Liberation from Bondage – Excerpt from Critique of Vol. 4

Brown is in his lecturing mode again. He sets forth some of the “key teachings and principles” of the Sabbath as “revealed” by Jesus. These are presented as original teachings of Jesus that are unknown in Rabbinical Judaism. (Brown describes these principles as a “clear contrast” to the Rabbinical understanding of the Sabbath.)

Brown tells us that the Sabbath was meant to be a day of liberation from bondage. Brown points to the Sabbath healings of Jesus as an example of the Sabbath liberation, because they provided deliverance for people who were in critical need. He contrasts these healings with the complex and rigid observance of the Sabbath that is found in Rabbinic Judaism. The impression that the authors of the Christians Scriptures give us of the Rabbinic Sabbath is one in which the pressing needs of individuals, specifically the weakest in society, are not met. Brown echoes this slanted description.

Let us turn the camera to the Rabbinic Sabbath so maligned and denigrated by the followers of Jesus. We will begin with the matter of healing the sick.

A child growing up observing the Sabbath in a Rabbinical community will know that the Sabbath means so much to his or her parents and teachers. All work is set aside, no business is transacted, no matter what financial loss might be incurred. Stories abound about Jews who made great sacrifices in order to be able to keep God’s Sabbath. The atmosphere is one in which it is unthinkable to answer a telephone, to use an electronic device, or to drive a car. Imagine a child who grew up with this concept of Sabbath as a part of the very fabric of his or her life. This child is now in the synagogue where everyone is silently and solemnly listening to the reading of the Torah. Suddenly a telephone rings. One of the honored members of the congregation answers the phone as he quickly makes his way to the door. He hops into his car and zooms off, siren blaring. What happened! Someone’s life was in danger – and this volunteer medic was responding to the emergency.

Could you think of a better way to inculcate a child with the value of a human life? Is it a coincidence that it is precisely the communities of Rabbinic Jews who form their own volunteer ambulance teams because they find the response time of the general ambulance squads to be inadequate in light of their understanding of the value of the human life?

As much as we value the Sabbath, and we value it tremendously, we still recognize that human life is greater. When a religious Christian community goes further than the Rabbinic community to instill in their children a value for human life, we will be ready to hear a lecture from Jesus and from Brown on this subject.

In the sense of tending to the needs of the weakest in society, the Rabbinic Sabbath is a shining light. As a general rule, the officers of Rabbinical communities, be they synagogue administrators, community volunteers or religious leaders, make it their business to ensure that every Jew has a place to eat for the Sabbath. Many families will consider their Sabbath table incomplete if there is no guest present with whom to share their home. This goes much further than providing an indigent individual or a stranger with some food. By participating in a family meal, the outsider is given the opportunity to share their heart with those present at the table. It is through the Rabbinical observance of the Sabbath that the Jewish Community learns of the concerns of her most needy. Not in official bureaucratic reports. But in heart to heart talks that involve every member of the community including the little children. It is not merely a matter of discovering the concerns of these people, but that these people become a participating part of the community at the level of the community’s most important unit; the family.

For Brown to echo the slander of the Christian Scriptures in accusing the Rabbinic community of disregarding those in critical need in the context of observance of the Sabbath, is to ignore 2000 years of the history of the Jewish community.

Let us also address the issue of “liberation from bondage”. Brown declares that the Sabbath that Jesus offers his followers liberates from bondage in “clear contrast” to the Sabbath observed by the Rabbinical community.

Those who observe God’s Sabbath in the context of Rabbinic Judaism will have a hard time identifying with Brown’s sentiment. Could there be a greater liberation from bondage than a day in which the work-week is not allowed to intrude? No telephone, no computer, no mail, no boss, no business, no store, no employees, no buying, no selling, no radio or television –  a complete disengagement from anything and everything that pulls one away from the true purpose of life. The Sabbath is a day for interacting with God, with His holy Torah, and with His chosen people. The sense of freedom generated by the observance of the Sabbath touches and envelopes every member of the community, from the small child, to the laborer, to the merchant, to the down-and-out and to the homemaker. Pontificating about the Sabbath is one thing. Living it is quite another.

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25 Responses to Liberation from Bondage – Excerpt from Critique of Vol. 4

  1. hyechiel says:

    Dear Phariseefriend;
    You presented a view of Jewish life that most missionaries may wish you have not. It invalidates much of what they say against Torah observnt Judaism, and gives their view of us a different twist than what they made up. Also may be why many Gentiles convert to Judaism?
    Judaism, like all faiths, has to respond to the needs of the people, or at some time, that faith becomes obsolete, and in the backwash of history. Judaism has had many reasons to disappear, but we have not. HaShem of course is tha main reason, but our way of life is why we are still here.
    Thank you for the post, and I hope that Brown and company wake up to the meaning of Torah, as it is G-d’s word in the Physical reality.
    Shalom;
    Yechiel

  2. Yedidiah says:

    Brown said it, Jesus believes it, that settles it. Brown panders to those ignorant of history. Since most Christians don’t heal on the Sabbath (or Sunday), how is “liberation from bondage” all that different from secularism (beside an hour or two in church singing a few songs & being lectured – hearing a sermon)? Or perhaps throwing a little bit into a collection plate. I vaguely recall some statistics from about 15 years ago or so, that Jews, on the average, give more to charity than Christians do. And at the same time, percentage wise? more Christians than Jews depend upon charity. If true, it seems that Christians are most in need of “liberation theology”.

  3. Annelise says:

    I read the first chapter of Pirkei Avos last Shabbos with a Russian lady from shul who has little English, and even though I’ve read a lot of it before I learnt so much about the Pharisees while reading with her. The text really comes to a new fullness when you delve carefully through it, from the surface level of the language down… to spend many minutes rather than just seconds considering the metaphors and imagery and specific words of each line. I gained a deeper appreciation for the heart for real justice that penetrated this tradition at that time; the valuing of all humans on an equal level before God, with real hospitality; and the learning and teaching of Torah that must invariably be coupled with sincerity and a changed way of living. I was challenged to live in the light of this awareness. It’s quite different from what I learnt about these leaders as a child when I accepted the story presented in the New Testament.

    I find this valuing of human life extremely important and beautifully expressed here as you said. But I also wonder how the rabbis know for sure that it’s not a violation of the covenant for actions of prohibited work to be done on the Sabbath in saving someone’s life. You are so careful with the mitzvos… how do you know that an exception must be made here, apart from the feeling that it would be wrong not to save someone?

    • hyechiel says:

      Dear Annelise;
      G-d Himself sets the example. With Abram, it was the value of what Isaac cold contribute, over Ishmael, who had less than the appreciation of G-d as Abram saw it, than Isaac.
      With the Exodus, it was the liberation brought about by His taking an exemption from not interfering in human affairs. At Sinai, He spoke to us, as a nation, not just to His servant, Moses.
      I could go on, but the main thing is for us to worship G-d, not His works. If the Sabbath was to have become so important that even human well being was sacrificed, we would have made this sacred and Holy day an idol. So we do as He commanded, to KNOW His word, not just bandy it about like some old attic position.
      There are even more exacting examples of how the importance of human life takes precedence over all other mitzvot. I hope this helped, Anneliese and friends.
      Shalom;
      Yechiel

      • Annelise says:

        You said “the main thing is for us to worship G-d, not His works. If the Sabbath was to have become so important that even human well being was sacrificed, we would have made this sacred and Holy day an idol.” What I was asking though was how you know that this what what God commanded… not just what makes sense in human feelings, or even in the feelings of people who have absorbed and live the Torah and its process of law. There are some laws that can’t be broken even to save your life, so I wanted to know how you know that the prohibition to work on the Sabbath isn’t like them.

        This is not a challenge, it’s not something I’m qualified or in a place to challenge… I just want to understand more about this.

        • Annelise says:

          I want to apologise for asking this question to you in this way. It’s the kind of thing that should be asked to people who are studying and teaching the Torah, who understand why certain things have to be considered… because otherwise I think it could be unnecessarily confusing. I shouldn’t have thrown it out to people I don’t even know in a blog setting.

        • hyechiel says:

          Dear Annelise;
          Thank you for your question. We read in the tanach how the Shabbath is so sacred, that it is a connection to HaShem. OK? So we immulate Him. One thing Hehas shown is that there are certain items we can “compromise” on, when it is all you can do.
          Offerings is a good example. The primery requirement is to bring a Kosher animal for the offering, to the Temple. However, if all you have to give is a handful of grain, it is “As a bull on the Alter.”
          In other words, the intent and sincerity is what counts, and you shall not be seen as not doing HaShem’s Will.
          On the Shabboth? We honer G-d for His Creation of the Universe, world and Human kind. This was in 6 days. The Shabboth is set aside so His Creation can then make our part in His world. Space, in the Spiritual sense, is needed. We do what we can to abide by His Will, but as with the Temple, if you do not have it, life goes on; just remember the proper blessings and behavior so when we have His Temple again, we know what to do. So it is with the Shabboth and other Mitzvot – do all we can, but do not forget what is important – Life.
          As for where we are to even give up our life for the preservation of the Torah? This is in a common sense way to preserve Torah, by not abandening it. Shabbothg to do what is important, as to save a life, is where the immulation of HaShem comes in; we recognise what is important.
          Preservation of His way, but not for it to be a way to abuse one’s fellow human, but to be a part of His Creation, where He step aside for us.
          I pray this long-winded explaination helped.
          Shalom;
          Yechiel

  4. Yehuda says:

    Rabbi B.

    Beautiful post. It warmed my heart when each of my children became old enough to appreciate the true liberation that Shabbos affords and to see them eagerly sit around our Shabbos table just to enjoy each others’ company and, on those occasions we have guests, that of others as well.

    Horachaman, Hu yanchileinu yom shekulo shabbos…

  5. David says:

    Until now (that you brought it up) I was only vaguely aware of the counter missionary vs. counter, counter missionary debate raging in some circles. So, now at least I understand the basis for many if not most or all of your posts:

    I found this here by googling Brown/Blumenthal since you provided neither a citation nor a link to what it is you’re critiquing:
    http://thecontroversyofzion.com/2012/02/dr-michael-brown-and-the-anemic-polemic-of-the-jewish-anti-missionaries/

    “The contrast between what Brown has contributed to the debate and what these biased and belligerent Rabbi’s have offered is quite telling.
    If I were Mr. Blumenthal, I would delete the preface post about education and persuasion. It only serves to whittle the credibility of an already anemic polemic. And if I were any of these Rabbi’s or Jewish scholars, I would steer clear of a public debate with Brown. Not only does he have the upper hand on substantive argumentation, according to the Rabbi’s he is apparently quite capable of persuasively proclaiming them. But having said that, I pray that the debates continue so that these ultimate issues can be discussed in the public square. Whether these Rabbi’s ever recant and repent or not, their willingness to show up debate after debate only gives more opportunity for the Gospel to be proclaimed to more of the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The Rabbi’s know this (which explains their affirmation of Brown’s effectiveness in the debate forum and their unwillingness to take him on).”

    • Yehuda says:

      “Until now (that you brought it up) I was only vaguely aware of the counter missionary vs. counter, counter missionary debate raging in some circles. ”

      David, Is the fact that the debate begins with “missionary” and then proceeds to “counter-missionary” lost on you?

      Do you actually believe that this blog would exist if organized Christian entities did not spend millions of dollars on Jewish evangelism?

      It never ceases to amaze me.

      • David says:

        I think I prefer to debate and share scripture directly and leave the counter missionary vs. counter counter missionary debate to others. As I alluded to earlier, I now know that it’s in the background here more or less depending on the topic. I don’t object to you or anyone else debating the whole thing, but at this moment, it’s not for me.

    • hyechiel says:

      My Dear Friend, David;
      Seems as if you do bring up some interesting questions. You stated a fact that we have to contend with; that the discussions, as with Brown, does give your leaders a chance to proclaim your gospel.
      This is fine, as you have the right to state your views in a public forum. All do, and we can learn from this.
      However, brown is in essence debating with G-d, not the Rabbis. He is trying to bring in the lost sheep. OK; whom are these sheep?
      They, exept for those who are not knowledgeable of Torah, are Christians who have not have the education in their faith to undersatd what it is about.
      Many do make up for this latre in life, more mature and better educated in general terms. Judaism encourage that our people do study, so that we can undrestand our responsibilites and also that we can also understand the difference between Torah and other sacred writings.
      In the tanach, of which the Torah is a part of (Ta=Torah, na=Prophasies, ch=the writings; Torah=The way, Nevaiim= Spokeperson/Prophet, Chutavim= writings, as Psalms and Provrbs.)
      HaShem stated many things which contradict the Gospels; even in the Greek. By the way, the Prophets and writings, in the Greek, are written by Gentiles (Septuagent) Intresting enough, Marcim did not like the Septuagent, so an other versioin was written under his guideness. It is from this version that much of the Christian “Proof Text” come from.
      I have posted much which affirms that we are the “sheep” under HaShem’s guideness, and not lost.
      Our objections to the Browns of the world is that your fellow Christians could use their energy for their faith, not for these men to use it to urge us to abandon what HaShem gave to us. We went through this in the Kingdom period, when the Pagans around us convenced many Jews to follow their way, not G-d’s teachings/Torah. We learned our lesson, thank you.
      As you know, many times in the past much evel was done in the name of your founder, against the Jewish people. Today, as more and more Christians are better educated, generally, and knowledgeable in the Sacred writings, the Browns make more noise than sense.
      I do not blame him; over the past 100 years, ovre a milllion Christians have converted to either the Noahide faith or Judaism, and thousands of people decended from Jews have and are returning. This includes many Palestainians as well. So the Browns of the world may be pushing the panic buttom?
      As even with the prasing of Moses saying that Israel is HaShem’s first born son, as opposed to the sons of the Egyptian gods, it is metaphrical. G-d stated “I have no father, nor do I have a son.” Also; “I the l-rd, do not change.”
      So I thank Mr. Brown. He gave me and others hre the opportunity to express the truth of HaShem, and to give the converts support for the changes they have, and are going through. G-d Bless them all.
      Shalom;
      Yechiel

  6. tabright says:

    Perhaps the liberation from bondage wasn’t speaking of just physical bondage? Is there such a thing as spiritual bondage in Jewish theology? I’ve been taught that humans do experience spiritual bondage (i.e., the inability to stop sinning altogether). I also heard that Jewish people do not believe in original sin. I’m not even sure what “original sin” they don’t believe in. Would someone mind explaining some of this to me?

    • Annelise says:

      Good questions. What would you imagine it to look like, for the Sabbath to be a liberation from spiritual bondage?

      • Annelise says:

        Do you see the Sabbath as a liberation from the sinful nature? Or were you just asking about the concept of ‘liberation’ in general, to ask those questions?

      • hyechiel says:

        Dear Annelise;
        Moshe answered your question; “Declear liberty and Freedom onto all the people of the Land, and onto the ihabatants there of.”
        We understand people=physical liberation, all of the inhabatants there of = spiritual and soul liberation. Jeremiah also got into this subject, and in Micah, HaShem asks some very good questions of what He demands! (Micah 6: 7&8).
        Why do we think we are given limits on Shabot as to what we can do? To free us for the Spirit.
        Why the Spirit? Because we are human.
        Shalom;
        Yechiel

        • Annelise says:

          Awesome answer, thank you!

          “Why do we think we are given limits on Shabot as to what we can do? To free us for the Spirit.
          Why the Spirit? Because we are human.”

          • Annelise says:

            I know that the things you aren’t allowed to do during Shabbos really set the day aside as something precious to those who experience it, and as an offering to God. It is an experience of freedom and a recognition of the fact that everything comes from Him. In what you wrote, I appreciated how you said that it is also an experience for Jews that transforms them- in these areas- so as to grow spiritually in a way that consecrates and fills the rest of the week. As humans we need to lift our own will and feelings to join with the worship in our hearts towards God. Shabbos is a deep expression of the physical choice of Jews to say “Everything I am is yours,” and then to grow closer to that in the way they live their lives… the experience of obedience in this matter shapes your intimacy with Him. I guess you are saying that the constraints allow an expression of obedience that frees the spirit. You are so blessed to have that!

          • hyechiel says:

            Dear Annelise;
            On your responce to my post on Shabbot and the freedom of the Spirit? Thank you.
            Shalom;
            Yechiel

  7. Teresa says:

    Liberation in general ! Certainly not negatively related to the Sabbath. Ironically, I noticed a while back that the word Sabbath is just Shabbat with the “h” moved to the end of the word. *smh*

    • Annelise says:

      It’s because the aspiration on a consonant is an easy thing to come or go on the pronunciation of words. A bit like Chinese whispers. The ‘sh’ sound turned to ‘s’ and the ‘th’ sound turned to ‘t’ 🙂

      • Annelise says:

        But I’ll leave it to someone else to explain what Judaism says about human bondage to sinfulness.

        • hyechiel says:

          Dear Annelise;
          This is not a full answer, as the subject has a lot of area that our writngs covered. We can think of the basic idea HaShem relates to us; Free Will.
          We are born niether good nor evil, but with the free will to choose. As we make decisions through our lives, we go either way.
          As we go either way, we streathen the positive or negative way of thinking and behavior. Kind of like smoking; one cigarette shall not make you addictive to smoking, but as you smoke a pack, you bring your body towards where you feel you need the cigarette, and thus, it becomes habit.
          Same way with how we think of each other; I have the idea that X is either good or bad. As I go on, I find reasons why X is either good or bad, and thus X is whatever I come to conclude is as I have shown/convenced myself X is.
          No one starts out either good or bad, but we either continue to “smoke” the concept, or placed it in a different catigory, and replace it with one we feel is more to our way of thinking. If you think that X is a certain way, then you justify your belief by seeking ways to show yourself X is that way.
          Have you ever discussed something with someone, and you give a contrary idea to how the the person sees it? Often, you may get a blank look, as what you said does not exist. For that person, it is so. He or she is showing himself to be “bonded” to his way of looking at it, and your way is beyond his acceptance.
          As I said, this is not a full answer, but the Torah can be said to be the oldest Psychology text book we use. Accept, and you are one way; reject, and you are another. This, by itself does not make a person good or evil, just different from those who have the opposite view.
          I hope I helped. Much more can, and I think, should be studied on the subject. But that is a personal decision, and one which can help explain the person’s view point.
          Shalom;
          Yechiel

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