The main focus of this blog is to contrast the differences between Judaism and Christianity, hence the subtitle "Exploding the Judaeo-Christian Myth." The idea that Jews and Christians have "so much" in common is mostly myth. Yes, Christians have the "OT" (which they call "old" but it is primarily used as a proof for Jesus, not so much for its own intrinsic value. A majority of the teachings of the T'nach are ignored in Christian theology -- including the fact that we are not born sinners, we do not need to be "saved" and that no one can die for your sins. . .
To a Christian who truly wants to love G-d and sees that path through Jesus this blog must appear hateful. It is not meant to be hateful. It is meant to be educational. Imagine, if your whole life you had been told that night is day and day is night. . . someone trying to set you straight would make you angry.
Jews don't hate Jesus. Jesus is immaterial to Judaism -- totally unimportant. In a way that would be very strange for most Christians to understand the messiah himself is fairly unimportant. There is only one G-d and to Him goes all the glory. The messiah is tasked with fulfilling some prophecies, but the true hero of the messianic age if G-d. The messiah will merely be His servant, as Moses was his servant so long ago.
Posts explaining how Jesus' birth disqualifies him from being a messiah, or how his death was a murder not a sacrifice (human sacrifices being absolutely forbidden) the intent is not to insult Christians -- it is to teach the bible. The T'nach (bible) is clear on the requirements for a messiah (which Jesus did not meet). The T'nach is also clear on human murder not being an acceptable sacrifice. . .
On the main page of this blog I stated flat out that any religious Christian should probably avoid this website. There are many wonderful Christians in this world, as there are wonderful Muslims, Buddhists, etc. For those who have no desire to learn, avoid this blog to avoid hurt feelings. . . Jews do not proselytize. Any non-Jew who wishes to learn is more than welcome to read these postings.
Tomorrow night we Jews mark תשעה באב / Tisha B' Av -- the 9th day of the month of Av. This day is one of introspection and fasting for Jews, for you see the 9th of Av has always marked tragedies. It began all the way back to the Exodus from Egypt and the Jews wandering for forty years in the desert.
When it was finally time for the Jews to enter the holy land. G-d commanded Moses to send "out one man for each patriarchal tribe. Each one shall be a person of high rank" Bamidbar / Numbers 13:2.
When the spies returned they told Moses "the people living in the land are aggressive and the cities are large and well fortified. We also saw the giant's descendants there. Amalek lives in the Negev area, the Hittites, Yebusites and Amorites live in the hills, and the Canaanites live near the sea and on the banks of the Jordan.' Caleb tried to quiet the people for Moses. 'We must go forth and occupy the land,' he said. 'We can do it!' 'We cannot go forward against those people!' replied the men who had gone with him. 'They are too strong for us! They began to speak badly about the land that they had explored. They told the Israelites, 'The land that we crossed to explore is a land that consumes its inhabitants." Bamidbar / Numbers 13:28-32.
Put this into perspective. These people had been slaves in Egypt. They had not only seen G-d personally free them from slavery, they had heard Him speak at Sinai. He had fed them in the desert (which they also complained about!). G-d shows them encouraging signs that the land is indeed plentiful and rich -- for example they find a cluster of grapes so enormous that eight men are needed to carry it (Bamidbar / Numbers 13:23). Now these spies came and tell the Jews that the very land that G-d promised to them is too difficult to bother with.
"That night the people wept. All the Israelites complained to Moses and Aaron. The entire community was saying, 'We wish we had died in Egypt! We should have died in this desert! Why is G-d bringing us to this land to die by the sword?" Bamidbar / Numbers 14:2-3
After all He has done for the people they still do not have enough faith and trust in G-d.
This was the first 9th of Av with a catastrophe. G-d says " [I will punish] all the people who saw My glory and the miracles that I did in Egypt and the desert, but still tried to test Me these ten times by not obeying Me. They will therefore not see the land that I swore to their ancestors. All those who provoked Me will not see it. 'The only exception will be My servant Caleb, since he showed a different spirit and followed Me wholeheartedly. I will bring him to the land that he explored, and his descendants will possess it." Bamidbar / Numbers 14:22-24.
The night the people wept was the 9th day of Av -- Tisha B’ Av. . G-d declared: “They cried for no reason; in the future I’ll give them good reason to cry.”
From that first Tisha B' Av to today calamities have struck the Jews on this date. On Tisha B’ Av, the First Temple was destroyed in 425 BCE. Nebuzaradan killed nearly 1 million Jews. Nebuzaradan cried out to the prophet: "Zechariah, Zechariah! I have slain the best of them; do you want all of them destroyed?" At last the blood (of the long dead prophet) sank into the ground (Talmud, Gittin 57b). On Tisha B' Av the Holy Temple was set on fire and destroyed. The fire burned for 24 hours. This was the end of Solomon's temple.
In 68 CE the Second Jerusalem Temple was destroyed on the 9th of Av. The battle against Rome raged for three weeks. . The last battle was on the morning of Tisha B' Av. Many of the structures adjoining the Temple were burnt or on fire, but that morning the Temple itself was still intact. According to Josephus (the Jewish historian of 2000 years ago), the Roman General Titus (later Emperor) did not want the Temple destroyed, but a Roman soldier threw a firebrand into the Temple. The Romans were unable to stop the fire so the Second Temple fell -- also on the 9th day of Av.
In 135 CE Jewish independence was lost to the Romans following the fall of the city of the city of Beitar, the last stronghold of the Bar Kochba revolt.
1290 CE and the Jews are expelled from England, on Tisha B' Av.
1492 CE and the Jews are expelled from Spain, on Tisha B' Av. (The edict of expulsion was signed on March 31, 1492 and the Jews given four months to leave).
August 1, 1914 (Tisha B' Av) Germany declared war on Russia -- the start of the first World War.
August 2, 1941 the Germans received permission for the "Final Solution" to exterminate the Jews in the Holocaust.
For three weeks prior to Tisha B' Av we observe a mourning period. The American agreement with Iran was signed during this three week mourning period prior to Tisha B' Av in the year 2015.
Yet, we Jews know that negative prophecy is always conditional. They are given as warnings (think of them as "IF you do X then Y will happen, but if you do not then Z will happen type statements).
Consider the story of Jonah and the city of Ninevah. The negative prophecy was averted because the citizens of Ninevah repented. The negative outcome was avoided through repentance.
The Rambam taught that a negative prophecy can be averted through repentance. Repentance can avert the consequences of a negative prophecy. The Rambam says that the very purpose of negative prophecies are to urge us repent before disaster strikes. (Laws of the Fundamentals of the Torah 10:4).
Positive prophecies are not conditional (think, for example, of the promises near the end of D'varim / Deuteronomy. IF the Jews keep the mitzvot (commandments) they will remain in the land of Israel (definitely a positive) BUT the "if" is there. If they do not fulfill the mitzvot they will be exiled (the negative prophecy).
"As to calamities predicted by a prophet, if, for example, he foretells the death of a certain individual or declares that in particular year there will be famine or war and so forth, the non-fulfillment of his forecast does not disprove his prophetic character. We are not to say, “See, he spoke and his prediction has not come to pass.”
"For G‑d is long-suffering and abounding in kindness and repents of evil. It may also be that those who were threatened repented and were therefore forgiven, as happened to the men of Nineveh. Possibly too, the execution of the sentence is only deferred, as in the case of Hezekiah. But if the prophet, in the name of G‑d, assures good fortune, declaring that a particular event would come to pass, and the benefit promised has not been realized, he is unquestionably a false prophet, for no blessing decreed by the Almighty, even if promised conditionally, is ever revoked . . . Hence we learn that only when he predicts good fortune can the prophet be tested." Yesodei haTorah 10:4
The Chabad puts it this way:
Fundamental conclusions follow from this. A prophet is not an oracle: a prophecy is not a prediction. Precisely because Judaism believes in free will, the human future can never be unfailingly predicted. People are capable of change. G‑d forgives. As we say in our prayers on the High Holy Days: “Prayer, penitence and charity avert the evil decree.” There is no decree that cannot be revoked. A prophet does not foretell. He warns. A prophet does not speak to predict future catastrophe but rather to avert it. If a prediction comes true it has succeeded. If a prophecy comes true it has failed.
The second consequence is no less far-reaching. The real test of prophecy is not bad news but good. Calamity, catastrophe, disaster prove nothing. Anyone can foretell these things without risking his reputation or authority. It is only by the realization of a positive vision that prophecy is put to the test. So it was with Israel’s prophets. They were realists, not optimists. They warned of the dangers that lay ahead. But they were also, without exception, agents of hope. They could see beyond the catastrophe to the consolation. That is the test of a true prophet.
The rabbis teach us that Moshiach will be born on Tisha B' Av (if he hasn't been already), and that, after the Final Redemption, Tisha B'Av will be transformed into one of the happiest days of the year.