Supplement to Rabbi Freitag vs Dr. Brown – by Concerned Raeder

A Supplement to Rabbi Freitag’s debate with Dr. Brown. (Part 1 Addressed to Dr. Brown.)
In Dr. Brown’s debate with Rabbi Freitag, Dr. Brown leveled the charge that the rabbi didn’t provide one  example of Christian scriptural manipulation, mistranslation, or obfuscation. I will address one instance, though I mean no offense to either party.
As Dr. Brown well knows, Hebrew is a very context driven language. Dr. Brown knows that rabbis have vowel points on the Hebrew letters in the Masoretic text which guide one in understanding the plain simple meaning of the text, which the rabbi addressed at length by pointing out the Jewish people’s clear unambiguous duty to the commandments.
Dr. Brown views this as a rabbinic addition to the Torah in some sense,( though not malicious as stated in certain of his works,) but he also knows full well that without the vowels, many root words in Hebrew can be translated in several different ways, thus making the Torah into putty in a person’s hands.
 It is in this respect that Christians are able to defend the textual variants as found in the Septuagint, (the Greek Tanakh employed by the gospel writers and the Church.) In this sense, Dr. Brown can claim that the Christian translation of Isaiah 7:14 as virgin for one example, is not a mistranslation, due to the Greek’s use of the word Parthenos.
What Dr. Brown will himself point out is that neither Partheonos, nor the word Almah convey a woman’s sexual purity or virginal status.
 Both Almah and Betulah can on occasion be read either way.
He can likewise employ a Targum (an Aramaic Paraphrase of a biblical book) to justify the change in tense in 7:14 from the present tense found (in Jewish translations) to the Christian use of 7:14 in the future tense. He will do the same with the choice of Almah or Betulah, and how he chooses to translate.
Jewish translations like the Stone edition Tanakh in Isaiah 7:14 say “the young woman is pregnant and will bring forth a son.”
Christian translations will say “the Virgin will conceive and bear a son.” The Christian will claim then that Isaiah’s prophecy had a meaning in his day, (IE the traditional Jewish meaning,) but also a future typology of a promise to David’s house of a future messiah.
A change so subtle may not seem insidious, or even mistaken, but I ask you, which reading stays consistent with Isaiah’s prophecy as recieved by him and delivered by him in his own day? Which reading makes the best sense of what is plainly happening in the Bible as we read it plainly for its own sake and not as a sectret fountain of future riddles?
When a Christian employs Targumim, Midrashiim, or extra biblical sources, we must realize that this would be like a Christian explaining and establishing Christian doctrines using Lord of the Rings, or The Left Behind series.
These works are based on opinion, a biblical hypothesis, and are a fan fiction as it were, not doctrinal source material.
That being the case, I will not fall into the pit of possible readings and types, because it is a pit into which the Christian himself can fall due to his overzealous use of type and shadow.
Let me illustrate.
 Dr. Brown as usual with his masterful use of argument will bring forward a prophecy which he will attempt to back with rabbinic commentary and a semblence of context, and say who but yeshua will fit?
He claims that there is a special servant in Isaiah 53 who is not national Israel (who is usually guilty,) but is an innocent person whose death serves to atone. But is that the plain meaning?
Let’s say (for argument sake,) that I grant Dr. Brown’s premise that this is a rightous sufferer. Nowhere does the text clearly state that this person is the son of David. Nowhere does the verse state that it is the servant’s death that will bring justification.
The NASB states: As a result of the anguish of HIS SOUL, He will see it and be satisfied; By His KNOWLEDGE  the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.
Death of the servant does not justify the many, but the knowledge of the servant justifies, IE his knowledge of the Torah and G-d’s justice. He knows G-d will not forsake him.
 Why is his soul in anguish if he is wholly innocent? Shouldn’t the soul be elated at the suffering of the sinful flesh, the man  resting in knowledge of G-d’s future reward?
Even if this can apply to the death of a righteous man, there is no way to know that it applies to Yeshua conclusively or exclusively.
Dr. Brown sets several criteria
1. The Servant is a righteous sufferer
2. He dies before the Second Temple falls
3. He is the son of David
4. He is a priestly king who fails in his mission to gather Israel.
If we were Jews living in the second temple era, we would not know this was about jesus exclusively, (just as his own students tell us that they did not know it was him.)
Let me ask a question. Could we possibly be well intentioned back then, and still think this prophecy could be about another person?
    who other than Jesus might fit these categories?
1. John the Baptist was righteous and suffered.
2. He died before Jesus
3. He was related to David via matralineal descent (as was Jesus,) due to being Jesus’ own cousin.
4. Unlike Jesus, John could actually be called a royal priest because his father Zachariah was a bonafide priest who served in the Temple.
What is my point here? Just because a man can fit into a verse does not mean the verse refers to only him to the exclusion of all others. No Christian would regard John the Baptist as a potential messiah, even though he can easily fit many of the same criteria Dr, Brown pointed out.
In the case of being both a melech and a Kohen, it appears that John actually fits better and more easily than Jesus in that catagory.
Types do not a messiah make.
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57 Responses to Supplement to Rabbi Freitag vs Dr. Brown – by Concerned Raeder

  1. So can those some observation about the suffering servant be applied to the prophet like Moses in Deuteronomy 18?

  2. Alan says:

    CR,
    Thank you for this article! I watched some of the debate. Because I know some stuff, I know Dr. Brown is just a master magician, but instead of slight of hand, it’s slight of mouth, he speaks so fast, so smoothly, with such confidence, and with Jewish genes, as smooth as the magician David Copperfield. I could only watch about 10 minutes of him speaking before I closed the screen.

    Could you please clarify – “Both Almah and Betulah can on occasion be read either way”?

  3. Concerned Reader says:

    Sure Alan: There are (I believe) verses where Alma and Betulah are synonomous. These terms do not always convey whether a woman is a virgin or not.

    When a Christian teanslates Alma in 7:14 as Virgin, he is guilty of eisogesis because the verse doesnt say what the woman’s sexual status was. I only used Isaiah 7:14 because it was an easy example of Christians giving a strained reading of a text. Isaiah 7:14 was not mentioned in the debate. I chose it only for illustration.

    • Alan says:

      CR,

      I thought that betulah always conveys virginity as opposed to almah which only conveys gender and youth? I also thought that parthenos always conveys virginity and that this word was chosen by the Christian translators of the non-Jewish Septuagint? And I didn’t think there was any possible way of changing the present/past tense in 7:14 (“has conceived”) to the future tense (“will conceive”)?

      • Concerned reader says:

        Homer and Sophacles (Greek authors) were known to apply Parthenos in the general sense of a young girl. So, its not strictly correct for Christians to claim that Parthenos always means virginity in Greek any more than they are right about Almah.

        Maybe I’m wrong about Betulah, but I thought there were a couple of cases where its ambiguous. Could be 100% wrong there. That said, I do know that Parthenos doesn’t exclusively denote virginity.

        Also, the New Testament only mentions the virgin birth in 2 gospels. The oldest sources of the New Testament (Paul’s epistles) know nothing about this doctrine, but assert that Jesus is son of David according to the flesh, and Mark and Mathew have the people assume that he was the son of Joseph the carpenter anyway in spite of having this story.

        IE even the gospels that do contain the virgin birth make the doctrine utterly irrelevant by making it known that as far as anyone (except Mary) knew, Jesus was the son of Joseph.

        The Ebionite gospel also asserts that Joseph was Jesus’ father.

        I used Isaiah 7:14 as an example in the 1st place precisely because it is a proof used to build a doctrine that is already extremely weak, even in the gospel source material.

        • Alan says:

          CR,
          Thank you! 🙂

        • CP says:

          How can Isaiah 7:14 be a “sign” unless it can be seen? Well…. there was a sign that was seen at Yeshua’s birth: Jupiter and Regulus in conjunction the constellation of Virgo, (the young woman or virgin) on Sept 11 3 BC.

          • Yehuda says:

            I thought it was “when the moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars”

          • RT says:

            You lost all credibility here… Ahab was dead, there is no mention of stars in that prophecy and we don’t even know for sure what is the origin of the name of the constellation “Virgo”. We don’t even know if that constellation was called by that name when Jesus was born!

          • Eleazar says:

            The sign is the birth of the woman’s child being at a certain age when the kings are defeated. That was the sign, and yes, it could be seen.

          • RT says:

            Not that a virgin pregnant is not a sign that can be verified by anybody (except Joseph)…

          • CP says:

            RT,
            *Actually the only one who knew for sure was Mary.

            Eleazar,
            * Yes, we know the how it was a sign in Ahab’s day. I was merely pointing out if taken as a prophecy how this could be a foreshadowed sign manifesting in Yeshua’s day regardless of Alma vs Betulah

          • CP Jeremiah 10:2

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • CP says:

            R’B,


            Jeremiah 10:2
            “Thus said Hashem: Unto the way of the nations accustom not yourselves, And by the signs of the heavens be not affrighted, For the nations are affrighted by them.”

            Okay, I think I somewhat understand your point, however what do you make of:

            Genesis 1:14
            “And God said: ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years;”

            Job 38:32
            “Canst thou lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season? Or canst thou guide the Bear with her sons?”

          • CP They were put to be used for practical signs – like sailors using them for navigation – not for superstitious games 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

        • CP says:

          RT,
          Others already made the leap, I’m just offering possible options for a “real” sign..

          • Concerned Reader says:

            CP, the problem with your “real sign” of a star, is that THAT IS NOT WHAT MATHEW’S author SAID THE SIGN WAS! HE SAID MARY BEING A VIRGIN AND NOT KNOWING A MAN WAS THE SIGN GIVEN IN HIS TIME!

            If you have to reinvent the wheel, you just prove all the more that Mathew’s book is not trustworthy.

            If Mathew had wanted to say that a star was the sign, he could have omitted Isaiah 7:14 entirely and instead relied on Numbers 24:17.

            The notion of virgin birth is irrelevant anyway, because when G-d promised sons to David, he promised in 2 Samuel 7:12 to provide him sons from within his own body.

            “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.”

            If Jesus does not have a male link to David, he cannot be David’s son anyway. That is why earlier gospels like Mark, and the earliest strata of Christian books (Paul’s epistles) contain no such story of a virgin birth. THEY NEVER HEARD THAT STORY.

  4. Dina says:

    Following.

  5. Yehuda says:

    Hi CR,

    Of all the Christian proof texts, I find Isaiah 7:14 to be, perhaps, the most disingenuous. At the risk of tooting my own horn, I think I made the case reasonably well on this blog here a few years back.

    https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/the-experience-of-the-false-prophet/#comments

    You can begin where a fellow named Charles Soper first quotes Joel 1:8. You can then follow it if you like – or not – but let me offer a four sentence summary.

    “Almah” is never used to unequivocally describe anatomical female virginity. As for “betulah”, if once strains credulity to the limit, there may be exactly one instance (Joel 1:8) in the entire Jewish scripture where a “betulah” MIGHT NOT BE (but just as easily can be) referring to an anatomical female virgin. However, what is beyond dispute is that whenever conveying the status of anatomical female virginity is critical to the author of scripture, He never uses any word of other than “betulah”. As such, if you are a christian, believing in Matthew’s reading of Isaiah 7:14, then you have to believe than in this one place in all of the Hebrew scripture where unambiguously conveying anatomical female virginity was more important than in any other place in all of scripture, Isaiah made the worst word choice decision of his life.”

    I eventually got this Charles Soper fellow to concede that “I agree that Isaiah’s use of Betulah would have made the prophecy transparent, just as to use the word maiden in English would have been trumped by the word virgin, but then prophecies are often not transparent and for good reason.”

    Well that is was Christians will have you believe. I am still waiting for the “good reason” why a prophecy as important as this one would have been rendered less than perfectly transparent.

    BTW, I only skimmed it, but kudos to Rabbi Freitag who I think did rather well against Dr. Brown. Make a point of noting early on when Rabbi F. challenges him about the new covenant in Jeremiah 31, how Dr. Brown repeatedly acknowledges (in-that-rapid-fire-parenthetical-tone-he- uses-when-he-makes-disclaimers-he-hopes-you-are-not-listening-to-very-closely) that one CAN question exactly what the nature of the new covenant is, and that it can well be a divinely assisted adherence to the Mosaic Law. Well, in that case, Dr. Brown, what the heck does it have to do with Christianity? Rabbi F. correctly calls him on the following. But what I find especially funny about using Jeremiah 31’s new covenant as proof of Christianity is that verse 33 says that a defining attribute of the new covenant age is that men will no longer approach their fellow man saying come “know the Lord”. Odd. Isn’t that how almost every campus missionary come-on begins?

    • Concerned Reader says:

      In fairness to Dr. Brown, it is a credit to him that he mentions that Jeremiah can be interpreted in the traditional Jewish way. During the Q&A Brown actually backs up the rabbi’s points a couple of times.

      Brown does mention that it doesnt say anywhere in the New Testament that Shabbat switched to sunday or that Circumscision was abolished, so replacement theology loses ground even for Brown, thank goodness.

      The rabbi’s points were so clear, I only wish he had more time to prepare.

      I really wish rabbis Knew New Testament studies better, so they wouldnt say certain things that allow Christians (in their minds) to dismiss their arguments.

      I hope people have noticed with my argumentation style that I dont say things like “Jesus never rose from the dead,” or X did not happen. I show how it wouldn’t matter even if he had, or X did.”

      Dr. Brown had a debate with a rabbi years ago, where the rabbi claimed that Jesus did not even exist. That kind of dismissal gives the missionary more ammo than you could imagine. You can have the greatest argument from scripture ever, but if someone says he didn’t exist, the Christian’s ears will shut.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      The thing is, Yehuda, to a Christian (especially a gentile one) Jeremiah 31 resonates with them for the folliwing reason even though Jesus doesnt fit hyper literally.

      It says G-d will be known by all from least to greatest.

      The greatest are those who already possess the oracles of G-d and his commands. The least are the atheistic, agnostic, and polytheostic peoples of the many nations who have no commands.

      So, even though Jesus cant fit these verses hyper literally, (to a Christian mind,) he seems to them to fit in terms of a non Jew’s own personal, historical, and cultural experience.

      A Christian who reads that the “least” will know G-d says, “that was me and my ancestors who worshipped thousands of gods, but now have knowledge of scripture from within my own experience.”

      Before Christianity existed, the only non Jews who learned about Bible were gentiles living near Jewish communities, or who were in the process of conversion to Judaism.

      Even though G-d fearers had comprised a high 20s percentage in the Roman Empire, they were always affiliated with and connected to an already existing established Jewish community.

      There were no stand alone gentile communities who believed in G-d (who were seperate from Jewish communities) until the Christian sect established them.

      G-d fearers where they were established also had heavy restrictions from Roman government.

      They still had to sacrifice to Caesar and pay taxes etc. (Ie even though these gentiles were trying to escape polytheism very actively, they couldn’t.)

      It didnt help that Romans made gentile conversion to Judaism illegal.

      So, To a Christian, the establishment of the Church meant that for the 1st time in world history, you could actually have a situation where “the least” or where “those who sat in darkness” actually felt like G-d had acted FOR THEM AND ON THEIR BEHALF for the 1st time directly for their societies as well as for Jews. IE to a Christian, Jesus’ coming made a literal fulfillment of that verse seem less daunting, less a far away remote possibility.

      So, in a weird round about way, a Christian who reads Jeremiah 31 thinks, “Jesus’ movement makes this reality (where the least can know G-d ) possible for the 1st time in history.” That is why they see Jesus in Jeremiah. They feel personally that their pagan ancestors were the “least” who were referred to in the verse.

      Think about it. Religious Jews dobt even take Jeremiah 31 hyper literally, but know it means that without changing nature, there will be a thirst for G-d where there wasnt one before.

      • Yehuda says:

        CR,

        Let’s be clear about a few things. Christianity is based on (among many other things) that a great deal about how Judaism was understood pre-jesus, has changed. For 2000 Jews have been asking where the Torah gives so much as a hint that it is temporary as Christians believe. If one is a Christian being asked to defend that, and one has a verse referring to a “new covenant” that is not “like the old one” then you declare victory and stop reading there before you get confused by the facts. Case closed. I get that. And that is pretty much how Dr. Brown used it here. But this is not about hyperlilterality. This is about simple meanings of words and simple context.

        1). The verse itself explains what is different about this new covenant, and it has nothing to do with Christianity
        2) The verse itself makes clear that the nature of the covenant is the indellible engraving of God’s Torah into the hearts of the Jewish people as opposed to it being replaced or negated.
        3) The verse doesn’t offer a single solitary detail about the specifics of the covenant that are uniquely Christological. Christianity didn’t not introduce the idea of a messianic age of universal knowledge of God. They appropriated it.
        4) And lastly the verse describes the era of this new covenant as being one where missionaries will NOT approach you saying “Do you know the Lord?”

        I understand what you wrote, but this is not about hyperliterality. This is about (as so much missionary rhetoric is) a blurring of where the respective burdens of proof lie. Jews don’t bring up the new covenant of Jer 31 as unique. Jews have a simple clear understanding of the passage as being like many others in the Tanach that speak of the day when universal knowledge of God and adherence to his Law will reign. Christians bring it up as a uniquely Christian proof text. And as a proof text it fails miserably not just because it PROVES nothing christological, but because for anyone inclined to read the passage beyond the words “new covenant” and “not like the old one” it makes rather plane that it is not Christological. If it had a simple Christological connotation Dr. Brown would press the issue. He doesn’t – because it doesn’t. Not only that, he pretty much concedes the point.

        • CP says:

          ” If it had a simple Christological connotation Dr. Brown would press the issue. He doesn’t – because it doesn’t. Not only that, he pretty much concedes the point.”

          Key word: “simple”. Dr. Brown did not concede the point but rather mentioned (I think twice) a “transitional period”. A person with NT understanding would agree, knowing the Holy Spirit is given as a “deposit” or “down payment” of what is to come. Consider a Hebrew living at the time Moses kills the Egyptian and flees to the desert, declaring; ‘God is using this Moses to lead us out of Egypt’. Who would believe him? Even in spite of prophecy given to the patriarchs people would likely laugh and ridicule him since they were still in slavery and Moses was gone. However in hindsight it is revealed as just part of the unfolding plan of God.

          Just as the Priest and the farmer are under one Torah, yet differing misvot apply to each, so the Jew and Gentile are under one Torah with differing misvot. Yet many are so preoccupied declaring the others have a different Torah they fail to appreciate the “process” of God working. Sure the Sinai experience can be pinpointed, but people fail to realize the people in attendance didn’t realize the promised land any more than Abraham. Why would the promises of Messiah be any different? In this case; Yeshua as the first advent of the unfolding plan of God eventually cumulating in Jew and Gentile actually living under one Torah in peace in the New Covenant.

          • Yehuda says:

            CR,

            What your point amounts to is that people can believe pretty much anything they want and see it in just about any verse they want. But that doesn’t change the reality that Christians don’t just want to see what they want in Jer 31, they claim it is a proof – a vindication – of their doctrine. It is nothing of the sort as Dr. brown admits. ( Dr.brown says at least twice in that exchange that the new covenant CAN BE understood as referring to a divinely inspired adherence to God’s law.) It’s just another case of a vague idea that can be shoehorned into the Christian narrative – once you’ve accepted the narrative. Look up the term Pareidolia.

          • Yehuda says:

            Sorry, I was adressing CP in that last post not CR.

          • CP says:

            Yeduha,
            Pareidolia; sure I hear you, but if you what to apply this term then you must concede a similarity of sorts, or as the term Christians use; “shadow”.

            This has always been the point; that God encoded types so that when they happen we would recognize HE planned it ahead of time. However some (right or wrong) don’t accept this, only relying on explicit literal foretelling through the written Word.

          • RT says:

            CP, Shadows and types are excuses for unfulfilled prophecies and Bible verses taken out of context…

          • CP says:

            RT,
            How can they be excuses if they are unfulfilled?
            Simply put; there are different ways people see prophecy. Some see it saying ahead of time x, y, and z will happen. Others see an additional level encoded in typology so to be either obscure or hidden until after or at the moment fulfillment.

            I don’t see the big deal, why so much conflict over it?

  6. Jim says:

    Regarding Jeremiah 31:

    Dr. Brown does not recognize that it does not fulfill the conditions given by Rabbi Freitag. If I recall correctly, Rabbi Freitag wants an unambiguous command in the first person. Dr. Brown emphasizes that the passage is in the first person, but he misses the other two. He does not quote a command, and he admits an ambiguity in the passage. (And indeed, by omitting what follows, he creates greater ambiguity than exists in the passage already.)

    Jim

  7. CP says:

    R’B,
    Could you please comment on this for me? (I’m trying to understand Orthodoxy).

    ___________________________________________

    Torah is what people are supposed to do (Jews according to the covenant with Israel and Gentiles according to the covenant with Noah)
    On the other hand, Judaism is what Jews who see themselves as observant actually do in the name of God (or Jewish culture in the liberal movements), which can differ from what they ought to do, and in fact often does (especially in the liberal movements, but not only in them)
    Here is a simple example showing the difference:

    According to Torah, the first thing a Jew is supposed to do immediately when he wakes up in the morning is to say “elohay, hannashamah shennattatah bi Tehorah. . .” (God [literally, God-of-mine], the soul that Thou hast put within me is pure . . .); he is to do this on his bed, even before opening his eyes.
    According to even Orthodox Judaism, on the other hand, he actually says “modeh ani lefanekhah . . .” (I give thanks before Thee . . .) without mentioning God at all, let alone saying one of His holy names the first thing on waking. What is supposed to be said immediately on waking is delayed until after going to the bathroom and doing a ritual hand washing.
    The excuse for Judaism’s new custom in disregard of Jewish law is a supposed prohibition to mention God’s names before a ritual hand washing, which contradicts not only our ancient holy texts but also an express provision in the Shulchan `Arukh Code (o”H 4,23), which is often said to be the guide for Orthodox Judaism today. In short, instead of mentioning God first as required, one mentions oneself first (perhaps as an unintentional expression of the very modern non-Torah thought that the individual person, the “ego”, is more important than God).

    The differences between Judaism and Torah are the expression of customs that many Jews think override the Torah’s requirements, whether the customs are more strict, or less strict, or simply different. Jews of the Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and other movements differ only in the specific content of their customary refusals to live by the Torah’s requirements. The basic attitude to Torah in them is the same: We need not observe Torah as it is (as given by God in writing and orally, as written down over a thousand years ago), but as we are accustomed; some go so far as to say that the customs of the living Jewish community are the only Torah, regardless of what is written in the ancient holy books.”

    • Alan says:

      CP,
      I’m of course not answering for Rav B, I just want to know where you got this from?

      • Alan says:

        Rav B, please allow me to put my 2 cents in here. It doesn’t matter where you got this from. I am very very familiar with this opinion. The kind of people who wrote this are extremists who only think there way is the right way and everybody else are wicked. It’s the same with the Neturei Karta Jews who think all other Orthodox Jews are wicked for working with the State of Israel in order to protect the Jewish people from getting slaughtered by Muslims. The laws of blessings are rabbinic laws not Biblical laws. There are different opinions about which ones are said, when they are said, if some shouldn’t be said. The most common opinion today is only to say “My G-d the soul you placed within me is pure” after we have washed our hands in the morning. The less common opinion today is that this blessing should be said first thing even before washing the hands. The person who wrote this article only thinks his way is kosher and all other Jews who do things differently are sinners.

        • Alan says:

          Also, the person who wrote this was very dishonest to use the Shulchan Aruch to show how dishonest and sinful orthodox Jews are. The Shulchan Aruch brings both opinions! First he writes that one says this blessing first thing upon awaking in the morning and immediately after he writes that the general practice is NOT to say it first thing upon waking. The Shulchan Aruch writes that both opinions are kosher with the second opinion being the dominant opinion (at least in his day which was the early/mid 1500’s).

        • CP Alan said it for me 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • CP says:

            Alan, R’B
            I apologize for not linking the site – assumed you’d goggle it if you were curious. Thank you for answering. From your answer, it appears even if I was an Orthodox Jew we would still be debating, only the topics would change, Lol!
            Btw, here is the link below; is this site good or bad in your opinion?

            http://www.mechon-mamre.org/jewfaq/intro.htm

          • Alan says:

            There’s good and bad. I can’t recommend the site (except for the translations of Tanach and his version of Mishneh Torah) because it’s hard to sort out the good from the bad. Sounds similar to something else we’ve been discussing?

          • Alan says:

            I answered before Rav B. only because I’m extremely familiar with this site (I knew this article you quoted sounded familiar; I must have read it a few years ago) and because Rav B. probably doesn’t need to waste his time looking at the site since after reading that quote you brought, it’s highly likely that he has seen all he needs to see.

    • Alan says:

      CP,

      Could you please comment on this for me? –

      1. Why is Jesus allowed to legislate halacha that contradicts every Sanhedrin since Moses’ day? For example, a man who gives his wife an invalid divorce commits adultery if he marries another woman.

      2. Why is it permitted to ask an invisible force, such as Jesus is today, for help and blessings?

  8. CP says:

    Alan,
    “1. Why is Jesus allowed to legislate halacha that contradicts every Sanhedrin since Moses’ day?”

    *You ask good questions!
    I don’t think Yeshua had any intentions of ‘legislating halacha’. What Christians have done with his teachings is another story, yet even so, it is still incredibly similar to Jewish halacha legislating the affairs of Gentiles who claim Hashem as there God.
    Again, I think we must look at the differing sects of Judaism in Yeshua’s day. He wasn’t the only righteous Jew at odds with the current Sanhedrin, there were many. And I think it is important to realize it wasn’t the Sanhedrin they were at odds with, but the individuals in office during that time.
    Please correct me if I’m wrong; but it is my understanding that people pick their own Rabbi. Therefore I would think a person picks a Rabbi if his teachings are similar to their personal interpretation of Torah. Since this is the way things are a person could choose to accept or reject this teaching depending on which Rabbi they choose to follow.
    The potential deal breaker is the answers to a logical progression of questions: 1) Was Yeshua the first advent of Messiah? 2) Can Messiah override Sanhedrin rulings? 3) Is Hashem subject to the rulings of the Sanhedrin?

    “2. Why is it permitted to ask an invisible force, such as Jesus is today, for help and blessings?”

    “invisible force”; do you mean invisible to the eye? For some, Yeshua is far from invisible, however being invisible to the eye really has no bearing on anything. In my line of work I deal with electricity, magnetism, resistance, inductance, impedance…..and the list goes on; all invisible. I think you are really asking about “praying to Jesus” rather than to Hashem. To be quite honest; this is a can of worms among Christians with many differing opinions and rationales for their view. I’m sure you can imagine how Trinitarians rationalize this practice.
    As for my personal opinion; Yeshua always taught to pray to the Father, therefore if we follow him we should do the same. However to be fair to your question; he did teach to ask in his name. Whole books have been written on this one phrase. In short; there is a whole lot more going on than meets the eye. Yeshua said he would ask the Father after he left for another Spirit like him to be in us. Just speaking to my personal experience, this Spirit draws us to Hashem, to the Bible and gives a love for people and a heartfelt desire to do HIS will. I guarantee you I wouldn’t be here talking with you if Yeshua had not done what he did. Once I gave up teachings about Yeshua and started studying what he taught it was another huge evolutionary step in the right direction.

    • Alan says:

      CP,

      “I don’t think Yeshua had any intentions of ‘legislating halacha’.”
      But Yeshua in the NT did it, whether he intended or not.

      “similar to Jewish halacha legislating the affairs of Gentiles who claim Hashem as there God.”
      I don’t know what you’re referring to.

      “Again, I think we must look at the differing sects of Judaism in Yeshua’s day. He wasn’t the only righteous Jew at odds with the current Sanhedrin, there were many.”

      If a Sanhedrin is not a kosher Sanhedrin because its members are not kosher, then they can legislate all they want but their decisions are not binding on anyone. It’s not really a Sanhedrin. Was the official Sanhedrin of Jesus’ time a kosher Sanhedrin? From what I know, it was not. The true and rightful members of the Sanhedrin were not in control at the time.

      “Please correct me if I’m wrong; but it is my understanding that people pick their own Rabbi”

      A person can pick any rabbi they want. Hopefully, they will pick a rabbi who follows halacha. What does it mean to follow halacha? It means to follow the rulings of the Sanhedrin and not to contradict their rulings. When there is a kosher Sanhedrin, if a rabbi has a question he can go and ask the Sanhedrin. When there is no Sanhedrin, the rabbi has to do his sincere and honest best to decide the halacha according to his understanding of all of the Talmudic literature. If he is not on the level to understand all of the Talmudic literature, then he has to rely on other rabbis who are greater then himself. The goal of the Talmudic literature and the goal of the Sanhedrin is to determine how Hashem told Moses to do the commandments as well as to clarify the rabbinic decrees of each generation’s Sanhedrin. Hashem in the Torah gives the Sanhedrin the authority to apply Torah law in practice, to enact precautionary fences and other decrees (like Purim, Chanukah, and others).

      “Therefore I would think a person picks a Rabbi if his teachings are similar to their personal interpretation of Torah. Since this is the way things are a person could choose to accept or reject this teaching depending on which Rabbi they choose to follow.”

      A person should pick a rabbi that they have chemistry with. But one doesn’t pick a rabbi because the rabbi tells him what he wants to hear. Such a thing is the opposite of trying to understand and follow Hashem’s commandments. This person is really just interested in following himself. I can’t stress it enough, that a rabbi has to play by the basic rules of the halachic system in order to be a true rabbi. Yeshua in the NT publicly taught laws that were outside of the halachic system. I gave you one example already. It’s an outrageous ruling that shows he really had no respect for Hashem’s halachic system and that he really considered himself above the system.

      “The potential deal breaker is the answers to a logical progression of questions: 1) Was Yeshua the first advent of Messiah?”

      I don’t even know what “the first advent of Messiah” means from a Torah point of view. I’ve never even heard of this expression before. I’ve heard of “aschalta d’geula (the beginning of the redemption)” and “reishis tzemichas geulaseinu (“the first flowering of our redemption”), but not “first advent of Messiah”. But however you define it, it is entirely irrelevant to an orthodox Jew, to how they relate to Hashem and observe his commandments.

      ” 2) Can Messiah override Sanhedrin rulings?”
      Nope. He can be a member of the Sanhedrin. If he did override them, he would be automatically proving that he is not the true messiah This messiah would be taking himself out of the Torah’s system of halacha.

      “3) Is Hashem subject to the rulings of the Sanhedrin?”
      The Sanhedrin has to try their best to preserve and correctly interpret the laws that they received from their teachers who received from their teachers all the way back to Moses who received from Hashem. The Sanhedrin can theoretically make an erroneous ruling and Hashem might let it happen. But as long as it’s a kosher Sanhedrin and the members tried their best including praying to Hashem for help, whatever decision they come to is the law. Theoretically, the law can be overturned by a later Sanhedrin. Ever since Sinai, Hashem no longer tells the Jewish people what the law is. How to do the commandments and how to apply them in real life, Hashem wants us to figure it out through the tools he gave us at Sinai. The Sanhedrin has to work it out, they can’t say “this problem is too hard for us, we can’t figure it out, please Isaiah, please Jeremiah, please Jose Feliciano, give us the answer”. That would be like cheating on a test!

      “invisible force” do you mean invisible to the eye?”

      By invisible force I mean a person you can’t pick up the phone and call, or you can’t sit in front of them and talk to them or you can’t shake their hand.

      “However to be fair to your question; he did teach to ask in his name.”
      To ask whom in his name?

      From the rest of what you wrote it seems you feel you would be cut off from Hashem, cut off from life if it weren’t for Yeshua. We cherish and respect our teachers because they teach us how to be the kind of people Hashem wants us to be. They teach us how to become aware of Hashem and how to develop a relationship with Him. But if they start butting into our awareness of Hashem and into our relationship with Hashem, then this is a sign they are becoming an idol and we need to run away from them as fast as we can.

      • Alan says:

        Correction – I wrote that Moshiach can be a member of the Sanhedrin. This is incorrect.

        ” 2) Can Messiah override Sanhedrin rulings?”
        Nope. He can be a member of the Sanhedrin. If he did override them, he would be automatically proving that he is not the true messiah This messiah would be taking himself out of the Torah’s system of halacha. ”

        Kings, including Kings from the House of David, are not allowed to sit on the Sanhedrin. But they must still subjugate themselves to the decisions of the Sanhedrin.

  9. CP says:

    Alan,
    1) [I don’t think Yeshua had any intentions of ‘legislating halacha’.]
    “But Yeshua in the NT did it, whether he intended or not.”

    — I really don’t think so – it is more like Yeshua was saying; ‘Look, this is what Halacha says, but this is what Hashem sees.

    2) [similar to Jewish halacha legislating the affairs of Gentiles who claim Hashem as there God.]
    “I don’t know what you’re referring to.”

    — The teachings of Yeshua which the Gentiles made into ‘Christian Halacha’ for themselves are not unsimilar to the teachings of Judaism and rulings of a Hillel led Sanhedrin that are placed on ‘God fearers’ ‘the Righteous Gentile’ or the modern termed ‘Noahide’. – in other words Jews and Christians pretty much agree on Christian Halacha for Christians. This only holds true IF we are referring to misvot involving what and what not to do. Where Judaism and Christianity part ways is the creeds they make on what to believe.

    3) “If a Sanhedrin is not a kosher Sanhedrin because its members are not kosher, then they can legislate all they want but their decisions are not binding on anyone. It’s not really a Sanhedrin. Was the official Sanhedrin of Jesus’ time a kosher Sanhedrin? From what I know, it was not. The true and rightful members of the Sanhedrin were not in control at the time.”

    — So if I’m hearing you correctly here – The Sanhedrin who judged Yeshua was not kosher. Then can’t help but ask; why are their actions in Yeshua’s trial still upheld as righteous even to now?

    4) “I don’t even know what “the first advent of Messiah” means from a Torah point of view. I’ve never even heard of this expression before. I’ve heard of “aschalta d’geula (the beginning of the redemption)” and “reishis tzemichas geulaseinu (“the first flowering of our redemption”)

    — We both agree Yeshua did not fulfill ALL the things Messiah is supposed to do. Where we differ is; you say this is proof he wasn’t Messiah, and I say he resembles the ‘concept’ of Messiah son of Joseph written in Talmud. In other words; I believe the Messiah started a work, put it into our hands and will come again to complete the work as Messiah son of David. For example; when you cook something, you mix it up and let it simmer for awhile, coming back at the proper time to add the finishing touches to complete the meal.

    5) [Can Messiah override Sanhedrin rulings?]
    “Nope. He can be a member of the Sanhedrin. If he did override them, he would be automatically proving that he is not the true messiah This messiah would be taking himself out of the Torah’s system of halacha.”

    — Interesting, so do you assume the Messiah will make changes and therefore by necessity be a Sanhedrin member?

    5) [Is Hashem subject to the rulings of the Sanhedrin?]

    — Your answer contains carefully picked words and phrases, I lacking such skills will jump in with both feet and probably make a mess. It is my understanding from what I’ve studied that the Sanhedrin believes in matters of law not only man, but God, is subject to their rulings. (I’m sure you know the passage; ‘My sons have out smarted me’) I cannot begin to tell you how uncomfortable I am with this.
    *if this was correct we would have no need for Prophets.

    6) “They teach us how to become aware of Hashem and how to develop a relationship with Him.”

    — this is EXCATLY what I read in the Gospels – Yeshua ALWAYS pointed to the Father and taught how to know the Father.

    7) “But if they start butting into our awareness of Hashem and into our relationship with Hashem, then this is a sign they are becoming an idol and we need to run away from them as fast as we can.”

    — I agree! Unfortunately because of the great schism that developed between the Gentile Church and Judaism, the Gentiles no longer had the Jews around to guide them in this matter therefore in my opinion have gone farther that what is right. (No offense intended) – but they are now as closed minded about this as Jews are about Yeshua.

    • Alan says:

      “1) [I don’t think Yeshua had any intentions of ‘legislating halacha’.]
      “But Yeshua in the NT did it, whether he intended or not.”

      — I really don’t think so – it is more like Yeshua was saying; ‘Look, this is what Halacha says, but this is what Hashem sees.”

      If you are saying that a prophet (or non-prophet) can make his own halachot, I explained to you why this is against the law. If you want me to try to explain it again I will.

      “2) [similar to Jewish halacha legislating the affairs of Gentiles who claim Hashem as there God.]
      “I don’t know what you’re referring to.”

      — The teachings of Yeshua which the Gentiles made into ‘Christian Halacha’ for themselves are not unsimilar to the teachings of Judaism and rulings of a Hillel led Sanhedrin that are placed on ‘God fearers’ ‘the Righteous Gentile’ or the modern termed ‘Noahide’. – in other words Jews and Christians pretty much agree on Christian Halacha for Christians. This only holds true IF we are referring to misvot involving what and what not to do. Where Judaism and Christianity part ways is the creeds they make on what to believe.”

      The rabbis/the Sanhedrin didn’t make up the Noahide laws. Hashem did.

      “— So if I’m hearing you correctly here – The Sanhedrin who judged Yeshua was not kosher. Then can’t help but ask; why are their actions in Yeshua’s trial still upheld as righteous even to now?”

      Probably because a kosher Sanhedrin would have come to the same decision. But I don’t believe the stories in the NT about this anyway.

      “— We both agree Yeshua did not fulfill ALL the things Messiah is supposed to do.”

      I don’t think anybody name Yeshu or Yehoshua or Yeshua fulfilled even one thing moshiach is supposed to do.

      “Where we differ is; you say this is proof he wasn’t Messiah, and I say he resembles the ‘concept’ of Messiah son of Joseph written in Talmud. In other words; I believe the Messiah started a work, put it into our hands and will come again to complete the work as Messiah son of David. For example; when you cook something, you mix it up and let it simmer for awhile, coming back at the proper time to add the finishing touches to complete the meal.”

      I totally disagree but if you want to believe this, fine. Just please don’t try to sell it to me. You can tell me about it once a month if you want, but please no more than that. 🙂

      “— Interesting, so do you assume the Messiah will make changes and therefore by necessity be a Sanhedrin member?”

      I was mistaken. No king including moshiach can sit on the Sanhedrin.

      “5) [Is Hashem subject to the rulings of the Sanhedrin?]

      — Your answer contains carefully picked words and phrases, I lacking such skills will jump in with both feet and probably make a mess. It is my understanding from what I’ve studied that the Sanhedrin believes in matters of law not only man, but God, is subject to their rulings. (I’m sure you know the passage; ‘My sons have out smarted me’) I cannot begin to tell you how uncomfortable I am with this.
      *if this was correct we would have no need for Prophets.”

      I don’t know what you mean that “God is subject to their rulings”. I will try to explain it again if you want.

      “6) “They teach us how to become aware of Hashem and how to develop a relationship with Him.”

      — this is EXCATLY what I read in the Gospels – Yeshua ALWAYS pointed to the Father and taught how to know the Father.”

      Great. I still don’t need or want him. Just like I don’t recommend that website which is a mixture of some really great stuff with some really bad stuff.

      “7) “But if they start butting into our awareness of Hashem and into our relationship with Hashem, then this is a sign they are becoming an idol and we need to run away from them as fast as we can.”

      — I agree! Unfortunately because of the great schism that developed between the Gentile Church and Judaism, the Gentiles no longer had the Jews around to guide them in this matter therefore in my opinion have gone farther that what is right. (No offense intended) – but they are now as closed minded about this as Jews are about Yeshua.”

      Great. I think I can tolerate hearing you tell me that Jews are closed-minded about Jesus about once every 6 months, but I don’t think I can handle more than that. 🙂

      • Alan says:

        After Moses, no prophet is allowed to say that through prophecy he knows what the law is and we must therefore accept what he says – even if the prophet is sitting on the Sanhedrin, he is not allowed to tell the Sanhedrin to listen to him. There were prophets on the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was not allowed to accept halachic decisions that a prophet claims he received from Heaven. The sages have to analyze and debate according to the rules of interpretation that Moses received from Hashem and come to a decision even if the decision disagrees with what the prophet says he received from Heaven. No matter how much they would like to go after what the prophet says and be done with it, it is simply against the law to do so. After Moses, there was no more legislating laws from Heaven. The prophet has his role and the sage has his role. When a prophet sits on the Sanhedrin he has to leave his role as prophet at the door and only be a sage while he’s there. When he leaves he can assume his role of prophet again. Does this help you understand better that passage from the Talmud that bothers you (“My children have vanquished me”)? This passage is midrashic with the purpose of teaching that it is Hashem’s will and pleasure that the Torah is no longer in Heaven.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          Alan, I know that Moshiach’s level of prophecy is described in rabbinic literature as being “near the level of Moses,” so does that mean that he can help solve arguments about rabbinic halachot through prophecy, but not add new biblical halachot?

          Because there are midrashim that say “the mitzvot will be null in the era of Moshiach,” which I have heard explained as meaning that when there is a new Sanhedrin, certain fences may be added or abolished with the help of messiah, or Elijah? Maybe rabbi B could chime in?

          • Alan says:

            CR,

            Excellent excellent questions!

            “Alan, I know that Moshiach’s level of prophecy is described in rabbinic literature as being “near the level of Moses,” so does that mean that he can help solve arguments about rabbinic halachot through prophecy, but not add new biblical halachot?”

            There are also disputes recorded in the Talmud over details of Biblical laws! Details of Biblical laws have also been forgotten or have become ambiguous. A king is not permitted on the Sanedhrin, so Moshiach will not be able to help that way. There is also a tradition that Elijah the Prophet will help solve halachic questions – biblical and rabbinic – but I don’t think that means he will solve them in his capacity of prophet but rather in his capacity of sage. I might be wrong, so I would need Rabbi B to help.

            “Because there are midrashim that say “the mitzvot will be null in the era of Moshiach,” which I have heard explained as meaning that when there is a new Sanhedrin, certain fences may be added or abolished with the help of messiah, or Elijah? Maybe rabbi B could chime in?”

            As far as I know, the Talmud says “in the world to come, mitzvot [not all the mitzvot, just some of them] will be nullified”. The world to come is not the era of Moshiach. In the era of Moshiach we will actually be able to fulfill all of the commandments of the Torah which is something we cannot do today. So the main point of the era of Moshiach is that we will be able to completely do all of the commandments including knowing and loving Hashem and following in all His ways. In the World to Come, physical nature will be changed, and since many commandments are physical, they will not be applicable anymore, just like today the laws of the Temple are not applicable.

          • Alan says:

            ” A king is not permitted on the Sanedhrin, so Moshiach will not be able to help that way. There is also a tradition that Elijah the Prophet will help solve halachic questions – biblical and rabbinic – but I don’t think that means he will solve them in his capacity of prophet but rather in his capacity of sage. I might be wrong, so I would need Rabbi B to help.”

            I looked into this further. It appears that what I wrote above is correct. The halachic rule of “the Torah is no longer in Heaven” applies to both a pre- and post-messianic era Sanhedrin, with or without Moshiach and Elijah being around. Moshiach cannot be on the Sanhedrin. Elijah can be but only in his capacity of torah scholar.

          • Ilan Silver says:

            CR,

            Thanks to your question I just learned something. I did my research and the Samaritan sukkah would be kosher as long as they built it right. A non-Jew who builds a sukkah for the mitzvah of sukkah has built a kosher sukkah that a Jew can use to fulfill the mitzvah.

            On 4/7/17, 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources

  10. Concerned Reader says:

    As far as I know, the Talmud says “in the world to come, mitzvot [not all the mitzvot, just some of them] will be nullified”.

    That could really explain some of the early Christian antinomian trends. Since they believed Jesus rose to eternal life, its likely that some of them actually believed some commands no longer applied.

    I also had another kind of obscure question. If you happened to be travelling through Samaria during the festival of Sukkot, (and you were not near your Sukkah) could you fulfill the commandment with a Samaritan family, or Samaritan Sukkah?

    I know its an off the wall question.

    • Ilan Silver says:

      Which mitzvot did the early Jewish Christians stop observing?

      It’s likely that all of the materials of a Samaritan sukkah would be kosher. It’s also likely the walls would be kosher. The problem would be the roof of the sukkah. Only someone who is obligated in the commandment of sukkah can build the roof (place the plant material on top). So practically, it wouldn’t be possible because it would be an insult to the Samaritan family if I asked them if I could lift up and replace the roofing material.

      On 4/7/17, 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources

    • Alan says:

      CR,

      Thanks to your question I just learned something. I did my research and the Samaritan sukkah would be kosher as long as they built it right. A non-Jew who builds a sukkah for the mitzvah of sukkah has built a kosher sukkah that a Jew can use to fulfill the mitzvah.

  11. Concerned Reader says:

    I was curious because Samaritans use fruits when constructing the roofing, for decoration. Is that why they would have to remove the roof?

    • Alan says:

      I found a website that describes the Samartian sukkah. I had no idea how different it is from the Jewish sukkah, for example they put their sukkah inside their homes while the halachic sukkah cannot have anything intervening between its roof and the open sky. So the kashrut (kosherness) of their sukkah has nothing to do with who builds it (i.e. a Jewish vs. non-Jewish builder) but rather with the construction of the walls, roof and location. From the photos on that website it looks like almost everything about it is different.

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