‘Rabbi’ Itzkak Shapira the Gift that Just Keeps on Giving

So called “Rabbi” Shapira has a way of bouncing back into the fray by immediately poking the the hornets nest and dousing it with petrol. A war is now on between the camp of Deanne Loper [no doubt battling over mi$$ionary funds like Shapira] who has written a book entitled “Kabbalah Secrets Christians Need to Know: An In Depth Study of the Kosher Pig and the Gods of Jewish Mysticism”

dumb and dumber KP.png

In her own words:

The Return of the Kosher Pig is the book by ‘rabbi’ Itzak Shapira that is admired by many christian theologians deluding people that the “kosher pig” that will return is no other than Jesus Christ the Messiah. So many are excited over the Jewish Rabbi recognizing Jesus as the Messiah however they overlook that “Yeshua” he is describing is not the true Jesus Christ of the bible. Would Jesus agree with kabbalah Zohar and the Talmud?

Even a video assessment including Deanne is provided which shows Shapira engaging the famous Benny Hinn. One of the scholarly claims by Shapira is that Esav (עשו) is Christianity and Yeshua (ישוע) spelt backwards gives the word Esav. Other Scholary gems of Shapira may be accessed here.

Kosher Pig 1.png

The scholarly ignorance and deceptiveness of Shapira versus the classic antisemitic propaganda promoted by Deanne Loper is really something to behold!  Talk about the blind leading the blind.

The world is in safe hands!!

Well he is at it again!! “Rabbi” Shapira,  an ‘ordained’ “Rabbi” via a course taken at a Christian Institution is now promoted to Rosh Yeshiva of a new initiative called “Shuvu”. Here  below is a blurb from his latest website:

ShuvuThe quality of  scholarship of Rabbi Shapira has been extensively reviewed and Justinas Pranaitis would be proud of him! The article below shows the quality of scholarship a potential student at Shuvu can expect from its Rosh Yeshiva. Just in case you have met a real Rosh Yeshiva or Rabbi, it may be advised to invest in roll of duck tape or two to prevent your sides from splitting after reading the article! You have been warned!!

DECEMBER 27, 2013 By Rabbi Eli Cohen – Jews for Judaism Australia[1]

A Critical Review of The Return of the Kosher Pig

Justinas Pranaitis' credibility rapidly evaporated, however, when the defense demonstrated his ignorance of some simple Talmudic concepts and definitions, such as hullin, to the point where "many in the audience occasionally laughed out loud when he clearly became confused and couldn't even intelligibly answer some of the questions asked by [Beilis'] lawyer"

Justinas Pranaitis’ credibility rapidly evaporated, however, when the defense demonstrated his ignorance of some simple Talmudic concepts and definitions, such as hullin, to the point where “many in the audience occasionally laughed out loud when he clearly became confused and couldn’t even intelligibly answer some of the questions asked by [Beilis’] lawyer”

The explosive debate surrounding the belief in a divine Messiah has engaged many great minds across the spectrum of religious beliefs. The most recent contender for a seat at this debate is Christian evangelist[2] “Rabbi”[3] Itzhak Shapira, author of The Return of the Kosher Pig.

In their endorsements of this book, respected Christian leaders have labeled Shapira “a Jewish insider”[4] with “encyclopedic knowledge of rabbinic sources”[5] and described this book as a product of “careful study.”[6] With these recommendations, Shapira has been promoting himself in Christian and Jewish circles as a “scholar” in rabbinic studies.

After reading The Return of the Kosher Pig and examining the sources, I feel a responsibility to present my findings. It would require several volumes to discuss the broad spectrum of blunders in Shapira’s book.[7] For the purpose of this review, I have selected a mere sampling of distortions found in the pages of The Return of the Kosher Pig (TROTKP), as well as errors that can only serve to disqualify Shapira from this debate.

When engaging in the difficult study of rabbinic literature, as Shapira purports to do, background knowledge and textual competence are a basic requirement, not a luxury. My hope is that by the end of this review, irrespective of your religious background or persuasion, it will be crystal clear that Shapira’s supporters were totally duped, and that his proficiency in the study of rabbinic writings is a sham.

Introduction

Shapira and his book bring to mind the famous “Beillis trial” that took place in Kiev in 1913. In this trial, Mendel Beillis, a Russian Jew, was accused of murdering a Christian child to take his blood for alleged Jewish rituals. During the trial, a Lithuanian Catholic priest named Justinas Pranaitis was called upon as a religious “expert” in Judaism for the prosecution.

In his book Blood Accusation, Maurice Samuel describes how Ben-Tzion Katz, an advisor to the Beillis defense team, exposed Pranaitis as a sham to the non-Jewish jury. “After listening to Pranaitis for a few minutes he [Katz] perceived that the man was a quack with the merest smattering of Hebrew and no knowledge of Aramaic, the language of the Zohar and most of the Talmud. Any Jewish boy with a cheder (elementary Hebrew school) education would have perceived it, but the jury of course had not even that.”[8]

Katz recommended that Pranaitis be asked the meaning of words such as Hulin, Yebamot and Erubin without letting him know that these were titles of volumes of the Talmud. Katz was positive that Pranaitis would not know the answers. It was obvious to Katz from the way Pranaitis had pronounced the words that he had picked up his “erudition” from scurrilous pamphlets with which Katz was familiar. Following this advice, the attorneys took turns asking these questions, with Pranaitis answering each question “Ne znayu” (I don’t know).

The exchange climaxed when one of the attorneys asked Pranaitis, “When did Baba Batra live and what was her activity?” Baba Batra is the name of a tractate of the Talmud. The word baba is also a common Russian term for grandma. Thus, when Pranaitas answered “Ne znayu”, he demonstrated that he was completely unfamiliar with even the names of the volumes of the Talmud, not just their content.

Samuel then quotes from a telegram sent to Moscow by one of the Tzarist agents, “[The] questioning of Pranaitis reduced the convincing power of his testimony, revealing ignorance of texts and insufficient acquaintance with Jewish literature. In view of the superficiality of his knowledge and his helplessness, Pranaitis’s testimony has very little significance.”[9]

First Impressions

What an incredible error of translation!!! He translates the Aramaic word “Asei” (see strong’s concordance H858) which means “come”, as if it were the Hebrew word; “Atah” “you”.

Shapira doesn’t even get off the ground without running into serious problems. In explaining the provocative title of his book, Shapira tells us that the pig will become kosher in the Messianic Era. Furthermore, he claims that according to the rabbis, the return of the “pig” is also a euphemism for the triumphant return of the Messiah. He therefore believes that in the future the Jewish community will embrace both the pig and Jesus as kosher.

In TROTKP, Shapira attempts to trace this idea back to a book written by Rabbi Yehuda Hayon, a respected rabbi currently residing in Israel. In his book Otzarot Acharit Hayamim, Rabbi Hayon examines the status of scriptural prohibitions in the Messianic Era. One of the biblical prohibitions he explores is that of the pig. He cites a Midrash that explains the meaning of the Hebrew name of the pig, hazir (which can also mean [to] return). “Why is his name called hazir? Because in the future, G-d will ‘return’ it to Israel.”[10]

This Midrash, if it were to be taken literally, would imply that the scriptural prohibition against eating pig would be abrogated in the Messianic Era. In an endnote,[11] which is the focus of Shapira’s discussion, Rabbi Hayon addresses this dilemma and presents several interpretations of this Midrash that would still hold to the belief that the Law of Moses will not be abrogated in the Messianic Era. Rabbi Hayon presents the following collection of interpretations from the writings of respected Jewish commentators:

Rabbi Chaim ibn Attar (Ohr HaChaim) interprets this Midrash literally with the following explanation: Since the pig does not currently chew its cud, Torah law forbids it [Leviticus 11]. However, in the Messianic Era the pig will undergo a physiological change and will begin to chew its cud. At such time, when the pig possesses the two characteristics required of a kosher animal – split hooves (which it already has) and chewing its cud – it will be rendered kosher. This will be in keeping with Torah Law and does not constitute a nullification of Torah Law in the Messianic Era.

Rabbi David ibn Zimra (Radvaz) interprets the Midrash allegorically in order to avoid the problems presented by a literal interpretation. He offers two possible explanations: a. The Midrash is using hyperbole to illustrate the abundance of meat that will be available in the Messianic Era. There will be so much meat at that time that it will be as if pig had become Kosher. b. The Midrash can be understood on an esoteric level. The hazir (pig) is a reference to a celestial angel named Hazri-e-l who is currently a prosecutor of Israel in heaven. In the future, this angel will turn (lit. return) from being the prosecutor of Israel to becoming their defender.

Rabbi Hayon’s discussion concerning the “pig” closes with two alternative textual versions of this Midrash which both see the “pig” as a euphemism for Edom – Rome. These renditions are found in the works of Rabeinu Bachaya, a respected 13th century Spanish rabbi. In Rabeinu Bachaya al HaTorah, it is explained that the return of the “pig” refers to Edom coming in the future to build the ThirdTemple in place of the SecondTemple which they destroyed.

The concluding remarks of Rabbi Hayon’s discussion read as follows:

“[One can] adopt the [following] version of the Midrash cited in Bachaya al HaTorah, Parshas Shmini (Leviticus 9:1-11:47): Why is this nation [Edom – Rome] compared to a pig? Because G-d will, in the future, turn (lit. return) upon them the attribute of judgment. Or else [one can] adopt the other version brought by [Rabeinu Bachaya]: Why is his [Edom’s – Rome’s] name called hazir (pig)? Because in the future he [Edom – Rome] will return the crown to its former glory.” (i.e build the ThirdTemple.)

In TROTKP, Shapira argues that “the term used by Rabbi Hayon, atara leyosh’nah [[the] crown to its former glory], literally means that the angel will not only return to redeem, protect and defend Israel, but he will also return to his lawful place as King [Messiah] as the crown belongs to him!”[12] In reality, Rabbi Hayon never suggests in any of his comments that the name “pig” is a euphemism for the Messiah or that the return of the “pig” is a code for the “triumphant return” of the “pig” (Messiah). Moreover, no respected rabbi within Judaism ever refers or referred to the Messiah as “pig”.

Shapira accentuates this error when he marvels aloud, “What a wonderful commentary by our sages, who clearly explain that the pig is represented by a messenger [Angel] who will return to Israel to save and to protect, to bring back the crown that was lost.”[13]

The entire premise for the title of Shapira’s book rests on his staggering confusion. Not only does he distort the final comment of Rabbi Hayon, but he also conflates this distortion with the comment of the Radvaz about the “pig” being a reference to a heavenly angel called Hazri-e-l. Had Shapira bothered to check the source provided by Rabbi Hayon before jumping to his erroneous conclusion, he may have chosen a different title for his book.

The Hypothesis

The main theme of Shapira’s book is his contention that “by the standards of the 1st and 2nd century sages, some expected a Divine Messiah who would come and suffer for the sins of Israel and rule as king.”[14] He would have us believe that if it were not for the rabbis in the Middle-Ages who took a “sharp and violent turn against the idea of a Divine Messiah,”[15] the belief in a divine Messiah would be a part of contemporary Judaism; or, at the very least, tolerated.

Before addressing some of the “evidence” cited by Shapira, it is worth noting what scholars say on the matter. Lawrence Schiffman, an internationally recognized authority on SecondTemple and Rabbinic Judaism, writes: “Justin Martyr (100-165 C.E.) composed a Greek record of a supposed dialogue with a Jew. Apparently, this work is a literary device, purporting to be a dialogue with the famous Mishnaic sage Rabbi Tarfon. The debate shows that the theological battle lines had already been drawn by the mid-second century C.E.”[16] One of the quotes that Schiffman brings from Justin’s Dialogue reveals that the belief in a divine Messiah was a Christian departure from the established tenets of 1st and 2nd century Judaism.

“‘… it would have been better for us,’ Trypho concluded, ‘to have obeyed our teachers, who warned us not to listen to you Christians, nor converse with you on these subjects, for you have blasphemed many times in your attempts to convince us that this crucified man was with Moses and Aaron, and spoke with them in the pillar of the cloud; that he became man, was crucified, and ascended into heaven, and will return again to this earth, and that he should be worshipped.’”[17]

In a similar vein, John J. Collins, professor at YaleDivinitySchool, writes, “Christian claims for the divinity of Jesus eventually went beyond anything we find in the Jewish texts.”[18] According to Collins, “The most significant Christian departure from Jewish notions of the messiah was the affirmation of the divinity of Christ.”[19]

N.T Wright, Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at University of St. Andrews in Scotland, echoes these views, stating, “No Second-Temple Jews known to us were expecting the one God to appear in human form, let alone to suffer physical death.”[20] As we can see, Shapira’s account of Judaism’s “transformation” in the Middle Ages doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The idea of a divine Messiah was equally repugnant to the sages of the 1st and 2nd centuries.

Insincerity

Shapira’s schizophrenic attitude towards the sages of traditional Judaism is another red flag. On the one hand, he claims to love and respect the sages, describing them as “men who loved God with all their hearts.”[21] Moreover, Shapira tells us that after 15 years of studying, he has personally “grown to love the words of these precious men” and “gained much understanding”[22] from them.

But Shapira’s display of admiration is disingenuous. Speaking out of both sides of his mouth, he praises the Rambam and Rashi, two of the greatest Jewish teachers of the Middle Ages, for their “wonderful and rich”[23] commentaries. But then he turns around and describes them as “creative interpreters”[24] who “contradict themselves”[25] and have “elected to go against the words of the Torah itself,”[26] “to create their own strange, complex interpretations.”[27]

Shapira exhibits his openness to “learn” from the rabbis whenever he sees an opportunity to “create a deep connection, kesher, between the divine Jewish Messiah and the words of Hazal [the Jewish sages].”[28] However, the moment Shapira feels that the rabbis are not supportive of his belief in Jesus, he immediately accuses them of “twisting, modifying, and changing the words of the Torah” and making “a series of decisions to circumvent the scriptures,”[29] due to their rejection of Jesus.[30] Most incredibly, even after his attempts to discredit these rabbis, Shapira still tries to use their writings in support of his heresy!

The Return of Pranaitis

The main focus of Shapira’s thesis revolves around the functions and titles that are given to Messiah. When the Messiah is called “king”, for example, Shapira asks, “If God is ‘the King over Israel’, how can the Messiah also be called king? How can God be called ‘The King of the earth’ if the Messiah is the king of the earth?”[31] His solution is that when a verse like Isaiah 44:6 describes G-d, “[it] not only speaks of Hashem, but also refers to King Messiah who is part of Hashem.”[32] In his final analysis, Shapira concludes that “it was God Himself who took the form of man,”[33] which is the Christian doctrine of the incarnation.

Shapira seems to be blissfully unaware that in Jeremiah 27:6-8 Nebuchadnezzar is made king over Israel and the nations; in Ezra 1:2 we are told that G-d had given to Cyrus all the kingdoms of the earth; and in 2 Samuel 5:12 King David is established by G-d as “King over Israel.” If Shapira cannot fathom how, in Judaism, a human can be given dominion without becoming divine, how can he expect his words to be taken seriously?

Kal V’Chomer

In the gospel of John chapter 5, Jesus is recorded as chastising the Jews of his day, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”[34] Shapira tells us that in these verses, Jesus had “applied a rabbinic form of argument titled Kal V’chomer (from the light to the heavy),”[35] referring to himself as the second Moses and claiming to be greater than Moses. In other words, if the Jews rejected Moses, kal v’chomer (how much more so) they would reject Jesus who is greater! Clearly, Shapira doesn’t grasp how a kal v’chomer is applied, or he doesn’t understand the straightforward words of Jesus – or both.

A kal v’chomer is a “simple method of deduction that exists in all methods of logic, permitting a deduction from a minor case to a major case or from a light to a severe case.”[36] In Jeremiah 12:5, for example, we have a kal v’chomer in the form of a rhetorical question: “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?”

In John 5, Jesus was saying to the Jews, because you refuse to heed to the words of Moses, you therefore reject me. In other words, according to John, Jesus was the supposed fulfillment of the words of Moses; any rejection of Jesus must have been rooted in the rejection of the words of Moses. In short, Jesus does not claim in John 5:46-47 to be a second Moses. His argument against the Jews who had rejected him has absolutely nothing to do with a kal v’chomer argument.

Gezerah Shava

Another rabbinic convention which Shapira completely mangles is the gezerah shava principle. A gezerah shava is an exegetic rule with restricted application. This rule is usually applied when two Scriptural verses contain similar words. If one verse is clear and the second is unclear, the verse with greater clarity is used to clarify the ambiguity that exists in the other verse.

Rabbi Adin Steinzaltz, a world-renowned Talmudic scholar, warns about the potential exploitation of the gezerah shava rule. “This important exegetic rule may prove dangerous if employed indiscriminately, since many words appear in different sentences and any desired conclusion may be obtained.”[37]

Rabbi Steinzaltz is correct in his warning. However, what he couldn’t possibly imagine is what Shapira actually does in TROTKP under the pretense of employing Judaism’s gezerah shava rule. With the intention of proving that “King Messiah [is] none other than the one who is riding upon the skies”[38] (i.e. G-d Himself), Shapira connects three verses that contain similar sounding Hebrew words:

Psalm 68:5, which speaks about praising G-d: “Sing unto G-d, sing praises to His name; ‘solu’ (extol) ‘l’rochev b’arovot’” (to the One who rides upon the skies);

Isaiah 62:10, which speaks of the future exaltation of Israel before all the nations: “Go through, go through the gates, clear the way of the people; ‘solu solu hamesilah’ (cast up, cast up the highway), take out the stones; lift up a banner for the nations;” and

Isaiah 40:3, which speaks of G-d’s comfort to Israel: “A voice calling out in the wilderness; make clear a path for the L-rd, make straight ‘mesilah’ (a path) ‘b’aravah’ (in the desert).

Shapira ultimately fuses these three verses to identify the Messiah as the one “who is riding upon the skies.”[39] No matter how hard Shapira will try to defend this convoluted argument, one thing is clear: This cannot be considered a legitimate use of the rabbinic gezerah shava rule.

Wrenching Out of Context

One illustration where Shapira reads the words of our sages out of context is his citation from Midrashei Geulah, which, when read in this inappropriate manner, does seem to portray the Messiah as divine.

Shapira presents the following quote:

“In the future, the Holy one, blessed be He, will seat Messiah in the supernal Yeshivah [House of Study], and they will call him ‘Lord,’ just as they call the Creator… And the Messiah will sit in the Yeshivah, and all those who walk on earth will come and sit before him to hear a new Torah and new commandments and the deep wisdom which he teaches Israel…”[40]

When you read the Midrash in the original,[41] however, a completely different picture emerges! In the paragraph immediately preceding Shapira’s cherry-picked quote, the Midrash states that in the Messianic Era,

“…All the righteous of Jerusalem and the pious of Jerusalem will be seated, by G-d, upon the Throne of Glory as it says in 1 Samuel 2:8, ‘And make them inherit the throne of glory,’ with a crown on each of their heads; and the radiance of the Shekhina upon their faces as it says in Judges 5:31, ‘Let those who love Him be like the sun when it comes out in full strength;’ and [G-d] places before each of them three groups of angels that will be reciting Holy, Holy, Holy before them, just as the serving angels do before [G-d] in the Heavens above, as it says in Isaiah 4:3, ‘And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy – everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem’…”[42]

The Midrash then continues, and here I will give a fuller quote than the one provided by Shapira,

“And Messiah, in the future, will be seated by the Holy One, Blessed be He, in the supernal Yeshivah [House of Study], and they will call him ‘Lord,’ just as they call the Creator as it says in Jeremiah 23:6, ‘And this is his name whereby he shall be called, The L-rd Our Righteousness.’ And Jerusalem, Messiah and the Holy One, Blessed be He, are all called ‘Tzur’ [Rock] as it says in Deuteronomy 32:4, ‘The Rock, His work is perfect.’ And even Abraham is called Rock as it says in Isaiah 51:1-2, ‘Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father.’ The Holy One, Blessed be He, is called ‘Good’ as it says in Psalm 145:9, ‘The L-rd is good to all.’ And Moses too is called ‘Good’ as it says in Exodus 2:2, ‘and she saw him [Moses] that he was good.’ The Holy One, Blessed be He, is called ‘Elo-him’ as it says in Psalm 47:9, ‘Elo-him sits on His holy throne.’ And Israel are also called Elo-him as it says in Psalm 82:6, ‘I said: you are Elo-him’ … And the Messiah will sit in the Yeshivah, and all those who walk on earth will come and sit before him to hear a new Torah and new commandments and the deep wisdom which he teaches Israel…”[43]

This Midrash, which Shapira has quoted out of context, is simply pointing out that the descriptions, names and titles that are ascribed to G-d are also conferred upon Messiah, Jerusalem, Abraham, Moses and Israel! Not even Shapira would suggest that they are all divine.

It is also worth noting that in John J. Collins’ careful examination of ancient Jewish texts, which speak of the Messiah in highly exalted terms, he concludes that “the Jewish Messiah, no matter how noble and how spiritual, is nevertheless a human being, a king of flesh and blood of the house of David, and is only an instrument for the great work of the God of Israel, the God of the universe.”[44]

It’s surprising that with his supposed “encyclopedic knowledge of rabbinic sources,” Shapira is unaware that in the context of Judaism, conferring divine titles or names upon a human being, city or object has nothing to do with attributing divinity to them.[45]

The Epitome of Chutzpah

Shapira’s chutzpah peaks as he desperately tries to extract a divine Messiah from the mouth of his most articulate opponent, the Rambam (Maimonides). Whenchutzpah Shapira quotes Isaiah 60:20 [“Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; for the L-rd will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended.”] he claims that the Rambam in the Guide for the Perplexed “interprets this verse to speak of the Messiah.”[46] This is patently false.

In his Guide for the Perplexed, the Rambam explains the metaphors of an “enduring sun” and a “darkened sun” used by Isaiah. The “enduring sun,” he explains, is a symbol of victory as in the case of the Kingdom of Israel in the Messianic Era in Isaiah 60:20. The “darkened sun” is a symbol of defeat as in the case of Sancheirib in Isaiah 13:10.[47] Contrary to Shapira’s claim that the verse refers to the “Messiah himself,” it is clear that the Rambam is interpreting the sun in Isaiah 60:20 to be speaking of the enduring victory of the Kingdom of Israel in the Messianic Era. We can see from Shapira’s misuse of this source that he was totally oblivious to what the Rambam was actually teaching in this chapter.

Save Us from the False Scribes

Shapira’s reprehensible abuse of Targum Yonatan, an Aramaic translation/interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, deserves special attention. In his discussion about Moses and the Messiah, Shapira focuses on the comments of the Targum on Deuteronomy 18:18 which, according to Shapira, speak of the supernatural birth of the Messiah.

The Targum to Deuteronomy 18:18 reads as follows: “I will raise up for them a prophet from among their brethren in whom the Holy Spirit [will] dwell, similar to you [Moses], and I will put my words of prophecy in his mouth and he will speak with them everything I command him.” The Targum explains that just like Moses, who was filled with the Holy Spirit, so will this future prophet be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Shapira manipulates the Aramaic of the Targum by presenting a partial quote and mistranslating it to read, “[a] Prophet I will raise to them from their brother[s], From the Holy Spirit.” Based on this corruption, Shapira falsely attributes to the Targum the view that the Messiah was “conceived through the Holy Spirit”[48] and is both “human and divine at the same time.”[49]

The Targum makes absolutely no mention about a supernatural birth of the Messiah. This kind of shameless illiteracy and textual high jacking is simply outrageous![50]

Scripture Twisting

In TROTKP, Shapira contends that G-d will withhold His mercy if we lack faith in the Messiah. He bases this assertion upon his twisted exegesis of Hosea 4:1, in which he explains that; “due to the lack of the Messiah (the emet), the mercy and the grace of G-d do not exist.”[51]

Hosea 4:1 reads, “Listen to the word of the L-RD, O sons of Israel, for the L-RD has a case against the inhabitants of the land, because there is no [emet] truth or kindness or knowledge of G-d in the land.” Hosea is speaking here of G-d’s case against the Northern Kingdom of Israel for failing to conduct their lives with truth, mercy and knowledge of G-d: the core principles that G-d demands throughout Scripture.[52] The word emet (truth) in this verse is clearly not a reference to Messiah.

Furthermore, this verse says nothing of G-d’s mercy and grace being contingent upon the Messiah. It is unfortunate that Shapira’s uneducated guess, which turns out to be a perversion of scripture, is left unchallenged.

Here Come the Judges

If there is still any question whether Shapira and his book are anything more than a clumsy circus act, the final witness in this review should remove all doubt.

Pretending to be a scholar of grammar, Shapira argues vigorously against the possibility of the nation of Israel being the “son of man” in Daniel 7:13-14.[53] Here is one of his major points:

“Daniel 7:13-14 speaks in the singular structure as it uses the word אתה (“You” singular) and not אתם (“You” plural).”[54] According to Shapira, since Scripture uses the singular word for “you” (atah) and not the plural word for “you” (atem), it is clear that Daniel 7:13 couldn’t possibly be referring to the nation of Israel.

Shapira has confused the Aramaic word asei, which means come, [55] with the Hebrew word for you singular, atah.[56] This is simply an incredible display of biblical illiteracy, never mind rabbinics!

To accuse Shapira of being deceptive would wrongly imply that he possesses the ability to read the sources in the original and purposely withholding that information. Shapira is a classic “Google scholar” who has sifted through various online articles and biased missionary publications while faking proficiency with the original sources. His incoherent translations and paraphrases of these sources confirm time and again that he has virtually no understanding of the texts he is reading.

In light of the superficiality of his knowledge and his helplessness, the Russian jury dismissed Pranaitis as a hoax. In stark contrast, Christian leaders have promoted Shapira and his inane book as the epitome of scholarship. Were they unable to recognize the glaring mistakes made by Shapira? Or do they simply not feel a sense of responsibility to shield their followers from such a sham?

____________

[1] I would like to thank Rabbi Yisroel Blumenthal and Rabbi Michael Skobac for their editorial assistance.

[2] He disingenuously suggests otherwise: “I am not a missionary.” TROTKP, p. xii.

[3] Shapira holds a “full rabbinical ordination” from the International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues, which is a Messianic/Christian school. This organization subscribes to every detail of Christian theology and its only association with Judaism is its appropriation of some of Judaism’s outer trappings.

[4] Endorsement to TROTKP by Messianic leader Jeffrey A. Adler.

[5] Endorsement to TROTKP by Messianic leader Michael Wolf.

[6] Endorsement to TROTKP by President of Fire Ministry, Dr. Michael L. Brown.

[7] For a more detailed (although not exhaustive) review cataloging over 80 errors see the review by Rabbi Yisroel Blumenthal available at http://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/the-school-of-matthew/

[8] Blood Accusation, Maurice Samuel, p. 214.

[9] Ibid, p. 216.

[10] Otzarot Acharit Hayamim, volume 1, chapter 12.

[11] Otzarot Acharit Hayamim, volume 1, chapter 12, endnote 30, which can be accessed here: http://www.aharit.com/A-12.html

[12] Ibid, pp.13-14.

[13] Ibid, p. 14.

[14] Ibid, p. 35.

[15] Ibid, p. 35.

[16] Texts and Traditions, Lawrence Schiffman, p. 418.

[17] Ibid, p. 419 (translation from Greek by ThomasB.Falls).

[18] Ibid, p. 209.

[19] The Scepter and the Star, John J. Collins, p. 208.

[20] The Resurrection of The Son of God, N.T. Wright, p. 573.

[21] TROTKP, p. 53.

[22] Ibid, p. 53.

[23] Ibid, p. 49.

[24] Ibid, p. 95.

[25] Ibid, pp. 35, 158, 103.

[26] Ibid, p. 47.

[27] Ibid, p. 49.

[28] Ibid, p. 6.

[29] Ibid, p. 48.

[30] C.f. ibid, pp. 120, 145.

[31] TROTKP p. 158.

[32] Ibid, p. 158.

[33] Ibid, p. 277.

[34] John 5:46-47.

[35] TROTKP p. 196.

[36] Essential Talmud, Rabbi Adin Steinzaltz, p. 258.

[37] Essential Talmud, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, p. 259.

[38] TROTKP, p. 115.

[39] Along the way, Shapira also asserts “that the one who is ‘riding in the clouds’ in Daniel 7:22, who comes to judge the world, is the ‘Son of Man,’ who is also known as the ‘Ancient of Days.’” Ibid, p.115

[40] Ibid, p. 174.

[41] The original Midrashei Geulah can be accessed here: http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pagefeed/hebrewbooks_org_33218_398.pdf

[42] My translation.

[43] My translation.

[44] Collins is quoting (in complete agreement) from Joseph Klausner’s “The Messianic Idea In Israel”. The Scepter and the Star, John J. Collins, p. 55

[45] See Genesis 33:20, Exodus 17:15, Judges 6:24, Jeremiah 33:16.

[46] TROTKP, p. 190.

[47] Guide for the Perplexed, part II chapter 29.

[48] TROTKP, p. 215. Earlier, on the same page, Shapira corrupts the Targum’s words in Deuteronomy 18:15, distorting the message of the Targum. The Targum’s words describe this future prophet as being similar to Moses b’ruach kudsha (in [possessing] the Holy Spirit). Shapira mistranslated b’ruach kudsha as “from the Holy Spirit.”

[49] Ibid, p. 215.

[50] Shapira repeats this mistake on video: http://youtu.be/pT8BzPOdeqc

[51] TROTKP, p. 160.

[52] C.f. Proverbs 16:6, Daniel 4:27, Ezekiel 18:12-13, Jeremiah 7:5-6, 22:3 etc.

[53] This ignores the fact that Scripture itself interprets the “son of man” of Daniel 7:13-14 as the people of Israel. See Daniel 7:18, 22, and 27.

[54] TROTKP, p. 119.

[55] See Strong’s Concordance H858.

[56] Shapira repeats mistake this on video: http://youtu.be/JptjVJCg-9w

 

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A Prophet like Moses

©Menashe Dovid

13. Be wholehearted with the Lord, your God. (Deut 18)

יג. תָּמִים תִּהְיֶה עִם יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ

Messianics and Christians alike, insist that there are some 300 plus prophecies in the ‘Old’ Testament which find their ultimate fulfillment in Yeshua/ Jesus. A mediatorquestion posed by a Facebook missionary friend of mine challenged me with Deuteronomy Chapter 18 verses 15 and 18 which speak of a prophet to come who is like you [Moses]. The prophet is of course Yeshua/ Jesus according to my Facebook missionary friend. Now who would have expected that![1]? Quite apart from the fact that nowhere is it ever suggested in TaNaCh that any prophet, priest or messiah would be better to replace Moses or that THE sacrifice of Jesus/ Yeshua ends the sacrifices of animals[2].

At least another missionary friend admitted that he had never considered just how in general a prophet or very specifically how Yeshua/ Jesus is like Moses, Moses who is a prophet. In actual fact when we consider such a question as how a prophet is like Moses, we may well come up with a very strict criterion or even come to a realization that we really do not know what defines a prophet at all!

Immediate Context

Immediate context helps to get a grasp of a bigger picture. The bigger picture in the case of Deut 18 pivots on verses 13 and 14 which provide a ‘but’ or a contrast between verses 9-12 and verse 15 onwards.

13 You shall be whole-hearted with the LORD your God. 14 For these nations, that you are to dispossess, hearken to soothsayers, and to diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not suffered you to do so.

Verses 9-12 describe prohibitions for the Israelites against practicing divination, child sacrifice, sorcery, omen reading, animal charmers, ‘armpit’ witchcraft, necromancy and speaking/ prophesying with a bone in the mouth. Prohibitions for the Israelites actually served as methods of ‘guidance’ for the nations to run their affairs.

Instead and in complete contradistinction to the nations, Verse 13 tells the Israelites to wholeheartedly follow G-d and his guidance instead. The method of guidance collectively chosen by Israel was Moses the prophet and was with G-d’s approval:

“This is just what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb, on the day of the Assembly, saying, “Let me not hear the voice of the Lord my God any longer or see this wondrous fire any more, lest I die.” Whereupon the Lord said to me, “They have done well in speaking thus.” (Deut.18: 16-17)

However, as we know, Moses is not going to be around forever, eventually he will die and who will be a prophet in his place? After all the nation of Israel and its people still need a method which gives direction and guidance after Moses has gone. The method as scripture shows includes a prophet chosen by the Israelites whose choice is approved by G-d no less!

bettterAre we to assume based on Christian/ Messianic assertions that the Israelites are to wait around one and half thousand years for ‘Jesus’ the next ‘unique’, ‘one and only’, ‘ultimate’ and ‘better’ prophet than Moses? Does ‘a prophet’ really mean just one prophet after Moses? Are we to write off Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Joel, Ezekiel, Malachi, Habakkuk, Haggai, Nathan, Elijah, Elisha, Zechariah, Micah, and countless others as prophets? Are we to write off the lives and history of the Jewish people as insignificant or an unpleasant ‘blip’ which now has been corrected by Jesus? According to Christian/ Messianic assertions via the NT for support, the lives and history of the Jewish people as recorded in the ‘old’ testament serve to show that previously and presently the ‘sinfulness’ and ‘blindness’ of Jews by not believing in ‘THE PROPHET” Jesus, as portrayed in the ‘new’ testament! Here are a few examples in point:

I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. Mat 12:6….The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless. Heb 7:18….Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. Ibid v 22….But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. Ibid 8:6….to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Ibid 12:24….Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, Phil 3:8….Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Mat 28:19

The ‘New’ Covenant is superior to the ‘Old’ Covenant because of Jesus/ Yeshua. So much superior that the NT likens the ‘old’ testament as weakuseless and dung[8]! Moreover that Jesus/ Yeshua / Paul positively encourage missionary activity to convert all nations to their superior revelation/ covenant.

Wider Context

The disciple of Moses was Joshua and surprise and the next book following chronologically after the Torah is the book of Joshua. What does it say of Joshua:

5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee; I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 6 Be strong and of good courage; for thou shalt cause this people to inherit the land which I swore unto their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, to observe to do according to all the law, which Moses My servant commanded thee; turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest have good success whithersoever thou goest. 8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy ways prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. 9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not affrighted, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.’….16 And they answered Joshua, saying: ‘All that thou hast commanded us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us we will go. 17 According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee; only the LORD thy God be with thee, as He was with Moses. 18 Whosoever he be that shall rebel against thy commandment, and shall not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death; only be strong and of good courage.’ Johua 1

“Israel served Adonai throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything Adonai had done for Israel.” (Joshua 24: 31)

The above scriptures from Joshua firmly establishes in the TaNaCh that the prophet Moses spoke about was Joshua son of Nun, not a sole ‘exclusive individual’ as part of some cryptic ‘mystery’ that even Moses himself was blind too. Also, it is clear that the Israelites obeyed Joshua and the elders that lived after him. After Joshua came other prophets. There was a threat, though, that of false prophets. Hence G-d gave very detailed warnings in Deut 13 and a warning in Deut 18:

“Any prophet who presumes to speak in My name an oracle[3] that I did not command him to utter, or who speaks in the name of other gods—that prophet shall die.” (Deut.18: 20)

Common Threads from A to Z

When it comes to prophets there can only be two types: true prophets of G-d or false prophets. When it comes to future prophets, we can recognize a number of opposing teachings between true prophets of G-d or false prophets. G-d acknowledges that any one can CLAIM to be a prophet and even perform miracles yet not be a true prophet of G-d. (Deut 13 & Deut 18.)

So, how did G-d expect the Israelites living in the time of the “prophet” to determine whether to kill the “prophet” for being a false prophet, or listen to the message of the prophet?

The answer is that G-d set in place a system where it would be the recognized leaders of the nation who would arbitrate such matters and they would be the ones to test the prophets.

The Torah describes the false prophet as one who attempts to “make you stray from the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to walk in.” (Deuteronomy 13:6 (5). Instead of listening to the false prophet we are commanded: “The Lord your God shall you follow and Him you shall fear; His commandments you shall observe and to His voice you shall hearken; Him you shall serve and to Him you shall cleave.”

The true prophet will encourage Israel to follow after God – “O House of Jacob: Come let us walk by the light of the Lord!” (Isaiah 2:5). The true prophet encourages fear of the Creator of heaven and earth – “Will you not fear Me? says the Lord; Will you not tremble before Me? For I have set sand as a boundary for the sea, as a permanent law that cannot be broken.” (Jeremiah 5:22). The true prophet encourages observance of God’s commandments that were set down by Moses – “Remember the Torah of Moses My servant which I commanded him at Horeb for all of Israel – decrees and statutes” (Malachi 3:22 [4:4]). The true prophet speaks of hearkening to the voice of God – “…Thus said the Lord, God of Israel: Cursed is the man who will not listen to the words of this covenant that I commanded your forefathers on the day I took them out from the land of Egypt, form the iron crucible saying: Listen to My voice…” (Jeremiah 11:3,4). The true prophet encourages service of God – “Serve the Lord with gladness, come before Him with joyous song” (Psalm 100:2). The true prophet speaks of cleaving to God as the highest ideal – My soul cleaves after You; Your right arm has supported me” (Psalm 63:9).

The true prophet knows that God has richly provided for our every need, both spiritual and material. The true prophet recognizes the blessing that is inherent in the law that God has granted to His people and all of the prophet’s words direct us towards the God of Israel and towards the path He set us on when He redeemed us from the house of bondage in a clear and unambiguous way.

The false prophet[4] concentrates his attention on the tendency of man that fails to appreciate God’s blessings and that sees God’s law as burdensome and impossible[5]. Instead of encouraging us to recognize the love, the life and the light that is inherent in God’s law; the false prophet claims to offer us a “better path”:

“By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear” (Hebrews 8:13).

According to the author of Hebrews the entire Old Covenant has become obsolete, not just the ceremonial part! What does it say? “…he(Jesus) has made the first one obsolete…” This verse is very clear: the first or Old Covenant is obsolete or has passed away.

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 (Gal 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?” (Gal 4:21).

What “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” (Gal 4:22). Where is this written? In one of the five books of Moses that contains all the law. It is found in the book of Genesis chapter 16.

In Galatians 4:24 it is as clear 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. The “yoke of slavery” referred to in Gal 5:1 must be the same yoke of slavery that Paul has been referring to in Gal 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.” Hagar represents the entire Old Covenant and Christians are to cast out that entire covenant in order to become children of freedom.

According to the New Testament, the purpose of the Law was to reveal God’s standard of righteousness and man’s sinfulness. This in turn teaches man that he needs a substitutionary atonement—a savior. According to the New Testament, the Law of Moses was also a monitor over one immature in faith. When one moves to a mature faith, characterized by accepting the finished work of Jesus, that person is no longer in the monitor’s charge (see Galatians 3:23-25). Therefore, the monitor has reached its goal and is dismissed. The entire Mosaic Law becomes obsolete and the Christian comes under the Law of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 9:21; Galatians 6:2). The nerve of the New Testament knows no bounds:

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Rom 3:21

The way to resist the persuasions of the false prophet is to ask: Is there anything lacking in the path that God set before us when He took us out of Egypt? Did God not provide for our every need? Did He not shower us with every blessing?

By focusing on the blessings that God granted us we will learn to appreciate the holiness of His commandments and the life that is inherent in His law. When we appreciate His love towards us our hearts will be filled with love towards Him – and a heart that is filled with the love of God will not fall for the persuasions of the false prophet (Deuteronomy 13:4 (3)).

Conclusion

Moses like all the other prophets who followed him was born of a set of human parents, mother and father. None of the prophets were ever worshiped or considered divine.

Moses like all the other prophets who followed him never acted in a way that would indicate that they and they alone were the sole mediator[6] between G-d and man. The Creator does not have a mediator, nor does the Creator need a mediator. Furthermore, humanity does not need a mediator to have a relationship with the Creator. Jews pray only to the Creator. It is not proper to pray to anyone or anything else, nor is it permissible to pray through anyone else. And it will always be forbidden. It would be forbidden even if that thing or person had the ability to grant what you ask for.

Before the great and dreadful day of Adonai will come Elijah the prophet and we are to remember the law of G-d’s servant Moses, the decrees and laws G-d gave him at Horeb for all Israel. How interesting it is that at Horeb, where the law was given, G-d tells the Israelites to remember that they saw no form (Deut 4:12, 15, 23) so as not to make an idol! How telling it is that right after Malachi penned these words a man by the name of Jesus came along who claimed not only to be a prophet, a priest, a king but was G-d in the form of flesh[7]!

“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel. “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of Adonai comes.” He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” (Mal.4: 4, 6)


[1] Chapter 1, of Hebrews says that Jesus Christ is better than everybody and everything. Chapter 2 says that Jesus Christ is better than angels. Chapter 3 says Jesus is better than Moses. In Chapter 4, Jesus is better than Joshua. And then Jesus is better than Aaron. Then Jesus is better than the old covenant. And Jesus is better than the Old Testament sacrifices, etc., etc. The whole point is to show that Jesus is superior, supreme, and sufficient, you need nothing else. That’s the key according to NT theology.

[2] A further point to consider is if sacrifices are finished why do sacrifices continue in the messianic age? According to New Testament teaching in Hebrews 10, sacrifices are no longer needed since Jesus’ once for all self sacrifice is forever and perfects forever those who accept it [Heb 10:8-14]. Hebrews 10 adds further, that the sacrifice of animals can never take away sins. The messianic age described in Jeremiah 33:14-18 has a messianic figure (David A Branch of Righteousness), a promise fulfilled to Israel and Judah who along with Jerusalem will dwell safely and a Levitical Priesthood offering the sacrifices prescribed by the Torah: ‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah: ‘In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David A Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgement and righteousness in the earth. In those days Judah will be saved, And Jerusalem will dwell safely. And this is the name by which she will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. “For thus says the LORD: ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; ‘nor shall the priests, the Levites, lack a man to offer burnt offerings before Me, to kindle grain offerings, and to sacrifice continually.’ ” Jer 33:14-18

[3] In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to interface wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination. The word oracle comes from the Latin verb ōrāre “to speak” and properly refers to the priest or priestess uttering the prediction. In extended use, oracle may also refer to the site of the oracle, and to the oracular utterances themselves, called khrēsmoi (χρησμοί) in Greek. Oracles were thought to be portals through which the gods spoke directly to people. In this sense they were different from seers (manteis, μάντεις) who interpreted signs sent by the gods through bird signs, animal entrails, and other various methods

[4] Matthew 11:28-30 King James Version (KJV)

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

[5] Acts 15:7-11 King James Version (KJV) 7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

[6] Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

[7] 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1

[8] Paul, in his letter to the Philippians (3:8) wrote ἀλλὰ μενοῦνγε καὶ ἡγοῦμαι πάντα ζημίαν εἶναι διὰ τὸ ὑπερέχον τῆς γνώσεως Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου μου, διὃν τὰ πάντα ἐζημιώθην, καὶ ἡγοῦμαι σκύβαλα, ἵνα Χριστὸν κερδήσω… If your Greek is a bit rusty, there’s no point in reaching for your English translation (straight from the culture that uses the euphemisms “going to the Rest Room” – I think it’s a pretty weird place to rest!, “going to the bathroom” – still looking for that bath there!…) Here’s what Saint Paul says: But indeed I also regard everything to be loss on account of the surpassing knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all things; and I consider them shit so that I may gain Christ…Yep – σκύβαλα (skubala) = shit. Not the nice excrement, dung, or poop. In Saint Paul’s day σκύβαλα/shit was used in polite conversation about as much as we use it now. He is being very vulgar.