From the Jewish news media:
For US Jewish leaders, the major problems are indifference and assimilation, while the solutions are early engagement and education – about Judaism and Israel.
That is very true.
However, most of the Jews have studied Judaism and demonstrated for Israel since they were teenagers, and it have not made them more united, less indifferent or more engaged. My own experience and numerous discussions with rabbis convinced me that in order to strengthen Jewish unity we have to present Judaism differently. We may rich the true Jewish unity only if the fundamentals of Judaism and Israel are presented in the light of contemporary Jewish life. Unfortunately, most often that is not the case.
Most often. Judaism is presented as a set of principles developed in the course of Jewish history for Jewish life’s conditions in segregated areas where everything outside the segregated areas was hostile and even murderous to the Jews. In the contemporary American life, that is not the case anymore, and Judaism should be discussed as how the historic segregation-based Jewish principles could be transformed to be applicable to the life of Jews as the Chosen in Judeo-Christian Western civilization where the Jews are treated as equals. In order to do this, the rabbis have to initiate a dialogue with ordinary Jews, and that is very difficult for the rabbis since they were trained to teach the canons of their ordination institutions – not to listen and adjust.
Most often, Israel is discussed as an ultimate gathering place for all Jews. However, for the US Jewish majority this is not what they think should be done. Many among the US Jews feel that it is better to strengthen Israel as the Light for the Nations while living in the USA, and do it through strengthening spiritual Judeo-Christian fundamentals of our society and the Bible-guided role of the Jews as the Chosen. Unfortunately, we are involved in something opposite – we are promoting secularism and supporting the ban on Christian religious signs and prayers in public space.
Concerning Judaism, the most important Torah-guided unifying principle should be at the core of Jewish education – we all, Jews and non-Jews, are created different but equal in the image and likeness of God. The leftist and rightists, the liberals and conservatives, the whites and blacks, the Jews and Christians, the males and females … – all are created equal with different roles in an under-construction better world for everybody. However, that is not what most of our rabbis and public leaders were doing during the US presidential campaign – they were encouraging the future president to treat the citizens as groups of equal and unequal and make the “unequal” equal by government orders. That is not the role of a human government to decide who is equal and who is not and regulate it – our Creator creates us equal. There is a danger for the Jews to support the idea of splitting the people in different groups. If that is the case, the split could be justified for the Jews vs. the Non-Jews and that is the spiritual foundation for the anti-Semitism.
In the same Torah-guided way, the Orthodox Jews of all streams, the Reform and Conservative Jews as well as Secular Jews should be considered equal before God and the unity should be searched in different roles of different Jews as the Chosen in making our world a better place for everybody – Jews and non-Jews.
Concerning Israel, the unity should be searched not in imposing on Israel various ideological precepts on how to resolve Israeli-Arab confrontation or on Aliyah to Israel. Rather, the unity should be searched on helping Israel to become “the Light to the Nations” – to be the best in all areas affecting the human life such as science and technology, finance and economy, safety and security, religious and secular.
From the Jewish news media:
After Trump victory, rabbis call for unity and tolerance. Jewish spiritual leaders across US call on Jews to build bridges with their fellow citizens.
That is nice but should be done long ago. Unfortunately, in the course of the campaign many Jewish leaders, both religious and secular, were ruining the bridges with many fellow citizens.
When I say something positive about Christianity in my posts, many readers assume I have to be a Christian. When speaking positively about Christianity I mention I am a Jew, many Jews suspect I should be a member of a sect ‘Jews for Christ’. When I respond by saying, I am a proud Jew who likes the true Christians and believes the ‘Jews for Jesus’ have lost their Jewish identity by converting to Christianity, I feel a complete mistrust.
I have decided to clarify all that.
Here is my Torah-based understanding of Jewish-Christian relations. This understanding is based on an intellectual study of the very essence of what we called One God, based on His actions described in the Torah. My understanding is not based on an opinion of any one of the truly revered religious authorities – too many contradictory interpretations.
God revealed Himself to the entire humanity through the Jewish people beginning with Abraham and delivered His guidance in the Torah (the Old Testament) at Mount Sinai through Moses.
Then the Jews formed two spiritual movements, which were shaping the future Jewish-Christian relations.
One of the movements worked to tailor the Torah-based God’s guidance into a sort of mandatory rules for the Jewish communities themselves, and this movement produced the Talmud and many follow-up rabbinical rulings. Some known to us groups in this movement were Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and Zealots. This movement created the religion of Judaism with many different internal opinions on the essence of Judaism – from ultra-Orthodox to ultra-Secular.
The other movement, led by Rabbi Joshua who after his death had become Jesus Christ, worked to transfer the Torah-based God’s guidance to the non-Jews, and this movement produced the New Testament and religion of Christianity with many follow-up diversified spiritual streams.
Then, Judaism and Christianity – each of them – split into two fundamental spiritual groups.
Some Jewish and Christian religious leaders followed the Torah’s revelation that God the Creator created all humans in His image and likeness as equal individuals to continue His creative work along the lines of His guidance – with the same fundamental spiritual rules for Jews and Christians. Those Jewish and Christian leaders were reinforcing and strengthening Judeo-Christian spiritual unity and encouraging the ability of diversified religious streams to work with each other, and compete with each other, for a better creative design for the God’s world (God’s Free Will). This group is searching for the true meaning of the image and likeness of God – the true image that reinforces the common Jewish-Christian spiritual ground, based on which the Jews and Christians are creating the God’s better world without interfering into each other faiths (for example, Evangelical Christians led by Pastor John Hagee).
However, many Jewish and Christian religious leaders were fighting for their own authoritative power over the humans, trying to convince everybody that God revealed only to them the ultimate God’s guidance, and everybody who does not follow them is a sinner and God will punish him. The spiritual leaders of this group were reinforcing their own power over their community.
As the readers may see from my writings, I am with the first group, which is searching for the true meaning of the image and likeness of God, and I am a proud Jew who is searching for the inspiration mostly directly from God – in my spiritual world the rabbis are teachers, not a substitution for God.
As to the question of who are the Jews for Jesus, they are not spiritually Jewish at all – they were born to the Jewish families and they decided to change their mission – from being the Chosen to being the Christians – they have stopped being Jewish.
I do not accuse them of betrayal; that is their choice. It is difficult to be the Chosen and feel being responsible for the God’s world; it is much easier to be led and obey (I say this without any negativity). The Jews for Jesus are a tiny minority among the Jews who decided not to follow the rituals of their faith although they were born to Jewish families. The Jewish-Christian intermarriage and secularism takes from the organized Jewish communities much more “human souls”.
We the Jews are 10-20 million strong throughout most of our history. If we have followed our birthrate progression for the last two millenniums, our numbers now might be close to a billion. However, we are not here. Why? A guess: God is satisfied with this number of the Chosen – it is enough to move the world in the right God’s direction. Of course, we the Jews prefer another explanation – we are just in small millions since in the history we were massacred and pogromed. However, many non-Jewish peoples were massacred and pogromed as well – Christians was killing Christians and Muslims, Muslims were killing Muslims and Christians, Indians were killing Indians, Syrians are killing Syrians, and so on.
The Jews and the Christians should be spiritual friends competing with each other for a better God’s design for the better world for everybody. We the Jews have to be proud of our God’s mission of the Chosen – we are doing our best in searching for this God’s design. As concerned to the Jews for Jesus, they are not Jewish.
I have received from MiKu the following comment: “So you discard a Talmudic idea because it doesn’t fit your agenda, then you aren’t qualified to invent “Intellectual Judaism””, and I have responded in the following way:
“Michael, I am not discarding anything. I am, in my human duty as a spiritual scientist, trying to find out why the purely Talmudic-based Orthodox Judaism is not attracting anymore the Jewish majority, and the Jews are testing something else such as conservatism, reformism, secularism, etc. You may believe the purely Talmudic-based orthodox rabbis are the guardians of Judaism but what guardianship is this if the Jewish majority do not follow them. So I have decided, after many unsuccessful attempts to discuss it with the purely Talmudic-based orthodox rabbis, to go back to the Torah and figure out what may be done to attract the Jews again to the Torah’s guidance. What spiritual objections do you have against my search?”
This post is a part of my search.
We the Jews are united as Jews, all of us from the Orthodox to the Secular, by our collective faith rooted in the Torah, transferred from generation to generation most probably genetically, and enhanced through Jewish education.
We the Jews, all of us from the Orthodox to the Secular, are disunited almost on everything by our diverse and sometimes conflicting interpretations of the Torah guidance.
Why the same Torah is the source of our unity and disunity?
The Torah comprises of two different universes.
One of them is the so-called God’s universe, where God with His multiple images such as Supreme Power, Adonai, Nature, Big Bang, etc. is the Higher Authority above us the humans. The other one is the Religion’s universe. They are different.
Naturally, God Himself created the God’s universe – in all His multiple images. Our human authoritative leaders called in the Jewish nation the Rabbis created the Religion’s universe.
The God’s universe is presented in the Torah with God’s guidance on how to build a human society where every human individual is acting in all his/her life endeavors in the individually understood “image and likeness” of God. We accepted the guidance of the Higher Authority above us the humans after the failure of numerous humans to play the role of such authority. The most fundamental part of this guidance is the so-called “Free Will” that encourages all human individuals to compete with each other for better designs of various parts of the God’s better world.
Based on the Torah’s guidance, the rabbis created the Religion’s universe with their guidance on how to understood the “image and likeness” of God in terms of human moral behavior. The rabbis’ role as teachers in this Religion’s universe was extremely valuable. However, in the course of religious history, the rabbis began to exercise another role – the role of authoritative rulers, and in this role, the rabbis created disunity. In order to secure his power as an authoritative ruler, a rabbi was declaring that only his guidance was the true God’s guidance, and all others were mistaken. This authoritative-ruler approach obviously breaded disunity.
When the Jews lived in the isolated Jewish communities (shtetls, ghettos), this disunity was hidden – the Jews were not interacting with the real God’s world outside the Jewish communities, knew only their rabbi’s guidance and obeyed him.
However about two centuries ago, things had begun to change – the Jews had begun to be accepted by the gentiles and begun real competitive coexistence in the gentile world. The life conditions for Jewish individuals had become completely different, and the rabbis were not able to adjust their spiritual guidance to specific life conditions of everybody. That was the end of the traditional Orthodox spiritual supremacy in the Jewish nation – not because of somebody’s revolt but rather because of inability of the Orthodox rabbis to adjust the Torah’s teachings to the changing times. The Orthodox rabbis were not prepared to tailor their teachings to the enormous changes in the world created along the lines of God’s laws of nature. The result: the birth of new spiritual Jewish movements – conservatism, reformism and secularism. Those feuding movements are trying to find the God’s guidance in new life circumstances, created in the God’s world by the God’s laws, – the guidance the orthodox rabbis were not able to provide.
“Prime Minister of Israel Netanyahu calls PA President Abbas with Eid greeting and says Israel wants peace. PA chief says he wants deal this year”. The problem is that both sides define the peace in a completely different way as could be seen from their Future-for-Palestine narratives.
For us the Jews our Palestinian narrative is clear and Bible-based, and the true Christians support this narrative:
- God gave the Promised Land (with the Holy Center in Jerusalem) now called Palestine, to the Jewish people and provided them with the Law, which is described in the Torah, on how to build a better world for all, Jews and non-Jews, in the Promised Land and beyond.
- The enemies of the Jews have been expelling the Jews from the Promised Land from the very beginning but the Jews were returning to the Promised Land (and Jerusalem) in spite of all threats.
- After the Holocaust, the Jews were returning to the Promised Land in large numbers to escape a murderous Europe and to build a dream-home for the Jews where the Jews themselves are capable to defend themselves from holocausts, pogroms and anti-Semitism.
- The Jews are eager to live in peace with their Arab neighbors if the neighbors agree with the security provisions designed to prevent new attempts to expel the Jews from the Promised Land.
For the Arabs, their Palestinian narrative is clear and Koran-based, and the true Muslims and true anti-Semites support this narrative:
- Allah gave all people the only true religion Islam, and finally the human world have to become Islamic.
- Palestine is the first part of the human world that had become Islamic and therefore, as the Koranic Law says, shall stay Islamic forever.
- After the Holocaust, the establishment of the Jewish State Israel made a part of Palestine de-Islamized and the true Muslims are obliged to reinstate there the Koranic law.
- The true Muslims can accept only a solution to Jewish-Arab conflict in Palestine that makes all Palestine an Islamic one.
An honest assessment of the two narratives makes it clear that there is no way to reconcile them – that is the reason why the “two-state solution” failed in spite of the great and sincere efforts of USA and European governments to find such solution.
That is why I have concluded in the post, “Palestinians have outplayed Israel – what Israel may do now” that the unilateral, one-Jewish-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict outlined by Caroline Glick many years ago is the only solution available for Israel. This Israeli one-Jewish-state solution should preserve an opportunity for the Palestinians to decide for themselves with whom to collaborate politically in the framework of Israeli secure borders – to have their own Arab-Palestinian secure future without violating the Israeli secure future.
The entire Palestine and Middle East history consists of similar one-sided solutions: a more powerful side defeats a less powerful side and imposes its own one-sided solution where a defeated side is not treated equally. The difference between what have happened in the history and what an Israeli one-sided one-state solution intends to do is that Israel is trying to find a solution where both Israelis and Arabs are treated equally.
- Jews and Arabs have lived in Palestine in relative peace until the beginning of the 20th Neither Jews or Arabs had their national states – the Jews lived in communities while the Arabs lived in tribes. The ruling Turks of Ottoman Empire allowed Jews, Christians and Muslim to live in accordance with their own, non-Turkish traditions. Both Jews and Arabs owned pieces of the land where they supported their families by farming and animal stock raising. The land used by the Arabs was owned by tradition and transferred from generation to generation while the land used by the Jews was legally purchased either from the Ottoman government or from private Arab owners.
- There were disputes and even minor military clashes but they were of the same magnitude than the others tribal disputes and clashes in the area like Persians vs. Arabs, Sunnis vs. Shiites, Kurds vs. Turks, or ISIS vs. Yazidis. The tribal/communal relationships remained the same after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WWI, when the foreign European powers – UK, France, Germany, and Italy – became the governing powers in the Middle East.
- However, in the late 1940th and in the 1950th, the foreign governing powers realized that the cost of the Middle East governing is too high, and began creating local artificial states to transfer the governing power to them. Since those artificial states were created not in a normal historic way when – before creating a state – the people find a common ground for a peaceful coexistence, immediately local wars started to reshape the Middle-East map artificially created by the foreign powers.
- Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a part of this general reshaping. The current situation is such that everything is decided by non-peaceful means (Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Kurds, ISIS), and Israeli-Palestinian conflict is going to be resolved in the same way with various foreign powers trying to advance their own, not Israeli or Palestinian, interest.
- If it is so, and the history of the region confirms that is the case, it is much more beneficial for Israel to go ahead with own unilateral proposal for secure borders of the state of Israel, providing an option for the West-Bank Arabs to define their political future in the framework of Israel secure borders.
|The readers who prefer a more emotional presentation over a fact-based one can find it on the topic of this post in a video-talk by Pat Condell at|
We the Jews should love the Christians coming to our holy places for inspiration
The Israel Police forcefully evicted scores of Jewish worshipers who had barricaded themselves in King David’s Tomb in an attempt to prevent Christians from conducting a prayer service at the site.
Hundreds of Orthodox Jewish protesters, among them prominent Breslov Hassidic leader Rabbi Shalom Arush, blocked a Christian Mass at David’s Tomb as Christian groups opted here for Pentecost services. The Jewish protesters were blocking a Christian Mass from being held there since they believe the David’s Tomb is a holy place exclusively for the Jews. According to an interpretation of the Jewish law by some Orthodox authorities, foreign prayer services, which may include effigies or idols in Jewish definition, can render a place unsuitable for Jewish prayers.
However, many Christians consider the Tomb of David a holy Christian place as well – it is the site of Jesus’s Last Supper.
The Sunday Mass at the place of David’s Tomb was intended to honor of the Christian festival of Pentecost. Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai. This feast is celebrated in Judaism as Shavuot. In Christianity, this holiday commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, and the Christians consider it as the Birthday of Christianity.
Clearly, the Jews and the Christians consider the David’s Tomb their holy place.
Should we the Jews consider this place the holy one only for ourselves and guard this place from all “spiritual intruders”, or should we rejoice when somebody else, in this case the Christians, believe in the holiness of this place and want to honor this place by their own prayers?
The answer to this question depends on the understanding of the essence of our mission of the Chosen.
If we believe the mission of the Chosen is to be completely separated and isolated from the non-Jews to serve God by the prayers and by the life style structured by the 613 Talmudic laws in the strictly Orthodox interpretation, then guarding all our holy places from all imaginary intruders is the only acceptable service to God.
However, if we believe the mission of the Chosen is something totally different – not to be completely separated and isolated from the non-Jews but to reach the non-Jews and help them organize their life along the lines of Torah’s commandments tailored to unique non-Jewish traditions, then we have to welcome the Christians coming to our holy places. We have to welcome the Christians and work together with them on creating a join approach in building a God’s better world for everybody.
My studies of the Torah
has convinced me that the God’s approach should be to welcome the Christians and build together a better world for everybody. The separation/isolation approach, as Hasidic rabbi Arush implies, cannot be the God’s one because of the following reasons.
- There is no Torah-based reason for God (in any of His possible images) not to like anybody who is coming to His holy place – God created everybody equal in His image and likeness.
- There is no Torah-based reason for not allowing the Christians who consider the Jewish holy place the holy place for themselves as well – the Golden Rule of Jewish morality demands not to do to the stranger what you do not want to be done to yourself.
- While the Christians consider the David’s Tomb place as the place of the Last Supper-Gathering of the founders of Christianity, we the Jews may consider this Supper-Gathering as the gathering of rabbi Joshua and his Jewish followers who were the founders of a new stream of Torah-based Jewish thinking. Moreover, we the Jews should appreciate the fact that this thinking provided the foundation for the Christianity.
- There is no God’s Torah-guided law that says that the foreign prayer services, which include effigies or idols, can render a place unsuitable for Jewish prayers as the Hasidic Jews imply. Just remember, God did not revoke the mission of the Chosen when the Jews at the Mount Sinai were making the Golden Calf while waiting for Moses.
It looks like the same strictly Orthodox Jews, who are trying to preserve the impenetrable separation wall between the Jews and the non-Jews, are trying to remove the chief rabbi of Efrat Shlomo Riskin from his position. The strictly Orthodox Jews led by the outdated Chief Rabbinate of Israel do not like this great Orthodox rabbi for his Torah-guided attempts to build spiritual bridges to everybody in the Judeo-Christian world. Rabbi Riskin builds the spiritual bridges to the Jews who are looking for non-Orthodox spiritual guidance in the Torah, and to the Christians who are trying to strengthen their faith by coming to the roots of their faith, which are in the Torah the Old Testament.
We the Jews should love the Christians coming to our holy places for inspiration.