Judaism Must Embrace the Convert

By SHMULY YANKLOWITZ
NOVEMBER 23, 2014
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — THE recent arrest of an Orthodox rabbi in Washington, who was charged with having watched women showering via a hidden camera installed at the mikvah, or ritual bath, at his synagogue, has drawn attention to the challenges faced by potential converts to Judaism. The scandal put a spotlight on the near-total control exercised by the rabbi over converts into the Jewish faith. The system lacks oversight. It leaves those wanting to become Jews vulnerable to exploitation.

courtThe Jewish tradition has shunned the proselytizing propensities of our Abrahamic cousins, Christianity and Islam, but in doing so, it has seemed, to some, to embrace an ethos of exclusion. The fact that anyone with the drive and perspicacity to convert is allowed to do so is one of the most important checks on the Jewish conception of chosenness; being Jewish is not a genetic condition, but a complex hierarchy of identity and choice.

In theory, Judaism is an inclusive religion that is willing to welcome individuals who desire to become Jewish. The reality is far more complicated. The Israeli chief rabbinate rejects conversions it deems un-Orthodox. This includes Jews of less strict streams, like the Reform and Conservative movements in the United States, and also some Orthodox converts around the world.

Not long ago, Israel passed legislation that intended to make Jewish conversions less difficult. The bill’s final form, however, gave the chief rabbinate control over the approval of all conversion certificates; this compromise will result only in more bureaucratic mix-ups and disagreements about the converts’ legitimacy — and their right to invoke the Law of Return, by which countless Jews have found safe haven and refuge in Israel.

The Rabbinical Council of America, which oversees Orthodox conversions, strictly adheres to the chief rabbinate’s standards. For example, unmarried conversion candidates are often required to refrain from dating until their conversion is approved, a process that can take years. Many candidates are required to move to Orthodox neighborhoods and enroll their children in full-time private Jewish day schools — a formidable financial obstacle.

The difficulties faced by those yearning to convert is especially painful for me. This is because my father is Jewish, while my mother is Christian. I converted — twice. After learning the traditional significance placed on matrilineal lineage, I underwent a liberal conversion as an adolescent. Later I underwent a rigorous Orthodox conversion.

I chose not to share my journey previously because I am now an Orthodox rabbi and, unfortunately, Jews by choice are sometimes perceived as being less authentic or authoritative than those who are Jewish from birth. Many feel shame and choose not to reveal that they are converts out of fear of having their, and their descendants’, status and credentials questioned. As a teenager, I recall breaking down in tears during my first trip to Israel when others questioned my Jewish status. I was interrogated with the most personal questions about my beliefs, practices and relationships, by strangers who controlled my religious destiny; I felt powerless to challenge them.

Current trends in Orthodox conversion are all in the wrong direction: Converts have to wait longer; their prior conversions are questioned; they are made to convert again before marriage; they are encouraged to distance themselves from non-Jewish relatives. While each rabbi needs the freedom to lead locally, there also need to be integrity boards to provide training and oversight, and serious standards for both the convert and the community. The legal standard for entry should be made more inclusive, and the standard for education and support made more rigorous.

ruthThe process needs to be performed with transparent expectations and timelines, no financial cost, greater respect for personal privacy, increased women’s leadership, broader ethical and spiritual parameters for eligibility and fair treatment of all candidates. Embracing a more pluralistic approach to Jewish identity requires a break from bureaucratic central authorities.

A small group of homogeneous Orthodox authorities, continuing to pursue more stringent requirements to the detriment of the wider and more diverse Jewish community, should not have the unchecked power to determine who can be a Jew. Nor should candidates need to fly across the country to meet a religious court because local authorities are not deemed worthy of handling the conversion. This grants too much authority to national and regional centralized powers and puts the inclusive nature of Judaism at risk. When a convert emerges from the mikvah, he or she should feel uplifted by a process of inclusion and holiness, not deflated by alienation and degradation.

Converts, like immigrants, should feel pride about their journeys and be viewed as courageous for responding to their transformative calling. Deuteronomy tells us, “You shall love the stranger as you were strangers in Egypt.” No other commandment is more essential to the moral destiny of the Jewish people.

Shmuly Yanklowitz, an Orthodox rabbi, is executive director of Valley Beit Midrash, an adult education and leadership development program, and president of Uri L’Tzedek, a social justice group.

Converso Cook Book Looks Good

Great food and the stories behind them The Converso Cookbook, offers unique dishes:

Jewsih Ham

Jewish Ham

A new online publication, The Converso Cookbook, offers unique dishes based on the recipes of 14th- and 15th-century Jews who were persecuted by Spanish authorities. One of these recipes, Jewish Ham—or cecina de ansarón or ansarón cecinado—is a perfect Thanksgiving alternative. The “ham” is actually salt-cured duck or goose; when sliced, the final product looks rather similar to salted pork.

Adafina

Adafina

The Converso Cookbook is the work of Ana Gomez-Bravo, a professor of Spanish and Jewish Studies at the University of Washington. She’s involved with the university’s Sephardic Studies Program. A native of Madrid, Gomez-Bravo specializes in medieval and early modern Spanish literature. She has long been fascinated by the culture of converso Jews—those who were forced to convert to Christianity during the Inquisition period. Gomez-Bravo realized that food practices could serve as a rich source of information about medieval Sephardic identity, and began to hunt for textual evidence in both Jewish sources and Inquisitorial records.

For the full Tablet article click here.

‘No But’, ‘Yes But’, ‘Yes And’, and why to just go with what has always been ‘YES’?

by Menashe Dovid

Messianic Jewish Theological Institute (MJTI) Jerusalem: 2 Nahum Sokolov St/ Keren Hayesod St. Jerusalem

Messianic Jewish Theological Institute (MJTI) Jerusalem: Now not so secretly located on 2 Nahum Sokolov St/ Keren Hayesod St. Jerusalem which is more or less right next door to the OU centre.

In the cut and thrust world of converting Jews to what is after all just a re-packaging of Christianity, there is yet another endeavor to gain a legitimacy to ‘Messianic Judaism’ via a scholarly route. The scholarly route in this case provided for example by the Messianic Jewish Theological Institute (MJTI) through various blogs and websites to give ‘real’ academic qualifications. The scholarly route of course no doubt appealing to the Protestant work ethic of these Christians, woops, I mean ‘Messianic Jews’ who possibly pander to the belief that life is not worth living if you do not have a job. Of course to have a legitimate job, you have to have legitimate academic qualifications! Is that not right Mr. [Microsoft] Bill Gates et al[1]?

There are of course limitations as to what academic qualifications can achieve. Something glossed over by most ‘messianic Jewish’ groups is that a person’s status as a Jew according to Orthodox Halacha[2] and/ or becoming a Rabbi have never depended on having an academic degree. Orthodoxy quite happily stands on its own in terms of applying (to real communities) and validating the G-dly knowledge and wisdom of its people and/ or Rabbis, and has been doing so way before any University. This G-dly knowledge and wisdom we Jews call Torah, exists as a book within the Jewish people. Everyone knows what those “symbols on your hands” and “on your foreheads are”, just as they know what is to be written on the doorposts of their homes and how to make strings on the corners of their garments. There will always be Jews doing those things.  The book has meaning only within the context of our people, our experiences as a people, and the way that our people have unfolded and applied that which we have received. In common with both the Reformed Jewish movement et al and to a large extent within ‘messianic Judaism’ is the rejection in varying degrees (no pun intended) of this G-dly knowledge and wisdom because this G-dly knowledge and wisdom is ‘Rabbinic’ Judaism.

Neither for that matter has a non-Jew ever become Jewish[3] by just doing the practices of Judaism and certainly not whilst believing in Jesus[4]. At least this last point is one thing which the Orthodox, Reformed, Conservative, Liberal, Progressive and Re-constructionist Judaism movements are agreed on!

All that has been said above leads me to another prong in the efforts of the MJTI et al to gain legitimacy and acceptance from any of the movements of Judaism mentioned so far. Attempts for legitimacy now of course include the study of ‘Rabbinic’ Judaism. The inclusion of ‘Rabbinic’ Judaism would appear to be a new way of evangelism and may address the growing problem(?) of intermarriage in Messianic Judaism and how the Christian part of ‘the intermarriage equation’ deals with the Jewish in-laws. In a case where the Jewish in-laws are just academic at heart, the Christian part of ‘the intermarriage equation’ or even the other half of the equation may be able to use impressive academic terms[5] such as “an anticipatory or proleptic position”, “a post-supersessionist position” or a “post cryptosupersessionist position”, to help them in their evangelistic efforts with their Jewish in-laws . Yep I think you are onto a winner with this one MJTI!

However, where the Jewish in-laws are just too frum[6] to appreciate academic reasoning, it may be beneficial to ignore centuries of grimed in distrust or ridicule of the halachic rulings of the wider Jewish community. Instead, why not pander to the Jewish in-laws by convincing them, by your elevated observance, that the Torah is best interpreted in concert with the historical stream and transgenerational discussion of that people to whom it was given?

Alternatively, where the Jewish in-laws are neither academics or too frum but instead more business and/ or marketing orientated, it may be possible to use the “Yes and” approach.

The YES-AND option whereby the Yeshua believer genuinely respects, hears, and values what his Jewish significant other

Stuart Daurmann in the 'missionary scholar' action!

Stuart Daurmann the ‘missionary scholar’ in action!

reports about the value of his/her Jewish life, faith and experience. This involves saying a YES to all of that, AND going on to report how, in and through Yeshua, God is at work to deepen Jewish life experientially, while bringing the Jewish people and their tradition to their foreordained consummation.

Implicit in the above, apart from the obvious need to ‘win’ them Jewish in-laws, is the nauseating idea of an evangelical paradigm that the Yeshua believer is somehow superior! Winning them Jewish in-laws to Yeshua means they are not going to get thrown onto the eternal BBQ (as per Mark 16:16) because they have accepted the superior offer! Of course such black and white terms of the evangelical paradigm presented in the New Testament, Stuart Dauermann (MJTI) conveniently chooses to deny by saying that no such things are said in the apostolic writings which witness the efforts of the apostles to convert Jews to Yeshua. Moreover, to divert further, Stuart claims I have stolen and projected onto his paradigm. The bottom line, no matter how Messianic Jews try to ‘spin it’ in the present with various new tricks, Yeshua will never be Kosher just as no matter the number of times one scrubs a pig will ever make the pig Kosher either! The answer is YES Stuart and has always been without ands, buts and/ or degrees!

So what are they up to in general these Missionaries in Israel?

Here a mystery can be revealed which has been around for some time. The mystery concerns a general lack of information on various web sites of messianic organizations advertising their missionary work here in Israel. The general lack of information is typically balanced of course by a one way process which is a common feature of all missionary websites, namely a donations page.  The donations page of course allows you to provide a huge chunk of money and personal information about yourself for what appears to be just a casual guarantee that the missionaries are doing a good job in Israel by infiltrating Jewish communities and converting Jews. The general lack of information typically includes no relevant information or location of so called study centers or headquarters for the missionaries’ activities in Israel. A question then obviously arises that if a person wishes to visit one of these study centers or headquarters for the missionary activity in Israel, how one is supposed to know where they are? Or most importantly why would the missionaries NOT want just anybody to know?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yes I have actually met Stuart Daurmann!

The missionaries behind missionary work in Israel have developed unique strategies to avoid accountability on all sides of the divide between supporters and opposers of missionary activity. A favorite strategy is to claim that anti-missionary groups such as Yad L’Achim are only too keen to close down missionary activity by various ‘illegal means’ such as protesting, holding rallies and warning people of the spiritual dangers of missionaries in the local press. Here is a common thesis and a lie:

“As you may know, ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel do not, as a rule, seek employment. They expect the State (our taxes) to pay for their living expenses while they spend their days in Rabbinical studies. Messianic Jews have found that they seem to have an excess of leisure time spent in persecuting Israeli followers of Yeshua across the country.” Shira Sorko-Ram

The common thesis and the lie (repeated by the secular Israeli press BTW) is easily refuted, since the breadwinner of ultra-Orthodox Jewish families in Israel may be the Mother of family who works full time whilst the husband studies full time, both the Father and the Mother who work part time, some families who have inherited money, some who have extended family financial support, many who engage in business activities which support the family, some people who are retired and some Fathers who work. Given that the welfare benefits in Israel (unlike Europe for example) may be actually insufficient to support a family, those on benefits do survive which is a testimony to the strong community support of Torah communities here in Israel.

One may also ask what is so ignoble about undertaking Rabbinical studies? How hypocritical of missionaries who allow themselves their own abundance of leisure time to study and infiltrate Jewish communities to convert Jews whilst simultaneously taking money from supporters of their ministry. Who is to say that missionaries in Israel, who may have gained Israeli Citizenship by deception too, are not claiming welfare benefits too?

Moreover, money fleeced from the flocks with a love for Israel in Europe and the USA allows missionaries to ‘live it up’ in Israel whilst jetting off to other countries to promote their ministries on the basis that they represent ‘real’ Judaism/ ‘real Israel’, as their websites and Face book accounts show. Meanwhile the children of the missionaries (some of whom are not halachicly Jewish) take full advantage of free education in Israel, their spouses have the opportunity to take up work and/ or join in community projects and yet more missionising avenues are created!

The question is how the missionaries can have the nerve to leach off the success of the people of the Jewish State? The Jewish state is the culmination of the struggle of the Jewish people across millennia that have refused assimilation and other religions, including Christianity before Christianity ever evolved to produce a messianic Judaism about 150 years ago.

The answer as to why missionaries can have the nerve to leach off the success of the people of the Jewish State is that for missionaries the ends justify the means. They give themselves the passport to lie for the sake of converting Jews by misrepresenting, abusing Judaism and re-packaging it as the real deal to secularized Jews in Israel. Yet they plead innocence, plead persecution even, say they have never been caught for doing missionary work and say it is really only a matter of arguing to Jews; ‘Who is the real Messiah?”. Like as if the Jews are to somehow develop collective amnesia and forget the numerous disputations, blood libels, inquisitions and holocausts they can answer ‘Who is the real Messiah?” correctly?!

The question from the Jewish perspective is based on the thousands of years of persecution at the hands of Christians: How many times Mr. Christian Missionary do we have to tell you that we believe in One G-d who is absolutely one unlike you who believe in a compound or plurality unity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Do you think we Jews are so dumb to think that your statement that “we don’t teach replacement theology” jives with what is said plainly in your own New Testament? At least the Roman Catholic Church is more honest in this respect! No at the most please be Christians in your own Christian countries and leave the Jewish state for the Jews, this is all we ask.

Then again there is nothing new under the sun:

Can there be a greater stumbling block than [Christianity]? All the prophets spoke of Moshiach as the redeemer of Israel and their savior, who would gather their dispersed ones and strengthen their [observance of] the mitzvos. In contrast [the founder of Christianity] caused the Jews to be slain by the sword, their remnants to be scattered and humiliated, the Torah to be altered, and the majority of the world to err and serve a god other than the L-rd.” (Expurgated[7] by medieval Christian censors from the Mishneh Torah of Rambam, Chapter 11)

 _____________

[1] et al, is Latin for ‘and others’ by the way.

[2] The definition of a Halachic Jew according to Orthodoxy is that a person’s mother and their mother’s mother are Jewish or that a person has undergone a recognized Orthodox conversion to Judaism. In either case Jews are Jews and nothing will stop them from ceasing to be Jews, regardless of their level of observance within Orthodoxy or any other ‘ism’ of their choice. According to Orthodoxy a conversion to Reformed, Liberal, Re-constructionist and Conservative movements is not recognized as a valid conversion and so in terms of Orthodoxy a non-Jewish converter to non-Orthodox Judaism is not Jewish.

[3] To become Jewish one needs a Halachic Orthodox conversion.

[4] It should be noted that according to Orthodoxy, for a Jew to practice Christianity or a variant of it such as Messianic Judaism, that Jewish person is placing themselves in a situation of potential spiritual excision or to be cut off from the world to come for practicing idolatry. A non-Jew according to some opinions with respect to Christianity, similarly has the potential to be cut off from the world to come BUT according to other opinions not. Whilst a doubt may hang over the non-Jews fate with respect to their belief and practice of Christianity, the case is absolutely clear for the Jew……potential spiritual excision or to be cut off from the world to come. In the present as long as a Jew practices idolatry by believing in Christianity, it is as if the Jew is no longer a Jew and may indeed be in a worse situation as the non-Jew who practices and believes in Christianity. Repentance for the Jew from belief and practice of Christianity is vital if they are to avoid being cut off from the world to come.

[5] ‘Jewish Believers in Yeshua and Halachic Torah Observance: Living Today for Israel’s Tomorrow”, Posted on November 11, 2011 by Stuart Dauermann

[6] The Yiddish adjective frum (Yiddish: פֿרום; [frum | frim]), from the German fromm, meaning “devout” or “pious”, is a Yiddish word meaning committed to be observant of the 613 commandments, or Jewish commandments, specifically of Orthodox Judaism. This appellative is used in reference to Orthodox Jews.

[7] To remove matter thought to be objectionable or unsuitable from a book or account.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?

In the ongoing saga where even Jesus/ Yeshua appears to be in my soup, if I am to believe Christians/ Messianics I have yet another task to sort out for puzzled Christians/ Messianics. There is a saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Copying a literary style is flattering because it shows you want your writing to be like the literary style so its more acceptable to those already familiar with the literary style, apparently.

imitate_thumb1A case in point  revolves around what might be considered to be a New Testament form of imitation which I have labeled “NT Midrash” where the NT Midrash seeks to imitate already established Jewish Midrash of the ‘Old’ Testament. The NT Midrash based on the marriage between Genesis 1:1-5 and John 1:1-5. The problem that the NT is written in Greek and not Hebrew does not faze some. However, just to go along with the ruse, taking verse 2 into consideration:

JOHN has: He was in the beginning with G-d.

GENESIS has: The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of G-d was hovering over the face of the waters. (Note: Spirit of G-d = “spirit of messiah” – Genesis Rabbah 2:4[1])

The summation of the comparison between Genesis 1:1-5 and John 1:1-5 occurs in the statement that follows in John:

the law given through Moses… grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

Here John attempts to bridge the gap for the reader, including Jewish readers apparently, to go from Torah Law to Jesus who fulfills the Law, such as the requirement of animal sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins (see Hebrews 9:22[2]) now leaves Torah law weak and useless according to Hebrews (see Heb 7:18,19). This portion of John’s gospel is of central significance to the development of the Christian doctrine of Incarnation. Later on in John, John Baptist describes Jesus in v39 as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”. Here for the first time is the ‘new’ addition of the ‘new’ Testament which introduces the idea of a universal human substitutionary atonement.

Animal sacrifice has always been permitted and post Sinai only under extremely limited and controlled circumstances as to time, place[Lev 17:2-5] and intention as detailed by the Torah. Certain sacrifices are brought purely for the purpose of communing with God and becoming closer to Him. Others are brought for the purpose of expressing thanks, love, or gratitude to God. Others are used to cleanse a person of ritual impurity (which does not necessarily have anything to do with sin). And yes, some sacrifices are brought for purposes of atonement. The messianic era does have animal sacrifices if Jer 33:15-18 is considered.

So what about human sacrifice?

1 Thus says the LORD: The heaven is My Throne, and the earth is My Footstool, where is the house that you may build unto Me? And where is the place that may be My resting-place? 2 For all These things has My hand made, and so all These things Came to be, says the LORD, But on this man will I look, even on Him That is poor and of a Contrite Spirit, and Trembleth at My word. 3 He That Kills an ox is as if he slew a man, he That Sacrifices a lamb, as if he broke a dog’s neck, he That Offers a meal-Offering, as if he Offered swine’s blood, he That makes a memorial-Offering of frankincense, as if he blessed an idol; according as they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations;

Isaiah 66 is talking primarily about sacrifices without repentance and chapter 66 resonates with the opening chapter 1 of Isaiah. Moreover, Isaiah 66 is discussing the messianic age.

You shall no longer bring vain meal-offerings, it is smoke of abomination to Me; New Moons and Sabbaths, calling convocations, I cannot [bear] iniquity with assembly. (Isaiah 1:13)

Without proper and sincere repentance it is as if one has killed a man, offered swine’s blood and blesses an idol (see verse 3) all of which have always have been and always will be unacceptable at any time or place!

What does Genesis Rabbah 2:4 say?

And the spirit of God hovered: this alludes to the spirit of Messiah, as you read, And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him (Isa. xi, 2). In the merit of what will [this spirit] eventually come? [For the sake of that which] hovered over the face of the waters, i.e. in the merit of repentance which is likened to water, as it is written, Pour out thy heart like water (Lam. 11, 19). R. Haggai said in the name of R. Pedath: A covenant was made with water that even in the hot season a breeze stirs over it. Genesis Rabbah 2:4

So far the NT gospel of John proposes the idea that Genesis and John have a close ‘midrashic’ connection from which is spring-boarded the ‘new’ covenant idea of human / divine messiah who dies for people sins in place of the sinner. Such a ‘new’ covenant idea is proposed by Paul supposedly and accurately paraphrasing Isaiah 59:20:

26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” Rom 11 NKJV

Now compare where it comes from in the same Christian bible translation:

20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion, And to those who turn from transgression (פֶשַׁע) in Jacob,” Says the Lord. Isaiah 59:20 NKJV

See how they are completely opposite? In the twisted version, Paul makes his case for a divine messiah who does it all for you on the basis that a person is incapable of doing anything (cf John 6:44). The correct version as per Isaiah 59:20 has individual persons turning from their transgressions! In contradistinction to Paul’s twisting of scripture we have a clear indication in the following which says we can turn from our own transgressions (פֶשַׁע) ourselves!

6 And the LORD said unto Cain: ‘Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shall it not be lifted up? and if thou doest not well, sin coucheth at the door; and unto thee is its desire, but thou mayest rule over it.‘ Gen 4

According to Isaiah and Genesis Rabbah 2:4 the coming of the messiah and redeemer respectively is to cause people to repent from their deliberate sins (Pesha [פֶשַׁע] or deliberate sins cannot be atoned for by blood by the way!). In contradistinction is the lie of the NT which insists on human atonement and mans’ incapability to do anything about his sinful behavior.

What is a Midrash?

To understand what a Midrash is, it is important to understand what Pshat is. Pshat refers to the straightforward explanation of a text, while Drash (from where we get Midrash) refers to the rabbinical commentary which serves as a vehicle for transmission of lessons, ideas and concepts which go beyond the literal narrative of the text. A Midrash in the Talmud Chullin gives a dispute between the moon and God about the sun:

  1. Simeon b. Pazzi pointed out a contradiction [between verses]. One verse says: And God made the two great lights, and immediately the verse continues: The greater light . . . and the lesser light. The moon said unto the Holy One, blessed be He, ‘Sovereign of the Universe! Is it possible for two kings to wear one crown’? He answered: ‘Go then and make thyself smaller’. ‘Sovereign of the Universe’! cried the moon, ‘Because I have suggested that which is proper must I then make myself smaller’? He replied: ‘Go and thou wilt rule by day and by night’. ‘But what is the value of this’? cried the moon; ‘Of what use is a lamp in broad daylight’? He replied: ‘Go. Israel shall reckon by thee the days and the years’. ‘But it is impossible’, said the moon, ‘to do without the sun for the reckoning of the seasons, as it is written: And let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years’. ‘Go. The righteous shall be named after thee as we find, Jacob the Small, Samuel the Small, David the Small’. On seeing that it would not be consoled the Holy One, blessed be He, said: ‘Bring an atonement for Me for making the moon smaller’. This is what was meant by R. Simeon b. Lakish when he declared: Why is it that the he-goat offered on the new moon is distinguished in that there is written concerning it unto the Lord? Because the Holy One, blessed be He, said: Let this he-goat be an atonement for Me for making the moon smaller. (Talmud Chullin 60b)

A moon talking to God cannot obviously be taken literally, rather the rabbis are asking, amongst other things, to consider symbolically, the dangers of jealousy. So what is the literal Peshat meaning of the verse found in Gen 1:16 and how may the contradiction, highlighted in the Talmud be resolved in verse 16? And God made the two great lights;… a possible answer to the contradiction is that from our earthly perspective, the sun and the moon are exactly the same size. Sun and moon being the same size is evidenced during a solar eclipse for example. God therefore has placed two spheres of dramatically different size, so precisely, that an observer on earth views them to be equal in size. Once this miraculous physical reality is given in the text, verse 16 goes onto explain, in terms of illumination, one sphere being greater than the other, hence the apparent contradiction is resolved!

However, despite centuries of anti-Semitism and enforced editing of Jewish literature and even numerous burnings of Jewish literature by the Church; the Church has not stopped the misuse, misquotation and misapplication of Midrashic material in the past to support belief for Jesus. The Church is quite happy to arbitrarily quote and impose that a Midrash is literal or not literal depending on its own theological agenda. Such quoting and imposition of Midrashim as literal or not literal, whilst simultaneously burning Midrashic material, presents a highly schizophrenic and menacing attitude to rabbinic literature and the Jewish Scriptures. More recently, a renaissance in a potential (mis)use of rabbinical literature by both black supremacists, white supremacists and amongst Messianics with a book by Douglas Pyle (staff worker at chosen people ministries), entitled “What the Rabbonim say about Moshiac”. The book by Douglas Pyle is a huge resource of rabbinical texts which the user may arbitrarily quote as literal or non-literal, depending how they fit the user’s theological agenda for converting the Jew.

One thing to always note when Messianics quote rabbinical kabbalistic or midrashic sayings to justify their beliefs in a deified Yeshua – 99.9% of their quotes are from Rabbis who post-dated Yeshua himself. 100% of these Rabbis themselves said what they said and rejected the possibility that Yeshua was the Messiah. That means, what the Rabbis said and meant by their words was COMPLETELY different to how messianics quote their words and then reinterpret them within their own Christian tradition!

Not only are messianics abusive in this way with rabbinical quotations to justify their belief in a ‘deified’ Christ but also to justify their belief that Yeshua is the ‘Messiah.’

Rabbinical sources always have deeper levels of meaning to a text. However, messianics fail to understand a problem with ‘messianic’ (mis)uses of rabbinic commentary. The problem is the (deliberate) rejection that each of the four levels (PARDES) of extended meaning of the text are entirely consistent within themselves and most importantly THE GENERAL RULE; that the extended meaning never contradicts the plain meaning of the text (Peshat). Peshat (פְּשָׁט) — “plain” (“simple”) or the direct meaning. In the first instance, using the famous aleph tav (את), the plain meaning is the grammatical, where the aleph tav (את), tells us that G-d created the heavens and the earth. On an allegorical level G-d created the aleph bet and then used the created aleph bet to ‘speak’ the world into existence. There is no contradiction in the argument of the Rabbis in their use of the Sages in their commentary, just a selective lack on the messianics’ part as to how Jews have always read/ wrote their literature.

In sum, John’s gospel has redefined and abused the Jewishly defined principle of Midrash and thereby created an idolatrous idea of a duality in G-d which includes the idea of G-d becoming man (cf Num 23:19).  The idea of G-d becoming man and therefore creating a duality in the ‘godhead’ is something which is plainly refuted in scripture and in the Talmud[3]. The rule that the extended meaning never contradicts the plain meaning of the text is something lost on both Christians and Messianics. Notions from messianics that somehow a person who reads John 1:1-5 in a ‘Christian’ literal way is wrong is patently false since later in John and also in Paul, the literal teaching of a divine son equal with the father is plainly taught:

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Rev 1:8

12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Rev 22

But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. Heb 1:8

_______________________

Notes

[1] 4. R. Simeon b. Lakish applied the passage to the [foreign] Powers. Now the earth was tohu (E. V. ‘unformed’) symbolizes Babylonia: / beheld the earth, and, lo> it was tohu — E.V. ‘waste’ (Jer. iv, 23)

2 ; And bohu (E.V. ‘void’) symbolizes Media: They hastened (wa-yabhillu) to bring Haman (Est. vi, 14).

3 And darkness symbolizes Greece, which darkened the eyes of Israel with its decrees, ordering Israel, ‘Write on the horn of an ox that ye have no portion in the God of Israel/

4 Upon the face of the deep — this wicked State

5 : just as the great deep cannot be plumbed, so one cannot plumb [the depths of iniquity of] this wicked State. And the spirit of God hovered: this alludes to the spirit of Messiah, as you read, And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him (Isa. xi, 2). In the merit of what will [this spirit] eventually come? [For the sake of that which] hovered over the face of the waters, i.e. in the merit of repentance which is likened to water, as it is written, Pour out thy heart like water (Lam. 11, 19). R. Haggai said in the name of R. Pedath : A covenant was made with water that even in the hot season a breeze stirs over it.

[2] In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Heb 9:22 Although this quote in Hebrews 9:22 is always cross referenced in a Christian study Bible with Leviticus 17:11, it is a deliberate misquote of the original passage in the Torah.

If missionaries seek to hold up Leviticus 17:11 to bolster their position that blood sacrifices are indispensable for procuring an atonement, they must use all of the verse, and not dispense with any part of it. Leviticus 17:11 specifically says that the blood of the sacrifice must be placed “upon the altar to make atonement for your souls.” That is to say, Leviticus 17:11 explicitly declares that blood can effect atonement only if it is placed on the altar. Jesus’ blood, however, was never placed on the altar. If the Church is going to take the “blood” part of the verse literally, they must also take the “altar” part literally as well. Jesus’ blood was never sprinkled on the altar, and therefore his death could not provide atonement for anyone. Most importantly, the Torah repeatedly states that it is strictly forbidden to offer human sacrifices under any circumstances. There is not one place throughout the entire corpus of the Jewish Scriptures where the practice of human sacrifice is condoned. The Torah condemns this grotesque ritual as an abomination. Throughout the Book of Leviticus, only distinct species of animals are permitted for use in blood sacrifices. http://outreachjudaism.org/outreach-judaism-responds-to-jews-for-jesus/

[3] R. Johanan sad: In all the passages which the Minim have taken [as grounds] for their heresy, their refutation is found near at hand. Thus: Let us make man in our image, — And God created [sing.] man in His own image; Come, let us go down and there confound their language, — And the Lord came down [sing.] to see the city and the tower; Because there were revealed [plur.] to him God, — Unto God who answereth [sing.] me in the day of my distress; For what great nation is there that hath God so nigh [plur.] unto it, as the Lord our God is [unto us] whensoever we call upon Him [sing.]; And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, [like] Israel, whom God went [plur.] to redeem for a people unto himself [sing.], Till thrones were placed and one that was ancient did sit.

Nahman said: He who is as skilled in refuting the Minim as is R. Idith, let him do so; but not otherwise. Once a Min said to R. Idith: It is written, And unto Moses He said, Come up to the Lord. But surely it should have stated, Come up unto me! — It was Metatron [who said that], he replied, whose name is similar to that of his Master, for it is written, For my name is in him. But if so, [he retorted,] we should worship him! The same passage, however, — replied R. Idith says: Be not rebellious against him, i.e., exchange Me not for him. But if so, why is it stated: He will not pardon your transgression? He answered: By our troth we would not accept him even as a messenger, for it is written, And he said unto him, If Thy [personal] presence go not etc.

A Min once said to R. Ishmael b. Jose: It is written, Then the Lord caused to rain upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord: but from him should have been written! A certain fuller said, Leave him to me, I will answer him. [He then proceeded,’ It is written, And Lamech said to his wives, Ada and Zillah, Hear my voice, ye wives of Lamech; but he should have said, my wives! But such is the Scriptural idiom — so here too, it is the Scriptural idiom. (Sanhedrin 38b)

Yeshua (Jesus) in my Soup

soup cup copyThis evening after Shabbat I was alerted to a very serious situation which if true could rock my world! Here I refer to an ordinary every day thing which hides an earth shattering truth that most Israelis and Jews in particular have been blind to on a daily basis for centuries!! Imagine the Chutzpah as I was about to enjoy what I thought was a perfectly kosher instant soup!

How could I be so blind and foolish when the book of Revelation written in Greek calls both the Christian god (Jesus), the Messianic god (Yeshua) and the ‘almighty god’; the Alpha (Α) and the Omega (Ω), the first and the last….letters in the Greek alphabet.

Now just how the Alpha (Α) and the Omega (Ω), the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet can be equated with the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet; aleph (א) and tav (ת) I do not know. May be I am being just too fussy about this point. May be its just case of belieeeeeeeving it? Even though there is that nothing earlier than 125CE which exists in terms of the smallest fragmentary piece of NT Greek and earliest complete NT documents date from 350CE. As to an existing Hebrew NT, well ……forget about it!

soup caption copy

We removed (Yeshua/ Jesus) the noodles and added croutons!

The equating of course is no doubt the latest development for those in the Christian and Messianic movements hell bent on converting Jews to one of the many brands of what is essentially ‘Christian’, even though some Messianic movements swear blind they are ‘different’. The benefit of the equating is that a survey of the Jewish Scriptures shows the ‘aleph tav’ (את) or Jesus/ Yeshua is bouncing off nearly every page of the Jewish Scriptures. And now Jesus/ Yeshua is bouncing off my soup packet too, apparently.

Of course the grammatical has to be ignored in order to have Jesus in your soup too. The ‘aleph tav’ (את) however, is a Hebrew grammatical sign of the definite direct object, not translated in English but generally preceding and indicating the accusative. A direct object is a noun or pronoun that receives the action of a verb or shows the result of the action. It answers the question “What?” or “Whom?” after an action verb.

בְּרֵאשִׁית, בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ

In the beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1

The ‘aleph tav’ highlighted in bold tells us who (G-d/ אֱלֹהִים) created (בָּרָא) the heavens (הַשָּׁמַיִם) and the earth (הָאָרֶץ).

The grammatical of course is largely ignored by those Christians and messianics and in fact does not appear hardly at all in most web sites of the Christian and Messianic movements. In view of the fundamental grammatical use of the ‘aleph tav’ no wonder the ‘aleph tav’ is found on nearly every page of the Hebrew Scriptures, without ‘aleph tav’ one would not know who is doing what!

Knowing the grammatical usage of ‘aleph tav’ means that Jesus / Yeshua is no longer in my soup. Instead of reading:

We removed (Yeshua/ Jesus) noodles and added crutons!

I can be rest assured that the manufacturers have removed just the noodles and I have croutons instead of noodles! Just to drive the point home of the mis-usage of the Aleph Tav. In a nutshell the Aleph Tav is telling me who removed the noodles. If Aleph-Tav really translates as “Yeshua”, then the Messianics have a BIG problem!

Gen. 9:22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw YESHUA the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
Ex. 8:26 And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice YESHUA the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God: lo, shall we sacrifice YESHUA the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us?
Lev. 26:40 If they shall confess YESHUA their iniquity, and YESHUA the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me;

Take those Pictures down, Islam is a religion of Peace!

Those viral images of murdered Jews

November 18, 2014, 11:06 pm

On Facebook, the shock and horror flowed, as news updates, videos, tweets, and nightmarish images began to surface.  Though I think Israelis and Jerusalemites were particularly hard hit, you did not have to be either in order to be horrified by unapologetically uncensored images of Jewish men in tallis and tefillin lying dead on the tiled synagogue floor.

These images went viral. Facebook was covered in Jewish blood, outrage, and sorrow today.

I had a few discussions with people as to whether this was appropriate.  Should the gore of today’s Arab terror attack be fodder for social media?  There were those who were really offended by the graphic and glaring imagery, others felt it should be as public as possible.

One of my friends posted the following today:

I like to consider myself a rational human being but today I frequently feel as if my emotions are overtaking me and I feel like I’m losing my rationality; fear, anger, frustration. I keep trying to bring myself back to reality and mourn for these kedoshim [holy people] and feel the pain of my fellow Jews -our friends and family – which is what we should be doing. I see on Facebook many people posting the pictures of the tragedy which only helps to perpetuate the irrational emotions I am feeling and must believe that everyone else is being affected this same way. Why add to our pains? It does not help. Maybe you don’t realize the fact that you’re using the pictures of these holy people and this sad tragedy without considering how you would feel if it was your spouse, child or sibling lying in blood that was being posted all over the internet.

Please be sensible, these Jews and their families are our families.

I think these feelings are certainly valid, but I do not exactly hold them. I am not offended by the images, and am glad they have gone viral.

B2tGIY5CcAAb1VfFirst, I think the people who post these images do not see today’s event as a “tragedy” – they see it as a barbaric, unforgivable, and disturbingly frequent crime against the Jewish people. They therefore relate a little differently to the images.  Showing images of a “tragedy” would be something like gratuitously splaying out the pictures of someone ravaged by illness, harmed in a car wreck or some other unfortunate occurrence.  Today’s murders were not unfortunate. They were terrorism.  This evokes justifiable anger in some people, and they want to evoke that outrage in others.  Censoring the images is akin to silencing them – and they deserve to speak their truth.

Secondly, I think the people posting the images actually think that total emotional outrage and severe personal discomfort are the right feelings to be having today, not something we should be working so quickly to wipe up and bury.  Let the upset fester for a while. Is it disturbing to see the picture of a Jewish grandfather lying in a pool of his own blood, after he got up early to learn Torah, pray to God, and get out while the morning was still fresh? Yes? Good. Because that happened to someone today.  Let’s take a good, long look at it.  We cannot turn away from Jerusalem’s reality – there it is, in black and white and red.

People who shared the images are not trying to assist people in reaching acceptance and mourning the dead, but rather desire to put the harsh reality in front of people’s eyes, so they cannot escape into the usual poignant and passive mourning that we typically employ. Mourning and sorrow are certainly appropriate.  But they cannot be the end of today’s story.  Our predecessors sacrificed and we continue to build this state to protect the Jewish people so that we don’t have to mourn things like this anymore.  Many people who posted the images of the murders want people to be shocked – into action, into protest, into solidarity against a cruel enemy.  Into anything but the default for the last 2,000 years – somber and soulful acceptance.

And yes, they DO think it helps. At the very least, they are not ready to say that it doesn’t. Just ask the guys at CNN and BBC who spent all summer f̶a̶b̶r̶i̶c̶a̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ publicizing images from Gaza.  You can talk about an atrocity until you’re blue in the face – it will never compare to coming eyeball to eyeball with the image.  Some people think we need to snap out of it and face reality – and these images will force people to do that.

Lastly, the toughest question – what would you do if it were “your family member”?  Tfoo tfoo tfoo, I can’t even begin to imagine the nightmare of any of this for members of the families.  In this, we are in agreement – their pain is our pain. Their family is our family.  But if I were them, G-d forbid, I think I would understand that my brethren are not sharing images of my dear departed for some sick or gratuitous purpose.  I hope that I would understand that they were doing this to express their shock and horror, to express their outrage, to hold this injustice up to the eyes of the nation and the world and force them to take it in so that maybe it could be prevented in the future.

I was one of the people who shared those images today. I hope I never have to again.

More dishonest reporting from the BBC in the context of the murdered four:

“A prominent rabbi and leading campaigner was shot and wounded last month by a Palestinian in Jerusalem at a key religious compound in the city.
The compound – known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif – is the holiest site in Judaism, while the al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam.”

The key religious compound where Yehidah Glick was shot is Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem NOT the Temple mount.

Christianity and the Messianic Offshoot Twisting those Jewish Scriptures

By Menashe Dovid

This new section of the blog highlights how the Jewish Scriptures are twisted by Christianity and Messianic Judaism (the same thing as Christianity) who take their lead from no other than the New Testament itself. Here is an example in point:

26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” Rom 11 NKJV

Now compare where it comes from in the same Christian bible translation:

20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion, And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” Says the Lord. Isaiah 59:20 NKJV

See how they are completely opposite? In the twisted version, Paul makes his case for a divine messiah who does it all for you on the basis that a person is incapable of doing anything (cf John 6:44). The correct version as per Isaiah 59:20 has individual persons turning from their transgressions! In contradistinction to Paul’s twisting of scripture we have a clear indication in the following which says we can turn fom our own transgressions ourselves!

6 And the LORD said unto Cain: ‘Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shall it not be lifted up? and if thou doest not well, sin coucheth at the door; and unto thee is its desire, but thou mayest rule over it.‘ Gen 4

Mastery over sin is possible, indeed as keeping the law is possible too (see Deut 30:11-14).

A Modern day Deception

See the subtle agenda in the screen shot for a messianic proselytizing agenda below? The subtle agenda would like us Jews to think that messiah = savior = sacrifice.


In the English of the website it says Messiah comes, if your not careful you would think that the Hebrew version of the site says the same thing. The difference is by just one letter (at the end) but that one letter makes all the difference! Notice it says משיע but really it should be משיח (messiah). The first as it is shown on the Hebrew web page says savior (משיע) and the second in the English says messiah! A subtle difference because both משיח (messiah) and savior (משיע) are very similarly pronounced but are in fact very different words!

Moreover, the idea of savior in the NT conveys the idea that one is saved from ones sins and so the fusion of messiah (משיח) with savior (משיע)(Jesus / Yeshua) is very deceptive indeed. However, a look up of the word משיע (savior) in the Jewish scriptures shows up over 250 times and consistently carries the idea of being saved from ones enemies and NOT to be saved from sin! The point about sin is that G-d has given us mastery over it and where one needs forgiveness G-d has provided repentance which effects his forgiveness. What you do does count, especially when it comes to repentance but do  not take my word for it:

12 “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people: ‘The righteousness of the righteous man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because of his righteousness in the day that he sins.’ 13 When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die. 14 Again, when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, 15 if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 16 None of his sins which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live. Ezek 33

To embrace Christianity means, not only to embrace Jesus as the promised King who will rule at in the messianic age (as the Jewish Scriptures describe the messiah), but rather to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, the second and equal member of the Trinity, who lived on earth and needed to die on the cross for your sins. You are also embracing the belief that without Jesus your repentance has no value in front of G-d as (according to the Greek Scriptures) human repentance has no efficacy in front of G-d (contrary to open teachings of the Jewish Scriptures i.e Ezekiel 33:10-16.)

This is not a matter of selecting your preferred candidate for president, it’s about redefining whom you worship as G-d and what G-d requires from you. I’m pleading with you with all my heart and soul, please take the time to make sure you understand what you are being asked to reject and embrace before making any life altering decision.

May the G-d of Abraham Isaac and Jacob lead you to His Truth as you continue to seek Him in truth.

The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. (Psalm 145:18) Rabbi Eli Cohen

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