Sunset over Greek Church

Are Christians Idol Worshipers?

More to the point, by Christians worshiping Jesus as divine, does that automatically make Christians idol worshipers according to Judaism?

The Jewish criterion regarding idolatry – as it relates to non-Jews – is also subject to debate. The accepted ruling is that if a non-Jew believes in a single all-powerful God, even if he accepts other forces together with God (such as the Christian belief in the Trinity), it is not idolatry. (Note that this distinction only pertains to non-Jews.) However, any other type of belief in a deity independent of God is idolatry (Code of Jewish Law – Rema O.C. 156:1).

-from “Ask the Rabbi”
Aish.com

Granted, the various branches of Judaism would have other issues with the worship of Jesus as part of the Trinity, but it is only idol worship if we are assigning an inanimate object with directly being God.

I’m not going to address the whole idea of the Trinity or the divine nature of Yeshua, and how all that’s supposed to work and, for once, I’m not going to write a lengthy missive on the topic. I just wanted to clarify for those folks out there who have accused Christians of being idol worshipers, that according to Jewish thought based on the above-quoted passage, we/they certainly aren’t.

As far as “the Father and I are one” (John 10:30) is concerned, there are other ways to understand why no one comes to the Father except through the Son.

But as the Aish Rabbi above explains, this applies only to non-Jews. For Jewish disciples of Yeshua, I can only imagine things may be a little harder to understand.

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105 thoughts on “Are Christians Idol Worshipers?”

  1. This clarifies that antimissionaries don’t speak for Orthodox Judaism in their polemics, yet I am not aware of Orthodox who have spoken out against them, but some Orthodox rabbis, especially the Modern Orthodox, don’t like the, “kiruv machine,” as they put it.

    Since Hindus, possibly Buddhists and others are idolators according to their criteria, Jews don’t seem concerned about this, including the 25%+ of American Buddhists that are Jewish – BuJews or JewBus, as well as Yoga taught at JCC’s by Hindus. I don’t see antimissionaries going after BuJews, but BuJews don’t ask or care whether they are accepted as Jews or not and don’t proselytize, and I can hypothysize that there are far more Jewish Buddhists than Jewish Messianists.

    One rabbi who teaches a class I am in mentioned that Aish offered a teaching that the Jewish sages knew science hundreds of years prior to modern discoveries. However, the teaching was inaccurate in that the Rambam got his information from Aristotle and Greek philosophers rather than torah, and much of this science is wrong, such as the believe that planets need a shove to retain their orbits and would have had difficulty with the moon landing, as the Rambam claimed the moon was a spiritual, not a physical body. Some of this is sort of what YEC’s – young earth creationists do when they attempt to provide a pseudo-scientific explanation that those without a background in science would accept since they lack the science to refute it.

  2. I find it ironic that Aish.com does not consider it idolatry for gentile individuals to believe in Yeshua, yet they do find it idolatry for Jewish individuals to believe in him.
    As a Jewish believer in Yeshua for over 40 years, I have never had a problem with the complexity of God.
    Below is an excellent video on why the nature of God’s essence cannot be fully comprehended by human beings. We need to accept that there will always be some (perhaps many) things about our Maker that cannot be fully understood. Just as our minds can’t quite grasp how God can be omnipresent, neither can our minds comprehend how God can be three manifest persons, yet One. God’s ways are higher than our ways, His ways are beyond human capacity to fully understand.

  3. “But as the Aish Rabbi above explains, this applies only to non-Jews. For Jewish disciples of Yeshua, I can only imagine things may be a little harder to understand.”

    James, since this post seems to be directed at me, I will volunteer to comment. Let’s think about the above statement for a second. How can it be that according to this particular rabbi (I can assure you that his opinion is not shared with far more authoritative sages) to worship Jesus is certainly idolatry for any Jew (without exception) but not for a Gentile? Is not what true, it’s true for everyone, and if something is false, it’s false for everyone? Let’s think about this logically. If Jesus deity is an idol for a Jew, how can it not be for Gentile too? There’s only One G-d, and to say that Gentiles are permitted to worship something that Jews absolutely must not – that’s not thinking very highly of Gentiles and their relationship with G-d!

    SOME European rabbis of old living in Christendom, with their lives wholly depended on the mercy of popes and Christian princes, ruled that having “a helper” (like Jesus) was permitted to Gentiles. At the time, to say otherwise would have been a death sentence both for the rabbis and Jews under their care. However, even they noted carefully that for a Gentile to pray directly to that helper would be idolatry (the Christian censors probably missed that part).

    Rambam, whose Mishneh Torah Jews study daily, lived under Muslim rule – he had to run away from Christians. There he was free to write what he really thought. He wrote in Laws of Idolatry 9:4 that Christians are considered idolaters under Jewish law.

  4. Gene, I get the impression that if any Rabbi disagrees with you, no matter what, then that Rabbi is not rendering a valid ruling. Yes, this blog post was inspired by your opinion that Christians are idol worshipers, and I simply wanted to point out that your opinion about idolatry isn’t the only one existing within Orthodox Judaism. I also said that there were other reasons why most/all Jews would consider Christianity’s belief in Yeshua as divine to be a problem. That’s the only thing I’m saying here. Your opinion doesn’t get to define all believers in Yeshua everywhere.

  5. Even this rabbi states that for a Jew to worship Jesus is idolatry. My blog efforts are primary for the Jewish people lost to idolatry.

    “Your opinion doesn’t get to define all believers in Yeshua everywhere.”

    G-d warned in His Torah that to have another god before his face or to worship even Him through any form is idolatry. It doesn’t matter how one choose to explain it away. When Jews worshiped Hashem and Ba’al at the same time, they had to choose which one they will continue to worship. I will allow Torah to define what is permitted and for whom.

  6. “I don’t see antimissionaries going after BuJews”

    Chaya…. As you said yourself that they do not proselytize other Jews and do not claim that their religion is Judaism. They don’t erect a Buddhist temple and call it a “shul”. They do not call themselves “completed Jews” and don’t look at other Jews as headed for hellfire if they “don’t believe”.

    They do need to be reached out to, they ARE reached out to, and many do return to Judaism, but they don’t pose the same danger to the Jewish community through incitement to idolatry. Many of the BuJews do not worships the “gods”, but only enjoy yoga and meditations. There’s no such separation in Christianity.

  7. My understanding is that Rambam ran away from an extremist Muslim sect of the times when he escaped to Egypt. I don’t see how a rabbi (or any leader) has authority over those outside the religious community, but can understand commentary. The Rambam was an Aristotalian rationalist, and Aristotle was an idolator. Rambam said the moon was a spiritual, not a physical body. Seems the moon landing might have proved that wrong?

    I am not sure if it is the majority opinion that the Jewish sages were wise, but not inerrant, which is problematic.

  8. If I wanted to delve into this topic more completely, I would have written a longer blog post, Gene. You are perfectly free, for the purpose of this single blog post, to fire up whatever evidence you want to present why Christians are idol worshipers and whatever other terrible, horrible things they/we are supposed to be, and others are free to respond to you with their rebuttals. As long as folks are reasonably civil and no personal attacks are expressed, I’ll let the conversation go on, either until it runs out of momentum or I deem it’s ceased being useful.

    I’ll add this caveat for anyone “lurking” (people who read my blog but who choose not to comment) that Gene’s opinions do not represent those of this blog owner and that my understanding of his involvement here is to encourage any Jewish and Gentile disciples of Jesus/Yeshua to abandon their faith in him as Messiah and to, in the case of Jewish people, return to normative (in Gene’s case, Orthodox) Judaism, and in terms of any Gentile Christians, to encourage them to become Noahides. Gene has the right to his opinion and I have no problems with him following his conscience in worshiping God as an Orthodox Jew, but I am also quite aware that he’s taking this opportunity to influence my readers.

    Gene, I’ll repeat myself that I have a very limited scope of information to present: that you don’t represent the length, breadth, and depth of all Jewish opinion everywhere across the history of the Jewish people. Certainly, your point of view is relatively mainstream but it is not universal.

  9. Gosh, that’s a long disclaimer, James:)

    “Certainly, your point of view is relatively mainstream but it is not universal.”

    I don’t claim to represent liberal opinions in Judaism, that true. As someone who was actually involved in Christianity and Messianic Movement for years of overseas missions and in leadership for almost two decades, my perspective is also a bit different from some keruv rabbi who is not too versed in Christianity but wishes to answer questions from curious Christians.

  10. “My understanding is that Rambam ran away from an extremist Muslim sect of the times when he escaped to Egypt. ”

    You are right – it was Ramban (with N) who ran away from Christians to Muslims.

    “Rambam said the moon was a spiritual, not a physical body. Seems the moon landing might have proved that wrong?”

    Chaya…. I read that this was not the case that he actually believed this (can you find his own words in his own work?). Besides, modern scientists feared that their ships couldn’t land on moon either, since they thought that moon was covered with VERY deep dust accumulated over billions of years. So, I am not too hard on Rambam for guessing, even if he did.

    ” The Rambam was an Aristotalian rationalist, and Aristotle was an idolator.”

    Many Christians were Aristotalians too, what’s your point? It was the science of the day. You’d be one too had you lived then.

  11. I agree, Chaya. I would like to add, since when is it anybody else’s business to judge who is and who is not an “idolator”? Doesn’t judgment belong to God alone? (Matt 7:1, Romans 14:4)

  12. I would need to do some research on this. This information came about during a class about Science and Rambam. A rabbi (don’t recall his name) wrote an essay in an attempt to reconcile the two.

    Not sure what I would have believed had I lived in a time with a lack of sources of information to test and compare. I’ve learned to appreciate the world of science, but not put so much faith in it, as today’s science is not tomorrow’s science, and the world of science has been filled with fraudulent and flawed research that has done much harm, as well as that which has done much good. Well, we could say the same thing about religion. The intellectual elite of the time were Aristotalians, and it seemed to be a positive, corrective force to some extent within the religious world.

    I understand that the majority viewpoint among rabbis is that the sages were wise, but not inerrant. Need to check several sources on this.

  13. “Doesn’t judgment belong to God alone?”

    Well, if that were the case (and it’s not the case with Torah, but I see you cited the NT), we wouldn’t have G-d warning us in His Torah about idolatry, how to spot it, how prevent others from inciting you to fall for it, how to prevent idolaters from spreading it among the people, or how to test a false prophet who would lead others into idolatry. All this requires us to judge. And of course, G-d even set up a system of judges for the Jewish people, but all of us need to judge for ourselves too. So, no, judgment doesn’t belong to G-d alone, but people need to exercise it daily themselves – without it life would be chaos.

  14. Chaya… on these links above I see a lot of speculation and no specific quotes from Rambam himself about the moon being “spiritual”. Some people say that he said or meant nothing of the sort. The best can be said is that he believed that “the heavens” contained only spiritual things, like G-d and angels, etc. Of course, in Judaism, there are many levels in heavens.

    As far as Rambam and scienec goes – not bad for a 1000 year old science. I’d say that he was pretty good in some of the scientific things. He estimated, for example, that the moon is much smaller and the sun is much larger (even though both look quite small to us) – he didn’t get the sizes right exactly, but still not bad.

    Science may change in its understanding of the universe and the great scientists we respect today may look quite naive a hundred years from now with new discoveries. But G-d’s Torah doesn’t change. If G-d said it was wrong to worship anyone but Him, that this would be idolatry – Rambam didn’t invent that.

  15. There is no difficulty for G-d, or a part of G-d being separated by G-d out of His being for the express purpose of entering a human body created for that purpose in order to live a sinless life, and then sacrifice it voluntarily to provide redemption to all mankind who will trust in that sacrifice and redemption. G-d certainly had no difficulty assuming human form to visit Adam in Gan Eden (Where He walked and talked with Adam in the cool of the evenings); or assuming human form to visit Abraham an announce Yitz’chak’s coming birth; nor to put on a human form to wrestle with Ya’akov; nor any trouble putting His Shekinah on earth…why could He not place that, or any thing He chose into a human body to accomplish that task?

    Everything that exists apart from G-d was made by G-d, and operates in G-d’s creation by G-d’s good pleasure, and G-d is not answerable to any of His creation. We know what we do know of G-d because He chose to tell us, and it is written down in the Scriptures, Tanakh and Brit Chadasha, by men who were used by the Ruach haKodesh on G-d’s behalf as we use a pencil. What is described in the Scriptures paints a complete picture of Yeshua: Prophet, Suffering Servant, Kinsman Redeemer, adopted Son of G-d, and Mashiach in power, who having died for us, intercedes with the Father on our behalf because we ask blessings of G-d in Yeshua’s name and thus Yeshua’s righteousness, not our own.

    The idea of a trinity is mere philosophical speculation by the Greco-Roman ‘Church Fathers’ who didn’t understand the reality of a single Creator G-d who is over all things, no matter the dimension, or even personalities involved. It doesn’t matter how that Creator God chooses to manifest Himself, so long as we worship only Him, YHVH, and are called by His Name.

    Those Believers who confuse Yeshua with HaShem are merely badly taught, and I daresay are tolerated by Abba because they were never taught properly. The grace given in Yeshua’s redemption covers such confusion, even as it covers all human sin in those who accept the gift of Yeshua as the Redeemer sent by G-d. Deliberately praying to Yeshua instead of YHVH would be idolatry, and Yeshua would be the first to condemn the action, and correct the offender.

  16. I believe what Merril is saying is that we cannot judge what is in a person’s heart; their motivations. We certainly can and do (although we often don’t practice the Jewish two-handed judging.)

  17. “Well, if that were the case (and it’s not the case with Torah, but I see you cited the NT), we wouldn’t have G-d warning us in His Torah about idolatry, how to spot it, how prevent others from inciting you to fall for it, how to prevent idolaters from spreading it among the people, or how to test a false prophet who would lead others into idolatry. All this requires us to judge.”

    Gene,
    I believe Scripture is a timeless and universal document. It is given so that we will reflect and judge OURSELVES. It is not given in order to make pronouncement over OTHERS. We are not to usurp what rightfully belongs to God. Only He has the authority to judge our souls (which includes the charge of committing idolatry). Ancient Israel as a theocracy was given the mandate to self monitor as part of their governance. I reject that the Orthodox rabbinate has authority to extend its decrees over the Jewish people today either individually or corporately (or anyone else for that matter.) What they define as “idolatry” and to whom this may or may not apply is, to me, insignificant and inconsequential. I don’t bow to the decrees of men, I bow to God alone.

  18. **Should rather read:
    I reject HOWEVER that the Orthodox rabbinate has authority to extend its decrees over the Jewish people today either individually or corporately (or anyone else for that matter.)

  19. “my understanding of [Gene’s] involvement here is to encourage any Jewish and Gentile disciples of Jesus/Yeshua to abandon their faith in him as Messiah ”

    James, I want to correct you a bit. My biggest issue is that Jesus is worshiped as a deity, especially by my fellow Jews. Whether someone thinks that Jesus is a messiah or not, that’s not as important to me as the idolatry of worshiping a man as god or seeing any man as “divine” in any way, no matter what creative theology is presented to excuse this sin. Just wanted to clarify things a bit.

  20. @Merrill — Have you forgotten 1Cor.6:2 where Rav Shaul reminds them “Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? …”
    Consider also 1Cor.11:31 “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” [Hint: there is often confusion over two variants of the Greek word for judgment: “krino” and “diakrino”, which distinguish between condemnation/punishment and discernment/evaluation.]

  21. @Chaya — You offer an interesting example regarding rabbinic musings about the moon, whether it should be viewed as a part of the “heavens” which cannot be touched by human physicality, or part of the “earth” which by extension includes all the physical matter in the universe as cited in Gen.1. It seems to me that this raises also the question of distinguishing between the moon as a physical object and the moon as it is viewed in much of human literature where it is a spiritual influence, such as an inspiration for love or lunacy or both. Perhaps we ought to say that physical objects or persons may also have spiritual impact or existence. We might do well also to consider which aspect is in view when examining any human expression. As Rav Yeshua noted: That which is flesh is flesh; and that which is spirit is spirit. (cif.: Jn.3:6) Mistaking one for the other is one of the essential errors characteristic of idolatry, though one is not guilty of idolatry merely by making that mistake.

  22. @Gene — You shouldn’t presume that rabbis writing under Islamic regimes were any less subject to self-censorship than those under Christian ones, even prior to Islam’s retreat into radical fundamentalism in the 14th century.

  23. And by the way Gene, why is it that you always harp on the supposed sin of “idolatry” by MJs and Christians? Certainly there are plenty of other sins to harp on such as taking the Lord’s name in vain, fornication, homosexuality, adultery, sorcery, materialism, substance abuse, etc. Why is it you seem only to concern yourself with the sin of supposed “Idolatry”? Is this the only sin that cuts people (especially Jews) off from God? You have on several occassions stated that the “idolatry” of Yeshua belief “destroys” Jewish lives. It seems to me that there are plenty of other life choices and action that destroy Jewish lives. Yeshua belief is hardly one of them.

  24. @ Gene,

    2 questions:

    Can’t Zechariah 12:10 be read as referring to the death of a pierced, Divine Messiah? Because it says ” They will look on ME, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for HIM…”

    Can’t Messianic Prophecies be read as referring to a Single Messiah who had a Dual Mission (as opposed to Dual Messiah of Yoseph/David)?

    @ James,

    I love the decision to bring back comments! : )

  25. @Merrill — Consider what Rav Yeshua said about the scribes and Pharisees of his day, in Mt.23:2-3. He instructed his own disciples to obey their authority, despite some caveats and reservations about some of their behavior (and the mistaken viewpoints that caused it). This authority was passed on through the subsequent generations of Jewish authorities, which in our day resides within the aggregate of halakhically faithful rabbis (e.g., Orthodox ones). Therefore I caution you to be exceedingly careful about rejecting such authority, lest you reject Rav Yeshua’s as well.

  26. “Why is it you seem only to concern yourself with the sin of supposed “Idolatry”?”

    Merrill…. simple – because for a Jew it’s the worst sin possible – it’s a betrayal of G-d to have another god before Him. One you read the Bible, the punishments for this particular sin are the most severe, as are the warnings.

  27. “You shouldn’t presume that rabbis writing under Islamic regimes were any less subject to self-censorship than those under Christian ones, even prior to Islam’s retreat into radical fundamentalism in the 14th century”

    PL, and you shouldn’t presume that I presume that. But overall, Jews had it easier among the Muslims. They were not doing all that great under Islam, they was still oppressed and sometimes murdered, but overall their suffering was far, far less that for Jews living under Christian rule – it’s a historic fact.

  28. “Can’t Zechariah 12:10 be read as referring to the death of a pierced, Divine Messiah? Because it says ” They will look on ME, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for HIM…””

    Peter, I don’t think so. Besides the fact the messiah (G-d’s anointed Davidic king) can’t be “god”, I myself don’t even buy into the “Messiah ben Joseph” thing. It’s not the literal or even implied meaning of this passage. At best it’s allegorical or midrashic interpretation and a much later, post-first-century development that some rabbis suggested when they asked what would happen to the “lost tribes” (represented by the tribes of Joseph). It doesn’t appear anywhere in the Jewish texts before that time.

    “Can’t Messianic Prophecies be read as referring to a Single Messiah who had a Dual Mission (as opposed to Dual Messiah of Yoseph/David)? ”

    I don’t think so. Although I suppose it’s possible to string some mirdashim or take this or that opinion of some rabbis out of context to create an artificial link where none had existed before.

  29. @Merrill: I have to agree with PL that there’s evidence to support that idea that Jewish Rabbinic authority over their communities didn’t end just because of Messiah Yeshua.

    @Gene: Even for those folks who believe Yeshua is Messiah and not divine, I suspect there would still be a problem from the point of view of most Jews, since it’s almost impossible for both Christians and Jews (most anyway) to get past the doctrine of the Trinity. Even for those Jewish people who do, I suppose they’d still say that such devotees to Yeshua are wrong. The stigma of Yeshua-worship and how Christianity has historically used their faith against Jews and Judaism isn’t something to be laid aside lightly. Any Jew or Gentile who says they believe Yeshua is the Messiah but not divine would still be looked upon (probably) with distrust and suspicion.

    @Peter: I’m opening up comments on a case by case basis. I haven’t changed my overall policy, just loosened the belt up a notch.

  30. “Any Jew or Gentile who says they believe Yeshua is the Messiah but not divine would still be looked upon (probably) with distrust and suspicion.”

    You are right, James. But that’s primarily because they are usually still saddled with all the other Christian theology surrounding Jesus – they often still believe that praying to him is OK, they often still believe that he’s sitting on G-d’s throne and receives a measure of G-d’s glory, that Jesus will determine who goes to hell or heaven, they think that he can forgive sins and save people from condemnation, they may even believe that G-d has authorized Jesus to accept praise and worship on His behalf. They have realized that Jesus can’t be god, but they are still beholden to the New Testament as “scripture” and so they are forced to justify to themselves and to others the idolatrous doctrines and ideas found in its pages.

  31. Peter said, “Can’t Zechariah 12:10 be read as referring to the death of a pierced, Divine Messiah? Because it says ” They will look on ME, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for HIM…””

    First off, you’re not reading the verse in context with the whole chapter. Also, this passage says nothing about a messiah or even mention of one. I know it’s easy for a Christian to get whipped up because of the word “pierced.”

    In the passage, who is “they”? Who is “me”? Who is “they” again? Who is “him”? Who are these referring to because the verse does not specify this, so it’s a little more difficult to understand.

    This passage seems to be talking about two different people, “me” and “him”. However, if you look at what the book of John says, he changes the passage. “And again another scripture says, ‘They shall look on him whom they pierced.'” (John 19:37)

    If we look back a few verses in John we read this: “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” (John 19:34-37 ESV)

    So, the book of John is telling us that this verse in Zechariah was fulfilled 2,000 years ago when this Roman soldier looked at Jesus on the cross. According to John, the “they” is the Roman soldier and the “him” is Jesus. Again, this is taking Zechariah 12:10 out of context. I challenge you to go back and read the whole chapter.

    Zechariah 12 is talking about a great siege that will take place where all the nations will wage war against Jerusalem. This has not happened yet. This did not happen 2,000 years ago. This is possibly describing the war of Gog and Magog. The great war before the Messianic Era. This chapter has nothing to do with the death of Jesus.

    So, when read in context, the “they” is the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the “me” is G-d, whom they will look to for help and call out to G-d.

    Another problem is the Christian text. In Hebrew it is read as “And they shall look upon me concerning the pierced.” It’s kind of vague as to who was pierced, but there is a couple of ways to understanding this. One way is: (those = who fell in battle; they = the enemies). So, it’s the some Jews who got killed in this great battle. Another way is: (he = the one who fell in battle; they = the enemies). In this other way, G-d miraclously limits the casualties to one, which is incredible. But the main thing here is is that G-d is not the one who is pierced.

    So, if the casualties are more than one, why does it say “they will mourn for him”. It should say “they will mourn for them.” But, if you read throughout the Tanakh, you will see that the plural of Israel are usually referred to in the singular. It’s not unusual for a group of Jewish people to be described as “he” or “him”.

    So, you can read it as many casualties or just one. Take your pick.

    What about this national mourning that will lead to a national repentance? This is commonly repeated among the prophets that this will take place before the Messiah comes and the Messianic Era. So, this national mourning will lead to national repentance which will lead to the coming of the Messiah.

    Again, this passage has nothing to do about Jesus dying 2,000 years ago on a cross. He did not die in a battle. Zechariah is clearly speaking about someone who dies in a great battle or siege. 2,000 years ago there was no great battle or siege of Jerusalem by all the armies of the world. And 2,000 years ago, upon the death of Jesus, there was no great national mourning. The whole Jewish people didn’t mourn for him 2,000 years ago. Just read the great mourning written in Zechariah 12:11-14. Zechariah makes a great parallel reference to the death of Josiah as recorded in 2 Chronicles 35:22-25 and 2 Kings 23:28-30.

    By carefully reading Zechariah you’ll see that it is a prophecy that has nothing to do with Jesus.

  32. Keith… that’s good analysis. The usual retort from messianics: “hey, didn’t some rabbi say that this is about messiah ben Joseph?”

    Well, some post-first-century rabbi may have said this, but this certainly is not the literal meaning of the verses. At best it is midrash or a legend.

    Not to mention that it doesn’t fit NT’s description of Jesus and how these verses are used by John (as you showed). Targumim and most midrashim – all way post first century – do not even refer to “messiah ben Joseph” but to “messiah ben Ephraim” or “Warrior Messiah”, because that messiah is supposed to fight in battles. Jesus fought in no battles (unless one wants to count “defeating sin” or “Satan”….).

  33. @Merrill — Have you forgotten 1Cor.6:2 where Rav Shaul reminds them “Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? …”
    Consider also 1Cor.11:31 “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”

    PL: 1Cor 6:2 is not given for outsiders to judge insiders.. It was given for governance WITHIN the individual congregations.Gene has place himself OUTSIDE the ecclesia of Yeshua believers. 1Cor 11:31 is referring to the Millennial Age in which all the world will be under the governance of HaShem and His people. It is not saying that we are to judge outsiders in the current age. Further, 1 Cor 6:2 is talking about juding behavior that causes dissension among believers or observably obvious sin. Judgement of HEART matters, such as if one is commiting idolatry or not, belongs to God. How can we be so presumptuous to say we can know another’s heart?

  34. “Gene has place himself OUTSIDE the ecclesia of Yeshua believers.”

    Merrill – but I have not placed myself outside of the Jewish believers in One G-d. Therefore, when I see my fellow Jews worshiping a non-god, I must do something for them. I cannot stand by idly and just watch my neighbors’ “blood being spilled”, to apply the Torah expression to Jewish lives being mangled by idolatry.

  35. “@Merrill: I have to agree with PL that there’s evidence to support that idea that Jewish Rabbinic authority over their communities didn’t end just because of Messiah Yeshua.”

    James, I have to respectfully disagree that Rabinnic decrees hold authority over me. I don’t see anything in Scripture that would lead me to believe that outside the ancient cultus that the modern day decrees of rabbinic Judaism have any authority over me. I see nothing in Tanakh or the NT writtings that would lead me to believe this. Further, to submit to their decrees would require that I abondon belief in Yeshua all together. Why would I submit myself to a governing body outside of the ecclesia of Messiah? It makes no sense to me.

  36. I didn’t say they had authority over you, Merrill. I did say that I believe God is still with all Jews and is with those in authority over their own communities.

  37. “I didn’t say they had authority over you, Merrill.”

    But didn’t Jesus tell his own disciples to obey whatever the Pharisees (who were direct ancestors of today’s rabbis) were telling them to do? So, it sounds like Merrill should seek out a LOR (Local Orthodox rabbi – not Reform, since Jesus wouldn’t agree with their take on Torah) and come under his authority in at least all matters apart from belief in Jesus.

  38. Gene, I may have missed whether or not Merrill is Jewish. In any event (and I know you won’t agree with the following), when Messiah comes/returns (depending on your point of view) it will be interesting to see what he does agree with and what he doesn’t agree with, even within Orthodox Judaism.

  39. James, but you are not waiting for messiah’s coming to decide WHO the messiah actually is! In fact, you seem certain about who he is. So why take this wait and see approach on what messiah may or may not do later? (Note: Jews have a pretty good idea about what he will do and not do).

  40. What I’m saying is, to the best of my understanding, there’s no one unified entity called Orthodox Judaism, is there? There are many poskim and they don’t always agree with each other. How do you know Messiah will render blanket approval for each and every judgement and decision within Judaism over all the long centuries? Frankly, I’m prepared to believe that we all will be surprised, one way or another, by some of the rulings of the King.

  41. Rabbis and leaders had authority over their communities. This was necessary for survival, for some respected yet imperfect person(s) to form liaisons, if possible, with diaspora rulers and act as civil authority within the Jewish community. Jewish communities have always had their own courts, and I believe this is what Paul was referring to, when he admonished that people shouldn’t take their conflicts to the courts of the gentiles, but find resolution via their own courts. There was no Jewish Pope, but individual communities had their own authorities, for good or for evil. One example of evil was that most religious European leaders did not support leaving their diaspora homes for the nascent zionist movement, made up almost entirely of secular Jews.

    I certainly don’t believe the current names of the various brands of evangelicals have any authority over me. It is not that I see them as idol worshippers, but considering that they don’t even know the original biblical languages nor much about history and are caught in a loop of cognitive dissonance – well, we all are to some extent, I look to the highways and byways, to those who listen for the still, small voice, to the 7,000 who have not bowed the knee to some brand of Baal.

    What is interesting is to see what appears to be persons who acted to move the divine plot forward, not understanding what they were doing and even believing that they were accomplishing something quite different. And most still don’t see it.

  42. “What I’m saying is, to the best of my understanding, there’s no one unified entity called Orthodox Judaism, is there? ”

    Actually, speaking as someone who is part of that world, there’s a unified “Orthodox Judaism”, and while there are different communities and customs, MOST Orthodox Jews can and do freely pray in all o the diverse Orthodox synagogues around the world, even in the communities with which they may strongly disagree with on certain matters. Orthodox Jews accept common Orthodox kashrut (there are occasional politics in all matters, but this is expected). There’s even OU (Orthodox Union) which unifies most Orthodox Groups at least to some degree.

    “How do you know Messiah will render blanket approval for each and every judgement and decision within Judaism over all the long centuries?”

    The problem is that we live in here and now. Real people and communities can’t sit around and wait until messiah comes. Which brings us to people like Merrill who reject Torah-observant Jewish authorities even in her area.

    “Frankly, I’m prepared to believe that we all will be surprised, one way or another, by some of the rulings of the King.”

    The Jewish law clearly specifies that even a messianic king may not unilaterally make any halachic rulings without Sanhedrin’s say and approval. A Jewish king is not above his people – he’s part of them. After all, he’s not G-d! So, perhaps Jews will not be so surprised after all – although Christians will certainly be!

  43. “One example of evil was that most religious European leaders did not support leaving their diaspora homes for the nascent zionist movement, made up almost entirely of secular Jews.”

    Chaya… it’s easy to judge from our vantage point. Many secular Jewish leader also advocated staying put and against Zionism (they were “good faithful Germans” after all) – they thought it would blow over! Nothing like this ever happened in Jewish history and Germany was the most civilized nation in Europe at the time. “Evil” – excuse me!

  44. @James, yes I am Jewish, by both parents.

    @Gene: the one verse you mention from Matthew 23:3 is not sufficient evidence to say that Yeshua is giving authority to future offshoots of the sanhedrin as authoritative. Further the claim that Yeshua was being literal in this statement comes under scrutiny when compared with everything he says immediately after verse 3. We need to weigh all verses of Scripture carefully,comoaring them eith each other before making DOCTRINE out of them.To make a doctrine that by this ONE verse that Yeshua is giving authority to the sanhedrin, and by extension the modern Orthodox Rabbinate for all time, to me, is poor exegesis.

  45. “To make a doctrine that by this ONE verse that Yeshua is giving authority to the sanhedrin, and by extension the modern Orthodox Rabbinate for all time, to me, is poor exegesis.”

    Merrill, personally, it doesn’t matter to me either way what NT says. But some MJ’s think that this is what JC meant.

  46. My understanding is that the, “keys of the kingdom,” and ability to bind and loose was referring to the ability to make halachic judgements for their community. The Sanhedrin was corrupt, yet it was the court system of the times. It also doesn’t make sense that one who believes Yeshua is accursed can also claim that one should follow their own interpretation of what he spoke. The two can’t exist together in the same universe. This reminds me of a guy who made two mutually exclusive statements: 1. God does not exist. 2. (Your) god is a bad boy. He is not doing a good job at godding. So, I asked the guy, which one is it? 1 or 2? All he could spout was a list of all the things this nasty, violent, genocidal god did. But if this account in torah is just myth, then it is like complaining Grimm’s fairy tales are too violent.

  47. “Frankly, I’m prepared to believe that we all will be surprised, one way or another, by some of the rulings of the King.”

    AGREE!!

  48. @ Chaya,

    Yes I realize that some Torah Observant MJ groups believe the statement in Matthew 23:3 is literal and and binding.However I believe they do so in error, especially when the immediately following verses in chapter 23 seem fairly clearly (to me at least) to contradict verse 3.

    I have no issues with Jewish believers in Yeshua being Torah Observant. I do however take issue with a governing body OUTSIDE the Yeshua believing ecclesia as having authority over me/us. I also take issue with those MJ’s who say I must be Torah Observant according to THEIR particular standards.

    “For to his own Master each will stand or fall.” (Romans 14:4).

  49. Correction, I think I was conflating Gene’s statement with Chaya’s about Torah Observant MJ’s regarding the use of Matthew 23:3. So, I guess my above post should have been addressed differently. But hopefully you guys understand my point.

  50. I was reading the “A Closer Look at the Siddur” section of today’s commentary for Parashas Tetzaveh in A Daily Dose of Torah. I think it’s relevant to the current discussion since it speaks of Rambam’s twelfth of his Thirteen Fundamental principles:

    I believe with complete faith in the coming of Messiah, and even though he may delay, nevertheless, I await him every day, [for I know] that he will come.

    Gene and I disagree about the nature and identity of the Messiah but (hopefully) there are at least a few things we can agree on. From the commentary:

    In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Sanhedrin 10:1), Rambam writes that the main change that the advent of the Messianic era will bring about is that the Jews will regain their independence and will no longer be subjugated by other nations.

    I agree.

    I will be a time when sustenance will be easy to obtain and the Jews will be able to keep the Torah with ease, as the nations will no longer oppress them. War will be a thing of the past, and people will live in peace, using their leisure to increase their wisdom.

    I agree.

    In Hilchos Melachim (Chapter 11), Rambam adds that the Messiah will be a scion of the house of David, who will restore the monarchy of the Davidic dynasty to its former glory. He will gather the Jewish exiles from the scattered lands in which they are found and return them to Eretz Yisrael, where he will rebuild the Beis HadMikdash [the Temple] and rule over them as their king.

    I agree, although I’m sure Gene will be quick to marshall his arguments about why Yeshua can’t be from the House of David, a discussion we’ve had before.

    Now this part is interesting.

    Rambam (ibid.) makes a point in emphasizing that the coming of the Messiah will not change the Torah at all. All the mitzvos to the Torah will remain the same, and nothing will be added to it or removed from it.

    Has Torah observance changed over time? I’d have to say yes. I don’t know how Torah was observed by the various streams of Judaism in the late Second Temple period (Pharisees, Sadducees, Essences, etc..) identically mirrors how the mitzvot are performed by Orthodox Jews today.

    We know (and here’s where Gene will disagree with me again) that Yeshua did observe the mitzvot, though he disagreed with some of the Pharisees and Scribes as to how to interpret some of the laws, particularly the laws of Shabbos. Will Messiah disagree with how to interpret some of the laws when he comes/returns? Gene (and I think PL made this point sometime in the past) says that Messiah cannot overrule the Sanhedrin, and prophesy says Messiah will also re-establish the ancient court system, and that may well be true, but this next part may modify things.

    Moreover, man will still possess the same material desires and free will that he does now. However, the understanding of Hashem that will fill the world will be so total that evil will cease to be, and the peoples of the world, who will coexist in peace and harmony, will work in unison to perfect themselves and become as close as possible to Hashem (see R’Moshe Chaim Luzzato in Ma’amar Halkkarim…see also Sanhedrin 91b).

    The New Covenant promises (see Jer. 36; Ezek. 31) say that God will put His Spirit in His people to such a degree that everyone will “know Hashem” from the least to the greatest, making it possible for the Jewish people to observe the Torah without sin to any degree. This presupposes an absolutely correct and iron clad understanding of the Torah down to the finest detail, thus the need for interpretation may well be done away with. The Jewish people will just know (and presumably teach the nations what we need to know, since those last statements speak of “the peoples of the world” coexisting in peace and working together.

    Gene, I don’t think you can allow yourself to agree with me on anything in this or any other discussion, which is fine. You didn’t come here to agree, especially with an “idol worshiper” like me.

    However, I wanted to illustrate for everyone else, that the advantage of studying from a Messianic Jewish perspective for a Gentile, is to ditch a lot of the baggage the Church has collected for nearly twenty centuries, and to at least approximate an Israel-friendly, Jewish-friendly, and Judaism-friendly understanding of what the Messiah is supposed to do, first and foremost, for his people and his nations.

  51. “Has Torah observance changed over time? I’d have to say yes.”

    James, you are confusing changing Torah with trying to understand how new things like electricity, etc, fit into the existing commandments, which do NOT change (which means Torah doesn’t change). This is what halacha is for. So, Torah has not changed at all, because Judaism has a built-in process called halacha that guides us how to implement various Torah commandments. Perhaps you are also adding minhag (customs) into the mix – those are not Torah either.

    But overall, I would agree with the rest of your post.

  52. I dunno, Gene. Jews don’t keep slaves anymore, and yet the Torah does speak extensively about slaves (more like indentured servants, really). Now you could say (and rightly so) that with no Sanhedrin in place and Israel having a secular government at present, that it would be impossible to keep those laws, but if everything in the Torah is eternal and unchanging, does that mean in the Messianic Era, that those laws will once more become enforced? What about the laws regarding stoning someone for a capital offense? Granted, I’m no expert, and while I can agree that Torah is eternal, how it is observed (halacha) has evolved over time. Torah contains eternal truths in a factual and I believe even mystic sense, but if it weren’t a living and adaptive entity, it would have become archaic long, long ago.

    Also, although I believe that God’s Spirit was/is with the Jewish sages, I also have to believe that, being human, some of them could have made an error from time to time. I’ve heard it said that one of the things the Messiah will do is teach Torah correctly. Of course, as I said before, that might actually be completely unnecessary as everyone will be filled with the Spirit to such a degree that we will have an apprehension of God as great or greater than the ancient prophets and we will just *know*. In either case, whatever “course corrections” religious Judaism in specific and the world in general may require will be provided.

    Gene said:

    But overall, I would agree with the rest of your post.

    [Nearly faints] Wow. We can still agree on something. 😉

  53. “I dunno, Gene. Jews don’t keep slaves anymore, and yet the Torah does speak extensively about slaves”

    James, it’s not like Torah COMMANDS you to HAVE slaves! It just tells you that IF you have them how to deal with them. Which means that if Jewish leaders forbid any sort of slavery, it would be forbidden. But “slaves” for Israelites they were not like black slaves in the U.S., that’s for sure – they had rights and many even volunteered to be ones to pay off debts. They were more like servants, not like slaves.

    Speaking of the change in Torah view of indentured servants, check out what that the prophet foretells of the future:

    “And Israel will take possession of the nations and make them male and female servants in the L-rd’s land. They will make captives of their captors and rule over their oppressors.” (Isaiah 14:2)

    So, even though Torah doesn’t command slavery, it looks like those who oppressed the Jewish people will be made to work off their evil deeds.

  54. Yes, but the laws pertaining to Jewish slaves vs. Gentile slaves are quite different. As I recall, the laws regarding a Jew with Gentile slaves gives little to no rights to the Gentiles. Of course, we are talking about the nations who went to war against Israel, so I can see a certain amount of justice being enacted here. I also believe that the other nations of the earth, including the U.S., will become vassal nations to Israel, subservient to Israel’s rule.

    I realize that Jewish slaves was more of what I can ancient Israel’s welfare system and was actually organized to get the poor back on their feet, so to speak, over a seven year span. But is this how poverty will be managed in the Messianic era, or will there even be poor among the Israelis in those days?

  55. James, since Torah doesn’t command slavery, not to practice slavery – either voluntarily or for other reasons, would not constitute a change in Torah, which is what you implied. That’s the point I am trying to make clear. Agree?

    “But is this how poverty will be managed in the Messianic era, or will there even be poor among the Israelis in those days?”

    Again, since slavery is not commanded and poverty is not commanded either, in the absence of either there’s no need to apply Torah regulations. This, again, not a change in Torah. Torah itself doesn’t change.

  56. Analogy: does death penalty laws in Torah no longer apply if murder has not been committed in a few years’ time? No, of course not. Did Torah change in the absence of murder for a few years? Of course not – Torah is unchanged. But once someone does finally commit a murder, then watch Torah kick in. Torah didn’t change because murders had no occurred – and murderer are not commanded to murder. Same with everything else in the Torah that is similar to this.

  57. OK, I’ll agree with your point since you put it in bold font. 😉

    But doesn’t that mean, at least with changing circumstances, that how the Torah is operationalized changes? For instance, there really used to be four corners on garment so that Jews could attach tzitzit to those corners, but in the modern world, clothing is quite different so the practice of donning a tallit was adopted.

    Riddle me this. I believe (and I’m doing this from memory so I could get it wrong) that the commandment not to possess leaven during the week of unleavened bread is interpreted among Sephardic Jews but not among the Ashkenazi, as including beans, since when beans are moistened, they expand. It’s a thousand details like this one, where two different groups have distinctive and sometimes conflicting halachah, that interests me. Will variations in Jewish practice be maintained in the Messianic age or will there be one, unified practice for all of the mitzvot? I’m not sure anyone can answer that, but my perception of Judaism in general is that a great deal of effort has been made so make absolutely sure no prohibition has been violated, so “doing it right” is really important.

  58. “but in the modern world, clothing is quite different so the practice of donning a tallit was adopted. ”

    Yes, this is only done to KEEP the Torah even if not required by modern fashions. Otherwise, I am NOT obligated to wear tzitzit.

    “Riddle me this”

    These are customs and rabbinic rulings designed to create a fence around Torah.

    “Will variations in Jewish practice be maintained in the Messianic age or will there be one, unified practice for all of the mitzvot?”

    I have a feeling that the customs might become more uniform in a distant future as there’s more mixture between different groups as Jews settle in the land. Most specialized customs are the result of exile. There’s an increasing rate of “intermarriage” between Sephardim and Ashkenazim in Israel, so who knows how things will go, even before messianic age.

  59. I would think that questions of kitiyot and issues of Pesach would be halacha, not minhag. My Sephardic relatives do not practice kitniyot and even eat rice on Pesach, but don’t have it when the Ashenazi relatives come over for seder 🙂

  60. So, it makes sense that a fence is no longer needed when one can be sure of the correct interpretation of torah. A fence provides boundaries for children who haven’t yet developed their own internalized boundaries?

  61. Except unneeded fences never seem to get retired. I remember many years ago sitting in our local Conservative/Reform synagogue and a Jewish woman sitting just ahead of me asked the Rabbi, “Why do we have so many traditions? It seems like where ever we’ve lived (in Jewish history), we’ve added new traditions.”

  62. @James, I suspect, “every man under his own vine and fig tree, and no one to make him afraid,” hints that there will be no poverty, no poor, no need, perhaps no sickness and debility too. I don’t believe there will be slavery, but those among the nations who will serve willingly.

  63. One thing I have learned in my 40 years of studying the Scriptures is this: When something in Scripture is ambiguous, particularly in the light of other given Scripture (such as Matt 23:3 compared with the rest of Matthew chapter 23), or anachronistic (like laws pertaining to slavery or purity rites pertaining to a not presently existing Temple system), then don’t make a doctrine out of them, and especially don’t have the temerity to declare them authoritative over others.

  64. I didn’t mean to imply the people were evil for acting according to what they believed was the divine will, or even according to what they believed was the right thing to do. I am just saying that the rulings and viewpoints of the acknowledged religious leaders didn’t always bode well. In general, respect for trusted authority is a good thing, but not always. I can imagine that both the religious and secular did not want to see danger because that would mean uprooting their lives.

    My grandparents weren’t deeply religious people, at least once they left the old country. But somehow they listened when they heard that one could have a better life and better future for their children in America and escape religious persecution. If they had been religious, they would have likely felt too connected to the Eastern European religious world to leave, and if they had been well-off or well-connected, they might not have wanted to leave this for starting with nothing in a new country. So, if they hadn’t left, perhaps they would have perished in the Holocaust and I wouldn’t have been born, or I would have grown up under communism. Who knows? I understand that those who had experienced antisemitism weren’t going to believe this was anything new. Did you know that the Japanese authorities approached the chief rabbi of New York in the 1930’s, offering a haven for European Jews in newly conquered areas of China, as the Japanese saw Jews as hard-working, good citizens, and they believed they owed a favor to a Jewish banker who assisted them in their battle against the Russians. They were ushered out the door, because of course their friend Roosevelt was going to help them, if needed.

    Did you know that when the first tower was hit on 9/11, building security, over the intercom system, urged people to stay put rather than add to the chaos. Most didn’t listen and ran for the stairs.

    So, I listen to and respect the wisdom of the wise, but I am not placing myself under the authority of any man.

  65. @Merrill, @Gene, it doesn’t make sense to, “come under the authority,” of a person(s) unless you are part of that community, not just because you live in a nearby locality.

    Could someone please show me the verse where Messiah is to be under the authority of the Sanhedrin? I understand the king was required to carry a personally handwritten copy of torah with him at all times, and the concept that the king was not above the law was radical in that time.

  66. “So, I listen to and respect the wisdom of the wise, but I am not placing myself under the authority of any man.”

    Agree, agree, agree!!

  67. “So, it makes sense that a fence is no longer needed when one can be sure of the correct interpretation of torah. A fence provides boundaries for children who haven’t yet developed their own internalized boundaries?”

    Incredibly frustrating to read this criticism and pontification on Judaism that showcases lack of understanding of its very basics.

    The fences are not in place because Jews somehow do not know the “correct interpretation of Torah”. (If Jews, who studied and practiced it for thousands of year do not know, who does?) Instead, the fences are there to prevent KNOWN violations of Torah from taking place too easily or by mistake.

    Here’s one example of a fence: lighting a fire on Shabbat is prohibited in Torah. However, rabbis decreed that one shouldn’t even be handling matches (or lighters) or candles on Shabbat, since this may lead to using them by mistake. Rabbis do not call their additions Torah – they are called “rabbinic fences” and breaking them is not the same as breaking Torah even by a stretch. Fences are not thought of or viewed as Torah itself. (Note: one can still move prohibited things if they are in a way of Shabbat enjoyment, so this is not some paranoid “do not touch or even look” system).

    “Except unneeded fences never seem to get retired.”

    There’s no such thing as “unneeded fences”. One can argue that some customs (not fences) are archaic, but fences are there to address a specific need – to avoid breaking Torah by mistake. Since Torah laws do not get retired, neither are fences designed to protect them. Remember, Torah says that we are to “safeguard” Torah, not just perform its precepts (Deuteronomy 4:6).

    “Why do we have so many traditions? It seems like where ever we’ve lived (in Jewish history), we’ve added new traditions.”

    Since this was a Reform setting, I am willing to bet that this woman is complaining about something she herself doesn’t even do (or even knows much about). Even Christians are offended at Jews for keeping their Torah with fences and customs, even though they are not even bound by them.

  68. The relevant documents of Rambam were listed in the articles. Sorry, my Hebrew isn’t good enough to peruse and find it myself. My understanding is that Rambam’s science was from Aristotle and he did not originate it himself, so we can’t give him credit for that.

  69. @PL, if you look at the links I posted, some Yeshiva students insisted that the moon landing didn’t take place, because that would make their rebbe wrong. Of course Judaism isn’t the only place we see this; witness thousands selling everything and waiting for the rapture that never came – again.

  70. @ Chaya,
    In addition to Gene, Proclaim Liberty also has the same view that the Orthodox Rabbinate has authority over all Jews (including Yeshua believing Jews, which really does not make much sense to me).

    Here is the statement he made today about this (which you can see above as well):

    “Consider what Rav Yeshua said about the scribes and Pharisees of his day, in Mt.23:2-3…. This authority was passed on through the subsequent generations of Jewish authorities, which in our day resides within the aggregate of halakhically faithful rabbis (e.g., Orthodox ones). Therefore I caution you to be exceedingly careful about rejecting such authority, lest you reject Rav Yeshua’s as well.”

    Honestly, while I do very much respect and appreciate PL’s thoughtful writings in general and consider him a brother in Yeshua, I have to disagree with his statement to me here. I also have to disagree with his view that Yeshua is a created being and not deity (as he once shared with me in a Rosh Pina Project blog post comment.)

  71. Gene, you can see this as an infuriating situation or you can use it as an opportunity to correct misconceptions.

    I do admit to being a little disturbed by your apparent snobbery relative to Reform Judaism. Granted, you may not have much in common relative to theology, but if there were a Holocaust in America tomorrow, Reform Jews would be herded into cattle cars just like the Orthodox and secular Jews. You of all people should know this.

  72. @Gene, so, will fences still be required, or perhaps altered when Messiah rules? I know when my kids were little, just as you mentioned, I had to enact fences (rules) to keep them out of trouble, as little kids can’t be given much freedom until they show they can handle it, gradually. I caught my young son standing on the open dishwasher door. The new rule was he was not allowed to touch the dishwasher unsupervised. I was very upset at my husband for allowing him to play with things that were not toys, which gave him the wrong idea. The interesting thing was that I was strict with my kids when they were little, but pretty permissive as they got older. Maybe they learned good habits or maybe I just got worn out. 🙂 But I never had curfews for them when they were teens, as most do and make a big deal out of it, because they never took advantage and I could trust them.

  73. Gene,

    It’s interesting that you say that the Messianic Prophecies cannot refer to a single Messiah. Joseph Klausner (Professor Emeritus of Hebrew Literature at Hebrew University, Jerusalem) had this to say:

    “It seems to me that the idea of a twofold Messiah inevitably arose from the conception of the twofold character of the essentially single Messiah,” Klausner, The Messianic Idea in Israel, pg. 493

    The foremost Jewish scholar in the world thought that the Hebrew Bible referred to a SINGLE Messiah.

    Interesting, yes?

  74. “I do admit to being a little disturbed by your apparent snobbery relative to Reform Judaism…..Reform Jews would be herded into cattle cars just like the Orthodox and secular Jews. You of all people should know this.”

    James, it’s nothing to do with “snobbery”. These people are Jews (if so halachicaly) to me just the same as observant Jews. But their is not Judaism, since they reject the most basic premises of Judah – divine revelation and validity of observance of Torah. It’s like me insisting to an Evangelical that Mormonism is a legitimate expression of Christianity and they shouldn’t be critical of it.

    Also, just because some members of a group died in a holocaust, it doesn’t make that group “Judaism”. Jewish atheists and communists also died in the Holocaust in great numbers, but speaking out against either modern Jewish atheists or communist as mistaken and not representative of what it truly means to be a Jew is probably not snobbery in your book. Do you see my point?

  75. @Merrill, there are so many rabbinic authorities (even Orthodox ones) that if I or anyone wanted to, we could find at least one person who saw/did things as we see fit.

    So, no, I am not running to the nearest Orthodox authority to submit myself. However, I respect those who have studied a great deal and have much wisdom, and would look to their view of halacha in preference to someone who just made it up off the top of their head (HR) or mostly fake rabbis with mail order smicha and education (MJ.) I also appreciate the wisdom of other than Orthodox Jewish sources such as Abraham Joshua Heschel, Zalmon Schecter-Salomi., etc.

  76. “The foremost Jewish scholar in the world thought that the Hebrew Bible referred to a SINGLE Messiah.”

    I call your method of argumentation: “here is a book I just found from this or that scholar that proves Judaism supports Christianity”.

    Peter, I can find you a “foremost Jewish scholar” or even a dozen to support whatever pet – and contrary to reality within Judaism – idea you wish to support. Like another “foremost Jewish scholar” popular with you and other Messianics, Boyarin, who argued in his books that the Jews’ passive submission to a powerful male figure like G-d has something in common with homosexuality. Yeah….

  77. Chaya, I don’t really know about fences being taken down with Messiah. Perhaps if everybody observes all laws and never sins, they won’t be needed. It won’t be the case in messianic era, since even the messianic king will need to offer sacrifices for sin, or at least so the prophets tell us.

    Cute analogy with your kid, but not sure if it can be applied to fences. A young kid can’t touch a dishwasher because he doesn’t know how to operate it. When an adult, he does and can now touch at will. A Jew needs a fence whether he knows about how Torah operates or not, simply because we as mere humans often forget things and make inadvertent mistakes. Fences are like strings on our fingers, to help us remember. That’s all.

  78. My two cents: It is my belief that HaShem has been taking the scales off the gentiles eyes and they are coming to an understanding of HaShem’s plan and purpose for Israel. Much good has been done by their hands in support of Israel being restored. Yes, they believe Yeshua is the Messiah, and they want His Kingdom to come. To the anti-missionary I say, do not return evil for good. This is HaShem’s work, trust Him with it. When it is time the identity of Messiah will be revealed. Do not make enemies of those who want to be your friends. Yes, I believe Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel. But if you do not see it, it is because HaShem has a purpose for you being blind to it, and I will wait on HaShem to reveal it. You may say to me, “What if YOU are wrong?” What if I am? We have both worked together for HaShem’s kingdom to come into the world. Shalom

  79. “To the anti-missionary I say, do not return evil for good.”

    Are you a missionary, Cynthia? If you are not, then I am not an “anti-missionary”.

    However, if you are offended by my speaking out against worship of Jesus as god, I will quote for you someone you know well: “Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?”

  80. @Merrill, but realize that everything in torah has an eternal purpose, even if the termporal cannot be followed now.

    Yes, I agree Chaya. Right now we are in a holding pattern of sorts until Messiah Yeshua returns. Then the completion of the covenant promises to Abraham as well as David, along with eternal priesthoods of Leviticus and Melchizedek will be fully realized.

    May it come soon!!

  81. Gene said: “Did Torah change in the absence of murder for a few years? Of course not – Torah is unchanged. But once someone does finally commit a murder, then watch Torah kick in.”

    It didn’t exactly “kick in” when David murdered Uriah so that he could have Bathsheba, did it? So if Torah doesn’t change then why was David given a pass?

  82. @Gene, I realize the analogy breaks down, as we provide fences for kids who don’t know any better, and adults might know better. But a child doesn’t just learn to avoid danger; they learn (hopefully) to develop self-control and make good choices.

  83. So, Merrill, why do you think Rav Yeshua commanded his own disciples to obey the authoritative instructions of the scribes and Pharisees whose authority for interpreting Torah he had just endorsed? The rest of chap.23 elucidates his caution that these authorities could and did err, and that his disciples should not emulate such errors. In passing, he also endorsed the notion of Oral Torah in v.23 by noting that the minor precept of herb tithing, that was a derivation rather than an explicit instruction in the written text of Torah, was one that they should keep along with the more important precepts that had been neglected. Do you think his command is to be ignored — just as you would seem to ignore or dismiss the validity of the ongoing Jewish authority that determines how Torah is to be kept in each generation?

    I suppose I should similarly ask you why you think Rav Yeshua viewed greatness in the kingdom of heaven to depend on doing and teaching Torah, as stated in Mt.5:19, no doubt in all the finest details noted in v.18 — and that their diligence in doing so must exceed the well-known quality exercised by the scribes and Pharisees, in order to enter it at all (v.20) — while omitting them and teaching others likewise would result in minimal participation in that kingdom (or possibly not entering it at all)?

    What, in your view, are the likely consequences of disagreeing with this endorsement of Jewish Torah-interpretive authority? As for the divinity-versus-deity issue, I can only ask what you think Rav Shaul was describing about the nature of Rav Yeshua (and his behavior outside of space-time) to the Philippians in Phil.2:5-11? That interpretation touches very closely on the current question of inherent idolatry in the “two-powers-in-heaven” viewpoint (or three powers, as some would have it).

    OBTW, King David was not exactly “given a pass” over the Uriah episode. HaShem enforced Torah in a creative manner, since actions like David’s indirect cause of Uriah’s “wrongful death” were not covered explicitly therein.

  84. Chaya, even so, when my own kids were toddlers, we had to put up a gate for them on the second floor staircase. Even adults were affected by that gate, which had to be opened and closed. So is with Judaism – we are all in it together, whether we already know better or if we just returned to serving Hashem and are still spiritual babies. The fences affect everyone even if they do so in different ways.

  85. The original post asked the question of whether Christian are Idol Worshippers. Some are, some aren’t, but now I want to ask the question, are Jews being idolatrous in putting their traditions and commentaries before YHVH, and YHVH’s Torah? And those of us in between Judaism and Christianity, what are we seeking? Our G-d, or a community that will accept us as unconditionally as G-d does?

    When can all of us simply ask the question, “do you put Abba and His commands above all else, or the teachings and traditions you are embracing, whether Jewish or Christian? Messiah is extremely crucial to all of us, but it is Abba who sent Him/will send Him, and it is the Creator to whom we turn even when we pray in Yeshua’s name and righteousness.

    Perhaps I am just worn out by the question, but when can we begin to be Yahwists?

  86. ” are Jews being idolatrous in putting their traditions and commentaries before YHVH, and YHVH’s Torah?”

    No, we are not, because our traditions and commentaries are there to teach us how to put G-d and His Torah first.

  87. “OBTW, King David was not exactly “given a pass” over the Uriah episode. HaShem enforced Torah in a creative manner, since actions like David’s indirect cause of Uriah’s “wrongful death” were not covered explicitly therein.”

    PL: The point I was making is that at times God OVER RULES the Mosaic Law’s methods for deciding and metting out justice. David was not brought before the elders of Israel at the time to have his case decided. It was decided directly by God. And even though King David was clearly guilty on two counts deserving of death under the Mosaic Law God did not require this of him. So not only was the “jot and tittle” way of conducting juris prudence by-passed, but also the judgment that he deserved under the Mosaic Law.

    I realize you feel passionately about your position that all Jews should be universally subject to the “ruling authorities” which you view are the Orthodox Rabbinate (who strongly reject that Yeshua is Messiah). But to me this makes absolutely no sense.

    I also strongly disagree with your view that Yeshua is a created being and not HaShem in the flesh. I just don’t see this as I read the NT writings. Either Yeshua is God who literally came to this earth clothed n human flesh or the NT writings are false (in whole or part). I don’t believe it is possible to have it both ways.

  88. Shavua Tov, Merrill — Let me attempt a further explanation as follows:

    HaShem’s gift of Torah to the people of Israel provided a means for this group of humans to understand and apply justice. As such, it was a means to fulfill a human responsibility given to all the descendants of Noa’h the ark-builder. That responsibility was to establish courts of law and justice. The Torah was never intended to be the only means for humans to do such a thing (though it might be the best means); and it certainly doesn’t constrain HaShem from taking sovereign action to execute Justice based on His Own exhaustive knowledge of all applicable factors affecting any case of human wrongdoing. Taking such action does not “overrule” Torah or change Torah; though it might be viewed as sidestepping Torah and normal human responsibilities for prosecuting wrongdoing, by handling certain cases in another (non-human) jurisdiction.

    I’m afraid you don’t understand the nature of Jewish authority and how it functions in the present era. There is no single “Orthodox Rabbinate”, and certainly no authorized Sanhedrin, to exercise this authority monolithically. There is an aggregate authority that is derived from the discussions codified in a large body of Jewish literature that provides a background for decision-making by various rabbis. Further, even the so-called “Orthodox Rabbinate” authorized by the State of Israel to administer certain affairs is not the sole locus of Jewish Torah-interpreting authority, even in Israel. But most important to understand is that none of these is able to “strongly reject” Rav Yeshua as Messiah, because none of them is actually examining the case or the credentials of the real Rav Yeshua. They are all, for good reasons, still focused on defending the Jewish people against the Christian Jesus, and on the long tradition of polemics against him and the missionaries who try to foist him upon Jews, which is exactly where most Jewish literature points them. There is an old saying that when one’s toolbox contains only a hammer, one tends to look at every problem as if it were a nail. It is of no help when other kinds of hardware require other kinds of tools. Some of us in MJ have been able to identify additional kinds of tools in the toolbox of Jewish halakhic literature, and to identify how they may be applied authoritatively to the real Rav Yeshua with no such “strong rejection”. We’re looking at the issues differently.

    Further, you didn’t actually answer the questions I posed in my last post. Your limited view of an either/or regarding HaShem-in-the-flesh or falsity-in-the-apostolic-writings is itself a false dichotomy. I assure you that I find what is actually written therein to be entirely valid when interpreted properly and consistently with what has sometimes been called “the whole counsel of scripture”. However, it has often been necessary to ignore traditional Christian readings and translations, and to re-analyze the original Greek text of the apostolic writings, paying close attention to Jewish cultural idiom and literary techniques. I cited for you one key passage that reveals a view that Christians ignore, or of which they miss the significant implications, which fits well with Jewish conceptual imagery of the period expressed also in other literature. It justifies re-contextualizing also the mystical imagery in the first chapter of Yohanan’s besorah. I *have* tried to outline this rationale previously, but obviously not clearly enough to satisfy you.

  89. Shavua tov PL:

    I have carefully read and reflected over these two matters (re: who holds authority of praxis over Jewish life as well as whether or not Yeshua is diety.) And I have come to different conclusions than you in my lfetime of faith.

    You are a deep thinker and are studied. I appreciate this about you. You have caused me to rethink some things (such as when you explained the paleo-hebrew as differening in font from the masorretic text but not in letter for letter meaning, also that there are differing “glories” that God gives,etc.) However regarding the two matters at hand, in order to really hash this out, it will likely require a very lengthy discussion which may end up causing more dissension than clarity.

    So for this reason, let’s just agree to disagreee. If these topics come up again in the future, maybe we can revisit them in smaller chunks.

  90. Merrill said to PL:

    However regarding the two matters at hand, in order to really hash this out, it will likely require a very lengthy discussion which may end up causing more dissension than clarity.

    Actually, for the most part (as far as I can tell), we’ve all done a pretty good job at not stepping on each other’s toes given the potentially divisive topic of discussion. At some point, we have to bring different opinions to the table just to keep the conversation interesting and so that we can all learn something. As long as that can be done without fingerpointing, name calling, bashing, or shaming other human beings, and if we can keep at least somewhat on topic, I’m satisfied to let this exchange continue.

    @Cynthia: Oh Wow (regarding your link)! I thought I wrote long missives. 😉

  91. Regarding Cynthia’s Yashanet link — While this is a wonderful presentation, it is regrettably not characteristic of the views of much of Christianity. Hence, while it might be said to demonstrate that the apostolic writings are not intended to be idolatrous, nor even specifically Rav Shaul’s letters, its example doesn’t address how Christians have generally and historically interpreted these writings differently to read into them views which could well be viewed as idolatrous in nature. It does demonstrate the importance of the notions that one brings to the text while trying to interpret it.

  92. Lots of Jews, Christians and Muslims do seem to forget that not all Christians do worship Jesus as their god nor make graven images of any gods or saints to bow down for, because they consider it an abomination in the eyes of God.

    True Christians should worship only One True God, the Elohim Hashem Jehovah and believe what that God says about the Nazarene Jew Jeshua (Jesus Christ) that he is God’s beloved son. Jesus is the son of God but not a god son. (a big difference)

  93. Those who keep to the Trinity have three gods and by lots of those trinitarian Christians we do see they bow down in front of graven images, an abomination in the eyes of God. We can only say of them that they continue the same fault as many people ages ago, but instead of praying on front of a golden calf they use golden a.o. crosses and other statues. Such acts we can only call idolatry and not according to God’s Wishes.

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