Friday, June 30, 2006

Good point. An article from Ha'aretz. Just to give a bit of background on this for those who don't know. In 1967 there was a war between Israel and three Arab countries, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. It's also known as the Six Day War. Israel ended up winning that war, taking the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, and part of Jordan, which is now known as the West Bank. Israel's border with Jordan before that war (the pre-1967 war border) made Israel a disrespectfully small country with an area of land nine miles wide. Israel has since pulled out of the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank, and Hamas wants Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders. The Gaza Strip and West Bank are labeled "the territories," referring not to Israel's sovereingty but to Palestinian. Who should rationally care what Hamas wants? But this is Israel 2006 and the world 21st Century, so go figure. So much for progress; it's the progressives that support the pullout for the most part. The Palestinian leadership, now replaced with Hamas, patterned its policies on threatening Israel to withdraw from "territories" or for more attacks to come. However, after Israel's withdrawal and the continuance of attacks, we understand that withdrawals do not stop the attacks. In other words, the Palestinian leadership said, "Leave the areas and we'll stop because we want those areas in which to build a Palestinian state." Israel leaves the areas and the attacks dont' stop, they only get moved into the areas in which Jews still live. What will happen next? "Leave the areas in which you live now (they'll have to fabricate some false reason) and we'll stop the attacks." Will Israel do it? G-d forbid no, but the Palestinians will want them to, at which point Israel can either attack them or actually leave. That' what it comes down to; those two options. Anyway, that's my explanation, enjoy the article.

Tie a blue ribbon for Gilad and Eliyahu (By Bradley Burston) from

There's an inexplicable calm regarding Gilad Shalit.

Must be the way the world works.

When the missile hit his tank, Gilad Shalit was guarding our pre-1967 war border.

The border that Hamas has been talking about for months. The one to which, should we withdraw, they would make peace with us for generations.

Or until Sunday morning, whichever came first.

When the missile hit his tank, two of his crewmates, Hanan Barak and Pavel Slutzker, were killed in the blast. A third was seriously injured.

And there was Gilad, this kid, bleeding, alone, dragged off into the Gaza Strip by men who would probably rather kill him than look at him.

There's this heartbreaking photograph of a kid not 20 years old. The wide, unspoiled smile, doubtless unchanged from when he was small.

There is this lovely family, their guard let down because they believed him to be serving in the north, far from danger. A father who, in the depth of his dread, can say to the kidnappers, "We believe that those who are holding him also have families and children, and that they know what we are feeling."

The world can't give a fallen fig.

When the missile hit, there was this kid, stationed at a quiet IDF position, not in the territories, nowhere near Palestinians.

And here is this kidnapping of a soldier in an army which has withdrawn from the internationally recognized whole of the once-occupied Gaza Strip.

The world cares not at all.

Perhaps we should care more. Perhaps it's time people made a small statement in as many places as possible.

Now there is another kid being held, by the celebrants of horrible death, under threat of horrible death: Eliyahu Asheri, even younger than Gilad.

Tie a blue ribbon on a tree for Gilad, and for Eliyahu. So that people will ask what it's for, and you can tell them.

So that they won't be left alone, nor their family.

Ignore the voices - you can hear them already - saying that Gilad had it coming, as a member of a military that attacks Palestinians - the Palestinians that fire Qassams into homes, schools and medical clinics, the Palestinians that fire Qassams every single day, sometimes as many as seven times a day.

Ignore the voices - you know what they're going to spit at you, saying that Eliyahu had it coming, just because his parents decided to raise him on the wrong side of the Green Line.

The world doesn't give a fallen fig.

The world has washed its hands of the Palestinians. The world has washed its hands of Hamas. The world is tired of our troubles as well.

There's a sense that this is a kidnapping that even Hamas would rather not think about.

The answer may well lie somewhere between the Twin Towers and Faluja. Mass murder in the name of God, beheadings in the name of God, bombing after bombing after bombing after bombing in the name of God, gets to us after a while. Our ability to care, our very ability to notice, has been compromised by a reign of terror of such enormity, of such horror, of such duration, that the threshold of our emotional attention has become all but unreachable.

But just this once ...

We should tie a blue ribbon for Gilad, and for Eliyahu. For the sake of their families. For our own sake. For the sake of the world.

So that people will ask what it's for. And so they'll find out.

Monday, June 26, 2006

A link showing what goes in to the types of
bombs that Palestinian suicide bombers strap onto themselves. Notice the screws in picture five and the four-inch long nails in picture eight; these could be more useful in building a house. That however, implies infrastructure, so it's much more suggestable to lodge them into an Israeli. Use your imagination.

OK, I'll use it for you...

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3 - not for the weak-stomached

Picture 4

Picture 5 - not for the weak-stomached!

Picture 6 - not for the weak-stomached!

Pictures 7-21 - not for the weak-stomached!

Picture 8
Does humanity have the right to argue or debate over what the value of the human being is? What is the need for organized religion? Is it control, or perhaps, is it an organized understanding of unchangeable truth-expressing values?

We live in such an individualistic age that it is almost considered rude for a person to discuss with another as to what the value or meaning of human life is. To think that in an age of such apparent free-mindedness that for people to discuss such a topic would be acceptable is sadly with weak evidence; “free society” labels those whom are open-minded about discussing the deepest natures of the human being, and actually believing what they say and living according to it, as “fundamentalists.” This is to show that the definition of the word “fundamentalist” is misunderstood. A “fundamentalist” is one whom believes in certain fundamental truths, hence “fundamentalist,” and is not to be misunderstood with “extremist,” which is a person whom carries fundamentals to extreme conclusions. Granted, the confusion between the words, the mistake made that turns them into synonyms, has a lot to do with the fierce individualism that is bothered by notions of fixed values. It is a civilization that tries to wriggle its way out of fixed (and therefore limiting) values that seeks to define “fundamentals” as “extremist.” It is a social mechanism of freedom. A society that cannot even understand what “fundamentals” are damages itself and others when it begins to pass value judgments on what “extremism” is; if it is not comfortable, then it is extremism. This is not to say that extremism does not exist, because it does, but a civilization with a moral compass in need of readjusting cannot accurately discern between the two, which has negative repercussions for everyone.

If the members of society cannot openly, freely, and genuinely discuss the deepest and most essential values in an honest manner, are they not then cursed to shallow, superficial living, existing on the surface of the human experience but never delving below into its actual value? Is the lack of desire, or the hesitation to speak about such things in fact a social ailment, which has the ability to severely incapacitate society and all its members? We have the wrong impression that a damaged society dies. This is not true, society continues to trudge along albeit in a damaged state, for as long as human beings exist, then so does society. In a time in American society (at least American society) when it has once again become a value for citizens to question authority and politics, why is it the deepest searchers of political truths that turn a blind eye to the matters of the human spirit and the powerful effect that society has on our being? How can and do they justify the political paradigms and values for which they stand and not the spiritual and religious paradigms of humanity? How can they leave the entire search for human meaning in the hands of politics and not in the hand of spirit? Why do people, intelligent, value-driven people, neglect the soul? Where does the soul meet politics? Is there an intersection? Why is it chic to don bumper stickers with radical political messages but not with radical religious messages? Does politicalism trump religiosity?

We take for granted that murder is something which all humanity considers to be morally objectionable. We fail to see that perhaps “humanity” is a word that does not accurately reflect the human population; if the human population is made up of civilizations which are in debilitating disagreement with each other about the meaning of human existence and its role, then is not the word “humanity” a terrible misnomer? It would be like using the word “brotherhood” when people do not believe that they are family, or “Pan-Arabism” when Arab countries are not unified by any real ideological unity. Which society is to be correct in saying that murder is wrong, and which society provides the authorative definition? Is it by some “nature” that all societies happen to object to murder, or is the concept that murder is wrong an idea that flourishes within the body of humanity and which reaches the corners of the Earth? Is it, to make a contemporary analogy, one of the oldest forms of media in humanity; a value that spreads through some kind of channel, perhaps the ability to speak?

We take for granted that there are fixed values in humanity and fail to understand that there is not much separating what we consider to be fixed values and what are able to change. For example, it has happened countless times in human history when a civilization or society took to murdering another, despite the apparently fixed human value that murder is wrong. To the society, it was clear, a word other than “murder” was appropriate; perhaps “cleansing,” “defense,” or “retaliation.” To the murdered, however, it was just as clear or perhaps more that “murder” was in fact the only appropriate word. We get offended when we are told what is right and wrong and what the inherent value and meaning of the human being is, which means that there are inherently right and wrong behaviors and ways of thinking, but we do not get offended when we are told that murder is wrong; why not? Is that “murder is wrong” not just another value “imposed” on us through our inherited status as human beings and not animals? Is the immorality of murder a human tradition? Are we not free to disagree that murder is wrong? What if we are able to prove it, are we then free to murder? Have their not been several “historical superstars” whom have tried to prove that murder is not wrong? Do we not take that murder is wrong on faith?

The above picture is an original from the website

Arab/Iranian/Pakistani/Tunisian/Muslim/Christians of Peace-----------------------------

It's time that we added some new names to the lexicon of the Israeli-Palestinian-Arab conflict, because the only ingredient we are truly missing for three-dimensional conversation to occur about what's going is the Muslim/Arab voice of self-criticism; G-d knows that such a voice thunders from the Jewish and Israeli camp. Like "Salt & Pepa" said, "I give props to those who deserve it." Hopefully, with them, we'll be one step to "burning all illusion tonight," like Bob Marley said. May we show some respect to these righteous Gentiles and sons and daughters of Ishmael. Therefore, and in no particular order, I present to you these nine stunning individuals.

Nonie Darwish - An Egyptian Muslim (turned Christian) whose father died fighting Israel. An avid supporter of the change that she believes Islam needs to see in its dealing with terrorism from a first-hand perspective.

Walid Shoebat - A Palestinian from Ramallah turned Christian. As a boy he almost carried out a shooting attack on Israel but changed his mind at the last moment. Exposes the truth of what Palestinian children are taught from a young age from a first-hand perspective.

Ismail/Ishmael Khaldi - an Israeli Bedouin and his thoughts on the State of Israel.

Sheikh Abdul Palazzi - an Italian Muslim Sheikh who demonstrates that the Qur'an is not anti-Jewish at all.

Irshad Manji - Author of "The Trouble with Islam" and a public speaker about issues pertinent to Muslims and Arabs.

Reza Aslan - Public speaker and educator, author of "No G-d but G-d," intellectually honest about problems pertaining to Muslims and Arabs.

Wafa Sultan - Very outspoken Tunisian-born Arab Muslim woman about "the clash of civilizations" between Islam and "the West."

Tashbih Sayyed - Muslim Pakistani psychologist speaks about issues related to Islam.

Joseph Farah - A Christian Arab with a fresh perspective on Middle Eastern issues.

At the bottom of the page you can find audio and video tracks of a few of the aforementioned people.

It seems that for quite a long time has there been a loud anti-Israel Jewish voice lodged deep in the sinuses of the anti-Israel intelligentsia, causing great migraines to the Jewish people. Intelligentsia, if that’s what it can really be called without inciting a chuckle, has been leading the march against Israel’s morale. Now, we all know that the relief for such aches and pains is not a political solution in and of itself, but rather one tempered with that special nasal decongenstant Jews know as "Torah." But the voices coming from the aforementioned noble souls act as does a hot sauce when ingested, clearing the nasal cavity. One and all, together, let us stick our fingers into our noses and remove all malcontent blockages! Okay, okay, enough with the shnoz analogies!

Seriously now, the events since 9/11 opened up a path for Arab Muslims and Christians, not to mention Muslims of other nationalities, to speak confidently and publicly about issues of concern regarding Islam and the politics surrounding it. Some of these people are traditionalists and religious while others are liberal and secular; some are Arabs, some are Pakistani, and some are Iranian, but all see the importance of new paradigms that are able to snap into place with Islam and the Muslim people. Just like it was not good for Adam to be alone, it is not good for Jews to be alone in bringing a voice of reason; these Muslims and Arabs represent the new “arsenal,” if you so wish to call it, in bringing about healthy and intellectual changes for the Arab and Muslim people from the inside out, the only way that the ever-important and most highly-held values of the Arab and Muslim people can be kept intact (which is not something that the liberal Jewish intelligentsia is concerned with regarding Israel). Now, instead of Noam Chomsky and
Norman Finkelstein being silently prayed from the lips of the enlightened “prophets” of academia, let them as well utter the names “Darwish,” “Shoebat,” “Palazzi,” Khaldi,” “Manji,” “Sayyed,” “Aslan,” “Farah,” and “Sultan”; the “Dream Team.” May many young and concerned Muslims be allowed to follow and follow, and maybe some of the old too.

As the list grows and as I find more people, I will add them on to here with a short description of who they are and perhaps some of their writings. So like Bob Dylan said, or was it Carlie Simon (?), "You better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone, cuz the times they are-a changing."

*You can also check out these clips.

Nonie Darwish

Walid Shoebat

Reza Aslan

I have found some audio interviews with many of the aforementioned people and I will post more soon. Here are a few to hold you over.

And these interviews with the aforementioned people and more, from the Tovia Singer Show:

You can also go here to listen to interviews with Tarek Abdelhamid one and two and Walid Shoebat in parts one and two.

Professor Khaleel Muhammad being interviewed about the Qur’an’s mention of the Land of Israel and the Jews in parts one and two.

An earlier Walid Shoebat interview here in parts one and two.

Ishmael Khaldi and Nonie Darwish in parts one and two.

An older interview with Walid Shoebat in parts one and two.

The original Nonie Darwish interview in parts one and two.

A debate between Walid Shoebat and Shaykh Yassir Fazaga is found here in parts one and two.

The original interview with Walid Shoebat back on July 15th of 2003 is here in parts one and two.

An interview with Joseph Farah, a Christian Arab, is here in parts one and two.

An interview with Sheikh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi is here.

A May 28th 2002 interview with Ehud Olmert here.

An earlier interview with Sheikh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi is here in parts one, two, and three.

An earlier Joseph Farah interview is found here in parts one and two.

Shalom, Shlam, Salaam, Paz, Peace

Monday, June 19, 2006

Little Donkey Carry Mary.... Through Roadblocks and Tanks ---------------------------

The other day I ran by this article about trying to understand what Jesus' life might have been like in the 1st Century. The author went around trying to place himself in this context by consulting Palestinian "refugees" in Israel and attempting to understand how they felt crossing through all those checkpoints.

Dear webmaster, I am shocked at what I read in this article.

It has already been a propaganda ploy to equate the State of Israel with the Nazi regime. This "effort" has largely been lead by Palestinian propaganda outlets, eager to weaken Israel's integrity by attempting to demostrate that Israeli's (Jews) are guilty of doing to others what was done to them. Ironically, it is only when the propagandists need to compare Israel to Nazi Germany when they concede that the Holocaust did in fact occur. Other than that, they deem it an exaggeration or an all-out lie. Needless to say, the analogies are weak and improbable, to say the least. Your usage of "the suffering Palestinian" narrative, actually heeding the grievances of Fassed, to try to place yourself in the life and times of Jesus is quite grotesque. Jesus was a Jew, "Palestine" was his home, not the home of Muslim Arab invaders that came and snatched from it their hands generations later. In the name of historical accuracy, it would be more fitting to compare the oppressive and aggressive occupying Roman force to the Arab invaders of the 7th century, whom were the first Muslims. The Jews have regained some control of their rightful sovereignty in their homeland, Israel, which you call "Palestine," only to be obstructed by problem-ridden Arab countries whom wish to see Israel go away. If you realize the backwardness of this situation momentarily, you might start crying. Israel is the Jewish Holy Land, only holy to Islam as a means to garner political control. The Palestinians are not refugees in Israel, they are the remnants of invaders, belonging to Arab countries that didn't succeed in military attempts to destroy Israel (such as the 1948 and 1967 wars). Your analogy between Jesus and a Palestinian crossing through checkpoints is bizarre; Jesus was a Jew, not an Arab Muslim labeled a "Palestinian." It is a better analogy to compare it to a Jew whom is spit upon by Arabs as he walks through the "wrong parts" of Jerusalem, those parts dominated by Arabs. It takes a lot of chutzpah for an Arab to spit on a Jew while the Jew walks through the holiest site in his Land. The line of reasoning in this article justifies that chutzpah (audacity), turning Jesus, which Islam considers to be a prophet, into a suffering Palestinian figure, thereby confirming the entire "Palestine was invaded by Jews" myth. The Palestinians kill innocent people by blowing themselves up in cafe's, crowded streets, and clubs, the major reason for this restricted access. Jesus, the Jew, nor any of his family, tried to do this to any of the Romans. Had the Palestinians lived in 1st Century Israel, they would have most definitely resorted to the disgusting tactics applied on Israel today. Are you sure that you want to make this spiritual link between Jesus and Palestinian nationalism?


His response:

Dear Yaniv

The CMS webmaster Alister McLeod has passed on your email. It's always helpful to get feedback so thanks for your comments. I haven't heard from you before. Do you read our website regularly?

On you comments:

1. I don't see any evidence for suggesting that this article compares Israel to Nazi Germany.

2. I don't think we are saying there is a spiritual link between Jesus and Palestinian nationalism. Jesus was not a 'nationalist' and that categorisation doesn't shed meaningful light on who he was or what he did.

3. It's plausible to suggest that the Holy Family might have encountered Roman checkpoints and this probably was not a comfortable experience. I'd suggest there's no military checkpoint anywhere that isn't somewhat intimidating and I know from first hand experience that the same is true of Israeli checkpoints.

4. We could discuss forever the historical details. I think history is important but I'm not sure it helps much with micro issues that arise when ordinary people, Israeli and Palestinian alike, get caught at the sharp end of wider circumstances and suffer as a result.

Kind regards

John Martin

John Martin
Head of Communication
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E-mail: john.martin
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My response:

You're right, you made no comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany, but you tried to understand Jesus' life through the scope of what some people call "the Palestinian struggle." This is rich in political implications. Not to mention, that "struggle" is one of the most vociferous, Jew-hating movements around; it seeks to undermind Jewish rights at their very core. Like I said, the roadblocks are there to keep Palestinians from entering "Israeli territory" (technically it's all Israeli territory) and blowing themselves up, something that the Jews of 1st Century Israel were not doing to the Romans. It seems that the Jewish and Muslim attitudes towards oppression are quite different. You didn't compare Israel to Nazi Germany, but you compared, in effect, Israel to the Roman occupying army, which is essentially the same thing if we view Rome as a Nazi-type power, which it was. Either way, you fell into the trap of equating Israel to its oppressor and comparing the Palestinians to the Jews. Why can't you compare Israel to Israel; Israel is a sovereign state right now, why can't you compare that to King David's reign over the Land of Israel?

Mrs. McLeod said:

Jesus was not a 'nationalist' and that categorisation doesn't shed meaningful light on who he was or what he did.

Agreed. So why make the comparison between Jesus and the attempt of Palestinians to get through Israeli roadblocks? The Palestinians are nationalists, and the "roadblock experience" is something they deem as part of their obstructed national aspirations. Can you not see the implications here?

As for the third point, that is true, but remember that it is Israeli land, it was not Roman land, and similarly it is not Arab land.

And you are correct about point four. However, it is specific macro issues that give rise to these micro issues. I don't expect a Palestinian child to look out his window, see Israeli soldiers, and love them; that's the micro. I also don't expect the Arabs known as Palestinians to understand that they are a part of a larger Arab predicament, incapable of dealing with internal societal problems and projecting those problems externally, and Israel is the target of that projection; that's the macro. It is not micro issues that give rise to the macro issues; you have the situation reversed. In your heart of hearts, how do you think that Jesus, were he alive today, would react to witnessing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? What would he think?

Thank you, Yaniv...

His response with mine intertwined:

I responded in the same manner you did, within the text, but I can't change the color of the text here so I made spaces between the responses.

You're right, you made no comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany, but you tried to understand Jesus' life through the scope of what some people call "the Palestinian struggle." This is rich in political implications. Not to mention, that "struggle" is one of the most vociferous, Jew-hating movements around; it seeks to undermind Jewish rights at their very core. Like I said, the roadblocks are there to keep Palestinians from entering "Israeli territory" (technically it's all Israeli territory)

[John Martin] there are people who would debate with you on that point.

That’s fine, they are free to debate this, which can be done on a political basis. Religiously however, if you want to put it that way, the Torah says that Israel is the Land of the Jews.

and blowing themselves up, something that the Jews of 1st Century Israel were not doing to the Romans.

[John Martin] Yes, they had no explosives. But by the time you get the lead-up to the fall of the Temple and Masada from AD70, Jewish Zealots taking desperate (and usually futile) measures.

Great point. The only difference is that the Jewish Zealots killed themselves on Masada, rather than to surrender to Roman rule and become essential slaves and probably forced to worship idols. When it comes down to it, it is more noble to kill yourself for purposes of ideology, conviction, and suffering than to kill another. Technically, you don’t have the right to kill yourself either, but I would imagine that it is more “proper” to kill yourself than another, because the other might not want to die. Very generally, the Jewish concept of martyrdom is to kill yourself while the Muslim concept of martyrdom is to kill others (which could be accomplished by killing yourself). We need to keep in mind that the Muslim Arab practice of suicide bombing did not come into existence until this century. This coincides perfectly with the first time in history that the Arabs have fighting a battle from below rather than from a dominating position. This has directly led to the advent of suicide bombing, a play on the Muslim ideal of martyrdom but with a twist of bleakness rather than triumph, and wallah, suicide bombing. Those who simply label it “desperation” are missing large historical background information.

It seems that the Jewish and Muslim attitudes towards oppression are quite different.

[John Martin] This might be true. Of course, our main interest as CMS is with Arab Christians and I don't think on the whole they are associated with suicide bombings, etc. There is, moreover, a range of expressions and viewpoints.

And it is not Arab Christians killing Jews, but it is Arab Christians suffering from the acts of the Muslim Palestinians; there is no way to “filter” through Christians while the Muslims have to stay back, unless of course Israel forces them to wear some kind of physical symbol to be able to distinguish between them. Perhaps you should go to the problem at the root cause. The Palestinian Muslims sometimes treat the Christians horribly, as I have seen a documentary or two on this.

You didn't compare Israel to Nazi Germany, but you compared, in effect, Israel to the Roman occupying army, which is essentially the same thing if we view Rome as a Nazi-type power, which it was.

[John Martin] I'm not sure my point is the same as the original writer, but I wanted to suggest that wherever there is a military presence it is often intimidating for civilians even when miltiray duties are exercised with empathy and compassion.

And it is equally intimidating to know that you might die on the night out on the town with some friends or while taking a bus to school or work. Something had to be done about the suicide bombing, and up until the fence/wall was built, road blocks did the job. They were, perhaps, and inhumane response to an even more inhumane cause. Actually, I don’t believe that road blocks are inhumane; history shows that much worst things can be done to a group of people, and ironically, we can look back into Jewish history to find some example, and even more ironically, we have a hard time finding examples in Muslim and Arab history. Random chance has it that women will give birth and things like at the checkpoints, but no human has caused that to happen. Now you have people condemning the wall as apartheid – I guess the conclusion is that Israel does not have the right to defend itself and should just perish and/or be soaked into the larger Muslim population, the Umma.

Either way, you fell into the trap of equating Israel to its oppressor and comparing the Palestinians to the Jews. Why can't you compare Israel to Israel; Israel is a sovereign state right now, why can't you compare that to King David's reign over the Land of Israel?

[John Martin] That's an interesting line of thought. You would have more idea than me what the Israel to Israel might look like. I suspect from reading between the lines of 1 Samuel-2 Kings that the rule of the ancient kings at least sometimes had oppressive dimensions.

Yes, that is true as well, but the oppressive dimensions were from the Israelite/Judean king over his subjects, whom were largely Israelite/Judean as well, not over another population. There were, however, other peoples living in the Kingdoms, and that is exactly my point. The Palestinians can be those people, but they can’t revolt and rebel against the Kingdom; the Kingdom would have not tolerated it, but the State does, and might just be the State’s downfall (I’m no prophet). Similarly, to take a cue from Muslim history, Jewish subjects of Muslim societies and empires were expected to remain docile and appreciative, which in fact, usually was the case (those Jews are so much easier to get along with, no?). There is a correlation; they had a special (second class) status called “dhimmitude,” whereby they were afforded certain rights, along with a lower civil class. They didn’t rebel or complain, and everything was fine. If there was a civil law suit between Jew and Muslim, the Muslim would always win (this is not the case with the Israeli Supreme Court). They would also be required, like all subjects, to pay a special tax affording them the protection that a dhimmi received, called the “jizya tax,” which was sometimes collected in a harsh way, such as with slapping and pulling his beard, to remind the person of his submissive status in Muslim society. If he didn’t submit to Al-lah, then he would have to submit to the Muslim people. When Israel became a state, the Arab societies when bogus and expelled nearly 100% of their Jewish populations! Clearly, Israel does not treat its Palestinian subjects in this way, and much of the harsh treatment they receive is directly related to suicide bombing. Mind you, if Jews in Muslim lands had done anything remotely similar to what the Palestinians do today, they would have been either expelled immediately or killed. I sense a real passive-aggression on the part of the Palestinian people and Arab Muslims in general, and maybe Christians too; they don’t respect Israel because Israel doesn’t have the same values as they do, i.e., it lets them get away with things that the Muslim society would never dream of letting the Jews get away with. Truly, Israel is too nice to them, but does that mean that we have to be savages like them in order to get their respect? There is nothing that we can do that will get their respect; even giving them land doesn’t get their respect, they see it as a state-supported form of military plunder, while your liberal Israeli sees it as an attempt to make peace – it’s a joke. The truth is that none of this would have happened if Israel had expelled the Jordanians and Egyptians from Israel in 1967. It didn’t and they eventually became known as “Palestinians.”

Mrs. McLeod said:

Jesus was not a 'nationalist' and that categorisation doesn't shed meaningful light on who he was or what he did.
Agreed. So why make the comparison between Jesus and the attempt of Palestinians to get through Israeli roadblocks? The Palestinians are nationalists, and the "roadblock experience" is something they deem as part of their obstructed national aspirations. Can you not see the implications here?

[John Martin] You could be right. But at a less ideological level, what about the stresses on ordinary Arab people who for example need to cross a road block to get medical care, and find it takes hours?

As for the third point, that is true, but remember that it is Israeli land, it was not Roman land, and similarly it is not Arab land.

[John Martin] As I said, some people might debate that point. But to take a parallel to the point I think you are making from somewhere else: Is Australia a European land of should indigenous Australians have the right of sovereignty? If the answer is yes, what should happen to people who have settled there since 1788?

Well, the Jews were definitely the indigenous population at the time of the spread of Islam in the 7th Century when Muslim forces took control over the area and turned all (Jewish and Christian) sites into Muslim sites. The Jewish population has remained alive in Israel since, but as a super-minority (in its own land!). The Arabs should have made room for the Jews, for a variety of purposes, but clearly this is an irrational expectation. The result is war; sometimes you have to fight for what is right and for what is yours. Clearly, that is silly to say to a degree because people eventually get sick of fighting, but the Arabs show no sign of easing up, at least not the militants, and they control everybody.

And you are correct about point four. However, it is specific macro issues that give rise to these micro issues.

[John Martin] True.

I don't expect a Palestinian child to look out his window, see Israeli soldiers, and love them; that's the micro. I also don't expect the Arabs known as Palestinians to understand that they are a part of a larger Arab predicament, incapable of dealing with internal societal problems and projecting those problems externally, and Israel is the target of that projection; that's the macro. It is not micro issues that give rise to the macro issues; you have the situation reversed. In your heart of hearts, how do you think that Jesus, were he alive today, would react to witnessing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? What would he think?

[John Martin] That is a profoundly important question and those of us who follow Jesus have to work that out every day. I suggest: 1. Jesus would be interested in questions of justice and how this worked out in the micro. 2. Jesus would have been full of compassion, so he would take account of the Israeli national experience; and he would have been compassionate towards Arab individuals caught up in the accidents of history. 3. He would have raised the question of forgiveness, though I don't know how Jewish or Muslim mindsets would be able to apply this.

It is a profoundly important question but the answer is profoundly amalgable to one’s own presuppositions. It seems, from the text, that Jesus had an hostility towards the Romans, the civilians as well. I don’t know exactly, but when the Gentile woman went to Jesus to ask for a blessing, he replied to her by saying something along the lines of, “Why should I give the food to the dog and not the crumbs?” He had an “anti-Gentile” and “pro-Jewish” attitude. It might be fair to say that many Jews there had that attitude because of their treatment and because it was their land, but it is also fair to say that Jesus was a bit of a hateful figure. Then the text has him take a 180 in the other direction. I believe Jesus was a man, and even if I concede that he was a great man with some very great teachings, I still believe that his humanity would have revealed an end to his patience and compassion and he, like the prophets of the Torah, would have held some bitter resentment towards “the enemy.” In the end, he would have seen himself as one of his people, suffering under the yoke of the Romans as they were, he would not be so quick to “love the Palestinian” when all that the Palestinian is doing to the Israeli is hating and plundering him. I’m not sure how much of what is said about Jesus in the New Testament is a construction of a narrative rather than fact. You could say that this makes me a skeptic, but I am not, I am simply trying to understand the Jewish response to things by comparing them to real-life Jewish responses as I experience them, and the Jesus narrative just doesn’t add up.

Thank you, Yaniv...

That’s fine, they are free to debate this, which can be done on a political basis. Religiously however, if you want to put it that way, the Torah says that Israel is the Land of the Jews.

[John Martin] Yes, the Torah makes that promise but on my reading the granting of the land was conditional on keeping the Covenant, refraining from idol worship etc.

And it is not Arab Christians killing Jews, but it is Arab Christians suffering from the acts of the Muslim Palestinians; there is no way to “filter” through Christians while the Muslims have to stay back, unless of course Israel forces them to wear some kind of physical symbol to be able to distinguish between them. Perhaps you should go to the problem at the root cause. The Palestinian Muslims sometimes treat the Christians horribly, as I have seen a documentary or two on this.

[John Martin]
I think we have some common ground here, though not all Arab Christians avoid nationalist rhetoric. Maybe they don't appreciate how tough life would be under a radical Muslim state.

And it is equally intimidating to know that you might die on the night out on the town with some friends or while taking a bus to school or work.

[John Martin]

Something had to be done about the suicide bombing, and up until the fence/wall was built, road blocks did the job. They were, perhaps, and inhumane response to an even more inhumane cause. Actually, I don’t believe that road blocks are inhumane; history shows that much worst things can be done to a group of people, and ironically, we can look back into Jewish history to find some example, and even more ironically, we have a hard time finding examples in Muslim and Arab history.

[John Martin]

Random chance has it that women will give birth and things like at the checkpoints, but no human has caused that to happen.

[John Martin]
But if this is not handled humanely it's a bad propaganda loss to those who staff the roadblocks, etc

Now you have people condemning the wall as apartheid – I guess the conclusion is that Israel does not have the right to defend itself and should just perish and/or be soaked into the larger Muslim population, the Umma.

[John Martin]
I'm not sure if I'd label the wall apartheid, but I'm not yet convinced that it's a strategy that will achieve the hopes attached to it.

Well, the Jews were definitely the indigenous population at the time of the spread of Islam in the 7th Century when Muslim forces took control over the area and turned all (Jewish and Christian) sites into Muslim sites. The Jewish population has remained alive in Israel since, but as a super-minority (in its own land!). The Arabs should have made room for the Jews, for a variety of purposes, but clearly this is an irrational expectation. The result is war; sometimes you have to fight for what is right and for what is yours. Clearly, that is silly to say to a degree because people eventually get sick of fighting, but the Arabs show no sign of easing up, at least not the militants, and they control everybody.

[John Martin]
This is very complex. I agree that the Arabs have done wrong and even stupid things but I'm not sure they are without grievances which won't be able to be addressed until hostilities end.

You could say that this makes me a skeptic, but I am not, I am simply trying to understand the Jewish response to things by comparing them to real-life Jewish responses as I experience them, and the Jesus narrative just doesn’t add up.

[John Martin] I'm glad you present a reasonably consistent position on Jesus. I don't think its very helpful for a Jewish person to say Jesus was a great teacher because his vision for the Jewish faith and its future sits very uncomfortably with mainstream expressions of the Jewish faith. Putting that aside, I would suggest: (a) he was a Jew and his worldview was informed by his Jewishness. He believed himself to be David's son and that somehow his death would be the route that ushered in the rule of God and a new era for the Jewish people (this is a standard Christian interpretation of the Prophecies of Isaiah) . (b) By comparison with the Zealots he could look as if he was bordering on being pro-Roman (eg the saying "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars and to God the things which are God's". (c) In the end his real problem was with the religious parties of his day and both the Pharisees and Sadducees in the end combined in opposition to him and negotiated his death with the Romans. (d) It's interesting that Christian narrators were willing to preserve the story of Jesus and the woman you mention. It's one of the strengths of the Christian (and also the Jewish) traditions over against Muslims resist the temptation to massage a point where Jesus found himself shifting ground once the inconsistency of his original statement dawned on him.

Hi, I only want to respond to your second and last points.

The Covenant is eternal. In Christian thought, I am aware that there is a particular line of thought which explains how an eternal Covenant can be abrogated. As far what I've heard, it goes like this: G-d made an eternal Covenant, the Jews broke it time after time, G-d, perhaps realizing that it was impossible to keep, abrogated, or as Christian thought says, "added" on a section to it that would complete it. Somehow, this addition was manifested as an omission, or taking out of large sections of the Law that were originally there. Now, we both speak English, and we both know that the concepts of "add" and "omit" are actually opposites; unless we fudge the facts can we find a way to reconcile these two opposite concepts. What I mean is, we have to go through a series of unlikely loopholes in order to align such concepts. That is why I am of the opinion that the writings of the Christian texts, which seek to show how these two inherently different concepts are the same, are a product of human ingenuity, yes ingenuity, but not Divine revelation in the sense of the revelation of the Law. What this would mean then is, the Jews can break the Covenant over and over and over again, but it cannot be broken, i.e., from G-d's side, He won't break it. Now, unless we want to believe that the Covenant had a "dormant" manifestation hidden within it, set to emerge forth only a certain time, and did, according to your belief, with Jesus, there is absolutely no intonation of that "hidden" covenant in the text of the Tanakh. I am aware that there are many verses in the Tanakh that Christians take to be allusions to it, but many of them have a separate "Jewish interpretation" that renders an entirely separate conclusion. It might be accurate to say that these interpretations precede the Christian interpretations. Having said that, if the Covenant cannot be broken, then neither can the Land aspect of it.

However, we see time and time again that G-d's wrath was turned against the Jews and that they were removed from their Land. This is not to mean that the Covenant had been abrogated because we also see their return upon certain points in history; do we ascertain from this that the Covenant was "re-cast" and then broken again? This seems like a sadistically playful G-d, not to mention, confused. It doesn't matter very much, I mean, the point is moot and doens't need evidence because of the declaration upon G-d's making the Covenant with the Jews that it was eternal. Since He said that, there is not much of a need for logical evidence to show that the Covenant doesn't change. It is a matter of faith, but moreover, knowledge, because it was told.

Did you know that Islam shares the same exact line of reasoning as Christianity as far as the removal of the Jews from the Land is concerned? It is actually that same line of reasoning that has removed the Christians from the grace of G-d and has replaced them with Islam. I'm not saying you're doing this, but it would be difficult to say that G-d made that type of change one time but that He didn't make it again, yet the belief that He did that opens up the path for saying that He can do it again and again and again. Today, the procession goes as follows; Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Seikhism, and B'hai (and I think others), all of which declare the same thing, that they are the new covenant between G-d and humanity. Why not, maybe they're right?

As far as for the last point, we have to understand what mainstream Judaism is, or what it says. There is some room to see the similarities between elements of mainstream Judaism and things Jesus was saying, or at least some of them. One example that goes unexamined by many (Christians and sometimes Jews) is what Jesus said about 'it's not what goes in, but what goes out." There is a specified teaching in the Talmud, the Jewish Oral Law, explaining the high importance of proper speech, and it is one of the fundamental things taught to Jewish children to this day. Now if you ask me, Jesus was making an allusion to that, i.e., he was drawing from the large body of Jewish Oral Law, or in other words, bringing attention to a very well-known matter of Jewish principle. It was the Pharisees, not the Sadducees, that recognized the validity of the Jewish Oral Law, and so Jesus was "siding" with the Pharisees. There is reason to believe that Jesus was quite close to "mainstream" Judaism. If you ask me, he was saying that, in accordance with the teaching, that one must not neglect proper speech when he is keeping the Law. "Kashrut," keeping kosher, is such a basic part of the Law that it can serve as a basic symbol of it, that to make a reference to it is to make a reference to the letter of the Law. Again, my thought here, he was saying that the spirit of the Law cannot be abandoned just because the letter of the Law is observed. I don't believe that he actually was telling people not to keep kosher, or that G-d somehow changed His mind, but that it is one of the elements of the human ingenuity which found reason in changing the religion. As a Jewish emphasis, it is not that radical, and it is found in mainstream text. Mind you, this occurred under the auspices of Rome and by relatively Rome-friendly individuals and religionists. Therefore, I don't think that it was intended to be a "grafting" on to Judaism, but a movement set against Judaism and which had nothing to do with it. In other words, I don't believe that Jesus said those words, as no Jew, no matter how radical (and if you want to see radical check out Jeremiah), ever said anything along the lines of removing Kashrut from the Covenant. Even Jeremiah, with his "famous" quote about the new covenant, actually makes reference to statutes and decrees in reference to the Covenant in the same way that the other prophets also made reference to statutes and decrees – what statutes and decrees?. The Jewish interpretation is that G-d will again make the Covenant with the Jews in End Times, and that that time they will accept it (again). It is "not like the Covenant I made with your fathers in Egypt" because maybe it won't come with fanfare and splitting seas and a huge exodus, but it will be made and understood. It will be "written on their hearts," they will have an internal understanding of what G-d wants from them, adherence to Torah. If the Christian interpretation makes sense, then the Jewish one also makes sense, maybe more.

If he was G-d, then he had no worldview, because he was G-d. Only humans have worldviews. Maybe "render unto Ceasar's" means "let man take care of manly things," or "let political leaders take care of political things and let religious people take care of G-dly matters." Maybe it was a reference to separate religious authority from state authority, maybe. Do you know to whom he directed that statement? Were there Caesar's in his time?

Maybe there is reason to believe that the Pharisees and Sadduccees, who couldn't stand each other and almost considered each other heretics, found unity in resenting one Jew so much that they bent to Roman rule and asked them to kill that Jew. That would be like two opposing Jewish "sects" in the camps, upon seeing a Jew being tortured by the Nazi's, a Jew who was perhaps disliked, viciously turn him over to the Nazi's to be hanged on the gallows. Maybe the analogy of the camps and the Romans aren't exactly perfect, but it makes sense still. And then, according to the way Pontius Pilate reacts in the text, to imagine the S.S. solider publicly expressing remorse about having to kill a vermin. It makes no sense, but it's what the text wants us to believe. They should, G-d forbid, be destroyed just for that. The prophets also were tortured at times, but most likely, as the text says, it was against the will of the Jews and according to the will of whomever was ruling.

Hmm, wow, that's very interesting what you said about Jesus changing his mind and that being preserved in the text and being one of its strengths. I'm not exactly sure if that's the reason that it was kept, and if it wasn't, then why was it? I would actually like to find out, could you find out for me? It could be the reason though, I wouldn't know. But Jesus was supposed to be G-d, so it wouldn't make sense that he made a mistake and then corrected it. That seems like a human trait, not the trait of G-d. I could see a man troubled by his surroundings, believing that he had something to offer, going through an ideological development, but only a human. Maybe, like you said, they kept in the text on purpose to show that development, as a way to convince readers. However, if Jesus was G-d, he knew that he was G-d and trial and error wouldn't really be realistic. It's almost as if to say that Jesus was a man whom discovered that he was G-d, but that just doesn't make sense, for what would be G-d’s role in that?.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Carl Sagan; Priest

The correlations between theology and science are abundant. I used to make this analogy, perhaps a reaching one, finding the comparative points between science and theology, hesitant that maybe it was a faulty comparison. But like most of my rants, as I did more than just casual research through observation of human behavior, I found that the correlations were astounding.

Many of you might have heard of the brilliant (and late) astronomer Carl Sagan; he is also the author of the book “Contact,” which was made into a movie (and was not as good as the book). The “to Carl” at the introduction to the movie refers to him. Carl Sagan might be one of the world’s most avowedly unashamed atheists, concretely firmed in his viewpoint that there is no Divinity or divinities of any sort, and that the truth of human existence and experience can be discerned by science. Only by science.

To a theologian or to a religious person, that theology can be compared to science is at least unmoving, at most, a realization that scientific evidence about this world support the events explained in the Torah; this would imply that religion is not closed-minded to science, at least at one end of the scale. It would also mean that religion or theology itself is a form of science, a guiding system into the reaches of the man-to-Divine relationship and to the essence of humanity. A religious person has no real anguish about this notion and is not apologetic about science, for science can support religion. Further, science has its field of inquiry and religion has its own.

To a scientist, that science can be compared even remotely to religion or theology is a nuisance; it implies that the scientific inquiry is being related to the “magic tricks” of religion. Considering that the scientist sees science as a way to test hypotheses and therefore remove doubt from decision-making, the comparison to religion, which operates largely on faith, is anathema. However, we cannot oversee the obviated religious components of science; like religion, science comes fully equipped with data collection, inquiry, thought, and faith, dogma, and extremism. In religion, there are clear signs of the human intelligence, and in science, there are clear signs of human religion; a wonderful twist of the yin and yang, belonging to the Buddhism of which Sagan was fond of. That religious people have faith and that scientific people have knowledge is a rested case.

But if religious people have knowledge, as many religious systems encourage and are built on knowledge-seeking, then we must be able to say that scientific people have belief, or assumptions that they hold to be true regardless of what they know is true or false, and then try to prove or disprove. True, science cannot and should not be tempered with by human ego and assumptions, but only the monastic willing to retreat to a mountain for eternity is able to fully divorce the self from these things. Scientists, like all human beings, hold assumptions, fears, and insistencies, and the scientific process is colored by this. Because the (atheistic) scientist represses and submerges these human tendencies to believe in the greater, these tendencies emerge in unexpected places and as unexpected things; the Divine emerges covered in the veneer of science. Without drawing away from the validity of science, it too becomes one of those innately human thought systems – a religion, although intricately geared to the truths and needs of the 21st Century. It is a very sophisticated and fact-finding religion, but a religion nonetheless being a product of the human thought process, unless a scientist concedes that the information was either sent to his head or delivered to him from above.

Science, it can be said, measures the physical world, and religion measures the internal. However, this is only partially true, for science seeks to claim the internal world of man too, the psyche and mind, and to define the soul away as a complex process of biological functions. Religion too wants to claim the physical world for itself, to explain all that occurs in the world through the scope of religion. That religion understands the overarching and urgent need to maintain morality on Earth does not injure the insistence of science that we understand the functions of nature; each tries to explain the entirety of existence using only itself, but the wise of each camp have peered over the fence into the next. “Hey, throw me a potato!”

Truth be told, a scientist does not concede that information about the universe reached his mind through a message or was delivered to him physically, but that the human rational process alone is responsible for the knowledge. But the nature of the human being demonstrates again and again, unfortunately to the chagrin of the (atheistic of the) scientist, that spirituality and divine-seeking are embedded into the very thing that makes us human vs. animal, be it our genes, our intelligence, or some combination that gives us a unique human existence; religious people know this as the “soul.” All human beings want to understand our origin; the religious have Genesis, the scientist has spontaneous development of organisms. The religious have commandments, the scientific have laws of physics. And most significantly, the religious have G-d, the scientific look to the sky in a different way to find answers that lie beyond their scope. We all wait for a call from beyond.

This is the plot of the book “Contact.” Ellie Arroway, the main figure, invents a machine and devises a pattern able to discern faint radio signals from space. She desperately seeks some call from the sky, hoping to make contact with a civilized race of beings far more developed and progressed than we are, who can clue us into the secrets of the universe and to explain our origin to us. She relies, and so does the author of the book, that the beings will necessarily be far more intelligent than us to the point of relative omniscience, rendering them omnipotent. The new insights given to the human beings from the advanced beings will shake the world from its proverbial slumber and open up humanity to an enlightened understanding of existence. It is a very intensely interesting, and religious, book.

One problem though, there is no evidence that aliens exist in the real world. While this book does a magnificent job explaining what it would be like were an advanced alien civilization actually to contact Earth, it is a narrative built, of course, on scientific truths, but also on speculation as to what it might be like were such a thing to occur. So far in human history there has been no voice from space, so if there isn’t one, then we should just invent one, hence the book. Religious faith are blunders in the atheist’s world view, but one by one, and perhaps by accident, Sagan, whom is brilliant, makes the same “mistakes” as does every religious faith-driven person in the world. He believes in a higher form of beings, immeasurably older, wiser, and intelligent than we, whom contact us from a place of immeasurable distance in the heavens with a message that will enlighten us as to our purpose and usher in an era of peace and knowing. Sounds like religion to me. The message comes down as an instruction to build a machine, whose function is unknown, and which will somehow put us in contact with them. The components of the narrative are astounding; creation, omnipotent and omniscient beings, in the heavens, communication with us, desire to enlighten, unify, and save us. So far, Sagan speaks about these beings as if they are real, but every concept in the book has come directly from his mind, which means that they are longings deeply set in his psyche. This would make me an atheist to the scientific religion, because how can I know what he says is true if he is just a man who wrote some book, regardless of how significant and magnificent it is? Rather, all he has proven to me is that he wants aliens to exist, but they don’t, so he makes them up.

I had seen and heard several of Sagan's videos on astronomy and physics when I took an astronomy class years ago. He was a sheerly brilliant man, but everybody has their limitations on brilliance - everybody has their field in which to shine. Throughout the book, I can't help but to think to myself that Sagan makes some blatant fallacies about the nature of religiousity, which he prods and pokes arrogantly. The great thing about a book is that there is no room for debate in it; what the author has written is truth. As brilliant as he was, I am shocked that he has his characters (manifestations of himself) provide some of the most shallow lines of argumentation against religion. I have had conversations with a Tucson TV personality, whom has a cable access show bi-weekly. He is an avowed atheist and struts it arrogantly. His only problem is that he doesn't bother with the facts before making his argument, and in the end, his atheism cannot be mistaken for wit or intelligence; he is no smarter than your average gas pumping attendant, and no more in tune with matters of the spirit than a con-artist. I am troubled, but not shocked, that Sagan the brilliant reminds me of this gentleman.

The keen religious reader reading this book will pick up every accidental, perhaps not, allusion to religion made in this book. This leaves the book in a state of “bible,” taking on religious connotation, and if such a scientific bible were to be composed, “Contact” would make it into the canon. This book presents the contact of aliens to humans as truth, but in alignment with criticism of religion, we can make the exact same criticism; this book is a figment of human ingenuity. This is irrelevant since the book intends to be a work of fiction; it only becomes relevant when we realize that science functions for many scientists as religion does for many religious people, with one version of the origin of the universe replacing the other. Since this is so, the content, hopes, dreams, and aspirations of the author seep through the lines of text and into the reader, imbuing them with his vision of the Divine, and the world to come with it; a testament to the calling out of his soul to something greater than he. Carl Sagan, it is true, was a visionary, a religious person, as we all are.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Christianity ---------------------------

A composition of all of the things I've written about Christianity in one posting. They appear in more or less the order they were written, with the most recent ones appearing first.

Satan in Hollywood

I just gotta say that I really enjoy exorcism movies; I think that they're very entertaining, and very meshuga, and usually they illicit some sort of running commentary by me, and other viewers tell me to shut up.

I just want to say how silly the media's portrayals of Satan in these movies are; it really makes you want to laugh.

First of all, why is he always so ANGRY? I mean, you see him crawling up walls, shouting, spitting, and contorting the face of his poor victim to grotesque shapes; what's the deal with that? Is this how Satan normally behaves, or just when he's putting on a show for the family of the possessed? What ever happened to the "Al Pacino" Satan in the movie "Devil's Advocate," where he takes the form of a well-dressed and very charismatic lawyer? In the end they add in some fire and brimstone imagery, but he's all-in-all a relatively sane Satan, admittedly with a bit of a daddy complex but not at all like the "Exorcism of Emily Rose" and "Exorcist" depictions, which make me think that while Satan is possessing people, he should take a week's hiatus and see a psychologist. All those years in Hell will do that to a demon; perhaps he should get out more. Actually, wait, no, stay where you are, hot shot.

Why would Satan assume the form of a body in the first place? If we go by the Scripture (Torah), we are informed that the role of Satan in the world is to act as the evil inclination, to tempt people to do things that they shouldn't, or to not do things that they should, and he's got a whole world of human beings to incline. The intent is that he's an angel, which is a spiritual being, and his bodilessness, like all spiritual beings, allows him freedom from the physical realm (and possibly time, but I don't claim knowledge). His incorporeality makes it possible for him to act as all humanity's evil inclination at the same time. Going into a body seems scary and evil, but if we think for a second, he can't do his bidding if he pinpoints himself in one place and time; how's he gonna tempt humanity from the body of poor Emily Rose? The media, making a highly exaggerated script out of Christianity's theology, turns Satan into a Divine "bad guy," the representation of evil, and while it might be fitting for the movies, it is definitely not fitting for a real theology. Disturbingly enough, the Satan of the movies is based on the Satan of Christianity, and while he is exaggerated to the nth degree, the basic directives are theologically true to Christianity; Satan DOES rebel against G-d, and in the script he is made to possess people by doing this. G-d is the good guy and Satan is the bad guy; we also see how he recoils from the cross in the movies - it's an assumption of the truth of Catholicism. However, and perhaps this only relates to Catholicism, but the movie insists that it is based on real events, and if it based on real events, then Satan actually possessed a human being and did all these strange things. Whether or not Satan ACTUALLY did that is a question, but the more practical question is that the people whom observed it, and the person who was supposedly possessed, certainly believed it (can we be sure about that?). Therefore, there is room in Catholic thought to believe in the veracity of possessions like this.

The Torah teaches that angels don't have free will, and if we look carefully at the verses in Genesis explaining the fall, we see that Satan himself was punished, but never expelled from the Garden of Eden. The punishments are given to him, Adam, and Eve, and then Adam and Eve are kicked out of the Garden and the Satan is no longer mentioned. We also see that Adam's and Eve expulsion was not a punishment, for their punishments were already specifically stated and given. Rather, G-d says that He is kicking them out so that they do not, now that they have free will, eat of the Tree of Life and live forever. In other words, it's a precaution. Satan is never mentioned in the expulsion, yet his expulsion from Heaven is the cornerstone of Christianity.

Satan, on the other hand, as an angel, already lives forever, he is already immortal and would not eat from the Tree of Life. Since G-d is not worried about his eating of that Tree, He leaves him in Heaven, the Garden. Also, he has no free will, which is how G-d made him, so He is not worried that he would eat of it. Furthermore, Satan is the tempting angel, he would tempt Adam and Eve to eat of the Tree if they had remained, but who would tempt Satan to eat of it? Is there another Satan that tempts Satan?

These movies are very interesting and entertaining to watch, but they are comical and unrealistic. That's all and well, they are just movies. What disturbs me though is that they are relatively accurate portrayals of true Christian belief. Satanic imagery is not very apparent in the Tanakh, which is the Jewish Scriptures, and only later is he portrayed as animalistic and what not. The Torah simply speaks of him as a "snake," or a "serpent." The Christian insistence that spiritual and divine beings have corporeality (bodily form) is also disturbing as it suggests a clinging to pagan and polytheistic ideals. We see that Jesus too has a body, the son of G-d, Whom is incorporeal to the nth degree, has a physical bodied son. This allows him to entreat and interact with humans and perhaps to get some "street cred" and to hug people, but it's a pagan idea. Further more, the split between G-d and Jesus suggests strongly, on the subconscious level, that Jesus is a separate being, which if we put on our blasphemy lens for a moment, he is another god. The pagans also believed in dual gods that were somehow one; they were believed to have no fixed nature, unlike "the G-d of the Hebrews." They also believed in evil gods that fought against good gods, and Satan fits well into the mold of an evil god-type. Like in most polytheistic traditions, the good god (or goddess) gives birth to a son or daughter whom fights against the evil god, in the end winning, but sometimes dying (for the sake of humanity). Sometimes the offspring deity tries to kill the parent deity in a struggle for control.

A few months ago I had the displeasure of watching a play for a class. It was called "Coyolxhauqi Remembers," "Coyolxhauqi" being an Aztec goddess. The scene I just described is a scene from that play and from the Aztec religion's story of Creation. The mother goddess gives birth to a daughter and a son. The son is an evil god and the daughter is a good goddess, but goes a bit crazy and kills the mother. The mother, however, being eternal, only pretends to die, comes back, and has the evil god kill her daughter, and this explains the situation we live in today; the evil god is running amok in the world. I never understood why the mother goddess couldn't just kill him? I also don't understand why Jesus never steps in during these possessions and kicks the living crap out of Satan, but that would make too much sense - for the pagan mind.

Jesus the Prophet

Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet. Christians believe that he was something entirely different. Nevertheless, they compare his messages to the Jewish people to the messages that the prophets had for the Jews. It is this comparison that I want to examine.

Let's give that analogy the benefit of the doubt; let's say that Jesus' messages to the Jewish people are indeed relatable to the messages of the prophets. It should follow then that the Jews should have followed Jesus' exhortations.

Let us examine the prophets' messages. The main core of the prophets' messages was for the Jews to return to proper adherence of the commandments. How many Jews actually listened to the prophets as they exhorted the Jews to listen to them? We cannot tell in the text how many people actually listened, and we can infer that some did but that the majority did not. I am basing this on the reality today, with many Jews not being particularly interested in Torah observance; it might have been the same then. To be sure, however, today, as it must have been "back then," there were Jews that actually listened to and were motivated by the words of the prophets to return to proper observance of the Torah's commandments. They would have been the Torah's versions of "ba'al t'shuva's," a Jew that becomes observant.

We can say that, similarly, many Jews did not listen to Jesus' messages but that some Jews did; in light of this, Jesus falls into the category of prophet-type. However, Jesus' admonitions were different in nature to the admonitions of the prophets. Those Jews, a minority, that were turned by the words of the prophets returned to proper adherence of the commandments, and their descendants were Torah-observant Jews. Those Jews whom were turned to Jesus' admonitions were also a minority, and we don't have numbers by which to compare how many Jews the prophets and Jesus each turned, but in II Kings (2:6) speaks of the Prophet Elijah's disciples, numbering fifty. Jesus had twelve disciples. The relationship might not have been totally proportionate, but more people were swayed by Elijah's, and his student's, Elisha's, admonitions that were swayed by Jesus', and more students means more followers. If we use only Elijah as a means of comparison, and being quite certain that it was only a minority of Jews whom followed him, it seems like the number of Jews that actually followed Jesus, not including his disciples, was relatively low.

You never had a Jewish movement, at least a Jewish movement that was not deemed heretical, that was of the belief that G-d removed the Covenant; this would be on par with undoing Creation. Even those Jews whom the "mainstream" considered heretics were called so for different reasons; they TOO believed that the Torah does not change and is not expunged. Christianity could not have been heresy then, because it must be Judaism to be heresy; Christianity was another religion altogether. Jesus and his followers were heretics, but their followers, who followed THEM in theory and not Roman beliefs guised as their teachings, were Roman civilians. They were not heretics, they were Romans whom were given a new religion, understood it in light of their old ones, and were not fully able to shake the polytheism off of their boots, even to this day. There was no theological revolution from Judaism to Christianity as their was from pre-monotheism paganism to "the G-d of the Hebrews." There was no jump as big, for the jump had already been taken and there is no such thing as another jump as big as that one. There is no improvement of monotheism other than the system which G-d has already layed down, there is nothing further which humanity can be revealed about itself than through G-d's Law. Mercy, grace, love; these things are all taken for granted as not being present in the Law. Any attempts to improve it only end up in having to "emphasize" one particular aspect of the Law to such a degree that it ends up removing it. The example can be the difference between the animal and the human. G-d made man by creating a soul and putting it in a body; to say that G-d gave something better than the Torah would be like saying that the first soul eventually wore itself out and G-d needed to create a "new and improved" soul, better than the original and "more in G-d's Image" than the original. It is a chilling revelation, but this is what Christianity actually believes if it professes to believe in a new and improved covenant. The "better" soul exists to fulfill what the original soul did but sees a different path in getting there. It sees the same goal but a different path. This would be fine had the subsequent religion not insisted that the first was left in a state of shamble -- it is not as benign as it insists that it is and demands conversion perpetually.

We cannot apply the term "convert" to those Jews whom were swayed to follow the lead of the prophets, and none of them ever became a group known as a different religion. What we might be seeing is a constant rehashing of the past in light of the present, or maybe the present in light of the past, but never a "lifting" of the Covenant as a means of Redemption. In Judaism, the Covenant is never seen as a burden, and even though the Jews, the Torah says, saw G-d become an Enemy to them and their relationship with G-d becomes burdensome (to them) because they rebel against Him, the Covenant itself is ALWAYS the ONLY source of salvation; it is always waiting for them should they choose to come back, like a father who waits for his son forever. Christianity is like the father who eventually up and left, and when his son returned home, found an abandoned place. However, he is an invented father, "he" being the god of Christianity; similar to, but not equal or the same as, the G-d found in the Torah. We might say that the "Christian god" is an attempt in the Roman world to find G-d; the only problem with it is that it was born out of Jewish sectarian rivalry. Why couldn't Rome find G-d without having to smash the Jews? Rome's fatal error was its belief that G-d was a man; his death necessitated revenge. This is just an example, perhaps the most perfect example, of how paganism, i.e., bodily gods, i.e., polytheism, creates falsehood, and from falsehood comes death. The first commandment; do not create images of Me from anything in the Heavens, on the ground, or in the sea. Rome was trying to find G-d, but its pagan insistence (perhaps thanks to Paul) that G-d had the form of a man was a death sentence for Jews. His death necessitated revenge even when he who died said not to take revenge.

The Torah is something that you just can't shake and when Christianity says that it was "freed" of the Law, kicked itself free, what we really see with Christianity is akin to telling G-d to "get lost." G-d didn't break the Covenant with the Jews, the GENTILES broke the Covenant with G-D, as the idolatrous nations after Noah had always perpetually been in a state of brokedness from (their) G-d; they had always been, to a large degree, in violation of the Noachide commandments. Boo hoo, suddenly they decide to come back and say that we're hogging the Covenant; their share PRECEDED ours! G-d gave the commandments to Noah before He delivered the Torah to the Jews on Sinai; if Gentiles only knew this they would stop saying that we (Jews) act as if we are the only chosen people.

The call of the prophets was on par with the call of the Torah, the commandments. The call of Jesus was categorically different than the Law, admitted by Christian theological proofs, and therefore there is not much of a basis for calling him a "Jewish prophet" other than for reasons to confirm Christianity. As radical as the Jewish prophets were, and they were quite radical, a Jewish prophet would never ask from the Jews such things that Jesus did, such as to BREAK THE SABBATH.


There was a conflict of interest at the dawn of the destruction of the
Second Temple; should people practice Judaism, which is exclusionary, or should they defer to Christianity, which is all-encompassing, allowing all those who have faith to join together?

The answer is interesting and simple; when Jews live as a minority and are being threatened, they seek to bring Judaism into the mainstream consciousness as to gain favor in the eyes of the powerful and numerous population of which hosts them. This is what a group that survives must do to continue surviving; those who favor biological explanations can see it as a biological function that allows for perpetuation.

When everybody feels threatened, the response level is macro, that is, everybody responds in one way or another to the imminent threat, and to the Jews living under the Roman occupation, the occupation itself and the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash were that threat to Jewish survival. There is no saying just how individuals will react in such a situation, which, like war, brings out from a human being previously unknown facets of behavior. The path taken by groups can be foretold with a certain degree of accuracy.

And it was in this context that Paul tried to bring Judaism to the Gentiles, not because he saw the Covenant that G-d made with the Jews as being exclusive and tribalistic, which is how Christian belief explains it, but because he was preparing, in his own way, for what he knew was coming up, the Jewish nation being faced with utter destruction, dispersal, oppression, and spiritual malaise. If he could make the Gentiles, the soon-to-be overlords of the Jews, find favor in Judaism, then by blending the communities and removing barriers he would have reduced the future threat that the Jews would have faced, for why would people want to harm themselves? In other words, by making Jews similar to Gentiles and Gentiles similar to Jews, he would save Jews, and in the meanwhile, a Gentile’s becoming more like a Jew is a clear step up from the paganism that Gentiles practiced. The key here is the word “similar,” which shares a root with “assimilate,” by making Jews and Gentiles similar to each other, by assimilating them to each other, he was trying, in his own wacky way, to ensure the physical survival of the Jews.

How did he do this? He tried to blend the theological and spiritual elements of Judaism with the various forms of polytheism in the Roman Empire, which is what, more or less, gave birth to the Trinity, a theological construct that recognizes the existence of the One G-d “of the Hebrews,” yet attributes to Him three separate, yet fully united characteristics, sometimes referred to as “persons,” one of them being a physical being. It is necessary to say that many of the polytheistic belief systems believed in this type of duality, or tertiarity, or the union of several separate beings enjoined as one and worshipped as thus; the Trinity cannot be both Judaism, both monotheistic and satisfactory to the Gentiles as the same time.

However, that wasn’t the only option; salvation to Jewish people came from the assembly of the Sanhedrin, who transferred the entire millennia-aged Jewish oral law into written form, the oral Torah, or the Mishnah, and therefore ensured the survival of the Jewish people. During the time when the Sanhedrin was standing and the
Temple was in existence, Jews, common and high, would go to the Sanhedrin to deal with issues of Jewish law. When the Temple was destroyed, the Sanhedrin was dissolved and dispersed, so the men of the Sanhedrin wrote down the entire law so that every Jew could then refer to it on his and her own, making it a part of their lives without a leadership that would bring it to them. Not by morphing Judaism into a sacrosanct alliance with polytheism was the Jewish nation to survive, but by a privatization of Jewish law, by putting it into the hands of the very Jewish people that were supposed to live by it, but introducing the concept of self rule when there was no central rulership and when the Roman occupation saw to it that there was no centralized Jewish authority. In other words, every individual Jew was subject to the Torah’s law on his or her own accord and by their own will and desire to put themselves in contact with Jewish law. It was a test that we, thanks to G-d and the Sanhedrin, passed and therefore survived.

Concerning the Gentiles, the Oral Law prescribed the Seven Laws of Noach, or the Noachide laws, which were a set of monotheistic instructions for the nations. Everything that exists in the Oral Law goes back to the beginning of the Jewish nation at
Mt. Sinai, including the way in which Gentiles are to live their lives out in a G-dly manner. The truth about the Noachide laws, however, is that they pre-date the 613 commandments given to the Jews, as the Talmud ascribes them to be given to Noah and his family after the occurrence of the flood.

Now there was a conflict of interest; did Gentiles have to follow the Noachide laws, the seven basic monotheistic ethical laws, or could they accept Paul’s vision of a utopian amalgamation of Judaism and various forms of polytheism that would “bring them into the fold” of the Covenant, to “graft them” into it, as the Christian Bible reads? The Gentile followers of Paul now began seeing the Judaism from whence their new religion came as an exclusionary, tribalistic way of life, having never practiced it or being introduced to its internal workings, which made Paul’s urgings easy to believe. Paul, of course, had inside knowledge about Judaism and the way it functioned, and even though he tried to channel the Gentiles in a specific manner, the nature of all movements is to morph and change, and the Gentiles that became known as “Christians” were not fully united under Paul’s vision in the way that he hoped they would be, and created their own leadership and institutions, especially after he died. The Noachide laws were not to replace Judaism as such, but to exist alongside Judaism, a proposed harmony between Jew and Gentile under G-d. The movement started by Paul, due to the fact that it existed in contrast to Judaism’s “exclusionism,” had no other direction to take than to move towards a theology of replacement of Judaism (this is the same as Islam’s view of Judaism, but not the same as Islam’s view of Christianity, which understands that it was inclusive, but corrupted, unlike Judaism, which was both exclusive and corrupted).

The real question that has to be asked is of utmost importance; what is more important for Jewish survival, quantity (ensuring continuity) or quality (Judaism in a true form), or is the point so essential that survival itself outranks all other matters? In other words, is survival in any form more important than the number of Jews who continue to associate, or more important than the way in which the Jews believe and practice, i.e., in line with the essential standpoints of the Torah? When survival and continuity are threatened, is it justifiable to say that Jews should continue to exist in any way possible just so that they continue to exist?

The answer, of course, is "yes," but only if we presuppose that the threat is so powerful that we will have to stray from our roots in order to survive. In other words, this view insists that there is no way to both maintain the true form of Judaism and the continuation of Judaism - that either one gives or the other. In other words, we can deduce that his intentions were good, but largely motivated by the fear and anxiety that the body of the Jews would be attacked (that is, physically) if we didn't begin to assimilate more with other people. However, he had to convince the Gentiles to join, and telling them that Jews and Gentiles have to form one contiguous community in order to ensure Jewish continuity would be ridiculous and unacceptable to them. Instead, he had to genuinely convince them of the theological motives of such a communal and social alliance, hence the watering down of Judaism and its subsequent "mainstreaming." Paul tried to Judaize the Gentiles, whom were polytheists before they accepted the religion of Christianity.

But is survival not more important than form? Of course it is, but again, even if such a movement succeeds in ensuring survival, the mixing of Judaism and various forms of polytheism would also cause Judaism to disappear, only over a longer period of time. The strangest irony of this matter is that the movement might protect Judaism, but only temporarily, and eventually it and polytheistic religions would bleed into each other, and all those Jews that were a part of this movement would have disappeared as well.

The answer remains then, in no different way then than now, the only real way to ensure the continuity of Judaism is to be true to the way the Torah explains that it should be carried out. As we see today, the only Jews that are identifiable as Jews today are those that didn't become a part of the Jesus movement (the movement that Paul advanced) - be they Reform, Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, atheist, or agnostic; even though they are different, they all identify as Jews. Eventually, his movement became Christianity; the Jews that joined it didn't remain Jews, which would have been to Paul's dismay were he alive when they began being called "Christians," and Christians eventually began persecuting Jews, and we all know where that led to.

The answer is that Paul's movement had nothing on the Sanhedrin, whom, along with arranging the Oral Law into Written form (Talmud), composed the Amidah prayer, also known as the Shmonah Esrei, recited daily in Jewish services. Their efforts directly and successfully led to the continuation of the Jewish people, and it is fair to say that they are heroes when it comes to acting selflessly for their fellow Jews.

"Yes" to Noah, "No" to Jesus... --

Today I visited my old place of work to buy some food to put into my digestive tract. There I ran into my old manager, a devout Christian, while she was loading some ice cream into the fridge in the aisle nearest the wall in the back. I said "howdy" she said "hi." As usual, the conversation led to religion, I'm not exactly sure how this time. She told me that the Gentiles were grafted into the Covenant and that it wasn't just us anymore. If I wasn't polite, and if she would listen, I would have said that the Gentiles weren't grafted into the Covenant, but rather that they smacked the living daylights out of us with the backside of a shovel and yanked it from us, hehe! All they had to do was ask, I mean, maybe we would have said, "yes." After all, the Jews spoke about G-d for thousands of years sending "golden invitations" before some Gentiles finally decided to get themselves some G-d. And seriously, there's enough of Him to go around!

The truth is that Christians don't need Jesus anymore than they need Christina Aguilera; who they really need is Noah.

If you don't already know, long before the television show "Survivor," G-d chose Noah and his family to be the only survivors on Earth after the flood; and from them, the entire world was repopulated. This was a Covenant that G-d established with Noah and his family, who guess what, are the forefathers and foremothers of every single nation in the world. This includes, guess who, Jews and Gentiles alike.

Now Noah, the modest and righteous fellow that he was, despite some short-comings, had three pretty good sons; Shem, Ham, and Yafet. As it turns out, from Shem descended Abraham, with whom G-d also made a Covenant. But before this Covenant was made, G-d made a Covenant with every single nation of the world and with every single individual from those nations; only later was the Covenant with honest Abe made. Putting this into context, Jesus is also a descendant of Abraham, and therefore of Shem, making himself a recipient of that Covenant that G-d made with the Jews at
Mt. Sinai. Christians like to say that they were grafted into the Covenant of the Jews through Jesus (I think that Paul coined this notion, not even Jesus), but in reality, they were "grafted" into the Covenant before it was even made with the Jews; chew on that one! If we wanted to, we might even be able to say that it was the Jews who were grafted onto the original covenant that G-d made with Noah; chew on that one a bit too! Maybe we are the branch and the Gentiles are the trunk? Hmmm, keep chewing and you'll eventually blow a bubble. Wait, does that actually make sense? Yes, it does.

Big Christianity

Christianity makes up 23% of the world population and is
America's religion. The popular catch phrase is that America is a "Judeo-Christian" country, but many people misunderstand this term to mean that the country is both a Jewish and a Christian country, although it is not exactly clear how they define that. The Jewish population in America is 2-4%, not exactly what one would expect from a Jewish country.

Most people don't even consider the meaning of the term "Judeo-Christian," and generally just take it to mean that
America is both a Jewish and a Christian country, referring to American religious tradition. But because Christianity itself is a religion "based" on Jewish values, the term "Judeo-Christian" really refers to the Christian religious tradition of America. In the same exact way, Islam is a religion based on Jewish and Christian values, but we cannot say that Muslim countries are "Judeo-Christian-Islamo" countries. For example, the first Americans set up churches, not synagogues.

In fact, the term "Judeo-Christian" doesn't even mean that
America is a Christian country, for America is a secular country deeply influenced by Christian values and morals, which are deeply influenced by Jewish values and morals, which is why America is a "Judeo-Christian country." Therefore, a "Judeo-Christian" tradition absorbs and filters Jewish traditions, and the remnant is given the title at hand. If Jews and Christians both adhere to the Judeo-Christian tradition, then can it be said that there is no difference between Judaism and Christianity? Jews adhere to the Judeo tradition and Christians adhere to the Judeo-Christian tradition.

In terms of sheer numbers,
America is a Christian country, and to appease the Christians who state that those who do not accept Jesus are not really Christians, America is a country of Christendom, for Rome and countless countries in Europe were also Christian countries, even if not everybody there went to Church every Sunday. Syria is a Muslim country and Israel is a Jewish country.

Furthermore, Christianity makes up
America's consciousness. For many Americans of all walks of life, Christian theological concepts such as the Trinity and Jesus' death for sin, are inextricably associated with G-d. When your average unaffiliated Christian American talks about G-d, you better believe that the name "Jesus" will come out of their mouth soon enough. This makes me cringe because I don't believe that "G-d" and "Jesus" belong in the same sentence. Jewishly uneducated secular Jews will also speak about religion in terms of Christianity, and interestingly enough, their rejection of Christianity is made apparent by their disgust of the Judaism that they are talking about, Judaism through a Christian lens. Even atheists reject religion and agnostics are skeptical about it on Christian terms, they use Christianity as a negative symbol by which to express their beliefs in opposition to, although they are a bit more "pluralistic" in their viewpoints.

This is "Big Christianity."

An Eighteen-Part G-d

Christianity believes in a three-part G-d, which is known as the "Trinity." The conjecture of the Trinity is that G-d exists singularly in three distinct forms, which is possible because the three forms are each a separate aspect of G-d, but on their own are also each G-d. Therefore, according to Christian belief, this theological understanding of G-d is not even comparable to polytheism because the summation of the three parts of G-d, each of which are not one third of G-d, but G-d Himself, necessarily equals one. It is not "one plus one plus one equals one," for that equation equals three, but rather, it is "one divided by one divided by one," which equals one.

However, G-d is not a three-part G-d, but rather He is an eighteen-part G-d. We can derive from the Torah that G-d is a Father, Mother, Creator, Husband, Landlord, Instructor, Presence, Gaurdian, Warrior, King, Redeemer, Savior, Rock, Friend, Sender of the Meshiach, Giver of life, Killer, and Resurrector of the dead; all in all, this would make G-d an eighteen-part G-d. Who said that we had to stop at three? There are countless more attributes of G-d in the Torah and Kabbalah that I cannot even begin to mention due to lack of knowledge.

**Just to reiterate, I do not really believe that G-d is an eighteen-part G-d, but rather, He is an infinite G-d with infinite parts that transcend our finite understanding of separation. This makes Him One.**

The Rebuttal

It is possible to say that the Father is the Father and that the Presence (Shekhina) is the "Holy Spirit;" but where is the Son? The "son" has no foundation in Jewish belief. Some Christians say that "son" is a term given to Jesus to express his manifestly unique relationship with G-d, not that he is the literal son of G-d. In the Torah, there are many figures that had unique relationships with G-d; Noah, Moses, Abraham, the Prophets, etc... However, none of them were labeled "son of G-d." In reality, Jesus being labeled the "son of G-d" does have to do with his "genetic association" with G-d," for the belief states that he was born from a virgin mother. If you can imagine a virgin woman suddenly becoming pregnant; what was "the sperm" that made her have a child? According to this belief, Jesus is the son of G-d in the literal sense, that he shared divine genetic material, and that he was therefore part G-d (not part god) and part human.

This is patently bizarre; a human child shares the genetic material of both his mother and his father, yet he is not the same being as his mother or his father. If Jesus was G-d, he was also Mary, for I am both my mother and my father.

*Note -- Every human seed and human egg is divine genetic material.

Day of Atonement

Leviticus 16:29-31 reads, "This shall remain for you an eternal decree: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict yourselves and you shall not do any work, neither the native nor the proselyte who dwells among you. For on this day he shall provide atonement for you to cleanse you; from all your sins before Hashem shall you be cleansed."

The (written) Torah has six hundred and thirteen commandments, and when you take into account all of the details listed in the Oral Law, the Talmud, you get into the thousands. A Christian friend of mine, who happens to be a pastor, once told me that to worship G-d by keeping some thousand commandments would be overwhelming and that he was glad that G-d sent Jesus to die for his sins. He was glad that G-d is a G-d of grace and love, and not law; too bad he's only two-thirds right.

The Day of Atonement is the most somber day of the Jewish year for it is the day in which G-d peers into each person's "book," into his or her very deeds (and thoughts) and decides whether or not that person is written into the Book of Life. During that day, the person beckons with G-d to pardon his sins. The ten days before this are just as important, for in those ten days, a Jew must right all wrongs with the people that he knows or that he has harmed, and must ask forgiveness. After asking forgiveness from other people, he then asks G-d for forgiveness during the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur.

This process makes a world of sense. At the end of a person's life, G-d opens up the individual's own personal book and peers into it. At this point, an elaborate process begins, a process that I am not qualified to expound upon, the process of judgment. In this vein, it would make sense that at the end of all of the Days of Atonement, at the end of life, G-d looks at the composition, the sum of the parts. If a person goes through a heart-felt and genuine atonement each year during Yom Kippur, and if one was able to make a spiritual flow chart of that person's commitment to his t'shuva (repentance) each year, you would see a steadily growing improvement in the character of that person. The result of this would be less and less sin, and at the end of his physical life, G-d would be able to measure his steadily growing level of good deeds. Throw in G-d's mercy and you have a pretty good deal.

The Torah has a "no nonsense" approach to sin; you FEEL the effect of your sins, so you must stop DOING them, and with dedication and effort, supported by G-d's help, ANYBODY can succeed.

Moment of Atonement

When a person goes though the very spiritual and impactful ceremony of accepting that Jesus died for one's own salvation, he goes away feeling purified of his sin. He feels that his sin; past, present, and future, has been eternally nullified. As the days, weeks, months, and years go by, he begins to repeat some of the actions in which he was partaking before he made his acceptance, and after a while, he realizes that he has acquired more sin, and that it has again amassed. This realization forces him to re-commit and to correct the path that he previously began to walk down. He has already accepted Jesus, so can he now accept Jesus again? How is this different from the Jew's path? If the Christian has already accepted Jesus, must he accept him again for his new sins? If Jesus died once for all sins, then a Christian who has accepted him never needs to repent.

He has accepted that Jesus literally died for his sins, but in reality, and due to his finite mind, he cannot stop trying to avoid sin and still live a spiritually, ethically, and morally healthy life; he must set up a visible boundary between him and it. Perhaps I am in error when I say this, but it seems that a person who has just been "saved," feels that to be a renewal, as erasing his sins up to that point in his life. The fact that he continues to try to avoid sin is strong evidence that he somehow believes that if he commits more sins, they too will add up like the ones of old (and he is right). Right after being saved, he feels free, but as his experience moves from the subconscious mind to the conscious mind, his feeling of liberation becomes gradually replaced with obligation -- an obligation to avoid sin. This is healthy, because the crux of the nature of any relationship between humanity and G-d MUST be obligation, not freedom. This obligation is freedom.

It would be fallacious of me to say that, since a Christian believes that Jesus' erased all of his sins, that he now feels like he can do whatever he wants. Clearly a "saved Christian" feels bound to proper behavior and to avoidance of sin. Yet, if the atonement provided for Jesus' death was eternal and perpetual, the Christian would, in reality, be freed from the worry of sinning. This highlights a very pertinent point; even a saved person understands the effect of sin on his soul, which is a negative and plainly visible. Even a saved Christian understands that sinning directly harms him. If all of his sins were already atoned for, in reality, every sin, as it was being committed, would be erased from his book simultaneously, yet no Christian truly believes that. The lingering of a sin's effect after it has been committed is identified by the negative feelings that reside on the soul in the aftermath; yet, Christians would agree that a saved Christian has this feeling even after being freed from sin. If a Christian feels the negative effect of a sin after committing it, has he really been freed from that sin? Was the freeing from sin effective upon acceptance of Jesus, or does the sin take time to dissipate after it has been committed? If a Christian has already accepted Jesus, does he have to repent?

Symbolically, Jesus' death frees him from the bondage of his sin, but due to the person's finite mind, he must go through a process that allows him to extirpate himself from that sin on his own; he must feel that he is succeeding in defeating his inclination to sin. Psychology attests to this when it says that a person, for example, suffering from an addiction, must "go through with the motions," and those motions distance a person from a thing. If G-d hardwired us to be able to perceive Him, then He also hardwired our brains with an internal psychologically-based method of atoning for our sins. In this vein, an animal sacrifice (in the
Temple) makes sense. Avoidance of sin is a clear indication that a human being feels a deep need to see the ending of his sin. Since he can SEE sin's effect, he must SEE its destruction, yet he cannot SEE Jesus' atonement for he cannot really imagine it. When a person takes repentance into his own hands, as he is supposed to, he does not need to imagine it taking place because he is seeing it take place before his very eyes, through his actions. This puts him in direct contact with his own repentance and into direct contact with G-d's plan, and with G-d Himself. This is why the need to atone for ourselves is eternal, and in this way, we become responsible servants.

"This shall remain for you an eternal decree: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict yourselves and you shall not do any work, neither the native nor the proselyte who dwells among you. For on this day he shall provide atonement for you to cleanse you; from all your sins before Hashem shall you be cleansed."

May you be written in the Book of Life, my friends, and may the
Temple be rebuilt speedily and in our days!

Yup -- Satan IS in Heaven

This can be considered to be a short sequel to the post from
6/23/05 titled "Satan is in Heaven." In that post, I tried to discuss the theology that both Judaism and Christianity have about Satan, keeping in mind that in the Christian narrative, Satan is a being that was G-d banished from Heaven due to his rebellion against Him. In the Christian mind frame, Satan is the ultimate of evil. In the Jewish mind frame, Satan is the cause of evil (the tempting angel), but is not evil himself, for "good" and "evil" do not apply to beings that possess no free will.

The differences in belief between the two religions might be considered subtle differences. However, when we consider that Christianity holds the notion that humanity forever inherits the sin of Adam and Eve (Original Sin), the differences are not subtle. This sin is forever upon humanity, and ultimately a soul will suffer Hell as the only possible option if it does not accept the sin offering, which is Jesus. Christianity considers Satan to have rebelled against G-d by tempting Adam and Eve, while the Jewish view maintains that tempting Adam and Eve was a punishable offense, but was Satan's job. Near the beginning of the Torah, we see that Satan was never expelled from Heaven as a punishment for tempting Adam and Eve, but rather was brought to a lower status (Genesis
3:14-16). Genesis is telling us that Satan actually stayed in Heaven (and is still there).

Genesis 3:14-19 describes first Satan's, then Eve's, and then Adam's punishments for their respective deeds (temptation, and falling to temptation). Genesis 3:22-24 describes that Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden (Heaven) as a precaution to keep them from eating from the tree of life; Satan is not included here. There is a Christian (and a Muslim) belief that Satan was banished from Heaven due to his rebellion against G-d, but we see that he is only punished. (14-16) The difference between Christianity and Islam with regards to Jesus is that Islam does not believe that he died to redeem humanity from original sin.

This means that Satan is in Heaven, which seems to be a funny statement, especially if its logistics are not considered, but truthfully, where else would Satan be? Christianity derives its tradition that G-d banished Satan to Hell from the Book of Genesis, but nowhere in Genesis does it even allude to that. G-d did not want Adam and Eve to attain eternal life as a result of eating from the tree, so He expelled them. Satan, on the other hand, necessarily has to be an immortal being since he is the tempter, and as long as humanity exists, there is a purpose for Satan. If he is immortal (not immoral), then there is no reason for G-d to worry about his eating from the tree of life. Secondly, Judaism explains that angels are beings without free will, which can only really exist if a being is able to be tempted. This can also be inferred to arrive at the conclusion that Satan had no temptation to eat of the tree of life because he himself is the tempter. Therefore, we find in Genesis, not a basis for, but the outright explanation that, Satan is a being that resides in Heaven.

Judeo –Christian?

The term Judeo-Christian is commonly used to describe the nature of
America’s religious system. The Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines the term Judeo-Christian: having historical roots in both Judaism and Christianity

In that sense,
America is a Judeo-Christian country, with the founders of the Constitution drawing inspiration from Christianity, and Christianity being a religion that, aside from its viewpoints concerning the Trinity, is composed largely of parallel values to those found in Judaism. Furthermore, America’s legal system has taken traits from Rome’s and the Talmud’s judicial process, such witnesses and lex talionis (an eye for an eye), as well as the death penalty, for example. Therefore, America’s system is a hodge-podge of Jewish, Christian, and Roman influence, and secular democracy (separation of Church and State) all mixed into one.

A slightly variant definition of term from defines “Judeo-Christian” as, “being historically related to both Judaism and Christianity; "the Judeo-Christian tradition." The term “Judeo-Christian tradition” signifies that the Jewish and Christian traditions are similar enough to be classified together in a hyphenated term, but this is not exactly the case; both Jewish and Christian traditions, and their theologies, are quite different from each other. To start, they do share common similarities, such as the belief in the One G-d, life after death, messiah, and the difference between good and evil, but suffice it to say that the fulcrum of Jewish theology (Torah) and the fulcrum of Christian theology (Jesus), alter the entire theological scope of each respective religion. In this light, the term “Judeo-Christian tradition” does a fairly poor job of actually delineating the Jewish and Christian traditions. While their traditions consist of some of the same liturgy and terminology, the definitions and concepts surrounding these similarities are vastly different.

Take, for example, the Jewish and Christian conceptualizations of sin. In Judaism, the Torah is the Divine blueprint for life with its Author and Fulcrum being G-d, and therefore, sin, or transgression, is the name for when a person violates a part of the Torah. This means that according to Judaism, each individual carries the ability to stay away from sin. Christianity’s notion of sin is derived from the Creation account of Genesis. When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, they and their ancestors (humanity) entered into a perpetual state of sin, which keeps them from nearing G-d, necessitating the death of Jesus to free them from that impassible obstruction. Judaism’s “interpretation” of the Creation account of Genesis makes for an entirely different understand and theology – a difference as subtle as an interpretation is the cause of the very different theologies possessed by Judaism and Christianity. The differences are far-reaching and the term “Judeo-Christian” becomes an inaccurate one.

America is a Judeo-Christian country, which for all practical purposes, would be the same as saying that it is a Christian country. Whether America is or is not a Christian country is a whole other topic and I’ll probably write something about it sometime in the future. For the sake of the argument, Judeo-Christian means Christian, and this is why; Christianity is a religion, as mentioned earlier, that apart from its belief in the Trinity, has many behavioral parallels to Judaism. Since Christianity has its own interpretation of Jewish theological concepts and in its own mind is the completion of Judaism, to say “Judeo-Christian” is really to say “Christian.” For example, a person of the Christian faith would find this analogy agreeable; blue is to purple as Judaism is to Christianity. Blue plus red makes purple, and Judaism plus Jesus makes Christianity. A person of the Jewish persuasion would find this analogy agreeable; circle is to triangle as Judaism is to Christianity, the two are both shapes, but are otherwise unrelated.

An example of a Judeo country, or a Jewish country, would be
Israel. In reality, all Christian countries can be titled Judeo-Christian countries, because Christianity itself is a Judeo-Christian religion. The same logic can be applied to the term “Messianic Judaism,” a redundant term given to the fact that Judaism is a Messianic religion, a religion that believes in the Coming of the Messiah (and that he is not Jesus). The Christian movement known as Messianic Judaism came up with that name with the intent to express its belief that Judaism is incomplete without a Messiah, and that he has already come. Therefore, the concept of “Messianic Judaism” repeats the ethos of the Christian religion in that Christianity is the completed form of Judaism, hence Messianic Judaism is really a “backwards reaching” form of Christianity.


For the same reason that we can say that Christianity is a Judeo-Christian religion, we can say that Islam is a Judeo-Christo-Islamic religion, a debate that will probably spread through America’s academic and intellectual circles very soon, if it already hasn’t started. A possible alternative to the meaning of the word “Judeo-Christian” is that
America is a Christian country that has allowed much for the influence of Jews. Since Christianity was not a religion influenced by Islam, but vice-versa, America will only be considered to be a Judeo-Christo-Islamic country in the event that Muslims increasingly become a part of mainstream America.

In reality, as mentioned earlier, America is a country that allows for the free speech and influence of all groups, but is a country based in the separation of Church and State, a term which itself is semi-explanatory of Christianity's role in this country. For example, my personal experience from speaking to people from the majority populace of
America, people who are not particularly religious but come from a Christian background, speaking about G-d makes them think of the Trinity or of Jesus, which in a Jewish mind are completely unrelated concepts. Seeing that America's Jewish population is 2-4% of the majority population, Jewish theology is an undercurrent in America, except for those who are educated in religion or theology.

Satan is in Heaven

Calm down, I am not a Satanist. In Hebrew, "Ha-SatAN" means "the adversary," "the destroyer," and is sometimes loosely translated as "the evil inclination." Another term commonly used for "Ha-Satan" is the Hebrew "yetzer harah," which literally means "the evil inclination." It must also be noted that humans have both a "yetzer harah" and a "yetzer hatov," the good inclination, and it is completely within our capabilities to lead with either one. For this analysis, I will simply use the word "Satan," the English word for "Ha-Satan."

Judaism and Christianity both believe that Satan exists and that his goal is to get us to partake in evil. The only difference between Judaism and Christianity with regards to Satan is that the former believes that his job is to tempt humanity, meaning that he has a role in the divine scheme of things, while the latter believes that he is an enemy of Hashem, acting against His will. I believe that the latter view is simply untrue as well as being spiritually unhealthy, and will attempt to show why.

First, Satan cannot be Hashem's enemy because Hashem made him with the intent of tempting us. Hashem has an angel for everything, and unless we believe that Hashem is the one that tempts us, belief in the existence of Satan makes sense. However, why Hashem would banish Satan from His Presence baffles me. First of all, if Hashem banished Satan, would Satan not cease to exist? Can it be said that there is anything outside of the realm of Hashem that has the ability to exist? If Hell is entirely outside of the realm of Hashem, is it really just a name for a place of non-existence? If Satan can be banished from Hashem but still exist, it says that he has the power of being independent from Hashem; he is as strong as or stronger than Hashem, which is impossible. It only makes sense that Satan is working for Hashem, as in Job. This also means that Satan is not evil in the sense that a person who does evil things is evil. Satan is, like all angels, a perfect receptacle for Hashem's will; he does what he does out of necessity and does not derive pleasure from it. Of course, our attitude towards him has to be "less than friendly" because his function is to harm us. This is the Jewish viewpoint of Satan.

But if Hell really exists, it must be a place that Hashem condones, because if He did not want it to be, then it would not. What this means is that there is some level of G-dliness there, even if it's just enough to maintain its existence. So if Hell is a real place, all who are there barely exist, they almost do not, which means that they have almost no power or strength, or life. Hell would be the place farthest from Hashem. Therefore, if we believe that Satan is the tempter of humanity, we must assume that he is in Heaven.

The Torah's view on Hell, or "Gehennom," is that only the genuinely wicked people go there for eternity. However, "genuinely wicked" is not a term that humanity can even begin to pretend to be able to determine, and therefore the judgment is left entirely up to Hashem, who happens to be merciful. It is doubtful that kicking your little brother in the tuchus (butt) qualifies you as "genuinely wicked," although you should probably go to your room for a while and think about what you did.

Second, it would also baffle me as to why Hashem would banish Satan but not strip him of his powers of temptation first. Is it really the act of an all-wise Hashem to kick Satan out but to continue to allow him to "do his thing?" Satan's job is indeed a necessary one if free will is to exist, but if he were unchecked by Hashem in his job as a tempter, he would wreak havoc on the Earth. What this means is that Satan has built-in limits on what he can do, he cannot make an individual act in a way other than the individual is willing to act. He cannot control us, he can only confuse us, and only if we let him. Of course, we can say that Satan is wreaking havoc on the Earth, but the extent of Satan's ability is our submission to our weaknesses. If Hashem saw Satan as an unnecessary nuisance, would He not just end his existence? Clearly Satan exists, which can only mean that Hashem Himself is allowing him to exist. And clearly Satan still tempts us, which means that he has not been defeated, which means that Meshiach (Messiah) has not come yet. For this reason, I do not agree with the Christian view that Jesus defeated sin, and therefore Satan. Satan is real and sin is real, and within practical limits, it is only as real as we let it be.

Third, the notion that Hashem has to defeat Satan also confuses me. I cannot imagine that the all-powerful Hashem has to put any amount of effort into defeating one of His creations. If Hashem wanted Satan to disappear, it would be done and over with. Again, it would not take Hashem a trial-by-error method to decide if He wants Satan to exist or not; the fact that He made him shows that he has an eternal purpose.

Fourth, do angels really have free will? Can an angel do something that Hashem has not allowed it to do, or can an angel avoid its responsibility? Free will is the only constant in the human story, something that angels do not possess. In Job, Satan asks Hashem for permission to do everything before he does it - he has no free will. Can the universe really function if Hashem grants His angels, His "employees," free will? What if an angel was feeling lazy one day, or overzealous, or scared? Would they not need a Torah of their own to keep them in check, a Torah that they could reject? Look at humanity, we have free will and look at what a situation we are in. I view angels as being programmed by Hashem to carry out a certain task; they can do nothing outside of that task, which also rules out rebellion against their Maker. But assuming that some kind of anomaly occurred and an angel was able to rebel against Hashem, I would imagine that He would just end his existence and make another one. Taking it a step farther, it is hard to believe that He would even have to resort to that; would He not just reprogram the angel to do what it is supposed to do? Assuming that angels can be reprogammed, it means that they do not have free will anyway (to resist being reprogrammed).

A Note about Satanism

Here is just a thought that I will explore in another post. In the light of all this, worshipping Satan would make absolutely no sense. If Satan is an angel designated to a task, to worship him would get one nowhere. He has no power of his own and he does not answer prayers, which is something that only Hashem does. Prayers to Satan would go completely ignored since answering them is not one of his abilities. Praying to Satan is like talking to a brick wall.

A scathing poem about Christianity

Christians are poachers and Jews are the hunted; I will spend my energy against you. I feel like we’re an endangered species; for every Jew you get, may you go to the Hell you preach. How long, O, how long, will you aid our assimilation? With friends like you, who needs wild dogs? Well stick a cross in my jugular and call me “saved!” The reverent don’t revere the reverend. How low will you go to convert us? You say you save us, but we must first agree. Your religion operates by short-circuiting the intellect and appealing to the emotions; kill their mind and they’ll follow Jesus. Christianity is a feel-good religion; Christianity is a think-bad religion. Christianity is hypnosis. If you care about me, leave me alone. May your god be as forgiving as you wrongfully assume, your dead Jew turned Roman deity immortalized. Why do you take me for a fool? Do you think that I believe what I believe because I have been fooled as you have been? I would have left good enough alone if you had stayed away from my doorstep, but now that you have taken to targeting our youth, I must crush you just to stay alive, for the dead tell no lies, nor do the ones with broken teeth spread deceit. Leave me alone and you will flourish; you have a whole world of lost Gentiles to convert -- stay away from the Jews!