To explain away Jews 2000 year refusal to “accept” Jesus as a god (let alone a messiah) many missionaries blithely say that “Jews are blind – a “veil” has been put before your eyes so you can’t see the “truth” that Jesus is the messiah.” This outrageous slander is straight from the Christian bible:
"We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in (Jesus) is it taken away." 2 Corinthians 3:13-14.
This is the opposite of what the Torah tells us about Moses. Either Paul is lying to his readers or he didn't realize that the Torah says the exact opposite of what he claims it says (about Moses and his veil).
And WHAT was supposedly “passing away”? The eternal promises G-d made to the Jews which He repeatedly tells us ARE eternal?
"And You did establish to Yourself Your people Israel to be a people unto You forever; and You, L-rd, became their G-d." 2 Shmuel 7:24 / 2 Samuel 7:24.
"The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our G-d will stand forever." YeshayahuI / saiah 40:8.
"Forever, O L-rd, Your word stands in the heavens. . . Were not Your Torah my occupation, then I would have perished in my affliction. (T'hillim / Psalm 119:89-92).
"Thus shall the children of Israel observe the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant. Between Me and the children of Israel, it is forever a sign." Sh'mot / Exodus 31:16-17.
"The hidden things belong to the L-rd, our G-d, but the revealed things apply to us and to our children forever: that we must fulfill all the words of this Torah." D'varim / Deuteronomy 29:28
Paul is either ignorant of G-d's eternal promises to the Jew -- or he is simply lying to his followers. Paul even has the arrogance to say “But their minds were made dull (the Jews) for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It (the veil) has not been removed, because only in (Jesus) is it taken away.”
Paul says the Jewish mind is dull, yet G-d says the revealed things apply to us and to our children forever.
Which is it?
Who to believe: Paul or G-d?
And what does the Jewish bible say about the veil? Did Moses wear a veil when he spoke to the Jews as Paul states?
NO, he did not! Read the Torah!
The applicable passage is Sh'mot / Exodus 34. Read for yourselves and realize that Paul reversed the words of G-d.
The radiance of Moses was too much to bear. His face was literally glowing, having been in the presence of G-d. The people had just let 3000 create a golden calf, and they had not prevented it from happening. They felt ashamed, knowing that they had lacked enough trust in G-d. Knowing the context now read Sh'mot / Exodus 34:30 " “When Aaron (Moses' brother and the first Jewish priest) and all the Israelites saw that the skin of Moses' face was shining with a brilliant light, they were afraid to come close to him.”
The hood (not veil) did not separate the Jews from G-d, or even from Moses. They still listened to Moses and heard G-d’s words -- and there was NO VEIL or hood. They saw Moses' shining face (it was NOT veiled or hidden).
Moses put the hood on AFTER he had finished giving the Jews the word of G-d (the opposite of Paul's claim) . Moses was not hooded (veiled) when he spoke to the Jews.
Also, remember that all of the Jews had heard G-d speak to all of them once before – at Sinai when G-d gave the Jews the 10 utterances (commandments) in His own voice. All 3 million Jews heard G-d speak to them.
When Moses entered his tent to speak with G-d he did not wear a veil.
Moses never wore a veil when speaking to G-d or when giving G-d’s words to the people.
Paul is 100% wrong -- whether because he did not know the truth or because he lied to his followers. Paul was not above lying to gain his purpose:
"Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances G-d’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” Romans 3:7.
"But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless being crafty, I caught you with guile." 2 Corinithians 12:16.
When calling the Jews blind (contrary to the word of G-d) and while saying that Moses put a veil over his face to prevent the Jews from seeing the end of what was passing away (the ETERNAL covenant of G-d) Paul either lied (as he himself admits to doing (above) or he was so unaware of the truth that he misled his readers through ignorance.
Where is this “veil” (hood) that Moses wore to prevent Jews from seeing the end of the eternal promises of G-d?
It doesn’t exist.
G-d does not lie -- His promises of "forever" and "eternal" wer not lies.
Moses hiding his face from the Jews while he spoke G-d's messages to the Jews is also a lie.
Let's revisit the applicable passages in the Torah which speak of Moses covering his face.
"(Moses) descended from the mountain and Moses did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant while He (G-d) had spoken with him. . .all the children of Israel saw Moses and behold! the skin of his face had become radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the princes of the community returned to him, and Moses would speak to them." Sh'mot / Exodus 34:29 - 31.
Moses' face is NOT COVERED. The people came forward and Moses spoke to them (no veil / hood).
Paul either lied or he was so poorly educated that he accidentally reversed what the Torah actually says. Moses only covered his face AFTER he finished speaking to the Jews. His face was never covered while speaking to them. Again this is the OPPOSITE of what Paul wrote.
Read Sh'mot / Exodus chapter 34 for yourself!
"the children of Israel would draw near, and he would command them everything that the L-rd had spoken with him on Mount Sinai.
When Moses had finished speaking with them, he placed a covering over his face." Sh'mot / Exodus 34:32 - 33
The words of the Torah are the OPPOSITE of what Paul claims. Moses only covered his face when he was finished speaking to the Jews.
When the words of G-d are communicated to the Jews there is NO VEIL. (hood).
This is repeated again:
"When Moses would come before the L-rd to speak with Him, he would remove the covering until he left; then he would leave and speak to the children of Israel what he would be commanded. Then the children of Israel would see Moses' face, that the skin of Moses' face had become radiant, and [then] Moses would replace the covering over his face until he would come [again] to speak with Him." Sh'mot / Exodus 34:34 - 35.
Moses’ face was UNCOVERED when speaking to G-d.
Moses’ face was UNCOVERED when communicating G-d’s message to the Jews.
Moses' face was covered when he had finished speaking tot he Jews, until such time as he spoke again to G-d.
It is amazing that missionaries claim Jews are blind -- ignoring the words of the T'nach (bible), but they themselves blindly believe the lies of Paul who clearly distorts what the Jewish bible really says (whether through innocent ignorance or willful guile). A little "fact checking" would show them the truth!
Yet, type in the words "blind Jews" on an internet search engine and find website after website who insist Jews are blind because Paul says so!
The blindness and stubbornness is not on the side of Jews – but on the side of those who claim to “fulfill” our bible and then lie about it. Distort it. And then those same missionaries say hateful things about us Jews to boot.
Jews didn't "reject" Jesus because we are blind. Jesus failed to fulfill any messianic prophecies, and he most certainly was not G-d!
Ask yourself, if Paul reversed what the Torah said in this instance then how much more can you believe in the Christian bible? If you want to know G-d (and you are a Jewish follower of Jesus) then before you destroy your eternal relationship with G-d through idolatry read the T'nach for yourself (not an "old" testament). Compare the words of G-d with the words in the Christian bible. Research the history of the "church" and how Jesus became a "god" over time. Compare the commonality of Christianity with pagan religions of the time (it shares far more with the pagan religions than with Judaism). Do not take my word for anything -- demand proof. G-d does not lie, but Paul did.
Do a search on the internet of the word "Jew" and you will find site after site claiming that Jews are not the people of the bible. They will claim that the word "Jew" only applied to members of the tribe of Judah (one of twelve tribes, the descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (the sons and grandsons of Jacob). G-d renamed Jacob "Israel" and the nation came to be called Israel, or Bnei Yisrael (the children of Israel). The Jews of today are (for the most part) still the descendents of those ancient people. I say "for the most part" because a non-Jew may convert and join the Jewish nation, but historically (and DNA proves this out) most Jews have remained from the initial family of Jews.
No, Jews are not a race. There are black, white, and every ethnicity in between Jews. There are red headed Jews (King David was one!), blonde Jews and freckled Jews. . . we are not a race, but we are a people. We are a family. We are a nation.
The anti-semites (anti-Jews) claim that with the destruction of מַמְלֶכֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל / the Northern Kingdom of Israel around 2700 years ago that at least 10 of the 12 tribes "disappeared." This is not true in that members of all the tribes also resided in מַמְלֶכֶת יְהוּדָה / the Southern Kingdom of Judah. So let's start with a little history lesson (from the T'nach / bible) to refresh some memories.
King David's son, Solomon, inherited the kingdom. When he died, around 796 BCE (before the common era) his son Rehoboam becomes king. If you are familiar with the American Civil War you can understand what happened. The northern half of the country resented Rehoboam and his decrees (and also as a punishment to Solomon for letting his wives practice idolatry). Half the country broke away forming the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
The people who think the tribes in the northern kingdom are somehow inheritors of the covenant (and that if they think they are somehow modern descendents of those long lost people) really need to read their T'nach (bible) a bit more closely, for most of those people became idolaters and were cut off from G-d and the Jewish people.
יָרָבְעָם / Y'roboam (Jeroboam) became the king of Israel (the northern kingdom) and he set up Temples in Beit El and Dan. This is in violation of G-d who clearly stated that all qorban (sacrifices) must be brought in only the Temple in Jerusalem (Bamidbar / Numbers 12). Y'roboam went even further than that and made not one, but TWO golden calves! Think back to the story of Moses when the erev rav made a golden calf and the Jews did not prevent it! This act of idolatry is considered one of the worst in Jewish history (even though only 3000 Jews out of 3 million took part), and yet Y'roboam makes not one but TWO of these atrocities???
"The king took counsel and made two golden calves, and he said to them, saying, "It is far for you to go up to Jerusalem; here are your gods, O Israel, that have brought you up from the land of Egypt." 1 Melachim 12:28 / 1 Kings 12:28.
"Here are your gods?????" The Torah is clear that a Jew who turns to idolatry (and does not return to G-d) is no longer Jewish. That person is cut off from G-d and the Jewish people.
"However, if a person commits [such an act of idolatry] high-handedly, whether he is native born or a proselyte, he is blaspheming G-d, and that person shall be cut off [spiritually] from among his people. Since he has denigrated G-d's word and violated His commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off [spiritually and] his sin shall remain upon him." Bamidbar / Numbers 15:30-31.
During the history of the northern kingdom it is one idolatrous king after another. While some Jews remained Jewish (trekking to Jerusalem) the majority were disconnected from Torah and from G-d. There were nineteen kings for nearly 250 years who led their people deeper and deeper into idolatry. G-d sent the prophet Elijah to the northern kingdom trying to get them to return to observance. For a time it seemed to work, the people returned to G-d -- but not for long.
"Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah saying, "So may the gods do and so may they continue unless at this time tomorrow, I will make your life like the life of one of them." 1 Melcahim 19:2 / 1 Kings 19:2.
Elijah fled to save his life and the people soon returned to their false gods.
The point being that the people of the northern kingdom, for the most part, are lost to history. They are not the "inheritors of the covenant." They became idolaters, they did not return to G-d. Just as many Jews today are fooled into becoming "messianic Jews" and thinking that they are still Jewish, their children will not be Jews, they will be Christians. The Jews of ancient Israel turned away from G-d. They are, for the most part, lost to history. 2700 years later what are the odds that there is an unbroken chain of Jewish mothers having Jewish girls who in turn have Jewish children in an unbroken chain? Highly, highly unlikely.
Recently some peoples have been discovered to seem to have Jewish roots (Ethiopia and China are two examples). In those cases if the people want to join the Jewish people they must undergo a Jewish halachic (legal) conversion to Judaism. They may have some Jewish heritage, but they are not Jews without a legal conversion.
Which brings me back to the word "Jew."
Many anti-semites will try to claim that the word "Jew" only applied to members of the tribe of Judah. This claim is based on ignorance of the T'nach (bible). In the book of Esther Mordechai is called a Jew “from the tribe of Benjamin.” Similarly Jewish priests are from the tribe of Levi. Obviously all the tribes are called “Jew” just as they are called “Israel” and “Hebrew.” It is simply a different word meaning the same thing – the people of Israel. Even the Christian bible has Paul claiming to be a "Jew from the tribe of Benjamin."
The term "Jew" most likely came to be the common term because the last land (prior to the modern state of Israel) of our nation was "Judah."
Consider a comparison. There was once a royal family in England named "York." Richard III was a King from the house of York. There is also a town in England called York. There is a city in America called "new" York. The city is located in a state also called "new" York.
So ask yourself, is someone called "York" related to King Richard III?
Probably not. Most likely they simply live in York or New York (take your pick).
“Who is a Jew” is determined by being born to a Jewish mother, or by a legal Jewish conversion with a Beit Din (Jewish Court). There are those who insist they are “of Israel” based on neither, and they will strongly insist they are Jewish – perhaps one of the “lost” tribes or just because the “feel Jewish” or because their father may be Jewish.
None of those reasons meet Jewish law as outlined in the bible and in the Talmud.
Just as one can’t suddenly declare themselves to be the King / Queen of England (the Yorks have not been English kings ever since Richard III who was deposed by the Tudors -- and they aren't around any more either!) and expect to be taken seriously, it is ridiculous to think that a non-Jew (per Jewish law) can come along and insist they are Jewish (or “Israel”).
It is also just as ridiculous for an anti-semite to try to de-legitimize Jews by claiming we are not Jewish. Some truly rabid anti-semites will go so far as to state that Jesus was not Jewish (even though the Christian bible claims that he was not only Jewish, but the "king of the Jews"!).
“Feeling Jewish” is one where illogic trumps everything. You can feel Chinese, but if you were born to Anglo-Saxon parents you are not Oriental. The same is true for Jews – “who is a Jew” is determined by Jews and our courts, not by someone’s “feelings.” Nowhere can a person declare himself to be something and have it "be so." You can't go to Ireland and suddenly declare yourself Irish because you "feel" Irish! Why would it be any different with "who is a Jew"?
In recent times various spin-off groups of Jews (or Jewish wannabes) have taken the stance that “I have a Jewish father but a non-Jewish mother, but I'm still Jewish because my father is a Jew." Some denominations have recently gone along with this claim -- but unfortunately for them and their children the bible and Jewish law disagrees with them.
In the time of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) descent followed the patriarchs and their women. However, the period of the Patriarchs was before the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. It was only with the revelation on Sinai that the Jewish people received their legal system. However, post Sinaic Covenant the T'nach (bible) clearly tells us that “who is a Jew” passes from a Jewish mother, and not the father.
D’varim / Deuteronomy 7 says “he [the non-Jewish male spouse] will cause your child to turn away from Me and they will worship the gods of others." The Hebrew wording and the knowledge of Torah are required for the correct understanding of the message these two verses convey. The Torah teaches two important concepts here. On the one hand, with the understanding that the "he" in D’varim / Deuteronomy 7:4 refers to the non-Jewish father-in-law, the one referred to as "your son" is the son of the Israelite father, a Jew, who is marrying the daughter of the non-Jewish father. The verse then states that this Israelite son will " serve other gods ", which means that any children of this marriage will be Gentiles, following the race and faith of their Gentile mother. This is reaffirmed in The Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin 68b.
Perhaps the strongest statement that "who is Jewish" is passed by a Jewish mother (and not by a Jewish father and a non-Jewish woman) is in the book of Ezra the prophet. "And Shechaniah, the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, raised his voice and said to Ezra, "We have betrayed our G-d, and we have taken in foreign wives of the peoples of the land, but now there is hope for Israel concerning this. And now, let us make a covenant with our G-d to cast out all the wives and their offspring, by the counsel of the Lord and those who hasten to [perform] the commandment of our G-d, and according to the Law it shall be done." Ezra 10:2-3 (2) .
"According to the Torah (וְכַתּוֹרָ֖ה) it shall be done." Torah = bible (G-d's rules).
This halacha (Jewish law) is codified in the Code of Jewish Law, HaEzer 8:5, and in the Rambam's' Mishneh Torah, Laws of Forbidden Relationships, 15:4: "This is the general rule: The status of an offspring from a gentile man or from a gentile woman is the same as his mother's; we disregard the father."
Use logic. Other than G-d's mitzvot the laws were decreed by men. The courts were run by men. The governments were run by men. If being Jewish could be passed paternally men would no doubt have made that the law! The fact that men cannot pass on "Jewishness" is not "man made" -- it is biblical.
Do we ignore the father completely? Certainly not. The father is the one who determines what tribe the child is from. That is: Kohen, Levi, Yisrael. Also, in determining royalty and other leadership roles among the Jewish people we go from father to son.” Link.
The focus of this posting are three topics:
Another Jewish source quoted by the missionaries as they insist that the ancient Jewish commentators "with one accord" said that Isaiah 53 spoke only of the messiah is Sanhedrin 98b. The image is of Sanhedrin 98b for those who can read it.
The claim that the ancient Jewish commentators "with one accord" said that Isaiah 53 spoke only of the messiah is false reading the words of Origen (about 248 CE early Christian) who said "“Now I remember that, on one occasion, at a disputation held with certain Jews, who were reckoned wise men, I quoted these prophecies (Isaiah 52:13-53:8); to which my Jewish opponent replied, that these predictions [referring to Isaiah 52 and 53] bore reference to the whole people, regarded as one individual, and as being in a state of dispersion and suffering, in order that many proselytes might be gained, on account of the dispersion of the Jews among numerous heathen nations."
As I mentioned in the post about the misuse of the Targum Yonathan, these supposed quotes from Jewish sources which are claimed to be only of "the" messiah are either misused, taken out of context, totally mistranslated, some are completely made up and don't exist at all. I think most missionaries are honest people who truly want to lead others to G-d. Most have been lied to themselves, so they believe the lies and unfortunately "pass on" the lies they themselves have been told. Most of those lies come from the Driver and Neubauer 19th century book (also discussed in the previous post).
I am not going to examine every since distortion as to do so would take years (remember they come from a book!). I will try to focus on many of the most used misquotes, and that will hopefully show readers the source is not reliable. Feel free to research quotes on your own, or send me a message via the comment page if you have a specific passage you'd like to question.
On to Sanhedrin 98b is part of the Talmud. At some point we need to discuss what the Talmud is (many missionary sites lie and say it is "Judaism's holiest book" -- and that we put the T'nach (bible) below it). Total nonsense and lies, so the topic of the Talmud (what it is and is not) does deserve a complete post (or two or three) of its own, but doing so will digress from our topic. In brief, the Talmud is a legal text book -- as if lawyers sat down to discuss the finer points of the law and debate it. In the Talmud along with the legal debates מדרשי הלכה / midrash halacha there are stories -- some funny, some moral -- none literal. These stories are called מדרש אגדה / midrash aggadah.
Missionaries often quote מדרש אגדה / midrash aggadah as if to "prove" that the rabbis thought one way or another. Michael Brown, a missionary, often references aggadot -- but although I have read four of five of his books I don't recall ever reading him defining for his readers that these are stories and not a literal interpretation by our sages. I don't blame Brown, any more than I blame any other modern missionary. Brown left Judaism at a young age and his training has been via non-Jewish sources. He may be honsestly presenting information to his readers -- without realizing how badly he is misleading them.
Origen may have told his fellow Christians in the 3rd century that the Jews stated Isaiah 53 was about the Jewish people. The Ramban (Nachmanides) explained the same thing to the King of Aragon (Spain) in the 12th century CE: "In terms of the true meaning of the section, it s(Isaiah 53) peaks only of the people of Israel, which the prophets regularly call 'Israel My servant' or 'Jacob My servant."
The missionary debating the Ramban, Paul Christiani, said: "I shall prove from the words of your sages that it speaks of the messiah."
Christiani was making the same mistake made by missionaries today: confusing the literal (p'shat) meaning and stories. The Ramban explained to the King: "We have a third book called Midrash, meaning sermons. It is just as if the bishop would rise and deliver a sermon, and one of the listeners whom the sermon pleased recorded it." (Disputation at Barcelona).
The modern resource The Encyclopedia Judaica says this about :אַגָּדָה / aggadah: "The aggadah comprehends a great variety of forms and content. It includes narrative, legends, doctrines, admonitions to ethical conduct and good behavior, words of encouragement and comfort, and expressions of hope for future redemption. Its forms and modes of expression are as rich and colorful as its content. Parables and allegories, metaphors and terse maxims; lyrics, dirges, and prayers, biting satire and fierce polemic, idyllic tales and tense dramatic dialogues, hyperboles and plays on words, permutations of letters, calculations of their arithmetical values (gematria) or their employment as initials of other words (notarikon) – all are found in the aggadah. . ."
Which brings us back to Sanhedrin 98b. The missionaries. are taking this aggadah (funny story) and quoting it as if it were literally saying the sages are stating that Isaiah 53 is about the messiah, saying that the name 'Shiloh' is the name of the messiah, according to the Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b.
Well, it is one of many names tossed about in this aggadah which is meant to be a humorous story showing that trying to know the name of the messiah until he comes is POINTLESS. This joke has the rabbis sitting around talking about "who will the messiah be?" They have a variety of suggestions, each one a bit more ridiculous than the next -- ending with "he is the leper scholar!"
Sanhedrin 98b discusses the "leper scholar" (the word was not really leprosy -- it related to many skin diseases not just what modern people think of as leprosy). The "leper scholar" was a real Jew and he is mentioned a few times in Talmud. The leper scholar somehow became missionary fodder (they thought the rabbis were speaking of Jesus) because of a joke in Talmud. Why is the punchline of the joke that the messiah will be the leper scholar?
Why? Because "he will bear our sins." The leper scholar is a figure in the Talmud who was struck by leprosy for teaching without Rebbi's permission suggests that it would be likely that comparing the leper scholar to the servant in Isaiah 53 was simply a joke. The complete expression is: חִיוְרָא דְבֵּי רַבִּי ḥivra d'bei rabbi / “the leper of the school of Rabbi [Yehuda HaNasi / Judah the Prince]. Translations of Sanhedrin 98b translate this as “leper."
Sanhedrin 98b's conversation is lifted out of context and suddenly it becomes missionary fodder. In the text the rabbis ask each other what is the messiah's name? And they have various answers. The one that gets the apologists all excited is the one that jokingly says:
"The Rabbis said: His name is 'the leper scholar,' as it is written, Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him a leper, smitten of G-d, and afflicted."
The leper scholar was a real person who shows up time and again in Talmud. This statement is a joke where the rebbes are saying hey, maybe it was THIS guy. 'Margulious HaYom' by Rabbi Reuven Margolious. 2 page 81 paragraph #16 says:
"Rebbi had a exceptional student who taught a chapter of the work of the chariot without the permission of his Rabbi, and he was stricken with leprosy. This student who was stricken with leprosy was called 'the leper of the house of Rebbi."
Sanhedrin 98b has one rabbi saying this will be the name of the messiah and another saying, no THIS is the name of the messiah. The sages bandy about the names of David, Daniel, Moses, Haninah and others. The leper scholar is just another name in a long laundry list and again is aggadah. . . each name less likely than the last -- a JOKE. This is NOT something to be taken literally.
Read Sanhedrin 98b for yourself and you will see that the missionaries are proof texting. Proof texting is taking a word or a small section and quoting it while ignoring the context around it. In other words "ignore all meaning and cherry pick for ANYTHING that seems to support Jesus as messiah."
So let's look at a bigger chunk of Sanhedrin 98b
"R. Hillel, who maintained that there will be no Messiah for Israel, since they have already enjoyed him during the reign of Hezekiah"
So Hillel says the messiah has already come . . .
"What is his [the Messiah's] name? — The School of R. Shila said: His name is Shiloh, for it is written, until Shiloh come."
Jesus was not named Shiloh -- ergo this was not met by Jesus either.
"The School of R. Yannai said: His name is Yinnon, for it is written, His name shall endure for ever e'er the sun was, his name is Yinnon."
Yet again -- this does NOT fit Jesus. . .
"The School of R. Haninah maintained: His name is Haninah, as it is written, Where I will not give you Haninah.
"Others say: His name is Menahem the son of Hezekiah, for it is written, Because Menahem ['the comforter'], that would relieve my soul. . .
"The Rabbis said: His name is 'the G-d scholar,' as it is written, Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him a god, smitten of G-d, and afflicted.
"R. Nahman said: if he [the Messiah] is of those living [to day], it might be one like myself, as it is written, And their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governors shall proceed from the midst of them.
"Rab said: if he is of the living, it would be our holy Master; if of the dead, it would have been Daniel the most desirable man.
"Rab Judah said in Rab's name: The Holy One, blessed be He, will raise up another David for us. as it is written, But they shall serve the L-rd their G-d, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them: not 'I raised up', but 'I will raise up' is said.
"R. Papa said to Abaye: But it is written, And my servant David shall be their prince [nasi] for everE.g., an emperor and a viceroy."
In closing: in Midrash Aggadah teachers (rabbis) take an old topic and apply it to provide some new insight or idea to it a twist. It is not meant to be taken literally and many are puns and interesting rabbit trails, nothing more. So, no, Sanhedrin 98b is not "proof" that the ancient Jewish commentators "with one accord" said that Isaiah 53 spoke only of the messiah. Some people just can't take a joke!
In an earlier blog I remarked that in 1877 two men, Driver and Neubauer, published a book entitled The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters. This book is often quoted by missionaries on the internet to "prove" that "rabbis" pre-Rashi (an 11th century Jewish sage) believed that the servant in Isaiah 53 was the messiah. They claim the rabbis "changed" the interpretation from the messiah to the Jewish people to discredit Jesus as possibly being the servant of Isaiah 53.
Although many internet sites use quotes from this book, many don't credit the source -- but if you do a quick search on the internet you can find copies of the book in PDF form to read for yourself. Be forwarned that it is nothing but an apologetic. Driver and Neubauer do not give their sources (so it is difficult to research the originals to check them for accuracy). The reference obscure Jewish sources (like Ibn Crispin who was nearly unknown before the missionaries, including Michael Brown, referred to him as a "significant commentator. . . interpreting this key passage with reference to the sufferings of the Messiah son of David." ”). Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus (Vol. 2 page 227). Ibn Crispin was not a significant commentator (he was so obscure it took some research to find out who he was!). He was a poet and a Yeminite poet who lived in the 14th century. He was into mysticism in a big way so to take his writings literally is to distort them. His most famous book was "Sefer ha-Musar” which had major Averroistic themes. (The main concept was the marriage of religion and philosophy).
Averoes (for those unfamiliar with him) was a MUSLIM philosopher of the 12th century named Abu'l-Walid Ibn Rushd. He came from Cordova (same as Ibn Crispin). Averoes tried to reconcile Aristotle’s theories with Islam. His work was translated into Hebrew and it influenced a whole generation – and Moshe Ibn Crispin was one of the MOST influenced by him. THIS is not a rabbinic source, and most certainly NOT a "significant commentator."
Just like the lists of 365 so called prophecies about Jesus in the T'nach (Jewish bible) impress casual readers by their sheer size, these lists of "rabbinical" and "significant" Jewish sources who the missionaries claim re-enforce the idea of the messiah as the servant in Isaiah 53 (thus pointing, they think, to Jesus) are highly inflated and either 1) mistranslated, 2) taken wholly out of context 3) the sources misrepresented (such as Ibn Crispin) and some of the "quotes" are made up completely.
I'm going to discuss Targum Yonathan (Jonathan) momentarily as it is one that is referenced -- but before I do let's go back a step.
The claim of Driver and Neubauer, in their 19th century missionary tome, was that an attempt to support the Christological interetation of Isaiah 53 using Jewish sources. The book based many of its “quotes” on the writings of a 13th century anti-Jewish Christian (Friar Raymond Martin). Raymundus Martin (Raymond Martini) was an anti-Jewish Dominican priest from the 13th century CE. Pugio Fidei (Dagger of the Faith) was an anti-Jewish diatribe he wrote (amongst others). Martin forged things and made up quotes that didn’t exist – and the same is true of the book Jacob quotes from. It is amazing how many of these missionaries who think they “quote” Rabbinical sources rely on these earlier missionaries without checking for accuracy. This is probably due to a lack of knowledge of Hebrew and Aramaic by missionaries – so they are unable (or unwilling) to do primary research. Thus the same lies are repeated over and over again by today's internet missionaries (and book authors including Michael Brown's series of books).
The preface of the missionary book discusses the issues around Raymond Martin. “Either Martini was what he has hitherto been accounted, an able and laborious and conscientious man with vast resources at his command, which have since been lost, or he was a forger, a liar and a hypocrite. . .” Many of Martin’s supposed “Jewish sources” are non-existent – so the latter seems more likely than the former. Read the introduction to The 53rd Chapter of Isaiah According to Jewish Interpreter and you will see that Neubauer DID NOT want to include the passages that appear from Martini as he knew they were forgeries. However Pusey insisted that they appear (as he states in his introduction) and so there now appears a text that is claimed to come from the Talmud Sanhedrin, which disagrees with all texts of Sanhedrin, and is IN FACT taken from Martini.
Martin is also the genius who came up with the made up name “Jehovah” even though Hebrew has no “j” sound. This “go to” guy who missionaries will assert was an expert on Hebrew was using a version of the Hebrew which included marks for vowels which apparently he didn’t truly understand because he didn’t know that the vowels for ‘Adon-ai’ are written below the letters of the G-d’s holiest name. This is done so that a reader doesn’t attempt to pronounce HaShem’s holiest name by mistake. Any 13 year old Jewish boy would have known this – let alone a “Hebrew expert.” Martin was clueless. For further information on the Driver and Neubauer book I highly recommend reading the article by R' Moshe Shulman entitled The Lies and Distortions of Driver in The Fifty Third Chapter of Isaiah according to the Jewish Interpreters.
Did the early Jewish sources say the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 was the messiah? Nope. An early church father, Origen, in 248 CE, speaks of Jews telling him the servant was Israel and not the messiah. Remember that Rashi (the one most missionaries say "invented" the idea that the servant is Israel lived in the 11th century -- some 700 or so years after Origen's comment).
Some background regarding Isaiah 53 and the suffering servant:
1. Isaiah clearly identifies the servant as Israel (there are no chapters in the original document).
2. An early church father, Origen, in 248 CE, speaks of Jews telling him the servant was Israel and not the messiah.
3. Puseys 19th century book states we Jews changed it from the messiah to Israel with Rashi, circa 12th century CE yet many of the quotes he uses as proof are dated long after Rashi as late as the 16th century CE.
4. The book throws in quotes from midrash aggadah, zohar and targum as if they were pshat (plain meaning) without educating the reader to the mysticism, allegory and story telling inherent in the different formats.
5. Apologists will quote a sentence where a source speaks of a messiah without stating they have also identified the servant as Israel (or Moses or someone else) and ignoring the messiah in question is moshiach ben Yosef not David. Nowhere do they explain who Moshiach ben Yosef IS (an army leader who will live at the same time as the messiah, but who will die in battle -- doesn't sound like Jesus when one realizes who this person is said to be, does it?).
6. The book quotes Karaites as Jewish sources. Karaites are about as representative of Judaism as Mormons are of mainstream Christianity. Karaites do not follow the oral law. The were a sect of Judaism which began about 1200 years ago so the Karaites are younger than the Christians - they are about as mainstream to Judaism as Christians or Muslims are as well! Yet nowhere does Driver and Neubauer identify for the reader that Karaites do not follow Jewish teaching. (The original Karaites were Jews, but the few thousand who exist today are, for the most part, not Jews). The Rambam's (11th century CE) position on the Karaites (as understood by the Bet Yosef - Yoreh De'a 159) is that Karaites are not to be treated like heretics (Shulchan Arukh, Yoreh De'a159:3) but that they are incorrect. What credibility does it give a book purporting to give Jewish sources when they are using very incorrect sources such as the Karaites?
This post will finish by focusing on one "source" the missionaries quote from Jewish sources, namely Targum Yonathan (Jonathan). Here is the quote found on a major missionary web site:
"Behold my servant Messiah shall prosper; he shall be high, and increase, and be exceeding strong: as the house of Israel looked to him through many days, because their countenance was darkened among the peoples, and their complexion beyond the sons of men." Targum Yonathan (missionary quote).
The missionaries don't explain to readers that a תרגום / Targum is an Aramaic paraphrasing / interpretation (not really a translation). This is critical to understand: Targum Yonathan is not a literal translation of Isaiah 53 into Aramaic. Instead it is an interpretive document with parts that are midrashic in nature. Midrash aggadah are STORIES meant to make a moral point -- not literal meaning.
So missionaries are attempting to use an interpretative non-literal sources as if it were LITERAL and "proves" that the servant in Isaiah 53 is the messiah.
It doesnt. Because the Targum is not literal. “This is an excellent example of Targumic paraphrase at its best. It is not a translation, nor is it loose meaningless commentary, but a reworking of the text to yield what the Targumist desires it to give forth.” Levey was the Founding Director Emeritus of the Magnin School of Graduate Studies and Professor Emeritus of Rabbinics and Jewish Religious Thought at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles. The quote is taken from ‘The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation; The Messianic Exegesis of the Targum”
Would it be a problem that missionaries quote the real words of the targum? Of course not! The problem is twofold: part of most of the quotes are not actually from the Targum. The second, and more serious problem, is that the missionaries do not explain to their readers that the quote is not the literal interpretation of the Jewish sources. It is as if a non-Christians gave a quote from Santa Clause to prove Christianity without ever explaining to the non-Christian who ther figure of "Santa Clause" is in Christianity! It would be as if Santa Clause and Paul were presented on an equal footing!
Another huge missionary problem is that the Targum doesnt speak of a suffering messiah at all. To quote R' Shulman in his article on the Targum concludes "There is nothing in the Targum that even remotely is connected with the Christian theology about a Messiah who dies for the sins of the world. No person reading the Targum objectively, from beginning to end, would make such a contention."
R' Shulman gives a translation of Isaiah 53 along with a translation of the Targum -- verse by verse. He states that doing so shows that "It will be easy to notice that this is not a translation at all. It is not a simple explanation of the verses. It is a Midrash."
To try to add to their own credibility some Missionaries will try to tell followers that their religion (Christianity, Karaism, Messianic Judaism) is just as legitimate as Judaism. They will say "2000 years ago there were various forms of Judaism and the rabbis "changed" Judaism so it is not really "true Judaism." The rabbis changed everything". . .
While it is true that 2000 years ago there were many iterations of Judaism the fact is that there have always been Jews who have left observant Judaism as ordained in the T'nach (Bible). There were Jews in the T'nach who worshiped the false gods of Molloch and Ba'al and the prophets warned them to return to observance!. The fact that some Jew decides to not follow Judaism but makes up their own rules -- it doesn't mean that their new (fill in the blank) is "legitimate Judaism." It is a hijacking of the name "Jew" while avoiding the requirements to be Jewish!
There have always been Jews who have made up their own rules or ideas and called them some form of Judaism (even the so called 1970s invention of "Messianic Judaism" which is a Christian invention of the Baptist Christian movememnt). There were many other splinter groups 2000 years ago. The Sicarii were a violent group who murdered their opponents (very anti-Roman), the Biryonim were criminals, and so on. Throughout the ages there have been Jews who have become apostates (left for other religions) and Jews who tried to reinvent Judaism in their own image (Karaites for example began about 1200 years ago, but mostly died out long ago. Some modern people call themselves them Karaites, but most are a modern re-invention ala "messianic Judaism" and most are not even Jewish).
My point being that there have always been some Jews who have made up their own religion and some have called it "Judaism," and the Torah warns us that this will happen. . . "G-d will scatter you among the nations, and only a small number will remain among the nations to which G-d will lead you." D'varim / Deuteronomy 4:27. This is saying that many Jews will fall about into idolatry or in other ways leave Judaism, but a small number will remain observant and faithful to G-d. Jews refer to this minority as the "righteous remnant."
I suppose those who want to steal the birthright of Jews while avoiding the "rules" and requirements think that if they can discredit Judaism by claiming that “Rabbinic” Judaism is not the same as Judaism, they somehow add to their own credibility.
These non-Jews or spin-offs of varying levels of observance insist that the “Rabbis invented” or the “Rabbis changed” Judaism and that Christianity (or Karaism or even Islam) is as legitimate an “offspring” of ancient Judaism as is "Rabbinic Judaism." Total nonsense as observant Judaism has always been observant Judaism, following the 613 mitzvot in the Torah given to the entire nation at Mount Sinai.
Some of these accusors focus on the fact that the word "rabbi" is not found in the T'nach. True enough, but what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? The word “rabbi” is Aramaic, not Hebrew. The T'nach (Jewish bible) is written in Hebrew with the exception of a smattering of Aramaic in the books of Daniel and Ezra. The variation of the word “rabbi” is found in Daniel 5:1 (“rav” – meaning “great one”) – which is written in Aramaic. The word רַ֔ב / rav is used throughout the T'nach as both an adjective and a noun (it's most basic meaning is "great"). In Yirmiyahu / Jeremiah 39:13, an iteration is used to speak of “all the chiefs (greats) of” — kol rabbei — the king of Babylon.
People and things are often called by different names in the T'nach. G-d has various "titles" or descriptions (literally no "name" as such including the 4 letter holiest description). . . Jews start out being called "Hebrews" in the bible, and later "Israelite" or "children of Jacob" and later still Jew (which means people of G-d, but also came to be common usage since the last country we had prior to the modern state of Israel was Judah). . . The rabbis of today were called "teacher," "scholar," and "judge" in the T'nach (Ezra 7:6 for example). The tannaim (teachers) were a group of Rabbis that lived between the years 100 BCE and 200 BCE (another example!). The term רַ֔ב / rav (eventually "rabbi") became a more common term of respect in post-biblical (Mishnaic) times.
From The Forward: "At first, rav was a general word for “master,” whether of a slave or of a trade; then it took on the additional sense of a spiritual or religious master, that is, of a teacher of disciples. It is at this point that it can be translated as “rabbi,” as when the mishnaic tractate of Pirkei Avot , The Ethics of the Fathers, states: “ Aseh lecha rav ” — “Find yourself a master,” i.e., a rabbinic sage. And yet throughout mishnaic times, rav continued to retain its more general meaning of “master” as well."
But what about the rabbis (by various names)? Did they "invent "Rabbinical Judaism? Did they change Judaism to fit their own "image" of G-d?
Total nonsense. Nothing could be further from the truth! Read the T'nach! Rabbis are mentioned in the Torah (just not by that term) – they are the judges and the teachers (just as they are today). They were the men Moses told you to listen to! The system of justice (rabbis are judges), then as now, follows the mitzvot (the "do" and "do not" rules) in the Torah -- this includes how courts are established and how they "operate." The Jewish system of judges began under Moses. Read Sh’mot (Exodus) chapter 18:
“But you must [also] seek out from among all the people capable, G-d-fearing men - men of truth, who hate injustice. You must then appoint them over [the people] as leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, leaders of fifties, and leaders of tens. 18:22 'Let them administer justice for the people on a regular basis. Of course, they will have to bring every major case to you, but they can judge the minor cases by themselves. They will then share the burden, making things easier for you. 18:23 If you agree to this, and G-d concurs, you will be able to survive. This entire nation will then also be able to attain its goal of peace.'” Sh’mot / Exodus 18:21-23.
From the time of Moses to today there have been Rabbis (teachers / judges) from all the tribes who teach and mete out justice. Every single generation from Moses to today had judges / teachers who have maintained the Torah and Jewish law. There has never been a break in that chain. That is right, "Rabbinical Judaism" has been handed down לדור ודור / l'dor v'dor (from generation to generation).
If it has not changed, why don't Jews today bring sacrifices? That seems to be the a typical accusation by folks who are unfamiliar with halacha (Jewish law). Jews today do not bring sacrifices (qorban) because we do follow the T'nach. Read D'varim / Deuteronomy chapter 12. G-d commands that we only bring qorban (sacrifices) in the place He designates, and the last place He designated was the Temple in Jerusalem. "Do away with all the places where the nations whom you are driving out worship their gods, [whether they are] on the high mountains, on the hills, or under any luxuriant tree. You must tear down their altars, break up their sacred pillars, burn their Asherah trees, and chop down the statues of their gods, obliterating their names from that place. You may not worship G-d your L-rd in such a manner. This you may do only on the site that G-d your L-rd will choose from among all your tribes, as a place established in His name. It is there that you shall go to seek His presence." D'varim / Deuteronomy 12:2-5.
Some of you may ask yourseves, "OK, so for 2000 years Jews could not bring sacrifices in the site designated by G-d. But Jews today have control of Jerusalem, why haven't they brought sacrifices?" True enough there is a Mosque on the Temple Mount, but the reason we have not rebuilt the Temple (yet) or brought sacrifices has to, again, do with a commandment in the T'nach. Again, the Rabbis do NOT change the T'nach. The idea of "Rabbinical Judaism" being different from historical Judaism is slander and a myth.
So what is the commandment forbidding us from bringing sacrifices today? It has to do with פרה אדומה / the parah adumah. פָּרָה / Parah is a cow and אֲדֻמָּה adummah means brown (reddish-brown). Bamidbar / Numbers 19 tells us that we must ritually purify the Temple Mount prior to bringing sacrifices there. To date no פרה אדומה / the parah adumah has been bred (plenty of people are trying!). Until this requirement is met we are being Torah observant by not bringing sacrifices. . .
Observant Jews try very hard to follow all of the mitzvot applicable to us (some are for kings, some for farmers in Israel, some for priests, some for women, some for men, etc.). Not all 613 mitzvot in the Torah apply to all Jews -- another error made by many a missionary who asks "how can you keep all 613 mitzvot perfectly?" BTW -- nowhere does Torah say we must be perfect either (another missionary claim), but I digress. .
The Rabbis of today apply the mitzvot in the Torah to various legal problems (this is what much of the Talmud is doing – describing the rules in a given situation). . . and it is ALL biblical. Far from the rabbis “changing the law” the rabbis are doing exactly what G-d instructed them to do – follow the rules and apply them using the Torah as their guide.
Another accusation is that the Rabbis have “added to” (or “subtracted from”) the Torah’s 613 mitzvot (commandments) – something clearly forbidden by the Torah itself. This is also untrue. Think of "adding to or subtracting from" the mitzvot this way. If there is a mitzvah that says "do not steal" it means "do not steal." If someone tried to "fudge" and say "you can steal bread but not cake" that would be adding to the mitzvah.
However, where there is no mitzvah for something then one isn't adding to or subtracting from any of them -- Purim being a good example. Nowhere are we told "don't ever add any new holidays." If there was such a mitzvah in the Torah we would not add any new holidays. The Torah is silent on the question and thus adding a holiday isn't an issue vis a vis "adding to or subtracting" from the Torah.
Another example -- the Torah says we should marry. It doesn't say we should be monogamous and only have one wife. In the Torah there are examples of men with multiple wives and concubines. Yet an Ashkenazi (European) Rabbi put a "fence" around marriage saying we should be monogamous. Why is this not adding to the mitzvot? Because the Torah is SILENT on the question of how many wives a man should have. While we are told a king should not have too many wives the Torah doesn't say "you should have more than one wife" and neither does it say "you should have only one wife." The Torah simply says "marry." Ergo this Rabbinical "fence" did not change the mitzvah to marry and procreate.
While we are forbidden from changing the 613 mitzvot in the Torah, there is nothing wrong with adding a new rule (such as the observance of Purim or Chanukah). We simply are forbidden from changing the 613!
The Rabbis of today do not have the same stature or authority as the Tanaim and Amoraim of the Talmud, but, (1) we have their teachings written down and (2) the Rabbis of today are part of a long chain of transmission of the Torah through the generations back to those Rabbis and further back to Moses.
Throughout the ages there have been Jews who have observed the mitzvot we contracted with G-d at Mount Sinai. The bible (D’varim / Deuteronomy 4:27) even refers to this group “only a small number will remain” (faithful to G-d). The bible also speaks of the Jews who do not remain faithful to G-d, such as those who worshiped the false gods of Ba’al and Molloch.
There have always, unfortunately, been Jews who have left Judaism. There have always been Jews who have turned to false gods, and others who have changed Judaism to suit themselves. Over time they intermarry and lose their Jewish identities -- proving the validity of the prophecy in D'varim / Deuteronomy 4:27 -- "only a small number will remain faithful."
2000 years ago there were many splinter groups who broke away from Judaism. Among the many groups were the Sadducee, a group who had become heavily influenced by the Greek and Romans around them. BUT the Jews who remained faithful to G-d and to Torah were not “new.” They were given a name to distinguish them from the other groups – and this name has been translated as “Pharisee.” These were the "small number" who remained faithful. Even Josephus, a Jewish historian who lived 2000 years ago, stated that the Pharissees (the ancestors to today's Jews) were the most observant of the Torah than the various other "splinter" groups.
"The Pharisees live thriftily, giving in to no luxury. For they follow what the Word* (of G-d) in its authority determines and transmits as good. They believe that to keep what (G-d) wished to counsel is worth fighting for. . . those who live in the cities have witnessed to their virtue in devoting themselves to all the best in their words and way of life. " Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18:12-15.
In his autobiography Josephus also wrote ""the Pharisees are supposed to excel others in the accurate knowledge of the laws of their country."
Many missionaries will claim that Rabbinic Judaism grew out of the Pharisees (the Christian bible blackens the Pharisees, a term which in modern usage has come to mean a hypocrite although historians like Josephus prove this is not truly what they were like). The Pharisees are portrayed as having no more legitimacy than any of the other groups of Jews 2000 years ago -- even though Jesus is quoted in the Christian bible as telling his followers that the Pharisees "sit in Moses' seat" (Matthew 23:2).
The Pharisees did not "invent a form of Judaism." This is a distortion. Normative Judaism is, and always has been, normative Judaism. The Jews who observe the mitzvot remain the observant Jews whatever title is given to them! The name may change from "Jewish" to "Pharissee" to "Orthodox Jew" -- but the observant Jew, whatever the name, is the Jew who remains faithful to Torah and to G-d's instructions in it. As the Jewish Virtual Library states "The specific term “Orthodox Judaism” is of rather recent origin and is used more as a generic term to differentiate the movements following traditional practices from the Liberal Jewish movements. . . Historically, there was no such thing as Orthodoxy. . . Orthodox Judaism views itself as the continuation of the beliefs and practices of normative Judaism, as accepted by the Jewish nation at Mt. Sinai and codified in successive generations in an ongoing process that continues to this day."
Even today there are splinter groups away from normative, traditional, observant, "orthodox" (a recent name) Judaism. About 200 years or so ago the Germans began to allow Jews to move out of the ghetto and become part of the civilization around them. A number of Jews wanted to assimilate and live among the non-Jews. They formed a new “version” of Judaism which they called “Reform.” The group abolished the observance of many of the mitzvot. To further distance themselves from traditional Judaism they made some radical changes. Many of those extreme changes have been reversed by the Reform movement -- such as the observance of Shabbat on Sunday and not Saturday). . . As new groups appeared observant Jews got a new label and the Reform movement coined the term “Orthodox Jew" to differentiate the traditional, observant Jew from new movements.
The term “Orthodox Jew” is relatively new – but it is just a new label for the observant Jew. The small number who remains. . . When you hear the term “Rabbinic Judaism,” or “Orthodox Judaism” do not be fooled – it is Judaism. True, observant, faithful to G-d Judaism.
Let's focus on how we know that observant Jews have remained faithful to Torah, and to Judaism. It all goes back to the Torah – which speaks of Moses establishing courts with 70 elders from all the tribes of Israel. “G-d said to Moses, 'Assemble seventy of Israel's elders - the ones you know to be the people's elders and leaders. . . He caused the spirit that had been imparted on [Moses] to emanate, and He bestowed it upon the seventy elders” Bamidbar / Numbers 11:16 – 25.
When Shimon HaTzaddik, the last member of the Great Assembly died in 273 BCE, the Sanhedrin was run by rabbis known as the Zugot, meaning "pairs." For almost 300 years, there were always two rabbis at the helm of the Jewish tradition. One was called the Nasi (the president), the other was called the Av Beit Din (the head of the Sanhedrin). These pairs are all listed in the "Ethics of the Fathers." The last pair was perhaps the most famous -- Hillel and Shammai.
So, even though in the Second Temple period there were many Jewish “spin-off” groups such as the Sadducee, the Zealots and others the unbroken chain of Judaism and of the Torah has always been in the hands of the observant Jews. The very opening of Pirkei Avot ("Ethics of the Fathers") records how the chain of transmission of Judaism and the Torah was maintained -- starting with Moses, going on to Joshua and the 70 elders, the prophets, the Men of the Great Assembly, the Sanhedrin led by the Zugot, to the Rabbis who began to write the oral law down in the Talmud. . .
The Torah has many mitzvot about the court system and judges. For example, “To appoint judges and officers in every community of Israel.” (D’varim (Deuteronomy) 16:18).
Some people seem to forget that Jews are a nation – a people. We have laws, and courts and systems. This all stems from the time of Moses – and the court system has continued from Moses to today. The judges today are called “rabbis” – and there is an unbroken chain of these judges, and of Torah transmission, from Moses until this very day.
With the destruction of the southern Kingdom of Judah by the Romans (around 135 CE) the city courts dissolved. Rabbi Akiva, one of the most famous Rabbis to ever live, was murdered by the Romans on the eve of Yom Kippur in the year 137 CE in the city of Caesarea.
To destroy the Jewish nation completely the Roman Emperor Hadrian renamed Judah to Philistia (Palestine). The name was chosen to insult the Jews – Hadrian named the land for the Philistines, an extinct people who were once the bitterest enemies of the Jews.
But what of the Rabbis and the courts upon the destruction of Judah?
During the Hadrian persecutions, the Jewish leaders had to flee and hide. They regrouped in Usha in 122 CE.
By the 135 CE Judah had been destroyed and most of the Jews exiled to foreign lands. By the time Judah was destroyed there were already about 3 - 5 million Jews lived outside the land of Israel. Many Jews had never left Babylon (Jews lived in Iran / Babylon for nearly 2500 years). 250,000 Jews lived in Alexandria, Egypt at this time. These Jewish communities had Synagogues, they had rabbis and those rabbis were judges there, too.
Hadrian dies in 139 CE. A few years later the leader of the Jews, Yehuda HaNasi (Judah the Prince) befriended Hadrian’s successor, Marcus Aurelius (161-180 C.E.). Living now in the city of Yavneh the sages under the direction of Yehuda HaNasi met to discuss the oral Torah and to write it down so that the Jews dispersed in Egypt, Babylon and around the world would not lose its teachings. This writing down of the oral Torah which they used to guide their judicial rulings into what has come to be called the Mishna (the first part of the Talmud).
By the time Marcus Aurelius died the Mishna (the first half of the Talmud) was nearly complete.
Jewish courts remained, even after the demise of the Sanhedrins (city and great). Even today Jewish courts consisting of 3 judges (Rabbis) are found throughout the world, passing judgments based in Jewish law.
Some missionaries seem to think that the priests (kohanim) “ran things.” This is biblically and historically inaccurate (the priests did not run the Sanhedrin). . . All the tribes were represented in the government, and in the judicial system – as is clearly described in the bible itself. Judaism, Jews observant to the mitzvot in the Torah, have been handed down l’dor v’dor (from generation to generation) from the first Jews to the Jews of today. We actually have lists naming the leaders in each generation. . .
So, when someone tries to tell you that the Rabbis changed the “law” (Torah) or invented things, re-read this post. Do a little reading of history for yourself. Lies work only when the truth remains untold.
The story of Adam and Chava (Eve) shows the gulf between Christianity and Judaism. Even at this starting point the two faiths diverge greatly. Original sin is not a Jewish concept. People are not “born into sin” because of the fall of Adam and Chava (Chava). The serpent is not Satan – it is just a serpent.
Christianity NEEDS original sin. Christian theology holds that a sinless Jesus was part of the heavenly Father's plan from the outset, to redeem mankind. After all, the act of disobedience by Adam and Chava in the Garden of Eden, the Fall of Man, placed the stain of sin on humanity, one that cannot be removed through a person's own actions.
This opens the way for Jesus, the perfect sacrificial offering of the future, was born through the impregnation by the Holy Spirit of the virgin, Mary. Jesus was thus born without the stain of Original Sin, since he was conceived of G-d and not through the customary act of copulation by two sinful humans.
First of all: sex is not “sinful” it is a gift from G-d to “be fruitful and multiply.” Secondly there is no original sin that makes all of mankind tainted so that a human sacrifice (or god-sacrifice) has to come along to redeem us. Man is not born “into” sin.
Missioanries say G-d cursed Adam and Chava – to a horribly hard life and to death. This is because of their “fall from grace.” But that is not what Torah says happened. G-d curses the serpent – not Adam and Chava!
“Cursed are you”, arur atah, is not repeated, nor is a synonym used when G-d addresses Chava and Adam. Instead G-d says arurah ha'adamah, cursed is the earth/ground. This speaks of the earth/ground that Adam will have to work - but G-d does ot curse Adam or Chava.
This major point is lost in the Christian concept. G-d does not curse Adam and Chava! Adam and Chava are punished, but they are not cursed. They are told that they will not be "on easy street" because of their transgression - she will have pain in childbirth, and he will have to sweat to earn his bread.
Some missionaries point to T'hillim / Psalm 51 where King David states that he was conceived in sin as if this were proof of original sin. Yet T'hillim / Psalm 51 itself destroys the idea of original sin. All you have to do is go back ONE LINE:
Psalm 51:6 "Against You alone have I sinned, and I have done what is evil in Your sight."
If we could just blame "original sin" for our failings (thus needing Jsus as the perfect sacrifice to wash away original sin) then wouldn't David have said "Against You did Adam sin, I am not to blame fora anything!"
Yet David doesn't do that. David admits that it was he who sinned, not Adam. David did what was evil in G-d's sight. David sinned because David had the ability to choose good over evil, as do we all.
We are inclined to sin. G-d made us that way to allow us to exercise free will. Being inclined to sin doesn't mean you have to fall victim and actually sin. Read your Torah. G-d tells us that we can over come sin.
Br'eshit / Genesis 4:7 "If you do good, will there not be special privilege? And if you do not do good, sin is crouching at the door. It lusts after you, but you can dominate it."
Sin is "crouching at the door." Ergo it isn't born into you -- it is a choice that you can dominate. If we sin, it is because we were not strong enough to withstand temptation. What is sin but an overindulgence in some human need? The need for procreation becomes incest or rape. The need for shelter creates greed where people steal from others and build grandiose mansions (Bernie Madoff ring a bell?). The need for food becomes gluttony. These are all extreme behaviors of things that we need to survive. Our "evil inclination" (yetzer hara) isn't actually inherently evil at all -- it is what we do with it (or do not do with it) that creates sin.
Psalm 34 echoes Br'eshit / Genesis 4: T'hillim / Psalm 34:14 "Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it."
Original sin says we cannot turn from evil.
Read Psalm 18:20-23 "HaShem has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.
21 For I have kept the ways of HaShem
I have not done evil by turning from my G-d.
22 All his laws are before me;
I have not turned away from his decrees.
23 I have been blameless before him
and have kept myself from sin."
How can he keep himself from sin??? According to Chrstianity we are born into sin??? There goes THAT theory!
Hmm. He is righteous. He has kept himself from sin. How could he do this if he was born into sin? There it is in the bible you profess to follow and believe.
G-d also tells us that we are inclined to sin from our youth. Genesis 8:
Again, Br'eshit / Genesis 8:21 . . ."G-d said to Himself, ". . . the inclination of man's heart is evil from his youth."
This isn't "Sophiee" telling you something. It is the bible. It is G-d speaking! Man's heart is evil from his youth NOT FROM HIS BIRTH, TAINTED WITH THE IMAGINARY ORIGINAL SIN.
Read D'varim / Deuteronomy 30:15 "See! Today I have set before you [a free choice] between life and good [on one side], and death and evil [on the other]. . .30:19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses! Before you I have placed life and death, the blessing and the curse. You must choose life, so that you and your descendants will survive."
We are not born into sin. To sin or not to sin is our choice.
Yes, we are inclined to do evil -- to sin. But we are not born evil. We are not born into sin.
Sh'mot / Exodus 32:22 "Do not be angry, my lord," Aaron answered. "You know how prone these people are to evil."
Aaron doesn't say the people ARE evil. He says they are prone to evil.
If we were all condemned to sin (as the concept of original sin asserts) then why would G-d punish us for something we couldn't control? Is the Chrstian god so cruel that he would let man be so condemned?
This is, perhaps, their idea of a loving god? It is not the G-d of the T'nach, T'hillim / Psalm 5:4 "You are not a G-d who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell."
So while David may be saying that he was conceived with a willful act the two people involved were adults CAPABLE of sin. A baby is born without sin.
Evil is not external to you – a devil or a taint. Evil is internal to you – it is part of who you are. Evil and good battle inside each of us and we have the power to choose good over evil. We are, with the aid of G-d, our own saviors.
What is sin? Sin is anything that moves you farther away from G-d.
'See! I give you today (a choice of) a blessing and a curse. The blessing, when you listen to the commandments of G-d your L-rd, which I command you today. The curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of G-d your L-rd, and you deviate from the path which I command you today, in order to follow other gods which you did not know.' (D'varim / Deut.eronomy 11:26-28).
Mankind was CREATED mortal, and when G-d breathed into Adam we canned an immortal soul. Adam and Chava were always mortal, as the Torah tells us that G-d put the Tree of Life in Gan Eden -- the Garden of Eden. That tree was put there for a purpose, other than to provide shade – else, why would it have been given the name? – and the mortal Adam & Chava would have lived as long as they had wished to live by eating from its fruit.
Adam’s death was not his immediate physical death, nor was it the spiritual death of his descendants, humanity. Based on the teachings of the Torah, we know that man’s spiritual life or death depends on our using our free will and choosing to follow G-d’s pathway. Mankind is to have physical death after their lifetime is spent.
We all sin, for no human is sinless. This is the nature of mankind, but not his hopeless condition. The sin of Adam and Chava was a cheit – a missing of the mark. A mistake. A “boo-boo.”
In Judaism we are not condemned by “Original Sin”, only hampered by human nature. G-d has given us the means to overcome sin. This is accomplished the holy acts of prayer (tefillah), contrite personal repentance (teshuva) , and good deeds (tzedekkah). We have been given the ability to choose between good and evil, so that assuredly, by choosing good we will live. With repentance, so that G-d forgives us our trespasses, and choosing good, mankind is freed from the unhappy state of sinfulness.
The Jewish people have an eternal "Tree of Life" at hand, if they choose benefit from it - it is the Torah:
Mishlei / Proverbs 3:18 - It [Wisdom=Torah] is a tree of life for those who grasp it, and those who draw near it are fortunate."
As to all righteous people:
Mishlei / Proverbs 11:30 - The fruit of a righteous man is the tree of life, and the wise man acquires souls.