Tasty Chazir

Plane FoodEach person is responsible to interpret and apply the Scriptures to their own lives.

No person standing before God will get a pass because he was just following the [big religious group X] interpretation of Scripture.

That isn’t being prideful toward either Jewish or Catholic traditions. Rather, it’s being responsible for your own walk before God.

Judah Gabriel Himango
from one of his comments on his blog post
A Warnng to Those Who Follow Yeshua
Kineti L’Tziyon

There’s a rather spirited debate going on over at Judah’s blog considering whether or not studying Talmud and other Jewish texts leads Christians and “Messianics” away from faith in Jesus. The Jewish texts are taking a rather heavy beating from some of the commenters (as I write this, there are 105 comments and growing) but a few defenders of Talmud study are weighing in, including me.

I’ve already commented on a number of occasions, but the question of authority has come up. While I agree that we, as individuals, are responsible to God for our behavior and how we have sanctified or desecrated His Name, I also believe we are not expected to be solely responsible for understanding God or His Bible. It’s OK to have teachers and authorities that we agree to follow and it’s OK to let ourselves learn from these teachers.

I found the following commentary on a Daf I was studying and I thought it was an appropriate illustration of the dynamic between an individual’s interpretation of the Bible (in this case, a Torah mitzvah) and a Rabbinic ruling that modifies the person’s beliefs. As a bonus, the story shows a typically human response to this new information, even after agreeing that we’ve changed our opinion.

Enjoy today’s “extra” meditation.

On today’s daf we find that even pork was permitted during the seven-year conquest of Eretz Yisrael.

Rav Shabsi Yudelevitz recounted that on one plane trip he was seated next to a well-known Israeli zoologist. While the two spoke, the airline meal came and the professor began to partake of his bacon with obvious relish.

Rav Yudelovitz painfully remarked, “How could you eat that? Aren’t you a Jew?”

The professor was nonplussed. “Why does what Moshe said four thousand years ago obligate me?”

Rav Yudelevitz was not impressed, however, with this answer. “Rasha! God said what is written in the Torah, and He is alive and well!”

The professor tried to mollify the offended rabbi. “Rebbi, don’t get upset. If you can prove that God said what meat to eat, I will do teshuvah. But I must say that I had an argument with a certain rav for four hours and he failed to convince me of anything.”

“Four hours? I only need about four minutes,” was Rav Yudelevitz’s confident reply.

The professor opened his eyes wide and said, “Four minutes? Really?”

“Yes. Just listen. The Torah tells us that there are only four species that have one sign of kashrus but not the other: they all either have split hooves or chew their cud, but not both. The Gemara in Chulin 60 wonders how Moshe could have possibly known this. It’s not as though he was a hunter or zoologist! He never went hunting and how could any human at that time possibly know all the many species of animals, even on the savannah of Africa? So how would he dare say that there are only four such anomalies unless God told him so?”

The professor turned white.

But a moment later he said, “I will just finish eating and then I will do teshuvah…”

Rav Yudelevitz commented later about the incident. “What a pity. The professor simply cannot wean himself away from his tasty chazir. He is convinced of the truth but will just wait to finish eating. Sadly, by then it is already too late…”

Daf Yomi Digest
Stories off the Daf
“Logical Inconsistency”
Chullin 17

8 thoughts on “Tasty Chazir”

  1. Wow, that extra meditation was extra powerful. Thanks so much, James. I wouldn’t have seen it otherwise. And even though you’ve got me curious, I’m apprehensive to check out the hubbub at Kineti. Better get prayed up first. 🙂

  2. Hi Luke,

    You can look but not reply. Since there are over 100 comments now, Judah summarized the conversation and created a new blog post yesterday to gather fresh opinions.

    If you like my blog and don’t want to miss anything, you can always *ahem* subscribe (unabashed self-promotion). 😉

  3. Yeah, I read many of them last night. Intense! I don’t enter discussions there anymore because of that… well, I’ll just leave it at “intensity”, but I still visit every few days just to see what’s going on. And yes, I subscribed to MMM last night. Your posts are always very insightful, James. I’ve enjoyed reading Searching.. for a while, but once you moved, it just took me a minute to catch up. Anyway, thanks for all the time you invest in your posts. I hope to be as detailed and efficient one day. 🙂

  4. “And even though you’ve got me curious, I’m apprehensive to check out the hubbub at Kineti. Better get prayed up first.”

    I keep the fire lit under the Kineti crowd, but not on purpose or just to rile them up – but to get folks to rethink viewing Judaism through an antagonistic lens inherited from Christianity. Most of the discussion is fine.

  5. This recent set of conversations at Judah’s blog brings up an interesting paradox. Most Messianic groups, including One Law and Two-House movements, say they love the Jewish people, Israel, and that they are drawn to Judaism, but some of the blog comments were blatantly hostile toward Jews and Judaism. It’s like some of the people are saying that they just want to be “Christians in kippot” but they otherwise keep the core values of Judaism at bay. If Jesus was/is Jewish and he lived and taught in a manner completely consistent with the Judaism of his day (which would include Rabbinic rulings and halachah), how can you be a disciple of “the ultimate Rebbe”, and yet disdain people who are Jews?

  6. James, it appears that many Christians only like Jews if there’s little to distinguish them from themselves, Gentiles. This is not surprising – all people, no matter the ethnicity or religious background, tend to gravitate toward familiar things, things they identify with. Couple this with deep historic anti-Judaic prejudice that has existed in Christianity since the 2nd century on, any Jew who is actually living “in the manner of Jews” will not so appreciated even by “Israel-loving” Christians, but instead viewed as a “Pharisee” and “blasphemer of Christ”, a practitioner of a “man-made religion”.

    This infection, however, is not limited to Gentile believers. It has also historically affected many Hebrew/Jewish Christians as well (in particular those who grew up secular, but not folks like Levertoff and some others) who tend to identify more with secularism and secular Jews and have inherited disdain for traditional Judaism and Orthodox Jews both from their own secular upbringing AND from their new Christian faith.

  7. James, you’ve asked an excellent question: “If Jesus was/is Jewish and he lived and taught in a manner completely consistent with the Judaism of his day (which would include Rabbinic rulings and halachah), how can you be a disciple of “the ultimate Rebbe”, and yet disdain people who are Jews?” And it should be a rhetorical one, but sadly, there are many out there who would try to answer it for you. And they would answer in a way that would only reveal exactly what Gene’s (also excellent) response highlighted.

    I haven’t been walking the walk as long as you guys, but from my experience, it seems that many Christians, and even some Messianic Gentiles, so to speak, “love” Israel because “Jesus” was born there. It’s like they’re sticking up for His “hometown”, in a sense. They really don’t (and probably can’t) have a handle on how Mashiach relates to and fits into Rabbinic Judaism – and aren’t even conscious that anything is missing in their perspective. For the average Christian, if I may say, Israel is precious to the extent that it serves as a harbinger of the return of “Jesus”. It’s existence and people are a timepiece pointing to heaven, rapture, etc and little more. They “love” the concept Israel much like they “love” the concept “Jesus” – which, while it surely sounds harsh, is probably more about a “what’s in it for me?” attitude than a grasp of the “big picture” purpose of Israel in the earth – understood as G-d’s magnificent plan for redeeming humanity through the Jewish People, their faith, and ultimate blessing, the Mashiach Nagid.

  8. I’m going to post an “extra” meditation this afternoon called “The Irrelevant Drunkard” that specifically addresses antisemitism in the church and in the “Messianic movement”. I found a commentary on Chullin 19 that I couldn’t pass up.

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