Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Missionary Vaccine

In Israel and the United States, missionary attempts on Jews are reaching a fever-pitch. Evangelical Christians are using every technique they possess, including converting the elderly in nursing homes, in order to lure Jews to the Cross. Scandalously, missionaries are preparing to inaugurate a new Christian Russian-language TV network will be inaugurated next month in Israel. This station is aimed at the Russian Jewish public, many of whom are painfully ignorant of their Jewish heritage following decades of Soviet oppression, as well as content aimed at children.

Incredibly, many young Jews are tragically falling for this Messianic deception, trading their heritage for a pot of lentils. Why is it that unprecedented numbers of Jews are crossing a line that their grandparents would have never dared to cross, whereas in previous generations, despite oppression and force, few Jews accepted the Christian faith? Even under the harshest conditions, which could almost complete disappear upon baptism, most Jews clung tightly to their faith. Forced conversionist sermons, decreed by the Church to be held in synagogues on shabbat, had little effect on Jews. What went wrong?

The answer is simple: today's generation of Jews prefers a strong, passionate Christianity to a watered-down, diluted Judaism. Most Jews have no exposure to authentic Jewish practice and belief, and have at best memories of bubbeh and zaideh, or resentment at being forced to attend afternoon school or "temple". An entire generation of Jews has grown up simply having no idea what Judaism is- and they have no idea what Judaism is not. To understand why the "Judaism" of the "temple rabbis" has no appeal to young people, one need only read this interview. The empty, vapid cultural Judaism has nothing to offer, complete with all its trappings of "bar mitzvah", trying to be accepted, and "Christmukkah".

It is essential to comprehend what Judaism is not before learning what it is. Judaism is not a culture, and eating gefilte fish or watching Fiddler on the Roof will not keep Jews Jewish. Cultural Judaism is a dead-end which leads to the travesties of trying to incorporate Jewish rituals at mixed-marriages, or of lighting the Chanukiyah next to the Christmas tree. Judaism is not secular Israeli nationalism, and Jews unfounded in Jewish concepts and ideals will find it increasingly difficult to accept the idea of a Jewish state. Not rooted in Jewish thought, many young Jews in the Diaspora are becoming uncomfortable with the Zionist dream. The secularization of Judaism, through "culture" as well as Zionism unfounded in Torah, is a goat-path to nowhere, a nihilistic road to assimilation and intermarriage. The millions of Jews who gave up their lives throughout history screaming the Shemah did not die for kugel or knishes.

Judaism is a covenant with G-d, established when G-d appeared before the entire nation of Israel at Sinai and presented them with His Torah. It has been, and continues to be, the way of life for the religious Jew. It is an all-encompassing system that pertains to all aspects of life, infusing them with G-dliness and holiness. When a Jew is committed to his G-d and his Torah, missionary arguments with fall on deaf ears. A Jew has no need for an intermediary between him and G-d because he knows that by keeping the mitzvot, he creates a personal relationship with G-d. He has no need for foreign waters from impure wells because he drink from the Torah, the source of living waters. Only by returning to the faith of our forefathers will our children be immune to conversion attempts.

To any Jew who is considering converting to the Messianic religious, I ask you: say Shemah, lay tefillin, keep kosher and observe Shabbat. Learn Torah with a rabbi or a study-partner. Immerse yourselves in the healing waters of the Torah and drink deeply from it. Experience true Jewish spirituality. This is the best and most sure vaccine against missionaries.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Problems with Jesus's Zionists

The Jerusalem Post describes Aryeh Bar-David as what would seem like a typical religious Zionist.

Like most religious Zionists, Aryeh Bar-David sees the hand of God in the establishment of the Jewish state and the Jewish people's repeated victories against its enemies. Yom Ha'atzmaut has religious meaning as a tangible sign that God is fulfilling his biblical promises to the Jewish people. "God's intervention in the course of history is so clear that, for me, it is absurd that people think we are just another secular democratic country," said Bar-David, who met me on Remembrance Day outside the Old City's Damascus Gate.

"This," said Bar-David, gesturing toward the outer wall of the Old City, "is the manifestation of God's prophecies as stated in Ezekiel, Jeremiah and other places in the Bible," referring to the victory in the Six Day War which gave Israel control of east Jerusalem, including the Old City.

Also similar to many religious Zionists, Bar-David, a veteran of four wars, is convinced that his religious faith helped him cope with life-and-death situations in combat. Under Ariel Sharon, he took part in some of the bloodiest battles for control of the Suez Canal during the Yom Kippur War. As platoon sergeant, Bar-David was forced to take over command when the platoon commander was killed in an ambush. "No matter how dangerous things got, I never feared anything. In a way I had a longing to be in heaven, closer to God. So I was not ever scared by the prospect of dying."

But, unlike most Jewish religious Zionists - who see the establishment of the state as a precursor to the yet-to be-revealed messiah - Bar-David has a radically different eschatology. That's because Bar-David is a Messianic Jew.

The Jerusalem Post falls into the same fallacious logic which Messianic and missionaries use. They argue that since they use Hebrew, support Israel, practice and incorporate Jewish ritual and traditions and were born of Jewish mothers, therefore, their faith is Jewish. The article goes on to mention that there are 200-300 Messianics serving in the IDF, how they love and support Israel and how 2000 Messianics showed up in Geneva to protest the Durban II conference.

It bears repeating over and over and over again that the essence of Judaism is not keeping kosher or lighting Chanukkah candles, or even love of Israel. The outward trappings are only reflections of the inner meaning. The essence of Judaism is predicated on the Absolute Oneness of G-d. On Mount Sinai, as millions of the Children of Israel stood ready to receive the Torah, HaShem said clearly to them: "I am the L-rd your G-d who took you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me." By taking us out of Egypt, G-d claimed our eternal allegiance. This is the definition of true Judaism as opposed to idolatry. Idolatry is not necessarily praying to sticks and stones or building images of the divine. Idolatry, and spiritual adultery, is worshipping anything other than the G-d who took us out of Egypt, from the house of bondage, anything other than the deity than revealed Himself to us at Sinai. G-d instructed the Jewish people with absolute clarity as to what was appropriate form of worship and what was not. Certainly, the name of Jesus was never mentioned. He was not at Sinai, and is therefore not worth worshipping. G-d warns us to remember well, and to take to heart, the mass revelation at Sinai. "And you shall watch yourselves very well, for you did not see any image on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire. Lest you become corrupt and make for yourselves a graven image, the representation of any form, the likeness of male or female..." (Devarim 4:15-16)

The power and strength of this admonition stood by the Jewish people during their long centuries of exile. The clever and thoughtful arguments of Pope or bishops, neither Crusading swords or the racks of the Inquisitions, could sway the Jew. Despite any attempt to convince him otherwise, the Jew knew that only HaShem, the G-d of Israel, and not Jesus, or Allah, or Buddha, or Zeus or Krishna, gave him the Torah at Sinai, and only He deserved worship. The concept of a Jew accepting a human being as divine, as the son of G-d, and of adoring him, is so absurd and so repugnant to the essence of Judaism. While it may be possible for a less than perfect Jew to ignore some commandments while keeping others, nothing can erase the sin of idolatry. By serving in the IDF, or laying tefillin, an apostate Jew only makes his service all the more abhorrent. In the times of the First Temple, many Israelites for Baal or Astarte served in the army. Many of them were loyal citizens who loved their country. Yet this could not make up for turning from the G-d of Israel.

On Wednesday, it was Yom HaAtzmaut, the celebration of the 61st anniversary of Israel's independence. Complete independence means more than no longer being under foreign rule or sovereignty. Jewish independence is much more significant than no longer being controlled by the British. The true and ultimate independence that we hope for is a spiritual independence, of being independent and free from foreign and gentile influences. We hope that the Jewish nation in Israel will not be subject to strange philosophies, beliefs and cults. Being subject to repeated proselytization attempts within our own country is a form of enslavement. That there are people serving in the army of G-d, the Israel Defense Force, identifying with a foreign faith and trying to woo Jews to it shows how our independence is far from perfect.

May we merit the Final Redemption speedily in our days, and a complete independence, from all our foes, both physical and spiritual.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Attacking the Weak

In their quest for Jewish souls, missionaries will stop at nothing. There is no limit to the deception and trickery that they will use in order to convert ignorant and alienated Jews from Judaism.

( A Jewish outreach organization has called on mainstream booksellers, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon, to remove a Christian missionary version of the traditional Passover Hagaddah from the Judaism sections of online and conventional bookstores.

Rabbi Tovia Singer, director of Outreach Judaism, warned, "Despite the innocent-sounding title 'Passover Family Pack: Everything You Need to Enjoy a Passover Seder Dinner,' the guide quickly departs from the traditional holiday message once it is opened."

Jewish families seeking to celebrate the ancient exodus of the Jewish People from Egyptian slavery find once they open the package that they are encouraged to express their faith in the Christian deity, "Yeshua the Messiah."

Outreach Judaism has started a petition demanding that Amazon reclassify this Hagaddah accurately as Christian, rather than Jewish. Passover is one of the most fundamental celebrations of the Jewish faith, a holiday which even the most assimilated Jews still celebrate or commemorate. To use the celebration of Jewish nationhood, liberation and renewal to woo Jews away from their faith is beyond disgusting.

In a similar story, Jewish religious groups turned down a sizable donation from missionary sources:

( Two Jewish religious groups turned down a missionary donation of thousands of dollars – and received the same sum from a Venezuelan philanthropist instead.

The story began several months ago, when a group of families from Disengagement-destroyed Netzarim - formerly of northern Gush Katif - received a donation of 21,502 shekels, worth some $6,000 at the time. The families had reason to believe that their benefactors had ulterior motives, and upon further investigation, found that the money came from a missionary organization.

They asked Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, Dean of Yeshivat Ateret Cohanim in the Old City of Jerusalem, for his opinion, and he recommended that they not use the money. He said they should send the full sum to the anti-missionary Yad L’Achim organization, where it would be used in the fight against those who try to convert Jews to any form of Christianity or belief in Jesus.

However, Yad L’Achim, too, did not wish to use the money, by express instruction of organization founder and chairman Rabbi Shalom Dov Lifshitz. “This, despite the various dispensations that can be found for situations like this, and despite the dwindling contributions in recent months,” said sources in Yad L’Achim.

Following the publication of this story earlier this month, at least one person, a Jew from Venezuela, was particularly moved by the groups’ self-sacrifice – and decided to donate the identical sum.

The unidentified philanthropist called the central Yad L’Achim office in Bnei Brak one day last week, and asked to speak to Rabbi Lifshitz “The moment I heard about the large donation that the people of Netzarim sent you because they didn’t want to use missionary money," the caller said, "and how you also refused to use it, despite the difficult financial situation everyone is going through – I was very moved. I could not remain apathetic, and I would like to give you a donation in the same sum.”

'Accepting Money From Missionaries Strengthens Them'
Rabbi Lifshitz said afterwards, “This very emotional donation proves the words of our holy Torah, ‘Is G-d’s hand too short [to provide]?’ Anyone with eyes can see clearly that G-d finds the way to help whoever needs, without having to rely on non-kosher sources… The very acceptance of money from missionary organizations strengthens them, Heaven forbid.”

It was not reported if the donor made a similar offer to Netzarim.

Netzarim Families Continue Farming
Some 45 uprooted families of Netzarim are currently living in the Halutza Sands town of Yevul, southeast of Gaza. Many of them are engaged in the same type of organic agriculture in which they worked in Gush Katif, raising organic lettuce, peppers, and more.

Together with another 35 families who have since joined them, they are planning to move to Bnei Netzarim, a community whose construction has just begun. They hope that the first families will be able to begin moving to their new homes, some five kilometers to the south, within a year.

May we all have the courage and strength to reject those who wish to turn us away from Judaism. May HaShem foil the plans of the enemies of His people and of His Torah.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Right to Smash Idols

Posted by Ellen W. Horowitz for JewishIsrael

"Do not bow down to their gods and do not serve them. Do not follow their practices. You must tear them down and you must utterly shatter their monuments." (Parashat Mishpatim 23:24)

The above was from last week’s Torah portion. G-d with His infinite sense of humor handed that one down to a people who don’t have much of a hankering for violently pulverizing pagan ideas, altars and places of worship.

How does one reduce idols to mere dust in a civil society, in a modern Jewish state?

Ideally, we Jews should counter idolatry by using our intellect to enable compassionate and just laws which are both considerate of human dignity and in keeping with Jewish tradition. But with Western democracies cramming the mantras of tolerance, political correctness, and freedom of religious expression down our Israeli gullets, we sometimes find ourselves preserving and protecting that which we were commanded to uproot. What’s a Jew to do?

Well, there’s always humor… and it’s been a funny week.

Headlines reported that the results of a survey on Israeli attitudes toward Christianity indicate a sharp division between religious and secular Jews on topics ranging from missionary activity, to accepting funds from evangelical sources, to visiting churches. Despite the sharp divide, both secular and religious Israelis did find some common ground, as only 50% of Israeli Jews agreed that Jerusalem was central to the Christian faith; and 75% believe the state should not allow Christian groups to buy land to build new churches in Jerusalem.

Meanwhile secular Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit of Kadima saw fit to set up a special committee to discuss amending Israel's Law of Return. Sheetrit feels the law has been abused by non-Jews with no connection to Judaism as a way to obtain Israeli citizenship. "In a few years Israel will no longer be the state of the Jews, and I do not want that," Sheetrit said.

But by far the most bizarre interfaith clash of this past week was over a skit, broadcast on Israeli Channel 10, which the Vatican claimed had "ridiculed -- with blasphemous words and images -- the Lord Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary."

C’mon Mr. Pope, Lior Shlein is just a secular Jewish entertainer - it’s not like he is one of your devout and disciplined Catholic bishops. Israel should be the place where Jews can express themselves fully as Jews; and a late night Hebrew program televised on a private channel in Israel should surely be a safe haven for satirists - and out of the sights and clutches of the “Holy See”.

A virgin birthing a deity who can walk on water is – for the Jew – absurd to the point of being hysterically funny. For the Jew, there is simply nothing reverent about it.

Besides, satire by nature is irreverent, and it’s a given that unconventional artists and entertainers are prone to going over-the-top and dabbling in the tactless, tasteless and insulting. Monty Python, Mel Brooks and Mr. Bean have all pushed the religious humor envelope to the outer limits. Alternatively, politically conservative comedienne Jackie Mason took his rants in defense of Christmas, Christianity and Mel Gibson to the brink, too ( but drew the line in the form of a law suit when Jews for Jesus put out a broadside entitled: "Jackie Mason… A Jew for Jesus?!”)

Were Shlein’s antics heresy? Were they tanamount to “denying Christianity” as Palestinian-Arab-Catholic and Israeli Arab newspaper CEO, Zohir Andreus, claims? Well, Mr. Andreus, we have a dilemma because to acknowledge Christian belief is to deny Judaism.

What is sacred for the devout Christian is oft-times blasphemous for the Jew. Even the currently in-vogue fascination many Christians are having with “messianic hebraic roots” movements and Jewish rituals cannot mask, nor bridge, the very fundamental differences between faiths.

If we adhere to the philosophy of the late and very great Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, then it seems the secular Mr. Shlein did us all a favor with his “blasphemy”. Rav Kook found a holy spark in Jewish heretics and atheists. In their denial of a Creator, they refuse to ascribe form to G-d or define His attributes and character in limited human terms. The heretic does not fall into the trap of creating a false image. This attitude intellectually and spiritually challenges the religious community and compels it to strive for a more profound knowledge and perception of G-d. The Pope should thank Lior Shlein for expanding his horizons, and for giving him the opportunity to grow beyond the confines and imagery of the Sistine Chapel.

We have to remember that it was the patriarch Abraham who, according to Jewish (and Islamic) tradition used common sense and a sense of humor when, as a young boy, he smashed all of his father’s idols except for one, and when asked what transpired replied, “The idols all got into a fight and the biggest idol won." At the time, little Avram must have appeared as a very disrespectful and rebellious blasphemer.

They just don’t make Jewish leaders like they used to. I bristled as Ehud Olmert submitted to Vatican demands and confessed and repented with a public apology, It is so in character for our outgoing Prime Minister to take his final bow facing Rome.

These are dark times and disputes with the Vatican and other Christian denominations over property rights, rights to proselytize, and the right to freedom of Christian expression, appear to be on the increase. Christian influence is growing in Israel exponentially and we Jews had better find our voice and assert our rights to laugh, legislate, smash idols, and bloodlessly slaughter sacred cows.

Cross-posted from Shiloh Musings

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

He's in there?

"Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." -John 5:39

When Christians read the Bible, they see Jesus in every verse and every portion. In their minds, Jesus is literally bouncing off every page. They make the claim that Jesus's messiah-hood and divinity is apparent from a cursory reading of Scripture and that if a person would only honestly examine the texts, they could not possibly deny his truth.

A favorite missionary claim is that the early Christians were Jewish, proof of the compatibility of the two faiths. Yet their very own argument works against them. If the Scriptures clearly and unequivocally point to Jesus's coming, one would expect that the people who would be the first to recognize him would be the very people who spent their lives studying the Torah. It would make sense that the Sanhedrin, the great rabbis and leaders of the people would have recognized Jesus's coming, clearly foretold in the Torah. One could imagine, if the Gospel tale is to be believed, Jesus coming before the Sanhedrin and arguing that he was divine, sent by G-d to redeem the world. The rabbis, who should have known from the Torah about such a person, refuted and rejected all of Jesus's arguments and reasoning. Obviously, the idea of a human saviour-god, son of a virgin and the divine, dying for the sins of humanity was not a Jewish concept based on the Torah, but rather a pagan one. While the learned men did not accept Jesus, his disciples were tradesmen, common folk and Torah students. Peter and John were Galilean fishermen, while Paul was a Roman tax collector. Mary Magdelene was a prostitute- certainly not a paragon of Torah scholarship and learning. Far from having the Scriptures clearly testify of Jesus, those who were familiar with the Scriptures were the first to reject him!

Similarly, one would expect that missionaries would have the most ease persuading Jews who have studied in yeshiva. Coming out of the synagogue and beit midrash, with a holy book tucked under their arms, they should be easy prey for the missionary sharing "the good news". It is then quite odd that missionaries rarely are sent to Crown Heights, to Monsey, Meah Shearim, Bnei Brak or Hebron. They would have little luck there as Jews well-versed in their faith and Torah are insusceptible to Christian missionizing. On the contrary, missionaries often concentrate their efforts on college students alienated from their Jewish heritage, lonely seniors, new Russian or Ethiopian olim, segments of the Jewish population that do not possess a strong Jewish heritage. A quick glance at testimonies on missionary sites such as 'Jews for Jesus' and the like show that most were raised in homes devoid of Jewish spirituality and whose only Jewish connection was gefilte fish and matzoh balls. That is why the Christian Bible places great emphasis on faith, rather than knowledge. This is because belief in Jesus cannot stand up to a true Jewish examination, based on traditional Jewish teaching and practice.

The classic Christian response to this is that Jews have been blinded by Satan. If the Devil had not caused them not to see, they would quickly accept the Cross. The Pope recently restored mass prayers calling for "the veil of blindness" to be "lifted" from the "eyes of the perfidious Jews". This arrogant and condescending claim ignores the many arguments and oppositions that Jews have with Christian theology. The Jewish rejection of Jesus as the messiah is based on study of the requirements of the messiah, which Jesus did not fulfill. The Torah records that in the End of Days, it will be the gentile nations, and not the Jews, who have been mistaken.

"O LORD, my strength, and my stronghold, and my refuge, in the day of affliction, unto Thee shall the nations come from the ends of the earth, and shall say: 'Our fathers have inherited nought but lies, vanity and things wherein there is no profit.' Shall a man make unto himself gods, and they are no gods?" (Jeremiah 16:19)

"[In the Messianic Era] nations shall walk at thy [the Jewish people's] light, and kings at the brightness of thy rising." (Isaiah 60:3)

"I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and have taken hold of thy hand, and kept thee, and set thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the nations; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house." (Isaiah 42:6-7)

May we merit speedily the day in which all mankind will recognize that HaShem is One and His Name is One. Amen!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Liar, Lunatic or Lord?

A Christian polemicist once argued famously that Jesus was either "a liar, a lunatic or lord". This circular argument has been repeated endlessly by missionaries in their obsessive drive to convert Jews. As such, it is necessary to take a look at who Jesus actually was, and who he most certainly was not.

1) Was Jesus a Prophet?

The Christian Bible refers to Jesus as a prophet (Matt. 14:5, John 4:44). However, from a Jewish perspective, this claim is problematic. Therefore, it is necessary to compare Jesus's claims with the qualifications set down by a prophet in the Torah, contained in Deuteronomy 13 and 18.

According to these sources, a prophet is a man sent by G-d to bring revelations. if a prophet predicts something that does not come to pass, or commands something contrary to the Torah, he is considered a false prophet and must be put to death. It is hard to square the idea that Jesus was a prophet with the claim that he was G-d, since that would make G-d His own prophet. We must examine whether all of Jesus' prophecies came true. Jesus prophesied that he would return during the generation and lifetime of his disciples.

"Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place." (Mark 13:30)

"Truly, I say to you, there are some standing among you here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in the Kingdom." (Matt. 16:28, 24:38)

Jesus's disciples most assuredly see the second coming in their lifetime. Therefore, Jesus was a false prophet.

The final verses of the Torah testify that Moses was the greatest and most authoritative of the prophets. It is a cardinal Jewish principle that never will a prophet arise who will be greatest than Moses and be able to cancel that which he commanded in the Torah. The Torah tells us how to recognize false prophets:

Deuteronomy 13:1 The entire word that I command you, that shall you observe to do; you shall not add to it and you shall not subtract from it. [2] If there should stand up in your midst a prophet or a dreamer of a dream, and he will produce to you a sign or a wonder, [3] and the sign or the wonder comes about, of which he spoke to you, saying "Let us follow gods of others that you did not know and we shall worship them!; [4] do not hearken to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer of a dream, for HASHEM, your G-d, is testing you to know whether you love HASHEM, your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul. [5] HASHEM, your G-d, shall you follow and Him shall you fear; His commandments shall you observe and to His voice shall you hearken; Him shall you serve and to Him shall you cleave. [6] And that prophet and that dreamer of a dream shall be put to death, for he had spoken perversion against HASHEM, your G-d Who takes you out of the land of Egypt, and Who redeems you from the house of slavery to make you stray from the path on which HASHEM, you G-d, has commanded you to go; and you shall destroy the evil from your midst. (Artscroll)

Just about everything that Jesus and Paul preached violated this clause. Paul opposed and condemned ritual observance of the Torah. Jesus dealt with many laws with a curious ambiguity. In Mark 7:18, Jesus declared all foods to be "clean", thus violating the laws of kashrut. Jesus limited or opposed divorce and remarriage in Matt. 19:9 and Mark 10:3-4, although this is permissible by the Torah. We see that Jesus tried to change the Torah, although no one has the authority to "add or subtract" to G-d's perfect Laws.

More importantly, it must be remembered that any prophet succeeding Moses must preach a message keeping in line with that of Moses.

FACT: No Jew prayed to Jesus prior to two thousand years ago.

FACT: Jews would have been unfamiliar with the concept of G-d in human form.

FACT: Jesus was, in essence, something that the Jews had not known.

FACT: Deuteronomy 13 specifically warns us that G-d will grant the power of miracles to people who would lead us astray from Judaism.

FACT: Deuteronomy 13 specifically says that Jews must not worship anything they had not previously known, no matter how many miracles the prophet performs, or how many events he predicts correctly.

This brings us to our next point, which will determine if Jesus's message was idolatrous.

2) Was Jesus divine?

Christianity teaches that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine. That is contradictory to G-d's explicit statement that He is not a man.

"God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent..." (Numbers 23:19)

"And also the Glory of Israel will not lie nor repent; for He is not a man, that He should repent.'" (I Samuel 15:29)

"..for I am God, and not man, the Holy One in the midst of thee; and I will not come in fury." (Hosea 11:9)

If Jesus is a deity, then G-d is not alone because Jesus is a discrete physical being. The Torah and the prophets are filled with statements hat G-d is alone and that there is no other. Claiming that G-d has a physical form and is a Triune being is contradictory to the teachings and spirit of the Torah.

"You are the ones who have been shown, so that you will know that God is the Supreme Being, and there is none other besides Him!" (Deuteronomy 4:35)

"Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other!" (Deuteronomy 4:39)

"To whom then will you liken Me, that I should be his equal?" says the Holy One. (Isaiah 40:25)

"I am the Lord, that is My name, and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images!" (Isaiah 42:8)

"To whom shall you liken Me and make Me equal and compare Me that we may be alike?" (Isaiah 46:5)

"Remember the first things of old, that I am God and there is no other; I am God and there is none like Me." (Isaiah 46:9)

Isaiah 11:3 states that the Messiah will fear G-d. Logically, G-d cannot fear Himself. As such, it is illogical to claim that Jesus was G-d. It is important to note that Judaism never considered the Messiah divine but rather a very righteous human being. The early Christian made no claims about the divinity of Jesus. Jesus was actually elected divine at the Nicean Council in 325 CE, by former pagans who worshipped various saviour demigods similar to Jesus.

3) Was Jesus perfect?

Christian claim that Jesus was a perfect being, yet a careful review of the Christian Bible reveals a far from perfect view of him. One incidence where Jesus sinned was the incident recorded in Matthew 21:18-19 in which Jesus destroyed a fruit tree which did not bear fruits. Mark informs us that it was not in the fruit-bearing season. This is in direct violation of the Torah's commandment of bal tashchit, prohibiting even the destruction of enemy fruit trees in times of war (Deut.20:19) If Jesus was "the son of god", certainly he could have caused the tree to blossom rather than vindictively destroying it. (Interestingly, the Talmud describes a story where Rabbi Yossi's son wanted to feed his workers and the fig tree had no fruit. Rabbi Yossi cried out and the fig tree produced fruit.)

Jesus also sinned when he ordered his disciple to violate the commandments to honour ones parents and to promptly bury the dead. "And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead. And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him." (Matt.8:21-23) By ordering his disciple not to bury his parents, Jesus violated the Ten Commandments and was guilty of a major sin under Jewish law.

Despite being portrayed as a "prince of peace", Jesus was actually quite harsh to those who opposed him and certainly did not practice what he preached. Jesus taught other to turn the other cheek (Matt. 5:38-39) yet when he was struck by the officers, he answered them back (John 18:22-23).

Instead of forgiveness and tolerance, Jesus cursed those who opposed him. "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned." (John 15:6) In Luke 19:27, Jesus commanded that his disciples bring his Jewish enemies before him and slaughter them before him, a role that the Church was all to happy to play throughout history. Similarly, Jesus cursed the cities that did not believe in him (Matt.11:20-24).

The Jewish people revere our holy and righteous sages, who rose to unparalleled levels of holiness and sanctity. One such individual was Rabbi Akivah, who was martyred around the time when Jesus supposedly lived. The Romans punished him for teaching Torah and skinned him alive with a hot metal comb.

According to Mark and Matthew, Jesus' last words on the cross were a complaint: "My G-d, my G-d, why have you forsaken me?". In contrast, Rabbi Akivah's last words were the Shemah, in which he proclaimed G-d's Unity and Oneness. Arguably, Jesus, who was supposedly the son of G-d, did not measure up to the exaltedness of Rabbi Akivah.

4) Was Jesus the messiah?

The Jewish tradition of "The Messiah" has its foundation in numerous biblical references, and understands "The Messiah" to be a human being - without any overtone of deity or divinity - who will bring about certain changes in the world and fulfill certain criteria before he can be acknowledged as "The Messiah".

First of all, he must be Jewish - " may appoint a king over you, whom the L-rd your G-d shall choose: one from among your brethren shall you set as king over you." (Deuteronomy 17:15)

He must be a member of the tribe of Judah - "The staff shall not depart from Judah, nor the sceptre from between his feet..." (Genesis 49:10)

To be a member of the tribe of Judah, the person must have a biological father who is a member of the tribe of Judah.

He must be a direct male descendant of King David and King Solomon, his son - "And when your days (David) are fulfilled, and you shall sleep with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who shall issue from your bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will make firm the throne of his kingdom forever..." (2 Samuel 7:12 - 13)

The genealogy of the New Testament is inconsistent. While it gives two accounts of the genealogy of Joseph, it states clearly that he is not the biological father of Jesus. One of the genealogies is through Nathan and not Solomon altogether!

He must gather the Jewish people from exile and return them to Israel -"And he shall set up a banner for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." (Isaiah 11:12)

Are all Jews living in Israel? Have all Jews EVER lived in Israel since the time of Jesus?

He must rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem - "...and I will set my sanctuary in their midst forever and my tabernacle shall be with them.." (Ezekiel 37:26 - 27)

At last check, there is NO Temple in Jerusalem. And worse, it was shortly after Jesus died that the Temple was DESTROYED! Just the opposite of this prophecy!

He will rule at a time of world-wide peace - "...they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore." (Micah 4:3)

Have you seen a newspaper lately? Are we living in a state of complete world peace? Has there ever been peace since the time of Jesus?

He will rule at a time when the Jewish people will observe G-d's commandments - "My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow My ordinances and be careful to observe My statutes." (Ezekiel 37:24)

The Torah is the Jewish guide to life, and its commandments are the ones referred to here. Do all Jews observe all the commandments? Christianity, in fact, often discourages observance of the commandments in Torah, in complete opposition to this prophecy.

He will rule at a time when all people will come to acknowledge and serve one G-d - "And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, says the L-rd" (Isaiah 66:23)

There are still millions if not billions of people in the world today who adhere to paganistic and polytheistic religions. It is clear that we have not yet seen this period of human history unfold.

All of these criteria are best stated in the book of Ezekiel Chapter 37 verses 24-28:

And David my servant shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. they shall also follow My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Yaakov my servant, in which your fathers have dwelt and they shall dwell there, they and their children, and their children's children forever; and my servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them, it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, which I will give them; and I will multiply them and I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them forevermore. And my tabernacle shall be with them: and I will be their G-d and they will be my people. Then the nations shall know that I am the L-rd who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary will be in the midst of them forevermore.

If an individual fails to fulfill even one of these conditions, then he cannot be "The Messiah." A careful analysis of these criteria shows us that to date, no one has fulfilled every condition.

Jesus is illegitimate on all counts. He did not possess the proper genealogy to be eligible for the throne of Israel, nor did he fulfill ANY of the basic requirements of the messiah. There is no more reason to believe that he was the messiah than Shimon Bar Kochba, Shabbtai Tzvi or my uncle!

In summary, the response to the missionary question of "who was Jesus" is "who cares?" The Torah commands us to venerate G-d and G-d alone. It is immaterial to a Jew who Jesus, Muhammad or Hare Krishna was. Their worship must be avoided at all cost.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Always a Jew

Inside every Jew is a spark of G-dliness, a pintele yid, a Jewish soul that yearns to reconnect with HaShem. Even the most distant Jew longs to come back to his people. The Jewish spark cannot be erased or destroyed but is eternal. Even if a Jew, G-d forbid, gets baptized, moves to India and lives in an ashram or joins a cult, he remains a Jew.

May HaShem merit that every single lost Jew return home.