“For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” Romans 2:28-29
Last summer, Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who once called himself “a Zionist pig,” wanted to ban both Muslim and Jewish ritual slaughter of animals in the Netherlands. Wilders previously got accolades from both the neoconservative establishment in Europe and America and some groups in Israel.
According to the Zionist reading of things, by the end of summer Wilders morphed into a full-blown anti-Semite because he wanted to ban both Muslim and Jewish ritual slaughter of animals. Israel’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi Yona Metzger declared of Wilders’ stand: “This is the classical anti-Semitic way our rites have been targeted and demonized throughout history.” Similarly, Manfred Gerstenfeld, an Israeli author, declared that Wilders was spreading anti-Semitism across Europe.
Metzger and Gerstenfeld did not even mention that the ban was also against Muslim rituals. The ritual slaughter of animals by any group would have been prohibited, but because Jews were included in this ban, Metzger and Gerstenfeld saw the proposed law as anti-Semitic.
To put it another way, suppose Wal-Mart closes at midnight and does not allow anyone into the store until the next morning. Would it be anti-Semitic to say that Wal-Mart does not allow Jews into the store after midnight? According to the implications of what Metzger and Gerstenfeld propounded, it is.
We see the logical extension of this in other areas. For example, Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post has labeled Jewish professor John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago “one of the most high-profile anti-Semites in America.”
I personally contacted Glick to see if we could have a fruitful dialogue and to see if she could provide clear evidence for her extraordinary claim. I asked, “Would you say that if someone criticizes the American government or American policies, then by definition that person is anti-American?” She resoundingly said, “No.” Then I proceeded to ask by what logical inference she accused Mearsheimer of being an anti-Semite.
Mearsheimer is the co-author of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. He and his co-author Stephen M. Walt of Harvard simply criticize Israel’s ruthless policies toward the Palestinians. I even challenged Glick to provide any statement in The Israel Lobby that even remotely suggests that Mearsheimer is an anti-Semite. I received no further response from Glick. She was simply silent. Then I contacted another Jerusalem Post writer David Turner, who was more generous than Glick. (I will post our interesting dialogue here next month.)
In a nuthsell, the word anti-Semitism has been weaponized. All you have to do now is call your opponent an anti-Semite. End of discussion. Lest any reader doubt the veracity of this statement, listen to Israeli politician Shulamit Aloni as she was responding to the question of why the Israelis kept using the anti-Semitic card whenever legitimate criticism is marshaled against Israel:
“Well, it’s a trick, we always use it. When from Europe somebody is criticizing Israel, then we bring up the Holocaust. When in this country people are criticizing Israel, then they are anti-Semitic. And the [Jewish] organization is strong, and has a lot of money, and the ties between Israel and the American Jewish establishment are very strong and they are strong in this country, as you know. And they have power, which is OK. They are talented people and they have power and money, and the media and other things, and their attitude is ‘Israel, my country right or wrong,’ identification. And they are not ready to hear criticism. And it’s very easy to blame people who criticize certain acts of the Israeli government as anti-Semitic, and to bring up the Holocaust, and the suffering of the Jewish people, and that is justify everything we do to the Palestinians.”
In order to understand the root of this logical breakdown, one has to go beyond the realm of the term anti-Semitism and see how it is carelessly applied in the historical and political landscape. The conflict is not about whether you are a Jew or not, or whether you like to support Jews or not, but rather it is about a theological struggle that has been in existence for almost two thousand years between Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism.
How did that come about? I have addressed this more fully in the current book, but let us summarize some essential key points here. (I must say that E. Michael Jones’ work has been instrumental in helping me understand this issue.)
It must be said at the outset here that a devout follower of Christ (like I am) cannot be an anti-Semite. Christianity focuses primarily on theology and the implications of that theology in history, science, politics, etc. This is why throughout the New Testament Jesus and His disciples used harsh language regarding the Pharisees and rabbis, not because they hated them, but because the Pharisees embraced a theology that would eventually separate them from God. In general,Christianity teaches that every individual has a place in the Kingdom of God once he recognizes that Jesus is the Savior of all mankind or that Jesus is the Messiah.
It is also false to equate a critique of Rabbinic Judaism with anti-Semitism. Again, a genuine Christian, by definition, cannot be a racist or anti-Semitic, otherwise he is denying the plain teachings of Christ which call upon all mankind to embrace the cross. The message of Christianity through the ages is that Christians must love everyone as they love themselves, precisely because God made of one blood all the nations of the earth, and “fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works” (Psalm 33:15).
A Christian must love others so much that he feels compelled to tell them the truth. Throughout the New Testament, we constantly see that both Jesus and His disciples stand in opposition to falsehood, even though they had a heart for those who embrace the falsehood. Those who were propounding falsehood after falsehood were primarily the rabbis and Pharisees, “who made the commandment of God of none effect by [their] tradition” (Matthew 15:6). Tradition? What tradition?
Just to be clear here. The Talmud is not a continuation of the Torah, or what is commonly called the Old Testament. When Jesus came to fulfill all the prophecies about Himself as the Messiah mentioned frequently in the Old Testament, the Pharisees and the Saducees were His greatest opponents. What was really interesting was that the Pharisees articulated the idea that there were two inspired revelations to the Jews: the written laws of Moses received on top of Mount Sinai, and oral traditions acquired by seventy elders who came to the base of the mountain but were forbidden to proceed further.
According to traditions, God gave Moses the Written Law with “Comments,” and Moses “delivered the Comments to Aaron and his Sons, and to the Elders of Israel, by Word of Mouth, who by oral Tradition handed them down to the Prophets, and the Prophets to the men of the Great Synagogue.”
So when Jews refer to the Torah, more often than not they are not talking about the Old Testament, but the Oral Law propounded by so-called seventy elders and later by rabbis and Pharisees. Over the centuries, this Oral Law progressively got codified into a theological text: the Talmud. As Former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, Immanuel Jakobovitz confirmed,
“The true character of Judaism cannot be appreciated except by an intimate acquaintance with the Oral Law…What makes us and our faith distinct and unique is the oral tradition as the authentic key to an understanding of the written text we call the Torah.”
Jewish scholar Jacob Neusner writes that the
“Torah is represented by sayings not found in Scripture, set forth by sages not credited with the authorship of Scriptural books. What is implicit, then, is that an oral component of the Instruction of Sinai, alongside the written part, forms the mediums of God’s revelation to the Israelite community.”
Since there is no historical and archaeological basis for this, the Oral Law took time to develop and refine. Judaism largely had its inception without a written text during the time of Alexander the Great, when Jews around the time began to define themselves in a new way of life, during which time it was called iudaismos.
This is a long story, but let us focus on some key points. What is interesting to our understanding here is that the Pharisees moved on to teach that the oral traditions by the elders are much more reliable, much more extensive and much more accurate than the law of Moses, a revelation that was never written down, never known to the Jews at the time of Moses, yet somehow took precedent over the written law. Jewish historian Solomon Grayzel declares that this view is correct.
In a nutshell, the Talmud is to the Jewish people what the Bible is to Christians. Moreover, the Talmud is in no way friendly to Christ and Christians. Jewish scholar Peter Schafer of Princeton, in his widely read studyJesus in the Talmud, maintains that the Talmud’s anti-Christian attacks on the Christian narratives in general and Jesus in particularly are done deliberately, and that itself makes
“‘Jesus’ and the ‘Talmud’ in a highly charged and antagonistic relationship with each other.”
But these attacks are not surprising at all, since in the New Testament declares that Jesus was accused by the Pharisees of casting out demons by the prince of Beelzebub (Matthew 9:34; 12:24; Luke 11:15). According to the Talmud, not only did Jesus not rise from the dead, but His followers
“will be punished in Gehinnom [hell] forever.”
Schafer continues to say that similar accusations such as Mary baring the son of a bastard child from her secret lover shake
“the very foundations of the Christian message.” In addition, Jesus’ birth from a virgin is ridiculed in the Talmud; He is the son of a whore; Jesus, Titus, and Balaam are all in the Netherworld (Hell); Titus is burning in there over and over because he destroyed the Temple in A.D. 70; Balaam is sitting in hot semen; and “Jesus’ fate consists of sitting forever in boiling excrement.”
E. Michael Jones writes that “while many Jews may never read such passages there can be little doubt that they arose from the defining rejection of Christ by many Jews of His time, a rejection that finds echoes in present day attitudes to Christian converts from Judaism.” And while many Jews and Jewish scholars take these passages seriously, as we shall see, some Christian scholars (largely dispensationalists) dismiss them as inauthentic or irrelevant.
In other words, the Talmud and the New Testament are locked into a theological battle, and this battle has significant meanings.
I have to disagree vehemently with Bob Johnson in his article “Old Testament: A Window into the Soul of Israel.” Passages in the Old Testament cannot be taken in isolation without any regard to the New Testament. Moreover, it is not safe for a person to cite passages of Scripture here and there to make a point, precisely because the Bible is a very complex book and it has to be taken in its complete context, too much to detail here. Even in literature citing isolating passages without proper context can be very dangerous.
For those who are interested in making sense of the Old Testament from an exegetical perspective, I would recommend Paul Copan’s book Is God a Moral Monster?
Yes, the Jews were indeed God’s chosen people, not because of they had super DNA but because God chose them to bring light into the world. To be frank with you, the West is the West because God kept that promise through Abraham, Moses, and the prophets. Moreover, the Jews were chosen because it was prophesied that the Messiah would be an ethnic Jew. When Christ came on the scene, history had a different paradigm. Blinded by pride, the Jews began to see themselves as “God’s chosen people” even when they rejected God’s only Son.
We find similar implications when the Pharisees told Jesus that they are “Abraham’s seed” and therefore “Abraham is our father” (John 8:33, 39). In other words, they were declaring that they are God’s chosen people by blood and therefore Jesus had no business telling them to believe in Him in order to be a part of God’s family. Jesus denied their claims by saying, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham,” which means that they would believe in Him, for “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:39, 56).
They further declared that God was their father, to which Jesus responded, “If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me” (John 8:42). After a long back-and-forth conversation, Jesus told them, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44). They eventually tried to kill Jesus, but He “hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:59). From this point on, anyone who dared to say that Jesus was the Messiah or the Son of God was cast out of the temple (see John 9).
Moreover, Israel’s primary religious source is not the Old Testament but the Talmud. Although rabbis superficially cite some passages in the Old Testament to further their ideological cause, rabbis cannot live without the Talmud. Jesus Himself says to them, “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (John 5:46-47).
In other words, the logic is pretty simple. By rejecting Christ, the Pharisees also rejected Moses because Moses exegetically spoke of Jesus. And by rejecting Jesus, God’s only Son, they rejected God altogether. And by rejecting God, they cannot claim to be “God’s chosen people” any longer. Moreover, once Christ ismetaphysically and categorically rejected, then something has to fill the vacuum. That something came to be known as the Talmud, which is a theological text for revolutionary ideology all through the centuries.
What I mean by metaphysical and categorical rejection is very simple. When Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, he admitted that “we [Pharisees] know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, expect God be with him” (John 3:2). Yet after the crucifixion, when the guards at Jesus’s tomb (who had been placed there at the Pharisees’ request) came to the Pharisees and told them exactly what happened on the third day, they refused to believe that Jesus was sent from God. After this clear evidence, you would have expected the Pharisees to set aside their preconceived notions about Jesus.
Instead, they bribed the guards to lie: “Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you” (Matthew 28:13-14). The Pharisees knew the truth, but they ignored it in order to maintain their own ideology. It was because of this tendency that Jesus bluntly told them that they were descendants of Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44).
Our last example is found in the book of Acts. When the Apostle Peter and others healed a man who was lame “from his mother’s womb,” the high priests, the Sadducees and other religious authorities agreed that it was a clear evidence that those Christians, declaring to do miracles in the name of Christ, produced some challenge. “What shall we do to these men?,” they said. “For that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it” (Acts 4:16; emphasis added).
Instead of doing further investigation and letting truth fall, they took the opposite route: “But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name [Jesus]” (Acts 16:17). And throughout the book of Acts, they systematically persecuted the church.
Rabbinic Judaism’s rejection of Christ is therefore metaphysical and categorical because it is done deliberately—in the face of, rather than in spite of, evidence to the contrary. The real-life consequence of that theological rejection is revolution and subversive ideology. Turning your back on Christ, who is the true Logos, will inevitably result in turning your back on logic and reason. Jesus Christ indeed defines ultimate reality, making the cross the turning point in human history.
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