Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Is Jesus the Jewish Messiah? Rehashed Debate between Jewish Sage and Jewish Convert
Category: Religion and Philosophy

First Section

For years, Christianity, a religion similar to Judaism in many of its tenets yet ultimately different, has been causing Jews to feel insecure about their own faith and what the Torah actually says. This has ultimately led to a steady stream of conversions from Judaism to Christianity of all forms (Protestant and Catholic) since it was established, although many Christians have also found spiritual solace in the religion of Judaism or in the Seven Laws of Noah as well, which is another topic.

Second Section

For years, Christianity, a religion similar to Judaism in many of its tenets yet ultimately different, has been causing Jews to feel insecure about their own faith and what the Torah actually says. This has ultimately led to a steady stream of conversions from Judaism to Christianity of all forms (Protestant and Catholic) since it was established, although many Christians have also found spiritual solace in the religion of Judaism or in the Seven Laws of Noah as well, which is another topic.

Starting on Friday, July 20, 1263 and ending Saturday, August 4th 1263, a debate took place between Nachmanides, also known as "the Ramban," one of the foremost Jewish sages, still studied today, and a Jew named Pablo Christianity (who the Ramban refers to as "Fray Pul") who converted to the Dominican branch of Christianity (Catholicism). The debate occurred under the auspices of the Spanish King Jaime I of Aragonia in Barcelona. The Ramban's record of the debates can be found in a short book called "The Disputation at Barcelona," published in 1983, which was translated by Rabbi Dr. Charles B. Chavel (Ph.b., M.A., LL.B., D.H.L., D.D.) I have encapsulated here just two short excerpts from the book. Even now in the 21st century, this argument still causes unrest among many Jews, but the argument was laid to rest in the 11th century when the Ramban showed beyond a reasonable doubt that according to Daniel 9:22-27, Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah promised to the Jews.

If you are reading this and you are a Christian, know that the purpose is not to attack or undermine your faith, but rather to protect the Jewish People by preserving the essential pillars of the religion of Judaism. Further, there might be what to benefit from the alternate opinions expressed in the Ramban's dispute, which was forced upon him against his will.

Ramba"n - Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, or Nachmanides

King Jaime I of Aragonia in Spain

The proposed argument revolves around the more than two-thousand year-old prophecy received by Daniel, a young Jew most likely from the tribe of Judah who was taken to Babylon (located then in modern-day Iraq) in 442 before the Common Era. According to the Artscroll edition of the Tanakh, the Jewish Bible, the the first paragraph of introduction to the Book of Daniel goes as follows:

The ways of God are mysterious. When it seems that He is plowing under His treasures, He may be planting seeds that are undiscernable, until they take root and blossom, sometimes decades or even centuries later. So it was when King Nebuchadnezzar planned diabolically to enrich his own court while impoverishing Judah and assuring that it would have no rebirth. He picked the finest, most promising young men of Jerusalem, and carted them off to Babylon (442 B.C.E.), there to serve in his court and make him the beneficiary of their brilliance.


Proposed Timeline of the Daniel 9:22 Prophecy

19 ...Fray Pul then reverted [to the original topic], arguing that they say in the Talmud that the Messiah had already come. He quoted the homily in the Midrash on Lamentations concerning a [Jewish] ploughman whose cow lowed while he was ploughing. A passing Arab called to him, "Israelite, Israelite, untie they cow, untie they plough, take apart thy ploughshare, for the Temple has been destroyed." So he untied the cow, untied the ploughshare and disassembled the ploughshare. The cow then lowed a second time. The Arab said to him, "Tie thy cow, tie thy plow, tie thy ploughshare, for your Messiah has been born."

20 I responded, "I am not receptive to this homily, but it is a proof to my words."

21 [Fray Pul] shouted, "See, he [himself] is renouncing their [sacred] books!"

22 I elaborated, "Truly I do not believe that Messiah was born on the day of the [Temple's] destruction. Either this homily is not true or it has another meaning, [which lies] among the secrets of the Sages. Yet, [even if] I would accept its literal meaning as you have expressed it, then it is a proof for my contention, for this [Midrash] relates that the Messiah was born on the day of the destruction, after that even. If so, the Nazarene could not be the Messiah as you have said, for he was born and killed before the destruction. According to the truth, his birth took place about two hundred years before the destruction, and according to your reckoning, [it occurred] seventy-three years [before the destruction]." The man was thereupon silenced.

56 ...[Fray Pul] reverted [to his questioning] and said, "Daniel stated, Seventy weeks of years are decreed upon they people and upon they holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make and end to sin, and to forgive iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal vision and prophet, and to anoint the most holy one. The seventy weeks [of years] refer to [490] years, which are the 420 years of the existence of the Second temple and the seventy years of the Babylonian exile. The most holy one is the Nazarene."

Diagram of Fray Pul's calculation:

57 I retorted, "Did not the Nazarene [live] more than thirty weeks of years or 210 years before that time, according to our reckoning, which is the truth that his contemporaries – those who knew him and recognized him – testified about him. Even according to your reckoning, he [lived] more than ten weeks [or seventy years] before [the destruction]."

58 He argued, "Yes, it was so. However, in one verse it states, Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto one anointed, a prince. The one anointed is identical with the prince, who is the Nazarene."

59 I answered, "This, too, is an obvious error. Scripture divides the seventy weeks [of years] which [Daniel] mentioned, and [in the following verse], it enumerates from their [total]: unto one anointed a prince, shall be seven weeks [of years]. Afterwards, [in the same verse], it mentions, and for threescore and two weeks [of years], it shall be built again, with broad places and streets. Then it enumerates one week, and half of the week, during which he shall make a firm covenant with many. Thus seven weeks [of years] are completed. The Nazarene, whom you call the anointed one, a prince, did not come after seven weeks [of years], but after more than sixty weeks [of years] according to your reckoning. If you would attempt to explain to me the entire chapter according to your line of thinking, I could refute you, for you will never be able to explain it [satisfactorily]. Yet, you shamelessly speak of a subject about which you know nothing. However, I shall inform you that the anointed one, a prince, is Zerubbabel, who came at the time of seven weeks [of years], for it is so explained in Scripture."

Although the full diagram is located at the beginning of the post, below is a timeline
of the disputation between the Ramban and Christiani for your viewing convenience. (click image in larger window)

In stanza 57, the Ramban explains to Christiani that even according to Christian tradition, which is that Jesus "[lived] more than ten weeks [or seventy years] before [the destruction]," he could not have been the figure of mention in the verse in Daniel. This is because according to the Christian tradition, Jesus was born in the year 0, placing him born seventy years before the destruction of the Temple, and died in the year 33, thirty-seven years before the destruction of the Temple. This makes it clear that Jesus could not have been the "anointed one" of the verse because the "anointed one" was "cut off" in the same year that the Sanctuary (Temple) was destroyed, 70 of the Common Era. In short, Jesus died thirty-seven years too early to be the verse's prophesied figure, which was Titus, the Roman emperor who gave the command to destroy the Temple.

We also see that the prophecy speaks twice of "the anointed one." Since the passage of time between both of the "anointed ones" of the stanza in Daniel was four hundred thirty four years, longer than the lifespan of any post-Noahide person, it is clear that each of the "anointed ones" are different people. In stanza 58, Fray Pul says to the Ramban, "However, in one verse it states, Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto one anointed, a prince. The one anointed is identical with the prince, who is the Nazarene." In stanza 59 the Ramban responds by saying, "The Nazarene, whom you call the anointed one, a prince, did not come after seven weeks [of years], but after more than sixty weeks [of years] according to your reckoning." In other words, Jesus was not born after the forty-nine years (7 septets), but was born "after more than sixty weeks [of years]," or more than four hundred twenty years later, four hundred thirty four years later, to be exact.

Further, verse 26 in Daniel says that "the people of the prince will come will destroy the city and the Sanctuary"; if the anointed one was Jesus then "the people of the prince" should have been his twelve disciples (Simon, called Peter, Andrew, James, John, Phillip, Bartholomew [also called "Nathan"], Matthew, Thomas, James [son of Alphaeus], Simon, Judas Iscariot, Jude Thaddeus), yet we know that neither of them had any direct involvement in the destruction of the Temple.

Finally, considering that Jesus could have been neither of the "anointed ones," the former for the reason just shown, and the latter for the fact that he was not killed in the same year that the Temple was destroyed, disqualifies Jesus from being the verse's prophesied figure. Even today, after so many years of it being shown to be false, it is unfortunately still necessary to respond to the Christian argument.


Friar Paul Christian (Pablo Christiani), a figure of the thirteenth century, was born to a pious Jewish family, with the name Saul.[1] He became a Christian convert and Dominican.

He was believed to have been a student of Rabbi Eliezer of Tarrascon.[2] He married a Jewish woman and had children with her. Later, he converted to Christianity and took his children from his wife and made them Christians.[3] He then joined the Dominican Order of monks.[4] Prior to the 1263 Disputation of Barcelona, he was known for following Nicholas Donin's lead in attempting to ban the Talmud. His arguments centered on the "irrational" material within the text.[5] His participation in the Disputation of Barcelona with Nahmanides was to try his new missionary technique to bring Jews to Christianity.

The failure in the Disputation did not, however, discourage Christiani. Provided through the agency of Raymond de Penyafort with letters of protection from King James, he went on missionary journeys, compelling the Jews everywhere to listen to his speeches and to answer his questions, either in their synagogues or wherever else he pleased. They were even required to defray the expenses of his mission. In spite of the protection granted him by the king, Christiani did not meet with the success he had expected; he therefore went to Pope Clement IV and denounced the Talmud, asserting that it contained passages derogatory to Jesus and Mary. The pope issued a bill (1264) to the Bishop of Tarragona, commanding him to submit all the copies of the Talmud to the examination of the Dominicans and Franciscans. A commission was then appointed by the king, Christiani being one of its members, to act as censors of the Talmud; and they obliterated all passages which seemed to them to be hostile to Christianity. In 1269 Christiani interceded with King Louis IX of France and obtained from him the enforcement of the canonical edict requiring Jews to wear badges.

1. ^ Kobak, Joseph Jeschurun pg.21
2. ^ Lattes, Isaac "Kiryat Sefer" in Medieval Hebrew Chronicles II pg. 238
3. ^ Kobak, Joseph Jeschurun pgs.21-22
4. ^ Ibid., pg.21
5. ^ Ibid., pgs.1-15
This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, a publication now in the public domain.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

One day God will bring that injustice to an end
It will be at the time of comprehension
At the end of apprehension’s time
Greater than the yoke of history is the light of truth, which removes my bounds
And how much greater yet is our Only King?
Holy King?
When the kingdoms of falsehood fall
Erected in their place will be the altar of truth
On which no men die for “you shall live by them and not die by them”
Bricks of lie cannot support any a structure
The mortar of truth will comprise the eternal edifice
The skins of inauthenticity will gush peace’s water when they rupture
Then the ingenuine will evacuate the premises
He will make metamorphose truth out of culture
And we will stand glaring down from atop the precipice
The shells will fall down and rest in front of the vultures
Who will come and consume all of the vacant emptiness
The Place will have brought us to our eternal juncture
And joy will fill up the passageways in each and every residence

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Do You Know What Channukah Is?

An excerpt from the writings of Rabbi Samson Hirsch, of blessed memory:

Pages 200-201
- Chanukah represents the clash of two doctrines, two views, two civilizations, capable of molding, training and educating those who until this very day compete for the mastery of the world. Hellenism and Judaism: These are the two forces whose effect upon the nations mark the historical development of mankind, and which surfaced in Judea for the first time in the days of Mattathias. Hellenism and Judaism: when examined in depth they are the two leading forces which today again are struggling for mastery in the Jewish world. (He wrote this in the 1800's in Germany)

There is an old prophecy, to our knowledge the oldest prophetic vision: "God will open the mind of Japhet, and He shall dwell in the tents of Shem" (Genesis 9,27). If we grasp the meaning of the prophecy, it proclaims nothing less than that God will give Japhet mastery over the minds of men (יפת* is the hiphil* of *פתה) but only Shem will build homes where God's glory will find its dwelling place on earth. Japhet blossomed into יון* - the Greeks, the Hellenistic nations, whose mastery of all that is gracious and beautiful conquered the hearts of men. Shem blossomed into עבר*, the Hebrew nation which erected homes for God, and became the foundation of God's holy Law, of right and love. Both were charged to cover the animal nakedness of mankind, and were called upon to elevate man to rise in the image of God. Both were charged with educating Ham who personifies sensuality. Ham had seen his father's nakedness and told his brothers about it. Shem and Japhet took the cloth and, walking backwards, covered their father's nakedness. The prophet accompanies this scene with these significant words: "Blessed be the God of Shem, may Canaan (Ham's son) become his servant. God will open the mind of Japhet but will dwell in the tents of Shem. And may Canaan be a servant to them" (Genesis 9,26-27). The history of the world to this day is a fulfillment of these prophetic words. On the stage of history only two elements have appeared to dominate man's intellectual development and actions: Hellenism - the blossoming of the spirit of Japhet, which found expression in Greek culture, and Judaism - the spirit of Godly teaching lived and fulfilled by Israel.

It appears, however, that only the blessing, the victory and the fulfillment of the perception of God as proclaimed by Shem would prevail. The domination of minds by Japhetic culture would only be the groundwork for the houses of men into which the God portrayed by Shem would move and find his place on earth. At first minds would be receptive to Japhetic culture and then Shem's God will enter into the tents of man. While all others are subdued by Japhet, Shem will overcome Japhet.

(This paragraph is directly relevant for Christianity)

Page 207 - Japhetic culture offers man his own pleasure, his own sense of grace and beauty as the motive and measure for his own perfection; but it also leaves him subject to human shortcomings and weaknesses, errors, and delusions. The opposite delusive belief [Christianity] denies the possibility of man's ennoblement ["original sin"] and robs life on earth of all justification and happiness. The Law of the God of Shem, however, establishes God's will as the motive and measure of man's ennoblement. It teaches him what is pure and impure, refined and unrefined, holy and profane, that which pleases God and that which displeases Him. It demonstrates to man the boundary between freedom and servitude, shows him where freedom ends and subjugation begins in the spiritual-material, divine-earthly human being, and admonishes him: for the sake of your God be pure, be holy; for the sake of your God take hold of your life and dedicate and sanctify all of your earthly existence; ban all that is impure, unclean, unholy, contrary to freedom, displeasing to God, unworthy of man in the context of his spiritual and physical life, so that your surroundings be holy and pleasing to God, that God will dwell with you and accompany you, bless you and grant you good fortune, and that He shall not see in your the animal nakedness that is displeasing to God and unworthy of man, and abandon you. ונמשמרתה בכל דבר רע-כי ה' אלקיך מתהלך בקרב מחנך...והיה מחניך קדוש ולא יראה בך ער ותת (דבר ושב מאחריך (Deut. 23, 10,15)


· יפת Yafet
· Hiphil – a Hebrew grammatical form
· פתה Fetah – an opening
· יון Yavan – Japhet’s grandson, forerunner of Greek people and religion; Hebrew word for “Greece.”
· עבר Ever – Shem’s great grandson, Abraham’s great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather and teacher.

Excellent genealogical chart from www.timelessmyths.com (click on picture to enlarge)

Friday, June 29, 2007

My friend Tom wrote this. It's quite cutting edge and he's not worried about saying what's on his mind.

The following is what I would say if given the opportunity to give a speech at an AIPAC conference, and the hypothetical response. Though this is a hypothetical situation, I believe the reactions in real life would be quite similar, and for those of you who disagree, I ask you to consider just how honest with yourself you are being...


Shalom, hello. I would like to start by doing a little social experiment if everyone would let me. How many in the crowd here are Christians? Please raise your hand. That's a fair amount, thank you. And how many of you believe in G-d? (The same amount of hands are in the air) Now, of you who have your hands up, please keep them up if you believe the Jews are a chosen people and they and Israel will have a role to play in the end of times (roughly the same amount of keep their hands up). Thank you, you can put your hands down. Now, how many people in the crowd are Jewish, please put your hands up (the majority of the people raise their hand). Ok, of those of you who have your hand up, please keep it up if you believe in G-d (a fair amount, though a minority, of the hands go down). Thank you for your honesty, don't worry I won't tell your local rabbi. Now please keep your hand up if you keep kosher or observe the Sabbath, otherwise put it down (about half or more of the hands drop, though many of those who keep their hands up drive on the Sabbath or keep "kosher style" or keep kosher at home but eat non-kosher food when they go out). Ok of those of you with your hands still up, please put them down unless 1) you are a man who tries to wrap tefillin every day or doesn't own a pair but would if he did, or 2) you are a woman who goes to the mikveh or plans to once you get married (almost ever single hand goes down). Thank you.

It goes without saying that Israel is important to everyone in this room. We've all devoted time, money and or energy to defending and supporting it or support those who do. We all want to see Israel fare well and succeed. It would make sense that to achieve this goal we would want to work in the most efficient way possible, as one would with any goal. In America we live by the mantra, work smart not hard. To work hard on something in an inefficient way is not only working too hard, but also an actual loss as it is a mismanagement of opportunity cost.

How many of you would go through the effort of building a car, and not bother to put the engine in it? Not a single one I'm sure. Yet my friends, specifically my Jewish friends, we need to do some soul searching because this is exactly what AIPAC has been doing. Why is this? Because it is an origination, primarily of Jews, fighting for Israel, yet lacking faith to back it up. It appeals to every politician and leader far and wide to support Israel yet fails to appeal to the leader of the entire world, G-d, for the same (at this point a disproportionate amount of people start yawning and or step outside to go to the bathroom or check their voice messages).

AIPAC is a lobbyist organization. It works hard for a good cause, and it is indeed important in a democracy such as the United States to have such lobby groups for such good causes. Yet would we depend solely on lobbying as if it would be our savior? In pre-war Germany the Jewish citizens were leading the pack in all aspects of society- medicine, the arts, science, literature, you name it. It would have been the simplest thing in the world for a lobbyist to argue on a logical basis why the Jews were good for Germany, yet that wouldn’t have convinced that powers that be. Today we use the same approach, though instead of it being that the Jews are top notch citizens of the state, we claim that the Jewish state is the top notch citizen of the world. We cite its (debatable) status as a democracy, the only one in the Middle East. We cite its championing of human rights. We cite its inventions that lead the way in the fields of medicine and high tech. We cite its innovations in preventing terrorism and their contributions to our own fight against Islamic Extremism. Do not get me wrong, these are all wonderful things, but is this all to say that if Israel wasn’t the only democracy in the Middle East, and was only moderate with human rights, and didn’t come up with any great inventions, and didn’t contribute greatly to the fight against Islamic radicals, then Israel wouldn’t deserve to be supported and defended?

Israel is the land of the bible, yet too often the only people who seem to care about this, at least enough to vocalize it, are the Christians. Jews, the very people of the bible to which Israel was designated, continually fail to make this the centerpiece of their argument in supporting Israel, often searching for any reason BUT the bible to be used. And it is no surprise… just look at the outcome of our social experiment dealing with observance levels shortly ago. To say that Israel is the land of the Jews and deserves to exist, be supported and defended as such is to contend that the bible is right, and if one wants to say that the parts of the bible referring to that are right, one would logically have to assume that the other parts might be correct as well. This would be a big problem for many of us Jews who don’t live exactly as the bible would suggest we do, or don’t do so nearly enough. It’s understandable, the bible is nice and all but following it causes for many inconveniences. It’s one thing to ask your average Jewish supporter of Israel to write a check or even fire off an email to their congressman. But to expect them to put down that delicious hamburger in order to help Israel?!? People! Let’s not get too carried away here!

This is not such a new idea, in fact it’s thousands of years old. To quote Psalm 81 G-d says, “But My people did not heed my voice; Israel did not desire Me. So I let them follow their heart’s fantasies, that they might follow their own counsels. If only My people would heed Me, if Israel would walk in My ways. In an instant I would subdue their foes, and against their tormentors I would turn My hand. Those who hate Hashem would lie to him; but their time would be forever. And He would feed him with the cream of the wheat, and from a rock I would sate you with honey.” Ladies and gentleman, I think we would all like to see the foes of Israel be subdued. I think we would like the hand of G-d to be turned against the tormentors of Israel. I think we would all like to see Israel sated with honey. I know I certainly would, and I hope that you all would as well. Yet what do we do? We do not heed G-d’s voice and instead we follow our own counsels. What greater counsel, if any, do the American Zionists of today follow more than this counsel, the ultimate orgy of pro-Israel feel-goodedness?

AIPAC was named the second most powerful lobbying organization in the country by Fortune Magazine in 1997 and by the National Journal in 2005. Yet for such fearsome lobbying might, how has it failed to convince a single American president to date to sign into law congress’s desire to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the true capital in Jerusalem? How come it has failed to secure the freedom of Jonathan Pollard, an American Jew who has spent the last 22 years of his life rotting away in prison for spying for Israel, sending the Jewish state information on its enemies that was of no harm to America, and had actually been promised to Israel but had been failed to be delivered through the proper channels. The average sentence for the crime Pollard has committed is 2-4 years, yet he was punished with a life sentence in solitary confinement, spending his days cleaning toilets so that he isn’t forced to violate the Sabbath and work on it. Indeed, a search on the AIPAC website for the name “Jonathan Pollard” or even simply “Pollard” turns up no results, though if you misspell it by using only one letter “L” then it politely asks you, “did you mean Poland?”

During my junior year of college I participated in an AIPAC student leadership trip to Jerusalem where they flicked us around the city having us listen to the best and the brightest of Israeli and American politicians, bureaucrats, and political thinkers, all of whom were continuously brainwashing us into believing that disengagement from Gaza the previous summer was a resounding success and seemed to suggest that any who disagreed were right wing extremists or religious fanatics. The full implications of the disengagement hadn’t even begun to present themselves yet so these arrogant fools were able to smile while they sold us their smug lies. Yet a little more time would show that Hamas won the election, sparking a civil war that resulted in them taking power in Gaza. The citizens of the Gush Katif area, which had by years of blood sweat and tears created beautiful homes for themselves and a vibrant economy, were forced into long term living in what was meant to be short term housing. Much of the money they were paid as compensation for their lost homes has been spent on repairs on the shoddy temporary housing they are forced to cope with. 20 months after being taken from lives where joblessness was virtually unknown, unemployment jumped to 37%. Many people have been forced to continue to pay mortgages on homes that don’t even exist anymore. Yet a search on AIPAC’s website of the words “Gush Katif?” You’d have as much luck as searching for Jonathan Pollard.

One of the biggest problems with this organization people fail to see, though it is blatantly clear if one has rudimentary knowledge of how these things work, is that AIPAC is never truly free to serve Israel’s interests because it is not independent to do so. It is simply part of a three point circle that forms a continuous feedback loop. AIPAC lobbies the American government to support Israel. The issues AIPAC chooses and where it stands on these issues is based on the current policy of the Israeli government. The Israeli government is run mostly by corrupt politicians who rather than do the will of the people, take orders from the American government via the State Department in order to cling to their positions of power.

So I suggest you all gathered here, especially those of the Jewish persuasion to take into consideration what I’m saying, think about what really matters and what’s really effective. Put down those cheeseburgers and stop kidding yourselves.


…If having made it successfully through the entire speech without having my mic shut off or being kindly escorted off stage, most people would simply wait foaming at the mouth to hear some politician up for reelection make promises and pledges of support to Israel, whether empty or not, in exchange for votes. The speech would receive zero coverage and the masses would give it little consideration while wolfing down their delicious cheeseburgers later that night fantasizing about whoring themselves out to any politician or person of power that spent the breath to say, “Israel is ok by me I guess.”