. You say, “don’t trust Christianity” for myriad reasons, but none of those reasons translate to the lens through which you examine Judaism itself. You don;t have verifiable evidence that a nation spoke to hashem, you have a claim that a nation spoke to hashem, just like Christians have a claim for a resurrected messiah claimant that only they experienced.

  77. Concerned Reader permalink
    November 6, 2015 5:22 pm

    well Jim

    1. In what sense is the Rebbe “elevated” above other tzaddikim? Is he a prophet, (because he may have been moshiach? that would seem to be the claim.)

    2. “However, even those who view the Rebbe as having COME TO EARTH FROM SOME SOIRITUAL PLANE that 99.9999% have never experienced, even those who still believe he was Moschiach, and even those who believe he will return,”

    doesn’t this give you pause? Consider my parable. That sure sounds an awful lot like the rebbe is some sort of Malach? Or maybe has a universal collective messianic soul that pre-existed his lifetime on earth? The only person to have ever been described this way, on this level is Moses himself. Elaborate on that.

    3. Chabad. Lubavitchers are a mystical group. So were the Jewish Christian Ebionites and Nazrenes.

    And apparently that’s the view you still seem to hold for some odd reason!

    No Gene, not at all, I don’t hold that Jesus is messiah, divine, or anything else. I just notice the same behaviors that are not ok for the Christians, being OK for Jews, “because its not technically known in Judaism the way Christians would define things,” even though in their early movement Christians defined their faith similarly, and even though the veneration like behaviors are similar, even though not technically worship. Again read the parable.

  78. November 6, 2015 5:42 pm

    HI CR, I think we are going back to old debate. Was the red see crossing literal. Let’s just put it like that. Everybody tries his best to understand life. Everybody arrives at different conclusions. Is there a G-d that created us? Are we all came from random? What happened after life. It is true that something could have happened and everything written in the Bible be just a big lie. Maybe Jesus is really the messiah, maybe we are wrong, and Buddha was right? Maybe there is not life after death and “dust to dust, and everything is vanity.” We are all fools that seeks nothing but the wind! Let us celebrate and be merry for tomorrow we will die! The one with the more toys wins!

    In the end, a general revelation makes more sense than a small group revelation. Worshipping an invisible G-d makes more sense than status. Doing right is better than doing wrong.

    I don’t think we can ultimately prove the Tanakh. Past is past, we cannot prove the big Band, we cannot prove the Red sea crossing. We only have to follow what makes more sense. I won’t judge someone who came to the conclusion that there is not god. For me, I just think it makes more sense.

    It’s no help that we’re all in the same boat!

  79. Concerned Reader permalink
    November 6, 2015 8:02 pm

    In the end, a general revelation makes more sense than a small group revelation.

    Not when you have common things like mass delusions like the Marian apparitions at Zaitun Egypt in the 1960s. Thousands of people “witnessed” this event, but it was obviously not legitimate. You need the ability to check the info out.

    A large group revelation (to say nothing of a national one) needs far more evidence for its occurrence than a small group one, just by virtue of the sheer size of the claim, doesn’t that make the slightest bit of sense to you?

    What bothers me is when we can demonstrate certain historical/theological occurrences pretty well, but we are told to forgo that in order to trust in the things that we don’t have much reason to accept, or much data to go on.

    Judaism has produced more than one of its own Jesus like movements in an orthodox setting, but this data is irrelevant, untrustworthy, etc. while going on less information (after we have determined and seen how fallible people can be) is deemed meritorious? its just ridiculous. doesn’t it bug you at all?

  80. Concerned Reader permalink
    November 6, 2015 8:04 pm

    If I say WWII happened, but only one nation took notice, that’s a huge issue, know what I mean?

  81. Jim D. permalink
    November 8, 2015 1:09 am

    CR,

    I didn’t get over to Chabad today, so I’ll have that conversation when I do.

    ” ‘Lubavitchers are a mystical group’. So were the Jewish Christian Ebionites and Nazrenes.”

    Yes they were, although the Ebionites didn’t worship Jesus as God but the Nazarenes came close. Both groups, however, eventually faded into obscurity by the 4th century after many decades of Roman anti Jewish and Christian persecution, the rise of gentile Christianity, which considered these groups to be heretical. Belief in the Rebbe as Moshiach will also eventually fade away.

  82. Meir permalink
    December 4, 2015 4:33 am

    So if someone was a jew who was part of messianic judaism or christianity and returned back to judaism renouncing their belief in their former beliefs, are they allowed to male aliyah?

  83. December 4, 2015 8:30 am

    Jim,

    What is dangerous is that Chabad’s influence could create a different reality in the minds of many Jews that is extremely similar to Christianity. Most Chabadnikim, whether they admit to it or not, are usually classified into two groups.
    1. “Elokists” who believe their Rebbe is divine and they clearly are comprised in the next group which are,
    2. “Meshichists” who believe their Rebbe is the ‘Moshiach’.

    The problem with this is that he’s dead. Nobody who died could be the Messiah. You’d think learning Rambam like the Chabadniks do would rub off on them, since the Rambam states that as soon as someone died, he can’t be considered as the Messiah… which is pretty obvious.

    Secondly, their Rebbe didn’t resemble the Messiah. The Messiah will redeem Israel and all will accept him. It will be clear and he will rebuild the Temple, bring Jews back to Israel, be able to point out who is Jewish and if they’re Kohanim, Levim, etc. He will restore the kingdom of David and the whole land of Israel will be gained into Jewish hands (we currently have a tiny sliver of what’s really ours).

    Promoting Chabad philosophy isn’t helping bring the redemption or the Messiah. Getting people to wear tefillin might be great, and doing kiruv also – but when the people doing kiruv need to do kiruv for themselves, there’s a big problem.

    Not only that, Chabad philosophy and its adherents were banned by the Vilna Gaon (Gra), he opposed them, and R’ Nahman also spoke against them, as the “hill of trash” and “wide shoulder” stories refer to Chabad. In Hayyei Moharan 64, R’ Nahman mocks “the sect”, as the term appears in printed editions. The exact meaning of “the sect” is “the sect of Chabad” as appears in R’ Naftali’s manuscripts. It wasn’t printed that way for the sake of peace, but anyone who is really involved in Breslov knows what it’s referring to.

    What R’ Nahman’s stories and statements about them mean is that the Tanya wasn’t written on the high spiritual level it was claimed to have been written in. It is problematic, no one should study it, and it led to many of Chabad adherents believing in a false Messiah.

  84. December 4, 2015 9:49 am

    “So if someone was a jew who was part of messianic judaism or christianity and returned back to judaism renouncing their belief in their former beliefs, are they allowed to male aliyah?”

    Yes, Meir, absolutely. There have been a few instances that I am aware of where authorities got suspicious (if that person was well known as a Christian/Messianic in the past), but when you sign up for aliyah if you can present proofs of being a Jew in good standing from Jewish authorities (e.g. rabbis), you should be good to go.

  85. Jim D. permalink
    December 4, 2015 1:24 pm

    “What is dangerous is that Chabad’s influence could create a different reality in the minds of many Jews that is extremely similar to Christianity.”

    Aaron —

    I’m afraid I agree, and I hope my comments haven’t been understood by anyone that I support the belief in the Rebbe as Moshiach to rise again.

    While I am a member of a Chabad synagogue, and have been for several years now, I have never agreed with many of their interpretations of Torah, nor how some of Halacha seems to supersede the clear intent of some commandments. Of course, this last point applies to other streams of Orthodoxy as well.

    For example, the Orthodox seem to believe that it’s okay to sell their chametz to a non-Jew, and then store it under seal in their own homes. Yet, Exodus 12:19 says that leaven is not to be found in our houses. I don’t know the specifics of the Orthodox rationale, but I assume it has to do with the idea that the real purpose of the commandment is that no one eats leavened bread, which they thereby do not, and that somehow transferring legal ownership also helps. But I think the plain meaning is clear enough. So when I was invited to a seder at the home of one of my Chabadnik friends and saw that they had cabinets full of chametz sealed with masking tape, I was dismayed.

    Another example is that many synagogues and observant families have hired help working on Shabbat. The rationale here is that the commandments in Torah specifically forbid one’s slave from working on the Sabbath, but, as the Orthodox point out, not employees. Yet Deut. 20:10 also prohibits resident foreigners from working on the Sabbath. Certainly a paid employee is not a slave. But they can only be either Israel or a resident foreigner. Both groups are prohibited from work on the Sabbath. To me, the idea is clearly stated.

    The above two examples show how a purely legalistic approach to Torah can lead one astray.

    Even more personally shocking has been the recent realization, brought to light by these comments and confirmed in my discussions with one of my Chabadnik friends, that Chabad philosophy supports the belief in the Rebbe as Moschiach who will rise again. As you and CR have pointed out, the basis is no different in principle than what led to belief in Yeshua as the risen Jewish messiah.

    We have a serious problems in the worldwide Jewish community. Most Jews are unaffiliated, the affiliation rate is steadily declining, and the current rate of intermarriage is over 70%. The 2013 Pugh study showed that among the intermarried, almost all their children are not being raised as Jews, and the children of most Messianics are brought up Christian. (Such is the tragic result of the Messianic delusion). Further, mainstream Jews don’t have many children. On the other hand, the intermarriage rate is extremely low among the Orthodox, and the average number of children per family is high. Add to this, that the most aggressive and successful Jewish outreach is from Chabad, and you can begin to imagine the future.

    If current trends continue, it is conceivable that the overall Jewish population may actually decline, and the predominant group remaining will be Orthodox, a significant portion of which will be Lubavitch (replete in their long black coats and hats in the middle of the scorching desert). Before you know it, there will be a new Jesus.

  86. December 4, 2015 2:53 pm

    Jim, you are bit pessimistic, mate:) Lubavitchers help bring a lot of Jews back to Judaism, but not all of them become proper “Lubavitchers” and even fewer turn into Rebbe-meshichists as a result – I would venture to say that most simply become more connected, more observant Jews, and sometimes even move on to other congregations.

  87. Concerned Reader permalink
    December 4, 2015 2:57 pm

    Before you know it, there will be a new Jesus.

    There was already a new Jesus before the rebbe, his name was Jacob Frank. True, he wasn’t worshiped, but his daughter Eva almost was.

  88. December 7, 2015 10:32 am

    “But I think the plain meaning is clear enough. So when I was invited to a seder at the home of one of my Chabadnik friends and saw that they had cabinets full of chametz sealed with masking tape, I was dismayed. ”

    Jim, I, for one, have come to appreciate the Halacha behind this (legal) practice. It accomplishes the goal intended by Torah (avoiding chametz), but lessens the pain (in cases of some Jewish store owners possible financial ruin) of fulfilling the commandment.

    “But I think the plain meaning is clear enough.”

    That’s where the Oral Torah comes in. Some of the “plain meaning” things in Torah would make daily life very harsh and unforgiving (e.g. “eye for an eye”) unless moderated by Halacha and the authority G-d has given to Jewish leadership to judge such matters.

  89. December 7, 2015 11:39 am

    Gene, I find it odd that you’re more cautious of Breslov and the concepts of the Zohar about the Tzadik and the recurring soul of ‘Moshe-Mashiah’, while you’re accepting of Chabad which has taken things way too far, into outright heresy in some cases. Perhaps it’s because of Chabad’s friendly outreach to Jews that you’ve brought up? If that’s the reason, that would be denying the greater issues underlying the problem of Chabad. We’re dealing with a new Christianity here, and since you said you’re cautious of anything resembling Christian beliefs, I’d have thought you would naturally be very cautious, at the very least, when it comes to Chabad.

    The Gra opposed Chabad vehemently and even said that marrying a Chabadnik is like marrying a non-Jew. And I’ve cited already what R’ Nahman states. Instead of being shut down, they flourished like the cancer Christianity did. Rav Shakh sated that the closest religion to Judaism is Chabad, i.e. that they’re not really Jewish. That’s pretty harsh, but unfortunately true. That being said, I have friends who are in Chabad, I love them despite what they might believe, and I hope and assume they don’t believe it. Nonetheless, Chabad is not the path for anyone, and the Tanya problematic, which is why greater problems have arisen.

  90. December 7, 2015 12:13 pm

    “Gene, I find it odd that you’re more cautious of Breslov and the concepts of the Zohar about the Tzadik and the recurring soul of ‘Moshe-Mashiah’, while you’re accepting of Chabad which has taken things way too far, into outright heresy in some cases. Perhaps it’s because of Chabad’s friendly outreach to Jews that you’ve brought up?”

    Aaron, the difference in my caution is only a matter of degree – I am quite concerned with what I see as erroneous and harmful things in BOTH of these movements, which actually have lots of things in common. However, neither of them perturb me to the point where I would pounce on them and be overly critical of either one – that’s simply not the purpose of my blog. It wouldn’t stop me from attending their synagogues or eating their food (excepting cases of outright elokist idolatry). Both these movements are relatively recent arrivals on the Jewish scene and I don’t feel that some of their more unique teachings are representative of the historic Judaism. However, I can still appreciate the good they accomplished for the Jewish people. (Just as Rambam was able to appreciate the good even in Christianity and Islam in G-d’s ultimate redemptive purposes, however otherwise harmful and erroneous).

  91. Concerned Reader permalink
    December 7, 2015 12:46 pm

    Something I don’t understand, (Which maybe you guys can shed some light on, is this.) Aaron has mentioned the concept of having faith in hashem by cleaving to the example of a righteous person (ie Moses, or another great wise teacher,) and he notes that this is completely scriptural, not some hidden or foreign concept.

    I also know that it is scriptural and not foreign to state that an agent, (be they angelic or human,) can bear hashem’s name, and then act as his agent, carrying out his will and teaching others his will. (Exodus 7:1, Psalm 82:6, Exodus 23:20, Genesis 48:16 and Genesis 31:13) all provide examples of agency. In the case of Genesis 31:13 an angelic agent even goes so far as to state “I am the G-d of bethel” in first person with no rebuke from hahsem given.

    So, within the text of the written Torah we have created agents that are saying (metaphorically)

    1. I am G-d, 2. are being asked by righteous men to give Blessings (or at least it appears that way to the reader,) 3. are invested by hashem with enough authority that if you disobeyed the agent, it would be as though you disobeyed hashem himself.

    Add to these scriptural teachings Maimonides’ descriptions of the uniqueness of Moses’ prophecy. Moses is described by Rambam as the greatest human being who ever lived, or ever will live, and Israel is told by scripture itself to have faith in Moses forever. (Exodus 19:9) What is the state of Moses’ prophecy? He spoke to G-d clearly, and “saw” G-d’s back as though it was through a single polished mirror. (Not like Aaron, Miriam, the elders, Ezekiel or Isiah who received blurred visions through many mirrors, and speech in the form of riddle.) (that detail about mirrors is found in the midrash, I believe bamidbar rabbah.)

    Maimonides describes Moses as having a direct interaction with the “active intellect” which he views as an overflow/energy from hashem. This interaction results in prophecy. It is the point at which divine wisdom and the soul interact, the purer conduct of the individual, the higher his attainment of wisdom. The active intellect is in many ways synonymous with the sar ha olam, the Kavod Nivra (Saadia Gaon’s created glory doctrine which for him accounts for prophecy,) Wisdom, (proverbs 8) and the primordial Torah.

    Many sources state that when we die our souls, disembodied, will gain higher and higher levels of knowledge of G-d, so that we will be like angels, only on a higher level. A level at which all Israel and the righteous will be called by hashem’s name.

    Chabad bases its doctrine of the godly soul found in the Tanya (belief that all Jews have a spark of godliness) on a verse in Job, although as we see there is plenty for them to draw from given all the above information. Also, verses in scripture which state outright that the breath of life (the soul) comes from G-d’s nostrils, and that no place is deviod of his presence.

    It seems to me that many many mainstream rabbis are completely comfortable saying the things that on the outside appear unkosher, as long as its only in the realm of metaphor, midrashim, or of the world to come, but if you say these things are true in the hear and now, or practically, (like the Christians and the Chabadniks do) you are undeniably viewed as a heretic of heretics. What are your thoughts? It seems to me that all the mysticism you need to make Christianity and Chabad are already in mainstream sources in spades, its just that the rabbis stress that its metaphor, and they can’t always guarantee the right interpretations.

  92. December 7, 2015 1:20 pm

    It seems to be the case, CR, is when one tries to move things from the realm of allegory and metaphor to the actual, one runs into trouble within Judaism. E.g it’s one thing to ask metaphorically “to whom has the arm of the L-rd been revealed?” and quite another to translate this into an actual claim that G-d has literally bared His actual visible arm, complete with nails, fingers, knuckles, skin and hairs (knowing that G-d has warned in most severe terms that He has no actual visible form and that to state otherwise would be heretical).

  93. Concerned Reader permalink
    December 7, 2015 1:28 pm

    But then you see the dilemma? Not everyone is legally or philosophically inclined so as to be able to know. And what about all these verses where an agent is treated (as good as) if he were G-d? That’s confusing for the initiated, much more for the uninformed, wouldn’t you say? Aaron made a point. Those concepts, ie having faith in a righteous man are right there clear as day.

  94. December 7, 2015 1:42 pm

    “Those concepts, ie having faith in a righteous man are right there clear as day.”

    OK, Torah commands us to believe G-d’s prophets. But, as importantly, it also supplies a test to verify if they are legitimate – a measure against what is found in Torah itself. Does it also command us to have faith in a merely “righteous man”? That’s doubtful, but certainly one would need to test the “righteous man” too.

  95. Concerned Reader permalink
    December 7, 2015 1:57 pm

    My point Gene, is that all the ingredients that have led to breslov, chabad, Christianity, etc. are all right there in scripture and in the elaborations, it is the interpretation that is different. It doesn’t just say believe in a righteous man, but “believe in him forever.” One might even (in the case of Moses) say that cleaving to him would be a more appropriate word. And then, all these elaborations of his “godly connection” found in rabbinic sources mythologize to the point of angelic near divine agency. Its conceivable that people will slip when it comes to would be messiahs.

  96. December 7, 2015 2:56 pm

    CR, I agree that there have been enough opinions expressed through the ages by various figures within Judaism that one could, if really intending to do so, create a very heretical religion out of those opinions. And we’ve seen that happen from time to time. Judaism, however, always tested those opinions through discussion, either accepting or rejecting various ideas. Thankfully, most of those “out-there” opinions have been shot down by the majority, both in Talmud and later discussions. So, Judaism contains, within itself, a filtering mechanism, a system of checks and balances which, if given enough time, helps keep most of those things in check and out of the mainstream.

  97. Jim D. permalink
    December 8, 2015 12:29 am

    “Jim, I, for one, have come to appreciate the Halacha behind this (legal) practice. It accomplishes the goal intended by Torah (avoiding chametz), but lessens the pain (in cases of some Jewish store owners possible financial ruin) of fulfilling the commandment.”

    Gene, I haven’t read the rabbinical debate which resolved into this Halachic practice, but based soley on your comment here, I would say the following:

    The commandment that no chametz is to be found in your homes was given during the exodus. Under the circumstances at that time, there were no merchants selling chametz. When the supplies of flour taken out of Egypt gave out during the wanderings, God provided “bread” in the form of manu (manna). We don’t know, frankly, if manna could rise with yeast (well, I don’t remember). So it seems that the command was perfectly appropriate to the circumstances at the time.

    But it also fits with your example as well. Presumably, a store is not considered one’s home — it is one’s place of business. And if a Jew is going to live in the same building where he has his store (like upstairs), he should rather create a clear boundary between the two. And if that’s not possible, the community should provide nom-residential places for him to store his chametz.

    Solutions like these seen far more appropriate than taping up cabinets full of chametz in ones kitchen. I really disagree with, not only the specific Halacha here, but how rabbinical law has developed and how it is applied. I think in this case its simoly wrong, because the end result of the legalistic rationalization at work here, regardless of good intent, is that my friend still had a house full of chametz, which was in direct contradiction to the written Torah.

    I think there is a lesson to be learned in regard to the Talmud and rabbinical Judaism. I am sure you won’t find chametz in a Karaite home.

  98. Jim D. permalink
    December 8, 2015 1:00 am

    In re-reading my comment, it appears I categorically reject rabbinical Judaism. I don’t, and I have an appreciation for a good deal of it, nevertheless there is much I don’t accept, and I question the places it has led us to today.

    On the other hand, as I mentioned, the Karaite approach is taken by those who wish to remain true to a more “pure” or “authentic” Judaism. They look primarily to the written Torah, and will consider aspects of the “oral Torah”, but do not hold the laws contained in it to be regarded as Gods commandments — and of course, technically they are not.

    Look, for example, to the blessing we say over the Shabbat candles: ” Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has commanded us to kindle the Sabbath lights.. Well, there is no such command from God. Should we then utter these words when we know they are untrue? Such is the discomfort I feel with many rabbinical traditions and Halacha.

    Like the Karaites, I also feel the desire to unearth reveal and live the “true” Judaism. But how do we discover what that is? Do we look back to the period of Jesus and the Herodian Temple? At first, in my ignorance, those were my thoughts. But then I realized you have to go back further.

    How about to the time when the Second Temple was built? Do we say that Ezra’s reforms were the true Judaism? There is a strong argument that they were not. So then back to the first Temple period? Now you get into widespread practice of idolatry and other serious issues.

    So when and where do we find “true” Judaism?

    I think the answer is that, although the Torah would seem to set standards for what Judaism really is, the reality is that “real Judaism” is ever-evolving. So we have to take stock now and then and decide if we like the current iteration.

  99. December 8, 2015 5:59 am

    Concerned Reader said: “Something I don’t understand, (Which maybe you guys can shed some light on, is this.) Aaron has mentioned the concept of having faith in hashem by cleaving to the example of a righteous person (ie Moses, or another great wise teacher,) and he notes that this is completely scriptural, not some hidden or foreign concept.”

    That’s exactly what Breslov teaches: a plain Biblical concept.

    The books of Breslov are another layer to and build upon the revelations of the Ari z”l, who attained his insights into Tanakh, statements of Hazal, and the Zohar through hitbodedut, something stressed in Breslov. The Ari z”l’s teachings is another layer to and builds on the Zohar. Rashbi’s Zohar was written as an explanation of the secrets and depths of the Torah, a midrash explaining the Torah on a whole newer and deeper level.

    These Tzadikim were each the respective Moshes of their generations until the next Moshe came along. They were the people you’d have to go to, to tune into HaShem’s new revelations to Israel. Specifically believing in them is tied into believing in HaShem, as per the quote from Shirat HaYam, “they believed in HaShem and Moshe His servant”.

    Also, take note that tefilla used to be hitbodedut. The Rambam explains in MT, hil. Tefilla, ch. 1. R’ Nahman stated that since the Amida had become something more formal and less real, people needed to spend an hour talking to HaShem in their own language, in private, about anything and everything. This is why ‘Breslov’ is the “ancient but new path”, it is the revived path of our forefathers and prophets. Hitbodedut is just one example.

    When kefira started to come into the world like never before and only increased from then on like a wildfire, R’ Nahman stressed emuna.

    When the goyim still dressed more modest than some religious Jews today, but knowing that promiscuity would begin to spread before the Messiah comes, R’ Nahman stressed tikun habrit to the utmost. (Tikun habrit is the key to receiving da`at kodesh, and the key to true joy and content, also, it is the tikun haklali, the overall rectification because as the Zohar states, guarding the brit is the basis of all the Torah.)

    When many people were learning Torah and davening without really knowing HaShem or having a personal and spiritual connection to Him, R’ Nahman stressed hitbodedut.

  100. December 8, 2015 9:19 am

    “Solutions like these seen far more appropriate than taping up cabinets full of chametz in ones kitchen. I really disagree with, not only the specific Halacha here, but how rabbinical law has developed and how it is applied. ”

    Jim, I’ve studied this issue at length one on one with a rabbi a few years back and came away fully satisfied with the rationale behind the halachot on this issue and all the practical implications. It may not be a “perfect” solution, but it’s a good one.

    “So we have to take stock now and then and decide if we like the current iteration.”

    And if YOU don’t like the current one, what are you going to do then?

  101. Jim D. permalink
    December 9, 2015 11:00 am

    “Jim, I’ve studied this issue at length one on one with a rabbi a few years back and came away fully satisfied with the rationale behind the halachot on this issue and all the practical implications. It may not be a “perfect” solution, but it’s a good one.”

    The problem I have with this solution, despite good intention and practical consideration, is that sealing up chametz in the kitchen cupboard remainsl directly at odds with the commandment itself.

    The issue might be illuminated and eased, however, with further reflection on just what is prohibited. In fact, associated commandments include one that states there is to be no leaven within all of Israel during the seven days. Talk about impracticalities! That’s even more difficult than having everyone bring their peace offerings to Jerusalem from all corners of the land. In that case, the impracticality was recognized and an accommodation edict was issued.

    But suppose the meaning isn’t that no yeast itself can exist anywhere within the country’s borders, but perhaps the term “yeast” in that particular verse was an idiomatic expression for dough with yeast.. Then it makes a lot more sense.

    Which leads to a related issue: the literal interpretation of idioms. “Eye for an eye”, which you mentioned, is a likely example. The common folk of the day understood when an idiom was an idiom, but this has been lost to us, as it was also lost to the rabbis, even our sages. This is at the heart of many wrong interpretations (in my opinion). Which is which? That is the $64,000 question, and that is where good biblical scholarship is necessary. When a literal interpretation does’t make sense, results in an inevitable series of cumbersome, twisted mass of rules and counter-rules, or results in something that directly contradicts the commandment itself, as in this case, it may be an indicator that one is dealing with an idiomatic expression. In those cases, its better to say that we don’t yet know the meaning, than to feel compelled to provide the meaning, no matter how ill-founded.

    Halacha, in my opinion, should never result in direct conflict with biblical mitzvot. If yeast is simply yeast, then this Halacha is wrong.
    .

    “And if YOU don’t like the current one, what are you going to do then?”

    Yes, I understand. But your rhetorical question overlooks the fact that, as I also commented, Jewish practice has a very long evolutionary history. Today’s normative Judaism began its formation after the conquests of Alexander the Great and continued to its culmination in the Middle Ages. It has held in place since then due, in large part, to anti-Semitic oppression. But today’s normative Jewish practice is not the same as it was during the second or first Temple periods. Since it didn’t conform to the Shulchan Aruch at those times, was it wrong? Therefore, can you honestly be of the opinion that any Jewish practice that doesn’t conform to the present code is also wrong?

    Which leads us to this question: “And if rabbis don’t like nonconformist interpretation of Torah, what are they going to do then?” Their answers have often been rigid, oppressive and unfortunate.

  102. December 9, 2015 11:19 am

    Hi Jim, you have a good point. I also want to share something. In Vancouver, where I live, there are many synagogues. But there is a problem, with the price of the houses that went up like crazy, the Jewish areas are no longer Jewish, but mostly Chinese. This is due to the fact that there is a great immigration of rich immigrants and they are the one that can afford a house in Vancouver. People with medium to high income can buy houses, but in the sub-urb. That definitely cause a problem for the Shabbat observing Jews. Now their synagogue is just not at a walking distance, and taking the car would be breaking the command, as per Jewish interpretation. What is better in your opinion, to take the car to go to the synagogue or just not going at all. I guess that would also affect their choice of Synagogue. For example, if the only synagogue at close walking distance is a Chabad, or Reform, then what can you do, but going there even if you don’t necessary agree with their interpretation of the scriptures.

  103. December 9, 2015 11:35 am

    “What is better in your opinion, to take the car to go to the synagogue or just not going at all.”

    Remi… one is NOT required by Torah to attend a synagogue (an exilic innovation), but one IS required to not break the Shabbat by lighting a fire. For a Torah observant Jew the choice is clear. Which is better – to get together “for fellowship” or to violate Torah? If you answered that fellowship is more important and that it trumps “legalism”, you are still thinking like a Christian.

    “For example, if the only synagogue at close walking distance is a Chabad, or Reform, then what can you do, but going there even if you don’t necessary agree with their interpretation of the scriptures.”

    Again, Judaism does not need a church building to meet once a week (which is what Reform patterned itself after). All one would need is a group of ten Jewish male adults to put together a minyan and then one could pray anywhere – and this is a very common practice. Not just on Shabbat, but every day of the week (as many Orthodox Jews do).

  104. December 9, 2015 11:43 am

    “Therefore, can you honestly be of the opinion that any Jewish practice that doesn’t conform to the present code is also wrong? ”

    Jim, the present halacha did not come about because of unilateral moves by any one person – it had to be agreed upon by other Torah-faithful Jews. If you feel you can convince all Jews to alter an established practice to conform to your understanding (in the way that doesn’t violate Torah, of course), go ahead, by all means. But who are you to do that???? If you are a nobody (no offense intended, but you know what I mean – authority wise), then practice whatever you wish in the comforts of your home, but you’ll have to realize that’s where it will stop.

  105. December 9, 2015 2:24 pm

    Hi Gene, thanks for your explanation. So as an orthodox Jew, you would rather stay home than going to a reform/conservative synagogue, if no other Synagogue was close by and no Minyan was closed by?

    “but one IS required to not break the Shabbat by lighting a fire… ”

    What about the Shabbat candles? Wouldn’t that break the command you mention to follow hallacha, just as Jim mentioned for the yeast? I know that Karaites don’t light candles at all, which

    I am not trying to complain, but just to understand…

    For example, if a non-jew like myself goes to an orthodox synagogue, would that be acceptable for me to use my car to go there. Would it be better for me to abstain doing that? What are your thoughts?

  106. December 9, 2015 2:35 pm

    “So as an orthodox Jew, you would rather stay home than going to a reform/conservative synagogue, if no other Synagogue was close by and no Minyan was closed by? ”

    Remi, that’s correct – all Orthodox authorities are in agreement on this. Better to stay home and pray alone than to attend a heretical meeting.

    “What about the Shabbat candles? Wouldn’t that break the command you mention to follow hallacha, just as Jim mentioned for the yeast? I know that Karaites don’t light candles at all”

    Torah says that we are to honor Shabbat, keep it holy, make it a day of delight. To light candles before Shabbat starts can certainly qualify as fulfilling the commandments of keeping it holy, to honor it and to delight in it – which are non-specific commandments in themselves and can mean whatever – and why not include the candles under that? So, one can say that I honor and delight as G-d commanded in the Shabbat by lighting candles on it, by preparing delicious food, by dressing nicely, etc.

    “For example, if a non-jew like myself goes to an orthodox synagogue, would that be acceptable for me to use my car to go there. Would it be better for me to abstain doing that? What are your thoughts?”

    In Canada you are free to drive to any synagogue on Shabbat, Remi. No obligation to walk to shul for you, a non-Jew – you wouldn’t be breaking any commandment whatsoever. When you are visiting Israel, you should walk, since this is the law of the Land.

  107. December 10, 2015 5:06 am

    Remi4321, Shabbat candles were originally intended for the actual physical light they created. People usually went to sleep not so long after nightfall and didn’t have any lights lit when they did. The Sages decreed lighting candles on Shabbat to ensure shalom bayit (peace of home), since when people would be feasting, they obviously need to see!

    They gave the candles specifications, forbidding certain oils and wicks, while permitting others, all so that the people would have a steady light and not be drawn to playing with the light if it seemed to be going out – because you can neither start a light or put one out on Shabbat.

    Even today when we can keep a light on in any given room throughout Shabbat – we still have to light Shabbat candles, and the reason for that is because Devarim 17 tells us to listen to the rulings of the Sages throughout each generation who have the unbroken chain of transmission from Moshe Rabenu. Another reason is because the decree of the Sages isn’t just for physical light in your home. Both the Tanakh and the statements of the Sages carries much more depth than one could imagine.

  108. December 10, 2015 5:33 am

    On Conservative and Reform “Judaisms”: each were formed in Europe as a result of the wicked “Haskala” movement which encouraged Jews to integrate, assimilate, and conform to their gentile host nations.

    This movement lasted from the 1770s to the 1880s, and it took many Jews’ simple faith in God and the Sages/Tzadikim, bringing in doubt, heresy, and imitation of the nations.

    It used to be that all Jews were religious or what you’d call “Orthodox”, just that you had some simpletons who simply didn’t know much about Torah (termed “`amei haaretz”, lit. common folk). These people weren’t “Conservative” or “Reform”, whatever they knew about and did do, they did it “Orthodox”.

    Thank God, today in Israel, there is not “Conservative” or “Reform” there is only religious and varying degrees within it. When a secular Israeli gets married or has a brit mila for his son, there are only “Orthodox” Rabbis to do it. The term “Orthodox” itself is just a responsive term to the new “Conservative”, “Reform”, “Reconstructionist”, etc, labels. It just means the mode of Judaism that is for keeping the Torah, bar none, no assimilation, no changing the Torah to fit a “modern” lifestyle (as if parts of the Torah passed away and are no longer relevant, God forbid), nothing.

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