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Article: No Religious Coexistence – A refutation of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s “Orthodox Rabbinic Statement on Christianity”

February 19, 2016

coexistRabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

A refutation of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s “Orthodox Rabbinic Statement on Christianity,” and a clarification of Torah’s true view of Christianity based on God’s words and the prophets.

God equates with truth, and no consideration must obscure those truths. For by obscuring truth, we mislead ourselves, other Jews, and gentiles. Jews and Christians share a close relationship today built on honesty and openness. As religions conflict on core tenets, religionists agree that all religions cannot be God’s word, for He does not contradict Himself. Only one religion is God’s word. Intelligence alone will determine this.

In his “Orthodox Rabbinic Statement on Christianity”, Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin writes:

“We acknowledge that Christianity is neither an accident nor an error, but the willed divine outcome and gift to the nations.”

“Jesus brought a double goodness to the world.”

“We Jews can acknowledge the ongoing constructive validity of Christianity as our partner in world redemption.”

“We believe that G-d employs many messengers to reveal His truth.”

In defense of truth; i.e., God’s Torah (Bible), His Prophets and our leading Rabbis, I respond as follows.

All peoples must respect one another’s lives. We all must abstain from harming anyone, except those who physically attack us. However, today, this respect has grossly overgrown its borders to violate God’s words. I refer to the current tide of mutual religious acceptance, and worse; the admiration of religions other than God’s Torah, His Bible. Throughout the Bible, God warns against following other religions, altering His Bible, adding to it, subtracting from it, and deifying man. He also warns us not to lie, “From a false matter, distance yourself (Exod. 23:7).” These are perpetrated by all other religions, and today, by many Jewish leaders. God’s Prophets discuss the corruptions of others nations and religions, their eventual rejection of their religions as lies, and their ultimate acceptance of the unaltered Bible, the Torah:

“Nations will come from the corners of the land and say, “In truth, our fathers gave us an inheritance of lies” (Jer. 16:19).”

“Every thing which I command you to do, that is what you should be careful to do. Do not add upon, it and do not detract from it (Deut. 13:1).”

“And many peoples and mighty nations will come to inquire of the God of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat God’s presence. So says God of hosts, “In those days ten men of all gentile languages will grab on the shirt corner of the Jewish man saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you” (Zech. 8:22,23).”

Through His prophets, God informs us of the nations’ future acceptance of the Torah, the Bible. Sadly, certain considerations are causing Jewish leaders to alter God’s words, and Maimonides’ words below. Such apologetics obscure the truth from the Jew and gentile alike. Maimonides writes:

“All the prophets spoke that the Messiah will redeem Israel and save them, and gather their dispersed and strengthen their mitzvot. But false prophets caused the Jews to be destroyed by the sword, and scattered their remnants and humbled them, and exchanged the Torah, and caused the majority of the world to err to serve a god other than the Lord. Nevertheless, the thoughts of the Creator of the world are not within the power of man to reach them, ‘for our ways are not His ways, nor are our thoughts His thoughts.’ And all these matters of Jesus of Nazareth and that of the Ishmaelite who arose after him are only to straighten the way of the king Messiah and to fix the entire world, to serve God as one, as it is stated (Zephaniah 3:9), ‘For then I will turn to the peoples (into) clear speech, to all call in the name of God and serve Him unanimously.’ How (will this come about)? The entire world has already become filled with the mention of the Messiah, with words of Torah and words of mitzvos and these matters have spread to the furthermost isles, to many nations of uncircumcised hearts, and they discuss these matters and the mitzvot of the Torah. Some say: ‘These mitzvot are true, but were already nullified in the present age and are not applicable for all time.’ Others say: ‘Hidden matters are in them (mitzvos) and they are not to be taken literally, and the Messiah has already come and revealed their hidden (meanings).’ And when the true Messiah stands, and he is successful and is raised and exalted, immediately they all will retract and will know that fallacy they inherited from their fathers, and that their prophets and fathers caused them to err (Maimonides, Laws of Kings, 11:10-12).”

We cannot suggest that God desired Christianity to arise. God desires no other religion than Judaism. In the Jewish year 2448 upon Mt. Sinai, God revealed Himself to man once. 2.5 million people witnessed this event. God publicly instructed man in only one religion: Judaism. God gave a Bible that includes prohibitions against altering His word. This is perfectly clear. Maimonides does not indicate that God desired Christianity’s existence. This directly opposes God’s Bible.

All Maimonides says is that God’s plan will not be altered by the rise of other religions. The fact that Christianity spread knowledge of the Mitzvos, is not equivalent to saying God desires Christianity. The nations will ultimately see all other religions as false, as the quote says:

“…immediately they all will retract and will know that fallacy they inherited from their fathers, and that their prophets and fathers caused them to err.”

What is more preferable; that Christianity would never had existed, or actual history? God’s will is the former, stated quite openly. However, now that Christianity exists, Maimonides indicates it cannot compromise God’s plan:

“Nevertheless, the thoughts of the Creator of the world are not within the power of man to reach them, ‘for our ways are not His ways, nor are our thoughts His thoughts’.”

We cannot fathom God’s plan. Christianity violates God’s words, but can in no way compromise God’s ultimate plan, as these events were not thwarted by God. A negative may be utilized for a positive.

To say that Christianity “contributes” to God’s plan, is much different than saying it “does not compromise” God’s plan. The former suggests it is an inherent good, while the latter retains its true status as violating God’s words.

“And all these matters of Jesus of Nazareth and that of the Ishmaelite who arose after him are only to straighten the way of the king Messiah and to fix the entire world, to serve God as one.”

Maimonides does not suggest in one breath that Christianity is and is not God’s will. So let us understand Maimonides words:

“How (will this come about)? The entire world has already become filled with the mention of the Messiah, with words of Torah and words of mitzvos and these matters have spread to the furthermost isles, to many nations of uncircumcised hearts, and they discuss these matters and the mitzvot of the Torah. Some say: ‘These mitzvot are true, but were already nullified in the present age and are not applicable for all time.’ Others say: ‘Hidden matters are in them (mitzvos) and they are not to be taken literally, and the Messiah has already come and revealed their hidden (meanings).’ And when the true Messiah stands, and he is successful and is raised and exalted, immediately they all will retract and will know that fallacy they inherited from their fathers, and that their prophets and fathers caused them to err.”

Maimonides suggests that God’s allowance of man’s free will, expressed in the rise of man-made religions, can be used to distinguish the true Messiah from impostors:

“Immediately they all will retract and will know that fallacy they inherited from their fathers, and that their prophets and fathers caused them to err.” 

God will turn a negative into a positive. When the true Messiah arrives, and teaches Torah, all other religions will compare his wisdom to the fallacies of the religions they inherited.

Rashi quotes a Rabbinic statement:

(God said) “By their lives, I will give them an opportunity to err with the words of the spies so they don’t inherit the land of Israel (Num. 13:2).”

This would seem like a vindictive statement. But as God is devoid of emotion, how do we understand it?

Had God not permitted the spies to spy out Israel, they would have harbored an incorrect notion about God. That is, their desire to send spies displayed their disbelief in God’s promise that they will successfully conquer Israel. If this disbelief in God was not brought into the open, they would remain with this false notion, and this is not tolerable by God.

What is meant by “God gave them an opportunity to err?” It means that God gave them an opportunity to act out this notion in reality so it can be dealt with. God’s goal was not their loss of Israel. Giving them “a chance not to inherit Israel” is God offering those Jews a generous chance to realize their emotional conflict (they desired Israel, but denied God’s promise). “God gave them an opportunity to err” means that God’s allowance of the spies’ mission enabled the Jews to face their mistake.

God prefers man does not sin, but He can use that sin for a good.

I believe this is also the case with God allowing false religions to rise prior to His delivering the true Messiah. God certainly prefers that the false religions never existed, but He allows man free will.

Rabbi Judah taught, “Rav said, ‘Why does the Torah teach, ‘Lest you lift your eyes to the heavens and see the sun, moon and stars, all the hosts of heaven, and you turn aside and prostrate yourselves to them and worship them which God has smoothed them out for all nations under the entire heavens (Deut. 4:19)’.” Rabbi Judah continued, “This teaches that God made their ways smooth so as to remove them from the world” (Tal. Avoda Zara 55a).

What is the meaning of “God made their ways smooth so as to remove them from the world?” What type of divine justice is this? Do we not also read, “Do I truly desire the death of the wicked, says God? Truly, I desire his repentance so he may live (Ezek. 18:23).”

“God made their ways smooth” teaches that God designed man with freewill. God does not desire that man be forced to accept any view. For example, if a man couldn’t speak evil about another person due to the repeated sudden onset of illness, he would not be abstaining based on an effort to curb his viciousness, but from adverse reactions. Internally, he still desires to mock the other person. In this scenario, man does not obtain the opportunity to perfect himself through his free will and intelligent mastery over his instincts. Similarly, Rabbi Judah is teaching that God did not create the world where idolatrous activity is immediately met with death, lighting, etc. For this would cause man to refrain from idolatry for the wrong reasons. God’s gift of the intellect is precisely that we engage it, and determine that idolatry is ineffective. Wooden and stone gods, or men viewed as gods, possess no powers. Claims of Jesus’ miracles too are baseless: this was never witnessed by masses. But only later, its belief was demanded. God wants man to agree to this with his senses and his mind. The meaning of “God made their ways smooth so as to remove them from the world” means God allowed man to exercise his free choice, with no impediment, what God means by “smooth.” God designed man with the choice to project smooth and emotionally appealing interpretations and err, or to use reason and abstain from lies and fallacy. To “remove them from the world” is not God’s goal, as we see from Ezekiel above, “Do I truly desire the death of the wicked, says God? Truly, I desire his repentance so he may live (Ezek. 18:23).” God’s goal is that man chooses between what satisfies his emotions, and what is right according to his mind. This is the plan for mankind, explaining why we have both; instincts and intellect.

Maimonides teaches that God allowed Christianity and Islam to arise and endure, for He does not force a man or a people to abandon false religions or any poor decision. God desires man engages freewill.

Eventually, “Nations will come from the corners of the land and say, ‘In truth, our fathers gave us an inheritance of lies’ (Jer. 16:19).” Nations will abandon their religions and accept Judaism. Messiah will be wiser than King Solomon. His words will penetrate the ears and hearts of nations who previously accepted falsehood and fantasy. The world will recognize the unparalleled brilliance contained only in Torah, dismissing incomprehensible notions like a trinity and baseless claims of divine origin.

The world will recognize that Torah alone offers a proof of divine origin. But this cannot happen while Jewish leaders accept other religions as equally divine.

Jewish leaders need not wait until the Messiah to correct Christians and Muslims in their errors. Man, and certainly leaders must not lie, and certainly not lie to other religions. This hides from them God’s word through His prophets, as stated above, where God endorses His Bible alone. The Jew’s interest must be God’s interest: that all peoples equally benefit by living according to God’s one religion. We must desire the good for all other peoples.

I have conversed with many intelligent Jews and Christians wishing to live reasonably and lead a religious life based on truth and proof. They reject unproven religions, and grasp the brilliance of God’s Torah…but only because it was shared honestly. When asked, Jewish leaders must share with other religions Judaism’s logical explanation for not accepting other religions: no proof exists for their claim to divine origin. Secondly, other religions violate God’s command not to alter Torah and they reject God’s prophets. Additionally, Jesus and Mohammed do not qualify to be the Messiah, a man of Davidic lineage. Further arguments on these religions are found in Deut. 24:16 where God says one man does not die for another man’s sins, and in an intelligent reading of Isaiah 53.

The Messiah serves a primary goal: to unite all peoples in God’s worship. God knew how history would unfold, that Judaism would be fragmented into numerous branches, and deviations in levels of observance would arise. A cure to this problem was necessary. The Messiah is this cure. Since all members of Judaism accept the coming of Messiah, all Jews will follow Messiah’s teachings. Judaism will return to its pure, original form, hopefully soon, to be taught by the Messiah, God’s true messenger. This is not only true regarding various Jewish factions, but also regarding all religions, as Jeremiah teaches above.  Messiah has become the center of religious difference. Upon his arrival, not only will all Jews unite in one practice, but all other religions too will abandon fallacies, accepting Judaism as the one, true word of God.

God preferred that man never deviate from Torah, be he Jew or gentile. And even though man has deviated by creating false religions, his actions cannot compromise God’s plan. But God uses man’s error for an ultimate good. Better that man does not err, but thankful are we that God utilizes our errors and implements corrective measures for all humanity.

Rabbi Riskin’s acceptance of Jesus as “God’s will” is heretical. He suggests God contradicts Himself, as Jesus/Christianity violate God’s commands. Since Christianity is “God’s will,” Rabbi Riskin endorses adding to God’s Torah, to which God said not to add. Rabbi Riskin’s view leads to endorsing a deification of man and a god figure, the torah’s most fundamental sin: idolatry.

Jews and Christians agree: Both Judaism and Christianity cannot be God’s word, as they possess opposing tenets. Each person must use his or her mind to determine what is true and God’s word, and what is not. All peoples must respect all others, treating each other as we all wish to be treated. This does not mean we agree with all theologies. But it does mean we cultivate harmony and abandon all aggression, protecting the rights of each fellow human being to engage free will as God desires, and freely live as he or she sees fit.

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46 Comments leave one →
  1. remi4321 permalink
    February 19, 2016 1:21 pm

    And messianic all around the world (including my messianic synagogue) use this rabbi’s quotes to prove christianity! That made me want to throw up!

  2. February 19, 2016 1:32 pm

    Remi… religious liberals can be extremely shortsighted as to the true impact of their words and actions. Did Rabbi Riskin really consider that his [factually wrong] words, his “olive branch to Christianity”, would now be used by Christians to evangelize assimilated Jews into that religion and remove them forever from the Jewish people, that they would be employed to defend Christianity in the face of Jewish criticism of its idolatry of worshiping a man?

  3. remi4321 permalink
    February 19, 2016 1:39 pm

    Since Christianity exists, they do it! Why would it be different now for the quote of a rabbi? A rabbi says something, it must be equivalent to “all the Jews said it” in the mind of Christians! That “rabbi” should have put his head on his shoulders and he should have thought of the consequences before opening his mouth! Maybe he secretly believes in Jesus, seriously!

  4. February 19, 2016 1:52 pm

    If you look at the history of Christian missionizing of Jews, Christians have always sought to use rabbinical writings and statements (and not just words of rabbis, but statements of other famous Jews, including authors, scientists and leaders) to evangelize lay and especially disconnected Jews. This is because Christians believe that if Jews, most of whom are for many good reasons suspicious of Christianity and its messengers, would at least listen to some learned respected Jew saying nice things about Christianity, it would provide a chance to weaken inherent Jewish revulsion toward Christianity and hopefully open a door to Jewish conversion.

  5. Concerned Reader permalink
    February 19, 2016 10:50 pm

    Gene, have you read the Toldot Yeshu? In that text rabbis (whoever the authors actually were) claimed that THEY created Christianity to: “evangelize assimilated Jews into that religion and remove them forever from the Jewish people.” Off course this is a historically inaccurate notion and ridiculous, but it didn’t stop these rabbis from writing the toldot Yeshu and claiming that removing those Jews from Israel was their greatest aim.

    If you look at Jewish history and the fact that Judaism has created its own Jesus like replicas, can you really blame the Christians for thinking that Maimonides is just making excuses saying “well….uh….G-D’s will can’t be prevented?” Christians read that and they see

    1. Maimonides admitting that knowledge of G-d reached gentiles through Christianity and Islam.

    2. That Maimonides can’t admit that fact without somehow legitimizing Jesus.

    Its an apologetic on Maionides’ part to explain away the Church.

  6. Concerned Reader permalink
    February 19, 2016 10:56 pm

    If you look at the history of Christian missionizing of Jews, Christians have always sought to use rabbinical writings and statements (and not just words of rabbis, but statements of other famous Jews, including authors, scientists and leaders) to evangelize lay and especially disconnected Jews.

    They don’t need to try very hard to draw links. Consider this list

    List of Jews who (like Jesus) have claimed/been viewed as “divine,” or alive after death in some sense even though the term “divine” being applied to these people is applied and justified in various different ways.

    Menachem Ben Judah (mentioned as a name of the messiah Menachem means comforter.)

    Chaim Vital (told by Abraham Shalom not to fear death because he was Moshiach ben Yosef who would be ressurected.)

    David Alroy

    Osman Baba (Baruchya Russo)

    Eva Frank
    Nachman of Breslov (declared that praying at his gravesite would grant merit.)

    Moses Guibbory

    The Lubavitcher Rebbe

    Mordecai Mokiaḥ.

    You might also be able to add Abraham Abulafia to this list.

  7. Concerned Reader permalink
    February 19, 2016 11:22 pm

    https://roshpinaproject.com/2010/01/13/karaite-jew-messianic-judais-created-by-rabbinic-judaism/

    whatever explanations various rabbis may give about how the leper scholar of sanhedrin 98b really isn’t a messiah figure, or how this or that teaching is only allegorical, (such as a Shaliach that can speak as G-d in first person (cf. Genesis 31:13,) only a fool could say that (whatever the intentions of these allegories might be) these teachings haven’t produced identical Christian like theologies and ideas. Its a historical fact that Jesus of Nazareth is only one of many transcendent sons of G-d that Judaism has given birth to over centuries. In light of that, I find it to be very unnerving when rabbis tell Christians how foolish they are, or how without a base they are. If you have to have five commentaries stacked on top of each other to explain “what it really means,” then you are not speaking clearly.

  8. February 20, 2016 6:31 pm

    Concerned Reader,

    Toldot Yeshu doesn’t say the Sages created “Messianic Judaism” or Christianity at all! It states that they worked to distance the cancer of Christianity from having anything to do with Judaism. To distance them from doing anything Jewish, to extract the bits of Judaism within Christianity from out of the paganism that it is, making it fully pagan. They did a good job, since besides a few Jewish followers of Jesus at the outset, this quickly disappeared, and it gained increasing acceptance among gentiles, until the Roman Empire ran with it and simply replaced their pantheon of gods with the “saints”. Same statues, just with the names changed. Mother of god, man-god idol – nothing different than normative paganism that they’d already adhered to.

  9. Concerned Reader permalink
    February 20, 2016 7:14 pm

    Jewish Chrisrianity didnt disappear from history until the 4th century Aaron. Also, the toldot yeshu says that the sages gave Edom language.

    What do you make of that list of Jesus replics?

  10. February 20, 2016 7:49 pm

    “Gene, have you read the Toldot Yeshu?”

    I read parts of it. I don’t believe it to contain actual history – it’s a medieval parody.

    “If you look at Jewish history and the fact that Judaism has created its own Jesus like replicas, can you really blame the Christians for thinking that Maimonides is just making excuses saying “well….uh….G-D’s will can’t be prevented?” Christians read that and they see”

    Yes, I do, because to have a real Jesus-like replica a messianic candidate would have to be seen and worshiped as “god” by the masses. That’s the all-important distinction of Jesus. Merely being a messianic wannabe is not enough.

  11. Concerned Reader permalink
    February 21, 2016 12:19 am

    Again, read up on that list Gene. Everyone on that list was declared superman by someone, and some were even worshipped Gene, that was my entire point. Even if JC didnt exist, if the Christians didn’t exist, if the gospels didnt exist, Judaism would still have all the ingredients needed to make a new Jesus. Let that sink in.

  12. February 21, 2016 1:25 am

    “Even if JC didnt exist, if the Christians didn’t exist, if the gospels didnt exist, Judaism would still have all the ingredients needed to make a new Jesus. Let that sink in.”

    I don’t think so, CR. Not by a long shot. You are forgetting one crucial ingredient. Jesus was nothing and would have remained nothing until he became a man-god in a new made-for-Gentiles religion founded Paul and his merry men. It is Paul (and not Jesus himself) who shaped the image of Jesus into what he would eventually become – an otherworldly demigod, not a mere messianic candidate. This pivotal twist of history separates Jesus from all the other failed messiah wannabes that arose among Jews.

  13. February 21, 2016 5:29 am

    Gene said: “I don’t believe it to contain actual history – it’s a medieval parody.”

    That’s what historians would want to tell you, just the same way they’d like you to believe Phoenician isn’t Hebrew and Phoenicians weren’t Israelites. They’d also like you to believe Moses… or several people… wrote the Torah based on other historic legends and systems of laws of neighboring civilizations in Mesopotamia.

    Toldot Yeshu expounds on one of the Yeshus of the Gemara, and it’s likely the Christian Yeshu is based on two or more Yeshus, at least two that are mentioned in the Gemara. This Yeshu that Toldot Yeshu covers is the main Yeshu, and I believe it is entirely fact and not meant as satire, mockery, parody, or anything of the like. If it were, why would it speak the truth about what Hazal did – which was infiltrate the new Christian ranks? Obviously some would find this controversial (although I definitely don’t). Also, in the wake of Christian persecution, why would this book be written as a joke, invoking Christian wrath? It’s the true Jesus narrative, in my opinion.

    Concerned Reader,

    Hazal spared perhaps many ignoramus Jewish common folk from falling for the black magician mamzer Yeshu and his mix of Torah discourse with heretical claims of being the son of god and magic and doctrines he learned in Egypt.

    Christianity became a religion entirely separated from Judaism, with no significant Jewish following, no influence or association with the Jewish faith at all. Hazal did a great job.

  14. Concerned Reader permalink
    February 21, 2016 5:51 am

    don’t think so, CR. Not by a long shot. You are forgetting one crucial ingredient. Jesus was nothing and would have remained nothing until he became a man-god in a new made-for-Gentiles religion founded Paul and his merry men.

    Gene, that transformation was already well underway before Paul even came along! The Ebionites (based on their sources) viewed Jesus as one of the Achangels, (probably an Enoch-Metatron type figure)

    Look at what happened with the lunavitcher rebbe just 20 years after his passing? He is said to have a soul “more godly” than anyone else, some argue that he is a part of G-d, (Because G-d is Knower, Knowledge, and Known.) In other words, Judaism says “there is nothing devoid of G-d,” a given messianic candidate is therefore more aware of that than other people, so metaphorically speaking, he is more truly G-dliness wrapped in flesh than other things. Its like I said, we can look at later messianism, and we see the same stuff.

    What I’m saying is really that the Christians aren’t even a factor in this discussion. There is something in all the philosophy of many rabbis that manages to say the exact same stuff.

  15. Concerned Reader permalink
    February 21, 2016 6:39 am

    http://www.chabadofcentralflorida.com/mediaShow.asp?recID=436&m=0&cat1ID=51&cat2ID=0

    What make you guys of this lecture?

  16. Concerned Reader permalink
    February 21, 2016 6:43 am

    heretical claims of being the son of god and magic and doctrines he learned in Egypt.

    Israel is called son of G-d in the Torah. The sages say, G-d, Israel, and the Torah are all one. They say Jacob did not die. Maimonides says (concerning Hashem) that knower, knowledge, and known are one in him, as no place is devoid of G-d. He says Moses’ prophecy was an “overflow from G-d.” It seems to me that if you speak like that, its only a matter of time until you get a Jesus.

  17. February 21, 2016 4:46 pm

    “Look at what happened with the lunavitcher rebbe just 20 years after his passing? He is said to have a soul “more godly” than anyone else, some argue that he is a part of G-d, (Because G-d is Knower, Knowledge, and Known.) In other words, Judaism says “there is nothing devoid of G-d,” a given messianic candidate is therefore more aware of that than other people, so metaphorically speaking, he is more truly G-dliness wrapped in flesh than other things. Its like I said, we can look at later messianism, and we see the same stuff.”

    What they did with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, or what he allowed to happen isn’t good (apparently people started calling him “melekh hamashiah” before he passed in the early ’90s, and he APPARENTLY didn’t reprove them) – but that’s a whole other story. Chabad has become Christianity 2.0, unfortunately.

    HOWEVER, a Jew having a greater soul, which is real because EVERYONE is constantly moving up and down levels, and there are many aspects of the soul that people can either gain or lose, is a LOT different than saying someone is God Himself in the flesh. No human being is God in the flesh!

    “Israel is called son of G-d in the Torah. The sages say, G-d, Israel, and the Torah are all one. They say Jacob did not die. Maimonides says (concerning Hashem) that knower, knowledge, and known are one in him, as no place is devoid of G-d. He says Moses’ prophecy was an “overflow from G-d.” It seems to me that if you speak like that, its only a matter of time until you get a Jesus.”

    First of all, Rambam (Maimonides) got into Greek philosophy. That was a mistake. Many Rabbanim never accepted many of his opinions on philosophy. When it comes to his halakhic code, that’s a whole different issue because writing a halakhic code simply means extracting the final halakha from the discussions of the Gemara and writing them out in plain. I happen to follow the Rambam’s Mishne Torah, but I have nothing to do with More Nevukhim (which wasn’t ever supposed to be read by anyone besides the intended talmidim of his).

    Whether what Rambam said in what you quoted is true or false, an accurate quote or not, is irrelevant right now. What is relevant, and the reason I explained what I did in the previous paragraph, is this: it’s simple, HaShem is One and we cannot understand His essence or perceive Him because the human mind isn’t able to, and that is by design. The whole point of believing something is when it isn’t known or understood. If you know something, there’s no need to believe it because you know it. The reason why we cannot know HaShem in the literal, direct, tangible sense, is because we have to have faith or not have faith – free will – because without free choice, we would be like the angels which are like animals or robots, they do based on what they’re programmed to do.

    That’s why we can’t understand who exactly God is, it being inexplicable. He is infinite, above time, space, and matter, yet His glory fills the whole earth and all the vast unverse*s*. That’s why we recite the Shema twice daily, which is an affirmation to this: the belief in God’s Oneness. Without it, any Torah you do, and anything you do at all, is pointless in the end, and you’ll have no life beyond this world.

  18. Concerned Reader permalink
    February 21, 2016 5:54 pm

    First of all, Rambam (Maimonides) got into Greek philosophy. That was a mistake.

    Most rabbis (and Christian fathers too) had knowledge of Greek philosophy, as that was just the knowledge of the day into the middle ages. Everyone today knows about Einstein’s general relativity for example. Its not any more wrong to know philosophy.

    Chabad has become Christianity 2.0, unfortunately.

    Then you see my point? See how confusing that is? Rabbis say “Jesus=false” but then Judaism goes and grows a new Jesus. Far from irrelevant, its extremely relevant. Statements in the tanya about Jewish souls being “part of G-d” lead directly to Christian-like speculations. Maimonides has very exalted descriptions of Moses in the guide, so it is far from non orthodox to describe a human in exalted form. It seems that as long as this stuff is only taken allegorically, many sages had no problem.

  19. February 22, 2016 5:43 am

    Not “most” Rabbis, not at all! Greek philosophy may have been popular “knowledge” of the western word at one time, but a Rabbi learning philosophy is an oxymoron.

    No, I don’t see your point, because only unlearned people or people who are so fanatic they toss away the basics of Torah, who will idolize and messianize their Rebbes.

    I am a Breslover. We have the knowledge of several Tzadikim who embodied the soul of “Moses-Messiah”, which is spoken of in the Zohar. This over-soul constantly comes to reveal Torah to Israel.

    Moses was it, Rashbi, the author of the Zohar next embodied it. The Ari z”l embodied it. The Ba`al Shem Tov embodied it, and R’ Nahman of Breslov embodied it.

    All other great Sages and righteous men are branches from these main Tzadikim, just as all the prophets were second to Moses, none of them experienced prophecy on Moses’ level. They all saw through “an unclear glass”, that’s why they say “ko amar HaShem” (HaShem said like this), “like this” specifically, because it wasn’t crystal clear as it was for Moses.

    Not only do we believe this about these Tzadikim, but it is necessary to believe in them, and submit to their Torah revelations, primarily to put their revelations into practical action whenever necessary. Believing in R’ Nahman today, the Tzadik of our generation, is just as important as believing in Moses in his day. Only those who believed in HaShem and in His Tzadik of that generation were saved, as it says in “Song of the Sea”, “they (the people of Israel) believed in HaShem and in Moses, His servant”. It’s biblical.

    It has nothing to do with believing any of these Tzadikim are gods, man-gods, infallible, or anything like that. In fact, Rebbe Nahman said in response to the idea that if a Tzadik makes a mistake, some wouldn’t consider him a Tzadik. So he said, “When a Tzadik makes a mistake, the Tzadik remains a Tzadik, and the mistake remains a mistake”.

    These Tzadikim were Messiahs, but not the Messiah of the redemption. The Messiah of the redemption will be the next installment in this line of Tzadikim who are in the aspect of Moses, only this time he will be The Davidic Messiah.

    Just because Christianity wants to hijack some of these concepts and make them 100% idolatrous and pagan doesn’t mean the original concepts are invalid. That would be like saying if you oven gets dirty, you have to throw it out. Nonsense. Your argument is like saying not to have an oven in the first place, because if some people are stupid and don’t clean it, it will get dirty, i.e. they’ll make their Rabbi into a God or Messiah. That’s nonsense because it’s necessary to have an oven in the first place, and to keep it clean and usable. Anything you have can become tainted, destroyed, etc, if it’s not being handled right. The key is learning Torah, having a foundation in Tanakh and Halakha first, before anything else.

  20. Concerned Reader permalink
    February 22, 2016 12:56 pm

    So, you don’t see how a Tzaddik who is viewed as moshiach/shaliach of his generation can be easily divinized? Jesus’ students the ebionites didn’t deify him (in trinitarian terms,) but they came close enough because their words, (very similar to these that you have said) had the same cumulative effect. You say only the ignorant would make that mistake, but if your concepts need a theological dictionary or Judaism degree to properly process, I’m just saying, it can be dangerous, no offense meant.

    Genesis 31:11 Lets have a look at these verses: The angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ I answered, ‘Here I am.’

    Genesis 31:13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to ME. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.'”

    This agent of G-d said “I am G-d” to Jacob. Another agent of G-d speaks as G-d to Moses in the burning bush, yet another does the same in Joshua 5. You say “its obviously a creature we don’t pray to it.” I 100% understand that fact. The problem is, a creature (this shaliach of G-d,) is CALLING ITSELF G-d in 1st person! It is playing the part of G-d.

    You are then getting surprised that unlettered people come to the conclusion they do that its G-d? What you are saying regarding the tzaddik amiti Aaron, historians of early Christianity (in reference to early Christians,) would call low adotionalist Christology. Namely, the belief that someone is anointed with a higher soul at a specific time, and chosen to usher in the redemption.

  21. February 22, 2016 1:31 pm

    “So, you don’t see how a Tzaddik who is viewed as moshiach/shaliach of his generation can be easily divinized?”

    No. Not unless you forgot to say Shema` for the past few years.

    “You say only the ignorant would make that mistake, but if your concepts need a theological dictionary or Judaism degree to properly process, I’m just saying, it can be dangerous, no offense meant.”

    “My” concepts do need a Judaism degree, because you have to be learned in Tanakh and halakha before you can get anything else. That’s basic. It’s like learning basic math before Algebra, and you’re somehow saying that shouldn’t be. Of course it is, and any idiot who wants to read words outside of their context, which is halakha, is mistaken. R’ Nahman said to never take any of his novel Torah insights outside of halakha, because that which is holy will work within the realm of halakha, since halakha is the defining of what’s right and wrong

    There are 6 aspects: pure.tahor – impure/tame’, valid/kasher – invalid/pasul, permissible/mutar – prohibited/asur, interestingly the Mishna has 6 Orders – these all correspond to the 6 weekdays, the 6,000 years of creation, wherein you toil and labor; the 7th day, the Sabbath, or the 1,000 years of the Messiah’s reign, is the time where there is no going back-and-forth between these 6 categories, rather, you’ve settled/fully repented (שבת, shavta), which are the same letters as Shabbat (שבת), there is only rest because you fought the battle with the evil inclination over these 6 categories, you going from one to the other, and finally, you’ve made it to complete repentance. I’ve summed up one of the teachings of R’ Nahman in this paragraph, albeit in a very limited and lacking way.

    All Rabbis who are ordained must accept the Zohar as the authentic teachings of Rashbi. Many regular (non-Hasidic) Sepharadi Jews learn the Zohar and the writings of the Ari z”l. Even though Hasidim were named after followers of the Ba`al Shem Tov were called Hasidim, his grandson R’ Nahman of Breslov further revealed upon each of these layers. You have to adhere to his advice, because he knew what problems would come to be in the generations after his death, accurately predicting the wave of atheism and disbelief in the Sages which resulted in the Conservative and Reform movement, not to mention the “Enlightenment” where many Jews because gentiles altogether through intermarriage and giving up all faith in God and the Tzadikim.

    He predicted the insane world of sexual perversion that we live in. He stressed the importance of tikun habrit, which the Zohar states is the whole foundation of the Torah (brit mila is indicative of this). If you’re wondering more, which I hope you are, then you’ll have to go to one of my two blogs, a link there is on the blog that my name currently links to

    So no, I think this only proves what the Torah says, that in order to be saved you need to follow God and the Tzadik whom He sends for that generation, and it takes calling out to God from the depths and annulling your ego. Most people don’t even begin. It’s difficult because it’s real. For, lehavdil a million times, Yeshu, it’s easy, and there are immediate miralces of the סטרא אחרא to accompany the new belief, letting the Prince of Esau into their hearts. Not only that, they don’t just falsely claim that Yeshu was the messiah and the tzadik for all generations, they say he’s a god. That’s nothing compared to the truth about the real Tzadikim, it truly has nothing in common.

    It’s like saying we shouldn’t pray 5 times on Yom Kipur because Muslims pray 5 times… every day. We face our holy place and they face theirs. If we’re in a location where that is the same direction (like perhaps in Lebanon or Cyprus?) – could we pray in the same direction as them!? Of course we could! I don’t let Christianity or Islam detract from authentic Judaism.

    As for angels taking the Name of HaShem, the messenger is as the sender. That’s why a guy can use a messenger to betroth a woman, it’s valid, he doesn’t need to be there for the proposal acceptance, if he designates a messenger. Likewise when angels come in God’s Name, they are acting in HaShem’s behalf. HaShem does things through messengers/angels. If the Infinite were to come into this world, there would be no more world. Solomon wondered how even the Shekhina of HaShem could inhabit a physical building, the Temple.

  22. Concerned Reader permalink
    February 22, 2016 3:20 pm

    For, lehavdil a million times, Yeshu, it’s easy, and there are immediate miralces of the סטרא אחרא to accompany the new belief, letting the Prince of Esau into their hearts.

    You believe Jesus is the embodiment of Esau’s angel, whereas the true tzadik is Israel’s angel?

  23. February 23, 2016 12:05 am

    Hey guys, anybody would have example of paganism in christianity on top of the first apology of Justin Martyr?

  24. Concerned Reader permalink
    February 23, 2016 1:46 am

    Ok guys. First things first. Many people talk about paganism in Christianity while forgetting to ask a simple question. WHAT DO THE POLYTHEISTS SAY THEY BELIEVE FOR THEMSELVES?

    Look at the source that Remi just mentioned, namely Justin Martyr. Justin was writing a defense of Christianity highlighting “similarities,” so Romans would consider it palatable.

    If Christianity contained so many pagan ideas, why did it take pagans 300 years to realize it and embrace the religion?

    If you want pagan views, read pagan views.

    The one common thread you will see is that the people who were drawing parallels to paganism were Christians like Justin, not real polytheistic pagans. If you read any source that comes from real true confessed polytheists who say they are polytheists, they all share one thing in common.

    They bash the heck out of both Judaism and Christianity and consider them foolish. Don’t trust Christian sources to tell you how “pagan” Christianity was. That is apologetic material just like everything else Christians wrote.

    All early pagan references to Christianity call it a pernicious Jewish superstition that seeks to destroy traditional Roman values. I have seen Aaron make reference to Mithras. There is no connection between Christianity and Mithras backed by scholars in the relevant fields of study. Mithras was born from a rock, not a virgin woman. Also, take note the quote from Bart Ehrman below:

    “Take the idea that divine men in the ancient pagan world were thought to be born of virigins. It’s not true. What is true is that remarkable men – demigods, emperors, powerful figures of all kinds – were often thought to have been miraculously born. But it was not because their mothers did not have sex—which is what the early Christians said about Jesus and his mother. On the contrary, the mothers of these pagan divine men certainly did have sex. In fact, they had sex with a god to conceive their miraculous children. One might say they had divine sex.”

    http://ehrmanblog.org/did-jesus-exist-the-birth-of-a-divine-man-for-members/

    http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/shkand-gumanig-wizar (This is a polemical text against Judaism and Christianity written in the 9th century by Zoroastrians, IE actual polytheists.)

    The problem with both Judaism and Christianity when discussing “paganism” is that nobody actually talks to the polytheists about what they believe, they understand them through the lens of preconceived beliefs.)

    Many actual polytheists already consider Jews to be polytheists, (despite the insistence from Jews that they are not polytheists.)

    How so?

    Israel prays to one divinity, but believes in countless lesser beings they call angels.

    A Jewish person might say “but I don’t pray to the angels.”

    A pagan might say in reply, “so what! I don’t pray to the gods, what would such an action accomplish?”

    Jews and Christians don’t really realize how Prayer and intercession are very uniquely Jewish/Christian biblical notions. Prayer presumes a few things that many polytheists simply deny to be true.

    1. Praying assumes a deity hears prayers
    2. prayer assumes a deity cares
    3. prayer assumes that such actions will be effective

    THESE ABOVE ARE BELIEFS MOSTLY UNIQUE TO JUDAISM

    while polytheists may believe in “gods” there is no direct analogy to Judaism’s view of G-d.

    gods in many cultures are just ambivalent forces or spirits of nature, not beings who hear prayers. In many traditions, if they are beings, they are highly exalted, but terrestrial. Spirits that live, die, and are reborn.” Some traditions feel no deity exists and merely opt for introspection.

    Drawing links between polytheism and Christianity (because of Christmas and Easter) glosses over so many profound differences that it boggles my mind.

  25. February 23, 2016 9:44 am

    “You believe Jesus is the embodiment of Esau’s angel, whereas the true tzadik is Israel’s angel?”

    No, not at all. Tzadikim aren’t angels, they’re humans. And Jews are above the angels and above the constellations, whereas the gentiles are subject to the stars (astrological changes) and the angels above them.

    A Sage once said to an angel “ana bisra, wa-ana `adifna minakh” which in Aramaic means “I’m flesh, but I’m preferrable to/better than you”. Why? Because angels have no free will like humans do, they’re “programmed” to do certain things.

    The persona that xtians worship is the “prince” of Edom, the Samekh-Mem himself.

    I won’t discuss this kind of thing anymore, because much of this shouldn’t be discussed in a public forum.

    The point is: Christians worship a man god. Jews don’t, unless they’re heretics, and then they’re considered “as [idolatrous] gentiles with every regard”, according to halakha. Case closed, it’s simple, no need for going back and forth with novel-sized comments.

  26. February 23, 2016 9:45 am

    “Prayer presumes a few things that many polytheists simply deny to be true.

    1. Praying assumes a deity hears prayers
    2. prayer assumes a deity cares
    3. prayer assumes that such actions will be effective”

    CR, are you sure polytheists do not pray and assume all of the above? In 1 Kings 18:23-29, the prophets of Ba’al seem to be not only praying to their “god”, but fully expecting their actions to be effective at rousing Ba’al to action:

    And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered.

  27. February 23, 2016 12:36 pm

    Hi CR, do you have other text written by Christian then. I don’t mind if the pagan think that’s not true. As long as it’s a church father and he said to the pagan, look my religion looks like yours. I can use it :)

  28. Concerned Reader permalink
    February 23, 2016 2:42 pm

    No Remi, you are missing my whole point. I have text written by polytheists, not affiliated with monotheism or the bible in any way.

    Just because a Church father tried to draw commonalities, doesn’t mean those commonalities really exist. Take Acts 14:12 where pagans claim that Zeus and Hermes have “come down in human form.” What does it mean to a Greek for his deity to come down? It means that the person (Barnabas in that case) had Zeus consciousness, not that they were literally eternal, literally divine, or anything like what Christians mean when they speak of their idea.

    The oracle at Delphi would have a hallucinogenic effect because of the site’s location, so that she was deemed Possessed by the spirit of a divinity. In India there are children that are worshiped as goddesses until they reach puberty.

    http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/05/28/410074105/the-very-strange-life-of-nepals-child-goddess

    One woman who was previously viewed as a Kumari said the following: “Actually the room was quite scary, only lit through oil lamps. But then WHEN YOU GET THE POWER of the goddess you don’t get scared at all. Even though I was 5 years old I was sitting there quite calm,” she says.

    She went through various rituals, and at the end, “GOT the power of the goddess.” In other words, rituals of sacrifice, meditation, being examined for certain characteristics, can mean that someone is believed able to embody the power after the process.” When they grow up, they relinquish the role.

    For Hindu’s Atman (the soul) is Brahman (the whole,) all forms of life are deemed to have part of divinity in them that are accessed through the ritual efforts of the adherent. Its more akin to theurgy than what Jews or Christians mean by prayer.

    G-d does not have to answer when you pray. For some polytheists, the power is gained through the ritual. Divinity can’t be called sovereign in the Jewish sense in a polytheistic system.

  29. Concerned Reader permalink
    February 23, 2016 2:48 pm

    Gene, many do assume those things, yes, because the assertions for divine intervention cannot be empirically verified. Also, polytheists are much more open to different approaches to the divine. The point I’m trying to make is that you should learn the reality before you try and draw parallels between worldviews that contradict each other on every level.

  30. Concerned Reader permalink
    February 23, 2016 2:52 pm

    “No, not at all. Tzadikim aren’t angels, they’re humans.”

    Well, I mean, the serpent in the garden was metaphorically ridden by Samech-Mem, so I’m guessing you believe that happened with J, if you are going off toldot Yeshu. I understand why you wouldn;t want to talk about this in public, but all the literature is available online anyway.

  31. February 23, 2016 3:17 pm

    “No Remi, you are missing my whole point.”

    You mean that the Christians said “to the pagan, I will become pagan that I might win some”.

    And the PaganforPaganism.org counter them back saying that Christianity has nothing to do with paganism!

    I still would like more quotes from the early church… They kinda shoot in their own foot!

  32. February 23, 2016 4:31 pm

    What do you believe now CR?

  33. Concerned Reader permalink
    February 23, 2016 5:11 pm

    You mean that the Christians said “to the pagan, I will become pagan that I might win some”.

    Exactly. If you consider the beliefs as Pagans actually believed and practiced, Christianity is nowhere similar to that. Christians that quote paganism are often dealing with Plato or Aristotle, or philosophical systems that have allegorized pagan myth. For example, hermeticism. In other words, Christian quotes on paganism don’t tell us much about the reality of the beliefs, but about Christian polemic against those beliefs.

  34. Concerned Reader permalink
    February 24, 2016 4:48 am

    Aaron, what do you make of the tradition that says Enoch became an angel? Is the title of angel merely conferred on him as a way of saying he fully negated his will to G-d’s?

  35. February 24, 2016 5:32 am

    Enoch and Elijah became literal angels as far as I understand, but I have no idea if that means they have no free will at all or not. I’m sure there those who know, but I don’t.

  36. remi4321 permalink
    February 29, 2016 2:24 pm

    CR, do you have those quotes from the pagans who denied the Paganism root of Christianity?

    https://wordpress.com/post/therealmessianic.wordpress.com/178

  37. The Real Messianic permalink
    March 24, 2016 12:29 pm

    Hi, I miss this site :).

    A quick question, why is it an Asham on Leviticus 6 and not a Chatat?

    Thanks

  38. March 24, 2016 1:24 pm

    “Hi, I miss this site :)”

    Sorry, had to take a break for the family. I have a newborn:) Will restart soon.

    Regarding Lev 6:

    I found this on Judaism 101 site: “When there was doubt as to whether a person committed a sin, the person would make an asham, rather than a chatat, because bringing a chatat would constitute admission of the sin, and the person would have to be punished for it. If a person brought an asham and later discovered that he had in fact committed the sin, he would have to bring a chatat at that time.”

  39. The Real Messianic permalink
    March 24, 2016 1:28 pm

    Mazel Tov!

    I know, I saw the same article, but the sin looks on purpose in Leviticus 5 (6):

    If a person sins, betraying the Lord by falsely denying to his fellow concerning a deposit…

    or he found a lost article and he denied it and swore falsely regarding any one of all these cases whereby a man may sin…

    Why an Asham then?

  40. The Real Messianic permalink
    March 24, 2016 1:30 pm

    By the way, a boy or a girl?

  41. March 24, 2016 1:35 pm

    “Why an Asham then?”

    May be there’s doubt under those circumstances?

    “By the way, a boy or a girl?”

    This time it’s a boy!:)

  42. March 27, 2016 10:23 am

    I know. It sure looks INTENTIONAL. I’m looking at it (Lev.5:20-22), but I’m told: “Who are you going to believe, me or your lyin’ eyes?” (i.e. I’ve been told: “sacrifices are for UNintentional sins”)

  43. The Real Messianic permalink
    March 28, 2016 11:20 am

    But it’s not a “Sin” sacrifice Leonard, it’s an Asham… I does look intentional, but who knows why an Asham then?

  44. March 28, 2016 4:16 pm

    Mazal tov, Gene!

  45. March 31, 2016 10:00 am

    So an asham is for intentional sins (if sin sacrifice is for unintentional, then asham is for intentional?)? Your statement wasn’t clear.

  46. The Real Messianic permalink
    March 31, 2016 12:00 pm

    Well, I am not an expert Leonard… That passage does not seem to fit the description, but there must be something I don’t understand about it…

    http://www.jewfaq.org/qorbanot.htm

    Asham: Guilt Offering

    A guilt offering is an offering to atone for sins of stealing things from the altar, for when you are not sure whether you have committed a sin or what sin you have committed, or for breach of trust. The Hebrew word for a guilt offering is asham. When there was doubt as to whether a person committed a sin, the person would make an asham, rather than a chatat, because bringing a chatat would constitute admission of the sin, and the person would have to be punished for it. If a person brought an asham and later discovered that he had in fact committed the sin, he would have to bring a chatat at that time. An asham was eaten by the kohanim.

    Chatat: Sin Offering

    A sin offering is an offering to atone for and purge a sin. It is an expression of sorrow for the error and a desire to be reconciled with G-d. The Hebrew term for this type of offering is chatat, from the word chayt, meaning “missing the mark.” A chatat could only be offered for unintentional sins committed through carelessness, not for intentional, malicious sins. The size of the offering varied according to the nature of the sin and the financial means of the sinner. Some chatatot are individual and some are communal. Communal offerings represent the interdependence of the community, and the fact that we are all responsible for each others’ sins. A few special chatatot could not be eaten, but for the most part, for the average person’s personal sin, the chatat was eaten by the kohanim.

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