Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests


A Gentile Torah-Believer’s Testimony

posted by David Klinghoffer

Recently a particularly thoughtful commenter on this blog mentioned in passing that he identifies as a Noachide, that is, a Gentile believer in Torah. I was so interested to hear this that I wrote to him and asked for his story, which he graciously provided. I am copying it below. It’s truly a privilege for me to have such a person among my readers.

But first a note of introduction. A few weeks back I startled some Jewish readers by saying that Judaism in its classical sources is a missionary religion. Not that Jews are enjoined to convert Gentiles to Judaism, but rather to draw them to the primordial Torah religion of Noachism. This is assumed to be the faith practiced by Noah and bequeathed to humanity.
In this model, which the Talmud details in tractate Sanhedrin, Jews follow the moral and ritual Mosaic code, while Gentiles follow the Noachide code. But the model of spiritual reality revealed in the Torah is a gift given to both Jews and Gentiles.
Maimonides makes it very clear in his Mishneh Torah that Jews are commanded to use whatever means are at our disposal to encourage (that’s putting it mildly) non-Jews in this Noachide path (Laws of Kings 6:10). Yes, Judaism is an aggressively missionary religion, if not in current practice then in theory.
That having been said, I’ll introduce you to my reader and friend, Brian Beckman:

I’m a physicist, and was brought up as a very conservative, traditional Catholic. The church changed dramatically in my youth. From my point of view, it wasn’t wrenching, because I didn’t change. That left me without an emotional connection to God, but also free to pursue a more durable, intellectual connection. 

It can be tricky to look for God in a science-saturated life, but if one digs deep enough, one will find the need either for an Original Cause or for an Anthropic Principle. While I grant that anthropism is logically coherent, I find it empty, like a tautology. It’s equally sound to suppose that the universe is here because God wants it. At that point, all one needs to compose a logically coherent notion of God is to study and sift good ideas from bad ones, which, as a physicist, I know how to do. 

I am an unofficial Noahide. I follow the Seven Laws of Noah found in the Torah and detailed by Maimonides. I’m unofficial only because I have not yet had the chance to take a formal oath, but I would certainly do so. In ancient Israel, I might have been ger toshav — a legal alien, and I might have aspired to be ger tzedek — a righteous gentile, a very high calling indeed, likely beyond my ability to achieve.

These laws contain nothing surprising to any typical American with a passing acquaintance with the Bible and the Ten Commandments. According to my reading of Rabbi Elijah Benamozegh (see Jewish and Christian Ethics, and Israel and Humanity), a typical American Christian trying to follow basic Christian ethics would, in fact, be a de-facto Noahide even if not aware of it. ??

That’s kind of the point though. How did an nice, ordinary, American Catholic boy like me end up in such an unusual place? Visions? Dramatic conversions? No, much more boring. I found it by studying and listening to smart people. 

There are three aspects to my Noahism: how I act, how I think, and what I believe. ?
Practically, I study Torah almost daily and, when I have the privilege, I share Shabbat and other events with my Orthodox Jewish friends. These are new habits for me, but not conflicting with the life I’ve led since I went into religious “dry docks” in the early 1970s. Like many others, my traditionalist ship was unable to respond quickly enough to the tidal changes in the Catholic Church and I just put religion in-toto into safe storage and got on with other things. ??

In my thinking, I’ve reached a synthesis that I can articulate and defend. Orthodox Jews and Catholics regard the Torah (the five books of Moses) as a direct revelation from God. But there is a fork in the road: Orthodox Jews regard it as permanent and immutable, like the laws of physics. Catholic doctrine studies the Bible in the light of St. Paul and the Church fathers. In that light, Jesus’ resurrection changed everything and the Old Law doesn’t apply any more, even though Jesus himself didn’t repudiate it. So which is it? After four years exploring the “permanent and immutable” hypothesis (just beginning, really), I haven’t found anything yet to refute it. I know of no place where the Torah states that it is changeable, and I know many places where it states that it is permanent. So if it is, in fact, true, then it seems it must be permanent and immutable.

There are those who reject revelation and treat the Torah not like the laws of physics but as ordinary human literature. I like to note that the claim of Sinai (two million eye witnesses to the theophany) is so outrageous that it must either be true or the most astounding hoax in human history. I have met people who can name their ancestors back to Sinai and claim unbroken verbal transmission of the eye-witness account. It is impressive that a claim like this can last more than 3,000 years with an entire nation believing it. I’ll take it on faith.?

I believe there is One God, the God of Israel. This much is in keeping with Catholic doctrine, which adds the Mystery of the Trinity. I personally come to grips with this as follows. If Jesus is divine, then he is completely identical with God the Father (according to the doctrinal Mystery). It would then seem inconceivable that Jesus could have any objection at all to devoting oneself to God and to the selfsame Torah that Jesus himself embraced. I realize that this is a personal syllogism and that Catholics will barbecue me over it, but it’s the way I have always seen things even when I was a churchgoer.??

I am very fortunate to have found this path, and it is only because of the wisdom and kindness of certain Orthodox Jewish acquaintances, now dear friends, that I was even aware of it, let alone enabled to pursue it.



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Your Name

posted May 16, 2009 at 1:17 am


Umm…the noahide laws are not at all difficult to keep unless you’re a homicidal atheist with a sex addiction and a thirst for blood…
Most people obey them without even realizing it.
not sure what the big deal is.



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David Klinghoffer

posted May 17, 2009 at 1:02 am


The 7 Noachide “commandments” are really categories of commandments, not unlike the way the more famous 10 Commandments are categories into which the total of 613 Biblical commandments are seen as falling. In any event, how difficult laws are to follow is not the measure of how precious they are. What really counts is the level of insight they provide into the nature of moral and spiritual reality. That would not be conveyed simply by listing the 7 commandments of the bnei Noach any more than merely listing the 10 or 613 commandments conveys the wisdom of Torah. The laws are only a framework and a shorthand.



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Lost in CT

posted May 17, 2009 at 10:56 am


I would love to email with this guy. In the last couple of years I have proclaimed myself a “Catholic Jew” for a variety of reasons. I really enjoy hearing other stories of finding a religious and cultural identity when the one you have been in for so long does not seem to fit what is in your heart.



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Jerome

posted May 17, 2009 at 10:59 am


Noahidism has been growing rapidly in the last few years, with various groups involved. There’s even a Noahide prayerbook (siddur) available now, called “Service from the Heart,” written by Orthodox rabbis (and endorsed by others as well, such as the Breslover rabbi Lazer Brody. (His Breslev Israel site has a weekly column by and for Noahides.) Chabad has always been enthusiastic about teaching gentiles about the seven laws. It’s actually becoming a full-fledged religion. This is good because there are a lot of people who come to believe in Orthodox Judaism, but either don’t want to convert, or for practical reasons cannot do so.



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R.

posted May 17, 2009 at 11:17 am


I agree with whoever posted on May 16, 2009 1:17 AM. following the Noah laws may have been a big deal once when people performaned human sacrifice to appease the rain g-d or something but nowadays following the Noah laws are just like, well, following the law of the land.



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Brian Beckman

posted May 17, 2009 at 11:18 am


Right, David. This is why I emphasized “study” in my original note to you. It may be easy to look at a simple frame house and say “that’s kind of obvious and plain, nothing special here,” but that glosses over the hundreds of detailed building codes that constrain the placement of joists and studs, electrical fixtures, heating and cooling and plumbing, etc. Building a moral life is like building a house: it requires lots of detail knowledge, even if it’s completely ordinary and unremarkable.
I could get into all kinds of examples of how knowledge and practice of basic morality is hard to find in our society, but just think of widespread plagues of gossip, cheating in school, marriage avoidance, multiple partners, yadda yadda yadda. If Noahism were so obvious, our society wouldn’t be rotting out from the inside the way it is.
Here’s an interesting source: http://en.wikinoah.org/



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Chana

posted May 17, 2009 at 2:38 pm


Very nice. Often some people have problems with the Torah and the idea of its unchanging-ness.
What I have noticed is tho the word of Hashem does not change – I do. I understand portions of it differently as I grow older and more mature. It is in-exhaustible in its wisdom and it changes me. Shalom all



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David Klinghoffer

posted May 17, 2009 at 2:57 pm


Lost, would you tell us a bit more about what you mean by being a Catholic Jew? Thanks! Sounds interesting…



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Your Name

posted May 17, 2009 at 8:26 pm


THANKS FOR THE ENLIGHTENMENT.WHEN I WAS BORN,I HAVE BEEN BAPTIZED IN CATHOLIC CHURCH BECAUSE MY PARENTS WERE OBVIOUSLY BELONG TO CATHOLIC
CHURCH.I GO TO CHURCH REGULARLY WITH MY PARENTS.THEY HAVE A GOOD MARRIAGE,WE HAVE UNITY IN MY FAMILY AND I CAN SAY I HAVE A HAPPY AND
GOOD ONE.WHEN I GET HERE IN THE US,OUR FRIENDS INVITED US TO A CHRISTIAN CHURCH THAT I WILLINGLY WENT TO FOR THE PURPOSE OF GROWING
MORE ON MY FAITH IN GOD.I HAVE READ THE BIBLE SINCE I WAS YOUNG BUT
I HAVE LEARNED TO GROW TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE BIBLE BY GOING TO
CHURCH MORE,LISTENING TO THE PREACHING.SINCE THAT TIME,I AM READING
MORE AT HOME AND GROW MORE IN MY FAITH REGARDLESS OF MY CIRCUMSTANCES
IN LIFE,I LEARNED MEDITATION OF THE WORD.I CAN SAY NOW THAT NO MATTER
WHAT OUR CIRCUMSTANCES IN OUR LIVES,LET US NOT FORGET THAT WHEN YOU
THINK THAT THERE IS NO ONE THERE FOR YOU,THERE IS ALWAYS GOD,WE JUST
NEED TO LET HIM IN OUR HEARTS AND ACCEPT HIS BLESSINGS WITH BOTH HANDS
OPEN TO RECEIVE HIM,”BY FAITH MY PEOPLE SHALL LIVE”…THIS IS FROM ONE OF GOD’S WORD.



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Brad Burge

posted May 18, 2009 at 6:43 am


Dear Brian,
If you consider Jesus to be divine, then aren’t you breaking the Noahide Laws?



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Brian Beckman

posted May 18, 2009 at 9:50 am


Brad, not exactly. My syllogism (in a bit more detail) has the form “If X then Y. If Not X, then Y” where X is “Jesus is divine” and Y is “we can and should devote ourselves to God and his Torah (for all the other reasons).” So I leave the possibility of X open, but conclude that it doesn’t actually matter; I don’t have to accept it or reject it. It may sound a bit weasily, as though I’m ducking the question, but it’s really just a matter of logic. The premises for it were set up by the Church itself in trinitarian Mystery, which allows Catholicism to declare itself monotheistic. Perhaps it’s the conclusion the Church wanted us to find in the first place.



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dilys

posted May 18, 2009 at 1:45 pm


My thought is that Brian is on the right track here, a kind of updated Pascal’s “wager.”
One of the things that struck me as a Christian upon reading, for instance, Rabbi Soloveitchik’s *Halakhic Man* (hat tip Spengler) is the burdens laid on Christians in that “nothing is ever enough.” Not poor enough in spirit; not mourning enough. Too proud, if you manage to comply with something else. Not to mention the Niceness Or Else Culture of most churches.
Some of what Jesus is reported to have said (e.g. Matthew 5:21, placing unjustified anger or insult on the murder continuum)can be seen as unpacking a commandment, making compliance far from a no-brainer.
I’m looking into all this. I imagined this morning that it required me to catch and release pesky insects, not let them starve in a trap. That’s a big gulp of change in this household. How awful to get through life and find out the over-persnickety psycho-navel-gazing furthered by some tradition, caused us to overlook ethical essentials of fully being alive.



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undefined

posted May 18, 2009 at 6:11 pm


Dilys — your comment reminded me of something. Once, long ago, I overconfidently said to one of my Orthodox Jewish friends “Christians and Jews share the same golden rule, ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.” He immediately corrected me: “Oh, no. Ours is ‘don’t do unto others as you would have them not do unto you.’ Your Christian one implies you must all become Mother Theresa.”
Subtle slip of logic changes the mitzvah from refraining from doing harm to doing infinite good.



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mink

posted May 18, 2009 at 10:53 pm


What a fascinating letter! Thank you so much for posting this, David. The college I attended had a theology requirement where all freshman had to read the Bible (OT and NT) straight through, and grapple with it without the help of any commentaries from any religion. And, like Brian, the perpetuity of the “Old” Testament struck me as a constantly repeated and completely nonnegotiable part of the OT…whether you like it, or not. When the NT starts up, it’s like there’s a gap where the OT was cancelled, or something. The LACK of continuity is striking….. again, if you let it strike you. Keep blogging, David… very interesting as always.



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Your Name

posted May 19, 2009 at 2:16 am


It’s so nice to see the Noahide path, the path that I also follow, highlighted here. Especially in such a positive way. Thank you for this.



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Yirmi

posted May 20, 2009 at 12:23 pm


In my view all of Ike’s comments should be removed. The last post quotes from an anti-semitic book that depicts Judaism as a secret satanic cult involved in killing and molesting children. Some of the other posts may (or may not be) correct quotes, but it clear enough they are motivated by anti-Jewish hate.
On the capital punishment issue, people have to understand that lots of sins mentioned in the Bible call for capital punishment, but in practice the Talmud effectively bans the death penalty. It’s also unclear whether Jewish courts ever carried out the death penalty for the vast majority of sins for which the death penalty was technically a permissible penalty. No one in modern Judaism suggests that the death penalty actually be carried out on anyone for any transgression of Jewish law. As to the issue of whether Christians are liable for the death penalty, it’s important to understand that not all historical rabbinic sources have considered Christianity to be heresy in the technically legal sense.



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David Klinghoffer

posted May 20, 2009 at 2:31 pm


You’re right, Yirmi. What Ike writes is vile.



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Metushelach

posted May 20, 2009 at 8:01 pm


To Brian: Mazzal tov from a fellow Noachide! You should know, however, that the “formal oath” you speak of is not required (since all non-Jews are Noachides Halakhically) and is only available during those periods when the laws of the Yovel (Jubilee) year are in force. Hence, this “oath” is not currently available and the ones being taken and promoted are not kosher.
Ike: You’re a Nazi jackass. And why is Jewish Oral Tradition any worse than Xian oral tradition as taught by the Catholic and Orthodox churches?



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Thomas Malloy

posted May 21, 2009 at 1:22 am


I have noticed that the same minds are attracted to Torah and physics. I started keeping the Sabbath and the Levitical Festivals ten years ago. It has been a great blessing to me. I see the Holy Torah as G-d’s own system.
I’ve been studying the writings of the quantum theorist Hal Puthoff, with the intention of cohering the zero point energy.
I agree that intelligent design is a tautology. In my opinion, it’s all about Kodeshim (holiness). Kodeshim is an integral aspect of the Holy One, blessed by he. It’s clear to me that the world can not go on as it is, part holy and part profane. A holy G-d is obligated to make it all holy, by expiating sin and sinners. Please G-d, may it happen soon!
Have you read what the Zohar has to say about the three pillars of the Medatron (G-dhead)?



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Brian Beckman

posted May 21, 2009 at 2:44 am


Thanks, Metushelach, that’s great info on the oath.
Thomas, I have such a long way to go. This year, my goal is to get through the commentaries of Rav Hirsch along with my weekly Parshayot. The way things are going, it will probably take me an extra year :) After that, I will either start folding in Haftarot *or* I will undertake the Azamra program to read through the entire Tanach in 1 year. On deck after that are the commentaries of Rashi and Kli Yaqar, and then on to HaYad HaChazaqah of the Rambam. At that point (if I live long enough), I might crack the Zohar and / or Sefer Yatzirah, but I will also certainly be drawn back to Ba’al HaTurim, my first “love” amongst the Chackhamim.
I’ve been fortunate enough to find an incredible Miqra’ot Gdolot published by HaMa’or in Israel and I got it online from Eichlers dot com for around $200. It ought to keep me busy for the rest of my days :) My Hebrew gets a little better and faster every day, drop by drop (as Rabbi Akiva said, water will bore a hole even in the hardest rock, drop by drop, referring to how Torah could penetrate even his own hard head if he just took it a little at a time :)
What a great adventure! I haven’t had this much fun since Quantum Field Theory!



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Brendan Flaherty

posted May 21, 2009 at 4:28 pm


Consider the rabbinic two-tiered concept of “justice” for Noahides:
“A non-Jew is put to death on the basis of a decision given by one judge [no jury], and on the basis of testimony given by a single witness, and even if he was not given a proper warning prior to the commission of his offense. He is put to death on the basis of testimony and a decision given by a man but not on the basis of testimony and a decision given by a woman, and the man who testified or decided against him can even be a relative.
“A Jew can only be put to death by a court of twenty-three judges, and on the basis of the testimony of two male witnesses who are not disqualified from testifying on account of kinship, and after being properly warned against committing the transgression. But none of these rules apply in the case of a non-Jew.” (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 57b, Steinsaltz edition, vol.18, page 110)
The codifier of Orthodox Judaism Moses Maimonides classified Christians as idolaters. The rabbinic “Noahide Law” punishment for Christian “idolatry” is execution:
“The Christians are idolaters, and Sunday is their holiday…” (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Avodah Zorah, 9)
“The Christians are worshipers of Avodah Zarah [idolatry]” (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Ma’akhalot Assurot, 11)
“… a gentile who worships false gods is liable, [for the death penalty] provided he worships them in the accepted manner. A gentile is executed for every type of foreign worship which a Jewish court would consider worthy of capital punishment.” (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim 11)
Also note that according to halackha, Brian Beckman should only be studying the so-called “Noahide Laws” and should be executed for studying the rabbinic texts:
“A gentile who studies Torah is liable to the death penalty. They should be involved in the study of their Seven Mitzvot [“Noahide Laws”] only.” (Moses Maimonides, Hilchot Melachim 10:9, Moznaim Publishing edition)



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Brian Beckman

posted May 21, 2009 at 9:55 pm


Dear Brendan — I have found these halakhot for your consideration:
http://www.hasidicuniversity.org/index.php?page=hu_theocracy/mitzvah_profile.php?mitzvah=11
While Jews are commanded to learn the entire Torah, Hasidic Gentiles are obligated only in those parts that pertain to the Noahide Laws and related concepts. In practice, this includes the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures, much of the Talmud, many or most concepts in Hasidic mysticism, and most of the other rabbinical writings; it excludes mainly the teachings regarding specifically Jewish commandments that do not apply to gentiles, such as the numerous details of avoiding work on the Sabbath. A gentile receives great reward for studying relevant parts of Torah, but faces death from Heaven for delving deeply into forbidden parts.
Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Melachim 10:9
Gentiles may not be oseik in Torah (but learning is not specifically forbidden); gentiles must be oseik in learning Torah about the Noahide Laws.
Talmud Bavli, Sanhedrin 59a
Gentiles who are oseik in Torah related to the Noahide Laws achieve the holy status of the cohen gadol; gentiles who are oseik in other parts of Torah are liable to death penalty.
Talmud Bavli, Avodah Zarah 3a
Gentiles who are oseik in Torah achieve the holy status of the cohen gadol, but are only rewarded as one who is not commanded (like all Noahide Laws at this time).
Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Teshuvah 10:6
HaAdam (Rambam includes gentiles by this term) is obligated to maximum knowledge that increases love of G-d.



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Brendan Flaherty

posted May 22, 2009 at 1:51 pm


Rabbi Meir’s use of the term “Torah” in Babylonian Talmud, Avodah Zarah 3a only applies to the “Noahide Laws.” Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 59a explains this:
“R. Johanan said: A heathen who studies the Torah deserves death, for it is written, Moses commanded us a law for an inheritance; it is our inheritance, not theirs … An objection is raised: R. Meir used to say. Whence do we know that even a heathen who studies the
Torah is as a High Priest? … That refers to their own seven laws.” (Soncino edition)
Maimonides repeats this is the Mishneh Torah:
“A gentile who studies Torah is liable to the death penalty. They should be involved in the study of their Seven Mitzvot [“Noahide Laws”] only.” (Moses Maimonides, Hilchot Melachim 10:9 Moznaim Publishing edition)
“HaAdam (Rambam includes gentiles by this term) …”
This is false. Rambam upheld Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai’s ruling (Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 114b and Yebamoth 61a) that Gentiles are not “Adam” which in rabbinic parlance is to say, Gentiles are not men.
“… a Gentile does not contract corpse uncleanness; and if a Gentile touches, carries, or overshadows a corpse he is as one who did not touch it. To what is this like? It is like a beast which touches a corpse or overshadows it. And this applies not to corpse uncleanness only but to any other kind of uncleanness: neither Gentiles nor cattle are susceptible to any uncleanness.” (The Code of Maimonides (Mishneh Torah), Book Ten (Tohorat), Yale University Press, New Haven, 1954, pgs. 8-9)
Your source, “Hasidic University,” seems to be putting their own interpretation on things and reinforcing it with bowdlerized translations of rabbinic texts. If you want to know what Maimonides really taught, I suggest you access the Moznaim Publishing and Yale University Press editions of the Mishneh Torah.



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Brian Beckman

posted May 22, 2009 at 4:12 pm


Dear Brendan — here, perhaps, is a more normative source, followed by a link to an interesting site of provenance unknown to me:
http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=142&letter=G
quoting
Gentiles May Not Be Taught the Torah.
Inasmuch as the Jews had their own distinct jurisdiction, it would have been unwise to reveal their laws to the Gentiles, for such knowledge might have operated against the Jews in their opponents’ courts. Hence the Talmud prohibited the teaching to a Gentile of the Torah, “the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob” (Deut. xxxiii. 4). R. Johanan says of one so teaching: “Such a person deserves death” (an idiom used to express indignation). “It is like placing an obstacle before the blind” (Sanh. 59a; ?ag. 13a). And yet if a Gentile study the Law for the purpose of observing the moral laws of Noah, R. Meïr says he is as good as a high priest, and quotes: “Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments, which if a man do, he shall live in them” (Lev. xviii. 5). The text does not specify an Israelite or a Levite or a priest, but simply “a man”—even a Gentile (‘Ab. Zarah 26a).
Resh La?ish (d. 278) said, “A Gentile observing the Sabbath deserves death” (Sanh. 58b). This refers to a Gentile who accepted the seven laws of the Noachidæ, inasmuch as “the Sabbath is a sign between God and Israel alone,” and it was probably directed against the Christian Jews, who disregarded the Mosaic laws and yet at that time kept up the observance of the Jewish Sabbath. Rabbina, who lived about 150 years after the Christians had changed the day of rest to Sunday, could not quite understand the principle underlying Resh La?ish’s law, and, commenting upon it, added: “not even on Mondays [is the Gentile allowed to rest]”; intimating that the mandate given to the Noachidæ that “day and night shall not cease” (=”have no rest “) should be taken in a literal sense (Gen. viii. 22)—probably to discourage general idleness (ib. Rashi), or for the more plausible reason advanced by Maimonides, who says: “The principle is, one is not permitted to make innovations in religion or to create new commandments. He has the privilege to become a true proselyte by accepting the whole Law” (“Yad,” Melakim, x. 9). R. Emden (), in a remarkable apology for Christianity contained in his appendix to “Seder ‘Olam” (pp. 32b-34b, Hamburg, 1752), gives it as his opinion that the original intention of Jesus, and especially of Paul, was to convert only the Gentiles to the seven moral laws of Noah and to let the Jews follow the Mosaic law—which explains the apparent contradictions in the New Testament regarding the laws of Moses and the Sabbath.
Present Status of the Gentile.
With the conversion of the Gentile to Christianity or to Islam, the heathen and pagan of the civilized or semi-civilized world has become almost extinct, and the restrictions placed on the ancient Gentile are not applicable to the Gentile of the present day, except in so far as to consider him a Noachian observingall moral laws, in contradistinction to the Jew, who as one of the chosen people observes in addition the Mosaic laws. That the laws against the Gentile as a barbarian were not entirely expunged from the rabbinic literature after the advent of Christianity, was due to the persecutions and the barbaric treatment of the Jews in the Middle Ages. The gradual decrease of animosity may, however, be noted by comparing the various codes and collections of responsa. For example, that a Jewish physician should be forbidden to offer his services to a Gentile was contrary to the general practise of the Jews in the Middle Ages. Maimonides himself became the physician of Sultan Saladin in Egypt. The prohibition against the employment of a Gentile nurse or midwife “except a Jewess stands by her” was modified by an eminent authority with “so long as there is a Jew living in that town who is liable to come into the house” (Moses of Coucy, “Semag,” § 45). That no such distinction exists anywhere nowadays is an acknowledged fact, proving conclusively that the Rabbis regulate their decisions in accordance with the spirit of the Jewish law.
end quote
http://qumran.com/do_not_study_torah_gentile.htm



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Brendan Flaherty

posted May 22, 2009 at 10:21 pm


Dear Brian,
I have both the the Steinsaltz and Soncino editions of tractate Sanhedrin and their respective commentaries here in front of me. The Mishneh Torah editions which I referenced above are a short drive away. Babylonian Talmud, tractate Sanhedrin is an (very) authoritative text within rabbinic Judaism. The Jewish Encyclopedia (which you cite above) is a fairly good reference, but it’s not authoritative.
The relevant halakhah (law) from Babylonian Talmud, tractate Sanhedrin 59a is as follows:
“A non-Jew is only permitted to engage in Torah study in order to learn about the seven Noahide laws. If he studies other laws and commandments he is liable to the death penalty at the hands of Heaven.”
The gemara explains Rabbi Meir’s opinion (not law) that “a non-Jew who studies Torah is like a High Priest” in the context of this halakhah:
“There in the Baraita Rabbi Meir is referring to a non-Jew who studies the seven Noahide Laws that non-Jews are obligated to observe. He indeed is worthy of praise. But a non-Jew is forbidden to study the rest of the Torah, as was argued by Rabbi Yohanan.”(Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 59a, Steinsaltz edition, vol. XVIII, p.128)



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Brendan Flaherty

posted May 23, 2009 at 11:29 am


Brian Beckman writes: “… I share Shabbat and other events with my Orthodox Jewish friends.”
As alluded to in the the Jewish Encyclopedia article you supplied above, Halakha forbids Noahides not only from observing the rabbinic Sabbath, they’re forbidden from even having a day of rest:
“The Gemara now returns to the laws applying to non-Jews: Resh Lakish said: if a non-Jew ceased working for a whole day he is liable for execution, as the verse states (Genesis 8:22): ‘While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.’ A Jew is commanded to observe a weekly day of rest, but a non-Jew is forbidden to cease working for an entire day. And it was stated above (57a): Wherever the Torah imposed a prohibition on non-Jews, the punishment for violating that prohibition is execution.” (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 58b, Steinsaltz edition, vol. XVIII, p.127)



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Brian Beckman

posted May 25, 2009 at 10:56 am


With regard to Rabbi Yochannan’s prohibitions, it would seem that “to learn about the seven laws” alludes to intention and does not close off any particular parts of the Torah, especially in light of Deuteronomy 31:12 ???? ??-???, ?????? ?????? ????, ????, ??? ??????–???? ????? ????? ?????, ????? ??-???? ??????, ????? ?????, ??-??-???? ????? ????. which commands that the gentiles traveling with the Israelites assemble with them and hear “All the words of this Torah.”
With regard to gentiles and improper over-observance of Shabbat, I’m reminded of a story wherein a frequent gentile visitor to the Shabbat table of a learned man would allay the suspicions of other devout Jewish guests by the simple expedient of lighting a match, avoiding any embarrassment to his host in the process.



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Ike

posted May 25, 2009 at 12:08 pm


Dear Dr. Beckman,
Having read your comments posted on David Klinghoffer’s blog, I am sorry to advise you of your misconceptions regarding Torah and the Noachide Laws.
“If a Noahite is striving in the learning of Torah… reveals new aspects of Torah, he may be physically restrained and informed that he is liable for capital punishment… If the court that is established in consonance with the Seven Universal Laws gives the death penalty to a Noahite, the execution is an atonement for the person’s past transgression… Furthermore, the Noahite must experience reincarnation to be able to atone for transgressions he has done.” Chaim Clorfene & Yakov Rogalsky, “The Path of the Righteous Gentile: An Introduction to the Seven Laws of the children of Noah,” (Feldheim Publishers, 1987) p. 42 (The book bears an official letter of approval of its contents by Rabbi Mendel Feldman, Shearith Israel Congregation.)
“PHYSICALLY RESTRAINED”! “EXECUTION”!
“REINCARNATION”!!!
The serpent used sweet sounding words to seduce Eve in the Garden too. Do not be deceived by the rabbis’ sweet words about the Noachide Laws. They are not nearly as benevolent or benign as the rabbis’ marketing feigns.
Much like the word “Torah” makes a Christian wrongly think that the rabbis are referring to the Pentateuch, but actually refer to “Torah SheBeal Peh” (the Oral “Torah” that was later compiled into the Talmud and Kabbalistic books), Christians think that the “Noah” of “Noachide Law” is the biblical Noah, but wrong again. No, the Noah of the Noachide Law is most unbiblical, mocked in the rabbinical literature as an incompetent drunk incapable of fulfilling God’s commission, and who compounded the sin of Adam.
“Three had a passion of agriculture [N.B. farming is an occupation of disrepute in Judaism] and no good was found in them: Cain, Noah, and Uzziah.” Midrash Rabbah: Genesis I, translated by Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman (Soncino, 1983) vol. 1, p. 289.
“The rabbis teach that Noah ended as a castrate. One story has it that he was castrated by a lion while he was drunk and on his way to have intercourse and this `scattered his semen.’ Alternatively the Midrash says that it was actually Ham who castrated Noah, and that Noah told Ham, `You have prevented me from doing something in the dark [having sex], therefore your seed will be ugly and dark-skinned.'” [more on Maimonides’ racism later] Midrash Rabbah: Genesis I, translated by Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman (Soncino, 1983) vol. 1, p. 283.
“It is claimed that as `Noahides,’ these `good’ gentiles will not have to follow all the rules of the Talmud of Judaism, only the `Seven Laws of Noah.’ What they are not told is that in order to faithfully adhere to the so-called Seven Laws of Noah, the `righteous gentiles’ are obligated to suffer the prize indignity of submitting to rabbinic interpretations of those laws, which amount to an infinite number of glosses and explications running from here to eternity. A more accurate name for the heavy burdens with which these gullible gentiles are going to bind themselves would be the Seven Billion Noachide Laws…. Maimonides ruled that when a Judaic murders even a righteous gentile (a gentile who is a friend and ally of Judaism) the Judaic is not to be harmed: `A Jew who killed a righteous gentile is not executed in a court of law as it says (Exodus 21:14 `If a man shall act intentional against his fellow…’ (and a gentile is not considered a fellow) and even more so that he is not executed for killing an unrighteous gentile.’ (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Rotze’ach 2:11. The Judaic publishing company’s commentary accompanying the preceding teaching of Maimonides states that Jesus was an example of a min (plural: minim).” Michael Hoffman, Judaism Discovered: A Study of the Religion of Racism, Self-Worship, Superstition, and Deceit, ISBN 13: 9780970378453, pp. 496-499
The rabbis teach that Jesus Himself was an idolater [Sanhedrin 43a, 107b], even teaching such insanities as claiming that Jesus worshipped a brick. [Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 67a, 107b] There are, of course, other numerous scurrilous accusations against Jesus in the Talmud and rabbinical literature. Though the passages have been denied and expurgated Talmud editions have been published, often using code words for Jesus, Princeton Professor and Director of JUDAIC Studies Peter Schafer has examined dozens of Talmud editions in the original and vernacular languages. Schafer not only adduces the explicit references to Jesus of Nazareth, but he also traces the code words used in the Talmud editions expurgated and sanitized for Gentile consumption. Schafer traces from edition to tractate to folio how “Balaam,” “that man,” “the carpenter,” “ben Pandera” (son of Pandera), the blank spaces, and the rest of the code words refer to Jesus of Nazareth. In his book “Jesus in the Talmud” (ISBN 13: 978-0691129266) Schafer has affirmed that the Talmud teaches that that Jesus was an idolater [Sanhedrin 43a, 107b], was a “mamzer” [bastard] conceived adulterously in “niddah” [menstrual filth] by a Roman soldier named Pandera [Kallah 51a] of a whore [Sanhedrin 106a] and that He is now in Hell boiling in feces and, in some editions because Jesus is accused of sexual perversion, semen [Gittin 57a]. Schafer documents much more, including the Talmud claim that the Sanhedrin justly executed Jesus because he was an idolater [Sanhedrin 43a, 107b] who worshipped a brick [Sanhedrin 67a], even boasting that the Sanhedrin overcame Roman opposition to the execution of Jesus [Sanhedrin 43a].
In the context of Noachide Laws, why is this important? Because idoloaters are liable for execution under halacha, Torah Law.
Practicing Christians worship Jesus as True God and True man, hence, under Torah law, are idolaters liable for execution. Care to cut your own throat by embracing “Noachide Law”?
“The Christians are idolaters, and Sunday is their holiday…” [Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Avodah Zorah, 9;4]
“The Christians are worshipers of Avodah Zorah [“idolatry”]” [Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Ma’akhalot Assurot, 11:7]
“It is a mitzvah [religious duty], however, to eradicate Jewish traitors, minim [Christians], and apikorsim, [“heretics,” that is, sincere Jewish converts to Christianity] and to cause them to descend to the pit of destruction, since they cause difficulty to the Jews and sway the people away from God, as did Jesus of Nazareth and his students, and Tzadok, Baithos, and their students. May the name of the wicked rot.” [Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Chapter 10]
“… a gentile who worships false gods is liable, [for the death penalty] provided he worships them in the accepted manner [in other words, insincere worship such as (1) the mere appearance of worshipping to obtain business or social advantage, as the Marranos, or (2) denying Jesus’ divinity, does not earn the death penalty] . A gentile is executed for every type of foreign worship which a Jewish court would consider worthy of capital punishment.” [Maimonides, Hilchot Melachim XI, Mishneh Torah]
The Jewish Encyclopedia affirms that the punishment for Christian “idolatry” is beheading: “Laws, Noachian,” Jewish Encyclopedia entry, http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=113&letter=L
Now, more detail regarding Torah.
“This is not an uncommon impression and one finds it sometimes among Jews as well as Christians – that Judaism is the religion of the Hebrew Bible. It is, of course, a fallacious impression. Judaism is not the religion of the Bible.” [Rabbi Ben Zion Bokser, Judaism and the Christian Predicament, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1967, p.59, 159]
“The Jewish religion as it is today traces its descent, without a break, through all the centuries, from the Pharisees. Their leading ideas and methods found expression in a literature of enormous extent, of which a very great deal is still in existence. The Talmud is the largest and most important single member of that literature, and round it are gathered a number of Midrashim, partly legal (Halachic) and partly works of edification (Haggadic). This literature, in its oldest elements, goes back to a time before the beginning of the Common Era, and comes down into the Middle Ages. Through it all run the lines of thought which were first drawn by the Pharisees, and the study of it is essential for any real understanding of Pharisaism.” [Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. 3 pg. 474]
“Pharisaism became Talmudism, Talmudism became Medieval Rabbinism, and Medieval Rabbinism became Modern Rabbinism. But throughout these changes of name, inevitable adaptation of custom, and adjustment of Law, the spirit of the ancient Pharisee survives unaltered.” [Rabbi Dr. Finkelstein, The Pharisees: The Sociological Background of Their Faith, pg. xxi]
“The Talmud is the written form of that which in the time of Jesus, was called the ‘Tradition of the Elders,’ and to which He makes frequent allusions.” [Michael L. Rodkinson, The History of the Talmud: From The Time Of Its Formation About 200 B. C. Up To The Present Time, Kessinger Publishing, LLC (June 8, 2006), ISBN-13: 978-1428631366, p.70]
Don’t get suckered into one of the oldest rabbinical tricks, the claim that the Talmud is based on “Torah.” A Christian assumes that “Torah” = Pentateuch, but there’s the trick. In Judaism there are at least FIVE definitions of Torah. Here’s the proof:
Please note FOUR definitions of Torah in the Jewish Encyclopedia’s entry on Torah:
“Originally, in order to maintain the distinction between the written Torah (see written law) and various traditional interpretations, customs and practices, the rabbis forbade the commitment to writing of the additional material. However, when it became too voluminous and chaotic conditions made oral transmission too uncertain, the ban was lifted and the material organized and transcribed in the form of the Mishnah, the Talmud, and other rabbinic works. The rabbis expressed their view that ‘two Torahs’ were given at Sinai, a Written Torah [Torah She Bich Tav, DEFINITION #1] and an Oral Torah [Torah SheBeal Peh, DEFINITION #2] (see oral law) and that at least some of the oral traditions relating to the meaning of basic biblical concepts were as authoritative as the written text (see halakah le-mosheh mi-sinai) In a sense the Oral Torah came to be regarded as more important than the Written Torah inasmuch as the explanations and understanding of the latter depended upon the former. A third meaning of the word ‘Torah’ therefore includes elements of the Oral Torah, which are considered authoritative or deoraita —‘from the Torah.’ Finally in its broadest sense, the word ‘Torah’ is sometimes used to refer to the entire corpus of Halacha and Aggadah, [DEFINITION #3] Written and Oral, from the Bible up to and including the latest Responsa and homiletical interpretations of the rabbis [DEFINITION #4]….” [The New Encyclopedia of Judaism, Geoffrey Wigoder editor in Chief, New York: New York University Press, 2002, ISBN 0814793996, page 778]
Please note a FIFTH definition of Torah according to the Holy Father’s favorite rabbi, “a great scholar” [Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, p.71]:
“… The rabbi constituted the projection of the divine on earth. Honor was due him more than to the scroll of the Torah, for through his learning and logic he might alter the very content of Mosaic revelation. He was Torah [DEFINITION #5], not merely because he lived by it, but because at his best he constituted as compelling an embodiment of the heavenly model as did a Torah scroll itself.” [Rabbi Jacob Neusner, “The Phenomenon of the Rabbi in Late Antiquity: II The Ritual of ‘Being a Rabbi’ in Later Sasanian Babylonia,” Numen, Vol.17, Fasc. 1., Feb., 1970, pp.3-4]
It gets worse because these “Torah” are on an ever-widening trajectory from God. Consider explicit corollaries of the great scholar’s presumption that, because the rabbis are divine, they can “alter the very content of Mosaic revelation.”
“…the Babylonian Talmud represents God in the flesh…” Rabbi Jacob Neusner, Rabbinic Judaism, Minneapolis MN: Augsburg Fortress, 1995. p. 62
“The Bavli [Babylonian Talmud] has formed the definitive statement of Judaism from the time of its closure to the present day.” Rabbi Jacob Neusner, quoted by Norman F. Cantor, The Sacred Chain: A History of the Jews, page 112)
The occultic portion of the Talmud, the Kabala, at Tikkunei Zohar 1:27b refers to the Mishnah of the Talmud as “the burial place of Moses.” The reference is an apt double entendre because the Talmud at Shabbat 15 teaches that it supersedes and nullifies the Old Testament, so “buries” the Pentateuch of Moses.
“Think not that I will accuse you to the Father: There is one that accuseth you, Moses, in whom you trust. For if you did believe in Moses, you would perhaps believe me also; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” John 5:43-47
Since converts from Judaism revealed the foundational teachings of Judaism, much effort has been invested in sanitizing vernacular translations of the Talmud.
These sanitized editions are useful to the rabbis: “See it’s not there.” Or “The tractate is about ‘Balaam'”
In the sanitized Talmud editions numerous code word substitutions are used for Christians (min, Cuthean, Egyptian, Epicurean, etc.) and Jesus of Nazareth (“that man,” “the carpenter,” “Balaam,” “ben Pandera, a reference to the Talmud’s teaching that Jesus was the b-stard of a wh-re who committed adultery with a Roman soldier named Pandera, and even blank spaces).
Pursuing the anti-Biblical nature of Judaism and its Talmud:
“On the surface, Scripture plays little role in the Mishanaic system, The Mishnah [of the Talmud] rarely cites a verse of Scripture, refers to Scripture as an entity, links its own ideas to those of Scripture, or lays claim to originate in what Scripture has said, even by indirect or remote allusion to a Scriptural verse of teaching… Formally, redactionally, and linguistically the Mishnah stands in splendid isolation from Scripture….the Mishnah constitutes Torah. [definition #2 ‘Written Torah’] It too is a statement of revelation, ‘Torah revealed to Moses at Sinai.’ But this part of revelation has come down in a form different from the well-known, written part, the Scripture. This tradition truly deserves the name ‘tradition,’ because for a long time it was handed down orally, not in writing, until given the written formulation now before us in the Mishnah…. Since some of the named authorities in the chain of tradition appear throughout the materials of the Mishnah, the claim is that what these people say comes to them from Sinai through the processes of qabbalah and massoret –handing down ‘traditioning.’ So the reason… that the Mishnah does not cite Scripture is that it does not have to.” [Rabbi Jacob Neusner, The Mishnah: A New Translation. New Haven CT: Yale University Press, 1988. pp. xxxv-xxxvi].
Note the casual admission that both “qabbalah and massoret [the vaunted, but bowdlerized, ‘Hebrew Bible’]” change Scripture through “process,” “traditioning.” In Judaism tradition is not fixed or faithful, but is an ever-changing “process” that is described as “traditioning.” This is why “the latest Responsa and homiletical interpretations of the rabbis” are Torah, [definition #4] hence authoritative in Judaism.
Indeed all this oral “traditioning” is precisely what Jesus fingered as “make void the commandments of God for the traditions of men.” [Mark 7:9]. Since the rabbis are free to “alter even the very content of Mosaic revelation” with impunity, we begin to understand why Jesus said, “there is one that accuseth you, Moses” [John 5:45-47].
Do not be misled by a rabbi’s mere mention of the word Torah. You must pin him down: “Which ‘Torah’?” Then watch out for the pilpul, mental reservations, and Kol Nidre deceit that will inevitably follow.
As to David Klinghoffer’s faulty exegeses, see Dr. Robert Sungenis’ analysis of Klinghoffer’s glossing over the recurrent disobedience of the Israelites.
“One would think that Klinghoffer would mention, for example, the horrendous sins the Jews committed at the very time they were receiving the Mosaic covenant from God. The story is told in graphic detail in Exodus 32-33. While Moses is up in the mountain to receive the Covenant from God, the Jews decide to create a false god made of gold. God is so angry at the Jews, He wants to destroy the whole nation right then and there (which, according to Num. 1:32, is approximately 1-2 million people). If not for Moses’ pleading with God, Israel would have breathed its last breath at Sinai. In fact, God was so angry that when Moses later asks God to go with them through the desert to Canaan, God refuses, citing the fact that if He goes he might destroy the Jews! It isn’t until Moses pleads once more that God decides to go, but only because he favors Moses, not the Jews at large (Ex. 33:1-11). After this incident, things were never quite the same between God and the Jews. For the next forty years God made them wander aimlessly, literally having them travel in circles in the Sinai desert. While they were wandering, one might think the Jews would be in a state of remorse and repentance after having almost lost their lives at Sinai. But that was not the case. Time after time the Jews continued to disobey the Covenant and incite the wrath of God. From the complaining against the manna (Num. 11), to the murmuring of Aaron and Miriam (Num. 12), to the rejection of Canaan and desire for Egypt (Num. 13-14); to the rebellion of Nadab and Abihu (Ex 10); to Korah’s rebellion (Num. 16); to the sexual lust at Peor (Num. 25), the sins never stopped. So numerous and persistent are the sins that Moses makes a dire prediction in Deut. 31:14-21 just prior to Canaan, stating that, based on its past history, Israel will continue to break the covenant and bring down God’s wrath. And that they did. In the time of the Judges, for 75% of the four centuries (1400-1000 BC), God put the Jews under oppression from foreign rulers as punishment for their continual sins. In the time of the Kings, in a span of four more centuries (1000-600 BC), almost every one of the kings earned the same obituary: ‘and he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and followed the sins of his father, with which he made Israel to sin, and so the anger of the Lord was kindled against them.’ Of the northern tribe’s twenty kings, all twenty were said to be evil. Of the southern tribe’s twenty kings, only three were good. Hence, of forty kings in four centuries, only 7.5% had not broken the Covenant. The Mosaic law was not even a part of their lives for centuries, having only been discovered by Hilkiah (2Chr. 34:14) in the reign of Josiah (641-609 BC). Of the people themselves, the percentages of covenant breakers were even worse. Out of a nation of at least 5 million people in the ninth century BC, Elijah could only find 7000 who have not bowed the knee to a false god (1Kings 19:18), an astounding statistic of only 0.14% of the people. The northern tribes were carted off to Assyria for their punishment, never to be heard from again; and the two southern tribes were carted off to Babylon. When they returned from captivity under Ezra and Nehemiah, things didn’t improve much at all. By the time of the Maccabees and on to the formation of sects such as the Pharisees and Sadducees, the Jews are quibbling about the minutia of the law but still haven’t learned to obey the precepts of the law. It was after this, the culmination of 1500 years of sin and rebellion, that even Yahweh Himself, the epitome of long suffering and patience, could not put up with the Jews any longer. It was Yahweh in Exodus 32:9 who had resolved even then in Jewish history: ‘I have seen this people, and behold, they are a stiff-necked people.’ Lo and behold, it was the same thing that Stephen saw 1500 years later when he told the Jews in Jerusalem of their continual breaking of the Covenant (Acts 7:51-53):
You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.
“All one need do to confirm Stephen’s story is read the prophets. Just the book of Jeremiah will do, for it is where we derive the term “jeremiad.” Page after page is filled with nothing but heart-wrenching words right from the mouth of God who is in utter consternation and sadness over the pernicious rebellion and disgusting immorality of the Jews. In Ezekiel and Hosea, Israel is called nothing short of a whore who can’t keep her legs shut for any passer-by who whistles at her (cf. Ezek. 16, 23; Hos. 1-2). But you will get none of this in Klinghoffer’s book. There is hardly a hint that the Jews of bygone days had sinned grievously, much less sinned to the extent that God was forced to annul the Covenant that Klinghoffer finds so crucial to Jewish identity and survival today.” Robert Sungenis PhD, A Review of David Klinghoffer’s: “Why the Jews Rejected Jesus”
http://www.catholicintl.com/bookreviews/A_Review_of_David_Klinghoffer.pdf
I hope this gives you serious pause so that you are duly wary of taking falsified exegesis and falsified history at face value.
I exhort you to return to your roots in traditional Catholicism, not to be confused with the Judaized Novus Ordo.
May the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts hold you close and may the Holy Ghost flood you with His sevenfold gifts,
Ike



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Ike

posted May 25, 2009 at 12:13 pm


The poor quality of Klinghoffer’s exegesis and reasoning is exposed well:
“One would think that Klinghoffer would mention, for example, the horrendous sins the Jews committed at the very time they were receiving the Mosaic covenant from God. The story is told in graphic detail in Exodus 32-33. While Moses is up in the mountain to receive the Covenant from God, the Jews decide to create a false god made of gold. God is so angry at the Jews, He wants to destroy the whole nation right then and there (which, according to Num. 1:32, is approximately 1-2 million people). If not for Moses’ pleading with God, Israel would have breathed its last breath at Sinai. In fact, God was so angry that when Moses later asks God to go with them through the desert to Canaan, God refuses, citing the fact that if He goes he might destroy the Jews! It isn’t until Moses pleads once more that God decides to go, but only because he favors Moses, not the Jews at large (Ex. 33:1-11). After this incident, things were never quite the same between God and the Jews. For the next forty years God made them wander aimlessly, literally having them travel in circles in the Sinai desert. While they were wandering, one might think the Jews would be in a state of remorse and repentance after having almost lost their lives at Sinai. But that was not the case. Time after time the Jews continued to disobey the Covenant and incite the wrath of God. From the complaining against the manna (Num. 11), to the murmuring of Aaron and Miriam (Num. 12), to the rejection of Canaan and desire for Egypt (Num. 13-14); to the rebellion of Nadab and Abihu (Ex 10); to Korah’s rebellion (Num. 16); to the sexual lust at Peor (Num. 25), the sins never stopped. So numerous and persistent are the sins that Moses makes a dire prediction in Deut. 31:14-21 just prior to Canaan, stating that, based on its past history, Israel will continue to break the covenant and bring down God’s wrath. And that they did. In the time of the Judges, for 75% of the four centuries (1400-1000 BC), God put the Jews under oppression from foreign rulers as punishment for their continual sins. In the time of the Kings, in a span of four more centuries (1000-600 BC), almost every one of the kings earned the same obituary: ‘and he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and followed the sins of his father, with which he made Israel to sin, and so the anger of the Lord was kindled against them.’ Of the northern tribe’s twenty kings, all twenty were said to be evil. Of the southern tribe’s twenty kings, only three were good. Hence, of forty kings in four centuries, only 7.5% had not broken the Covenant. The Mosaic law was not even a part of their lives for centuries, having only been discovered by Hilkiah (2Chr. 34:14) in the reign of Josiah (641-609 BC). Of the people themselves, the percentages of covenant breakers were even worse. Out of a nation of at least 5 million people in the ninth century BC, Elijah could only find 7000 who have not bowed the knee to a false god (1Kings 19:18), an astounding statistic of only 0.14% of the people. The northern tribes were carted off to Assyria for their punishment, never to be heard from again; and the two southern tribes were carted off to Babylon. When they returned from captivity under Ezra and Nehemiah, things didn’t improve much at all. By the time of the Maccabees and on to the formation of sects such as the Pharisees and Sadducees, the Jews are quibbling about the minutia of the law but still haven’t learned to obey the precepts of the law. It was after this, the culmination of 1500 years of sin and rebellion, that even Yahweh Himself, the epitome of long suffering and patience, could not put up with the Jews any longer. It was Yahweh in Exodus 32:9 who had resolved even then in Jewish history: ‘I have seen this people, and behold, they are a stiff-necked people.’ Lo and behold, it was the same thing that Stephen saw 1500 years later when he told the Jews in Jerusalem of their continual breaking of the Covenant (Acts 7:51-53):
You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.
“All one need do to confirm Stephen’s story is read the prophets. Just the book of Jeremiah will do, for it is where we derive the term “jeremiad.” Page after page is filled with nothing but heart-wrenching words right from the mouth of God who is in utter consternation and sadness over the pernicious rebellion and disgusting immorality of the Jews. In Ezekiel and Hosea, Israel is called nothing short of a whore who can’t keep her legs shut for any passer-by who whistles at her (cf. Ezek. 16, 23; Hos. 1-2). But you will get none of this in Klinghoffer’s book. There is hardly a hint that the Jews of bygone days had sinned grievously, much less sinned to the extent that God was forced to annul the Covenant that Klinghoffer finds so crucial to Jewish identity and survival today.” Robert Sungenis PhD, A Review of David Klinghoffer’s: “Why the Jews Rejected Jesus”
http://www.catholicintl.com/bookreviews/A_Review_of_David_Klinghoffer.pdf



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David Klinghoffer

posted May 26, 2009 at 2:15 am


I have not followed this exchange with “Ike” in enough detail to weigh in as I might otherwise like but I did note that Ike cites as authoritative the view of one “Dr.” Robert Sungenis. That person presides over an anti-Semitic website that also runs to conspiracy theories such as that the Boy Scouts have been infiltrated by the Freemasons. Enough said? This fact alone, to my mind, automatically casts into doubt any opinion Ike may offer. People like this should simply be ignored, not engaged.



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Brendan Flaherty

posted May 28, 2009 at 3:57 pm


Dear David,
According to the rabbis’ “Noahide Laws” non-Jews should be subject to a “justice” system of double standards terribly rigged against them. Enough said? This fact alone, to my mind, automatically casts into doubt any opinion “Noahide Law” proponents may offer.
“A non-Jew is put to death on the basis of a decision given by one judge [no jury], and on the basis of testimony given by a single witness, and even if he was not given a proper warning prior to the commission of his offense. He is put to death on the basis of testimony and a decision given by a man but not on the basis of testimony and a decision given by a woman, and the man who testified or decided against him can even be a relative.
“A Jew can only be put to death by a court of twenty-three judges, and on the basis of the testimony of two male witnesses who are not disqualified from testifying on account of kinship, and after being properly warned against committing the transgression. But none of these rules apply in the case of a non-Jew.” (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 57b, Steinsaltz edition, vol.18, page 110)
Is this kind of lunacy worthy of serious consideration in your mind?



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Michael

posted June 13, 2009 at 12:50 am


I, like Dr. Beckman, have a scientific background (PhD, Tumor Immunology) although unlike him, I’ve never conducted scientific research (apart from Grad School). I went immediately into computer science and retired 5 years ago.
I am also a Christian (a confessional Lutheran, aka evangelical Catholic) and some years ago took up the study of Biblical Hebrew in order to read the Hebrew Bible in its [approximately] original form. As an aside, it was Mr. Klinghoffer’s book “Why the Jews Rejected Jesus”, among other influences (esp Dennis Prager and Paul Johnson’s magisterial “A History of the Jews”), that motivated me to start this journey. Anyway, what began as an intellectual exercise has, in more ways that I can count, changed my life immeasurably.
Needless to say, I identify with Dr. Beckman very strongly. He is the first Christian I’ve heard of who, like me, has made the teachings of the Hebrew Scriptures an integral part of his faith. By integral I really mean to say that without the lessons of the Torah, the prophets, the psalms, etc., mine would be a distant, intellectualized faith. The Hebrew Bible is, when all is said and done, an up close and deeply personal experience of God.
I want to say just a bit more about this business of faith because a close and continuing study of the Hebrew scriptures has changed my faith (for the better, I hope). The kind of faith “that counts” is well expressed in Gen 15:6. Here, the verb used to describe Abraham’s faith, “ehmin” (root “ahman”), is used in the Hiphal form. In this form the verb may be more accurately represented as a certainty of belief. For example, I translate this verse as…
“And he was certain of the LORD; and the LORD regarded him as righteous”.
In other words, Abraham didn’t just believe in God. He was certain of God in the way we are certain that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning. Abraham’s faith was not a faith in something possible. His was not a faith based on hope or something hopefully true. Abraham’s was the faith of certitude. Think of the faith many voters placed in Barack Obama, i.e., a hope masquerading as faith. That’s the kind of faith against which Abraham’s stands and that I had prior to beginning my study of the Hebrew Scriptures.
Best of luck to you Dr. Beckman and God bless you and yours.
Michael



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Michael

posted June 13, 2009 at 1:25 am


I’d like to quibble just a bit with this statement of Dr. Beckman’s (as quoted in the original post):
>In that light, Jesus’ resurrection changed
>everything and the Old Law doesn’t apply
>any more…
I do not believe this is correct. The Lutheran catechism doesn’t teach this and I’m reasonably certain the Roman Magisterium doesn’t teach this either.
My understanding (and I would be delighted to be corrected) is that the way Dr. Beckman’s thought is phrased is explicitly antinomian. That the Old Law no longer applied to Christians was one of the first heresies to be repudiated by the Church fathers.
A better way to think of this might be as follows:
For Christians, obedience to the Law is not salvific by which St. Paul simply meant that obedience was not redemptive. But, he never said we were not to obey the Law. In fact, obedience to the Law is just as important.
For example, Jesus echoing Deut 6:5, says that our highest priority is to love God. Well, when we preempt God’s ethical demands with ethical demands of a different source, we violate Deut 6:5 and Jesus’s own teaching.
This means, I think, that our love for God must command our highest priority and when we elevate, say, secular-based ethics above that of God’s we commit idolatry. In other words, we might not be able to get into heaven by our works, but our disobedience can surely keep us out.
God’s peace to you all,



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JW

posted July 31, 2009 at 7:34 am


David Klinghoffer’s comments about Sungenis are beneath contempt. Sungenis has produced a serious and thorough review and is unarguably a more knowledgeable biblical scholar than Klinghoffer.
Instead of responding to the many points Sungenis makes in a serious review (the only really thorough one I have seen) decides to focus on extraneous issues about what may (or may not – NB no reference given) be on Sungenis’ website. Whatever the truth of the matter Klinghoffer needs to rebut serious criticism. He hasn’t yet and his apparent refusal to do so suggests that his book Why the Jews Rejected Jesus is worthless as scholarship. If he wishes to do otherwise he can – I for one would welcome a serious attempt being made by Klinghoffer. If he doesn’t make such an attempt then I will have to assume that Sungenis and others take his work more seriously than he does. Over to you Mr Klinghoffer.



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Richard Mather

posted August 16, 2014 at 2:34 am


The Seven Noahide Laws are really category headings for dozens of commandments. Rabbi Samuel ben Hofni (died 1034) enumerates 30 commandments, while Rabbi Menachem Azaria de Fano (1548-1620)enumerates a slightly different set of 30 laws. Other rabbinic sources count 66 subdivisions of the 7 Noahide commandments.



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