Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests

Rabbi Riskin on “Rabbi Jesus”

Wow, you must watch this video in which Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, an Orthodox rabbi, praises “Rabbi Jesus.” He subsequently has clarified (h/t Hirhurium) that his comments were “carelessly edited” — shrewdly edited, might be more like it, to give emphasis to one thread in Rabbi Riskin’s discussion. Be that as it may, what Riskin says is remarkable and plausible to me, though he goes farther than I ever have done, even in my recent “Jewish Case for Christmas” post. 

My personal view, as I wrote in Why the Jews Rejected Jesus, is that there’s no sure way of recovering the authentic, historical Jesus from the Gospels and any attempt to do so runs the risks of simply finding what you want to find. It makes more sense to read the Gospels and Paul and take them at face value, as representing a unified teaching in competition in interesting ways with Orthodox Judaism. 
Speaking of which, I’ve been rereading Matthew recently. Quite an amazing book. The main theme, as I see it, more than anything else, is a critique of Jewish hypocrisy and much of it rings true on that count. Judaism at its worst is very much as Matthew describes it.
However, Christianity at its worst has historically been a far, far more terrible thing — “terrifying” might be the right word — without any parallel whatsoever in Jewish history. Which leaves us with the enigma of what God really intended in watering the plant that grew into the various Christian churches. If God has a plan, than Jesus must somehow be part of it. That’s the enigma I sought to address in my aforementioned pre-Christmas post
Comments read comments(17)
post a comment

posted December 31, 2009 at 9:57 pm

In my opinion, the critical problem with the statement by R’ Riskin (which isn’t really fixed in his clarification) is that he fails to acknowledge that the primary distinction between Christianity and Judaism is that Christianity worships a human being as God, which Judaism considers utterly forbidden.
All the issues of the identity of the Messiah, and did he come once already, and such are minor issues by comparison.
As I already commented on the Hirhurim blog, the difficulty R’ Riskin is facing is that he is trying to establish common ground with Christians against Islam, but, theologically speaking, Judaism actually has more in common with Islam than Christianity. This is one of the great ironies of the world we live in.

report abuse


posted January 1, 2010 at 2:26 am

Here is the raw truth. The reason the Jews reject Jesus is the same reason they reject the New Testament, namely, Jesus was persecuted and killed by Jews, which is brought out on several occasions in the bible and in movies.
Its sad that Jews should see Jesus as the enemy and hate him the way they do, as Jesus came and died for Jews too (even the ones that hated him). On the cross, Jesus “forgave” the very ones that persecuted and killed him. Truth is, Jews can and will benefit from the sacrifice Jesus gave. He gave this sacrifice for “the whole world”, yes he dies fou, meaning all mankind, including Jews.
PS: Not a christian, however I did study Theology

report abuse


posted January 1, 2010 at 5:51 pm

LazerA wrote:
“the primary distinction between Christianity and Judaism is that Christianity worships a human being as God”
Not to put to fine a distinction on this statement, but a more correct description would be that Christians believe that God became human for a short time and that, according to human custom, was named Jesus. That human NO LONGER exists. Today, Christians believe that “Jesus” is simply the name for one of the many roles that God plays in the Christian life.
When Christians worship Jesus, they believe that they are worshipping the one, eternal God of Israel. The use of the name ‘Jesus’ is an historical convenience.

report abuse


posted January 1, 2010 at 6:03 pm

I’m not sure many religious Jews (apart from Bible Scholars and Theologians) are aware that in the last 30 years or so, the writings of Paul as a rejection of Judaism is now in serious question.
A substantial number of scholars now hold that Paul DID NOT reject Judaism as a legalistic, ritualized religion. The view these scholars hold (called “The New Perspective on Paul”) is that Torah obedience DOES matter for one’s salvation and, when one examines the Pauline corpus in light of Paul’s Jewish context, one concludes that the writings of Paul and the Torah of Jesus are much more in line with 1st century Judaism.
Anyway, I hope you might take a look at
Blessings to you and yours,

report abuse

What's Good for the Goose

posted January 1, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Well, I think the Canaanites were pretty terrified. Israel and Jews never had the power to be that terrifying thereafter.

report abuse

Anders Branderud

posted January 2, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Shalom David Klinghoffer,
You wrote: “My personal view, as I wrote in Why the Jews Rejected Jesus, is that there’s no sure way of recovering the authentic, historical Jesus from the Gospels and any attempt to do so runs the risks of simply finding what you want to find. ”
A logical analysis (found here: of the earliest manusscripts (including the logical implications of the research by Ben-Gurion Univ. Prof. of Linguistics Elisha Qimron of Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT) of “Matthew”, implies that Ribi Yehoshua was a Perushi (Pharisee). Ribi Yehoshua was called a Ribi and only the Perushim had Ribis.
This implies that Ribi Yehoshua cannot have uttered all the words found in “Matthew” and that a reconstruction is necessary.
Paqid Yirmeyahu Ben Dawid has reconstructed the teachings of Ribi Yehoshua using a logical and scientific methodology, excluding everything Ribi Yehoshua impossibly could have said being a Perushi. The reconstruction is named “Netzarim Reconstruction of Hebrew Matityahu”.
If Ribi Yehoshua would have taught against Torah he would have lost his semikhah immediately. There are no proofs that he taught against Torah.
You wrote: “Which leaves us with the enigma of what God really intended in watering the plant that grew into the various Christian churches. ”
The historical documents proves that Netzarim, the followers of Ribi Yehoshua, was in good standing in the Perushim-community all of their lifetime. This implies that they rejected all Christian doctrines. This implies that Christianity and Netzarim always have been two separated moments. You will find more documentation about this in the above website; “History Museum”.
The historical Ribi Yehoshua has led many persons to Torah. And now when his teachings are reconstructed, many people are led to Torah, because of his teachings. I am one of them. I am an ex-Christian, who found the website of Netzarim, and rejected Christanity and its anti-Torah doctrines; and started to adhere to Torah including Halakhah non-selectively.
You also wrote this: “And maybe that is God’s plan. Jesus spoke to his followers of their being “the light of the world,” and advised, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 16). As an Orthodox Jew, I’m not unaware that this is exactly what God asked the Jews to be.”
One very important Tan”kh-teaching Netzarim (the only legitimate Netzarim is in Ra’anana in Israel led by Paqid Yirmeyahu Ben Dawid) adhere to is that we adhere to what Tan’’kh teaches about geirim and goyim. That is, according to Tan’’kh, goyim are not included in ha-berit with ha-Sheim. Benei Noakh are according to Tan’’kh equivalent to goyim. And the fate of goyim is easily found by researching all of the instances of the word goyim found in a concordance; it is not ha-olam haba.
In the website of Netzarim there is a logical proof that ha-Sheim require that all of humankind (click for example on the “Jew”-page in should follow Torah; and in our website it is also demonstrated in the “History Museum” (then click the Benei Noakh-section) that this is what ha-Sheim require. Because of this I spend a big amount of time doing qiruv to Christians, giving them good arguments for becoming non-selective observers of Torah (which will include for them to stop with their idolatry and leaving their religion).
???? ???
Anders Branderud

report abuse


posted January 2, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Michael: [A] more correct description would be that Christians believe that God became human for a short time and that, according to human custom, was named Jesus. That human NO LONGER exists.
Unfortunately, Michael, this is an egregiously incorrect interpretation of orthodox Christian doctrine. When the Second Person of the Trinity became human as Jesus of Nazareth, the Divine was eternally bonded to humanity. To say that Jesus is “simply the name for one of the many roles that God plays in the Christian life,” is the old heresy of modalism. When Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead, he continued to exist as Jesus, the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity. If this were not so, the Catholic and Orthodox teaching that he is present body and blood, soul and divinity, in the Eucharist would be unintelligible.
One may believe or disbelieve in Christ and the Christian teaching that he is God incarnate, but one needs to understand what Christians actually do believe.
On the other hand, I’d say that LazarA nails it exactly–this is indeed the gulf between Jewish and Christian belief, and the reason that Judaism is indeed more like Islam than like Christianity. One side or the other must be wrong–but pending the eschaton, there’s no way for either side to prove its case definitively to the other, so we must live with each other in peace until then.

report abuse


posted January 2, 2010 at 3:53 pm

“the primary distinction between Christianity and Judaism is that Christianity worships a human being as God”
Not to put to fine a distinction on this statement, but a more correct description would be that Christians believe that God became human for a short time and that, according to human custom, was named Jesus.

Neither of these statements is correct, although the first statement is more incorrect than the second. God didn’t “become” human in the view of most mainstream Christians; rather, Jesus was both fully divine and fully human. (Note the qualification “the view of most mainstream Christian.” If you step out of the mainstream, you can find some Gnostic sects with views very similar to that Michael expresses.)
However, Christianity at its worst has historically been a far, far more terrible thing — “terrifying” might be the right word — without any parallel whatsoever in Jewish history.
I’ll leave aside the opinion aspect of this comment, and focus on the fact component: “without any parallel whatsoever in Jewish history.” The scale may be smaller, but “without any parallel whatsoever”? Please. There are lots of parallels in Jewish history of all manner of barbarisms being committed on behalf of G-D. Lots of examples of purges, religion used for political ends, torture, etc., as well. The instinct to behave horribly is a human instinct, and no group of humans is immune.

report abuse

Marianne Winter

posted January 2, 2010 at 5:25 pm

I am a Christian who has great respect for Judaism. I shall add some reflections:
1) The Christians do not worship a human but the LOGOS Incarnate.
2) All religions have committed horrendous things in the name of God. It is so easy isn’t it – it seems to give a sort of immunity to atrocious behaviour, in our eyes – I am sure not in God’s
3)I was never taught that the Jews crucified Christ but that we all did. Golgatha is a very deep and complicated Cosmic act and to reduce it to an accusation is, apart from being a denial of forgiveness and of love by Christ to all humanity, absurd and superficial.
4) Christianity was not and is not a unified competition of Judaism – but the recognition of the event of the “I Am became Incarnate”. I have learnt much from Jews about respect for the Cosmos, God, respect for the individual and real responsible charity than from many others.
5) The four Gospels are very different. Mathew and St. Paul are not all there is to be said about the matter. Mathew is perhaps easier, St. John very mystic and Cosmic if you like (the first two verses of the first chapter come from the Veda and therefore the origins are Akashic) and St. Paul also has deep roots in ancient times. I cannot say too much or I shall be misunderstood.
6) I respect the openness that Judaism is showing to Christianity, the teachings of which have been and often are mutilated and manipulated for convenience or power, and consider that every Christian would learn a great deal to reciprocate in studying some Judaism. Christians sometimes become spiritually lazy, thinking that everything has been done for them – as if we are children. It is time we too grew up.

report abuse


posted January 2, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Genus claims to speak the “raw” truth.
At Merriam Websters, definition 4a, it says this for “RAW”:
4 a : lacking experience or understanding

report abuse


posted January 3, 2010 at 11:02 pm

I heard Rabbi Riskin this Shabbos at The Shul (Chabad) in Surfside, Florida. Personally, I found the general tone overly apologetic towards Chr-stians, and I believe that the room was generally skeptical, if not occasionally hostile. One particularly pointed moment was when Rabbi Sholom Dovber Lipskar said that it was obvious that Yoschka (Riskin refers to him as Yeshu ha notzri) was obviously chayav misa, which Rabbi Riskin did not agree with. Also, Rabbi Riskin made some very confusing comments about going into a church (!), which I think pretty all poskim agree is assur. To be fair, that remains to be clarified, but I found the general approach of picking and choosing poskim to be very meikil regarding the Chr-stians to be unpleasant at best, but probably much worse. There was also criticism in the room of Rabbi Riskin regarding accommodation of Oslo (i.e. not wanting to upset the Israeli government), and minimizing the danger of missionaries (Hagee might be fine, but many others spend hundreds of millions to convert Jews). I am glad that I heard the presentation, but found it very unsettling, and I am sure that this incident that you report is not the last word on the matter. I also found constantly pointing the finger at Islamic extremism to be distracting from the real issues (overly lenient Jews, missionaries, and secular humanism).

report abuse


posted January 4, 2010 at 12:49 am

It is good to see this debate materializing. The disparity is fairly easily resolved by the competent historian. There are actually two creations involved here. The historical Jzeus which came about as a creation of the mingling of another creation that actually existed in time as a human being. That human being was Yehoshua ben Yoseph. This was his name and he would have only been called this or perhaps a diminutive of it. He by all qualifications that could be fulfilled during his life was the Mashiach. See Daniel 9 and Rambam on his qualifications, i.e. Davidic yukasin (extant genealogy), born in Beit Lechem, now Arab occupied, and a repairer of the breaches in Torah. There is no one that can ever fulfill these requirements again. This is not Jzeus. He came about as a mingling of the good name of the aforementioned Torah observant Jew with the Hellenistic/Egyptian/Persian/Roman ad nauseum religion of a man-god. This was accomplished by the writings of the Hellenist Paul who by implication was an apostate from Judaism. Find the details at

report abuse

Ben Frohling

posted January 4, 2010 at 9:19 am

I am constantly astounded at the bigotry and prejudice on offer when these debates begin. Of course both sides are often guilty of this, but I can’t seem to get my head around the concept that, as a Christian, I am both an apostate, historically unsound, and an offender of some kind. Too many times, when the debate heats up, you can bet the “Anti-semite” tag is used. About my faith, am I simply confused, wrong about history, or am I harbouring secret racist feelings? This happens to me personally and online way too often.
I think everyone should be free to argue their positions, but certainly we should treat each other with respect. I know many Christians can be frustrating, and sometimes offensive, but there is an ironically totalitarian tone that accompanies too many of the responses from some of the Jewish readers.
What sort of world do you expect to have, when you treat so many people of diverse faiths and views like morons?

report abuse


posted January 4, 2010 at 12:26 pm

One thing I’m interested in is how post-Christian Noahides ought to relate to Yeshu ha Notzri (as I’ll call him). Some of them probably want to be pure Noahides and have no relation to him. Some of them might want to be traditional believing Xians and Noahides at the same time — since some rabbis at least in medieval times argued that Xianity was a Noahide faith. Most will reject the latter position. But some may have a lingering affection for their former God, based on their upbringing. So what are they to do? The answer may be to consider Yeshu ha Notzri as a sort of Chassidic rebbe whose work they appreciate and follow at least to some extent. Every chassidic sect has different emphases: faith, prayer, brotherly love, scholarship, etc.. You could think of Yeshu ha Notzri as being a kind of tzaddik who emphasized selfless love, feeling loved by God, and forgiveness. One could then edit the Xian scriptures to take out things that are heretical from a Jewish perspective.
I guess the Netzarim have done something like this (in “reconstructing” the Xian scriptures), though they seem to come to the conclusion that followers of Yeshu ha Notzri should follow all the mitzvot, even those just meant for Jews. Never heard of these guys before. An intermediate and more common position is that Noahides should follow the Noahide laws, but that they can also follow many other mitzvot (like saying blessings or not being in a room alone with a person of the opposite sex that you’re not married or related to), with the exception of those that specifically set Jews apart, like Shabbat and Kashrut and Tefillin. From this (normative) perspective it’s OK for a Noahide to rest on Shabbat but not to try to observe all its details like not switching on and off lights.

report abuse


posted January 6, 2010 at 12:24 am

I have recently discovered, and been fascinated, by scholar Robert Eisenman’s idea that Paul was a relative of the Herods, who ruled Israel around the turn of the common era. This would make Paul a descendent of Esau. As David has pointed out, rabbinic literature identifies Esau with Rome and Christianity, which makes perfect sense if the Christianity’s greatest proponent was a descendent of Esau. Perhaps the descendents of Esau, down to Paul in particular, preserved the good and bad of Esau’s cultural DNA and spread that “Esau culture” throughout the Roman world and beyond in the form of Christianity. Esau’s descendents (the Idumaeans) were converts to Judaism, but many Jews doubted their Jewishness. So spreading an Abrahamic faith through Esau’s descendents (who many Jews did not like very much) may have served to bring the Bible to gentiles while keeping the Jewish people distinct and separate.

report abuse

Anders Branderud

posted January 12, 2010 at 1:12 pm

The signature “Yirmi” slanders Netzarim (in Ra’anana in Israel) of following the man-god Yesh’’u, writing “seem to come to the conclusion that followers of Yeshu ha Notzri should follow all the mitzvot”.
It is not correct that Netzarim follows le-havdil Yeshu. Therefore the above statement is lashon hara. And Torah requires of Yirmi to make teshuvah from his lashon hara, in order to get kipur from ha-Sheim.
Netzarim follows what is written in Tan’’kh about that all of humankind are required to keep the mitzwot in Torah (see my previous posts). Netzarim follows the teachings of Ribi Yehoshua, not the le-havdil man-god Yesh’’u.
Yirmi fails to make the essential distinction between the two polar-opposites — the authentic, historical,PRO-Torah 1st-century Ribi Yehoshua from Nazareth and the 4th-century (post-135 C.E.), arch-antithesis ANTI-Torah apostasy [Jesus (Yeshu)] developed by the Hellenists (namely the Sadducees and Roman pagans who conspired to kill Ribi Y?hoshua, displaced his original followers and redacted the NT).
Proclaiming that Ribi Yehoshua is the same as the le-havdil man-god Jesus is preaching the Christian gospel. It does only favour Christianity to do so. If instead Yirmi would put a lot of effort doing qiruv to Christians, emphazing the difference between the historical pro-Torah Ribi Yehoshua and the le-havdil anti-Torah Jesus, he could help many Christians (goyim according to Tan’’kh) to leave their religion and instead starting to practise the same religion as Ribi Yehosuha did, i.e. Judaism (that is very meaningful and something I reccomend every Christian reading this to do). The fate of goyim (this includes Christians) is easily found in Tan’’kh by looking up the word goyim in a concordance.
Anders Branderud

report abuse


posted February 2, 2010 at 6:37 pm

First of all, you are making a great commitment moving towards the ancient faith of the Jews, and one day if you choose to do this, you will become a true ger tzedeq [=righteous convert]. Although it is not our policy nor religious imperative to proselytise, I hope that the moderator of this forum does not mind me adding a sentence of encouragement to you.
In your comment of 12th Jan you write:
I have noticed that in your blogs and feedbacks (as well as those of your mentor) , if there is anyone who disagrees with you or the organization to which you belong, you call them “a slanderer”. It is certainly not the approach of the Jewish religion to label everyone, with whom there is a disagreement, “a slanderer”. As you already no doubt realize, there is room for diverse opinions, all within the framework of halacha [=Jewish law and way of life], and every religious orthodox Jewish group has its own approach and emphasis on how to serve G-d.
Concerning your group, which gives more the impression of being some sort of a small cult, please could you answer for yourself honestly the following questions:
a) How many members does your netzarim really have? (Can the numbers be counted on one hand, two hands, or maybe there are a hundred or so?)
b) One of the main differences between Judaism and Christianity, is that Christianity believes the Messiah came approx. 2000 years ago, whereas Judaism rejects this. How can your group call itself Jewish, if they believe that a Rabbi who lived 2000 years was the Messiah? (I realize that there are groups like “Messianic Jews” and “Jews for Jesus” but these groups are well understood among Torah [ = the Jewish written and oral instruction corpus] practising Jews as well as among traditional Jews, as being far from Jewish. Your group, though, claims to be halachic [= following Jewish law]).
c) Can a religion (or version thereof) that is half made up/redacted by one man – however much of an academic scholar he might be – be worth much?
I know that you have a counter argument “There is a section of a chassidic group [=certain type of religious Jewish group] who believe their Ribbi, who passed away a decade ago, is Messiah”. I also have a hard time with this marginal group, within a big movement. Within Judaism, for a number of reasons, such an assertion is not considered legitimate and am happy to discuss the matters with you further off list, but only on condition that you do not call me a “slanderer” etc. .

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

Another Blog To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Kingdom of Priests. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Kabballah Counseling Happy Reading! ...

posted 11:24:22am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Animal Wisdom: The Voice of the Serpent
Our family watched Jaws together the other evening -- which, in case you're wondering, I regard as responsible parenting since our kids are basically too young to be genuinely scared by the film. The whole rest of the next day, two-year-old Saul ...

posted 3:56:33pm Mar. 16, 2010 | read full post »

Reading Wesley Smith: Why the Darwin Debate Matters
If the intelligent-design side in the evolution debate doesn't receive the support you might expect from people who should be allies, that may be because they haven't grasped why the whole thing matters so urgently. I got an email recently from ...

posted 5:07:12pm Mar. 15, 2010 | read full post »

The Mission of the Jews
Don't miss my essay over at First Things on the mission of the Jews to the world. This, I think, the key idea that the Jewish community needs to absorb at this very unusual cultural moment, for the time is so, so right. Non-Jews are waiting for ...

posted 6:14:16pm Mar. 05, 2010 | read full post »

Darwin at the Mountains of Madness: Evolution & the Occult
Of all the regrettable cultural forces that Darwinism helped unleash, perhaps the most surprising and seemingly unlikely is its role in sparking the creation of modern occultism. Charles Darwin himself could not have been less interested in the ...

posted 2:04:11pm Mar. 04, 2010 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.