Supplement to Noachide Worship – by Jim

(in response to https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/noachide-worship-by-jim/#comment-14819)

Thomas,

 

Thank you for you comment.

 

Allow me to clarify things with two examples of errors that have cropped up because of the religious emotion:

 

1. A few years ago, I was at a conference for Noahides. On Friday evening, the leaders of the meeting ushered in Shabbat by lighting seven candles, each of a different color of the rainbow. As they lit each candle, they recited one of the seven Noahide laws.

 

I hope you see the problem.

 

The people who did this meant well. They wanted a way to grow close to Hashem. And they felt that this would be a great way to do it. They were not keeping Shabbat according to the manner of the Jewish people, because that was prohibited. So they invented their own custom.

 

In so doing, they were still violating halacha. Noahides are not permitted to create their own observances. Here they wanted something to grow closer to God. They do not find it fulfilling to keep His Laws. It did not feel like service to them. So, to find some means to feel closer to God, they violated His Law. This does not bring them closer. It moves them away from Hashem. But it satisfied their emotions.

 

This was all about them. If it was service to Hashem they were interested in, they would have kept His commands to them. Since that did not appeal to their emotions, they violated Torah. Their emotions were satisfied. But if it had been about God, rather than themselves, they would not have violated His decree.

 

The sad thing about this story is that rabbis were present at the ceremony. They allowed this violation, because they wanted the Noahides to feel connected to God. They did not want the Noahides to feel like second-class citizens. Instead, they should have been teaching that there is nothing second-class about obeying Hashem. The rabbis left the Noahides with the idea that only the Jew is close to God, because only the Jew has Shabbat. This error is probably what leads to the next.

 

2. There are two rabbis now teaching that Noahides are not prohibited from keeping Shabbat in the manner that a Jew must keep it. This is a violation of halacha. And the rabbis do not argue from the mishnah to prove Noahides may keep Shabbat. They rely on aggadata, from which halacha is not derived.

 

One must ask himself why they are teaching this. It is because the religious emotion has come over some in the Noahide community. They want religious observances of their own, to which they can adhere to make them feel close to God. However, as in the first example, this will not make them close to God. One is not brought closer to God through the violation of His Law. If this were about God, again, they would be content to keep the laws He gave them. Moreover, they could take on other mitzvot, those that are not prohibited. But the one that they want to do is the one they are disallowed to do.

 

What is truly sad about this, is that one of the rabbi, Rabbi K____ is one of which the Noahide should be wary. He has been fleecing the poor Noahide sheep for some time. He offers “name readings” where one can learn his “mazal” based on the Gematria of their name. If one pays R’ K____ $75 ($100 for an audio recording), he can learn that his name means that he has great affinity to justice or righteousness, mercy or beauty, that he is a bulwark against Amalek or whatever other nonsense R’ K___ dreams up. Because he claims that this is Kabbalah, they come to him and trust that this is much different than astrology. They do not imagine that they are getting what equates to a “psychic reading” from a new Sylvia Browne. And how wonderful it is to be told that one represents chesed! They have no means of testing his reading, but they don’t mind. They trust him.

 

It is obvious why they trust him. He says the kinds of things that appeal to the emotion. They want to be told that their name indicates something remarkable about themselves. He grants them their wish. They want to be told that they can keep Shabbat, same as a Jew. He accommodates. And because he is a rabbi, they trust him. They trust to his authority.

 

We Noahides are in a precarious position. We do not know very much. We must have the humility to know that we are not to study Kabbalah. Some rabbis will wish to accommodate us. We must thank them and move on. We do not know enough to even know what we don’t know. Kabbalah, if there is a viable tradition still alive today, is meant for Torah scholars. A Noahide, who is not even to study those parts inapplicable to himself, cannot be qualified such study.

 

We must also distinguish between what pleases us and what pleases God. If in pursuit of a relationship with Hashem, we follow after our fantasies, then it was not Him we were attempting to please. We must start again. We must consider carefully His commands and the philosophy behind them. We must not press on to a deeper area of study until we have mastered this one. This does not appeal to the fantasy or the ego. But no one will go astray following the light of God’s Torah.

 

Jim

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47 Responses to Supplement to Noachide Worship – by Jim

  1. Dina says:

    Excellent work, as usual, Jim!

  2. Annelise says:

    I really liked the ideas in this ‘supplement to Noachide worship’, they are so important. Particularly the thought of focusing on God rather than ritual, and righteousness over aura…for Jews ritual is important but for us there is an emphasis on simple human obedience and relationship with Hashem. Both images are needed in the world.

    I also know that you’re right about the study of kabbalah. All that should come from that is an awareness that God holds everything and deserves everything and we can trust Him completely, and know that there is nothing else important; that distractions aren’t the real thing in life. By getting lost in kabbalist writings without constantly being reminded of these things, a person is more likely to lose sight of them than to experience them more clearly. And also, in all matters of Torah and Yiddishkeit, a person who left another religion should be quick to learn and slow to assume or teach.

    I wonder though, if the people who lit ‘Noachide Shabbat candles’ did so not as a new custom intended to be binding on all gentiles but instead as a symbol or an in-house custom, then wouldn’t they be ok? It would be up to the Jewish and non-Jewish leaders of the community to agree that this wouldn’t distract from Hashem or from basic righteousness, nor possibly cultural create divisions or become seen as necessary…because it is good both to focus on the commandments and to adorn them according to their original spirit.

    • Annelise says:

      PS I generally agree that less ritual is the best way for Noachides, but there is room for more than than according to what is allowed…and it is hard to imagine real life families or communities with no customs to express their experience in and share with each other. It is also good to use symbols, so long as they don’t get out of hand, and putting up a fence automatically against that danger could be good but it could also be negative. The same thing with enjoying and honouring the Shabbos..for Noachides it isn’t a covenant day but it is a holy day.

    • Jim says:

      Annelise,

      Even if the Noahides did not mean for the candle lighting to be binding on all Noahides, which they didn’t, it is my understanding that one is not to make a festival or religious practice for himself. That is to say, it is not just that one is not to make new religious practices for others, one is not permitted to make them for himself. The Rambam writes that a Noahide is “not allowed to originate a new religion or create mitzvot for themselves based on their own decisions” (Laws of Kings 10.9).

      And I want to tread lightly here, because I understand that these are sensitive issues, but such an act is presumptuous. If one performs a ritual, because he thinks it will bring him closer to God, but God has not commanded the ritual, that person pretends a knowledge he cannot have. He cannot know the mind of God.

      God needs nothing. So one cannot benefit God. The only way to serve God, therefore, is by a means prescribed by God. Anything outside of that is not truly service to God. If I do the hokey pokey, I have done nothing wrong. If I do the hokey pokey as an act of service to God, as a religious ritual, I have acted presumptuously. My hokey pokey can in no way contribute to Him. Since He has not prescribed it as a form of worship, I am acting according to my own imagination.

      Jim

  3. Annelise says:

    …so long as they separation between Israel and the nations remains clear (which is why I personally feel it is a good idea to refrain from things that they say a bracha on about being commanded), and so long as no custom is seen as needed for worship. I’m just wondering whether socially-oriented, non-obligatory, and different-from-Jewish customs are fine, at times.

    • Annelise, this has been my own issue about noachide observance. At what point is a ritual accepted or not? What about cultural norms that have nothing to do with religion? Do Gentiles have to abandon those practices to? If they do, what remains of their culture?

      • Annelise says:

        That’s a good point. Just a small thought…if a person did lose their sense of cultural identity in any way it would never take away from who they truly are: that is, who they are when simply standing in front of Hashem.

        That said, cultures contain much good and each sheds a unique light on truth and goodness through some of its ways.

        Christian missionaries have had much discussion in the last few decades about how to change a culture with their message while still leaving the culture and community alive and finding new ways of expressing old things. The topic at hand here is related but, importantly, also different because of the halacha at hand and the difference that there is in the Jewish message and community.

      • Annelise says:

        That’s a good point. Just a small thought…if a person did lose their sense of cultural identity in any way it would never take away from who they truly are: that is, who they are when simply standing in front of Hashem.

        That said, cultures contain much good and each sheds a unique light on truth and goodness through some of its ways. It is also possible that a God-oriented community could have custs that reflect on religious truths and experiences but aren’t themselves important as religious practices…they aren’t binding…they are just cultural expression of how they know Hashem and stand by Israel. There is both danger snd important possibility there.

        Christian missionaries have had much discussion in the last few decades about how to change a culture with their message while still leaving the culture and community alive and finding new ways of expressing old things. The topic at hand here is related but, importantly, also different because of the halacha at hand and the difference that there is in the Jewish message and community.

        • Annelise says:

          Jim, what about indigenous cultures that are thoroughly interwoven with spirituality? Their entire paradigm about nature, ancestors, and seasons/lifecycle can be considered idolotrous, or it can be considered non-religious, depending on perspective.

          This is a different topic than the other I brought up, but also important…I wonder how much the Jewisb community has thought through it.

      • Jim says:

        Con,

        Generally speaking, one does not abandon cultural norms that have nothing to do with religion.

        Jim

  4. Jim says:

    Annelise,

    Regarding indigenous cultures, I think it will depend on the practice. If it violates halacha, then one will likely have to avoid certain customs. I suppose one would have to go on a case by case basis.

    Jim

    • Annelise says:

      True. The Torah is sometimes extremely careful about avoiding practices that even once were connected to anything remotely like idolatry. One example is that Jews can’t have a tattoo even for a non-idolatrous purpose. (Perhaps the same prohibition and ruling could apply to Noachides because of the category, or perhaps not because the original mitzvah isn’t spelt-out law for us to guard.)

      Then again, that attitude of monoculturalism for sanctity is for Israel in a context of being set apart. It doesn’t take the global need for multiculturalism into account, but rather prefers to eliminate it. Maybe as nations join in with this faith yet don’t all become Jewish there will be another level of emphasis to consider, and things that are too lenient to Jews will be appropriate case-by-case for non-Jews. Not sure.

      • Annelise says:

        I say “need for multiculturalism” loosely… it is very good… it’s not necessary for our identities.

        Nor even, it the very truest context, is it necessarily for avoiding the evils of past colonialism and cultural genocide. But I have a feeling its goodness will be preserved and uplifted as long as nothing holy is compromised.

        • Dina says:

          Annelise, there are, in the US, a lot of politically conservative gentiles who believe multiculturalism is dangerous. Look at what it’s done to Europe.

          Multiculturalism contains the belief that no culture is superior. It’s the kind of dangerous motion that led a judge in Germany to dismiss a Muslim women’s request of protection from her husband, because, he said, in Islam men are allowed to beat their wives, and who is he to say that it’s wrong?

      • Jim says:

        Annelise,

        I did a search on the asknoah forum. The response about tattoos there was that Maimonides’ opinion was that Noahides are not prohibited from having tattoos, unless they are for idolatrous purposes. I’m sorry, but they did not give the source.

        It does seem likely that this would be the answer, however. Gentiles are not under the same stringencies that Jews are, generally speaking. I doubt that the prohibition against tattoos (for non-idolatrous purposes) would apply to the Noahide.

        I did not follow the paragraph regarding monoculturalism. Judaism does nothing to eliminate multiculturalism as far as I can tell. In fact, the Noahide Laws are rather broad, leaving much room for non-Jewish cultures to develop their own customs, as long as they don’t violate the Seven Laws.

        Jim

  5. Concerned Reader says:

    No disrespect intended, but this is where we can see some good value in the way the Church has dealt with this very question, in my opinion anyway. Every being is made in G-d’s image by default, so every creativity of this hypothetical gentile society, is a gift from G-d, that will testify to G-d’s glory in one way or another. (Just as Bilam had done so grudgingly, and just as the ninevites had done) So, while theological error exists in a culture, the unique culture itself had a unique expression of, or rather impression of G-d’s own handiwork inherently in it. The writings of Tolkien were very good at illustrating this point. Beneath all of the middle earth polytheistic mythos, is a testimony to monotheism. If we are discussing his thought in the context of noachides, the point is the same. Many polytheistic cultures already have fingerprints and echoes of monotheism in them, that is, if the cultures have a mythology at all. Hinduism for instance has the Brahman. It’s literally the principle that causes, unites, and holds all things together. The issue is that this same principle is identified with the energy that is in all human souls. The takeaway then, in their theology, is that there is a unified single truth, but with various diverse, even contradictory paths to it. It’s not seen as a creator in our sense though either. In polytheism, it’s not that monotheism is not understood, what happens is that a different conclusion is reached by them as to the intended meaning of divine and unity. Polytheism can understand unity, but it’s rare that this understanding is coupled with the idea of Mitzvah in the biblical sense of the will of a unique creator. In fact, I have found that when G-d’s transcendence is emphasized, the question is asked:: how do you know? It’s difficult to describe G-d in terms of his transcendence, whilst maintaining that he has a unique will.

    The separateness of Israel was the unique gift of G-d to them, to preserve his nation. It is good to emulate G-d fearing practices, but if no uniqueness of a given culture survives because of the fences, then we might as well just have full conversion.

    I have to disagree with the statement that culture is not identity, it’s not who we are. It is who we are to an important extent. Our attitudes, perspectives, practices, etc. are all shaped by our surroundings, and our experiences. You don’t have to believe me either, just look at Judaism itself. It is at one time the most culturally diverse, and yet united faith community I’ve ever seen. Each group has its own unique culture. There is Ashkenazi culture, Sephardic culture, Ethiopian culture, etc.

    • Dina says:

      Con, Judaism has no problem with other cultures. I’m not exactly sure why Annelise brought it up, but there is nothing wrong with culture as long as idolatry is abandoned.

    • Devorah says:

      CR wrote “Every being is made in G-d’s image by default, so every creativity of this hypothetical gentile society, is a gift from G-d, that will testify to G-d’s glory in one way or another.” The bible tells us exactly the opposite is true.

      If CR were right does that mean that the Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, agnostics, etc. are all testifying to G-d’s glory? Most of those religoins boast of billions or aat least millions of followers. Are they all “testifying to G-d’s glory in one way or another”?

      G-d allows people to make mistakes (free will and all that). This means that many people go astray and worhsip what they think is G-d the way THEY want to — not the way G-d says he wants them to! The T’nach contains a record of many individuals and nations who possessed fervent devotion to their idolatry and we are told that this devotion is nothing less than spiritual adultery! It is condemned as an utter abomination, regardless of how spiritual the follower may have felt. Why would the Almighty permit religions whose fundamental teachings have no basis in truth to produce life-transforming experiences and miraculous occurrences in the lives of their devout followers?

      Read D’varim / Deuteronomy 13:1-2 where we are asked what should we do when a “prophet” offers to show a miracle in order to lend credibility to his message? How are we to respond if, in fact, the promised miracle comes to pass just as he predicted? Should we then follow this “prophet” even if he encourages us to worship other gods which are unknown to our people? “You must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer,” the Torah emphatically declares. G-d did not send him.

      The obvious question is: Why would the Almighty permit religions and prophets who teach unsavory doctrines to produce spiritual transformations and miraculous events? The answer lies in the verses that follow.

      The L-rd your G-d is testing you to find out whether you love Him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the L-rd your G-d you must follow, and Him you must revere. Keep His commands and obey Him; serve Him and hold fast to Him. (Deuteronomy 13:3-4)

      G-d is truly testing you with the experiences and observations you have had and made. This is your choice in a world where free will hangs in its perfect balance. Will you worship the G-d of Israel alone or turn to gods whom the nation of Israel has not known? You may even THINK it is the G-d of Israel, but if you are not listening to Torah but to your own heart or inclination you are not “testifying to G-d.”

      A careful reading of the Bible reveals that, in fact, G-d does not lead mankind away from His true path. This was always man’s decision alone, and it will forever remain in his domain. And your Creator never removed that decision from within your reach. As the Torah declares in Deuteronomy 30:15-19 . . .G-d permits man to become enraptured with false religions for the same reason He permits a married man to be attracted to women other than his wife.

      Free will is within your grasp. If this ordained tender balance of free will were ever compromised, virtue would remain beyond the reach of mankind. And pay heed to the words of hte Torah: D’varim / Deuteronomy 29: 17. “Perhaps there is among you a man, woman, family, or tribe, whose heart strays this day from HaShem, our G-d, to go and worship the deities of those nations. Perhaps there is among you a root that produces hemlock and wormwood. 18. And it will be, when he [such a person] hears the words of this oath, that he will bless himself in his heart, saying, “I will have peace, even if I follow my heart’s desires,”. . .19. HaShem will not be willing to forgive him; rather, then, HaShem’s fury and His zeal will fume against that man, and the entire curse written in this book will rest upon him, and HaShem will obliterate his name from beneath the heavens. 20. And HaShem will separate him for evil.”

      If you have peace in your heart — you follow your hearts desire — but you IGNORE Torah. . .well re-read the above quote.

  6. Concerned Reader says:

    If CR were right does that mean that the Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, agnostics, etc. are all testifying to G-d’s glory? Most of those religoins boast of billions or aat least millions of followers. Are they all “testifying to G-d’s glory in one way or another”?

    Yes and No, Devorah, Insofar as their diverse ideologies can testify to the knowledge and the truths found in scripture, why not say they are unconsciously testifying to G-d?

    Buddhists have no concept of the biblical notion of a creator G-d, only a vague notion of Dharma, what they call “the way’ or path. Through this knowledge of Dharma, G-d and the bible can be introduced to them. Will G-d judge those people beforehand who have never met a monotheistic Jew, heard of the noachide law, or read the words of Torah? Consider what is written below.

    “And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the LORD your God has ALLOTTED TO ALL THE PEOPLES under the whole heaven.

    Devorah, according to you, it seems that Hashem is judging all mankind by standards of the covenant which Israel alone received from him. Are other nations (because of their free will) who through mere fault of birth have never heard his name to be punished? All we can say of those peoples is that their conscience testifies to hashem’s existence throughout their lives, but they must hear in order to receive. We who know about G-d have the responsibility to teach monotheism. G-d is not going to judge these people by the dictates of the Torah that they did not receive, until such time as they have heard the truth, and had the chance to either accept it or reject it. Only then can it be called free will. G-d himself says he has given the nations the whole host of heaven! They are in error to worship those things, but as long as they can learn of hashem’s sole rule and sovereignty, they will be judged fairly, insofar as they learn what’s right. How is that a wrong assessment?

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Kings%205

    • Dina says:

      Con, I’m not responding on Devorah’s behalf but I do want to point out that you have set up a straw man.

      You wrote: “Devorah, according to you, it seems that Hashem is judging all mankind by standards of the covenant which Israel alone received from him. Are other nations (because of their free will) who through mere fault of birth have never heard his name to be punished?”

      I read Devorah’s comment and nowhere did she suggest what you wrote. Devorah is obviously addressing anyone who has read the Jewish Bible in order to understand God’s will. It’s very easy to knock down a straw man that you have set up. How about responding to what she actually wrote?

      • Devorah says:

        Dina, indeed CR is setting up a straw man — for he can not refute the words in my post because they are the words of G-d from the Torah. CR is arguing with G-d and His words in the Torah. D’varim / Deuteronomy 13. D’varim / Deuteronomy 29 which warns people not to give in to their own “guidance” — following their own hearts and inclinations — including those they believe to be some special supernatural guidance. . .. D’varim / Deuteronomy 30:15-19. . . and so many more!

        To quote from the blog which all of these posts are responding to “We must also distinguish between what pleases us and what pleases God. If in pursuit of a relationship with Hashem, we follow after our fantasies, then it was not Him we were attempting to please. We must start again. We must consider carefully His commands and the philosophy behind them. We must not press on to a deeper area of study until we have mastered this one. This does not appeal to the fantasy or the ego. But no one will go astray following the light of God’s Torah.”

        G-d tells us to listen to our teachers — not to be led astray by our own emotions. “Hearken, my son, to the moral instruction of your father, and do not forsake the instruction of your mother.” Mishlei / Proverbs 1:8. Jews are to be a nation of priests to the non-Jew who wishes to find G-d. “You will be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation to Me.'” Sh’mot / Exodus 19:6 and “And you shall be called the priests of the L-rd; ‘servants of our G-d’ shall be said of you; the possessions of the nations you shall eat, and with their glory you shall succeed [them].” Yeshayahu / Isaiah 61:6

        Perhaps it is because so many believe they can make it up as they go along — following their emotions (their “heart”) that so much evil has been done in the name of so many religions.

        • Zev says:

          Devorah, Muslims are monotheists. I wonder if CR thinks that they are doing a good job of showing their creativity. Does he think ISIS is a society which is a gift from G-d, that testifies to G-d’s glory? If not, why not? They are religious and following what they think is G-d’s will, right?

        • Dina says:

          Also, Devorah, your quote from Deuteronomy about feeling peace in your heart completely discredits using your personal spiritual experience as proof that your faith is the right one.

          • Devorah says:

            Exactly Dina! Zev’s point was that even ISIS thinks they are doing the right thing and they are following both their “hearts” and what they think their god wants them to do. No one is saying they are right — and that is the point! People who do what THEY want rather than what G-d wants can fall into terrible errors!

  7. Concerned Reader says:

    “If CR were right does that mean that the Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, agnostics, etc. are all testifying to G-d’s glory? This response by Devorah suggests that Devorah says they are not testifying to G–d’s glory.”

    Devorah wrote “G-d allows people to make mistakes (free will and all that). This means that many people go astray and worhsip what they think is G-d the way THEY want to — not the way G-d says he wants them to! The T’nach contains a record of many individuals and nations who possessed fervent devotion to their idolatry and we are told that this devotion is nothing less than spiritual adultery! It is condemned as an utter abomination,”

    When Devorah wrote this “does that mean that the Hindus, Buddhists,…testify to the glory of G-d?” I wrote

    “And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the LORD your God has ALLOTTED TO ALL THE PEOPLES under the whole heaven.”

    All the nations that are punished with biblical punishments have either had direct contact with the Israelite nation, or a working knowledge of G-d, and of the covenant. Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, all had direct contact and historical interaction with Israel and the covenant. Hindus, Buddhists, Piraha, (a tribe in Peru,) have no notion of the G-d of scripture, so G-d judges them fairly by what knowledge they do posses. That was my response to her criticism, not a straw man!

    “Deuteronomy 29: 17. “Perhaps there is among you a man, woman, family, or tribe, whose heart strays this day from HaShem, our G-d, to go and worship the deities of those nations. Perhaps there is among you a root that produces hemlock and wormwood. 18. And it will be, when he [such a person] hears the words of this oath, that he will bless himself in his heart, saying, “I will have peace, even if I follow my heart’s desires,”. . .19. HaShem will not be willing to forgive him; rather, then, HaShem’s fury and His zeal will fume against that man, and the entire curse written in this book will rest upon him, and HaShem will obliterate his name from beneath the heavens. 20. And HaShem will separate him for evil.”

    This verse from Devarim applies to those who have accepted and made the Sinai covenant with Hashem. It cannot justly apply to the Gentiles who have not known it and were not a party to it.

    Judaism says freely that Jesus was a false prophet sent to test ISRAEL, to test YOUR loyalty with signs and wonders. On this site, you act as though gentile Christians have accepted their faith blindly, you have asserted that their experiences are not genuine, despite clearly saying that G-d sent him (Jesus) to test you, and that nothing he taught was unique to him, but was plagiarized from Judaism! The nations who have accepted Jesus then, are a collateral damage from this test of Israel by G-d. If Jews base the acceptance of their faith on the Sinai experience, and the testimony of 600,000 witnesses, etc. how is it inconsistent for Christians to base their faith off of the claimed experience of the risen Jesus, the unlikely historical ascendency of the Church, and the observed historical abandonment of polytheism among its adherents? As I’ve noted, you do not need to believe Christian testimony for verification of these things, except in the case of the resurrection, so I am willing and have always been willing to say that the resurrection Is inadmissible for evidence because it cannot be proven independently of the gospel testimony.

    It has been demonstrated by me that Christianity is not borrowing from polytheism (beyond a superficial similarity that Judaism also shares with polytheism.)

    The Christian bible imparts the knowledge of hashem’s absolute sovereignty, and that he has never been seen:

    John 1:18
    John 4:24
    Luke 24:39
    1 Timothy 6:15-16

    1 Corinthians 15:24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power
    John 20:17 John 10:29, John 10:37 Mathew 6:24

    Mark 12:28-31New International Version (NIV) The Greatest Commandment
    28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

    29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[b] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c] There is no commandment greater than these.”

    Imparts knowledge of the chosen status of Israel and of the continuing validity of the Torah of Moses for Jews.
    John 4:22, Romans 11, Acts 21:21-25 1 Corinthians 7:17-18 Acts 16:3,

    Imparts knowledge of the seven laws of Noah
    Acts 15, revelation, Paul’s epistles, and later manuals like the didache.

    Christians have done great unspeakable evil to the Jewish people, but this religion is not beyond the capacity for repentance.

    • Dina says:

      Hi Con,

      I read Devorah’s comment and it seems clear that the gentiles who will be judged for their idolatry are those who are aware of Hashem and the Torah. You know very well that Judaism holds that people are not punished for what they do not know.

      If Jesus was sent to the Jewish people to test them, and they passed the test by rejecting him, how on earth does it make sense for the gentiles to proclaim him as a true prophet? I am not following your logic here!

      You wrote: “It has been demonstrated by me that Christianity is not borrowing from polytheism (beyond a superficial similarity that Judaism also shares with polytheism.)”

      And I have responded to this so many times that I have lost track, that the Torah defines idolatry as any type of worship that was unknown to our fathers. You have never responded to this.

  8. Devorah says:

    Dina, CR is very unfamiliar with the bible — and with the concept of tinok shenishba. G-d judges us based on who we are, our abilities and our situation. G-d is not going to fault a Buddhist who was raised not knowing what G-d expects of him or her. Let’s start first with a nice person, say someone who spends their life helping others and doing charitable works. Remember that actions are more important than beliefs. That person may have been a religious Christian their whole life — and that person will be rewarded for the good that they did. They will not be punished for something they didn’t know or realize (that Christianity is idolatry) because they fall into the category of one who was like a kidnapped child who was never taught properly (Tinok shenishba).

    A person who doesn’t know any better won’t be punished for something out of their control, but by the same token they won’t be rewarded for what they didn’t do either. The Rambam wrote in Hilchot Mamrim 3:3:
    “However the children and the grandchildren of those in error, whose parents have misled them, those who have been born among the Karaites, who have reared them in their views; each is like a child who has been taken captive among them, who has been reared by them, and is not eager in seizing the paths of the mitzvot; his status is comparable to that of one who has been pressured. . . Therefore it is proper to cause them to return in repentance and to draw them near with words of peace until they return to the strength-giving Torah.”

    However, a person like CR, has been reading the Rabbi’s posts and surely knows what the Torah has to say (whether or not he wants to believe it). That puts a person like CR in a different situation than a person who has never heard of his Torah responsibilities (e.g. the Noahide mitzvot in CR’s case).

    Most sages agree that Christianity is avodah zara (idolatry). Christians who worship Jesus as “G-d” or even pray to or through Jesus — that would be considered idolatry. There are ten thousand + versions of Christianity so some people are idolaters– and others are not.

    Plus we are now faced with generation after generation having been misled — so are they to be judged as idolaters because they have been lied to? Some sages claim Christians fall under the heading of תינוק שנשבה – tinok shenishba (like one who was kidnapped as a child and raised in the wrong religion). This “works” only as long as they remain ignorant — once they’ve been educated then they become responsible. . .

    I hope I made that clear — there is a huge difference between a person who is ignorant of what G-d expects of them (tinok shenishba) and one who DOES know and ignores what G-d wants in favor of what feels right to them — even though reading the words of the bible they can see for themselves that what feels right is not what G-d desires.

    • Dina says:

      Devorah, thanks for your excellent explanation of the Jewish position on these matters.

      Con has asserted that Jews should remain Torah observant and Christians should remain Christians and both are acceptable paths. I have challenged him, repeatedly, with these two questions:

      1. Judaism asserts that Jesus cannot possibly have been, nor can he possibly ever be, the messiah. Christianity asserts that the only messiah who ever was, is, or will be is Jesus. How can both be true simultaneously, practically speaking?

      2. In the gospels, Jesus specifically addresses the Jews and the Jews only and threatens them with eternal damnation if they don’t accept him. How does it make sense to tell Jews it’s okay to reject him, then? If he wants to say that Christian scripture encourages Torah observance, at the very least it encourages Torah observance in addition to and secondarily to acceptance of Jesus.

      He has not addressed these challenges in any serious way. If he is seeking the truth, he MUST grapple with these questions. A tinok shenishba he is certainly not.

  9. Jim says:

    Con,

    In response to your comments here: https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/supplement-to-noachide-worship-by-jim/#comment-14903 .

    I can only thank you for these comments and urge everyone to read them. They are a perfect example how following one’s own fantasies leads to absurd conclusions.

    You argue that it is a “good value” of the Church that it accommodates error. Because it recognizes that all are created in the image of God, every culture has something to contribute to understanding God, no matter how much fiction has been commingled with fact. Truth is not the concern of the Church, according to you.

    Is there anybody who would prefer to drink polluted water than clean water on the argument that even polluted water has some water in it? Would anyone label such pollution as “good value”?

    Such an argument exemplifies the problem with being more concerned with one’s emotions than with truth. What becomes important is one’s “creativity”. The person who is concerned with his creativity more than obedience fulfills his own desires. He does not fulfill the will of God.

    Every practice has some value because there is a kernel of truth to be found in it. If one believes he can worship God by putting on a diaper, popping a pacifier in his mouth, and sitting on the street with a rattle, so be it! If he wishes to build an altar upon which he offers his urine, good for him! If he wishes to compose hymns upon his armpit, let him squeak away! Let each express himself as best he can imagine! Huzzah! O the nobility of humanity!

    It is incredible to me that you would put forth such an argument. The Noahide is not obligated to live like a Jew. His culture remains his own. A prohibition to make for oneself religious practices does not limit one to a pseudo-Jewish life. What absurdity.

    Even more absurd is the idea that the Church is the soul of toleration. Has any religion suffered more schism than the Church? Has any body issued more anathemas to its brother factions?

    I must admit you are right in a way. The Church does tolerate pagan practices. They did not want to alienate potential converts. So they have allowed great amount of pollution into their wells. I just can’t believe you think that such pollution is better than purity.

    Jim

  10. Concerned Reader says:

    I was in no way stating that theological error is acceptable. I noted merely and apparently unclearly that G- d in his infinite wisdom, love, and goodness, puts the true knowledge of monotheism in the midst of the very idolatry practiced, so that when the person hears the truth, they are ready for it. The full disclosure of this true knowledge however must be brought from a true witness before G-d will judge. That’s what I was saying.

    • Dina says:

      Con, thanks for clarifying. Do you see how this is different from your original comment?

      Now, some questions.

      Do you realize that this is our view of Christianity? That therefore it will be obvious to Christians where they went wrong when the truth is revealed?

      And that brings me back to Jim’s question: if you know, why would you choose the mixture of idolatry and monotheism over pure monotheism? Like Jim said, that’s choosing polluted water over clean water, just because it contains water.

      Finally, you wrote, “The full disclosure of this true knowledge however must be brought from a true witness before G-d will judge.” Who are God’s true witnesses? The Jewish people (Isaiah 43:10). For this reason, I am mystified that Christians who believe that Tanach is God’s word do not heed those whom Tanach identifies as God’s witnesses.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        The source of misunderstanding regarding my comment probably stems from a lack of in depth knowledge of Tolkien. It’s not that polluted water is better, I’ll try and write up a response directly addressing Jim’s questions to me earlier, regarding the book of the people notion.

      • Sharbano says:

        It’s been my experience, listening to Xtian teachers, that they use the Tanach as lessons to show how Not to do as the Israelites had done. Apparently This is the purpose of Tanach in their eyes. The conclusion gained by those hearing those teachings are that Jews are inherently evil. As I recall from years ago, it used to be where Tanach was favorable to Israel it actually meant the “church”. This may have fallen out of favor.

    • Jim says:

      In what way does this relate to the topic?

  11. Concerned Reader says:

    Unique Cultural norms (foods, medicines, education, etc. is not dependent on the idolatry, even if it developed in that context, it is good, and is the unique cultural contribution of that people. The fences put up sometimes underestimate the godly potential of a given groups social norms, practices, etc.

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