Going Overboard

Finding Jesus / Yeshua in your prayer book and even your instant soup is nothing these days when one considers the barrage of nonsense which sporadically plops out of the organs of  the messers of so-called Messianic Judaism. Most stuff that plops out is often re-cycled, The Suffering Messiah in the Prayers of Yom Kippur Discover First Fruits of Zionhowever, some stuff may be relatively new and of course points out what has been obvious to the Rabbis for centuries. The Rabbis of course were just too blind to see it!! Then again some folks make such embarrassing attempts of fitting Jesus into almost anything Jewish, one really does wonder if it is worthwhile responding. The lack of response to such embarrassing attempts of fitting Jesus into almost anything Jewish is often translated as yet again the Jews are blinded or do not have answer to such startling revelations.

Then of course there are the more sophisticated attempts, what I call the nudge nudge wink wink say no more (NNWWSNM) approach. To the not too discerning reader, the NNWWSNM approach of course reveals expressions and deliberate silences in ‘messianic’ narratives which are often used to convince readers of the crimes of Rabbis and their deceptions. Fortunately it does not need much IQ  to realize an ulterior motive of the messy article at hand.

The latest offering of course coming at the time just before Yom Kippor courtesy of First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ). FFOZ the highly financed and slick publisher of ‘authoritative’ information disguised in the very best traditions of the NNWWSNM approach. Here is pointed out that during the Yom Kippor service in the Synagogue:


The ‘enhanced’ Kedusha found in the back of YK Machzorim (E.g. see Artscroll Machzor page 827.) includes in some versions several verses beginning with Az Milifnei Vereshit.

The intensity of Mussaf reaches its most climactic moment at the prayer called the Kedushah, in which we raise our voices in concert with the angelic multitudes who constantly surround God throne, crying, “Holy, holy, holy!” Thus we sanctify God’s name on earth just as it is sanctified by the angels in heaven.

Here, at the Kedushah, is the moment that catches you by surprise. The prayer leader (called the chazzan) suddenly begins to describe how the Messiah, through his intense suffering, piercing, and wounds, procures forgiveness for our sins.

Now comes the all too familair blind Rabbi/ congregation bit:

The rabbi does not stir or act alarmed. The congregation continues in fervent prayer as if nothing unusual has happened. That is because this is a portion of a common Yom Kippur prayer called Az Milifnei Vereshit [1] that has been used in synagogues for centuries.

To add authenticity, to the idea that the ‘blind’ congregation continues in fervent prayer as if nothing unusual has happened is supported by an honest admission at least:

The existence and use of this prayer does not prove that Yeshua is the Messiah and that the rabbis have known it all along. Rather, it shows that the concept of Messiah’s suffering is intrinsic to historic Jewish thought. Anti-missionaries “set a stumbling block before the blind,” so to speak, when they deny the idea that Judaism teaches that the Messiah suffers and bears our sin.

Does the prayer include direct reference to Isaiah 53? Of course it does! Is there a smattering of Rabbinical sources to indicate that parts of Isaiah 53 refer not only to a messiah but to other biblical characters such a Moses and even post biblical characters? Of course there are[1a].

Do Jews from their own sources know what Isaiah 53 refers to, of course they do! Jews know the sources are replete in the vast majority of cases to identifying the Servant as Israel by direct references to scripture:

Isaiah 53:11 says “my righteous servant shall make many righteous.” We have just such an expression in the Book of Daniel regarding Daniel’s people Israel. Daniel 12:1b-3.

“At that time your people will escape, everyone found written in the book. Many among those sleeping in the dust of the ground will awake, some to the life of eternity and others to shame and to the contempt of eternity. And the prudent will shine like the brilliance of the firmament, and those who make many righteous like the stars, for eternity and ever.”

To give another example, Isaiah 53:11 says “my righteous servant shall make many righteous and carry their iniquities.” This language comes from the operation of Israel’s sanctuary. It was the duty of Israel’s priests to carry[3] the iniquity of others. Leviticus 10:16-17.

“Concerning the goat of the sin-offering Moshe diligently inquired. There it was ― ablaze. He was angry with Elazar and with Itamar the surviving sons of Aaron. He said, ‘Why did you not eat the sin-offering in a sacred place, for it is most holy? And it was given you in order to carry the iniquity of the congregation, to make expiation on them before the L-rd.’”

Numbers 18:1 is also explicit in this connection.

“The L-rd said to Aaron, ‘You, your sons, and your father’s house with you shall carry the iniquity of the sanctuary; you and your sons with you shall carry the iniquity of your priesthood.’”

Carrying the iniquity of others is also a prophetic gesture. Ezekiel 4:4-6.

“And you shall lie on your left side and place the iniquity of the house of Israel on it, the number of which you lie on it you will carry their iniquity. I have given you the years of their iniquity, according to the number of days, three hundred and ninety days. And you shall carry the iniquity of the house of Israel. And you shall finish these, then you shall lie on your right side, and you shall carry the iniquity of the house of Judah, forty days, a day for a year, one day per year I have imposed on you.”

During the exile, the children of Israel complain that their punishment is too severe, because they’re carrying the iniquity of previous generations.

“Our fathers sinned and they are no more, and we are carrying their iniquities.” [Lamentations 5:7]

In order to end the exile, the L-rd calls his righteous servant to resume Israel’s original mission task of carrying the iniquity of others. This is what priests do, and Israel is a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6).

Understanding the context of sacrifices and the wider understanding of what sacrifice achieves and what it does not helps us to understand the dangers of other non-Israelite and/ or Christian ideas, with respect to sacrifices. A danger being that of idolatry by worship of created things instead of the creator by making the sacrifice and ‘the blood’ the sole object of worship. The Jewish scriptures clearly teach against the idea of a substitutionary atonement and instead, stress the importance of an individual’s and a nation’s responsibility for sin and taking appropriate action.

20 The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them. 21 “But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die. 22 None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live. 23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked (?), declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? Ezek 18:20-22

The earliest ‘biblical’ expression of a vicarious substitution for universal sin ONLY occurs within New Testament [Romans 5:18; John 1:29 and 1 John 2:2] and not within the Hebrew Bible. It is however, the Christian’s prior doctrinal commitments projected onto and applied to the Hebrew Bible in general and Isaiah 53 in particular which Christians assume is G-d’s message to every sinner and to the Jews especially. To add to the mix the Christian’s prior doctrinal commitments are now being projected onto Jewish prayer books.


אנא means ‘please’ in Hebrew

In contradistinction, Christianity makes belief in Jesus doing all the work for the sinner on the cross the sole basis for its religion. The reality and truth are that nobody ‘takes it’ for anyone with respect to sin, rather each and everyone is responsible for their sins and Teshuvah (as evidenced by subsequent righteous things they have done) is what brings life NOT some inherent magical power in death, blood, flower and incense etc.[2].

The major foundational component of atonement that is missing from Christianity is how Teshuvah (repentance) is initiated at least by the death and/ or suffering of someone else or even a nation. Suffering of someone else or a nation to initiate Teshuvah is never vicarious or substitutionary, however! Teshuvah of the Kings of nations, as with case of Isaiah[3] for example, is elicited by virtue of the Kings witnessing the death and/ or suffering of the servant nation Israel. Therefore, in God’s plan, Israel’s sufferings have been to the benefit of the other nations at least in part to an acknowledgment by the nations that Israel has been the true servant of God all along!

Animal sacrifice has always been permitted and post Sinai only under extremely limited and controlled circumstances as to time, place[4] 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 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.

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!

The question is when will these messianics cease to project their essentially Christian prior doctrinal commitments onto our people, our books, think we Jews are blind and are incapable of knowing what our books say? What have we been saying all along in our prayer books every morning, do messianics and Christians think we do not know?:

Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance: When they were but a few men in number; yea, very few, and strangers in it. When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people; He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes; Saying, Touch not my messiahs (בִמְשִׁיחָי), and do my prophets no harm. Psalm 105:11-15 See 1 Chron 16:22 and Artscroll weekday Siddur page 61)

The concept of a sole Messiah’s suffering being intrinsic to historic Jewish thought is erroneous when Jews as G-d’s Messiahs throughout history are ignored and eclisped by a Magic Messiah imposed upon them through the nonesense proposed by so called Messianic Judaism. The job description of any Messiah is to lead people to a closer connection with G-d and not to be a replacement for G-d by the Magic Messiah a la messianic Judaism/ Christianity.



1a. The first book of the Talmud – Brachot page 5a (compiled between app 220 and 300 CE) applies Is 53 to the people of Israel and those who study Torah; Sanhedrin 98b in the Babylonian Talmud applies Is 53:4 to the Messiah and applies Is 53:12 to Moses in Sotah 14a; The Jerusalem Talmud (Shekalim 5:1) applies Isaiah 53:12 to Rabbi Akiva.

1. FFOZ translation of Az Milifnei Vereshit:

Then, prior to creation,
he established the Temple and Yinnon.

The Talpiot above from the beginning,
he prepared before any people or language.

He decided to let his presence reside there,
to guide the mistaken in straight paths.

If the wicked are reddened (by sin),
let them wash and be cleansed beforehand.

If (God’s) fierce wrath is incited,
the Holy One will not awaken his full rage.

So far, our wealth has depleted,
but our Rock has not touched us.

Our righteous Messiah has turned away from us;
we have acted foolishly and there is no one to justify us.

Our iniquities and the yoke of our transgressions
he bears, and he is pierced for our transgressions.

He carries our sins on his shoulder,
to find forgiveness for our iniquities.

By his wounds we are healed,
forever a new creation; the time of his creation.

Bring him up from the circle;
lift him out of Seir.

To summon us to the mount of Lebanon
a second time through Yinnon.

2.Flour to atone (Lev 5;12-15), Incense to atone (Num 17:11-13), Charity (Prov 10:2, 11:4, 16:6, 21:3, Hos 6:6, Dan 4:27), Silver (Ex 30:15), Repentance (Lev 26:40-42, Ezek 18:21-32), Jewelry (Num 31:50), Righteousness and Charity (Dan 4:24, 9:18), Post Temple period without blood and Jesus (Isaiah 27:9, 40:1, Ezek 33:11-16).

3. “Kings shall shut their mouths at him. For what was not told them, they shall see. And what they did not hear, they shall observe. ‘Who would have believed our report? Upon whom has the arm of the L-rd been revealed?’ He arose before him like a sucker, like a root out of dry ground. He had no visage and no majesty. ‘We saw him, and there was no appearance that we should find him pleasing. He was despised and shunned by men, a man of sufferings and familiar with sickness; like one who hides his face from us. He was despised, and we held him of no account.’” (Isaiah 52:15b-53:3)

Did Former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks Misspeak?

Rabbi Sacks demanded action, not surrender, at the Herzliya Conference.
Published: Sunday, June 14, 2015 7:39 AM

BY Jack Engelhard

Back in the 1930s Zeev Jabotinsky warned his fellow Jews to “vacate Europe before Europe vacates you.”

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks had exactly that in mind when he spoke at Herzliya in what his detractors now call his “gloom and doom speech.”

They misunderstand. Rabbi Sacks told the harsh truth and let the chips fall where they may.

Like King Solomon in Ecclesiastes he indulged in prophetic despair. Tradition is on his side. Being critical is a Talmudic trademark and on Torah and Talmud Rabbi Sacks is a scholar of top rank. Many of us who use the computer as an added form of study to this day eagerly await his timely commentaries – always brilliant.

But was Rabbi Sacks really in despair, or is “disgust” the word we want? Rabbi Sacks knows Europe. When he says it’s time to leave, the wise start packing.

A generation ago many packed too late.

A prophet, according to Abraham Heschel, is someone who knows what time it is.
(I am not in his league on Torah scholarship, but on Europe and the midnight knock on the door, trust me, on this I speak as an authority.)

First let’s remember who we’re talking about. Of all the great European Rabbinic intellects, it was Sacks who was chosen as Chief Rabbi of the British Empire. He served this post with great honor and distinction from 1991 to 2013. He retired with laurels from non-Jews and Jews alike.

This is a man who walks with Princes. Kings, Queens and Archbishops learn from him.

When a man of this caliber speaks, we are warned to listen to each word and hasten to his lamentations.

His remarks at the Herzliya conference have been reduced, mostly by his critics, as being a call to “surrender.”

That is a total misunderstanding and misreading of his message.

Quite the opposite from surrender is what he had in mind. He demanded action.

What exactly did he say? He said that BDS and others of that ilk have created a “divisive” atmosphere for Jewish supporters of Israel.

He said “Jews have been faced with a choice: live in Europe and criticize Israel or be silent – or leave Europe.”

From France, Rashi would have said it just as crisply. From Spain, Yehudah Halevi who saw it coming a thousand years ago would have applauded.

Once again the fate of a people hangs in the balance. This was no time to be indirect, subtle or polite. Rabbi Sacks gave it straight, no sugar added.

A prophet, according to Abraham Heschel, is someone who knows what time it is.

Rabbi Sacks would be the first to deny prophecy for himself. But Rabbi Sacks knows what time it is.

On the one hand, Sacks was rebuking Europe, saying – again? Have you learned nothing? One Holocaust wasn’t enough?

come homeRabbi Sacks was speaking directly to his fellow Europeans. He minced no words registering his disgust.

Mostly though, he was talking to the Jews of Europe. He gave them a choice clearly enough, simply, that once again the place is unsafe.

It’s as bad as it ever was. Silence? Never an option.

So, time to do what? Surrender? No, not at all.

“Leave Europe,” he said. There is no other choice. There is no Plan B. That was his point, precisely and emphatically.

Leave, go to Israel, make Aliya. Act now! Europe is finished. Israel is waiting.

Those who misunderstand do so, once again, at their own peril. Rabbi Sacks got it exactly right.

Flogging a Dead Horse

In a resurrection of a previous two part article fired down previously we have a question re-posed as “Who Is Doing The Harming?” by Israel Medad in regards to yet another Christian of the we do not proselatise camp by the name of  Laurie Cardoza-Moore. Laurie Cardoza-Moore heads up the web-site Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN). Part of the prestigious major donors and international advisory board is Jay Schottenstein one of the main contributors, along with his family, to the Schottenstein Edition of the Babylonian Talmud. So we have some big hitters here!!

Laurie Cardoza-Moore is no stranger to the messianic Judaism camp which includes El Shadai Ministries:

el shad

Laurie Cardoza-Moore

But of course you may say what harm does it do, so what that she appeared at a messianic service, after all she is a Christian is she not? The problem of course is a two edged one. On the one hand a question hangs over her; does she really advocate that her organization does not have the agenda of converting Jews to one of the many brands of Christianity out there which includes the likes of El Shaddai Ministries too?

On the other hand in the confusion it is forgotten in just a stones throw away that we have the likes of El Shaddai ministries and HaYovel who all have the insane belief that they are part an parcel of:

the prophetic RESTORATION of the land of Israel that is happening TODAY!…….. We give thanks to God Almighty who, by His great mercy has allowed us to take part in the restoration of Israel!

Moreover, the holy ground created by this neutrality of non-proselytization is such that we are, if we are to be deemed as ‘good Jews’ will not even mention the odd slip up of missionary zeal that sometimes plops out[1],[2] of the various organs of these pro-Israel/ Zionism groups. The nerve of the pro-Israel/ Zionism groups even extends to demanding the removal[3] of the word ‘missionary’ from one of their videos which plainly demonstrate their missionising agenda.

In other words we Jews [just the ordinary types] are supposed to play along with the double standards of these pro-Israel/ Zionism groups. Further, the muti-million dollar success[4] of the HaYovel and others should also make us keep our mouths shut too to the sometimes well hidden missionizing agenda of these groups, less the money dries up!

The problem of course is that Cardoza-Moore’s own theological stand comes with some extra heavy “biblical” baggage:

“The Bible is clear from Genesis to Revelation that God will keep His Covenant with His people, all Israel. The Apostle Paul confirms that truth in the book of Romans, Chapters 9 -11. Christians are grafted into that Covenant through Jesus. The Apostle Paul said in Galatians 3:29, “If you are in Christ, you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.” The promise Paul was referring to is the same promise God made to Abraham in Genesis, and then repeated it to Isaac and Jacob. Paul further stated in Ephesians 2:11-13, that we, Gentiles in the flesh, were once outside of the commonwealth of Israel, but because of Jesus’ shed blood, we have been brought into the commonwealth of Israel.”

Yisrael Medad blah blahIn the Torah, there are many references to “the strangers who dwell among you” or “righteous strangers.” Israel society has always made provisions for non-Israelites to worship the G-d of Israel allowing either full conversion to Israeli citizenship or for people to selectively choose what they may wish to observe of the Torah [whilst dwelling with the people of God] short of circumcision/ full conversion and citizenship. Such a system to allow non-Israelites to worship the G-d of Israel is even identified in the New Testament with the non-Israelites referred to as G-d fearers. G-d fearers are referenced in the New Testament’s Book of Acts in Acts 13:16, which describe the Apostolic Age of the 1st century CE.

The evangelical paradigm, however, introduced by Paul according to the New Testament, with the coming of Jesus, changed everything! Now, according to the prevailing evangelical paradigm, all of these Jews AND non-Israelites were fundamentally lost, unless and until they accept Jesus as their personal savior. The evangelical paradigm still to this day requires Jews AND non-Israelites to accept Jesus as their personal savior or they are doomed [See Mark 16:16, John 3:18, 5:24, 1 Corinthians 1:18].

Moreover, the evangelical paradigm asserts that full citizens of Israel, to the exclusion of any previously held beliefs and parameters of Israeli citizenship are now changed. Instead, Israeli citizens are only believers of Jesus and his ‘does it all, once and for all’ sacrifice.

In contradistinction the bottom line has always been that non-Israelites (who do not want to convert fully) are allowed to reside as residents of the nation of Israel by believing in the G-d of Israel AND forsaking idolatry which in today’s terms means forsaking Jesus/ Yeshua.

The New Testament in an idolatrous attempt via Paul which annuls and ‘upgrades’ the revelation of the will of G-d (Torah) by its promotion of Jesus and the receiving of the Holy Spirit turning Shavuot into Pentecost, the ‘old’ into the ‘new’ testament etc…

Ruth however, did not ‘upgrade’ by virtue of belief in a divine/ human messiah for her citizenship because no such thing is mandated in the Torah. Rather Ruth chose the requirements of law for citizenship as shown in the Torah (i.e. 613 commandments):

12 And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? 14 To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 Yet the LORD set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today. Deut 10

The promise of Paul is a new manufactured promise and is NOT the same promise God made to Abraham in Genesis. It is very important to understand what Paul has created:

In Galatians 5:1, Jesus has freed all believers from something Paul calls “a yoke of slavery”. In context this verse is the culmination of Paul’s allegory on Christian freedom (4:21-31). In Paul’s allegory the yoke of slavery is the burden of the whole Old Covenant.

“Tell me, you who want to live under the law, do you know what the law actually says?” (4:21).

Yisrael Medad idiotWhat “law” is Paul referring to? He continues, “For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman” (v.22). Where is this written? In one of the five books of Moses that contains all the law. This story is not from some ceremonial section of the law of the Old Covenant. It is found in the book of Genesis chapter 16. In Galatians 4:24 it is as clear as crystal that Hagar represents the Old Covenant established at Mt. Sinai which covenant means slavery for its children. “These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.” In v. 28 Paul says that his fellow believers are not children of this Old Covenant yoke of slavery, but are the children of New Covenant freedom. In v. 30 Paul tells Christians to “cast out” Hagar who represents the Old Covenant of slavery. What does this accomplish? “Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman” (v. 31). Christians are free from all the laws of the Old Covenant not just the ceremonial ones. The “yoke of slavery” referred to in 5:1 must be the same yoke of slavery that Paul has been referring to in 4:21-31 and that is the whole Old Covenant. “These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.” Were only the ceremonial commandments from Mount Sinai? No, the Ten Commandments and all the other commandments were from Mount Sinai. Hagar represents the entire Old Covenant and Christians are to cast out that entire covenant in order to become children of freedom.

In sum, Laurie Cardoza-Moore and The Apostle Paul’s claim that “If you are in Christ, you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise” is fundamentally wrong because Paul advocates the rejection of the Torah by the new belief in Jesus. Paul additionally changes any previously practiced parameters and criteria of Israeli citizenship and replaces them with new parameters which graft gentiles in to Israeli citizenship. Gentiles and apostate Jews are BOTH deceived if they think they are full Citizens of Israel by being believers of Jesus/ Yeshua.

I think we all know who is doing the harming to the Jewish people!!


[1] see http://jewishisrael.ning.com/profiles/blogs/comment-confusion-on-jewish-press-icej-idf-article

[2] http://jewishisrael.ning.com/video/avi-mizrachi-speaks-at-the-ticej-2014-feas

[3] http://jewishisrael.ning.com/profiles/blogs/jewishisrael-s-counter-missionary-of-the-month-award-goes-to-miss

[4] The results of the 2014 harvest labor of Hayovel volunteers was 438 tons of grapes which should produce at least 258,000 bottles of wine. Since 2004, they harvested over 2000 tons of grapes and olives which represents 156,000 work hours, saving labor costs of $1,100,000.

The Sisterhood

August 21, 2015

By Rachel Wizenfeld

Orthodox Feminism

This week I read Rachel Rosenthal’s open letter to Rabbi Willig expressing her frustration and anger about his views on women learning Talmud. I have sympathy for Ms. Rosenthal’s frustration and agree with her that it is in everyone’s best interest to have smart, educated observant Jewish women.

But Rabbi Willig’s main point was that Talmud study is problematic because it leads to women’s ordination and egalitarian minyanim, which he believes are damaging to the foundations of Orthodoxy. Rosenthal neglected to confront that point, though based on the fact that she participates in a partnership minyan I imagine she would disagree.

The Nishmat Yoatzot.

Counselors, who help women uncomfortable with asking rabbis about intimate matters, are taking pains to distance themselves from controversial maharats. Maharat is a term for a female leader in Judaism. The word maharat is a Hebrew acronym for words manhiga hilkhatit rukhanit Toranit (Hebrew: מנהיגה הלכתית רוחנית תורנית‎) denoting a female “leader of Jewish law spirituality and Torah”.

However I’d like to explain why I, an Orthodox woman who also cares strongly about female empowerment, agree with Rabbi Willig that female ordination and partnership minyanim are damaging to Orthodoxy, and not just due to the halachic reasons that (male) rabbis keep espousing.

Consider why Joanne Rowling penned her Harry Potter books under the name J.K. Rowling to attract more boy readers. Or why Pinterest has had to pull out the stops to overcome its scrapbooking persona to attract more male users. Or why Conservative and Reform rabbinic schools, so I’ve been told, have to do special outreach to attract and recruit qualified male candidates, while being inundated with stellar female applicants.

For better or for worse, men like their boy’s clubs. They’re attracted to environments and experiences that are inherently male. Put a woman at the helm of a synagogue and you’ll probably see what I’ve witnessed after teaching at Conservative Sunday schools and at the occasional Hillel I’ve passed through—a few good, sensitive men coupled with lots of spiritual-seeking women. Whether it’s from mere discomfort around women or buried chauvinism, the reality is that most men relate best to male leaders. It takes a rare man who can sit at the feet of a woman scholar to drink in her wisdom.

While you can legitimately argue that women shouldn’t be limited in their leadership potential simply because men like to hang out together, I don’t think that men should be written out of the religious sphere either, which is likely to happen once women enter the rabbinate. Judaism can’t afford the disengagement of Orthodox Jewish men as has been seen in the decreasing involvement of Conservative and Reform men (read “The Diminishing Role of Jewish Men in Jewish Life” for more on this issue). This same phenomenon has been echoed in professions, such as teaching and even psychology, where women are more likely to predominate. But the world is not going to suffer from a plethora of qualified female psychologists or teachers, or doctors or lawyers. And men can always be encouraged back to careers with financial incentives and good job opportunities, if needed. But religion doesn’t have the same financial incentive that careers do, making it a more vulnerable system. And it’s also more vital and central to our lives. So if men need this to be a boy’s club to participate, then I say go ahead and claim it.

Conservatives ordain 3 female rabbis in Jerusalem

But there’s another, more obvious reason why I don’t think women should be rabbis. It became clear to me one night as my husband and I watched a YouTube clip of a female Reform rabbi delivering a speech. I found the story she told both poignant and uplifting. But when I turned to my husband to discuss it, he said, “You know, just the fact that she’s a woman made it really distracting for me.” This female rabbi wasn’t a stunner, but neither was she ugly. She was modestly dressed, had a cheerful voice and upbeat speaking style, and guess what? She distracted my sweet, sincere husband. He’s not the type to objectify women. His primary mentor is a highly accomplished and successful aunt, and I’ve seen him deeply respect the opinions, insights and ideas of many different women over the years. But like it or not, men are often attracted to women, especially when those women are wearing stylish wigs and Shabbat clothes and make-up. For many Orthodox men, the synagogue service is a break from the constant stress of interacting with often-attractive women in the workplace and the street, and a chance to focus their minds on G-d and prayer. To interrupt that spiritual oasis for the purpose of giving women the position of rabbi or Rabba isn’t an equation that evens out in my mind. It’s an “It’s not you, it’s me,” situation. “Dear women who want to be rabbis: I barely know what I’m saying when I pray. Please don’t make me even more distracted.”

It’s no secret that men are more sexually attracted to women then vice versa. I’ve never heard of a woman who was distracted by a male rabbi’s sermon due to his being good-looking. And any man who says that he wouldn’t be distracted by a female rabbi is probably in denial, or has become overwhelmingly desensitized to female sexuality, probably due to overexposure. That desensitization is precisely what Orthodox Judaism tries to avoid: we want husbands and wives to have passionate, romantic relationships with each other instead of lukewarm marriages in which the power of physicality has been diluted. Having more female rabbis might accustom men to being less distracted, but that’s an inherent negative because Judaism sees desensitization as a lose-lose.

Obviously these points won’t resonate with women who feel shut out, shut down, voiceless and abused by the male-led religious society called Orthodox Judaism. To those women, I hear your pain. I’ve felt some of that same hurt. But it’s not the Orthodox way to push halachic norms into uncharted territory when things get uncomfortable. It’s to work within the system, broken as it may seem, to find meaning and empowerment in a way that can resonate with you.

I concede that there’s an inherent disrespect that’s bound to come from a society in which all the religious leaders are male. That’s why there’s an onus on our rabbinic leadership to take an active role in soliciting the concerns of Jewish women and empowering us to have a say in areas which affect us. Instead of writing so many articles about the dangers of female ordination, why not take the time to consider how to inspire and empower the next generation of Orthodox women and girls? That’s what I think is missing from Rabbi Willig’s piece – an acknowledgement of some of the purer forces that drive women to learn Talmud and seek ordination, and a discussion on how those needs can be met in more halachically permissible ways.

Yes, Ms. Rosenthal, on the surface it seems weird that women can be anything today — doctors, artists, lawyers, bankers, teachers — and yet can’t be Orthodox rabbis. I’ve thought about that discrepancy quite often. But I decided that I’m completely okay with it. I find it a price I can pay to keep the men in my life engaged and enthusiastic about their Judaism while allowing me the opportunity to pursue service of God in an empowered, respectful fashion. And to the women who insist they can’t be empowered without pursuing the rabbinate, I fundamentally disagree. There are numerous paths within Judaism to find true empowerment, if you only look for them. Whether it’s as a teacher, principal, politician, advocate, synagogue president, or Torah scholar. And these are all achieved without the high cost of causing Orthodox men to become distracted at prayer and disengaged from Jewish life.

Rachel Wizenfeld writes on women’s issues, parenting, education and more for a variety of Jewish publications. She lives with her family in Los Angeles.

Yeshua the Worm!?

There is a species of oak with the fancy Latin name of Quercus infectoria (Quercus boissier), called in Hebrew by the corresponding name tola oak because of the crimson worm (tola) which lives off its branches.

Like most things in Judaism and in Israel, the crimson worm (תֹּולֵעָֽה, tola) is immediately pounced upon as being representative of Jesus / Yeshua. The abuse of psalm 22 verse 6 is a prime example.

But I am a worm (תּוֹלָע), and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. Psalm 22:6

Crimson worm

Now of course Psalm 22 is a well maligned psalm by the missionaries in their quest to convert Jews, even Christening it as the crucifixion psalm[1].

For dogs have encompassed me; a company of evildoers encircles me; like a lion (כָּאֲרִי), they are at my hands and feet. Psalm 22:17

The phrase “like a lion” is a direct translation of the Hebrew word “ke’ari (כָּאֲרִי).” Compare:

Lest he tear my soul like a lion (כְּאַרְיֵה), rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver. Psalms 7:3

To transform Psalms 22:17 into a “prophecy” of Jesus’ crucifixion, missionaries translate “ke’ari” (כָּאֲרִי) as “they have pierced my hands and feet.” Yet this is clearly a mistranslation[2], for the Psalmist continues:

Save me from the lion’s mouth (אַרְיֵה), for You have answered me from the horns of wild oxen. Psalms 22:22

The claims of Christians blinded by their New Testament theological projections onto the Jewish scriptures of course completely ignore any immediate context/ fulfillment of psalm 22 and what the Rabbis had to say about it.

An interesting understanding is that Psalm 22 alludes to Purim, an event which was to occur hundreds of years after David. It goes that David, with his ‘holy spirit’ foresaw the bleak Babylonian and Persian exiles in general, and in particular, the terrible threat of Haman and Ahashueros against the entire Jewish nation, personified by Queen Esther. Although there are countless events in Jewish history which David does discuss in the Book of Psalms, Alshich explains that David dedicated a Psalm to Esther because she personally had a hand in the salvation of Israel in her days. When David fled from Absalom, Shimei ben Gera of the tribe of Benjamin went out to viciously curse David. Yet, David would not allow his men to kill Shimei although he deserved death for blaspheming the king:

5 Now when King David came to Bahurim, there was a man from the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei the son of Gera, coming from there. He came out, cursing continuously as he came. 6 And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David. And all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. 7 Also Shimei said thus when he cursed: “Come out! Come out! You bloodthirsty man, you rogue! 8 The Lord has brought upon you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom your son. So now you are caught in your own evil, because you are a bloodthirsty man!”

9 Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please, let me go over and take off his head!”

10 But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? So let him curse, because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’”

11 And David said to Abishai and all his servants, “See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the Lord has ordered him. 12 It may be that the Lord will look on my affliction,[a] and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day.” 13 And as David and his men went along the road, Shimei went along the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, threw stones at him and kicked up dust. (II Sam. 16:5-13).

The Talmud (Megilla 13a) says that David foresaw that Mordecai [and Esther] was destined do descend from Shimei [Mordecai, son of Yair, son of Shimi) (Esther 2:5)] and being that the salvation of Israel was at stake, David forfeited his own dignity for the sake of saving his own people.

Now onto the Worms

Worm: Rima (רִמָּה) and crimson worm tolat (תוֹלַעַת)

In considering Psalm 22:6 and other passages in the Jewish scriptures we have a very interesting parallel between worms, men and G-d himself. The richness and the beauty of the Hebrew language as such allows for very precise definitions and general principles to be worked out so that any crazy ideas we may entertain may be eliminated. First a quote of Psalm 22:6 (verse 7 in Jewish ‘bibles’):

But I am a worm (תוֹלַעַת, tolat), and no man (אִישׁ, ish); a reproach of men (אָדָם, odom), and despised of the people (עָם).

וְאָנֹכִי תוֹלַעַת וְלֹא-אִישׁ; חֶרְפַּת אָדָם, וּבְזוּי עָם

A word for worm in Hebrew is Rima (רִמָּה) and for a specific crimson worm is a tolat (תוֹלַעַת). In terms of usage  Rima (רִמָּה)  is used seven times in seven verses and tolat (תוֹלַעַת) is used forty-three times in forty three verses. In two places both terms are used together:

Your pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of your stringed instruments: the worm (רִמָּה) is spread under you, and the worms (תּוֹלָע) cover you. Isa 14:11

How much less, man, who is a worm (רִמָּה), and the son of man (בן–אדם ben odom), who is crimson worm (תֹּולֵעָֽה). Job 25:6

In the case of the verse in Job we have a reference to the term ‘son of man’ (בן–אדם ben odom), the very first reference to ‘son of man’ (בן–אדם ben odom) is found in the Torah in Numbers 23:19

God is not a man (איש : [‘iysh]) that He should lie, nor is He a mortal (בן–אדם : [ben-adam ]) that He should relent. Would He say and not do, speak and not fulfill?

In the above both types of men in terms of the singular or in the generic [as in all mankind] are ruled out to describe God or that God could ever become a man. After all God cannot change (Mal 3:6) unlike the lie of the New Testament and New Testament theology which directly present the opposite [see John 1:1,14]. The notion and the implication from the lie of the New Testament and its theology projected onto the Jewish scriptures is that:

god = man = worm

It is rather unfortunate that Christians have to resort to the twisting of scripture to promote the lies of the New Testament to get ‘pierced’ into the distorted picture of Psalm 22. Even more unfortunate is that once pierced is ‘registered’ into the mind of a Christian, the Christian then goes into a frenzy to entertain other bizarre notions about the ‘crucifixion’ psalm. The crimson worm of course provides the copious amount of crimson blood in a bloody allusion  to crucifixion only if the specific tree concerned (Quercus infectoria oak) is totally infested with the little critters!! Similarly if absolute literalism is required for ‘exact’ fulfillment, then by implication the cross has to be made from “Quercus infectoria” and only “Quercus infectoria”. Any sane individual would know that if one was to put all the relics of the cross together you would probably have enough wood to build Noah’s Ark. Moreover, what kind of sacrifice is it if the worm comes back to life after 3 days. A true sacrifice would be gone forever would it not?

Why not take what Psalm 22 has to say at face value and in its context? To do so for the Christian would include a painful acknowledgement of an immediate context for Psalm 22 which describes the psalmist’s degradation. Also to acknowledge future allusions of Psalm 22 to describe the degradation of Israel in exile which includes historical facts [Purim for example] that nations including Christian nations of the world have treated Jews like worms. In other words with numerous inquisitions, pogroms and the Nazis [acting upon the theology of protestant Martin Luther] has seen the treatment of the Jews as not Human and as easily disposable as worms?


  1. From an old Jews for Jesus brochure, there is a section that quotes several Biblical verses which they say foretell the life of Christ. One of these is Psalms 22:16, which they translate as “They pierced my hands and feet.” This supposedly foretells the crucifixion of Jesus where his hands and feet were pierced by the nails that hung him to the cross. One problem, it doesn’t work in Hebrew.The Psalm describes the angst of the psalmist who is surrounded by enemies and asks why G-d has forsaken him. Psalms 22:16, which in Hebrew says “k’ari b’yadai v’raglai” (“Like a lion (the enemies) are at my hands and feet”). The disputed word here is “k’ari” which is spelled kaph – aleph – resh – yud. Most graduates of a Hebrew school education know that an ari is a lion, and that the use of the letter “kaph” before a word means “like” or “as.” The Christians appear to have invented a new Hebrew word which they pronounce “koari” yet no such word exists in Hebrew with the same spelling. There is a similar sounding word to koari that is used to mean to dig, or perhaps bore (as in a hole), although there are better words for that. But the spelling is much different. In “koari” there is no letter aleph as there is in the word k’ari and no grammatical reason for dropping it.
  2. The word in T’hillim / Psalm 22 is ka’ari (lion) not karu (which means “to dig” BTW, as in digging a ditch, not pierce). The word כָּרוּ karu (“they dug”) occurs in T’hillim / Psalm 57:7 and 119:85, as well as in Yirm’yahu / Jeremiah 18:20 and 18:22, The full conjugation is
    ∙ כָּרִֽיתִי kariti “I dug” (B’réshιt 50:5)
    ∙ כָּרִֽיתָ karita “you [m.sing.] dug” (T’hillim 40:7)
    ∙ כָּרִית karit “you [f.sing.] dug”
    ∙ כָּרָה karah “he dug” (T’hillim 7:16, Divrei Hayamim Beit 16:14)
    ∙ כָּרְתָה kar’tah “she dug”
    ∙ כָּרִֽינוּ karinu “we dug”
    ∙ כְּרִיתֶם k’riy’tem “you [m.pl.] dug”
    ∙ כְּרִיתֶן k’riy’ten “you [f.pl.] dug”
    ∙ כָּרוּ karu “they dug”
    Some missionaries try and say that the word in T’hillim / Psalm 22 should be karu — but as just shown above כָּרוּ karu (“they dug”) is NOT pierced. Its cognate 3rd person plural masculine gender (karu) translates to they dug.
    Kaf-resh-vav is a word. BTW the KJV translates ka’ari correctly in other places that arent proof texts misquoted by the GT.
    Numbers 23:24
    (veka’ari), and I as a young lion
    Numbers 24:9
    (ka’ari), like a lion
    Isaiah 38:13
    (ka’ari), like a lion
    Ezekiel 22:25
    (ka’ari), like a lion
    So the KJV translators correctly translated it until they got to Psalms 22:17[16] and suddenly the KJV doesn’t know what it means and translates it as “they pierced.”
    One more little bit of Hebrew grammar. If the word really was “pierced,” (which we’ve proven it is not) the sentence would have an “et” (את) to identify the direct object which would be affected by that verb. There is no et (את).

Pastor at ‘Passion for Truth’ church sentenced to prison for swindling the elderly

Well here is the outcome from a previous post and the posts of the many followers of Pastor Jim in reaction to the 7 year sentence:

Jim Staley

No doubt one of the many believers of Pa$tor Jim who still insist that denial is a river in Egypt. More from the seedy world of the me$$ianic Bu$ine$$ here also. Here is the news below:


Jim Staley delivering a sermon in April (Screenshot/YouTube)

Jim Staley delivering a sermon in April (Screenshot/YouTube)

A Missouri pastor at a church called “Passion for Truth Ministries” will serve prison time for lying to and defrauding elderly investors, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Jim Staley, 40, was sentenced Wednesday to 7 years in prison and ordered to repay elderly investors $3.3 million. He pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud and profited $570,000 in the scam of elderly people who trusted him because of his Christian faith and family values. Some of them were suffering from dementia.

Although he apologized, the daughter of a man who lost $155,000 in Staley’s scam said it wasn’t sincere and was staged for church members.

His victims were not members of his parish.

Despite being warned by the court that not accepting personal responsibility for his actions could earn him more prison time, Staley has said in sermons that he was “in the wrong place at the wrong time” and blamed the economy.

Staley has only paid a tiny fraction of restitution owed to victims — $1,950, despite the fact he lives rent free with an annual church salary of $127,000.

As a sales agent for B&B Equity Group, a California company, Staley misled victims into believing that billionaire Warren Buffett was an investor and convinced people to cash out on annuities knowing they would lose money. He continued to sell investments even after the state issued a cease and desist order. Staley did not mention the order to clients.

Staley ran a controversial church ministry called the “Christian Roots Movement” which advocates following the Bible in the manner of early Christians, before churches “started adding and subtracting from the word of God.”

He said that supporters had visions of “high-ranking demonic generals,” which Staley interpreted to be the FBI agents investigating him.

Even then, Staley was beset by financial troubles and allegations of fraud. One former church member told the Post-Dispatch he left because of it.

“The dishonesty was a big problem for me,” Josh Ernst told the paper. “I started to see a pattern — he used the same sorts of excuses, blamed other people, and nothing was ever his fault or his responsibility. That happened one too many times.”