“From a Torah perspective, eating a Big Mac or eating a salad with insects in it, the salad is worse,” Rabbi Eliezer Eidlitz, who runs the nonprofit Kosher Information Bureau, told me when I met him at his home office in Valley Village.
“Can we afford kosher lettuce”
January 25, 2012
I actually encountered this article by way of a completely different blog, in a story called How A Rabbinic Ban On Bugs May Have Led To The Creation Of Christianity. As one of the people who commented on the story said, the connection is a pretty big stretch, but the title alone was enough to get my attention.
The Failed Messiah blog is highly critical of Chasidic Judaism and the Chabad movement, which doesn’t exactly make the blog owner Shmarya Rosenberg endearing to many Jews, but he does provide a great deal of information, that would otherwise not be easily accessible, about what goes on in Crown Heights and other Chabad and Haredi communities. I usually take what he writes with a grain of salt, but was captivated with how he could say that a Rabbinic prohibition against eating bugs could possibly have lead to the creation of Christianity.
Let’s cut to the chase.
Din baria probably originated with Beit Shammai, the sometimes violent opponents of Hillel and his school, and whose children and grandchildren heavily populated the rank of the Sicarii and other zealots who spurred the war against Rome that led to the Temple’s destruction.
A student of one of Hillel’s students attacked these rabbis’ extremism: “You blind guides!” he said, “You strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!”
That student, fed up with the growing halakhic extremism that dominated Israel from the last few years of Hillel’s life until the Destruction, did what many other disgruntled Jews did with regard to the rabbis or to the Temple cult – they walked away and formed their own version of Judaism or joined one of the many sects that began at that time.
His sect, known in history as the Jerusalem Church, grew. An offshoot from it – one the student’s brother, who was then the sect’s leader, opposed – is Christianity.
Rosenberg, to the best of my knowledge, has no reason to be sympathetic toward Christianity or to want to create even the slightest link between oto ha’ish (an insulting term some Orthodox Jews use when referring to Jesus) and traditional or historic Judaism. And yet here he is referring to Jesus (though not by name) as a “student of one of Hillel’s students” and directly quoting from the New Testament (Matthew 23:24). Rosenberg even compares the “creation” of Christianity to “(forming) their own version of Judaism or (joining) one of the many sects that began at that time.”
When’s the last time you heard a (non-Messianic) Jewish person refer to Christianity as having begun as a Jewish sect? It makes me wonder just how much of an impact Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s soon-to-be-published book Kosher Jesus may be having, even if that impact may not be conscious (OK, I’m probably stretching the connection beyond credibility, but let’s roll with it anyway).
Is Jesus starting to be mixed in with today’s kosher tossed salad among some Jews? Just thought I’d ask.