It is very frustrating that some "internet trolls" will visit my Facebook page and make stupid, inflammatory accusations about Judaism.
The most recent was a troll who "spammed" multiple threads with the accusation that in D'varim / Deuteronomy 22 the Torah (and thus Judaism) puts rape victims to death.
D'varim / Deuteronomy 22:22 - 29 deals with the question of both adultery and rape. Rape is never condoned, and the Torah (which discusses laws and legal punishments for those who break them) discusses different situations for various crimes. In this chapter a distinction is made between seemingly willing immoral sexual activities (both adultery and suspected rape) and unwilling sexual activities.
In the case of rape this distinction is made by whether or not a woman cries out during the act. In a city if a woman were to scream for help someone would come to help her. In the country if a woman screams out for help there is no one around to hear her and help her. . .
Therefor the Torah differentiates between whether a woman raped in the city cries out or not. If she does not cry out for help it is perceived that she was willing, and not a victim.
If a man and a woman engage in extra-marital sex both of them were liable to the justice system up to and including the death penalty.
This necessitates understanding how Jewish law works.
How likely was it for an adulterer or anyone else for that matter to be put to death?
More than one death penalty in 70 years was considered rare and the court was called a "bloody Sanhedrin."
This is because the rules around passing the death penalty set a very high bar.
One witness must not testify against a person to inflict any punishment or penalty for a crime that he may have committed. A case must be established through the testimony of [at least] two or three witnesses. (D'varim (Deuteronomy) 19:15).
There would have to have been two eye witnesses to the rape.
The witnesses could not be associated with either person.
This is what you must do] if a corrupt witness acts to testify falsely against a person. Two men who have testimony to refute [the false witnesses] shall stand before G-d, before the priests and judges who are involved in that case. The judges shall carefully interrogate [the refuting witnesses], and if the [first] two witnesses are found to have testified falsely against their brother you must do the same to them as they plotted to do to their brother, thus removing evil from your midst. (D'varim (Deuteronomy) 19:15-19)
Jewish courts do not use a jury system, but rather a group of judges, to decide legal decisions. The smallest Jewish court consists of three judges, and these courts still exist today. In ancient times appeals could be made to courts with 23 judges, all the way "up" to the great court which had 71 judges (this number is fixed in the Torah).
A three judge court could, for example, rule on theft cases. A capital punishment case (for example) required a court of 23 judges (a small Sanhedrin), but false prophets had to be adjudicated by the great Sanhedrin of 71 judges (the Great Sanhedrin). (Mishna, Sanhedrin 1:1-6).
The number (23) is derived from Bambidar (Numbers) 35:24-25 as discussed in the Rambam's Mishna Torah: "What is the source which teaches that capital cases may be judged only by a court of 23? Although this is a matter conveyed by the Oral Tradition, there is an allusion to it in the Torah. Bamidbar / Numbers 35:24-25 states: "And the congregation shall judge... and the congregation shall save...." Implied is that there must be the possibility of a congregation judging - and condemning him to death - and a congregation saving - and seeking his acquittal. Now a congregation is no less than ten. Thus there are at least 20 judges. We add three judges so that there not be an equally balanced court and to allow the possibility of "following after the inclination of the majority."
The number (71) for the Great Sanhedrin is also discussed in the Mishna Torah: "Great Sanhedrin. It was composed of 71 judges. This is derived from Bamidbar / Numbers 11:16 which states: "Gather for Me seventy men from the elders of Israel." And Moses presided over them, as the verse continues: "And they shall stand there with you." Thus there are 71."
A death penalty could be appealed to the "supreme court" of the land -- the "Great Sanhedrin."
The Great Sanhedrin was the supreme court of the land, the court which met in the Temple in the Chamber of Hewn / Carved Stone. It was comprised of priests, scribes and judges -- normally 71 judges. This number is taken from Bambidbar (Numbers) 11:16 "Gather for Me seventy men from the elders of Israel." Moses was the 71st in the very first Great Sanhedrin.
In minor and Great Sanhedrin, the judges selected among them a prosecutor and defense "attorney." After hearing the testimony of the witnesses, the judges align with the prosecution or defense and debate would ensue where a judge would give his view of the evidence and try to convince his fellow judges to rule according to his view. The Sanhedrin would then vote. If all the judges voted "guilty" or even all but one voted "guilty" the accused was set free. There had to be at least two judges voting for innocent for a man to actually be condemned to death. This is one reason the death penalty was so rare (one in 70 years was rare).
As there is no Sanhedrin in existence today, and the precise location of the lishkat hagazit is not even known for sure, capital punishment would not be lawful at the present time.
There has been no death penalty since 30 CE (prior to the date given for Jesus' supposed death), and even when it existed it was very hard to achieve the ultimate penalty.
Anti-Semites love to hate Jews. They will take something they do not understand completely out of context (as this troll did about D'varim / Deuteronomy 22) and make outlandish accusations.
"And if (Jesus) has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." 1 Corinthians 15:14.
Did you know that the earliest gospel (Mark) did not have any stories about Jesus being resurrected? This central theme of Christianity (and why Christians celebrate Easter) does not appear in the gospels until well after the 4th century CE!
"And if (Jesus) has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." 1 Corinthians 15:14.
Prior to the Council of Nicea (in 325 CE), when the trinity was made a religious concept, there was a great deal of disagreement in Christians as to whether Jesus was part of G-d, if there were two "parts" of G-d or a trinity. Early church fathers also recognized that the pagans had resurrection themes similar to their own. Justin Martyr (100 - 165 CE) wrote "when we say ... Jesus Christ, our teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propose nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you consider sons of Zeus." (1 Apologies 21).
Resurrected gods (dying and resurrecting) was a common theme in pagan religions. The Greek god Asclepius often resurrected people from the dead. Zeus (the main Greek god) killed him, but later resurrected Asclepius himself.
There are three resurrections in the T’nach:
The prophet Eliyahu (Elijah) prays and G-d raises a young boy from death (1 Kings 17:17-24);
The prophet Elisha raises a boy whose birth he had prophesied (2 Kings 4:8-16 and 32-37);
A dead man's body thrown into Elisha's tomb is resurrected when the body touches Elisha's bones (2 Kings 13:21).
In other words, what many Christians see as the very reason for believing in Christianity (the resurrection of Jesus) is not unique to Jesus. Neither it is a messianic requirement for the messiah to be resurrected. The messiah IS required to resurrect the righteous dead (all of them) -- and this is something Jesus did not do.
As shown above there are examples of Elijah and Elisha raising the dead in the T’nach – and we know that all the righteous will be resurrected in the messianic age.
A Jew would say “so what?” to the resurrection of Jesus (if it ever happened). His resurrection certainly would not make him worthy of worship. . . It does not prove he was the messiah, and it certainly doesn’t show he was part of G-d.
But interesting enough the earliest copies of the gospel of Mark (said to be the earliest gospel) do not have Jesus being resurrected at all.
The resurrection of Jesus appears to be a later insertion -- later than the 4th century CE (when these early texts date).
The gospel of Mark ended with the verse 8: "Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid."
No resurrected Jesus.
Eusebius (an early church father who lived from 264 CE to 340) CE, wrote in Ad Marinum 1 that "in the accurate manuscripts Mark ended with the words 'for they were afraid'[Mark 16:8].'"
The oldest copies of the Christian bible all end at Mark 16:8 (no resurrection).
Codex Vaticanus (dated by handwriting analysis called palaeography to the 4th century CE) = Mark ends at 16:8.
Codex Sinaiticus (dated by handwriting analysis called palaeography to the 4th century CE) = Mark ends at 16:8.
Codex Syriacus ( (dated by handwriting analysis called palaeography to the early 5th century CE) = Mark ends at 16:8.
No resurrection story in Mark in any of them.
So was the resurrection part of the early belief of all of Christianity -- or just "some"?
Is it possible (even probable) that the resurrection stories (all conflicting with one another) found in the four gospels and Acts were the result of the pro-resurrection Christians "winning" the theological battle of early Christianity? Today around 90% of Christians worldwide believe in the trinity (3 gods in 1 -- the father, the son and the holy ghost), but this concept was once controversial.
In the first century of Christianity the Gnostics believed that Jesus was G-d, but not man. An early adherent was Valentinus (100 CE to 160 CE) who believe that Joseph was Jesus' biological father, but when John baptized he physically died and resurrected as G-d. Jesus he was "born" as a G-d and no longer what he had been (100% human from human parents). The human Jesus is joined to the Savior.in Valentinus' version of Christianity.
A little later came the Arian sect, founded by Arius (250 CE - 336 CE). The Arians believed that Jesus was a man, and not G-d. The Arians did not believe in the trinity. They also thought that Jesus was not equal to G-d. Arius wrote "We are persecuted because we say that the Son has a beginning but that G-d is without beginning." Arius's Letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia.
Prior to the Council of Nicea (325 CE) t the Arians and Gnostics were only two differing "schools of thought" as to whether Jesus was a normal human being, a part of a trinity or part of a duality. . .. There were other Christian sects also differing from modern Christianity. The Council of Nicea condemned Arius's doctrine and formulated the original Nicene Creed of 325.
Resurrection (תְּחִיַּת הַמֵּתִים) is a part of Judaism, and indeed it is one of the Rambam’s 13 Principles of Judaism. "My corpses shall rise; awaken and sing, you who dwell in the dust, for a dew of lights is your dew, and [to the] earth You shall cast the slackers." Y'shayahu / Isaiah 26:19.
When the messiah comes the righteous will be resurrected and the soul reunited with body; this is why Jews do not believe in cremation or embalming (Isaiah 26). The T'nach seems to tell us that only the righteous will be resurrected (Daniel 12). Yet, there is a school of thought that every Jewish soul that ever lived will be resurrected. “Even the empty ones amongst you [Israel] are filled with mitzvot as a pomegranate [is filled with seeds]"—Talmud, Berachot 57a and The soul of every Jew is a "veritable portion of G‑d," and as such is eternal and indestructible.
If the resurrection of the messiah were so special why is it that all righteous people will be resurrected?
Many missionaries insist that Jesus is the "paschal lamb" -- saying Jesus' crucifixion echoes the ritual sacrifice of the Passover lamb.
Not even close.
The annual sacrifice of the paschal goat or lamb (not just "lamb" -- and goats were more common) was a celebratory offer made and eaten every Passover while the Temple stood. It was a festival -- a happy time, which had nothing to do with the murder of Jesus in a violent manner.
It also had nothing to do with sin.
When we have a Temple, and can bring sacrifices, we are commanded to keep the goat or lamb for four days (Sh'mot / Exodus 12:3 - 6) from Nisan 10 to Nisan 14. It was slaughtered on the 14th, roasted and then eaten that same night (which was now the 15th of Nisan as days begin at Sundown).
The Passover aka paschal goat or lamb -- usually a goat -- (the פֶּ֛סַח / pesach) offer is mentioned in D'varim (Deuteronomy) 16:2: "You shall slaughter the (פֶּ֛סַח) paschal sacrifice to HaShem, your G-d, [of the] flock, and [the Festival sacrifices of the] cattle, in the place which HaShem will choose to establish His Name therein."
We do not bring the sacrifices now because we do not have the place which HaShem will choose. That "place" was the Temple, and we do not have a Temple thus we are forbidden from bringing sacrifices for now.
But note that the Passover sacrifice had to be kept for four days, slaughtered, roasted and eaten. . . as part of the festival.
Yes, Passover is a festival as in CELEBRATION. The festival sacrifices are mentioned in the verses in Numbers (Bambidar / Numbers 28:16 - 17 "The 14th day of the first month (Nisan) is G-d's Passover. Then, on the 15th day, a festival shall begin, when matzo (unleavened bread) shall be eaten for seven days." ).
A festival shall begin.
Not a sad time.
Not a time of sin and repentance and atonement.
The paschal lamb was not a sin sacrifice (other wise called a חַטָּ֖את -- a chatat -- is an offering for a "missing of the mark" or accidental sin.
Torah tells us clearly that the sacrifice is part of a CELEBRATION, a festival -- a rejoicing -- to remember our freedom from slavery.
Sh'mot / Exodus 12:14 "This day must be one that you will remember. You must keep it as a festival to G-d for all generations. It is a law for all time that you must celebrate it."
There it is again: festival.
Showing all of this to a missionary they may actually admit that the Passover offer was not for sins -- hard to deny given that the bible says so very clearly.
But (the will insist) the FIRST paschal offer mirrors Jesus' death and it was all about blood, blood, blood.
Sorry -- also wrong.
Moses clearly tells Pharaoh (and us) that the animal to be sacrificed by the Jews is sacred (e.g. a G-d) to the Egyptians. The paschal lamb (or sheep) has nothing whatsoever to do with atoning for sins. In Egypt it was an affront to the Egyptians -- the slaughtering of their ram god. After the Exodus it was a remembrance and celebration.
Some say that the Egyptian Kevatim would worship the Zodiac sign of the sheep (what today we call Aries). To this end, they banned the slaughter of sheep and despised sheep traders and shepherds (Sh'mot / Ex.8:22, B'reshit / Genesis 46:34) .... By sacrificing their "god" (sheep / goat) the Jews were insulting the Egyptians and proving they trusted that G-d would protect them from the Egyptians as they insulted them. . .
There are other offers brought during the Passover holiday . They are mentioned in Bambidar (Numbers) 28:18-25. In addition to the various celebratory offerings—every festive occasion also had completely separate “atonement” offerings (sacrifices). These other sacrifices are all public, communal offerings that were made throughout the year for “atonement."
Not ONE of them was ever a lamb.
Nope, no lamb for "forgiveness of sins."
All holy days had a list of sacrifices some of which were sin, some guilt, some the daily offering, etc. The list of sacrifices also re-enforces the fact that atonement to G-d is an ONGOING process not a one time "last and final" sacrifice. That concept makes no sense since people make mistakes every day and mistakes often = accidental sins, or even perhaps more serious errors.
Examine the story of G-d's command to Moses regarding the first paschal offer. It is found in Sh'mot / Exodus 12. "On the tenth of this month, every man must take a שֶׂה (seh) for each extended family, a lamb for each household. 12:4 If the household is too small for a שֶׂה (seh), then he and a close neighbor can obtain a [ שֶׂה (seh) together], as long as it is for specifically designated individuals. Individuals shall be designated for a lamb according to how much each one will eat. 12:5 You must have a flawless young animal, a one-year-old male. You can take it from the sheep or from the goats. 12:6 Hold it in safekeeping until the fourteenth day of this month." Sh'mot / Exodus 12:3 - 6.
Drinking blood is forbidden because blood is identified with life - it is the "life force" in all living creations. Some of our Sages (e.g., in the Talmud and also the commentator Sforno) explain that there was a belief that, through eating blood, one could cultivate the companionship of demons (the demons are invisible beings who get their sustenance from consuming blood). Thus pagan religions often drank blood as part of their religious observance -- but it is strictly forbidden in the T'nach (Jewish bible). Vayikra / Leviticus 17:10-11.
Torah tells us that a proper sacrifice must be of a kosher, domestic animal (the animal is often identified as a bull, a seh (goat or lamb), etc (see Sh'mot / Exodus 13:13; Vayikra / Leviticus 22). Jesus, being a human (or even a demi-god) was obviously not a kosher animal and thus was unacceptable as a sacrifice.
The blood of the שֶׂה (seh) was a sign -- it did not "save" let alone save the Jews from the wrath of the Egyptians. The Paschal animal was not an atonement offering -- it had nothing to do with "saving" the Jews -- either the physical lives or the souls.
What kind of sign was the blood of the שֶׂה (seh)?
The blood was on the inside of the doors, where the Jews were to be able to see the blood painted on the door-frames but the Egyptians were not to see it. The sign was for the Jewish people, not for the Egyptians. How do we know the blood was on the inside of the doors (and not the outside, where the Egyptians would see it)? The text! It clearly says the sign is for "you" -- for the Jews, and not for the Egyptians. As Rashi opined"
[The blood will be] for you a sign but not a sign for others. From here, it is derived that they put the blood only on the inside. — [from Mechilta 11].
The sign meant that the Jews believed enough that G-d would free them that they risked being killed by the Egyptians who worshiped goats and sheep by keeping the animals close for four days, slaughtering them (which was obvious to the Egyptians), painting the animal's blood as a sign of their trust in G-d and then EATING the Egyptian gods. All of these actions (not just one little thing) was an act of defiance of their slave masters, and showed G-d that they trusted in Him, and Him alone.
"The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are staying. I will see the blood and pass you by (pasach). There will not be any deadly plague among you when I strike Egypt." Sh'mot / Exodus 12:13.
THE BLOOD WAS A SIGN.
Not an atonement.
Not somehow magic.
Who was the blood a sign FOR?
Well, it was painted on the inside of the houses -- not the outside. The sign of the blood was not for an angel (wouldn't an angel know who to kill or not kill?), or the Egyptians -- no the sign was for the Jews.
Keeping the animal INSIDE 9yuch) for four days, living with the smell and filth, then killing it and putting its blood inside the houses -- every single action was one of bravery by the Jews and showed trust in G-d to save them.
You see, Egyptians worshiped the animals -- so the Jews were defying the Egyptians by killing and eating the Egyptian god.
Torah also says that the Passover sacrifice be a male-goat, be offered on an individual (per household) basis (Bamidbar / Numbers 28:22), not as a communal offering. According to the Christian Bible, Jesus’ death (termed a “sin sacrifice”) expiated the sins of mankind (Romans 6:10; Hebrews 9:12, 10:10, 10:18 ). In previous posts the חַטָּאת / cḥattat / sin sacrifice has been discussed. The חַטָּאת / cḥattat (accidental sins) and אָשָׁם / asham sacrifices were PRIVATE offerings brought by INDIVIDUALS, not “atonement” offerings on behalf of the entire nation. The חַטָּאת / cḥattat / sin sacrifice was only for mistakes -- when someone tried to do the right thing and "missed" -- thus if Jesus died for sin it would only have been for a "missing of the mark" -- an accidental mistake (and again, human sacrifices were forbidden, PERIOD).
Also, no individual sacrifice could be brought for someone else or in advance. The type of offering was specified (female goat or lamb being the most common, but sometimes a bull, birds or flour) -- only domesticated (not wild) kosher animals were fit for sacrifice. Human sacrifices (Jesus anyone?) are totally forbidden by the Torah. Read Vayikra / Leviticus chapter 5 to learn about the אָשָׁם / asham (guilt / tresspass) qorbanot (sacrifices) and the very few things they covered:
No one can die for the sins of another.
Many people who read the T'nach (Jewish bible) only in translation think that G-d has "a" name. They usually think that His name is comprised of four Hebrew letters. This name is sometimes called tetragrammaton. Over the years people have taken the four Hebrew letters (non-Jewish people) and tried to make up vowel sounds for it. One of the earliest iterations was "Jehovah" -- a very strange pronunciation indeed since Hebrew has no words with a "j" sound!
In reality G-d has many "names," not just one. His holiest name, the tetragrammaton or "four letter" name was never to be spoken outside of prayer, and those prayers where this holiest of name was used was only in the holiest of places -- first the מִשְׁכַּן / Mishkan / Tabernacle (portable Temple) and later in the Temples in Jerusalem (the "j" is an Anglicized pronunciation for יְרוּשָׁלַיִם / Y'rushalayim.
How do we know that His holiest name is not to be said except in these holiest of places? “Whoever utters the (four letter holiest) Name (Tetragrammaton) must be put to death—the entire congregation has to take part in his execution; the same applies to a foreigner as to a citizen: he must die for his uttering of the Name” (Vayikra / Leviticus 24:16).
The Talmud (Gemara, Sh'vuot 35a) lists nine specific names (really descriptions or titles) for G-d that “may not be erased”, and eleven names / descriptions for G-d may “be erased." The mere utterance of the Tetragrammaton is explicitly prohibited in the Torah. And make no mistake, it is explicitly prohibited in the Torah, this isn’t just “an invention of the Rabbis.
Why does G-d have so many names?
Why do Jews not use any of His names outside of prayer?
Even in translations it is easy to see that in the bible names are not just labels. Names have meanings. G-d changes Jacob's name to "Israel." "Your name will no longer be said to be Jacob, but Israel (Yisra'el). You have become great (sar) before G-d and man." Br'eshit / Genesis 32:29. The "j" again as an Anglicized version of his Hebrew name which is יַעֲקֹב / Yaakov. There is no "j" sound in Hebrew.
However, G-d also says: "G-d said to him, 'Your name is Jacob. But your name will not be only Jacob; you will also have Israel as a name.' [G-d thus] named him Israel." Br'eshit / Genesis 35:10.
This means that at times Abraham's son will be called Jacob and at other times Israel.
Bahya ben Asher put it this way. "we may detect a distinct pattern in the Torah sometimes choosing to refer to Jacob by his original name and sometimes by his additional name. The name Jacob applies to the physical part of Yaakov’s personality, matters connected to his terrestrial existence, whereas the name Israel refers to spiritual aspects of his personality, matters connected to his eternal existence in celestial regions.”
Names are not merely "labels" -- they have meaning.
Which brings us back to the topic: G-d has many names in the bible.
Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) speaks of 72 names for G-d.
Yet, not one of them is really a name.
G‑d has no name. He is infinite and does not have a name -- or a title or a description for that matter. You could say that by definition, G-d has no definition.
What we call His name(s) are simply our attempt at describing the indescribable.
The terms we most often associate with Him from the T'nach are אֱלֹהִים / elohim, a word used to speak not only of G-d but of false gods, angels and even powerful humans in the bible. The word אֱלֹהִים / elohim really translates to "powerful judge" and it describes an entity in a position of authority and power, such as a ruler. This is why G-d tells Moses that He will make Moses an אֱלֹהִים / elohim (powerful ruler) to Pharaoh. . . When we use this term to speak of G-d we are referring to His majesty and His position as our ultimate ruler.
The other common term associated with G-d is אֲדֹ-נָי / Adonai. The Hebrew word אָדוֹן / adon is a masculine noun (all nouns in Hebrew are either masculine or feminine) meaning a lord or master. אֲדֹ-נָי / Adonai is used to speak of G-d as a merciful master. When the tetragrammaton (four letter name for G-d) appears in prayer or in the T'nach we verbally say אֲדֹ-נָי / Adonai. The dashes are not found in the word, I am using them here to avoid spelling the name outside of prayer. . .
אֲדֹ-נָי / Adonai is only used to speak of G-d, but similar words such as אָדוֹן / adon and אֲדֹנִי / adoni which is singular and has the possessive suffix “my” (my master) and אֲדֹנַי / adonai is used to speak of some men and it means "Gentlemen!"
Again, we use these descriptions of G-d only in prayer. Outside of prayer we refer to G-d as הַשֵּׁם / HaShem (The Name) out of respect. In D'varim / Deuteronomy 28:58 we are told "fear this glorious and awesome הַשֵּׁם / HaShem / the name, the L-rd, your G-d,"
Using the term הַשֵּׁם / HaShem (The Name) is a way of referring to G-d with respect as it is not a holy name / description. It is the name of a name. . . Think of הַשֵּׁם / HaShem (The Name) as a place holder -- a way of referring to G-d without accidentally defaming one of His holy names in every day speech.
Missionaries, who are usually ignorant as to what the Talmud is and is not, often cite things out of context and claim the Jews have changed Judaism based on their ignorance. By misusing Jewish sources they do not understand missionaries will "paint the picture" that:
One such "proof" given by the missionaries is to reference Bava Metzia 59a and 59b, also known as "the oven of Akhnai" or the rabbis doing something opposite to what G-d wants them to do (and the missionaries will quote "my sons have defeated me"). Michael Brown, an apostate Jew who became a Christian as a teenager, but who presents himself as an expert on all things Jewish, wrote: "In many cases, the Talmudic interpretation of the Scriptures contradicts the plain sense of the Torah. For a famous example, see B. Bava Metzia 59b, which changes the meaning of the end of Exodus 23:2. If you are a student of the Talmud, you know that this is common, even in legal interpretations."
Brown even has a video where he repeats the same claim regarding Bava Metzia 59a and 59b. The video is entitled Bava Metzia: Can a majority of rabbis overrule the voice of G-d?
Brown is totally distorting the facts. What he claims is a total distortion and fabrication of the facts.
Brown (and other missionaries) present this story as if it were the rabbis believe they can overrule G-d -- as if the rabbis are so arrogant that they believe they can ignore and even reverse the bible. Re-read Brown's quote if you find this hard to believe.
Now, given that Brown turned to Christianity after a drug and crime filled youth (from the age 14 per his "personal testimony") perhaps Brown is simply ignornant of the basics of Torah and Talmudic studies and is innocently misleading his readers -- or possibly Brown set out to deceive innocent Christians -- I neither know or care if he is innocent or not, but his quote is as wrong as wrong can be.
Odds are for Brown it is a lack of Jewish education. In his personal testimony Brown says he grew up in a Conservative Jewish home, but "In 1969, at the age of fourteen, when I was asked if I wanted to try smoking pot, I was only too happy to oblige. Soon I tried smoking hash too. But neither one had any effect on me. So I tried harder drugs until I started using ups, downs, and LSD. “But I’ll never do anything worse than that,” I thought. Yet I was deceived. Soon I starting using speed, then I started shooting speed. (Of course, I had been sure I would never put a needle in my arm!). Then, I got the opportunity to try heroin. I loved it! I was fifteen years old. , ,
"For fun, my friends and I even broke into some homes and a doctor’s office. We experimented with the drugs we found and almost killed ourselves."
One year later (age 16) he was a Christian.
So when did Michael Brown, as a Jew, become learned in Judaism?
Brown had a very limited Jewish education, very likely no Talmudic study (rare in Conservative Judaism, especially with children) let alone his drug filled teen years. His education is all at the hands of Christians and secular studies (languages, not Talmud). . . R' Moshe Shulman has debated Brown and has written about his lack of Jewish understanding -- a good article to begin with is his Who is Dr. Brown and Why Spend so Much Time on Him?
This post is not about Brown, but he is a perfect example of how uneducated missionaries misuse Jewish sources, in this case Bava Metzia 59a and 59b. His assertions regarding Bava Metzia are found on numerous missionary cites, quoted as "fact" -- including on the Chosen Peoples Ministry site, so this distortion is no small thing to be ignored.
Bava Metzia 59a and 59b is referenced by Brown (and other missionaries) without being quoted, or it is partially quoted without the surrounding context. Without the quote -- or even worse, only partially quoted, the passage is meaningless as missionaries portray it.
First one must know what the Talmud "is" and what part of the Talmud one can find this story (and it IS a story, not fact or law). The Talmud (there are actually two Talmuds -- Jerusalem and Babylonian) consists of two main concepts: the מִשְׁנָה / Mishna -- which was created to be a "cheat sheat" for a learned person -- the writing was kept to a minimum and meant only to serve as a aid to faltering memories who were taught to memorize the oral mitzvot.
The second part of the Talmud are discussions around the Mishna's teachings. These discussions may discuss the finer points of Jewish law (מִדְךְשׁי הֲלָכָה / Midrash Halacha), but there are also stories and humor as well. This מִדְרַשׁ־אַגָּדָה / Midrash Aggadah -- which means telling a story. מִדְרַשׁ־אַגָּדָה / Midrash Aggadah is not prophecy or meant to be taken literally. . . a word or sentence is lifted from the bible to make a moral point. However, prophecy is NEVER based on these flights of fancy.
You guessed it, Bava Metzia 59a and 59b, also known as תנור של עכנאי / "the oven of Akhnai", was a story -- מִדְרַשׁ־אַגָּדָה / Midrash Aggadah -- not something to be taken literally -- which is how the missionaries present it to their unlearned (in Torah and Talmud) audience. This is wrong, and it is deceitful. Whether or not the missionaries misusing this passage realize they are distorting it is open to question. Most of them probably do not know anything about the Talmud or Judaism let alone מִדְרַשׁ־אַגָּדָה / Midrash Aggadah.
G-d has told us in the Torah to establish courts and to listen to the decisions made by the judges.
G-d put the authority of deciding legal issues in the hands of mortal man -- judges because the Torah was made for us in this world and we are co-creators -- that is the entire reason G-d created us.
In Bava Metzia 59b G-d is speaking (in מִדְרַשׁ־אַגָּדָה / Midrash Aggadah, so not meant to be taken literally) and saying proudly ‘My sons have defeated Me, My sons have defeated Me." -- the judges He put in place are not afraid of making decisions.
In the story (and it IS a story) G-d agrees with R' Eliezer on the halacha (law) -- but the majority of the Rabbis have a different ruling.
The Rabbis argue that in a court of law "majority rules" -- and this is G-d's own ruling. Far from showing the Jews are more powerful than G-d, the Rabbis prove to G-d that they are obeying His mitzvot by coming to a majority judicial ruling as He decreed. The missionaries distort the idea that to follow G-d we must use the brains He gave us -- not to disobey Him, but to follow His instructions. Remember that Michael Brown (the apostate Jew missionary) said "which changes the meaning of the end of Exodus 23:2."? The opposite is true. Sh'mot / Exodus 23:2 in the bible tells us that we are to rule according to the majority, and be carefull: "Do not follow the majority to do evil. Do not speak up in a trial to pervert justice. A case must be decided on the basis of the majority." Two judges are not enough to have a majority (one might have a "tie"). This is why all Jewish courts (including the minor Sanhedrins and Great Sanhedrin) were uneven numbers of 23 and 71. . .
Jewish courts do not use juries -- each court has multiple judges. The smallest courts have three judges, and our sages tell us that, a Jewish court can not rule against a defendant by a majority created by one judge. In death penalty cases a court had to have at least 23 Judges, sitting in the לִשְׁכַּת הַגָּזִית lishkat hagazit (“Chamber of Carved Stone”) in the Temple. If all the judges voted "guilty" or even all but one voted "guilty" the accused was set free. There had to be at least two judges voting for innocent for a man to actually be condemned to death. (again, referencing back to Sh'mot / Exodus 23:2). Missionaries make claims that are simply unsupportable based both on Jewish law and Jewish history. Michael Brown's claim that "which changes the meaning of the end of Exodus 23:2" is completely false.
That in itself is explicit proof that in the case of the oven the law was in accordance with the consensus of Sages.
Missionaries often distort (even reversing) Jewish teaching. The Greek Orthodox "father" cited by the Shabbat spammer had many mistakes on his website -- and I discussed two on my last post (a "different" aleph-bet and needing vowels). The missionary also wrote: "the Masorites themselves felt they had received a partly corrupted text" which is as false a statement as is possible to make. Again this may be from his ignorance (he seems pretty ill-educated) or on purpose. . . hard to say. But totally wrong!
The "father" misunderstood the concept of תיקוני סופרים / Tikkun Soferim (corrections of the scribes) and assumed that it meant that Jewish scribes changed parts of the bible. The term Tikkun Soferim is often translated as “Scribal Emendations."
The Mechilta says that there are eleven instances where the T'nach uses a euphemism (kinah hakatuv) -- not actually a scribe (sofer) changing the actual verses. The T'nach, in these few places, uses euphenisms out of respect for G-d -- and some people uneducated on these matters jump to the conclusion that scribes actually changed passages. In other words -- the original text was written with a euphemism -- no one "changed" it later. (BTW, other sources say 18, some say 11 and some say 7 -- so the exact number is debatable, but it is no more than 18).
Now is where it gets confusing.
In Sh'mot / Exodus Rabbah (midrash aggadot -- allegory, not literal meaning) R' Yehoshua ben Levi reference the SAME passage (in this case Zechariah) and instead of calling it a euphenism (kinah hakatuv) he called it a tinnuk seforim (scribal correction).
And then people began to think that scribes changed the passages, whereas others said that, no, the original passages used euphenisms. R' Yosef Albo in Sefer HaIkkarim wrote "The meaning is not that any person changed anything in the Torah, G-d forbid, because no one would forge a book and then say "I forged this" or "I changed this." How could they say that the Scribes changed it? Rather, the meaning is that... [the Torah spoke] like a scribe who changes his words out of respect for G-d."
Missionaries, trying to support their Greek mistranslations (which they erroneously call the Septuagint or LXX) such as virgin in Isaiah 7:14 not only take the worst possible conclusion (the texts are corrupted).
They also do not tell their unsuspecting audience WHEN these scribal emendations were made.
Which was before the bible was closed.
Or by whom.
The prophets -- many the authors of the texts themselves.
Who was responsible for identifying these verses (and potentially slightly modifying them)? The prophets themselves: the Men of the Great Assembly who codified the T'nach (Jewish bible), which included the prophets Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (who is Ezra), Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, Nehemiah b. Hachaliah, Mordechai and Zerubabel b. Shaaltiel, among others.
If one wants to believe that these prophets did slightly alter parts of the bible (which many sages say is NOT what happened) -- then know the facts.
Not a single meaning was changed in any of the texts referenced.
The only alterations (say the sages who have this opinion) were those where the honor of God was involved (such as the idea of G-d standing before Abraham rather than the reverse). The sages who state that the prophets themselves altered the text further state that often it was the original author who changed it himself. There is a verse from Zechariah 2:12 which says "Whoever touches you touches the pupil of his own eye." The sages who state this was changed say it was the author himself who changed it from “Whoever touches you touches the pupil of My (G-d's) eye" to "his own eye (the human)."
But remember, there are other sages who say no changes were made and that the term only referred to places in the T'nach where euphanisms were used.
The Sofrim were the scribes who lived at the close of the prophetic era -- the very prophets who wrote what is IN the bible -- including Ezra. So, no. . . no "rabbis" changed the bible (although one can state that the great prophets were all rabbis themselves: teachers and judges). . .
The missionary assumes that Jews willy nilly changed the bible -- and this slander actually began over 700 years ago. The original source for this slander was the infamous Raymond Martini -- an anti-semite. 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).
The Rashba (13th century) wrote "Tikkun Soferm does not mean that (the sages) changed (the text) by erasing and writing. Whatever Moses wrote in the Torah, and the other prophets in the other books (of the bible), they, a priori, wrote euphemistically. There was no addition or deletion from the books, but those things which should have been written euphemistically were written in such a way."
Jews don’t “change” the bible. In the few cases where the sages discuss tikkun soferim (whether changes were made or not) nothing in the meaning is changed at all -- and the changes (the sages state) were by the original authors -- not the later "rabbis" who carelessy modified the bible. IF a few verses were changed they were changed by the prophets before the bible was closed -- and not by later rabbis. And please keep in mind that many of our sages do not believe that even minor modifications were made by the original authors even -- but that language was "softened" in the original to avoid misinterpretation. . .
Jews do NOT change the bible.
Don’t believe me?
Here is something written 2000 yers ago by a source nearly contemporaneous to Jesus (Josephus, 37CE – 100CE).
Josephus wrote that the Jewish bible was unchanged not only in his time, but for a long time before him: “For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, [as the Greeks have,] but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine; and of them five belong to Moses, which contain his mitzvot and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death. . . (and) the prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to G-d, and precepts for the conduct of human life. . . we firmly give credit to these books of our own nation is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add anything to them, to take anything from them, or to make any change in them.” Against Apion, Josephus.
2000 years ago.
"no one has been so bold as either to add anything to them, to take anything from them, or to change them."
2000 years ago.
Torot (plural of Torah) from around the world are remarkably identical. The "Koren Edition" T'nach has a list of חִלּוּפֵי נֻסְחָאוֹת / hillufei nus'ha'ot ("variant readings") and there are just THREE entries for the five Torah books...
(1) B'reshit / Genesis 9:29... in the place of וַֽיְהִי֙ va-y'hi ("and it was") some copies have וַיִּהְיוּ֙ va-yih'yu ("and they were") [and I have one printed חוּמָשׁ that has the yod of וַיִּֽהְיוּ֙ pointed with a meteg (an optional stress mark)].
(2) D'varim / Deuteronomy 23:2... in the place of דַּכָּ֛ה dakkah ("crushed" or "bruised") some copies have דַּכָּ֛א dakka (an alternative spelling which doesn't even change the pronunciation)
(3) Vayikra / Leviticus 7:28... in some copies, the פַּרָשָׁה פְתוּחָה (open paragraph break) occurs instead at Vayikra 7:22.
None of these minor variations makes the slightest difference in the meaning of the text.
The Torah and the 'nach are amazingly similar througout the world. Emmanuel Tov, emeritus Professor in the Department of Bible at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, wrote "It should be remembered that the number of differences between the various editions is very small. Moreover, all of them concern minimal, even minute details of the text, and most affect the meaning of the text in only a very limited way." (page 3, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible).
There are ancient copies, particularly of Prophets and Writings, that may vary from the Jewish mesorah (T’nach). How do we know that what we have today is correct? Shouldn’t we assume that a more ancient version is “right” and that along the way the Jewish scribes changed words (no real meaning has changed – again see Tov). . .
Some ancient copies are of questionable accuracy – I’m not speaking of translations into Greek or Aramaic as a translation is always interpretive on the part of the translator and thus word choices may vary. . . I’m speaking of ancient Hebrew witnesses to compare to what we have today.
Again, there is very little difference – and when there is a difference it tends to be the ancient version that is of questionable accuracy. How could that possibly be??? Well, compare the ancient Dead Sea Scroll version to the Masada papyri. Masada fell approximately 73 CE (common era) – so the documents date to the same timeframe as the Dead Sea Scrolls found in Qumran. Yet the fragments from Masada are identical in their text to the Masoretic Text (MT) that we have today per Lawrence H. Schiffman in “Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Volume 2”, page 492.
From Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls) to Aleppo: A Discussion with Emanuel Tov about the Textual Integrity of the Bible”, page 12: “The 6000 medieval manuscripts of the MT (Masoretic text) differed only slightly in all. . .details. It is a miracle, albeit a man-made one, that the MT remained unchanged over the past 2000 years. This lack of textual intervention is visible when one compares the fragments found at Masada, Nahal Hever, and Nahal Marabba’at with manuscripts from the Middle Ages. There are almost no dfferences in consonants between the codex Leningradensis or the Aleppo codex from the early Middle Ages and the texts from Masada (66-73 CE), Nahal Hever (132-135 CE), and Nahal Murabba’at (132-135 CE); the level of variation between them is no higher than that among the medieval texts themselves. (Footnote: For precise statistics see I. Young, “The Stabilization of the Biblical Text in Light of Qumran and Masada: A Challenge for Conventional Qumran Chronology?” DSD 9 (2002) 364-90).
Missionaries will often try to argue that the bible we have today (Masoretic Text) is not the same as the ancient bible -- that Jews corrupted it. This flies in the face of not only Jewish history, blackens Jewish honor -- but it also is refuted by the experts. The facts support the Jewish T'nach's accuracy, and refutes that of the various Greek translations along the way. . . Link.
Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, begins at Sundown (Jewish days begin at sundown). This holy day is misunderstood by many a missionary who seem to think that only on this day can Jews be forgiven for our sins. Missionaries often think that without blood there is no remission of sin. More than once I have been asked "How do Jews atone for sin without sacrifices?"
Sacrifices have never been necessary to atone for sin -- it was only one way to atone for some very specific sins (mostly minor). One can atone and repent at any time. The purpose of Yom Kippur is G-d's gift to us -- a day which atones whether we seek forgiveness or not. It is the day G-d comes to US rather than waiting for us to come to Him.
"For on this day G-d shall effect atonement for you to cleanse you. Before the L-rd, you shall be cleansed from all your sins.” Vayikra / Leviticus 16:30.
G-d shall effect atonement.
The day itself atones.
Rabbi [Y’udah HaNassi] says: Yom Kippur atones whether one repents or one does not repent. Talmud, Shevuot 13a.
The key to understanding the difference between Yom Kippur and every other day of the year is that we can turn to G-d at any time. On Yom Kippur G-d comes to us. Normally we bring sacrifices, or prayers, or acts of charity to G-d. We go to Him and we thank Him, or ask Him to forgive some wrong we did. We can do this at any time, all through the year. This is the difference between the Yom Kippur sacrifices and those mentioned in Vayikra / Leviticus 5-6 (4, too). All of those are about us going to Him. On Yom Kippur He comes to us.
The difference with Yom Kippur and all other days of the year is that instead of US asking Him for forgiveness -- He seeks us out and in His infinite kindness and mercy forgives us -- the day itself is the atonement.
Even in the days of the two Temples the various blood sacrifices did not atone for major sins and wrongdoings of the Jewish people. There are two major categories of sacrifices -- communal (those for the nation) and individual (for each person's wrong doings). . .
There was no sacrifice on Yom Kippur where an animal was sacrificed and this cleansed the Israelites sins. The offer brought on Yom Kippur that cleansed sins was the one where the scapegoat was not sacrificed. It was sent ALIVE into the wilderness.
The key to understanding the difference between Yom Kippur and every other day of the year is that we can turn to G-d at any time. On Yom Kippur G-d comes to us. Normally we bring sacrifices, or prayers, or acts of charity to G-d. We go to Him and we thank Him, or ask Him to forgive some wrong we did. We can do this at any time, all through the year. You asked about the difference between the sacrifices mentioned in Vayikra / Leviticus 5-6 (4, too) -- this is the difference. All of those are about us going to Him. On Yom Kippur He comes to us.
The difference with Yom Kippur and all other days of the year is that instead of US asking Him for forgiveness -- He seeks us out and in His infinite kindness and mercy forgives us -- the day itself is the atonement.
"On Yom Kippur, the day itself atones... as it is written, For on this day, it shall atone for you." Mishneh Torah, Laws of Repentance 1:3
It isn't the sacrifices which atone on Yom Kippur -- or even our prayers. It is the day itself which atones -- and this is what makes Yom Kippur so special. This is the day G-d comes seeking us (rather than the other way around).
There were individual and communal sacrifices on Yom Kippur described in Vayikra (Leviticus) 16 that atoned for very specific things -- but not for the sins of all of Israel. There was a sacrifice brought by the kohein gadol (high priest) for himself and his family. One for the kohein gadol and the other priests. . .The חַטָּאת cḥattat (accidental sins) and אָשָׁם asham sacrifices were PRIVATE offerings brought by INDIVIDUALS, not “atonement” offerings on behalf of the entire nation. The חַטָּאת chatat (sin sacrifice) was for a missing of the mark (you tried to do good but missed) and the אָשָׁם asham (guilt / tresspass sacrifice) was for three different types of violations:
1. unintentionally taking and using something from the holy Temple. The person must return the items, add 1/5th in restitution and bring an asham;
2. asham taluy is for when you aren't sure if you sinned or not, so just to be sure you bring an asham taluy. If later you discover that you did commit a cheit (accidental sin) you bring a chatat (sin offer);
3. asham g'zelot if you lied under oath defrauding someone of his things or money. In this case again you have to return the stolen things and add 1/5th to it as well as bring the asham g'zelot.The communal Yom Kippur (“Atonement Day”) ceremonies are detailed in chapter 16 of Vayikra (Leviticus), wher AN OX was offered for the kohein gadol (high priest) and all the other priests (verses 3, 6, 11) and two GOATS were offered for the nation (verses 5, 7-10, 15). As I already mentioned, the one sent away into the desert, and NOT killed was the one who symbolically “carryied away” the nation's sins.
Missionaries seem think there was some "magic" in blood sacrifices and this is not supported by the Jewish bible. Indeed sacrifices were not so much for G-d as they were a gift from G-d.
The Rambam explained this when he told us that G-d doesn't need sacrifices.
In other words, the Jews were used to bringing sacrifices and this is why G-d permitted them. Qorban gave man a way to feel closer to G-d by giving Him something of value (be it money, flour, an animal, etc.).
In pagan religions the gods were bloodthirsty and needed blood to be satisfied. In Judaism G-d permitted man to bring sacrifices because man needed them -- He needs nothing.
Maimonides, aka the Rambam, suggested that qorban (sacrifice) was ordained as an accommodation of man's primitive desires. In his Guide to the Perplexed (3:46), the Rambam explains that the nations of the world that worshiped animals generally worshipped one of three domestic animals: either sheep (as did the Egyptians, Targum Onkeles Sh'mot / Exodus 8:22), goats (as in Vayikra / Leviticus 17:7) or cows (as in India, until today).
In order to remove any reverent thoughts for these animals from Jewish minds, Hashem commanded us to take specifically these three animals, and to slaughter them and burn them on the Mizbe'ach. (In ch. 3:32 of the Guide, the Rambam offers yet another approach to the matter of sacrifices).
This whole fixation on blood, blood, blood by missionaries is not supported by the Jewish bible. The missionaries take the statement that blood can atone for SOME sins and somehow morph it into "you need blood for sins to be forgiven." This is akin to eating a slice of pizza because you are hungry and then insisting that the only type of food that exists in the world is pizza. How crazy is that?
The key to understanding Yom Kippur is that man may atone for sins at any time -- through various means (prayer, repentance, kindness, charity. . .). On Yom Kippur G-d, in His infinite mercy, forgives us without our even asking. On Yom Kippur it is the day itself that atones (not goats, bulls, etc.).
Vayikra / Leviticus 16 speaks of the various sacrifices brought on Yom Kippur.
Vayikra / Leviticus 16:16 speaks of a specific sacrifice made for accidental defilement of the Temple (not general sins let alone "all" sins). Notice the use of the the word "unclean."
"He (the high priest) shall then slaughter the people's sin offering goat, and bring its blood into [the inner sanctuary] beyond the cloth partition. He shall do the same with this blood as he did with the bull's blood, sprinkling it both above the ark cover and directly toward the ark cover. With this, he will make atonement for the Israelites' defilement, as well as for their rebellious acts and all their inadvertent misdeeds." Vayikra / Leviticus 16:15-16.
The Torah says לְכָל־חַטֹּאתָ֑ם, חַטָּאַת which means in regards to their unintentional sins. Here is Rashi's commentary:
"from the defilements of the children of Israel-. [i.e., atoning] for those who, while in [a state of] uncleanness, had entered the Sanctuary, and it never became known to them [that they had been unclean], for it says: לְכָלחַטֹּאתָם, חַטָּאַת denotes an unintentional sin. - [Torath Kohanim 16:42; Shev. 17b]and from their rebellions. [i.e., atoning] also [for] those who, in a state of uncleanness, willfully entered [the Sanctuary, thereby defiling it]. - [Torath Kohanim16:42; Shev. 17b]He shall do likewise to the Tent of Meeting.i.e., just as he had sprinkled from [the blood of] both [the bull and the he-goat] inside [the Holy of Holies, with] one sprinkling above and seven below, so shall he sprinkle from [the blood of] both [the bull and the he-goat] on the dividing curtain from the outside once above and seven times below. - [Torath Kohanim16:43; Yoma 56b]which dwells with them, [even] amidst their defilements. Although they are unclean, the Divine Presence is among them. - [Torat Kohanim 16:43; Yoma 56b]."
Lkewise the priest sacrificed a bull for himself and his own household for the very same reason:
"When Aaron (the first high priest) enters [this inner] sanctuary, it must be with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. Aaron shall present his sin offering bull, and make atonement for himself and his (fellow priests)." Vayikra / Leviticus 16:3-11.
Most missionaries fail to mention the BULL's BLOOD that is sprinkled on the ark cover to atone for the priests' sins. If the goats blood covers "all" of the Jews then why do the priests have to bring this sacrifice?
Doesn't that blow the idea that somehow the goat sacrifice atoned for "all sins?" After all it is the blood of the bull which atones for any unintentional sins by the priests. It seems that most missionaries are skimming the chapter rather than reading it for the details.
They also miss the far from minor detail that it is the LIVE goat which carries away sins big and small: "Aaron (the first high priest) shall press both his hands on the live goat's head, and he shall confess on it all the Israelites' sins, rebellious acts and inadvertent misdeeds. When he has thus placed them on the goat's head, he shall send it to the desert with a specially prepared man. The goat will thus carry all the sins away to a desolate area when it is sent to the desert." Vayikra / Leviticus 16:21-22.
No blood sacrifice!
Here is a link to R' Aryeh Kaplan's translation of Vayikra / Leviticus 16 (link).
Hopefully you've noticed that although there are indeed blood sacrifices brought on Yom Kippur when a Temple is standing (this is the only place G-d designated for sacrifices) -- the "big" sins did not have a sacrifice, even in the days of the Temple itself. The "scapegoat" was sent alive into the desert per the Torah. (The Talmud tells us that this goat was sent off of a cliff to its death to avoid it wandering back into town bringing back all the sins! But, this is NOT a "sacrifice" -- it is one of those rabbinical fences missionaries do not "believe" in).
From Rambam's "The Laws of Repentence":
"If a person violates any mitzvot of the Torah, willingly or unintentionally. . .he must repent. . .Similarly, people who are sentenced by the Rabbinical court to be executed, or to be lashed, do not attain atonement through their death or lashing unless they repent and confess. . .
"1:2] The goat that is sent to Azazel is (likened to a sacrifice) for forgiveness for all Israel;therefore, the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) recites a verbal confession that includes all Israel, as it is written, "And he shall confess on it, all the transgressions of Israel." (Leviticus 16:21).
"This goat atones for all transgressions in the Torah: both those punishable by death and not punishable by death; intentional sins and unintentional sins; those the transgressor is aware of, and those of which he is unaware. This applies only if one repents. If one does not repent, the goat atones only for the light sins
"Now that the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) is not standing, and there is no sacrificial altar for atonement, we are only left with repentance. Through repentance, G-d forgives our sins, and no mention is made of these sins even if one sinned one's whole life and repented only in his final moments. As it is written, "The wickedness of the wicked will not cause him to stumble when be turns back from his wickedness." (Ychezkiel / Ezekiel 33:12)."
Sacrifices were not magic -- they were a gift of G-d to help us truly atone by giving up something of value to Him. G-d forbids and abhors human sacrifice. The death of Jesus (if he ever even lived) couldn't have atoned for the sins of anyone -- he was simply murdered by the Romans as were tens of thousands of Jews. The Day of Atonement is not the "only" day sins could be forgiven -- sins can be forgiven at any time. It is a special day when G-d comes to us, and when the day itself atones.
Among the many annoying emails and messages received from missionaries are those trying to convert me with such pithy comments as: "Jewish sounding name" (usually claimed to be a Rabbi or Orthodox Jew) became a Christian, so shouldn't you become a Christian, too?"
Why is it that missionaries think that "testimonies" by various formerly secular Jews would be persuasive in convincing Jews that they "know something" hidden from the rest of us Jews? Jews who become Christians tend to do so for one of a few reasons:
Furthermore, the Jews who of their own volition who become Christians tend to do so based on some personal "revelation" -- which the T'nach itself warns us time and time again to beware of! Personal revelations of "seeing" Jesus or Mohammad or whomever are a test from G-d, and He tells us this in the Torah. This warning is found in many places, but is shouted loud and clear in D'varim / Deuteronomy 13: "The entire word that I command you, that shall you observe to do; you shall not add to it and you shall not subtract from it.  If there should stand up in your midst a prophet or a dreamer of a dream, and he will produce to you a sign or a wonder,  and the sign or the wonder comes about, of which he spoke to you, saying "Let us follow G-ds of others that you did not know and we shall worship them!"  do not hearken to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer of a dream, for HASHEM, your G-d, is testing you to know whether you love HASHEM, your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul.  HASHEM, your G-d, shall you follow and Him shall you fear; His commandments shall you observe and to His voice shall you hearken; Him shall you serve and to Him shall you cleave."
Yesterday a Catholic began trolling me on my Gmail account -- bringing up first Rabbi Israel Zolli who was chief Rabbi of Rome (originally from Poland / Ukraine area) who became a Catholic after World War II. After Mussolini’s fall in 1943 the Nazis took over Rome, Zolli and his family went into hiding with a Catholic family saving his own skin, but leaving the Jews he supposedly led to the fate of the Nazis. The Jewish community of Rome was about 10,000 in 1943. The Germans deported 8,564 Jews from Italy, Italian-occupied France, and the islands of Rhodes and Kos, most of them to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Of the 8,564 deported only 1,009 survived.
Zolli and his family were safe -- they had run away to the safety of the Vatican, leaving the Jews to fend for themselves -- to live or die at the hands of the Nazis.
To make matters so much worse, Zolli didn't even destroy the synagogue registers making it easy for the Nazis to get a list of all the Jews in Rome! The Wikipedia article about Zolli says that “this list was used when they were gathered, deported, and murdered”.
In other words Zolli was not only an apostate but an immoral man who saved his own skin but did nothing to save his "flock."
It would have been easy for him to destroy the Synagogue records (or even take them with him into the Vatican) but he left the Jews of Rome to rot, to be deported to Nazi concentration camps. When the war ended Zolli tried to reclaim his position as the leader of the Jews of Rome. . . Needless to say he was rejected, and that is when he became a Catholic, claiming to have had a vision of Jesus on Yom Kippur no less!
Then the troll emailed me about a relative "new comer" to Catholicism named Jean-Marie Élie Setbon.
Setbon seems to fall into the first category -- a Jew raised without a Jewish education. Setbon (French) did not grow up in an observant home. From his own book (Amazon) "Jean-Marie Élie Setbon, the son of non-observant French Jews, was first attracted to Jesus when he saw a crucifix at a young age. He hid a crucifix in his room and contemplated it often, even though he knew his family would be hurt and angry if they ever caught him.
"Seeing the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur from his apartment window, he was drawn to the church, where he found himself powerfully pulled toward Jesus in the Eucharist. After several years of surreptitiously attending Mass, he resolved to convert to Catholicism in spite of the scandal it would cause, but G-d had other plans. . .
"My mother never celebrated Jewish feasts and fed us ham and pasta like any other French mother. At home, there was not a single Jewish book or object."
Note a few things. Seton says he was:
So he says he went from being non-observant to an "ultra-orthodox" Jew. No observant Jew would EVER use the term "ultra-orthodox" ergo he played at being observant but had little to no education. Uneducated is uneducated even if he played at being observant.
Per his own story he moved to Israel (Kibbutz) became observant (but it seems, not educated) but was still fascinated by Christianity. He married, had seven children, his wife died and then he falls into the trap G-d uses to test to see if people will truly be faithful to Him. "G-d, is testing you to know whether you love HASHEM, your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul.  HASHEM, your G-d, shall you follow and Him shall you fear; His commandments shall you observe and to His voice shall you hearken; Him shall you serve and to Him shall you cleave." D'varim / Deuteronomy 13:4.
Seton failed this very basic test of his faith. Per a book where he discusses his life and conversion to Catholicism Seton says that he had a mystical experience -- a vision of a deceased Catholic Cardinal (Lustiger). He goes so far as to say “I was illuminated. At last! In one instant I had become ready to throw away the Jewish Law.”
Return to D'varim / Deuteronomy 13:2-5: "[This is what you must do] when a prophet or a person who has visions in a dream arises among you. He may present you with a sign or miracle, and on the basis of that sign or miracle, say to you, 'Let us try out a different god. Let us serve it and have a new spiritual experience.' Do not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. G-d your L-rd is testing you to see if you are truly able to love G-d your L-rd with all your heart and all your soul. Follow G-d your L-rd, remain in awe of Him, keep His commandments, obey Him and serve Him, and you will then be able to have a true spiritual experience through Him."
Interesting engouh, Zolli (the rabbi from Rome) also claimed to have had a personal revelation. In 1917, when he was 36 years old, Zolli had the first in a series of mystical visions of Jesus. He claims to have based his conversion to Catholicism on these personal visions of Jesus. . . Again - a bit crazy perhaps, or perhaps being tested by G-d (as per D'varim / Deuteronomy 13:2-5:) and failing that test?
Folks -- people from all religions claim personal revelations. Mohammed claimed to have them. Joseph Smith claimed to have them. Insane people in mental hospitals claim to have them. Jerusalem in modern times is full of people who think they are Jesus (it is called "Jerusalem Syndrome"). Don't believe me that people of ALL religions (and some they make up on their own) are based on personal revelations? Just do a quick "Google" search.
Personal revelations mean NOTHING.
Again -- read D'varim / Deuteronomy 13:2-5: -- G-d is TESTING you to see if you are going to be led by your own heart to idolatry or if you will follow His Torah.
If only Seton had read the words of the Torah and observed them, rather than leaping from secular Judaism into (as he says) one form of Jewish observant life to only drop it for yet another. . . to then reject both not truly understanding Judaism at all for the idolatry of Catholicism.
Amazing how Jewish so many converts to Christianity have limited to no true Jewish education and always have some sort of individual "rapture" like emotional experience. The Torah warns us to not be swayed by personal visions and revelations -- all religions except for Judaism are based on personal revelations, yet converts like Setbon all desert G-d for their own personal visions. He claims to been given a semicha by a French yeshiva (thus making him a rabbi) but how could he claim that and make a statement such as this: "Jewish prayers are so codified that there is no place for spontaneous prayer. . . There is no filial relationship, no simple heart-to-heart with G-d."
This is totally false!
Totally, completely and utterly false!
D'varim / Deuteronomy 11:3 tells us to serve Him with all our heart!
How can Seton claim to have been a religious Jew, a rabbi no less, and not know this very basis of Judaism???
As the Chabad website puts it so well "Anytime you share whatever is on your heart with your Creator—whether praising, blessing, kvetching or requesting—you are davening. It could happen at any time, at any place, as long as it comes from the heart’s genuine concerns and the mind’s awareness of a higher presence."
Jews speak to G-d from our hearts constantly -- for Seton to deny this shows a complete ignorance of the most basic parts of Judaism! This man who apparently jumped from secularism to one form of Judaism to another and then to Catholicism (apparently always having been attracted to Christianity per his own words) knew absolutely nothing about the religion he decided to leave behind for his emotional "vision" of a dead cardinal.
Mental illness perhaps? Ignorance, surely -- ignorance of the Torah, the very heart of Judaism.
Why are people led to desert Judaism, swayed by their own emotions? The Torah tells us that G-d tests us all, and that we are tested to see if we will follow our own hearts, our own inclinations -- or will we remain faithful and loyal to G-d?
D'varim / Deuteronomy 11:16: "Be careful that your heart not be tempted to go astray and worship other G-ds, bowing down to them."
D'varim / Deuteronomy 29: "Perhaps there is among you a man, woman, family, or tribe, whose heart strays this day from HaShem, our G-d, to go and worship the deities of those nations. Perhaps there is among you a root that produces hemlock and wormwood. 18. And it will be, when he [such a person] hears the words of this oath, that he will bless himself in his heart, saying, "I will have peace, even if I follow my heart's desires,". . .19. HaShem will not be willing to forgive him; rather, then, HaShem's fury and His zeal will fume against that man, and the entire curse written in this book will rest upon him, and HaShem will obliterate his name from beneath the heavens. 20. And HaShem will separate him for evil. . ."
and perhaps most important of all D'varim / Deuteronomy 13: "The entire word that I command you, that shall you observe to do; you shall not add to it and you shall not subtract from it.  If there should stand up in your midst a prophet or a dreamer of a dream, and he will produce to you a sign or a wonder,  and the sign or the wonder comes about, of which he spoke to you, saying "Let us follow G-ds of others that you did not know and we shall worship them!"  do not hearken to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer of a dream, for HASHEM, your G-d, is testing you to know whether you love HASHEM, your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul.  HASHEM, your G-d, shall you follow and Him shall you fear; His commandments shall you observe and to His voice shall you hearken; Him shall you serve and to Him shall you cleave."
Seton seems to have been a secular Jew who jumped in the deep end without ever truly understanding Judaism. As the prophet Hosea wrote "My people has been eliminated for lack of knowledge; for you have spurned knowledge and I will spurn you from serving Me; and as you have forgotten the Torah of your G-d, I too, will forget your children." Hosea 4:6.
The stories of Christians who left it behind to convert to Judaism are the opposite of the Jews who join the church. I listed quite a few former priests, nuns, ministers, etc. who chose Judaism in this blog post.
To the trolls out there: please do not bombard me with stories of those who desert Judaism as if it is some kind of "proof" that Christianity is true. Either do some research on your own, or ask me questions about them -- but those who "preach" at me will be blocked. Judaism is the only religion based not on personal revelations, but on national revelation. G-d spoke to the entire nation (3 million people) and made a contract with us Jews -- warning us that any other religious experience we did not know at Sinai was false and not to be fooled by them. D'varim / Deuteronomy 4:32-33 "You might inquire about times long past, from the day that G-d created man on earth, [exploring] one end of heaven to the other. Has there ever been anything like this great thing or has anything like it been heard? Has a people ever heard the voice of G-d speaking from the midst of the fires as you have heard, and survived?"
The bible tells us clearly that no one can die for our sins. We are each responsible for our own actions. Read D'varim / Deuteronomy 24:16 "Fathers shall not die [through the testimony] of their sons, and sons shall not die [through the testimony] of their fathers, since [in any case] every man shall die for his sins."
G-d's judging of us is done as a father correcting his child -- in the hope that the child learns and becomes a better person.
"The wicked shall give up his way, and the man of iniquity his thoughts, and he shall return to HaShem, Who shall have mercy upon him, and to our G-d, for He will freely pardon." Y'shayahu / Isaiah 55:7.
"Do I desire the death of the wicked? says HaShem G-d. Is it not rather in his repenting of his ways that he may live?" Y'chezkel / Ezekiel 18:23.
When G-d judges us, He does so with mercy. As King David once said "let us fall now into the hand of HaShem; for His mercies are great; but into the hand of man let me not fall." Shmuel 2 / 2 Samuel 24:14.
Yet many missionaries will grasp onto the Jewish concept that "the death of the righteous atones" and try to equate this concept to "Jesus dying for your sins." For example, Michael Brown's Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus Volume 2, page 156 - 157 goes to great pains to equate the death of the righteous atoning with Jesus' death being an atoning sacrifice.
Since the bible forbids anyone dying as a sacrifice for the sins of another (again, note D'varim / Deuteronomy 24:16) what does it mean when Jews say that "the death of the righteous atones"?
It certainly does not mean, as Christians insist with Jesus, that G-d required (let alone wanted) the death of Jesus to somehow wipe out the sins of OTHER people! Read T'hillim / Psalm 116:15 "Grievous in the eyes of the L-rd is the death of His pious ones."
The Christian concept of vicarious atonement is completely foreign to Judaism. Yet, it is at the very heart of Christianity which says there is no atonement without believing in Jesus. While some Christians think repentance is part of their atonement (not all do), the primary requirement is to "believe" in Jesus as dying for your sins.
Jews say that repentance (being truly sorry for what you did) is at the heart of atonement. G-d forgives those who turn to Him and seek forgiveness (both from those they wrong and G-d) and to try to not repeat the sins. Atonement is an ongoing process througout our lives -- and it is for a reason. Only through making mistakes, getting up and learning from them, do we grow in knowledge, wisdom and holiness.
Do you see why no one else can do it for you?
When man repents, G-d forgives.
Read Bamidbar / Numbers 35:33 "And you shall not corrupt the land in which you live, for the blood corrupts the land, and the blood which is shed in the land cannot be atoned for except through the blood of the one who shed it."
Thus Jesus' blood could not atone for anything -- human blood corrupts the land!
Read D'varim / Deuteronomy 24:16 "Fathers shall not be put to death because of sons, nor shall sons be put to death because of fathers; each man shall be put to death for his own transgression." and M'lachim / II Kgs 14:6 "But the sons of the assassins he did not execute, as it is written in the book of the Torah of Moses, which the Lord commanded saying: "Fathers shall not be put to death for sons, nor shall sons be put to death for fathers, but each man shall be put to death for his own sin." and Yirmiyahu / Jeremiah 31:29 [30 in Christian Bibles] "But each man shall die for his iniquity; whoever eats the unripe grapes- his teeth shall be set on edge." Along with these read Y'chezkel / Ezekiel 18 and T'hillim / Psalm Ps 49:7 -- all state clearly that we are responsible for our own sins, no one can die for your sins and human blood (sacrifice) is forbidden -- human blood corrupts the land.
Which brings us back to -- if no one can die for your sins and vicarious atonement is forbidden what DO Jews mean when we say that the death of the righteous atones? The Talmud, Moed Katan 28a, says: "The death of the righteous atones [for the generation]”.
The examples of B'reshit / Genesis 9:5-6 and Y'shayahu / Isaiah 53:5 show that a key belief of Christianity -- that you have to have faith in Jesus to have your sins forgiven -- are rejected by those two examples, and so many others. There is no concept of "belief" in the T'nach or rabbinical writings that even comes close to a core belief of Christianity -- belief in Jesus for atonement.
To read more on this topic Mesora has an interesting article entitled "Atonement: Jesus Dying for Sins vs Death of the Pious Atoning." Also read "The Rabbinic Concept of the Death of the Righteous Atones" by R' Moshe Shulman. In the latter the Rabbi makes one more excellent point on which I will close this blog post: "There is another issue of significance that needs to be kept in mind when looking at the Rabbinic teachings. This is the distinction between ‘national’ sin and individual sin. The idea of national sin appears throughout the prophets and the basis for it is found in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 where God says that he will punish the nation if they sin and do not follow His commandments. This involves the suffering of the nation and eventual exile from the land of Israel. Individual sin, on the other hand, effects the individual alone in this world and also the next.
What I believe will become obvious after examining these passages is that with regards to individuals and the death of the righteous, we are dealing with atonement, in the normally understood manner, which is type 1 above; and that under specific circumstances an individual’s sins are atoned for. With regards to Israel and its national sin, it is atonement as in the 2nd type, where it has to do with the suffering of Israel as a community."
Online (free) English translations of the T'nach (Jewish bible).
Avoid the 1917 JPS (Jewish Publication Society) translation as it is only a lightly modified King James Version translation and not a true Hebrew translation. The 1917 is found throughout the internet including Mechon Mamre. AVOID IT.
Judaica Press T'nach Hebrew and English translation with Rashi's commentary. This is the recommended online T'nach.
The Living Torah Hebrew and English translation of the Torah and Haftarah by R' Aryeh Kaplan (Z"L). Excellent, but it is not the complete T'nach. Also available in Russian and Spanish. Trope (chanting) files, and Divrei Torah (A summary of each portion with kind permission from Ohr Somayach International) also available.
Jewish Publication Society 1985 English translation (not recommended).
Sefaria.org offers the 1985 Jewish Publication Society translation, The Rashi Chumash by Rabbi Shraga Silverstein, and others (use the drop down menu to see the complete list).
Hard copy (books) T'nach the following are recommended:
Artscroll Stone Edition T'nach
Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash (Same translation as the Tanach, but far more footnotes). A Chumash is not the entire T'nach, it is the Five Books of Moses and the Haftarah.
The Judaica Press T'nach
The Koren Jerusalem Bible
Apps the following are recommended:
The Artscroll Digital Library Android
The Artscroll Digital Library Apple
Counter-Missionary Online Resources
Missionaries target Jews for conversion to Christianity. Unfortunately many Jews are raised with a very limited (or no) Jewish education and are easy prey. In reality Christianity is a bit like the children's story "The Emperor has no Clothes." When its theology is placed under the light of the Jewish bible it falls apart. Blood is not needed to atone for sins -- it never was. Blood was only one way to atone for some very specific and generally minor sins. Human sacrifice is forbidden. No one can die for your sins. G-d is not a man. . .
Yet missionaries claim their religion is the "fulfillment" of the Jewish bible and for one who does not know the answers to hear a missionary misquote Isaiah 53, or Isaiah 7 (about virgin births of gods) or Isaiah 9 or Daniel 9 or Psalm 110 one might be lured into "seeing" Jesus where he is not found at all. The Christian "proof texts" are almost always mistranslations (there is no "virgin" in Isaiah 7) or taking a word or sentence out of context -- this is called "proof texting."
To combat this missionary threat this forum exists to answer questions and help educate people. There is also a wealth of information online -- some of which we will identify in this thread.
The Jewish Home (Professor Uri Yosef)
Jews for Judaism (Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz, Rabbi Yisroel Blumenthal, Rabbi Eli Cohen, Rabbi Michael Skobac). Locations in Toronto, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Sydney (Australia).
Outreach Judaism (Rabbi Tovia Singer)
Judaism's Answer (Rabbi Moshe Shulman}
Simple to Remember
A few days ago I posted a study of #145 on the list of missionary claims that Jesus fulfilled 365 prophecies. This claim is tied to a missionary favorite: T'hillim / Psalm 110:4 has "The L-rd has sworn, and He will not relent, you are a priest forever, a rightful king (מַלְכִּי־צֶ֙דֶק֙) by my decree."
In that post I explained that "Melchizedek" is not a name, but it is rather a description (a king of righteousness). Many Jewish names in the T'nach are descriptions -- indeed when G-d changes Jacob's name from Jacob (which means "holder of the heel, i.e. a follower" -- Jacob was born the second twin, holding the heel of his brother Esau) to Israel. The name Israel -- implying a שָׂר / sar – a cheif, prince or ruler -- a leader of others: “for you have striven with an angel and with men and you have persevered” (B'reshit / Genesis 32:29). אֵל / El means mighty or powerful, but אֵל / El is often translated as "G-d", and אֵל / El is often used as a name (description) of G-d by itself or as part of other words (e.g. elohim). The name Israel means a prince of G-d or a divine master. . . but G-d does not actually "change" Jacob's name to Israel -- he is called by both names, because each name defines a different aspect of the man. . .
Thus "names" in the bible are descriptions not mere "labels."
Yet in B'reshit / Genesis we are told "מַלְכִּי־צֶ֙דֶק֙ / Malkhi-tzedek / a king of righteousness, king of Salem brought forth bread and wine. He was a priest to God, the Most High."
The missionary posted a message on my Facebook stating that "the rabbis even say this is about the messiah" (that Melchizedek is a name and is a prophecy about the messiah). I do not allow misleading missionizing on my page, but do want to explain the error of this statement.
This blog has spent some time discussing the Missionary Misuse of Jewish Sources. Most missionaries have been lied to themselves and they repeat these lies, through ignorance. There are modern missionaries, such as Michael L. Brown (an apostate Jew who was a secular Jew who, as a teenager, got into drug use and worse. He became a Christian in his teens, but because he was born a Jew many Christians think he is knowledgable. To compound this error Brown himself has written many books as if he is an expert, with titles often begining "Answering Jewish Objections").
The missionary on Facebook stated that the Talmud states that "Melchizedek is about the messiah." The msisionary did not cite a passage, but that is immaterial.
This claim stems from missionaries quoting a source they do not understand -- midrash aggadah. The Talmud explains how to perform various mitzvot (commands). For example, the Torah tells us that we must butcher animals as G-d explained to us -- but the how is not mentioned. The "how" is explained in the Mishna, which is where the explanations were written down. The second part of the Talmud is called the Gemara. The second half of the Talmud is the Gemara. (So Mishna + Gemara = Talmud). For a 300 year period ending in 500CE the Amoraim in Babylon and Jerusalem set about analyzing and commenting on Mishna. But Gemara is not limited to just analyzing Mishna. It goes into some oral law that was not included in the Mishna (Tosefta).
Missionaries will take quotes from the Gemara -- which includes discussions, humor, legal debate, and even stories (tall tales). Quoting these to prove something is beyond ridiculous. The Ramban explained to the King of Aragon in the 12th century: "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).
Missionaries are trying to take "sermons" and claim that they are somehow "proof" of some point.
Encyclopedia Judaica explains it well "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. . .Systematic philosophies or theological doctrines are not to be found in the aggadah."
Prophecy, which is what missionaries claim "Melchizedek" as Jesus to be, must always be based on the plain meaning. אֵין מִקְרָא יוֹצֵא מִידֵי פְשׁוּטוֹ -- in English this would be "A verse cannot depart from its plain meaning." (Treatise Shabbat 63a, TreatiseY'vamot 11b, 24a; quoted by Rashi at B'réshıt / Genesis 15:10, 37:19, Sh'mot / Exodus 12:2).
Thus a missionary pointing to something some obsure rabbi said (speaking in homily or even poetry), or a funny discussion in the Talmud, and try to say it supports their prophetic concepts of Jesus are a non-starter. Prophecy is always based on the plain meaning, not on interpretation.
D'varim / Deuteronomy 17:15 "You shall set a king over you, one whom the L-rd, your G-d, chooses; from among your brothers, you shall set a king over yourself; you shall not appoint a foreigner over yourself, one who is not your brother."
G-d selected the human Jewish kings of the bible and gave the right to the kingship in perpetuity to King David and his son Solomon.
Sanhedrin 20b and Sotah 41b (Gemara in the Talmud) tell us that we Jews were obligated to appoint a king (it is one of three obligations when we came to the land of Israel). The other two mitzvot were to destroy Amalek; and to build a Mikdash. The Rambam even wrote that the mitzvah of appointing a king precedes and seems to be a prerequisite to the other two mitzvot.
If it is such a positive thing to appoint a king, why did the prophet Shmuel (Samuel) become angry when the people asked for a king (Shmuel Alef / 1 Samuel 8:5)?
Chazal (Radak, Rambam and Ralbag for three) said that Samuel was angry at the way they phrased their request. The people DEMANDED a king -- as if they can command G-d. They should have ASKED G-d to give them a king, not demand that one be appointed. This was disrespectful to G-d.
On top of that they did not ask for a Jewish king, but rather for a king ‘like all the nations."
A Jewish king is NOT like other kings. Thus this was also insulting to G-d.
Remember that non-Jewish kings were often worshiped as gods -- and the Radak says that some people wanted a king to lead them to serve idols – as was done for foreign rulers. . . Jewish humans are not worshiped (not David, Saul, Solomon or some non-king such as Jesus).
When Shmuel / Samuel the prophet anoints the first Jewish king (Shaul / Saul) he says: "And Samuel took the vial of oil, and poured it on his head, and kissed him. And he said, "Indeed, the L-rd has anointed you to be a ruler over His inheritance." Shmuel Alef / Samuel 1 10:1.
The L-rd anointed Saul to be king. G-d anointed Saul, through the Torah dictated method of his anointment with the שֶֽׁמֶן מִשְׁחַת קֹֽדֶשׁ shĕmĕn mish'ḥat kōdĕsh (“anointment-of-holiness oil”)— which is the only oil that can be used to anoint a Jewish king. It is mentioned in Sh'mot / Exodus 30:25 and again in Sh'mot / Exodus 30:31.
Consider Shmuel Alef / 1 Samuel 9:17 "When Samuel saw Saul, HaShem spoke up to him, "This is the man whom I said to you, This one will rule over my people. He will save My people from the hand of the Philistines, for I have looked upon My people, for their cry has come to Me.""
G-d selected Shaul / Saul as king. G-d is the 'king of kings" but you seem to be confusing that with earthly kings. Who ruled Israel before Samuel? Does the name Joshua ring a bell? How about the various Judges? In other words there were always rulers -- and G-d had said there would be an earthly king.
The Jews did not reject G-d as king (He is the eternal king), they simply wanted an earthly king to lead them since the multiple judges had become a fragmented government. There is a similarity in American history. The original form of American government did not have a strong central government and it was failing -- causing the United States to institute a constitution with a president (modern form of "king"), a congress (Sanhedrin) and court (Sanhedrin).
Israel did NOT reject G-d by wanting a human king, but indeed fulfilled what G-d said we would do -- and per our sages were commanded to do.
Some missionaries claim that Jews "made up" the Noahide "laws" (mitzvot). One recently claimed "Noah, I am pretty sure never heard of the 613 Torah precepts. How can a religion that began before Judaism be a subset of Judaism's laws? To me, the 613 Torah precepts are "add-ons" to the seven Noahide laws that prexisted Mt.Sinai - as a "gentile" religion, yes? No Jews then."
This missionary is somehow under the mistaken view that the "Noahide" mitzvot came AFTER the 613 mitzvot.
G-d gave seven mitzvot to all of mankind (these are what are called the Noahide mitzvot).
These seven are found IN the Torah preceding Sinai and what the missionary is calling "Jewish laws" are not laws, they are mitzvot -- a command.
Here are the seven mitzvot which apply to all humans. They are all found in B'reshit (Genesis) BEFORE there were any Jews.
1. Prohibition against murder - B'reshit / Genesis 4:23-24, 9:6
2. Probition against idolatry - B'reshit / Genesis 4:26
3. Prohibition against blasphemy - B'reshit / Genesis 4:26
4. Prohibition of sexual misconduct - B'reshit / Genesis 1:28, 4:22, 6:3, 6:12
5. Prohibition against failure to establish courts - B'reshit / Genesis 1:28, 9:6
6. Prohibition against theft - B'reshit / Genesis 6:11
7. Prohibition against eating live meat (e.g. tearing the limb off of a living animal and eating it) - B'reshit / Genesis 9:4
Let's revisit history (chronology -- the order in which things happened).
Which came first -- the Jewish covenant or the Noahide covenant?
Noah / נוֹחַ was not a Jew. Noah lived ten generations beforeAvraham, who is considered to be the first Jew.
The term “Noahide" just means “descendent of Noah” and hence includes every human being alive in the World today. The term has come to be used to speak of people who consciously follow the seven mitzvot given to mankind up until Noah's time as there are definitely people alive today who are idolaters, who murder, and so on. Thus the term is normally applied to non-Jews who have accepted the seven mitzvot which were given to humans up through Noah.
G-d LATER (time passing, aka "chronological order") gave an additiona 606 mitzvot to the Jews. The list of the seven can also be found in Sanhedrin 56a (the Talmud).
The common mistake seems to be (as with the missionary in the first sentence) that the Jews "added" up the seven mitzvot "later" -- but clearly they are all found in B'reshit / Genesis and they apply to all human beings -- Jew and gentile.
Jews do not proselytize -- we do not try to convert non-Jews to Judaism. The reason is simple: there is no need for a non-Jew to be a Jew. The Talmud tells us that there are 70 families (biblical nations) with 70 paths within humanity. The 70 nations of the world came from and are named after the 70 descendants of the three sons of Noah which are listed in B'rsheit / Genesis 10:1-32. During Sukkot, in the days of the Temple, 70 bull offerings were brought -- each sacrifice corresponding to each of the 70 nations of the world.
Each human being has his or her path within a path. Yet, there is one universal basis for us all. The role of a Jew is as a nation of priests to the other nations -- a "light unto the nations" leading by example and by teaching those who want to learn. . .
Many Christians are taught that the Torah was not written by Moses, but that it was written over an extensive period of time by multiple authors. This is called the JEDP theory (sometimes called the documentary hypothesis (DH) or the Graf - Wellhausen hypothesis) -- and many Christians are taught this theory as if it is fact.
This JEDP idea was the theory of one Julius Wellhausen (May 17, 1844 – January 7, 1918) -- a German, and son of a Protestant minister and Karl Heinrich Graf (February 28, 1815 – July 16, 1869), also a German Protestant. These men's education was at the hands of other Protestant theologians including Georg Heinrich August Ewald of the 19th century.
Graf and Wellhausen seemed to have been a product of their anti-Semitic 19th century German world. Graf - Wellhausen based their theory on the fact that because the bible uses two names for G-d (there are actually far more than two!) there must have been a "merging" of two gods / two religions. They thought that Moses could not have written the Torah (thus lessening its value) because the Torah uses the Tetragrammaton (holiest name) and "elohim" (which means a mighty judge / ruler and is used to speak of G-d, false gods, angels and even humans) to speak of G-d. They decided that since there were "two names" there had to be different authors. This theory divides the Torah into four separate sources:
"J". J is for "jehovah" (a made up name since there are no "j" sounds in Hebrew) -- but this would be G-d's holiest four letter name, the Tetragrammaton.
"E". E is where the title "elohim" is used to describe G-d. There is not much text from "E" in the JEDP and it supposedly comes from the northern kingdom of Israel (not the southern kingdom of Judah).
"D". D is Deuteronomy. "D" is thought to be composed during King Josiah's reign (640s - 600ish BCE). "D" is a pure legal code that exalts Jerusalem.
"P". P is the Priestly text. It was thought to be the latest, post-Exile (444 BCE forward) and focuses on Temple related, priestly rituals.
Did anyone bother to explain to Wellhausen that the "names" for G-d are really descriptions? For example, "elohim" / אֱלֹהִים (a word used to speak of humans, angels, false gods and G-d) means a mighty judge. The word "adon" / אדן means a lord or master and so on. . .
Although many Christians are taught the JEDP as if it is "fact" it has actually been disproved by archeology -- which shows that there is historical proof for the Torah (and 'nach) dating much farther back than there theories would contend.
"On Bible Criticism and its Counter Arguments" from Torah Emet: "Umberto Cassuto (1883-1951) and Yechezkel Kaufman (1889- 1963)further demolished the theory, showing that Wellhausen's observations contradicted his conclusions. Kaufman's main contribution lies in his thesis that monotheism was not, as Wellhausen and others had stated, a gradual departure from paganism, but an entirely new development. Israel's monotheism began with Moshe and was a complete revolution in religious thought. . .
"Special mention should be made of the famous archaeologist William F. Alright. He convincingly demonstrated that archaeological research did not support, and in fact often contradicted, this view of history. In many of his works, Albright destroyed the very foundations upon which Wellhausen's edifice had been erected. . .
"In his classic work Critique of Religion and Philosophy" (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978) p. 377, Walter Kaufmann discusses Wellhausen's as well as other forms of Higher Criticism and shows one of the major failures of these schools in the following observation: Imagine a Higher Critic analyzing Goethe's Faust, which was written by a single human being in the course of sixty years. The scenes in which the heroine of Part One is called Gretchen would be relegated to one author; the conflicting conceptions of the role of Mephistopheles would be taken to call for further divisions, and the Prologue in Heaven would be ascribed to a later editor, while the prelude on the stage would be referred to yet a different author. Our critic would have no doubt whatsoever that Part Two belongs to a different age and must be assigned to a great many writers with widely different ideas. The end of Act IV, for example, points to an anti-Catholic author who lampoons the church, while the end of Act V was written by a man, we should be told, who, though probably no orthodox Catholic, was deeply sympathetic to Catholicism. Where do we find more inconsistencies in style and thought and plan: in Goethe's Faust or in the Five Books of Moses?
. . .What can be said with certainty is that honest Bible scholars no longer maintain that the Torah is the result of different fragments edited and reedited. The Torah is now taken to be Mosaic in origin and content, and it has been acknowledged that much of this tradition was already well established in pro-Mosaic times. Although this position has moved considerably in the direction of the Jewish traditional view, it has definitely not thrown in the towel to the tradition concerning the verbal infallibility of the Torah. . .
One of Graf-Wellhausen's main points was that the Torah wasn't written until after the Babylonian Exile. Archelogical discoveries in Israel alone disprove this -- as does the discovery of the silver scrolls (shown in the image for this post) from כָּתֵף הִינוֹם which contain the priestly blessing from Bamidbar (Numbers). The silver scrolls have been dated to about 600 BCE and their very existence destroys a major contention of the JEDP theory.
Our מסורה (masorah) along with the written Torah tells us that we Jews have ransmitted the Torah and its history from generation to generation in an unbroken line. Unlike most religions where someone supposedly saw something, communicated one on one with G-d (with no witnesses) or passed on stories to anonymous followers Judaism is based on the 3 million eye and ear witnesses at Sinai who heard G-d speak and who then told their children and their children's children from that generation to this one.
In an unbroken line.
This is called national revelation. The Torah states (Deuteronomy 4:9-13): "(Moses told the Israelites:) Only beware for yourself and greatly beware for your soul, lest you forget the things that your eyes have beheld. Do not remove this memory from your heart all the days of your life. Teach your children and your children's children about the day that you stood before the Lord your G-d at Chorev (Sinai)..."
Here is a downloadable PDF of eight lectures by Prof. Moshe David (Umberto) Cassuto on the Documentary Hypothesis (JEDP). The author notes that some of the JEPD theorists may have had an anti-Jewish bent and so were trying to distance us Jews from our own bible. "Solomon Schechter famously equated “higher criticism” with “higher anti-Semitism." . . .one can indeed find anti-Jewish references. . . one example concerns. . .David’s efforts to procure mateirals for the construction of the First Temple under Solomon. . . Wellhausen writes, “1 Chr. 22-29 is a startling instance of that statistical phantasy of the Jews which revels in vast sums of money on paper.”
The author goes on to state that the underpinnings of Wellhausen’s hypothesis (JEPD) may be seen to have an affinity with Protestant theology.
The prophet Hosea wrote "My people has been eliminated for lack of knowledge; for you have spurned knowledge and I will spurn you from serving Me; and as you have forgotten the Torah of your G-d, I too, will forget your children." Hoshea / Hosea 4:6.
In other words: throughout history Jews have turned their backs on G-d and followed false gods -- many out of ignorance. This was true in the days of the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, and it is true today.
Consider one Moishe (Martin) Rosen (founder of Jews for Jesus).
Rosen was born a Reform Jew and was raised in a secular home.
Ruth Rosen, his daughter, wrote about her father "A certain amount of religious activity was expected in order to show loyalty to the Jewish people, but as is often the case, those activities neither stemmed from nor inspired deeply held spiritual convictions in the Rosen home. Moishe's father maintained that "all religion is a racket," and his mother, while not sharing her husband's cynicism, did not seem interested in religion. It would be fair to say that Moishe's childhood was strongly shaped by Jewish values, but not by Jewish faith."
Limited Jewish education (if any) and no Jewish faith.
This then is the person who tried to convince other Jews that one could be a Christian and a Jew -- an uneducated, unlearned man with no Jewish faith -- according to his very own daughter (in her biography of Rosen).
Rosen was born to Reform Jewish parents from Austria and converted with his wife to Christianity in 1953.
In 1957 Rosen was an ordained Baptist minister (Northeastern Bible College in New Jersey). He led Hebrew Christian congregations and worked for the Chosen Peoples Ministry and eventually "Jews for Jesus." Rosen was a Christian through and through -- a Baptist who was born a Jew and rejected Judaism for Christianity.
These are quotes directly from his biography on the Jews for Jesus website. "Diploma, Northeastern Bible College, 1957; DD, Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, 1986. Ordained to ministry Baptist Church, 1957."
As you can see, it is clear that he became an ORDAINED BAPTIST MINISTER IN 1957 and he was also a graduate of two Christian colleges; Northeast Bible College and the Western Conservative Baptist Seminary!
Here is more information on him which was taken from the Jews for Jesus website: "Trustee Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, Portland, Oreg., 1979-85, 86-91, International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, Oakland, Calif., 1979-89; board of directors, Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism, 1987-91. Received Hero of the Faith Award from the Conservative Baptist Assoc. of America on July 7, 1997."
Clearly, this is not the resume of a Jew, but of a Christian minister! Here is the proof link so you can see all of this on the Jews for Jesus website.
However, there is even more evidence that Rosen was a Christian right up to his death. Reverend Rosen's resume used to be found on the Carlsbad Community Church website, "Reverend Rosen is a member of two churches, the First Baptist Church in San Francisco and Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena (under "Home Churches")."
Rosen talked about his ministry experiences. This is a direct quote from the Jews for Jesus website. "So What's a Pastor Good For Anyway? By Moishe Rosen, Founder. . . "While training to become a minister, I worked part-time at Sears and Roebuck. One of my co-workers made a not-so-funny joke when he said, "I wouldn't mind being a preacher myself. All you have to do is preach two or three sermons a week, and you can spend the rest of the time playing golf." I'm sure he knew that a minister puts in more time than just the stated hours of the church service, but in all seriousness I doubt if most people have that understanding. The church needs instruction in this area from an objective source."
To get an idea of Reverend Rosen's thinking, I believe it helps to see where he studied. Please read the mission section of the Western Conservative Baptist Seminary-this is a school trying to produce CHURCH leaders. Obviously, it is not a Jewish educational institution
It seems pretty obvious that a real Jewish group would not be founded by a Church minister!
Further, Reverend Rosen loved the church. Here are some quotes from the late Reverend Rosen on his church: "I love my church! I find it sad when I meet other Christian s who do not seem to love theirs. Maybe they don't know they are supposed to love their churches. . .I feel great loyalty to my own church in downtown San Francisco. When I am not out of town preaching, you can find me there in the pew. I like the pastor and the preaching, but I also find other elements of equal importance. Though our congregation is somewhat small, we carry on an extensive missionary program. We sponsor a Christian school. We have a Sunday morning bus ministry.
"When I joined that church, I asked G-d to help me love the people and the pastor, and I do. I would never say that my church is perfect or that it is in any way better than the churches others belong to and ought to love. Nevertheless, because it is my church, I have made a commitment to love it and to be loyal to it."
I love my church?
Great loyalty to his church in San Francisco?
Clearly this is a Christian , not a Jew speaking. Here is the proof. The quotes come from the 1st, 11th and 12th paragraphs.
According to Rosen his mother's parents were "Reform Jews from Austria", his paternal grandfather was Orthodox, and although Rosen's father regularly attended an Orthodox synagogue he was "not religious" and viewed religion as a "racket".
Rosen married Ceil Starr on 18 August 1950. They became Christians in 1953. After graduating Northeastern Bible College, Rosen made a commitment to be a missionary to Jews from 1956.
He was ordained as a Conservative Baptist minister in 1957. He felt a need for a more visible kind of evangelism and developed new techniques of communication which culminated in what became known as The Jews for Jesus movement in 1969.
In 1973 Rosen left the employment of the American Board of Missions to the Jews (now called Chosen People Ministries) to incorporate a separate mission which became known as Jews for Jesus ministries.
In 1986 he received a Doctor of Divinity Degree from Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He stepped down from his position as Executive Director in 1996, but continued to be employed as a staff missionary and remained one of fifteen board members until his death.
Raised with minimal (or no) Jewish education and trained as a Baptist. This is a pretty typical scenario for Jews who become Christian. Michael L. Brown is another prime example -- a secular Jewish kid who became a drug addict and thief in his teen years who and then turned to Christianity. . . Unfortunately this uneducated Jews not only delude themselves but they take other souls along with them. . .
A sad, all too familiar story, resulting from a lack of Torah.
Rosen himself admitted to being a "petty" thief in his teen years, per his daughter's biography of him. His thefts included shop lifting from stores. . .
Hardly a religious Jew!
In Hilchot Teshuvah 8:1, the Rambam elaborates on the latter dimension: "The good that is hidden for the righteous is the life of the world to come... The retribution of the wicked is that they will not merit this life. Rather, they will be cut off and die. This is the intent of the meaning of the term כרת in the Torah, as (Bamidbar / Numbers 15:31) states: "That soul shall surely be cut off."
Think about the Jews in the bible who followed Ba’al or other false gods – they were still Jews, but they cut themselves off from G-d. So, yes, Moishe (Martin) Rosen was a Jew – a Jew who cut himself off from G-d and even worse, he encouraged others to turn away from G-d.
Consider again the words of the prophet Hosea: “I WILL SPURN YOU FROM SERVING ME AND AS YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN THE TORAH OF YOUR G-D, I TOO, WILL FORGET YOUR CHILDREN.” Hosea 4:6.
Being a Jew does not mean you automatically “pass go and collect $200.”
The opposite is true. We made a contract with G-d and when we turn our backs to Him we are judged more harshly that a non-Jew who does the same. G-d is loving and forgiving, though and G-d desires the apostate's repentance and beckons him/her to renounce iniquity: "From the clutches of the grave I would ransom them, from death I would redeem them, I will be your words of death; I will decree the grave upon you. Remorse shall be hidden from My eyes" (Hosea 13:14). Unfortunately Moishe Rosen did not repent.
Judaism recognizes that men and women are DIFFERENT.
Different does not mean Jewish women are inferior to men.
Quite the opposite.
Judaism teaches that women are holier intrinsically than men.
The Torah also tells us that G-d created Chava (Eve) using the word / vayiven, “and He built.” וַיִּבֶן / vayiven shares the same Hebrew root as בינה / binah -- meaning “insight” or understanding (deductive reasoning). The Talmud says this means that women were created with an extra dose of wisdom and understanding over men.
Men sing praises to their wives every Shabbat.
Women hold some of the most important roles in Judaism.
Women are not inferior to men -- men and women are two halves of one whole "G-d created the man in His image; in the image of G-d He created him, male and female He created them. And G-d blessed them." (B'reshit / Genesis 1:27-28).
Until recently in Christian societies women could not own property and they were treated as second class citizens (when did women get the "vote" in the United States? It was AFTER the slaves were freed!).
This is not to say that some Jewish men do not treat their wives as "lesser." Humans sin and are imperfect -- but Judaism and the Torah makes it quite clear that women are NOT second class citizens, and are not inferior to men.
Look at the role of women in the Jewish bible -- many were leaders and indeed many spoke up about inheritance rights (something women didn't have in Christian societies). Women could own land (unlike Christian societies). Women have a marriage contract ensuring them (among other things) of their husband's sexual favors). Women had the right to refuse to marry if they did not want to marry the man.
The roles of men and women are different in Judaism, but one is not superior to the other. A man and a woman are two halves of a whole. Women are bound by mitzvot as are men -- but women are not time bound to mitzvot. Women are considered to be holier by nature than are men. When G-d sent Moses to prepare Israel to receive the Torah, He sent him to the women first, and then to the men (Sh'mot / Exodus 19:3).
Sh'mot / Exodus 19:3 says "So shall you say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel." The "house of Jacob" refers to the women, and "sons of Israel" to the men. Rashi (1040-1105), the great commentator on the T'nach who recorded Jewish teachings on various verses, wrote: "Thus. In these words and in this order. Say to the house of Jacob. These are the women"* speak gently to them. Declare to the children of Israel: These are the men; explain the punishments and the details to them “declare” (taged) to them things that are as bitter as wormwood (gidin)."
The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash commentary for this verse says: "The word תֹאמַר, say, implies a mild form of speech. When Moses spoke to the House of Jacob, which refers to the women (Mekhilta), he was to express the commandments in a manner suited to their compassionate, maternal nature. Women set the tone of the home and they are the ones responsible to inculcate love of Torah in their children, a task to which their loving nature is best suited. Because of this role, a mother should pray when she kindles her Sabbath candles that in the merit of the Sabbath flames, her children should merit the illumination of Torah, which is also likened to flames. The word וְתַגֵּיד, and relate, implies firmness or even harshness for when Moses spoke to the Children of Israel, which refers to the men, he was to teach the commandments in a firm manner. The implication of firmness is derived because the Hebrew וְתַגֵּיד is spelled with a י which alludes to the word גֵּיד, a bitter tasting root (R’ Bachya)."
The Jewish bible is replete with stories of strong women. Moses' wife took matters into her own hands to fulfill a mitzvah when Moses was slow to respond.
Abraham was told to listen to Sarah: "And everything that Sarah tells you, listen to her voice." B'reshit (Genesis) 21:12.
Miriam (Moses' sister) was a co-liberator of the Jewish people and a great prophetess in her own right.
The Torah is replete with the stories of strong women. One of my personal favorites is Samuel's mother.
Women and men sign a marriage contract prior to marriage which ensures both of certain rights.
Women in biblical times could even own property (read the story of the women whose father died and G-d decreed that they were entitled to his property).
Lastly read Mishlei / Proverbs 30 (this is the song Jewish men sing to their wives on Shabbat):
10. A woman of valor who can find, for her price is beyond pearls.
11. Her husband relies on her, and he will lack no gain.
12. She requites him with good and not with evil all the days of her life.
13. She seeks wool and flax, and she works it with the will of her hands.
14. She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar.
15. She rises when it is still night; she gives food to her household and an allotted share to her maidens.
16. She contemplates a field and purchases it; from the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17. She girds her loins with vigor and strengthens her arms.
18. [When] she advises that her merchandise is good her lamp does not go out at night.
19. She stretches forth her hands onto the distaff, and her hands support the spindle.
20. She spreads out her hand to the poor man, and she stretches her hands out to the needy.
21. She fears not for her household for snow, for all her household are dressed in crimson.
22. She makes beautiful bedspreads for herself; fine linen and purple wool are her raiment.
23. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits with the elders of the land.
24. She makes a cloak and sells it, and she gives a belt to the trafficker.
25. Strength and beauty are her raiment, and she laughs at the last day.
26. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and instruction of kindness is on her tongue.
27. She supervises the ways of her household and does not eat bread of idleness.
28. Her children rise and call her fortunate; [also] her husband, and praises her.
29. "Many women have acquired wealth, but you surpass them all."
30. Charm is false and beauty is futile; a G-d-fearing woman is to be praised.
31. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and her deeds will praise her in the gates.
Read the Jewish bible and you will read of strong women. Sarah, Rebecca, Ruth, Esther, Deborah were all very strong, determined women. Here is a story of one such strong woman from Aish:
There is a Jewish law that says that after lighting the Chanukah menorah, women are not allowed to do any work for 30 minutes. They are supposed to bask in the glow of the lights. Why? Because it was a Jewish woman who saved the day and turned the tide of the war against the Syrian Greeks, resulting in ultimate victory for the Jewish people.
The stuff they never taught you in Hebrew School.
Her name was Yehudit, or Judith. She was a young widow, the daughter of Yochanon, the High Priest. Her town was under siege by the Syrian Greek general, Haolfernes. They were starving out the Jews and the men were ready to surrender. She tried to stop them, telling them not to give up, that they are God's people and they must have faith.
And that was not all she did. She snuck out of the walls of the town with a basket of salty goat cheese and pure wine, covered by a cloth. She approached the enemy camp and, using her "womanly ways," was able to enter the private tent of the general himself. Offering him the homemade cheese, he ate heartily and washed it down with the wine.
Yehudit waited, and once the general had passed out drunk, she took his own sword and chopped off his head. She placed the bloody head into her basket, covered it with the cloth, and calmly left the tent.
Upon returning to the town, she showed the men the general's head. Shocked, they displayed it in the town square for all to see. After getting over their embarrassment that this young widow had acted with such bravery while they were preparing to surrender, the men were galvanized into action.
Yehudit told them the time to act was now, for when the Greek soldiers discovered their general's decapitated body, their spirits would surely fall.
The Jewish men attacked, and won. Word spread throughout Israel, and the Jewish people were inspired to stand up and fight.
It took time, but victory was eventually ours, all because of a young Jewish woman who didn't wait for the song "Some Day My Prince Will Come." Instead she looked to her King, the Almighty, stood up, and was "Takin' Care of Business," every day, in every way.
What about women learning Torah and Talmud? The Sages believed that women were excluded from the formal commandment to study Torah, at least in its most comprehensive form (Kiddushin 29b). While it is true the Talmud discourages fathers from teaching their daughters, a qualified woman can elect, on her own, to learn Torah (Prisha YD 246). Both the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch write that a woman may learn Torah on their own and is rewarded for it like someone who isn't obligated in a mitzvah and fulfills it. A woman's self-motivation proves that the woman is not turning the Torah’s wisdom into trivialities, and makes her worthy of reward.
The Chida in Tov Ayin (Siman 4) agrees as does Tzitz Eliezer (9:3:1-3).
So while a woman is not obligated to learn Talmud, a woman may take it upon herself to learn Talmud.
Women are considered just as smart as men, and Jewish women are not inferior -- it is simply that women and men do have different responsibilities. (Women are not required to fulfill time constrained mitzvot while men are required to fulfill them).
Things are not always perfect between men and women -- including Jewish men and women, but Jewish law makes it very clear that Jewish women are half of a whole (man / woman). We are partners in this world.
Rabbi Michael Skobac of Jews for Judaism in Canada likes to say that many missionaries read the T'nach (Jewish bible) with "Jesus glasses" on. This is akin to "rose colored glasses" -- where whatever the missionary sees, if it even has the slightest commonality with Jesus automatically becomes a "prophecy" about Jesus.
Thus King David speaking of being thirsty becomes a prophecy of Jesus being thirst on the cross, and son on. . .
Rabbi Skobac will suggest that a missionary as him / herself "in the 1500 years Judaism existed before Judaism would any Jew alive have seen that passage as a messianic prophecy?" If the answer is "no" it should be struck from the missionary list. . . although we know it won't be. . .
The average Christian is at a great disservice. The missionary will begin with the Christian bible and read "backwards" into the T'nach (Jewish bible). Thus they assume the Christian bible is true, and they are simply looking for "footprints" of Jesus in what they call the "old" -- the T'nach.
Does that even make sense?
Where else in learning do we begin at the end and look backwards? Normally learning commences at "the beginning" and we move forward. However, doing so will eliminate Jesus from being the messiah -- so this is not how Christians are taught (including children). . . no they begin by being told "Jesus loves the little children" -- and while many a devout Christian may take a highlighter pen and highlight passages in the Christian bible how many of them really study the T'nach first and flow it into the Christian bible -- noticing all the contradictions along the way?
Even worse than learning the bible "backwards" (or sometimes not at all -- many small Christian children are taught "Jesus loves me" but they do not read the Christian bible or the original bible. . . they read "bible stories" which clean up the contradictions, the nastiness, the pettiness, etc. Indeed, the Jesus in the Christian bible never comes out and says he loves the people -- unless he is commanding that they love HIM first. "A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another" John 13:34, "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." John 14:21 and so on.
Does John 14:21 mean that Jesus does NOT love the little children since they are too young to understand what it means to love him?
Another issue with reading the bible backwards is the fact that the Christians "moved the books around." Taking things out of chronological order -- and removing them from the level of holiness (the T'nach begins with the holiest, the Torah and proceeds to the Prophets who had direct communication from G-d re-enforcing the messages in Torah but a level removed from the prophecy of Moses which was not through visions or dreams as were all other prophets, and finally Writings which is even farther removed and is not direct communication with G-d, but rather influenced words of men). The Christian translations of the T'nach move things around ignoring these layers of connectivity with G-d. . .
In October of 2015 I wrote a blog post entitled Jesus name is not יֵשֽׁוּעַ / Yéshu'a. This post explained in detail why יֵשֽׁוּעַ / Yéshu'a can not possibly be translated as "Jesus."
Recently this comment was submitted to the blog, and rather than post it as a comment it is presented here so that a detailed explanation can be given. The comment: "(1) In the Septuagint-Old Greek translation, the sixth book is Iésous, the Greek version of Yehoshua. (2) Yehoshua (Joshua), the son of Nun, is rendered as Iésous in Ecclesiasticus 46:1. And (3) the subscript to this book in 51:30 says that the book was written by Iésous ben Sira, which is the Greek rendering of Yehoshua' ben Sirach in Hebrew. Further, (4) the several mentions of Yehoshua' in Haggai (1:1, 12, 14; 2:2) and Zechariah (3:1, 3, 7, 9) are rendered Iésous in the same version. (5) So also the Aramaic form of Yehoshua' (Yeshua'), the son of Nun, in Nehemiah 8:17. (6) See further Nehemiah 8:7; 9:4; 12:1, 10, 24, 26 for other men who had the Aramaic name Yeshua. These are all rendered Iésous in the LXX-OG, not Jésouas, as you argue (there is no 'J' in Greek)."
#1 -- The book of Joshua is not found in the Septuagint.
The Septuagint is discussed in detail in the blog post "Greek or Hebrew -- which is most authentic? The "Septuagint."
The Septuagint was originally a translation only of the Torah, not of Joshua or any of the other books in the T'nach. No one knows who translated Joshua (or the other books) -- but it is well known that the quality varies from decent to horrendous. Likewise, the Greek translations were all maintained by the Christians. More and more errors crept into them causing people like Origen to state they should not be used and a new translation from the Hebrew should be requested from Jews.
#2 The name "Joshua" in the Greek translation of the book of Joshua you are calling the Septuagint is a mistranslation.
The transliteration of Y'hōshū'a should be Ιοσοα (Iosoa) or Ιοσοας (Iosoas), Ιοσαυα (Iosaua), or Ιοσα (Iosa), but the not-really Septuagint translation of יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ / Y'hōshū'a (Joshua) is spelt Ἰησοῦς (“Iēsous”).
This is a mistranslation.
The letter “-a” (ע / 'ayin) at the end of יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ / Y'hōshū'a (Joshua) is not represented in the Greek translation in the "not-really Septuagint."
The ע / 'ayin should be represented in a Greek translation -- because the ע / 'ayin is a part of the word’s root (Hebrew words are based on root words).
Ergo Ἰησοῦς / Iésous is a mistranslation of the name Y'hōshū'a / Joshua.
Whoever created (or changed) the translation of the name "Joshua" in the "not-really Septuagint" played fast and loose with the Hebrew.
Not only are they missing the ע 'ayin ("-a") there is another issue with the translation.
The various Hebrew names that are similar (meaning those names that begin the letters יְהוֹ־ (“Y'ho–”) in Hebrew) are all translated Ιω– (“Io–”).
But the translators did not translate יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ / Y'hōshū'a (Joshua) with Ιω– (“Io–”).
Why is it the only name begining with יְהוֹ־ (“Y'ho–”) in Hebrew that begins Ἰη-- (“Iē") and not Ιω– (“Io–”) is
יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ Y'hoshu'a (Joshua / Jesus) Ἰησοῦς (“Iēsous”)?
Is it possible that the translators translated the other names properly, but somehow when it came to יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ / Y'hōshū'a (Joshua) they suddenly made a mistake?
Check for yourself.
Examine the fourteen Hebrew names in the T'nach that begin with the letters יְהוֹ־ (“Y'ho–”) in Hebrew, and then compare them to the transliterations of these names in the not really-septuagint.
Every single of those fourteen names which were translated into Greek begins with Ιω– (“Io–”) in all of cases EXCEPT for Ἰησοῦς / Iésous / יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ Y'hoshu'a / Joshua.
יְהוֹאָחָז Y'ho'aḥaz is spelt Ιωαχας (“Ioakhas”),
יְהוֹאָשׁ Y'ho'ash is spelt Ιωας (“Ioas”),
יְהוֹזָבָד Y'hozavad is spelt Ιωζαβεδ (“Iozabed”),
יְהוֹיָכִין Y'hoyachin is spelt Ιωακιμ (“Ioakim”) [although this is actually an error],
יְהוֹיָקִים Y'hoyachin is also spelt Ιωακιμ (“Ioakim”),
יְהוֹנָדָב Y'honadav is spelt Ιωναδαβ (“Ioanadab”),
יְהוֹנָתָן Y'honatan is spelt Ιωναθαν (“Ioanathan”),
יְהוֹעַדִּין Y'ho'addin is spelt Ιωαδιν (“Ioadin”),
יְהוֹצָדָק Y'hotzadak is spelt Ιωσαδακ (“Iosadak”),
יְהוֹרָם Y'horam is spelt Ιωραμ (“Ioram”),
יְהוֹשֶֽׁבַע Y'hosheva is spelt Ιωσαβεε (“Iosabee”),
יְהוֹשַׁבְעַת Y'hoshav'at is spelt Ιωσαβεθ (“Iosabeth”), and
יְהוֹשָׁפָט Y'hoshafat is spelt Ιωσαφατ (“Iosaphat”).
All fourteen begin with יְהוֹ־ (“Y'ho–”) in Hebrew -- and all are all translated Ιω– (“Io–”).
יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ Y'hoshu'a is spelt Ἰησοῦς (“Iēsous”).
This seems to be less an error (since the other fourteen names were translated correctly) than to have been a deliberate choice by the translator(s) to make it look as though the spelling of the transliteration of יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ Y'hoshu'a into Greek has been altered to make it match the way יֵֽשׁוּ Yéshu (“Jesus”) is spelt in the Christian bible.
It looks like whoever translated Y'hōshū'a into the Greek doctored the translation to make it "fit" יֵֽשׁוּ Yéshu (“Jesus”) because the Greek in the translations is not the correct translation of the Hebrew into the Greek.
Why do I say it looks like a deliberate "doctoring" to influence Christian readers?
Because just as those fourteen names are translated correctly we also have examples in the T'nach of the Greek translators properly translating the letter “-a” (ע / 'ayin) at the end of יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ / Y'hōshū'a (Joshua) -- which is not represented in the Greek translation in the "not-really Septuagint."
In B'reshit / Genesis 38:2 the name שֽׁוּעַ Shū'a is transliterated as Σαυα (Saua) in the not-really Septuagint.
In Shmuel Alef / 1 Samuel 14:49 and 31:2 a man named מַלְכִּי־שֽׁוּעַ Malki-Shū'a is translated into Greek as Μελχισα (Melkhisa).
The Greek translators got it "right" with those names, but not with "Joshua" which they seem to try to be "matching" to Jesus. . .
The transliteration of יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ / Y'hōshū'a (Joshua) should be Ιοσοα (Iosoa) or Ιοσοας (Iosoas), Ιοσαυα (Iosaua), or Ιοσα (Iosa), but the not-really Septuagint translation of יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ / Y'hōshū'a (Joshua) is spelt Ἰησοῦς (“Iēsous”).
Ergo Yéshua is not Jesus' Hebrew name.
The name יֵשׁוּעַ (yeSHU'a) appears in the T'nach (Jewish bible) a a name twenty-eight times and once as the name of a town in the Judean desert. For details read The Yeshua Name Game by Uri Yosef. The name יֵשׁוּ (YEshu) appears in the Babylonian Talmud on 9 occasions.
So, Jesus Hebrew name was not “Yéshu'a” (יֵשֽׁוּעַ -- a male name).
“Yéshu'a” (יֵשֽׁוּעַ -- a male name) is not Hebrew. It is Aramaic.
It is an ARAMAIC "nickname" shortened from יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ / Y'hoshu'a / Joshua. The name Yéshu'a” (יֵשֽׁוּעַ) was only used during the Babylonian Exile (between 597- 539 B.C.E. After the Babylonian Exile ended the name was shortened even further to ; after the Return, the name יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ / Y'hōshū'a (Joshua) started to be shortened still further to יֵשׁוּ (YEshu) which is Hebrew, not Aramaic.
No one knows what Jesus' Hebrew name might have been, and without a time machine no one will every know. Given that Jesus supposedly lived 500 years or so post-Babylonian Exile it might have been יֵשׁוּ (YEshu) -- but we simply do not know, and the Greek name found in the Christian bible makes it impossible to know what his Hebrew name really might have been.
But we simply do not know.
Do not let missionaries who are trying to somehow get back to the "Hebrew roots" of Jesus fool you with their shenanigans. The facts do not support their guess -- which seems to be based on tying Jesus to "salvation" by choosing the fake name "Yeshua" for Jesus even though the etymology of the Hebrew disproves their "name game."
As Uri Yosef once wrote: "יְשׁוּעָה is a feminine noun (meaning salvation), and יֵשׁוּעַ is a masculine proper name, and their respective pronunciations are different. In the Hebrew language, terms applied as proper names generally follow gender. Conclusion: yeshu’AH ( יְשׁוּעָה / feminine noun) means “salvation" -- a term referring to being rescued (the physical life being saved by G-d). YeSHU’a ( יֵ שׁוּעַ / masculine proper name) can not be the Hebrew name for Jesus based on the Greek name we do have for him.
The Greek name for Jesus in the not really Septuagint are in error, seemingly on purpose.
"Why did G-d permit the Holocaust?" "Why do children die?" "Why do terrorists kill innocent people?"
Why does life seem so unfair?
Doesn't G-d care?
Why would G-d allow these things to happen?
G-d created everything including suffering, including evil - yet we know G-d is good.
So that means that suffering and even evil have a good purpose.
Consider why G-d created this world in the first place -- with its imperfections, its imperfect people, its hurricanes, its earthquakes, its children with cancer, its murderers, its despots. . . why would a loving G-d create a world where these things exist?
There was already a perfect creation -- the angels exist in a place of no evil, no temptations -- and no free will.
And no growth.
Mere existence -- not life.
G‑d created our world incomplete and imperfect so that humans can complete it. Consider the very first covenant between G-d and the Jewish people, the brit milah (covenant of circumcision). The act of circumcision is the human "completing" the male body is a human act. This covenant is a symbol of the human / G-d partnership.
This first covenant is a very physical / visual way of showing that completion in this world -- requires human effort. Mankind was put in this world to complete creation -- we are partners with G-d to perfect this world.
It is the role of us humans transform this world and elevate it to a spiritual state.
We have the power to experience people, places and things in a G‑dly way, thus changing their composition from merely physical to a new spiritual dimension. The only reason weird things happen to us, is because we are challenged to elevate that situation from the annoying (to humans) to the pleasurable (to G‑d).
In other words "Everything happens for a reason" are not words of passive acceptance, of consolation.
Instead of asking "why" of G-d, as "why" of yourself.
How can you impact suffering?
How can you repair yourself? Others?
G-d gave us the blessing and the curse -- and He gave us the choice of which one to choose. . .
The goal of this world -- including suffering and evil -- is for us to grow in understanding and wisdom. . . we can't have good without evil. When you witness evil, replace it with good.
In this way we can transform suffering into something good.
Instead of asking "why G-d" ask "what can I do?"
It is why you were created in the first place.
R' Tovia Singer's granddaughter was born with half a heart. She is two and has suffered greatly. Her life is still in jeopardy as she faces yet another and again life threatening surgery. This child of G-d has been through 3 major surgeries, nearly died numerous times and caused worry and grief to her family. BUT in her name thousands around the world have come together to pray for her, to bake challah in her name. . . She has brought many people closer to G-d and made them better people. Just think of that -- thousands of people who have never met her (me included) have been blessed by her.
These people are all over the world.
They have not cursed G-d, they have proactively done good on behalf of this child.
Make a difference.
The Torah tells us: "See! Today I have set before you [a free choice] between life and good [on one side], and death and evil [on the other]." D'varim / Deuteronomy 30:15
"I (G-d) form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I HaShem do all these things." Isaiah 45:7
G-d has given us a CHOICE between life and good on one side and death and evil on the other.
CHOICE. This is all about choice. Free will.
When G-d created man He did so in His image. G-d is the only entity in the universe, aside from man, who can CHOOSE. When everything is "good" where is the choice? If you knew that to touch fire would burn you, would you put your hand in the fire? But what if you didn't know (like a baby?). You are drawn to the fire's beauty. You are drawn to its warmth. Fire cooks your food. Yet fire can be misused -- it can burn people even to death. It can destroy our homes. Fire can be good AND bad.
The fire can't choose - - it simply exists, but WE can choose.
We can make a difference.
Suffering will not end. Children will still die, hurricanes will still come. . . it is part of the cycle of life to help us learn and grow and to change the world for the better.
We are partners with G-d. It is up to us to help complete this world and we do that by helping those who are suffering, including ourselves. As R' Hillel said:
הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, אִם אֵין אֲנִי לִי, מִי לִי. וּכְשֶׁאֲנִי לְעַצְמִי, מָה אֲנִי. וְאִם לֹא עַכְשָׁיו, אֵימָתַי
-- translation "If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?" Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) 1:14.
A missionary wrote to me: "there is NONE righteous NOT one" " I saw the bodies of those who rebelled against Me... and their worm never died and their fire not quenched" WHY would a Holy being ALLOW unholiness near Him and WHAT would be the currency that would permit such a union ?"
This question is nearly at the center of the difference between Christianity and Judaism.
Most Christians believe they are not good enough. That humans are somehow filthy -- a worm that is unholy and unworthy of G-d. Jesus had to die for them because they weren't good enough to "save themselves."
The phrase "there is none righteous, not one" is found in Romans 3:10, but it is not found in the T'nach. The closest to this one will find in T'hillim / Psalm 14:3 and 53:4 says "no one does good, not even one."
The Hebrew here is ט֑וֹב -- good. Not righteous. . . good.
The book of Romans is misquoting the T'nach.
When the psalms say "no one does good" does it mean that there are no good people in the world? Does it mean that it is impossible to be a good person?
Read it IN CONTEXT. "The degraded one says in his heart, "There is no G-d!" They have acted corruptly and abominably (in their) action; there is no doer of good."
The degraded one does no good.
Not all people.
There are hundreds of verses that stress we can do good and amend wrongs. Perfection is neither expected or required!
Romans 3:10's anonymous author reverses the bible! Romans states that there are no righteous people in the world. Romans 3:9 - 12 says "For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks G-d. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”"
People ARE righteous.
People DO understand.
People seek G-d (isn't that why you are reading this blog?).
While some reject G-d, many seek Him and do not turn away.
How dare the anonymous author of Romans 3 reverse G-d's eternal word and say that His creation, mankind, is worthless?
Why does Romans make it seem as if no human alive does good -- not even one -- when the psalmist makes it clear that he is speaking of a select few -- the degraded -- who "do no good"?
Christianity teaches that people should be perfect, and because Adam and Chava (Eve) sinned the whole world is damned to not being perfect -- meaning that according to Christian doctrine G-d screwed up and screwed up badly.
Why would anyone want to worship a god capable of making that bad a mistake -- right from the start? Why would such a god deserve respect let alone worship?
To make things worse, Christianity then claims that in order to fix the mistake -- mess -- that this god made He commands the painful murder of himself to himself to "atone" with human blood for his screw up.
One of the verses most devastating to Original Sin is B'reshit / Genesis 4:7, where G-d tells Cain that he can overcome temptation. Cain is envious of Abel because G-d accepts only Abel's sacrifice. Cain is tempted to murder Abel. G-d says, "if you do not do good, sin crouches at the entrance. Its desire is for you, but you can rule over it."
Right from chapter 4 we are told that we can rule over sin.
The bible also tells us that G-d created everything -- good and evil are His. G-d does not make mistakes.
Let's return to the claim. Since the two psalms do not say that no one is righteous, but rather "no one is good" -- what does it mean?
Obviously a lot of people do good -- so we must first as ourselves -- to whom is this addressed -- everyone in the world or a select population which is not good?
It is actually NOT everyone in the world. T'hillim / Psalm 14:3 is about Nebuchadnezzar. Rashi says that Nebuchadnezzar was destined to destroy the Temple -- and that not one man would try to stop him.
Let's start with recognizing that T'hillim (Psalms) are 150 poems. POEMS. Most of them were written by Dovid HaMelech (King David) and they were sung in the Temple as prayers. Some praise G-d. Some thank him, some plead to Him -- and some even speak of human fears and how G-d's love transcends our fears. The psalms deal with real human issues and real human lives. These are not the words OF G-d, these are our words TO G-d.
Here is T'hillim / Psalm 14:3: "For the conductor, by David. The degraded one says in his heart, "There is no G-d!" They have acted corruptly and abominably (in their) action; there is no doer of good. 2 From heaven HaShem gazed down upon mankind, to see if there exists a reflective person who seeks out G-d. 3. Everyone has gone astray, together they have become depraved; there is doer of good, there is not even one. 4. Do they not realize -- all those evildoers, who devour my people (those seed of Nebuchadnezzar per Rashi) as they would devour bread, who do not call upon HaShem -- 5 (that) there they will be struck with terror, for G-d is with the righteous generation? 6 You shame the poor man's counsel, that HaShem is his refuge. 7 O', that out of Zion would come Israel's salvation! When HaShem restores the captivity of His people Jacob will exult, Israel will rejoice." T'hillim / Psalm 14, Artscroll Stone Edition Translation.
None of those people helped -- not one looked for G-d. But the day will come when G-d will restore us Jews and we will rejoice (when the messiah comes, the Temple is rebuilt and global knowledge of G-d is here -- along with worldwide peace).
Remember: G-d created everything... and He did so for a purpose.
He created us imperfectly, but with the ability to make mistakes and learn from them. He MADE US this way. He gave us free will to choose good over evil -- but without evil how would would humans have anything to choose FROM?
Nowhere in the T'nach (bible) is it even hinted that man is expected to be perfect. Indeed the T'nach tells us "there is no righteous person who never sins." (Kohelet / Ecclesiastes 7:20).
Righteous people sin. Sin is part of G-d's plan. G-d does not expect perfection -- He expects us to try, to fail, to pick ourselves up and to try again.
The bible itself tells us we can do it! "It is not in heaven, to say 'Who will go up for us to heaven, and acquire it for us, and teach it to us, and we will do it?' Nor is it across the sea, to say Who will cross the sea, and acquire it for us and teach it to us, and we will do it?' For the matter is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it." (D'varim / Deuteronomy 30:11).
Sophiee Saguy has been countering false missionary claims about Judaism and the T'nach (Jewish bible) for nearly twenty years. You may find her on FaceBook and at the Messiah Truth forum.