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).
My last post on this blog discussed the Jewish legal system, which G-d gave to us Jews -- instructing us to establish courts of law.
Some people seem to think this means that this eliminates G-d from the equation, and nothing could be further from the truth.
G-d is our creator, and is the ultimate judge of us all. G-d is constantly judging us (tempered with extreme mercy). One of the first names (descriptions) we have for G-d describes Him as a judge and ruler (אֱלֹהִים / elohim means princes, rulers and judges). . .
We mention judgment during תפילת העמידה, Tefilat HaAmidah, "The Standing Prayer." This is the central prayer of the daily four services: shacharit (morning), mincha (afternoon), maariv (evening), and mussaf (additional). We say: "Blessed are you HaShem, the King who loves righteousness and judgment."
Let's repeat that "the King who loves righteousness and judgment."
פרקי אבות / Pirkei Avot (The Ethics of the Fathers) -- which contains quotes from our sages who lived over 2000 years ago -- tells us that: "Rabbi Shimon the son of Gamliel would say: By three things is the world sustained: law, truth and peace. As is stated (Zechariah 8:16), "Truth, and a judgement of peace, you should administer at your [city] gates.''
Thus justice is one of three things sustaining our world. G-d has a special love of justice -- as shown in תפילת העמידה / Tefilat HaAmidah and re-enforced in the words of פרקי אבות / Pirkei Avot.
G-d's judgment is loving and tempered with mercy. It is not a harsh, cruel thing. Rather, G-d's judgment is pure and good, as in Abraham's words to G-d in B'reshit / Genesis 18:25: "It would be sacrilege even to ascribe such (harsh and unjust actions to) You (G-d) - to kill the innocent with the guilty, letting the righteous and the wicked fare alike. It would be sacrilege to ascribe this to You! Shall the whole world's Judge not act justly?"
King David put it beautifully when he wrote in T'hillim / Psalm 19:8-12: "The Torah of the L-rd is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the L-rd is trustworthy, making the simple one wise; the orders of HaShem are upright, gladdening the heart; the command of HaShem is clear, enlightening the eyes; the fear of HaShem is pure, enduring forever, the judgments of HaShem are true, altogether righteous. They are more desirable than gold, than even much fine gold; and sweeter than honey, and drippings from the combs. Also, when your servant is scrupulous in them, in observing them, there is great reward."
T'hillim / Psalm 96 tells us that G-d judges the world, and in the time of the messiah He will judge the entire world. Again, this is not a thing to be feared, it is a blessing not a curse. In the messianic age all nations of the earth will recognize G-d and no longer practice idolatry. Peace will reign over the entire world, and all men will sing His praises, finally acknowledging the one true G-d. As the psalm says: "He will judge the peoples with fairness. The heavens will be glad and the earth will rejoice, the sea and its fullness will roar; the field and everything in it will exult; then all the trees of the forest will sing with joy before HaShem, for He will have arrived, He will have arrived to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and peoples with His truth."
T'hllim / Psalm 97 continues this theme, stating that "Hashem has reigned, let the world rejoice. . . Humiliated will be all who worship idols, who pride themselves in worthless gods; bow to Him, all you powers."
G-d judges the world -- but as Abraham said, the judge of the world acts justly.
He tempers judgment with mercy.
G-d warns us of the consequences of evil deeds, but He begs us to repent of our sins and turn to Him. The Torah speaks of His compassion, love and mercy hundreds and hundreds of times -- making it clear that His judgment is not harsh or vindictive, but is full of benevolent generosity and loving kindness. These attributes of G-d are mentioned hundreds upon hundreds of times in the T'nach.
G-d is our judge, G-d is our King -- but foremost G-d is our Father.
"You shall know in your heart, that just as a man chastises his son, so does the L-rd, your G-d, chastise you." D'varim / Deuteronomy 8:5.
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.
Recently we discussed the fact that Jesus could not have been the messiah because he is missing the most basic criteria: if he was a "virgin birth" and if Joseph, Mary's husband, had not contributed the sperm to create him, then Jesus had no tribal status and may well have been a mamzer (disqualifying him not only from kingship, but limiting his marriage pool in the future). If Joseph was his father the two totally different lineages given for Joseph in the Christian bible would both disqualify both Joseph and Jesus from the right to kingship (being the messiah).
Not to mention the fact that neither man ever WAS a messiah (an anointed king of the Jews). . .
Let's look at the other end of the spectrum Could Jesus' murder by Roman crucifixion (like about 50,000 other Jews) constitute a sacrifice?
The Torah vehemently FORBIDS human sacrifices.
Vayikra / Leviticus 18:21; "you shall not give any of your offspring to pass through for Molech. And you shall not profane the Name of your G-d. I am the L-rd." (Molech was a false god, but the point is that human sacrifices profane the name of G-d and are forbidden).
Vayikra / Leviticus 24; "if a man strikes down any human being he shall be put to death.. . . one who strikes a person shall be put to death. . . One law shall be exacted for you, convert and resident alike, for I am the L-rd, your G-d.
Got that? Jesus' murder by the Romans was not legal per Jewish law. The Jews had lost the right to pass the death penalty and Jesus (per the Christian bible) had not committed a crime warranting the death penalty. The trial of Jesus as described in the Christian bible could never have happened -- it went against Jewish law (we can discuss the trial at another time). The point being that a human death is NOT a sacrifice, it is an abomination to G-d.
See also D'varim / Deuteronomy 18:10-12; Jeremiah 7:31, 19: 5; Ezekiel 23:37, 39). These all speak of how G-d hates human sacrifice.
Bamidbar / Numbers 35:33; "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."
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.
Melachim II / II Kings 14:6; "it is written in the book of the Torah of Moses, which the L-rd 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."
See also Sh'mot / Exodus 32:31-33; Yirmiyahu / Jeremiah 31:29 [30 in a Christian Bible]; Yechezkel /Ezekiel 18:4,20; and T'hillim / Psalms 49:7.
Aside from the fact that human sacrifice is forbidden, 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 sacrificial ritual must be administered by a Jewish Priest (see Vayikra / Leviticus Chapters 1-7). According to the accounts in the Greek Testament (Christian Bible), Jesus was crucified by Roman soldiers (Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:33; John 19:18, 23). Some Christians may say that Jesus was a priest "like Melchitzedek" -- but Jewish sacrifices had to be brought by Jewish priests who were of the tribe of Levi and descended from Aaron (Moses' brother) -- which would exclude Jesus (see Sh'mot / Exodus 29:9 and Bamidbar / Numbers 25:13 for two of many references).
Many missionaries state that Jesus was a "sin sacrifice." In Hebrew a sin is a mistake -- you tried to do the right thing and you "missed." It is important to note that only accidental mistakes by individuals and a few, fairly minor, wrongdoings by individuals could be atoned for with the few types of sacrifices that atoned for "sin" and "guilt."
The חַטָּאת cḥattat (accidental sins) and אָשָׁם asham sacrifices were PRIVATE offerings brought by INDIVIDUALS, not “atonement” offerings on behalf of the entire nation. As mentioned the חַטָּאת chatat was for a missing of the mark (a חֵטְא / cheit -- you tried to do good but missed) and the אָשָׁם asham was for three different types of violations:
Torah further tells us that the blood of the (חֵטְא / cheit / sin) sacrifice had to be sprinkled by the Jewish Priest on the veil of the sanctuary and on the altar in the Temple (e.g., Vayikra / Leviticus 4: 5-6). Christian Bible evidence clearly shows this was not done.
Then it tells us that cheit / sin) sacrifice must be without any physical defect or blemish (e.g., Vayikra / Leviticus 4:3). According to the various accounts in the Christian Bible, Jesus was beaten, whipped, and dragged on the ground before being crucified (Matthew 26:67, 27:26, 30-31; Mark 14: 65, 15:15-20; Luke 22: 63; John 18:22, 19:1, 3). Moreover, as a Jew by birth, Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day after being born, a ritual that leaves a scar ("sign of the covenant"). According to the Christian Bible, circumcision is tantamount to mutilation (Philippians 3:2, Galatians 5:12).
Torah 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 ).
Torah goes on to say that the Paschal seh (goat or lamb) was NOT to be offered for the removal of sins. It was a commemorative/festive offering. The sacrificed Paschal seh (goat or lamb) had to be roasted and eaten, and in the first instance in Egypt its blood was used to mark the side-posts and lintel of the doors (Sh’mot / Exodus 12: 7-8). There is no record in the Christian Bible that this Jesus was eaten or that his blood was put on the door posts (lest it be suggested that Christianity promotes cannibalism).
Torah says that there were individual and communal sacrifices .
Torah teaches that sacrifices can only atone for sins committed PRIOR to the offering of the sacrifice. No sacrifice could ever atone for sins committed AFTER the sacrifice was offered. Thus, no sacrifice could ever atone for people born after the sacrifice was offered.
So, as you can clearly see that the death of Jesus could never atone for any sin, much less all sins of all people for all time? NOT AT ALL, NEVER! The story is pagan in its entirety and breaks all the laws of Jewish sacrifice.
The missionaries who say that Jesus was a human sacrifice whose death "atoned for the sins of the world makes a common mistake regarding sacrifices. They seem to think that G-d needed them (bloodthirsty god perhaps?) 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. Sacrifices 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.
The 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. . .
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 Torah, the Jewish People and even G-d Himself speak a different language than Christians – even when we use the same words the meaning is usually quite different. Take the Hebrew word שָׂטָן / “satan.”
To Christians the word "satan" is the chief evil spirit; the great adversary of humanity; the devil. 2 Corinthians 4:4 calls him a god (the 4th Christian god with the big 3 of the trinity). "Satan, who is the god of this world." Further Christians are taught that Satan / Devil runs a mythical hell. Jesus is tempted by satan (Matthew 4:1) -- how a god tempts another god?? The devil and his minions are in hell -- a place of eternal torment for those who do not believe in Jesus (Matthew 25:41).
Christians are taught that "the devil" (aka "satan") is a fallen angel. This is also untrue. Angels are bound to do G-d's will. They have no free will of their own. Heavenly angels have only one mission, and this means that their names denote that mission. Most do not exist long enough for any name to be noted, but some have important enough missions to warrant their name being known.
Jew and Christian use the word "satan" but have totally different meanings for that one word. In Judaism we do not see it as there being a conflict between good and evil. Some ancient religions believed that there are two forces in the universe, one good and one evil, and that they are constantly warring with each other. This was common to Mthraism, Zroastrianism, Chritianity, and later to Mnichaeism. Chrstianity, however, made the devil less powerful than G-d, but still made him a rebel against G-d.
Judaism sees it differently, and we have always seen it differently. Satan is not a rebellious angel. G-d created both good and evil.
There is no devil in Judaism. There are no "demi-gods." There is only one G-d and He created good and evil. "Forming 'Light' and creating 'Darkness', making 'Peace' and creating 'Evil' - I am HaShem and I do ALL these things" Isaiah 45:7.
G-d created evil.
There is no devil.
The word שָׂטָן / "satan" does appear in the Jewish bible. The word means "adversary" and it is used to speak of humans as well. Satan (with a capital "S") which is the name of the Chrstian devil does not exist in the T'nach or in Judaism.
The word "satan" IS NOT A PROPER NOUN (personal name). שָׂטָן / satan simply means "an opponent / opposer."
G-d has no opponents or opposition -- fallen angels do not exist. Humans DO have opponents.
Let's look at some instances of the use of "satan" in the T'nach:
"But G-d became angry because he was going, so [one] of HaShem's angels (messengers) stationed itself in his way as an opponent (satan) to him." (B'midbar / Numbers 22:22);
"Then HaShem's angel (messengers) said to him, "Why have you struck your she-donkey these three times? See, I came out as an opponent (satan) because you were hurrying on the way [to act] against me; but the she-donkey saw me and turned away these three times; if she had not turned away to avoid me, by now for sure I would have killed you, but I would have kept her alive!" (B'midbar / Numbers 22:32-33);
". . .he should not join us in the battle in case he becomes an opponent (satan) to us in the battle! (Sh'muél Alef / 1 Samuel 29:4-5);
"David said, "What is [the disagreement] between me and you, Tz'ruyah's sons, that you have become opponents (satans) to me today??" (Sh'muél Beit / 2 Samuel 19:23).
Why did G-d create evil? Is G-d cruel? Is it some sort of punishment?
Evil is not a punishment -- it is a learning tool. G-d created the universe because G-d wanted to do good. So there had to be people to receive that good.
G-d does not want to just give away good as a present. G-d wants people to appreciate it. Something you get for free you do not appreciate. And in fact, if you got something amazingly good for free, and you were allowed to enjoy it for all eternity, you would be embarrassed by it. You didn't work for it, you don't deserve it.
So G-d decided that people would have to work for it, and receive the ultimate goodness as a reward for work.
What is that work? Well, G-d created the Evil Inclination, the angel called Satan, whose job it is to tempt us to do evil. If we ignore the Evil Inclination, then we get closer to G-d, and become more holy. By doing so, we merit the reward of the ultimate goodness. G-d also gave us Commandments, and the Tempting Angel tempts us to find reasons not to keep those Commandments. By ignoring the temptations, and fulfilling G-d's Commandments, we become more spiritual, and our souls gain more power over ourselves.
So we see our lives in this world as an opportunity. We have been granted the glorious opportunity to attain holiness and ultimate goodness.
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.
And our inclination is to choose poorly. G-d wants us to learn and rise above our evil inclination and become holy people -- but how can we become improved and better if we can't learn and grow? If we only have good we simply exist. We just "are." With evil we can choose life and good. We can CHOOSE the blesing.
So remember, satan means "opponent" or "adversary." People have opponents, G-d has none. There is only one G-d. There is no devil, no hell. Same word -- totally different meaning! As for the word "lucifer" which I will look at more closely in a later post -- it is not found in the bible at all.