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Author Topic: Jews don't hate Orthodox Christians  (Read 9286 times) Average Rating: 0
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MBZ
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« on: February 16, 2005, 06:19:24 AM »

Good morning (it's late morning in my part of the world)!

I was surfing this AM, looking to see if I could find any Orthodox comments on The DaVinci Code, which I just read (saw a beat-up copy in a used book store here) & I came across this board. I hope I'm not breaking any rules by referring to a locked thread but I couldn't pass this one up.

We do not hate Christians, whether Orthodox or not. There is always a difference between what a faith teaches (i.e. what its normative doctrines are) and what individual given believers may actually do/believe/say. I imagine that Orthodox Christianity & Orthodox Judaism are very similar in this regard. Our Sages say, "Receive all men with a cheerful countenance," and teach that, "The righteous of all nations have a share in the world-to-come." While I certainly cannot speak for the magazine that was cited (a rather right-wing publication), any Jew who espouses hatred of (say) Orthodox Christianity and of Orthodox Christians simply because they are such is letting his/her personal hatreds/prejudices get the better of his/her Judaism.

Following is a press release from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office from Friday, 7.1.05:

Quote
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon spoke this morning (Friday), 7.1.05, with senior Orthodox Christian leaders in Israel on the occasion of Eastern Orthodox Christmas. Prime Minister Sharon spoke with Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Irenaios I; the head of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Israel, Archbishop His Eminence Mar Swerios Malki Murad; and Coptic Church leader His Grace Dr, Anba Abraham. The Prime Minister wished them and their communities a Merry Christmas and said that he hoped that the new year would be one of peace and prosperity for all. The church leaders thanked Prime Minister Sharon and wished him success in efforts to achieve peace.

Link: http://www.pmo.gov.il/PMOEng/Communication/Spokesman/2005/01/spokemes070105.htm

Following is an article about the various Christian communities here in Israel: http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Facts+About+Israel/People/Focus+on+Israel+-+The+Christian+Communities+of+Isr.htm.

Orthodox Christianity & orthodox Judaism (despite our rather obvious differences) have much in common, I think. Our views on many ethical & moral issues are similar. But beyond that, ours are faiths with rules, with authority & structure & with discipline. Ours are not make-it-up-as-you-go-along faiths & never have been (I suppose Protestantism & Reform Judaism are like that). Rather than mold the faith to fit the individual, I think that we believe that it is the individual who must mold him/herself to fit the faith. The late former Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth, Lord Immanuel Jakobovitz (of blessed memory) once said that a faith which demands nothing is worth nothing. To be an orthodox Jew demands a great deal & the little I know about Orthodox Christianity (I minored in religion way back as an undergrad) tells me that to be an Orthodox Christian is similarly very demanding.

I have one teensy-weensy request. One of my very few cyberrules is that I will not discuss the Israeli-Arab conflict on line, in any form. Such discussions all too often turn into undignified, emotional flame wars that have very little to do with honest, mutually didactic and friendly (I hope) interfaith dialogue.

The attached photo is from a Jan. 24 meeting between Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yonah Metzger & His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, the (96th) Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem (see
http://www.pcusa.org/pcnews/2005/05054.htm).  See also
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/news.php3?id=75792.

Be well!

Mordechai Ben Zvi (MBZ)
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aurelia
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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2005, 09:57:06 AM »

Thank you for posting, i for one was going to avoid that thread since i was raised Jewish (albieit Reform) and was on the recieving end of so much anti-semitism as a child (you should try it some time, I didnt understand at all, why these people hated me) that i get very upset at things like that.  I pointed out in a different thread that not only are my parents totally supportive of me, but they were looking forward to coming to my crismation/the kids baptism!

I'm sure some Jews hate Christians as a group..as some Christians hate Jews as a group.  But as you so nicely pointed out, it isnt TAUGHT...
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« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2005, 01:22:19 PM »


Welcome to the boards MBZ.  I enjoyed your post very much! Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2005, 03:15:34 PM »

Quote
I'm sure some Jews hate Christians as a group..as some Christians hate Jews as a group.  But as you so nicely pointed out, it isnt TAUGHT...

Amen.

Leviticus 19:17-18 "'Do not hate your brother in your heart..."'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.”

Zechariah 8:17 “And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour”


Romans 12:19-21: “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay" says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Matthew 5:21-23: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder’, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. 23“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

Exodus 23:4-5 “If you come across your enemy's ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help him with it.”

Luke 6:27-28 27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

Lamentations 3:26-29 “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth: he sitteth alone, and keepeth silence, because he hath born it upon him. He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him; he is filled full with reproach.”

Matthew 5:39: “GǪDo not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
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« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2005, 03:49:18 PM »

Hi all!

Thank you all for your kind words.

My theory is that if A hates B, B is merely the external focus of some deep, pre-existing spiritual unease in A's heart; B is merely the external focus, the object which A has latched onto as an outlet.

Look at Korah's attempted coup d'etat against his cousins Moses & Aaron.

Look at the several versions of Numbers 16:1.

The KJV says:
Quote
Now Korah...took [men]..."

The NKJV is the same but without the square brackets.

The NASB says:
Quote
Now Korah...took action...

What exactly did Korah take? The original Hebrew doesn't say. In the original Hebrew text, no object is provided for the verb vayikakh ("took"). A better translation of the whole verse would be:

Quote
Now Korah, the son of Yitzhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliav, and On, the son of Pelet, sons of Reuben, took and they rose up in face of Moses...

There was a very, very good commentary on Korah in last the 18.6.04 edition of Ha'aretz, one of Israel's English dailies. Here http://tinyurl.com/32la3 is the whole article. I'll quote the last two paragraphs:

Quote
It is interesting to look at first words of the parasha: "Vayikakh Korah" ("Now Korah took") (16:1). The verse is left hanging in the air, with no mention of what he took. The commentators have completed it in various ways. Some said that Korah "took himself aside" to set himself apart from the rest of the community. Others said that Korah tried to take other leaders and convince them to join his revolt.

Perhaps most importantly, the verb "vayikakh," in the way it stands alone, alludes to Korah's psychological state as he heads out to stir up controversy and obstruct law and order. There are times when an aggressive mood settles on us but the emotions are not translated into action until a later stage. Only after we decide on the course of action is the verb joined by an object. First our souls burn with hatred, and only afterwards do we decide what to burn.

Be well!

MBZ :brew:
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« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2005, 04:12:53 PM »

Thank you for posting, i for one was going to avoid that thread since i was raised Jewish (albieit Reform)

Me too! Good to see another Jewish Orthodox Christian.

And thanks, MBZ, for the post.

Marjorie
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« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2005, 05:18:15 PM »


Hi again Mordechai! If you don't mind, I have some questions about your faith.

1.) Is worship liturgical in Orthodox Judaism, as it is in Orthodox Christianity?

2.) If so, and you are at all familiar with any of the Orthodox liturgies, are there any structural similarities or differences which strike you?

3.) Is there still a priesthood in Orthodox Judaism?  Even an "inactive" one?  The rabbis are technically "laymen" correct?

I have more, but I don't want to bombard you with them all at once. Smiley


Thanks,

Nick
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« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2005, 05:37:01 PM »



Me too! Good to see another Jewish Orthodox Christian.

And thanks, MBZ, for the post.

Marjorie

I think sister, our new compatriot is an Orthodox Jew, which is just as cool Smiley.


BTW, Mordechai, I do like the Babylon Five avatar.  Good choice.  I'm sure we have many inquiries of you.  And I hope you will welcome here. Peace!


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« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2005, 06:18:18 PM »

BTW, Mordechai, I do like the Babylon Five avatar. Good choice. I'm sure we have many inquiries of you. And I hope you will welcome here. Peace!

Disagree.  I think it is a little freaky.  But I'll tolerate it since he seems to be a nice poster.
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« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2005, 06:28:20 PM »

Ian,
Majorie was responding to aurelia, not MBZ.
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« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2005, 06:48:50 PM »

Ian,
Majorie was responding to aurelia, not MBZ.


My Bad!  Sorry.

Ian Lazarus :grommit:

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« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2005, 07:28:34 PM »

Babylon 5?  I thought it was "Alien Nation".  Never watched either one myself.  I'm a Star Wars guy.
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« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2005, 08:20:14 PM »


Hi again Mordechai! If you don't mind, I have some questions about your faith.

1.) Is worship liturgical in Orthodox Judaism, as it is in Orthodox Christianity?

Almost all Judaism is liturgical-- especially traditional, Orthodox Judaism; this is one of the reasons Protestantism never occurred to me.

http://liturgica.com has a lot of information about the Orthodox liturgy and its roots in Jewish liturgy.

Rabbis are not equivalent to Orthodox priests-- the equivalent is the priesthood of the Temple, which does not now exist because the Temple (besides for the Western Wall) is not currently existent.

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« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2005, 01:19:50 AM »

Quote
the equivalent is the priesthood of the Temple, which does not now exist because the Temple (besides for the Western Wall) is not currently existent.

Nitpick: the priesthood (kohanim) and the Levites are still around; they just don't perform sacrifices anymore due to there not being a Temple. Their lineage is still tracked and they still give priestly blessings and are given certain honors at Jewish services.
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« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2005, 01:24:58 AM »



Nitpick: the priesthood (kohanim) and the Levites are still around; they just don't perform sacrifices anymore due to there not being a Temple. Their lineage is still tracked and they still give priestly blessings and are given certain honors at Jewish services.

You're right; I should have been more specific.

Marjorie
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« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2005, 09:13:43 AM »

Hi all!

Marjorie, you posted:

Quote
And thanks, MBZ, for the post.

I can drop the Narn (yes, from Babylon 5) avatar if it's a problem. My previous avatar was a Steelers logo but...but...BAWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!. (MBZ, get a hold o' yerself, it was only a football game!)

You're welcome!

Nick, you posted:

Quote
1.) Is worship liturgical in Orthodox Judaism, as it is in Orthodox Christianity?

Marjorie's answer
Quote
Almost all Judaism is liturgical-- especially traditional, Orthodox Judaism
is correct. We (orthodox Jews) have a very rich liturgy (see http://www.jewfaq.org/liturgy.htm & http://www.jewfaq.org/prayer.htm), with lots of special prayers & hymns for particular holydays, for the Sabbath, etc. The core liturgy is basically the same among all orthodox communities but there are local/regional variations (much like those, I suppose, between the various Orthodox Christian groups & traditions). At the particular synagogue (we meet in a kindergarten on the Sabbath & holydays only; we don't have a building of our own yet) we go to, we like to sing every part of the service that can be sung.

This http://www.headcoverings-by-devorah.com/LkhahDodi.html is one of our most important hymns, which is sung/chanted every Friday evening as the Sabbath begins. The 2nd & 5th of the musical linkas are the best (I think).

Quote
2.) If so, and you are at all familiar with any of the Orthodox liturgies, are there any structural similarities or differences which strike you?

I am not familiar with the Orthodox Christian liturgies at all. Could you please refer me to site where I could read up?

Quote
3.) Is there still a priesthood in Orthodox Judaism? Even an "inactive" one? The rabbis are technically "laymen" correct?

Beayf, you are correct
Quote
Nitpick: the priesthood (kohanim) and the Levites are still around; they just don't perform sacrifices anymore due to there not being a Temple. Their lineage is still tracked and they still give priestly blessings and are given certain honors at Jewish services
!

"Sacrifice" is a rather poor translation for the Hebrew word korban, which actually is a cognate of a root meaning "to approach" or "to draw near/close to") Because there is no Temple (and for other reasons as well), the order of offerings (as well as other Torah precepts which are dependent on the Temple & a fully functioning Aaronic priesthood, such as accepting tithes, administering the bitter waters to a suspected adultress, 7th and Jubilee years, etc. etc.) are also temporarily suspended :'(.

To the best of my knowledge, I am a Levite. Nowadays, that doesn't mean so much. I get to get called up second (after the cohain; see below) when the Torah is read in synagogue & I help the cohain wash his hands before he gives the priestly blessing during morning prayers, but that's about it.

The Hebrew word for priest is cohain. Thus, Jews with the names Cohen, Cohn, Cahn, Kahn, Kahan, Kahane or Katz (an acronym for cohain tzedek) are of priestly stock. The priesthood is passed from father to son, going all the way back to Aaron and his sons Elazar and Ithamar. A priest may noy marry a divorcee or a convert (these restrictions apply even today); if he does, his male descendants by her are not priests. (Hebrew has a different word for a non-Jewish, i.e. Catholic or Eastern Orthodox, priest: komer, pronounced with a long o). Similarly, Jews surnamed Levy, Levi, Levitt, etc. are of Levitical stock. Anyone who is of priestly stock (those Cohens, Katzes, etc.) or Levitical are priests-in-waiting/Levites-in-waiting. In Temple times, the priests & Levites were organized into rotations, arranged by family groups, so that everyone had equal time officiating in the Temples & an equal share of the various tithes. Up until the destruction of the 2nd Temple (and for a while afterwards), strict geneological lists were kept of priests & Levites. All those have long since been lost.

Nowadays, many people with one of the priestly/Levitical surnames may not be actual priests (i.e. direct descendants of Aaron & his sons Elazar & Ithamar, in an unbroken male line) or Levites & many people without the priestly/Levitical surnames are probably priests/Levites. When the Messiah comes & active prophecy is reestablished, there will presumably be some way of figuring out who's who for certain (it has to be certain; even "pretty close" is not good enough).

See "Rabbis, Priests, and Other Religious Functionaries" at http://www.jewfaq.org/rabbi.htm.

I've just realized something else that Orthodox Christians & Orthodox Jews have in common: Very bitter memories of the Crusades. We remember the massacres of Jews in the Rhine Valley & in Jerusalem and you remember the treachery of 1204. I've got a history of the Byzantine Empire at home & the author also points out how none of the Catholic powers of Europe were interested in assisting the Byzantines in exploiting the golden opportunity to really hammer the Ottomans after Tamerlane crushed them at Ankara in 1402.

We used to live very close to the little Greek Orthodox Monastery & Church of San Simon (http://tinyurl.com/5k34t) in Jerusalem. Our oldest boy (just turned 8 ) asked me once what the building "with the big shiny dome" was & I told him that it was a church & that churches were where, "the Christian people pray to God." There's a very large excavated Byzantine monastery http://tinyurl.com/4dt96 just down the street from his current school in the Jerusalem suburb where we live now.

Be well!

MBZ

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« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2005, 11:35:58 AM »


Wow, thanks Mordechai.  I will certainly read through all of the material you suggested.  Based on what I have read so far, the continuity between the temple worship, and the liturgies of the various Orthodox Churches is amazing.  The website Marjorie linked to would be an excellent resource for comparitive purposes.

http://liturgica.com/

Here is another site which contains some information on the Liturgy of my Church (Coptic Orthodox).  Just as an aside, we call the holy bread Korban, and we also seat the men and women separately.

http://www.geocities.com/remenkimi/tilett.htm

You mentioned that many of the functions of the priesthood are "temporarily suspended".  Obviously, this suspension has been in place for centuries and many generations.  How do the priests keep "in practice" as it were.  Should the Temple be restored tommorow, would the priests be "ready" to perform their sacred duties?  I mean no disrespect, just trying to learn.

Also, I have heard stories about the administering of the bitter waters to suspected adulteresses.  Could you please elaborate on this?  What happens to her after she drinks it?

P.S. - thanks to Marjorie and Beayf as well.  I knew that rabbis weren't priests.  What I wanted to know was whether or not the Jewish priesthood is still around.  Good to know it is.  BTW Marjorie, thanks for the link!  Can't wait to explore it! Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2005, 03:42:29 PM »

MBZ,

Quote
"Sacrifice" is a rather poor translation for the Hebrew word korban, which actually is a cognate of a root meaning "to approach" or "to draw near/close to")

Mmm...perhaps not poor, but not the most literal, but literalism in translation has it's limits before it becomes hard on the ears.

The sense of qorban, depending on the context, is to bring near or to cause to be brought near - as in to come presenting something, or the act of presenting it.  Thus, to offer or offering would probably be a better English translation of those instances where qorban appears, at least if one's intent is to give a literal translation of the extant Hebrew texts (whether Masoretic, Dead Sea Scrolls, etc. etc.)

OTOH, sacrifice is not a bad translation; it only can become such, I think, if one has some warped notions associated with the term (such as images from films like the Temple of Doom or something like this).  "Sacrifice" is a hold over from the Latin sacrificium, which is from two words - sacra (sacred) and facere (to do/to perform).  IOW, a "sacrifice" is the performance of a sacred act, with the contextual understanding of an offering of some kind.  While it's not an overly literal translation, it's hardly innaccurate.

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« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2005, 03:54:49 PM »

Hi all!

Augustine, you posted:

Quote
OTOH, sacrifice is not a bad translation; it only can become such, I think, if one has some warped notions associated with the term (such as images from films like the Temple of Doom or something like this).

Good point; point taken! Smiley

I seem to be having a problem opening http://liturgica.com/ but I'll keep trying. What I've read so far from http://www.geocities.com/remenkimi/tilett.htm (only the "Preliminary Note") is very interesting; thanks!

Nick, you posted:

Quote
You mentioned that many of the functions of the priesthood are "temporarily suspended". Obviously, this suspension has been in place for centuries and many generations. How do the priests keep "in practice" as it were. Should the Temple be restored tommorow, would the priests be "ready" to perform their sacred duties? I mean no disrespect, just trying to learn.

Priests & us Levites keep in practice by studying the relevant texts & traditions. Hopefully that keeps us sufficiently in practice!

Quote
Also, I have heard stories about the administering of the bitter waters to suspected adulteresses. Could you please elaborate on this? What happens to her after she drinks it?

Numbers 5:11-31 details what is to be done with the sota, a married woman whom her husband suspects of being unfaithful. Below is an article on the issue from an orthodox Jewish perspective:

Quote
(by Rabbi Phil Chernofsky)

If a wife is unfaithful to her husband, and there is no proof of her adultery, or if a man suspects his wife of unfaithfulness and it be unwarranted, he may formally warn her in front of witnesses not to be seen in the company of a particular man. This warning is a precondition to the whole topic of Sota.

Suspicion alone, or even adultery per se, do not produce the conditions for Sota without a formal warning by the husband. Once the warning is issued, it is a mitzva (requirement) to proceed with the Sota-process. The husband must bring his wife to the kohen [priest] at the Beit HaMikdash [Temple]. A barley-meal offering is brought. No oil or spice is used with it since the issue at hand is so serious and unpleasant before God. Note from MBZ: I've heard why the offering here must be plain barley meal, which is unique, I think, among the various meal-offerings in the Torah. Barley meal is very coarse and is usually an animal feed. Adultery is bestial & those guilty of it have acted like animals, who copulate by instinct and are driven by their brute impulses.

The kohen prepares a potion consisting of water from the Kiyor (the washing basin in the courtyard of the Temple), earth from the floor, and the dissolved writing of this portion of the Torah. The kohen administers an oath to the woman asking her to swear to her innocence, if that be the case, or to admit her guilt. The woman is warned of serious adverse effects of the potion which she will be given to drink, if in fact she has committed adultery, and of the favorable consequences of the potion if she is innocent.

Our Sages teach that a woman accused of being an adulteress can elect not to drink the potion (because if she is guilty it will kill her & her paramour). She then forfeits the sum of money her husband promised (in their marriage contract) to pay her in the event of divorce & is considered divorced. If she's not guilty & drinks the potion, then she will become pregnant by her husband. Numbers 5:23 says that the priest must write this portion of the Torah on a scroll & dissolve it in the water. This necessarily means that he will be erasing God's Name (because the Name appears in the Torah portion being dissolved). Normally, that's a whopper of a no-no with us. But our Sages say that in order to restore trust between husband & wife, God will even permit His Name to be erased.

Howzat?

This reminds me. Does Orthodox Christianity permit divorce?  I ask because I know that Roman Catholicism does not. Your priests are allowed to marry, right? I've heard that while Orthodox priests may marry, Orthodox bishops may not; thus, all Orthodox bishops are monks. How right/wrong am I?

It's Thursday night here here in the Jerusalem 'burbs. On Shabbat (from sundown Friday to nightfall Saturday), orthodox Jews don't use most electric/electronic devices, including TVs, radios, phones & computers. (See http://www.jewfaq.org/shabbat.htm for a good introductory read.) And DW & I are usually way too busy on Friday dealing with Da Boyz and cooking & cleaning (both the flat & ourselves) for her to let me anywhere even remotely near the computer. This is my roundabout way of saying, "See you all either Saturday night or Sunday!"

Be well!

MBZ



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« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2005, 06:32:42 PM »


This reminds me.  Does Orthodox Christianity permit divorce?   I ask because I know that Roman Catholicism does not.  Your priests are allowed to marry, right?  I've heard that while Orthodox priests may marry, Orthodox bishops may not; thus, all Orthodox bishops are monks.  How right/wrong am I?


Dear Mordechai:

Though divorce does exhist in the church, it is very much frowned upon, and is to be used only as a a last resort, when all other interventions, including that of the church, have failed.  Still, a marriage suffers because of sinfullnes, and we try our best not to get into that situation or give into it.
Now the Roman Catholic doctrine of anullment basically claims that by papal decree, the marriage can be considered non exhistant (basically, that no marriage actaually took place).  In the Orthodox Eyes, this is foreign.

Yes indeed, our priests may marry, and do!  Bishops usually come from the monastic life because they dedicate their entire life to the church, and becaue Christ was celebate, its a better emmulation of Him.  Now there have been married bishops in the past (if memeory serves) but they are ususally exceptions to the rule. 

Have a good Shabbat!

Ian Lazarus  :grommit: 
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« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2005, 12:30:36 AM »

Hypothetical time!

Quote
Our Sages teach that a woman accused of being an adulteress can elect not to drink the potion (because if she is guilty it will kill her & her paramour).

Will it always kill her paramour? What if a man's wife runs off to a far country, and while there (still married to the first man) marries another man (who doesn't know she's already married), and consummates the marriage. Later, she decides to go back to her first husband, but doesn't confess to the second marriage. He accuses her of adultery while she was away, she denies it, and drinks the water. What happens to "husband" #2?
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« Reply #21 on: February 19, 2005, 03:30:56 PM »

Hi all!

Beayf, you asked:

Quote
Will it always kill her paramour?

Yes; this is what our Sages tell us.

Ian Lazarus, you posted:

Quote
Though divorce does exhist in the church, it is very much frowned upon, and is to be used only as a a last resort, when all other interventions, including that of the church, have failed. Still, a marriage suffers because of sinfullnes, and we try our best not to get into that situation or give into it.

Hmm, this very much sounds like our (orthodox Jewish) approach. It is a recourse of last resort not to be used lightly.

Quote
Now the Roman Catholic doctrine of anullment basically claims that by papal decree, the marriage can be considered non exhistant (basically, that no marriage actaually took place). In the Orthodox Eyes, this is foreign.

The RC doctrine of anullment has always seemed kinda strange to me too.

Thank you for answering my questions regarding your priesthood & marriage, etc.

I feel bad about using Roman Catholic practice (which I know from what I've seen on TV & in movies & from my RC cyberfriends) as my point-of-reference for questions about the Orthodox Christian faith. Does Orthodox Christianity also have confession a la Roman Catholicism? How are your rites similar/different to theirs?

I am suddenly reminded of why I came looking for an Orthodox Christian site in the first place (see my first post above): What do you think about The DaVinci Code (and/or for that matter Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ)?

Quote
Have a good Shabbat!

We did (the usual praying, eating & sleeping) thanks!

Be well!

MBZ
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« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2005, 11:32:38 PM »

Quote
We did (the usual praying, eating & sleeping) thanks!


Glad to hear it! Smiley

Quote
I feel bad about using Roman Catholic practice (which I know from what I've seen on TV & in movies & from my RC cyberfriends) as my point-of-reference for questions about the Orthodox Christian faith.


Don't feel bad. Many people's POV about Orthodoxy comes from a western perspective, and the closest thing in the west to us is Roman Cathoicism. Now having said that, there are many differences which separate us, and unless one took the time to get the know them, one might walk into a church and say "Its like Catholicism with a big alter screen, and inscence, and candles, and Icon, and the priests wear cooler vestments, and there's no organ, and people have names like Stephanopolous, or Vasileiv, or........"you get the picture. Grin


Quote
Does Orthodox Christianity also have confession a la Roman Catholicism? How are your rites similar/different to theirs?

Well to start off with, yep there is confession. But there are differences in how it's adminstered and seen.

There is not confessional box where you slide open the door and the priest begins. You stand ususally infront of an Icon of Christ by the Iconostas (alter screen with pictures of Christ, the Virgin Mary and all the saints), with the priest bowing or kneeling with you with his stole over your head, listeining to your confession, and giving advice and encouragement before absolution is given.

Now the different views of confession are more coplex, but I'll be brief. The Roman Catholics believe in venial sin (not so bad sins, but still sins) and mortal sins ( BIG SINERELLOS). The Orthodox believe sin is sin, and they taint the soul just as blacky.

Quote
What do you think about The DaVinci Code

We try not to and hope that the world will wake up to the fact that it is fiction and asprin and Metamucil is our friend! Cheesy

Quote
(and/or for that matter Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ)?

Not a bad movie. Could have used more resurrection and less crucifixtion IMHO. Smiley

Thanks for asking! Peace, now!

Ian Lazarus :grommit:





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« Reply #23 on: February 20, 2005, 12:12:55 AM »

Actions and words speak for themselves.

If is in the Jewish religion to not favor non Jewish religions. Even in the Jewish Cabbala (which the “moral” singers Madana and Britney spears follow) says to spit on the graves of non Christians. It is taught by the Jewish religion and not by the people to not like the Christian religion.

Many Jewish people are good but the religion is not so good which inspired the Muslim religion. The Jewish religion says an eye for an eye and the Muslim religion says an eye for an eye. Even Christ condemned the Jewish religion. The Jewish religion has more in common with the Muslim religion than Christian orthodoxy. The Jewish religion says to lie and the Muslim religion says to lie. There is a Rabi that converts Jews to Christians and he shows how the Jewish religion is edited to show that the messiah did not come and how it is encouraged to lie to the non Jews.
ALso the Jewish Talmus says anti-Christian things.

Christ’s teachings are not heavily based on the Old Testament which historians and knowledgeable priests say.
Like the saying goes ignorance is bliss and people like to hear appeasing things.

But some things that were said here are good, even though the main point is a farce.

Jewish Hatred of Christians: A Religious Obligation in Judaism
http://www.jerusalemites.org/crimes/crimes_against_christianity/41.htm
“profaning of sacred Christian symbols is a religious obligation in Judaiam.”
“Pious Jews object to the international plus sign for it is a cross,”
“anti-Christian feelings are literally exploding in Israel”
“in Israel, the government finances the spitting on a cross”
“such threatening knowledge will continue to be suppressed in the Jewish-dominated West”

here is a list http://www.jerusalemites.org/crimes/crimes_against_christianity/index.htm
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« Reply #24 on: February 20, 2005, 12:55:11 AM »

Jace,

You are way out of line, and you obviously dont understand Christianity, because you have just critisized words which we acknowledge as The Word of God.

Quote
Even in the Jewish Cabbala (which the “moral” singers Madana and Britney spears follow)

Do you understand how badly this sort of reasoning can backfire on us? Seriously, that was a very foolish, foolsih comment to make.

Quote
Many Jewish people are good but the religion is not so good which inspired the Muslim religion.


This is the most ridiculous comment ive ever heard. The Islamic religion plagiarised and stole many Judeo-Christian concepts and scriptures, perverting them to suit Muhammed's own agenda and claim to be the final messenger of God.

As a Christian, you should know, that according to our faith, our scriptures continue and fulfill the Old Testament, not only in accomplishing the prophecies, but spiritual exegeting and interpreting the Law, as God intends us to follow in the period of grace and truth, which came through The incarnate Word, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Quote
The Jewish religion says an eye for an eye and the Muslim religion says an eye for an eye. Even Christ condemned the Jewish religion.


Im afraid you are very ignorant of the scriptures. Christ never condemned the Law - that would be a blasphemy, He explicitly said in His own words that He came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill (plerosai).

Before the Mosaic Law was established, if a person was killed or injured by another, his family or tribe would attack and kill the offender's entire family or tribe, in a spirit of vengeance. The eye for an eye rule had established the basis of civil law in three ways: (a) the offender alone could be punished (not his tribe or family), (b) this punishment would be no more severe than the crime committed (i.e. a man couldnt be killed if he merely injured someone), and (c) the Hebrew/Jeiwsh clerics were to serve as judges with divine authority. to adjudicate and administer this system of justice.

Jesus never nullified or condemned the Mosaic injunction of "an eye for an eye", since that Law was given specifically to the civili authorities - Israelite judges who acted as God's agents/representatives on earth to execute judgment upon the guilty. Israel was a theocratic government which enacted God's rule, insuring that the inhabitants of the land did not violate His Law. Hence, the purpose of Moses' decree was for the civili authorities - Israelite rulers to enforce, making sure that justice was maintained. The common person however, could not enact punishment upon a criminal.

Jesus was giving his sermon in the context of discipleship - he was thus not addressing civil authorities, but his followers. People at that time had perverted the Mosaic law of justice, into a law of  personal revenge. Hence, what Jesus was basically saying is that we should not take the law "into our own hands," but rather be willing to forgive and love our enemies.

My first post in this thread in fact PROVED for you, that Christ's teaching of love and forgiveness, was not something he innovated, but rather a principle already existent in the Law, which He was reinforcing as a strict commandment, and stressing us to follow and obey out of love for Him.

The Islamic religion OTOH, a) DOES NOT TEACH LOVE OR FORGIVENESS TO ENEMIES and b) Perverts the Mosaic law of "eye for an eye" into a LAW OF PERSONAL REVENGE - the very thing Christ Himself was condemning.

Islam is a regression and digression of Judeo-Christian morality.

Quote
Christ’s teachings are not heavily based on the Old Testament which historians and knowledgeable priests say.
Like the saying goes ignorance is bliss and people like to hear appeasing things.

This is absolutely false. Christ's credibility and authenticity is confirmed through an objective, open hearted, open minded, and Spirit guided reading of the Old Testament. I can give you the names of many reputable scholars and theologians that confirm this.
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« Reply #25 on: February 20, 2005, 01:34:17 AM »

MBZ,

I personally have never read The DaVinci code, though I have heard alot about it. It is currently on my "To read" list, which means I may get to it in the next 5-6 years if im lucky. I do have a general idea about it however, and i understand that its basically a mix of conspiracy, misinformation mixed with some romance intertwined with neo-gnostic beliefs. I know that many of its presuppositions are derived from the gnostic works. The gnostics were the rivals of the Apostles and followers of The Christ, who claimed to have "secret knowledge" that Our Lord Jesus passed down only to them and not to His elect holy Apostles. Meanwhile if we read the book of Acts we see the Apostles preaching publicly the Good News that the Lord had taught them directly. The gnostics wrote the false "gospels" like the "Gospel of Thomas" and the "Gospel of Mary Magdalene" and hundreds of others, giving their works Apostolic names to give them credence and authority.

Their views and doctrines were largely warped by platonic philosophy, they taught things such as the evil of matter and goodness of the spirit alone. So basically, their works are not historical, but rather mythological and fanciful, shaped by philosophical presuppositions. The Gospels on the other hand, are valid and genuine historical documents, written by eye-witnesses of the Lord Christ's ministry and life.

Fortunately, there have been many Christian books written debunking this novel:

 The Truth Behind the Da Vinci Code: A Challenging Response to the Bestselling Novel -by Richard Abanes, Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine - by Bart D. Ehrman, The Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction - by Hank Hanegraaff, Paul L. Maier, The Da Vinci Hoax: Exposing the Errors in The Da Vinci Code - by Carl E. Olson, Sandra Miesel, De-Coding Da Vinci: The Facts Behind the Fiction of The Da Vinci Code - by Amy Welborn, and plenty more.)

I plan to buy a couple of the above afterwards, and would recommend it to anyone who wishes to objectively consider this issues presented by Dan Brown's novel - especially that of Bart Erham's since i know he is considered the world authority on the matters of church history.

That's really all i can say for now until I get to reading the actual book and the refutations.
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« Reply #26 on: February 20, 2005, 07:04:09 AM »

Hi all!

EkhristosAnesti, thank you for your posts & your kind remarks.

I'll simply add that the Tanakh (what we call what Christians call the "Old Testament") adage about an "eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" etc. has never been interpreted/understood literally by traditional, normative Judaism. We have always interpreted/understood it metaphorically; our Sages teach that if A gouges out B's eye, then A must monetarily/economically compensate B for the lost eye (the value of which would be assessed by a rabbinical court); this is basic torts. The lex talionis has never been part of traditional, normative Jewish jurisprudence. Those who assert otherwise are either making an innocent mistake ( :brew: ) or are repeating a malicious canard (whether innocently or knowingly; :violent: ).

Don't get me started about that bastardized version of Kabbalah being imbibed by the likes of Madonna! :flame: When I see what is being done by the clowns who are responsible for prostituting one of my faith's most treasured (and misunderstood!) concepts, I get an inkling of how Christians must have felt what that "artist" in New York a few years back had the unmitigated gall to put a crucifix in a glass of urine and call it "Piss-Christ" (remember that?); ugh! Suffice to say that what Madonna is dabbling in has about as much to do with real Kabbalah as a Twinkie does with real pastry.

Ian Lazarus, as usual, thank you for your comments. Thank you
Quote
Don't feel bad. Many people's POV about Orthodoxy comes from a western perspective, and the closest thing in the west to us is Roman Cathoicism.
for being so charitable. I think about all the TV shows I've seen & the tough Brooklyn cop, the slick Boston lawyer & all of the other stock types are always interacting with a/their Roman Catholic priest, never Orthodox priests. I can think of one old Law and Order episode in which a Greek Orthodox priest appeared very briefly, in passing.

My comments on The DaVinci Code are as follows:

As an orthodox Jew, I’ll say the following (& DW agrees). I can see very much how Roman Catholics in particular & Christians in general might be (very) offended by the book. If this book had been written with a Jewish angle instead of a Roman Catholic one, Jewish groups (such as the ADL) the world over would be screaming bloody murder that it was libelous, anti-Semitic, etc.

Brown cleverly mixed in just enough facts with his fiction to give the latter a veneer of plausibility. An undereducated/underinformed person could easily be led to believe some of the more outrageous stuff (i.e. Opus Dei buying its bishopric by bailing the Vatican out of bankruptcy, that the Church has murderously sought to suppress certain information, etc).

Also, I must fault very many of his references to Judaism & Jewish practices:

1) There were NO “sacred prostitutes” in the First Temple in Jerusalem, as Brown wrote. Temple prostitution was a Canaanite practice. The Torah denounces such gross immorality. Such a charge (that there were “sacred prostitutes” in the Temple) has no basis whatsoever in any Jewish source.

2) The Hebrew word shekhinah means "God’s presence" (and is a cognate of a root meaning "to dwell" & is related to the Hebrew words for "neighbor", the Biblical "tent of meeting" and, oddly enough, "mortgage") & is feminine (the Semitic languages, like the Romance languages, but unlike English, assigns gender to all nouns). Shekhinah was/is not God’s female consort, as Brown wrote. We believe that God is Wholly Other and, that as such, completely transcends the physical concept/construct of gender. Insofar as we, with our necessarily limited human understanding, perceive God and how He (I use the masculine pronoun simply because it is the customary usage, not because I attribute any particular gender to God) makes His presence felt in the world, we discern features/aspects that appear to be feminine or masculine, as the case may be. Accordingly, we see the shekhinah as representing the more feminine side of God’s presence in the world.

2a) Now that I think about it, why do Christians believe that the pre-existent Word of God incarnated as a man? I suspect that the belief that it did (given that women, i.e. Mary, are presumably impregnated by male beings) may have given rise to the misconception (right?) that Christianity believes that God is necessarily masculine. Can my Orthodox Christian friends help me here?

3) Judaism does not, in any way, denigrate or disparage the role of women (as Brown insinuated more than once). A common (and very condescending) liberal fallacy Angry is that because a traditional faith like orthodox Judaism believes that men & women are different and have different roles, that we necessarily believe that women are inferior; people confuse uniformity with equality & mistake the absence of the former for a lack of the latter. This is nonsense. Neither does orthodox Judaism deny/disparage a married woman’s sexuality; indeed, it is our view that satisfactory sexual relations are the wife’s right & the husband’s duty to meet that right & not the other way ‘round.

4) The idea that Jews living in Roman Gaul would have kept the genealogical lists of Mary Magdelene’s presumed descendants is also pure hokum. Brown said (based on what?) that she was from the tribe of Benjamin & hinted at her descent from the House of Saul. Big deal; who cares? In Judaism, tribal affiliation is passed in the male line only & the House of Saul was perpetually excluded by God from the kingship. Also, David’s royal line continued among the Jews of Babylonia until well into Islamic times (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exilarch). Brown should know very well that Jews have never accepted Jesus’s presumed Davidic descent (no offense) & to assert that Jews in Gaul would have is ludicrous.

5) Still, my wife & I found it to be a good whodunit conspiracy thriller and a fun read that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. That just generates more publicity & makes more even money for Brown. Learn from some Jewish groups' way overblown, overreaction (which I didn’t agree with at all, by the way) to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.

Howzat?

Be well!

MBZ
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« Reply #27 on: February 20, 2005, 08:14:33 AM »

MBZ,

Thanks for your reply, and I agree that the 'eye for an eye' law should not be taken literally, its simple metaphorical language employed to promote the notion of justice, which as you affirm, was to be instituted by the civil authorities.

Quote
Now that I think about it, why do Christians believe that the pre-existent Word of God incarnated as a man?


I personally see no significant reason for this other than the fact that The Christ was, according to the New Testament - “the second Adam” who was to restore mankind’s nature to the perfect image and likeness of God. Like Judaism, we believe God transcends gender, and He certainly has no female consort - a common misconception that non-Christians have in understanding what it is meant when Christians declare Christ to be "The Son of God".

Quote
I suspect that the belief that it did (given that women, i.e. Mary, are presumably impregnated by male beings) may have given rise to the misconception (right?) that Christianity believes that God is necessarily masculine.

This is indeed a misconception, and I wish to bring up a very important point in relation to this issue . The identity of Christ as “The Word”, is often over-stressed by Christians, due to the very famous prologue of St John’s Gospel. What is often over-looked, is that the New Testament also ascribes (either implicitly or explicitly) other “aspects” of God’s being, to the person of Christ, and some of these aspects, as you have noted are indeed depicted through feminine language, in both the Hebrew scriptures, and pre-Christian Jewish literature.

Christ is not only The Word; the scriptures also explicitly and implicitly identify Him with the Shekinah (divine presence), explicitly and implicitly identify Him with the Hokmah (The Wisdom of God) and implicitly identify Him with the Torah (the Law). So basically, according to Christian theology, even those “femininely” depicted aspects of God’s being became incarnate in the person of Christ, who in human form was a male.

Another interesting thing to note with regards to this issue, is the Old Testament Theophany in Genesis, in which the Lord appeared to Abraham as a man, accompanied with 2 other men who may have been angels - im not quite sure how Orthodox Jews would interpret this particular passage.

Peace
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« Reply #28 on: February 21, 2005, 08:30:27 AM »

Hi EkhristosAnesti!

Quote
The identity of Christ as “The Word”, is often over-stressed by Christians, due to the very famous prologue of St John’s Gospel. What is often over-looked, is that the New Testament also ascribes (either implicitly or explicitly) other “aspects” of God’s being, to the person of Christ, and some of these aspects, as you have noted are indeed depicted through feminine language, in both the Hebrew scriptures, and pre-Christian Jewish literature.

Christ is not only The Word; the scriptures also explicitly and implicitly identify Him with the Shekinah (divine presence), explicitly and implicitly identify Him with the Hokmah (The Wisdom of God) and implicitly identify Him with the Torah (the Law). So basically, according to Christian theology, even those “femininely” depicted aspects of God’s being became incarnate in the person of Christ, who in human form was a male.

I didn't know this. Thank you for explaining it to me.

You asked about God appearing to Abraham. We distinguish between Genesis 18:1 and 18:2. Our Sages comment on the use of the pronoun him in 18:1 instead of the name Abraham & link this verse back to the end of Genesis 17. They teach that God was visiting Abraham following the latter's circumcision (from this we learn that it is very important to visit & comfort those who are ill or injured). How Abraham perceived God is beyond our ken but he certainly couldn't have "seen" Him (since this would violate Exodus 33:20). We believe that the 3 visitors who appear in Genesis 18:2 were three angels.

One of my rabbis writes:

Quote
The mitzvah [religious precept] of hospitality is greater than receiving the Divine Presence. We learn this from the beginning of this week's Torah portion. G-d had come to visit Avraham on the third day after his brit mila [circumcision] — the most painful day. G-d made the day extremely hot so that Avraham should not be bothered by guests. When G-d saw that Avraham was experiencing more pain from his inability to do the mitzvah of hospitality than the pain of the brit mila he sent three angels who appeared as men so that Avraham could do the mitzvah of hospitality. When these "men" appeared Avraham got up from in front of the Divine Presence [and ran!] to greet his guests.

Hospitality is greater than receiving the Divine Presence.

Howzat?

Be well!

MBZ
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« Reply #29 on: February 21, 2005, 09:26:50 AM »

Quote
Hospitality is greater than receiving the Divine Presence.

MBZ,
Did you see my signiature under my posts?

It's a quote of our "Golden Rule" taught by Jesus.

We're closer in thought that you imagined.

Kolya
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« Reply #30 on: February 21, 2005, 09:46:09 AM »

Hi Kolya!

You posted:

You mean this
Quote
Treat others as you would like to be treated!
?

We phrase it backwards. There is a famous story that a smart-alecky Roman came to our great 1st century BCE sage Shammai and asked him to teach him the entire Torah while standing on one foot. Shammai threw him out. The smart-alecky Roman thereupon went to Shammai's colleague, Hillel the Elder (see http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/hillel.html for a short biographical sketch on the two), and repeated his question. Hillel said, "Whatever is hateful to yourself, do not do to your neighbor. The rest is commentary. Now go and study!" The Roman heeded Hillel's advice and went and studied; he abandoned paganism, became a Jew and eventually a learned Sage in his own right.

Be well!

MBZ

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« Reply #31 on: February 21, 2005, 11:12:40 AM »


Yes indeed, our priests may marry, and do! Bishops usually come from the monastic life because they dedicate their entire life to the church, and becaue Christ was celebate, its a better emmulation of Him. Now there have been married bishops in the past (if memeory serves) but they are ususally exceptions to the rule.


Small correction here: Our priests may not marry, but married men may become priests if married prior to becoming deacons. Yes, there have been very rare exceptions, and recent ones too, where a bishop has allowed a widowed priest to re-marry, but I know of no outright first marriages so allowed.

Demetri
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« Reply #32 on: February 21, 2005, 12:40:26 PM »

MBZ,

Quote
I didn't know this. Thank you for explaining it to me.

Yes these issues are not very well known even amongst the general Christian population; I personally only recently started approaching and looking at the New Testament from a purely Jewish perspective. The Jewish roots of the New Testament are often under-rated, which really doesn't make sense, considering the fact it was written by Jewish authors, in a Jewish context, fundamentally relying on the Jewish scriptures.

I'd like to expand on how the New Testament identifies one of these “periphrasis” of God, with the Christ; namely the Shekinah, since you mentioned it before.

Concerning the incarnation of The Word, the most blatant and to-the-point statement concerning this event is in John 1:14 where it is declared: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.”

The interesting thing about the expression “and dwelt among us” is that if it were to be translated literally from its Greek, it would actually read something like “lived in a tent”. The imagery being conveyed here by St John the apostle, is that God pitched His tent among us and temporarily settled in our midst through Jesus the Christ.

At this point I would like to recall the point you brought up regarding the Shekinah:
Quote
The Hebrew word shekhinah means "God’s presence" (and is a cognate of a root meaning "to dwell" & is related to the Hebrew words for "neighbor", the Biblical "tent of meeting"


Examining this in more depth, we discover that when Solomon dedicated the Temple of the Lord, he said “The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; I have built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever.” (2 Chronicles 6:1-2). Understanding the limitations of such a building, Solomon then says: “But will God really dwell on earth with men? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple (In Hebrew, the temple is often referred to as a “house”) I have built!” (2 Chron. 6:18). Nonetheless, despite his inability to comprehend the ways of the Lord, He knew that this was the promise God had given to Israel through Moses: “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” (Exod. 25:Cool

The God whom the heavens and the earth could not contain would dwell in the midst of His people in the Tabernacle (literally an elaborate tent) and Temple. Furthermore, He would do this by “pitching His tent” among them. This is exactly how the Septuagint expressed 2 Chronicles 6:1-2, translated the word dwell with the Greek verb “to pitch a tent”, exactly as it is said in John 1:14. In this sense, Christ becomes the replacement of the ancient Tabernacle, The divine, being present in a very real sense, without diminishing God's omnipresence, the Glory of God filling and being manifested through both the ancient tabernacle and temple, as well as Christ Jesus in the last days. And so it is that St Paul declares concerning the Christ "For in Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form" (Colossians 2:9)

Quote
Hospitality is greater than receiving the Divine Presence.

Very interesting.

According to Christian theology, we would put a little twist on that above statement by declaring that is is through Hospitality that we indeed receive the divine presence. Here is what one of our contemporary monks had to say concerning this passage.

“Abraham, entertaining the Lord and His two angels, drew the attention of the saintly men of God; St. Paul the apostle says: “Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 12;1-2) The fathers have abundantly spoken of the act of ‘entertaining strangers’, as a way of entertaining the Lord in His creation. St. Ambrosius says: “The Lord Christ comes in the person of the stranger or the poor, for as it is written: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’ St. Jerome says: “The true temple for Christ is the believer’s soul; So let us adorn it; :Let us offer Him clothes, and gifts; Let us welcome Christ in him! What would be the use of walls adorned with jewels, if Christ in the poor, is in danger of death because of hunger?”

As such, when Abraham received the three visitors, he received the divine presence which was manifest in one of them. We have many reasons for holding this particular belief. First of all, we see no contextual factor which necessitates or calls for a replacement of the Lord who first appears in verse 1, with the three men who are mentioned in verse 2. Of the three men, one is addressed as both Lord - adonai, and YHWH. Abraham also bowed to the ground, an act reserved for obeisance of kings or worship of the Lord. The wider context also clearly indicates, that two of these men went on to Sodom, where they are clearly identified as angels, and that Abraham stayed before YHWH, with whom he had an extended dialogue, implying that YHWH was indeed one of the original three.

Quote
How Abraham perceived God is beyond our ken but he certainly couldn't have "seen" Him (since this would violate Exodus 33:20).

Exodus 33:20 is reformulated in John 1:18 to read: “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him”

Though we as Christians acknowledge that God cannot be seen nor beheld according to His essence and the fullness of His glory, we believe that He was nonetheless fully manifest/revealed/declared through the incarnation of His Word in the form of a man. He is, as St Paul states “The image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), such that Christ may declare: “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:Cool. We believe that before the incarnation, the pre-existent Word declared the Lord through certain theophanies such as that of Genesis 18, and many other interesting passages involving “The Angel of the Lord” who seems to be implicitly equated with YHWH. A curious note is also struck when we find that 9 chapters prior to Exodus 33, it is written “Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.” (Exodus 24:9-10)

We find in the Hebrew scriptures, that The Word of the Lord is involved in many of God's divine activities, including creation (Psalm 33:6), revelation (Je. 1:4; Is. 9:8; Ezk. 33:7; Am. 3:1,8) deliverance (Ps. 107:20; Is. 55:1) and judgement (Ps. 29:3). As such we see The Word as both the divine agent manifesting God to men, and The divine - intrinsic aspect of God's being.

Sorry if I tend to ramble on :- And please forgive me if im starting to sound a bit polemical, I just love discussing theology with respectful and wise persons of other religious belief systems! :thumbsup:

Shalom!

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« Reply #33 on: February 21, 2005, 07:15:54 PM »



Small correction here: Our priests may not marry, but married men may become priests if married prior to becoming deacons. Yes, there have been very rare exceptions, and recent ones too, where a bishop has allowed a widowed priest to re-marry, but I know of no outright first marriages so allowed.

Demetri

Oh, thats right!  Sorry, misworded.

Though I have heard that in certain cases, a man may serve as a deacon and still search for a wife at the Bishop's approval.  How true is that?

Ian Lazarus :grommit:
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« Reply #34 on: February 22, 2005, 08:18:14 AM »

Hi MBZ
You Quoted:

We phrase it backwards.... Hillel said, "Whatever is hateful to yourself, do not do to your neighbor. The rest is commentary. Now go and study!" The Roman heeded Hillel's advice and went and studied; he abandoned paganism, became a Jew and eventually a learned Sage in his own right.


Thanks for the link about Hillel. That was very interesting. He certainly was a wise sage for telling the would-be convert to first study the beliefs. But that goes without saying. Nobody can really become anything (Surgeon, Pilot, Plumber) without first studing (Unless they buy their Diploma Wink )

BTW, yes, we are in the same time-zone. So we're buzy working while our fellow 'netizens' are sleeping in North America. Another site poster, Prodromos, also is in our time-zone in Greece.

Now, I suppose we should start a new thread on this next question. The Mods can move it if they wish. It is something I've always wanted to ask.
This is not an issue with Orthodox Christians, but many of us here are converts, and it was an issue with some Protestant Christians.
What I want to know is this; Do you know if it was true or not that anyone living in old Israel at the turn of the eras, (50BCE-100CE) could keep wine from fermenting? IOW, do you use fermented wine at your Pasha Festival? Or can you only use Grape Juice? This may sound like a stupid question to you, but it has caused great controversy in modern christian churches.

Go well

Kolya
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« Reply #35 on: February 22, 2005, 10:20:03 AM »

Hi all!

EkhristosAnesti, you cited God's dictum to Moses: "Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them."

Our Sages comment on this commandment to build the Tabernacle (and the temple; we learn it from here) and note that while God commands us to build Him a sanctuary, He does not say that He will dwell within it. Rather, He says that He will dwell within them, i.e. within us. We built the Tabernacle & the first 2 Temples/We will build the 3rd Temple not so that God could/may dwell within them/it, but so that He could/may dwell within our hearts, our brains & our souls.

You cited Exodus 24:9-10. We put various metaphorical spins on that one.

Rabbi Menachem Leibtag writes:

Quote
Recall that at the conclusion of the ceremony at Har [Mt.] Sinai (24:1-11), Aharon, Nadav, Avihu, and the seventy elders are permitted to 'see' God: "And they saw Elokei Yisrael and - 'tachat raglav' - under His feet was like a shining sapphire..." (24:10)

Obviously, God does not have 'feet'! However, this description reflects a certain spiritual level. Moshe [Moses], for example, achieved the highest level - "panim be-panim" - face to face. In contrast, the seventy elders perceived 'tachat raglav' -(God's feet), reflecting a lower spiritual level. [This may relate to the people's request for a more distanced relationship, where Moshe served as their intermediary (see [Exodus] 20:15-18 and Devarim [Deuteronomy] 5:20-26).]

For a different metaphorical spin, see http://www.aish.com/torahportion/shalomweekly/Mishpatim_5764.asp (scroll down to the section entitled "Dvar Torah")

See also The Body of God at http://www.aishdas.org/toratemet/en_body.html.

We see angels as created beings, separate from God, but capable of bearing His messages & speaking in His Name (kind of like prophets do). In our view, the angels who wrestled with Jacob, appeared to Abraham, Joshua & Samson's parents, etc. were neither God, nor manifestations of God, nor "persons within the Godhead", etc. When Abraham spoke with them, he spoke to/with the One who sent them (as an honor/respect thing I suppose).

We see the scriptural references to the "word of God" (you'll please forgive me for using a lower case w!) and suchlike as poetic metaphors/images & not references to the "Word of God" as a personified/actual being.

Quote
Sorry if I tend to ramble on :- !

1) Not at all!

2) Ah, so you're a Led Zeppelin fan too?

Quote
And please forgive me if im starting to sound a bit polemical, I just love discussing theology with respectful and wise persons of other religious belief systems!

Thank you & ditto!

Kolya, in response to your post:

I suppose that anyone could make (unfermented) grape juice back then simply by squeezing/stomping grapes.  I don't know about preserving the 9unfermented) grape juice for any length of time simply because the only ways to preserve foodstuffs way back then was by pickling, salting or drying (which would make the grape juice rather yucky!).

First, wine libations were an integral part of the Temple service, in the order of offerings (see Numbers 28 and 29). The Hebrew word for "its drink offering" is nisko  & refers to wine, not grape juice. The specific reference to wine per se in Numbers 28:14 is held to be illustrative example that holds for all of the various holyday offerings enumerated in Numbers 28-29.

The blessing "Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has created the fruit of the vine" is said before drinking wine and grape juice (but not over grapes or raisins; apples and apple juice/oranges and orange juice, etc. also take different blessings).

At the ceremonial Passover meal known as the Seder (http://www.jewfaq.org/holidaya.htm), we drink 4 cups of wine. Normally, during the year, when the blessing over wine is recited on Friday night & the evenings of major holydays, and again on Saturday morning & the mornings of major holydays, and on Saturday night when the Sabbath is over & the evenings after major holydays, grape juice may certainly be used (DW & I always have grape juice around for Da Boyz). But on Passover, it is strongly recommended by nearly all (orthodox!) rabbinical authorities that if one insists on drinking grape juice, that at least some wine be mixed in with the grape juice. (Recovering alcoholics & people who are banned from drinking wine for medical reasons, may use all grape juice.) No one is supposed to get drunk at the Passover Seder (we get drunk on our holyday of Purim, http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday9.htm). The Seder includes a very large meal & the minimal amount defined as a "cup" is not that large.

On the Nazirite's having to abstain from wine (see Numbers 6:1-21), several of our Sages comment on the fact that at the conclusion of his vow, he had to bring (inter alia) a sin-offering. I believe that it is our very great medieval Sage, Nahmanides (http://www.ou.org/about/judaism/rabbis/ramban.htm), who says that the Nazirite had to bring a sin-offering because he had taken upon himself a vow (which Judaism frowns upon unless absolutely necessary) that entailed having to deny himself good things which God has permitted us.

Wine, when properly used, can be a vehicle for holiness. When improperly used, it can be a vehicle for vile unholiness. Wine is, in effect, a kind of tool. It is neither evil nor good; only the use to which it is put and the ends to which it is used can be good or evil. (Even Milton refers to "misused wine.") The Tanakh endorses neither teetotalism nor habitual drunkeness.

Howzat?

Be well!

MBZ

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« Reply #36 on: February 22, 2005, 12:06:02 PM »

*very interesting things I've been reading, but i had to comment...Purim...i miss that, havent had good hamentaschen in years!* laugh


and at out seder we always had full uncut manichewitz(the cheapy kosher wine, for those who dont know)...though my portions were always very tiny.

Zepplin 4, side 2 Grin
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« Reply #37 on: February 22, 2005, 12:11:39 PM »


Oh, thats right! Sorry, misworded.

Though I have heard that in certain cases, a man may serve as a deacon and still search for a wife at the Bishop's approval. How true is that?

Ian Lazarus :grommit:

Ian,
I have not heard of this before. Perhaps a thread here awhile back mentioned something like this in one of the OO churches, but we must wait their input here on that.

Demetri
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« Reply #38 on: February 22, 2005, 02:01:55 PM »

Hi all!

I'd just like to add that I've heard some Christians (usually fundamentalist Protestants) claim that Jesus never touched a drop of wine. If we allow that Jesus was born a Jew & lived as one (for at least part of his life, I suppose), this is impossible. The consumption of wine was part of Jewish practice then, just like it is now.

Be well!

MBZ

(PS, Aurelia, send me a private message & I'll send you my Mom's hamantaschen recipe, which I make every year.)
« Last Edit: February 22, 2005, 03:45:01 PM by MBZ » Logged

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« Reply #39 on: February 22, 2005, 03:07:19 PM »

Welcome MZB! I'm not EO myself, but Episcopalian/Anglican but they let me post here anyway. laugh

Your question about grape juice reminded me of this passage from "The Supper of the Lamb" a theological cookbook by Fr. Robert Capon in Chapter 8 Water in Excelsis in which he writes about wine:

"Witness the teetotalling comminion service. Most PRotestants, I suppose, imagine that it is part of the true Reformed religion But have they considered that, for nineteen centuries after the institution of the Eucharist, wine was the only element available for the sacrament? Do they seriously envision St. Paul or Calvin or Luther opening bottles of Welch's Grape Juice in the sacristy before the service? Luther, at least, weould turn over in his grave. The WCTU ( poster note: Women's Christian Temperance Union) version of the Lord's Supper is a bare 100 years old (poster note the book was originally written in 1967). Grape juice was not commercially viable until the discovery of pasteurization; and, unless I am mistaken, it was Mr. Welch himself (an ardent total abstainer) who persuaded American Protestantism to abandon what the Lord obviously thought rather highly of.

Tha much damage done, however, the itch for consistancy took over witha vengeance. Even the Lord's own delight was explained away. One of the most fanciful pieces of exegesis I ever read began by maintaining that the Greek word for wine, as used in the Gospels, meant many other things than wine. The commentator cited, as I recall, grape juice for one meaning, and raisin paste for another. He inclined, ultimately, toward the latter.

I suppose such people are blessed with reverent minds which prevent them from drawing irreverent conclusions. I myself, however, could never resist the temptation to read raisin paste for wine in the story of the Miracle of Cana.
 
    "When the ruler of the reast had tasted the water that was made raisin paste....he said unto the bridegroom, 'Every man at hte begfinning doth    set forth good raisin paste, and when men have well drunk [eaten -- the text is no doubt corrupt], then that wich is worse: but thou hsat kept the good raisin paste until now.'"

Does it not whet your appetite for the critical opera omnia of such an author, where he will freely have at the length and breadth of Scripture? Can you not see his promised land flowing with peanut butter and jelly; his apocalypse, in which the great whore Babylon is given the cup of the ginger ale of the fierceness of the wrath of God?"

The Supper of the Lamb second edition c. 1989 auth: Fr. Robert Farrar Capon pp 89-90

Long ago, a person I knew made a parody of the song "Baby Face" as "Raisin Paste" following along this idea.


btw, I'm a great B5 fan, too. Keep the G'Kar avatar. He was an excellent character, who over the course of 5 years thought deeply yet did not lose a sense of proportion. And the actor under all that make up is of Greek extraction so there you are. Grin

Ebor

edited for typing errors. any that are found are mine, not the book's
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« Reply #40 on: February 22, 2005, 04:02:27 PM »

Hi Ebor!

1) Cheesy

2) Raisin paste??!! Blechhh!

3) I read where Billy Sunday, upon hearing that Prohibition had become law, said that, "The rein of tears is over...The slums will soon be only a memory. We will turn our prisons into factories and our jails into storehouses and comcribs" The only people happier than him at that moment were all the gangsters & criminals. Organized crime in the USA made it to the big leagues thanks to Prohibition.

Be well!

MBZ
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« Reply #41 on: February 22, 2005, 04:34:31 PM »

I have found much of the above posts interesting and educational, but there remains a residual odor lingering in the background of this discussion.

The controversial thread “Jewish Hate For Greek Orthodoxy” that inspired this defensive thread needs some serious consideration here.

This supposedly “unmoderated”, “Free for all” forum - as some wish to call it - seeks simply to discredit and ban members who are radical (“politically-incorrect”) and not supported by the majority. Just because someone’s view or attitude is not “nice” and possibly “wrong” does not justify their being censored. In “Jewish Hate For Greek Orthodoxy”, Pontus Avenger went straight to the point (abruptly), presented his evidence - the article, the website, the magazine’s staff, etc. - and stated his (generalized) conclusion. That was fine; it germinated the discussion/debate. But then a hypocritical member (whose mention is not necessary) has the nerve to insult Pontus with, “Although, I doubt you, as an anti-semite, can understand that question,” and pleads for Pontus to be banned. Those hypocritical attacks inflamed the thread into childish name-calling. But who cast the first stone? Have they been banned also? NO. Member sdcheung made the point: If you do not like what is said on this forum, then go to a different forum. Amen. The rest of his posts (which I admit to never seeing) were censored because of “personal harassment” apparently. But that just reverts back to his first point (differently said): If you don’t like me then go away and leave me alone; don’t cut off my tongue. Again, how did the stone casting get started? It was the self-righteous hypocrite (preaching about the publican and the pharisee.)

Another example:
I just finished reading an earlier (maybe "politically-incorrect") comment by Jace, who has now been "moderated."

It was followed with a good rebuttal, but was made with a hasty approach...
Jace,

You are way out of line, and you obviously dont understand Christianity...

... Seriously, that was a very foolish, foolsih comment to make.

... This is the most ridiculous comment ive ever heard.

... Im afraid you are very ignorant of the scriptures. ...

Did the reply to Jace really have to personal insults, such as “Im afraid you are very ignorant of the scripturesGǪ”? Why not write simply, “Christ never condemned the LawGǪ”?

Something to think about in the future (everyone of us):
If your argument has to get personal, then you need a better argument. Otherwise, step aside and let others take the lead.
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« Reply #42 on: February 22, 2005, 04:50:11 PM »

What an "interesting" first post, "VaticanHolocaust." 

Also something to think about in the future:
Getting banned from a board and then inventing other screen-names to go back and argue your case is pretty pathetic. 

Just call me "Golda."   Wink

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« Reply #43 on: February 22, 2005, 05:03:38 PM »

I absolutely hate being presumptuous and daring to speak/post in these types of situations, but there is no need to speculate on why people were moderated/banned or anything.  It was said sdcheung was banned (for 30 days) for private message harrassment, that's all, give it up, it's no one else's business further than that.  Other people have been banned and moderated because of what they have said (notice Pontus personally insulting two Administrators, it doesn't make you any friends...), and some things that were "too much" have been deleted and action taken.  Prelim warnings are given all the time when people just get out of line.

That being said, I agree with this statement:
Quote
Something to think about in the future (everyone of us):
If your argument has to get personal, then you need a better argument.
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« Reply #44 on: February 22, 2005, 05:06:17 PM »

Vaticansholocaust,

      I don't want to get into verbal mudslinging with you but your claims against another member (Ekhristos  Anesti) are without merit. 

     If you read the rest of his post, it is well reasoned and explains, through scripture his feelings.   

     Listen, I am far from an ecumenist, however the dialogue on this board had been far from ecumemical and I think it has been quite useful.

     I don't think ad hominem attacks against anyone are useful.  If you are Orthodox, I hope that you would be able to see/realize this.  Almost all the "regular" posters here are very courteous and respectful of others.

     Furthermore, if you are Orthodox (heck even if you are not) there are many on this board who have a lot to teach in the way of scripture.  Something which is useful to everybody.
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« Reply #45 on: February 22, 2005, 06:10:19 PM »

On other boards (such as the Catholic message board and the Catholic Convert Message Board) they ban people at will without warning at times and also moderate people who question administrators/moderators publicly. Now I have never wanted to do that, because I am secure in my decisions as is Phil and the others, and if people argue with us, that doesn't bother me.  But maybe because this is getting ridiculous we will consider such an action.

As for the inference that it is hypocritical to moderate posts in a free for all, the desciption says that any post violating the forum rules will still be moderated. That was the case with PA and sdcheung.  I think sdcheung was given plenty of time to say whatever he wanted. I don't have anything to say about PA (who strangely enough I met in person and who I thought was a nice guy).

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« Reply #46 on: February 22, 2005, 06:33:06 PM »

My post began with the honest commendation of how "interesting and educational" this topic has been.

Vaticansholocaust,

   I don't want to get into verbal mudslinging with you but your claims against another member (Ekhristos Anesti) are without merit.

  If you read the rest of his post, it is well reasoned and explains, through scripture his feelings.

I did read EkhristosAnesti's post fully and he made very good arguments. However, no matter how well reasoned they may have been, there was still no need to invoke such personal condescension.

EkhristosAnesti: I apologize for singling you out, but your post was the first example I saw (while writing my response). You did a great job with your rebuttal on all points, but it was a prime example of a great debate gone sour.

 Listen, I am far from an ecumenist, however the dialogue on this board had been far from ecumemical and I think it has been quite useful.

How did "ecumenism" work its way into this discussion? Again, a lot of really good posts have been made. Ecumenism is not the discussion or learning of another faith (to understand it). Ecumenism comes when a faith is compromised/practiced together with another faith.

 I don't think ad hominem attacks against anyone are useful. If you are Orthodox, I hope that you would be able to see/realize this. Almost all the "regular" posters here are very courteous and respectful of others.

That was my point in the first place; ad hominem attacks are useless. My direct criticism was misread too easily. I criticized the person's writing, not the person.

 Furthermore, if you are Orthodox (heck even if you are not) there are many on this board who have a lot to teach in the way of scripture. Something which is useful to everybody.

Very well said. Amen.


p.s., Hook, line and sinker. I am not Pontus Avenger nor sdcheung. Wink
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« Reply #47 on: February 22, 2005, 10:06:29 PM »

but there remains a residual odor lingering in the background of this discussion.

I think this was the portion of your first line, people were worried about.  Whether you are PA or Sdcheung is of no concern to me (I didn't know either).  I hope you find these boards useful (and challenging). 

Enjoy and take care.
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« Reply #48 on: February 23, 2005, 01:35:52 AM »

Ekhristosanesti  Anesti! Trust me, you are out of your league, and I know your arguments well, but you do not know the issues well.
You since more. Priests back yup what I say. If priests said it is ok to mix you would not have orthodoxy. Maybe you should go convert to the Christian religion made by Jews called protestant. Talk to someone that knows better and they will explain.

Like MBZ said in the Jewish post was. “Faith which demands nothing is worth nothing”
Some that mix commit at most 10 sins. But how do I expect you to get that or many others. Defending the easy path, the wide path, and the short path does not make you righteous to say what society says. Learn your lessons then some back and talk.

Write down how many reasons you say it is ok to mix, and then write down just as many reasons why it is not. If you can not then my condolences and then you will understand why priests for 2000 years say what I say and still say it. This is the fact. If you want one priest take a look at archbishop Iakovos on what he said about it. And many priests agree. Religion is logical and so look at it in a logical way. You can not hide behind ignorance since you are judged because you have a brain and you are demand to use it!
Learn your history, or you will repeat it.
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As for the Jewish comment again learn your history and facts. Many of the negative things the Muslim religion has the Jewish religion had. An eye for an eye, to have many kids and spread, to lie, etc. You also have to look at their other religious text as I stated like Kabala, Talmud, and the Torah. Read it yourself, Anesti.

Christ fulfilled the Old Testament. You do not confirm things well to know where things come from. When Christ said love your enemy he got that from Socrates, and don’t deny anything because what I say it true. All you have is -+ information and you say it as 100% the facts.
Talk to an experienced priest that knows better.
---------------- -
As for the DaVinci code it is fiction meaning it is categorized as fake! Also have you heard of apostolic succession? Gnostic was made by the Jews that so love our religion, so they can confuse many which help make the protestant religion.
Where do some people get their orthodox information from some stranger on the internet? Go read the information and talk to priest’s people.
Why should I tell people since they do not want to talk to the source?
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« Reply #49 on: February 23, 2005, 03:45:00 AM »

I see ive been critisized for my attitutde in response to Jace. I formally apologise to Jace and to anyone else who may have been offended.

Reading over Jace's latest enlightening response, however, has certainly not helped in making things easier at all....I'll try behave myself as best i can nonetheless angel

Jace:

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I know your arguments well, but you do not know the issues well.

Oh really? That’s amazing. Is there any particular reason then, why you did not address one single argument that I made?

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Maybe you should go convert to the Christian religion made by Jews called protestant.

Wow, it was the Jews who resulted in the Protestant reformation...I see I see. Are you sure your not a Muslim? You know the prophet Muhammed said that Jews were the reason that beef goes bad. Do you agree with this as well?

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Write down how many reasons you say it is ok to mix, and then write down just as many reasons why it is not.

 :scratch: I’m sorry, I don’t mean to offend you, but your entire post is rather incoherent and unintelligible, can you please clarify yourself - what is this “mixing” that you are referring to?

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Many of the negative things the Muslim religion has the Jewish religion had. An eye for an eye, to have many kids and spread, to lie, etc.

Again, you seem not to understand. There is nothing “negative” about the eye for an eye law, as it is understood in its intended socio-historical context - which I explained for you...Did you actually read my post? I also explained that Muhammed adopted this law himself, perverting it beyond its intended purpose - the very perversion Christ condemned 7 centuries prior.

You mention two additional teachings i.e. procreation and lying. I find nothing negative about procreation -what is it that you have a problem with, sex or kids?

With regards to lying, from what I know, nothing in Judaism permits one to lie, it is strictly forbidden in the Tanakh. Whether there are some rabbinical traditions which promote lying or not, Im really not aware of, nor is it really of my concern.

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You also have to look at their other religious text as I stated like Kabala, Talmud, and the Torah. Read it yourself, Anesti.

Wow, the Torah is an "other religious text" :-....... laugh Are you sure you're an Orthodox Christian?

Do you understand, what the Torah is Mr Jace? The Torah my friend, the very book which contains the Eye for an Eye command and the command to procreate, which you have been condemning so far, is simply The LawGǪThe LAW OF GOD. Mr Jace, please pick up your Bible - the Bible which you kiss in reverence before readingGǪand tell me what the first 5 books are. I’m awaiting your answer, so we can further discuss this issueGǪso I, and all of us, can be educated by you, about the nature of the Law and Orthodoxy.

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When Christ said love your enemy he got that from Socrates, and don’t deny anything because what I say it true.

Oh I see..., the authority and credibility you have proven so far, certainly gives us much reason to accept what you say as truth by default.

Lets break it downGǪChrist was born a Jew, claimed to fulfill (exegete) the Jewish Law, claimed to be authority over the Jewish Law, lived by the Jewish Law, quoted from the Jewish Law, and confirmed and preached principles according to the Jewish law, that were already existent in and find precedent inGǪthe Jewish law (i.e. the Jewish law which existed over a millenium before Socrates was even born). Hmmmmmmm *thinks long and hard*, yep...you’re rightGǪit was definitely Socrates... :bang:

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Talk to an experienced priest that knows better.
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priests for 2000 years say what I say and still say it.

Your general appeal to ecclesiastical authority might impress me if you actually refer me to the specific work of a specific person, who supports your position. In fact, consider it a challenge. Fnd me one figure throughout the past "2000 years" who can be rightfully be classified as an “Orthodox Christian” who affirms any of the rubbish you’re saying.

Maybe you would like to read the church Father Origens response to Celsus, or maybe Chapters 16, book 4, Volume 2 on Tertullian. You know,Marcion’s doctrine is quite similar to the one you are trying to promote, maybe you would like to educate us on the Orthodox position of Marcion, taking into account how he was viewed by authorities such as sayyyyyyyyGǪ.St Justin Martyr, Tertullian, St Iraeneus, St. Hippolytus of Rome, St. Epiphanius, St. EphraemGǪetc etc.

P.S. Do not PM me. I saw your response as I checked the thread, I didnt need your notification, I am not blind.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2005, 03:49:11 AM by EkhristosAnesti » Logged

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« Reply #50 on: February 23, 2005, 04:18:50 AM »

MBZ,

First I would like to apologise on behalf of Mr Jace. Im sure that you dont need me to tell you, that his understanding of Christianity and the Law is certainly not "Orthodox" in any sense of the word.

Now getting back to the issues at hand:

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while God commands us to build Him a sanctuary, He does not say that He will dwell within it.  Rather, He says that He will dwell within them, i.e. within us.

I find this a rather unusual reading of the text, for if we look at it plainly: “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” - It speaks of God dwelling “amongst” them, rather than “inside” or “within” them; and furthermore His dwelling “amongst” them, is consequential to the very building of the sanctuary - making it plainly implicit that God will dwell amongst them, by being uniquely present within the sanctuary. According to Young’s literal translation, this specific verse reads: “And they have made for Me a sanctuary, and I have tabernacled in their midst” which further emphasizes my point.

Certainly God dwells inside the hearts of His children, but it doesn’t really make sense that God would need the building of a sanctuary in order to dwell inside the believers, nor does this sound like a plausible reading of the text itself.

Furthermore, Solomon himself makes it explicitly clear, that it was indeed the temple through which God made Himself uniquely present, such that He would be in their midst: “The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; I have built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever.” (2 Chronicles 6:1-2). Most of the translations I have (JPS, KJV, ASV, WEB, DBY, YLT, WBS) actually render 2 Chron. 6:2 as “I have built a house of habitation for thee/you” which further stresses my point. In 2 Chron. 6:18, it is clear that Solomon understands that the temple would somehow mysteriously “contain” God, since he questions how this can be, considering that not even the heavens can “contain” Him: “But will God really dwell on earth with men? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (2 Chron. 6:18)

Note also, God’s response in 9:3: “I have consecrated  this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” Obviously God does not have eyes nor a heart, its simply figurative language plainly saying that God will be uniquely present in that temple. The ancient Jewish targum actually renders the verse: “GǪI have sanctified this house which you built for my Shekinah to abide there forever, and my Shekinah will abide in it with my will being there always.”

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We see angels as created beings, separate from God, but capable of bearing His messages & speaking in His Name (kind of like prophets do).

We agree with your view on angels, however we also acknowledge that God is capable of manifesting Himself uniquely in various forms including that of a man or an angel.

You say:
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In our view, the angels who wrestled with Jacob, appeared to Abraham, Joshua & Samson's parents, etc. were neither God, nor manifestations of God, nor "persons within the Godhead", etc.


Well lets first consider Jacob’s encounter with this "angel". First of all, as I understand it, the Hebrew term translated "face" has a sort of idiomatic twist, referring to a sort of awareness or direct knowledge of presence, something like a “personal encounter” so to speak.

Most importantly however, is the very reaction of Jacob to the event that took place.

First thing to note from his reaction, is that he implicitly equates his encounter with the angel, as a “face to face” encounter with God Himself. It is interesting to note, that where Jacob says  “I have seen God face to face”, the ancient Jewish Targums translate it as “I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face.” Id like to quote at this stage, the view of Jewish scholar Nahum Sarna, regarding his view of “Angelology”, from “The Jewish Publication Society Torah commentary” on Genesis (page 383). He notes that “From several texts it is clear that the demarcation between God and His angel is often blurredGǪAt the Exodus from Egypt it is now God (13:21), now His Angel (14:9) who goes ahead of the Israelite camp.” Giving his schorlarly views on the doctrine of Angels, he lists three theories. The first theory concerns bowrrowing from various Eastern mythologies - which is obviously not a compelling theory for the Jew or the Christian to accept. He then goes on to say “Another view regards the angel as the personified extension of God’s will, or the personification of His self-manifestation. A third theory sees the angel as a conceptual device to avoid anthropomorphism, serving as the mediator between the transcendent God and the mundane world.”

The second thing to note, from the passage in question, is that Jacob clearly understands, that the fact he is still alive after his encounter with this “Angel” is something unexpected - this is from his presupposed knowledge that one cannot see God and live - again an implicit equation of God and the angel.

What we see being set up in Gensis 32, is not a contradiction, but rather a paradox. Jacob knows that the scriptures make it explicit that no one can see God,  or they will die; but it seems as if something occurred such that this normal constraint was “overruled” in a sense.

This is the very paradox that the New Testament affirms. When it affirms on the one hand that God cannot be seen, John 1:18 as already mentioned, and 1 Timothy 6:16, which describes God as the One "who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see."...yet affirms on the other hand, that He sent His Word who is of His essence, to become incarnate in the form of a servant, through whom the creation beheld the Shekinah/Devar/Hokmah/Torah.

Which brings me to my next point, regarding Exodus 24:

You quote Rabbi Menachem Leibtag  who states:
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Obviously, God does not have 'feet'!  However, this description reflects a certain spiritual level.


We as Christians agree that God certainly does not have feet, however I don’t think that the use of anthropomorphism necessitates that the whole passage be interpreted “spiritually”.

Certainly, there were many early Jewish commentators, who saw this as a literal event, considering the fact they went to certain lengths in the way in which they rendered or translated this particular passage, to avoid the theological problem of someone seeing God in light of the verses which clearly and explicitly state that he cannot be seen. If we look at Targum Pseudo-Jonathon, and Targum Neofiti, we find that they render the verse to read: “And they saw the Glory of the Shekinah of the God of Israel.”

Processing this in the context of the New Testament data, we conclude that it was indeed the pre-existent Christ/TheWord whom they saw. As I noted before, the New Testament depiction of Christ is that He is the Glory/Shekinah of God, who “tabernacled” among us when He became incarnate. The Lord, although He cannot be seen, is able to manifest His glory to men, such as He did with Moses in Exodus 33-34. Despite the fact God specifically told Moses that He could not see His face, we can say somewhat metaphorically that He saw the afterglow of His divine glory - and it is in that diminished sense that God speaks to Moses “face to face” and that Moses also “sees the form of the Lord” in Numbers 12:8.. John 1:14 explicates this by saying, that through the incarnation of The Word, we beheld the glory of the Father Himself, such that in a diminished way, He who sees The incarnate Word sees the Father “face to face” in the same sense that Moses did - giving us reason to believe that all such encounters in the Old Testament, were in fact encounters with The Word who is The Shekinah/Glory of God. As St Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God who said, "Out of darkness let light shine," is He who has shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory, which is radiant on the face of Christ.” And again in Hebrews 1:2 “His Son is the radiance of his glory, the very image of his substanceGǪ”

To further stress the  intricate connection between God-The Angel of the Lord-The Shekinah-and The Glory. I’d like to bring up Exodus 3:1-6. Here we find the Angel of the Lord appearing to Moses in the burning bush, and then a couple of verses later, it is all of the sudden God Himself calling out to Moses from the burning Bush. In verse six, it is quite plain that Moses recognizing that He cannot see God and live, looks away from burning bush, in which the Angel of the Lord Himself appeared. Here we have an implicit identification of the Angel of the Lord with the Lord. Furthermore, when we look at Targum Onkelos we find that verse 6 is actually rendered: “Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look beside the glory of God”. Furthermore targum Pseudo-Jonathon states that Moses hid his face from “the glory of the Shekinah of the Lord.”

Regarding the first link you gave me: http://www.aishdas.org/toratemet/en_body.html

It was a great read, thank you. As Christians, we most definitely agree with the general gist of that article i.e. God does NOT have a physical form, He is NOT a corporeal being, nor does He have some sort of a physical image. Regarding whether or not God can manifest Himself through an image or Physical form, we certainly beg to differ with the articles conlusion, and would agree with the view of R’Moshe ben Chasdai, who in his philosophical work Letav Tamin, (as cited in the article) argues, that God: “is all-powerful and unfathomable. While G-d has no form, when He so chooses He can appear to people in physical form.”

My response so far concerning angelology, the temple, and the glory and Shekinah of the Lord, responds to the main issues presented in that particular article which argue against this notion. I will therefore, just pick out and respond to a few paragraphs from that article to further clarify some points, or to make additional points.

The artcile states:
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To those who fear Him and who are righteous in their hearts, the Holy One, blessed be He, shows His glory in the form of a sitting person, as it says "I have seen Hashem sitting upon his throne, with all the host of Heaven standing by Him, on His right and on His left" (I Kings 22:19) and "I saw the Lord sitting upon a high and lofty throne, and its legs filled the Temple" (Isaiah 6:1), and like someone who has legs, as it says "and under His feet was the likeness of sapphire brickwork" (Exodus 24:10).

This is very interesting, for Christ Himself teaches us in the Beautitudes: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Likewise, in 1 John 4:12 it reads: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

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Once we know that He appears to prophets in this way, it becomes clear that the "seeing" refers to seeing through the heart [or mind*], not seeing through the eye.

We agree completely, that the Lord cannot be perceived or beheld by the human eye, according to His essence, but His energies can be perceived by a pure heart.

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"Seeing" means mentally having a prophetic vision. It does not mean literally seeing G-d but viewing an image that G-d implanted in the prophet's mind.

With regards to visual perception, its clear that the above mentioned instances in my response, involved a visual perception, considering the context as discussed above - it is the nature of what was visually perceived that we believe to be the issue here. The Lord certainly does not have an image Himself, yet He can be manifest through some external image or form, such that whatever this form may be, it somehow “veils” the Lord’s actual being/essence, such that those who behold Him, do not die, as both the Old and New Testament make clear. (To put forward an analogy to emphasise my point, we can assume a person X. When person X approaches me wearing a mask, I see person X via an image, however that image is not His own. In this sense we have the apparent paradox that was discussed earlier, where in one sense I do see person X in front of me, yet in another sense I don’t see him, for He is veiled by a foreign image.)

In addition to everything ive said so far, which I believe go to prove that we are speaking about visual perception, I would like to bring up the following additional points.

1)   I believe there are at least two certain Hebrew words denoting perception, which are translated to “see” or “saw”. The first being chazahh connoting a mental perception or a vision. The next word is ra'ah which carries the simpler connotation of visual discernment. In all the cases mentioned so far, the word ra’ah is employed, except for Exodus 24.

2)   Despite the fact Chazah is employed in Ex. 24, I have shown so far that the connotation of mental perception as described in 1) does not apply here, nor did the ancient Targums view this incident as a spiritual one, or a mere prophetic vision. To interpret the incident as a prophetic vision, begs the answer to certain questions: a) Why in verse 1 did God tell them to fo up the mountain to the Lord, remaining at a distance from him while Moses drew near? B) Why does it say that God did not lift up His hand against them, as would have been expected?

3)   In addition to the Targums, who viewed this event, not as a mere prophetic vision, the Talmud itself tries to solve the theological problem of what was interpreted as a literal visual perception, by claiming that was in fact Metatron whom they were told to come up to. I find it hard to believe that such an angel, so exalted, bearing the very name of YHWH, can exist in a strict Jewish monotheistic context.

From our perspective, the Targums, the Talmud, and those who purport the prophetic vision interpretation are simply trying to solve a theological problem by evading the obvious.

But then again, I will submit the probability that it is only “obvious” from my perspective, considering that I have additional data to consider in formulating a sound and plausible conclusion on this issue.

With regards to the next link you gave me: http://www.aish.com/torahportion/shalomweekly/Mishpatim_5764.asp

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Even at the time of redemption and joy, it is important to recall the previous suffering that one experienced. This adds an entire dimension to the joy.

Wise words that we can all learn from indeed! The New Testament takes this further, by teaching we are to rejoice in our very times of suffering:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (Jam.1:2).

"I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, the church" (Colos.1:24)

"Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." (1Pet.4:13).

"I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize" (1Cor.9:27).

"For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him" (Phil.1:29).

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We see the scriptural references to the "word of God" (you'll please forgive me for using a lower case w!) and suchlike as poetic metaphors/images & not references to the "Word of God" as a personified/actual being.

Well no Christian would identify the Word of God as an “actual being”, for this would suggest that The Word of God has an existence exclusive to the existence of God Himself, which would constitute to polytheism. People unacquainted with the metaphysical context in which the church Fathers were operating in when they employed such terms as “person” and “being” to explicate biblical revelation; will often use the terms as if they’re logical equivalents; which they are not. “Being” denotes existence, whereas “Person” is, generally speaking, a “principle of being”, a “real aspect” of an existence.

In this sense, though we see The Word of God as having a distinct identity (since it does not constitute the entire Godhead), it is also nonetheless identified with God, in the sense that, He being a real aspect and principle of God’s being, is thus of His very essence. (Hence John 1:1, where we find distinction and identification in a sense of predication: “In the beginning was The Word, and The Word was with God, and The Word was God”)

In the words of St Thomas Aquinas, ‘The Word’ is simply “The encapsulation of the infinite divine knowledge of God”, He represents the “Reason”, or “inner thought” of God. This calls for the appropriate analogy of the relationship between a human being and that human being’s mind. The Human mind has a distinct identity since it does not constitute the entire being of a human, but is rather an essential aspect of the human being, yet the mind is nonetheless human - I.e. of the human essence as a result of its being an aspect of the human being. In this sense we can say that “The mind is with human, and the mind is human.”

Considering this understanding of The Word as the “reason”, “inner thought” or “infinite divine knowledge” of God, it only makes sense that The Word would be depicted as the divine agent of creation (Genesis 1:1, Ps. 33:6), for God “reasons” the creation into being, by/through His “infinite divine knowledge” (Cf. Ps. 33:6, John 1:3), rather than literally “speaking” it into creation as if His Word is some linguistic sign.

Ofcourse as Christians, the above conception of The Word becomes explicit for us in light of the New Testament data which we process alongside that of the Tanakh (since we consider both texts to be inspired by the same divine providence). However, I do believe that the above thoughts, do make sense of a lot of the Old Testament scriptures relevant to The Word.

You suggested that “The Word” was simply a metaphor, employed as a poetic device - but surely there must be a point or purpose to this? Why is it that “God said let there be light” - why could he not have simply created the light?

Something further to consider is the Wisdom of proverbs 8. Why is this depicted as a distinct reality (notice I deliberately evaded the word “being” or “existence”), possessing the divine attributes of God?

As Christians we will affirm that there is One Creator. We simply reason (primarily due to the additional New Testament data), that the Wisdom/Word of this one creator, is the instrumental device through which God created the heavens and the earth (Ps. 33:6 and Prov. 8 ). Since The Lord’s reason/Wisdom/knowledge is not some externally existent “thing” but rather an intrinsic aspect of His own being - we can affirm that: God is the creator - The Word of God is the creator - The Wisdom of God is the creator, yet there remains One Creator.

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2) Ah, so you're a Led Zeppelin fan too?

If I knew who Led Zeppelin was, I might have understood the joke lol (Does this mean im not cool?)

Im very sorry for the length of my post! Please forgive me, and thanks again for your patience and demeanour.

Peace
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No longer an active member of this forum. Sincerest apologies to anyone who has taken offence to anything posted in youthful ignorance or negligence prior to my leaving this forum - October, 2012.

"Philosophy is the imitation by a man of what is better, according to what is possible" - St Severus
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« Reply #51 on: February 23, 2005, 08:20:55 AM »

Led Zepplin is a band from the 70's...check them out sometime.  Wink

other than that, just sitting back and digesting the posts...
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« Reply #52 on: February 24, 2005, 08:07:16 AM »

Hi all!

I 'pologize for not posting yesterday but DW & I took the day off (it was her birthday last week), worked out arrangements for the kids until around 17:30 or so and proceeded to percolate, recreate, marinate & otherwise invigorate our persons at http://www.hamei-yoav.co.il/indexEng.html. I recommend the occasional soak at natural thermo-mineral springs for everybody; what a great way to unwind the mind & retread the head (quoth Gerry Trudeau). Now I know what stew feels like after it has been simmering for several hours...Mmmmmmm!!!

Ramble On (http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/ledzeppelin/rambleon.html) is one of Led Zeppelin's best songs (I think); it was off their Led Zeppelin II album.

Anyway...

EkhristosAnesti, thank you for what you wrote in the opening sentence of your previous post. When stuff like that comes up I just keep my head down & wait it out. I put a lot more stock in the learned comments by yourself, Anastasios, IanLazarus, Aurelia, et. al. vis-a-vis what Orthodox Christianity is all about.

You posted:

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I find this a rather unusual reading of the text, for if we look at it plainly: “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” - It speaks of God dwelling “amongst” them, rather than “inside” or “within” them; and furthermore His dwelling “amongst” them, is consequential to the very building of the sanctuary - making it plainly implicit that God will dwell amongst them, by being uniquely present within the sanctuary. According to Young’s literal translation, this specific verse reads: “And they have made for Me a sanctuary, and I have tabernacled in their midst” which further emphasizes my point.

Certainly God dwells inside the hearts of His children, but it doesn’t really make sense that God would need the building of a sanctuary in order to dwell inside the believers, nor does this sound like a plausible reading of the text itself.

Furthermore, Solomon himself makes it explicitly clear, that it was indeed the temple through which God made Himself uniquely present, such that He would be in their midst: “The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; I have built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever.” (2 Chronicles 6:1-2). Most of the translations I have (JPS, KJV, ASV, WEB, DBY, YLT, WBS) actually render 2 Chron. 6:2 as “I have built a house of habitation for thee/you” which further stresses my point. In 2 Chron. 6:18, it is clear that Solomon understands that the temple would somehow mysteriously “contain” God, since he questions how this can be, considering that not even the heavens can “contain” Him: “But will God really dwell on earth with men? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (2 Chron. 6:18)

Note also, God’s response in 9:3: “I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” Obviously God does not have eyes nor a heart, its simply figurative language plainly saying that God will be uniquely present in that temple. The ancient Jewish targum actually renders the verse: “GǪI have sanctified this house which you built for my Shekinah to abide there forever, and my Shekinah will abide in it with my will being there always.”

I'll defend our Sages' take on, ""Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them." The differences between "among", "within", "in the midst of," etc., I think are more emantical than substantive. While we certainly needed a physical locale in which we could relate to God (in certain ways that He commanded us), the main impact of the Tabernacle/Temples was their effect on us, that the services & offerings performed therein would make us better better Jews & better people. For the greater part of our history, we have had to live without the Tabernacle/Temples, but a far more important & greater, and more enduring, home for God is that within our hearts. Bricks, wood, marble, etc. may be smashed down, but the Temple in our hearts is both indestructable & eternal. I acknowledge (of course!) what King Solomon said. But I'll refer you to Isaiah 66:1-2 (we read Isaiah 66:1-24 in synagogue when the New Moon, i.e. the first of the Hebrew month, falls on the Sabbath; we'll read it nex on Saturday, March 12):

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Thus says the Lord: The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool; where is the house that you may build unto Me? And where is the place that may be My resting-place? For all these things has My hand made, and so all these things came to be, says the Lord; but on this man will I look, even on him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at My word.

We believe that Jacob no more saw God than Samson's parents did. Judges 13:15 says:

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And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord: 'I pray you, let us detain you, that we may make ready a kid for you.' And the angel of the Lord said unto Manoah: 'Though you detain me, I will not eat of your bread; and if you will make ready a burnt-offering, you must offer it unto the Lord.'

From the angel's reply to Samson's papa-to-be, we learn that the angel was not God. A few verses later, we read:

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Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the Lord. And Manoah said unto his wife: 'We shall surely die, because we have seen God.'

Even though the text tells us that Manoah knew their visitor had been an angel, he stills says what says to his wife. She, being more on the spiritual ball as women are apt to be (so Judaism believes), calms his fears. We believe that by saying, "...we have seen God," to his wife, even though he knew the visitor to have been an angel, Manoah was saying that he & his wife had been graced with a divine revelation, with a manifestation of a Heavenly being, which such as we, normally, cannot see. Humbled, overwhelmed & awed, he says, "...we have seen God," relating not to the bearer of the message but directly to the One who sent him. Angels, we believe, are conduits, messengers (that's what the Hebrew word malach means). Not only can they speak for God but God can speak through them. Thus, Abraham & Moses/God used the angelic conduits & spoke to God/Abraham & Moses directly. You might find Rabbi Eytan Feiner's To Become Like Angels at
http://www.aish.com/hhyomk/hhyomkdefault/To_Become_Like_Angels.asp. He talks about angels in general & Jacob's wrasslin' match. (Note: We divide the Torah into 54 weekly portions of varying lengths, which we complete every 12-12.75 months, depending on the quirks of calendar. The portions' names are usually 1 or 2 words from the beginning of the reading. Sometimes, depending on those calendrical quirks, certain portions may be read together. At the very beginning of his article, Rabbi Feiner refers to two such portions from near the end of Deuteronomy. See http://www.jewfaq.org/readings.htm.) http://www.ohrtorahstone.org.il/parsha/5761/vayishlach61.htm / http://tinyurl.com/4c4lq is also a very good take on the aforesaid wrasslin' match.

You posted:

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But then again, I will submit the probability that it is only “obvious” from my perspective..

As Hamlet says, "Ay, there's the rub." Faith not being mathematics, "obvious" is a very subjective & loaded term. As passionate believers in our faiths, each with its own respective perspective ( Smiley ), I think that we shall have to (amiably!) file very many things under the heading of "Agree-to-disagree".

Your citation of I Peter 4:13, reminds me of a story about our very great 1st-2nd century CE sage Rabbi Akiva (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/akiba.html):

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"Once, several years after the destruction of the Holy Temple, Rabban Gamliel, Rabbi Eliezer ben Azarya, Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Akiva were going up to Jerusalem. When they reached Mt. Scopus, the site of the Temple came into view, and they tore their garments in mourning. When they reached the Temple Mount, they saw a fox dart out from the spot where the Holy of Holies had stood in the Holy Temple. The other rabbis began to weep, but Rabbi Akiva laughed. They said to him: "Akiva, you never cease to amaze us. We are crying, and you laugh!" But Rabbi Akiva said, "And you, why are you crying?"

The rabbis responded: "What? Shall we not weep? The place about which Scripture states (Numbers 1:51), 'And the stranger who draws close shall die,' has become a den of foxes? Indeed, this is a fulfillment of the verse, 'For Mt. Zion which lies desolate, foxes prowl over it' (Lamentations 5:18).

Rabbi Akiva answered them: 'This is exactly why I laugh. For just as we have seen the prophecies of Jerusalem's destruction have come to pass, so too, know that the prophecies of her future consolation shall also be fulfilled. I laughed because I remembered the verses (Zachariah 8:4-5), 'Old men and old women will once again sit in the streeets of Jerusalem, each with his staff in his hand because of advanced age; and the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.' The Holy One, blessed be He, has declared that just as the first prophecies have been fulfilled, so shall the latter. I am joyous that the first have already come to pass, for the latter shall be fulfilled in the future.'

Said the rabbis, 'You have comforted us, Akiva, you have comforted us. May you be comforted by the footsteps of the messenger'."

(Adapted from Midrash Rabba Eicha, 5)

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Im very sorry for the length of my post! Please forgive me, and thanks again for your patience and demeanour.

Please don't apologize & you're welcome!

Like somebody once said, "Ignorance and intolerance are the Devil's footmen."

Be well!

MBZ

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"Gather your wits and hold on fast..." [The Who]

"Lose your dreams and you could lose your mind." [The Rolling Stones]

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EkhristosAnesti
'I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust."' - Psalm 91:2
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« Reply #53 on: February 24, 2005, 10:17:36 PM »

MBZ,

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I 'pologize for not posting yesterday but DW & I took the day off


Apology not accepted. Don't leave us like that again! laugh Nah, we missed you.

Im glad you had a great time, looks like a nice place. As for the simmering stew...i think i'll pass!

Since Aurelia has told me that Led Zeppelin is a 70's band, then i guess at my age, i remain "cool" for not knowing who they are Cheesy

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When stuff like that comes up I just keep my head down & wait it out.


I'd just like to make a brief comment (being a student of Judaism, Christianity and Islam), on Jace's stressed comparison between Judaism and Islam, and contrasting between Christianity and Judaism. It seems that at face value Islam is "closer" to Judaism, than Christianity is, primarily because of the legalistic aspect of both belief systems. The New Testament contains no such legalism, but rather exegetes or interprets the ceremonial and religious aspects of the law, spiritually, according to the manner in which Christ (who claimed authority over the law as Lord of the law) fulfilled the law (e.g. the sacraficial system is fulfilled in His sacrafice, the sabbath law is fulfilled in his resurrection etc.). With regards to the civil aspect of the law, I believe the New Testament did not institute any for we already have the Mosaic law, which "should" I believe, be instituted under the rule of a theocratic goverment (I would assert here that I am unaware of any Orthodox views on this issue, Im still waiting for a solid reply).

If one did a comparison between the Mosaic law and the Islamic Sharia law, they would find that the Mosaic law is indeed supreme, and more just in its dealings with wrong doers, and females especially. The whole Islamic religion was a perversion of Judeo-Christian scriptures, taken out of context for Muhamme's own personal agenda.

If we look to the essence of the three faiths, we find that Judaism and Christianity are much closer than many think. Ive already shown so far, that both Judaism and Christianity teach that one should love their enemies, and that the eye for an eye injunction was a metaphorical law of justice to be institued by civil authorities. We find in Islam on the other hand, the teaching of "kill thy enemy" and "slay them wherever ye find them", and the perversion of eye for an eye into a law of personal revenge.

The love of God, and the command to Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, mind, and soul is the first and foremost important commandment that the Judeo-Christian scriptures hang on. On the other hand, Islam hangs on the notion of fear and submission to a terrorising deity who will personally torture you in the lietral fire of hell (which is fuled by men and jinn/demons by the way) otherwise.

Finally, though Jews and Christians may differ with regards to how certain scriptures are to be interpreted, Christians have never charged God with weakness, and incapability in preserving his scriptures, such that we need to claim that they were corrupt by men - a charge made by muslims to try and explain away the explicit contradictions between the quran and the previous scriptures that it on a number of occasions claims to confirm. Nor do we pervert the stories of the prophets, by switching charcters, and placing them in a foreign time and place, as Muhammed did to suit his agenda, such as he did when he claimed that Abraham and Adam built the Kaba in Mecca! laugh and that the covenant was made with Ishmael rather than Isaac.

Furthermore, we find that the New Testament scriptures fundamentally rely on the Hebrew scriptures, being written by Jewish authors, using Jewish literary techniques (St Matthews Gospel employs some heavy midrash techniques), employing Jewish symbolism, and Jewish precedent to develop its Christology. The Qu'ran is very much an out of context book, with a very foreign literary style, arabic poetry with an underlying Syriac substratum, based on characters who are ripped out of their historical, social, cultural, and religious context, as literary products in which theyre resurrected as Muslim prophets.

Anyways, moving on, id like to start off with one of your concluding comments:

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As passionate believers in our faiths, each with its own respective perspective ( ), I think that we shall have to (amiably!) file very many things under the heading of "Agree-to-disagree".

Definitely! However, i usually have trouble deciding when is the right time lol so maybe you can help me out. I know often sound repititive sometimes, I often do it without noticing - since I dont resume university again for another 2 weeks or so, I also have plenty of time on my hands, so I may get carried away (Led Zeppelin song too? Cool).

You started off by saying:
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While we certainly needed a physical locale in which we could relate to God (in certain ways that He commanded us), the main impact of the Tabernacle/Temples was their effect on us, that the services & offerings performed therein would make us better better Jews & better people.

I’m certainly not trying to refute this notion at all, but this understanding of the temple does not have to necessarily negate the fact that the divine was capable of making Himself uniquely present in the temple as He so promised. Indeed this was not only the understanding of Solomon in response to God’s promise that he would “dwell amongst them”, but it was the very understanding made explicit in the ancient Targums. (Out of curiosity, how much authority do these targums have within Orthodox Judaism?).

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but a far more important & greater, and more enduring, home for God is that within our hearts. Bricks, wood, marble, etc. may be smashed down, but the Temple in our hearts is both indestructible & eternal.

Amen! Again, we find further points of agreement. The New Testament itself testifies to the fact that believers in God are the temples in which He dwells:

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Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (I Cor. 3:16)


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If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are (I Cor. 3:17).


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In John 14:23 we read: “Jesus answered, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. “

Here is an allusion to our bodies possessing the function of temples:

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“I beseech you therefore by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God”

Furthermore, the New Testament acknowledges that such temples are as you said:
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far more important & greater, and more enduring

And I will speak about this next.

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I acknowledge (of course!) what King Solomon said. But I'll refer you to Isaiah 66:1-2

Thus says the Lord: The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool; where is the house that you may build unto Me? And where is the place that may be My resting-place? For all these things has My hand made, and so all these things came to be, says the Lord; but on this man will I look, even on him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at My word.

Amen. In fact, you will find this very verse quoted in the New Testament! If we go to the book of Acts 7:49 we read:

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“However, the Most High does not dwell in sanctuaries made with hands, as the prophet says: Heaven is My throne, and earth My footstool. What sort of house will you build for Me? says the Lord, or what is My resting place?”

Like all things concerning the Almighty, we are confronted with mystery and “apparent” paradox, which I believe both the Old and New Testament seem to present us with concerning this issue. The New Testament affirms on one hand, that the Lord transcends the finite creation such that He cannot be “contained”, nor does He dwell in sanctuaries, yet on the other hand, it clearly affirms that the Lord was uniquely present in the person of Christ, such that His glory and shekinah “tabernacled” in our midst when His Word became incarnate in the form of a man.

Likewise we see the Old Testament, acknowledging essentially the same thing. Though the Lord is majestically beyond dwelling in some sanctuary built by the hands of man, he promises that He will uniquely be present - and the ancient Targums understood that this would be carried out through His own glory and shekinah.

Two points we want to consider here, both the scriptural context, in addition to some theoretical/philosophical thinking as to what it means to say that God is “infinite”.

First of all, to understand the statement that God cannot be “contained” nor “dwell” in physical creation, in a literal sense, is to presuppose that God has spatial dimensions, which He certainly does not. God is not infinitely extended in space, nor is he a potential or actual infinity, but rather an absolute infinity, referring to His qualities. Such a being, surely cannot be “confined” to a particular physical place in-time, since He lacks quantitative dimensions. However, logically speaking, an absolute infinite can be expressed and can be manifest at a single focal point or within a finite dimensional space such as the physical temple or the physical body of Christ which He testified to be the temple of God:J ohn 2:18-21

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18So the Jews answered and said to Him, "What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?" 19Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." 20Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" 21But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them;[c] and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.


At this point, Id also like you to take into consideration the fact that you have just acknowledged that God is capable of dwelling inside the believers in a unique and mysterious way. To interpret Isaiah 66:2 in a manner as to conclude that he cannot somehow mysteriously and uniquely fill the temple through his glory and divine presence, would necessitate that you forgo the idea that he can mysteriously and uniquely fill the temple of our hearts, for both are finite in the same sense.

With regards to the context of Acts 7 which quotes Isaiah 66, and Isaiah 66 itself: It is affirming that God does not confine Himself to any house made with hands, as if He could be circumscribed by space.
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“The temple was not the absolute and exclusive dwelling place of God”
says the footnote to Acts 7 in my Orthodox Study Bible. This is the very same sentiment Solomon expresses, as a sort of precautionary provision for the majesty of God in 1 Kings 8:27, though Solomon clearly recognizes that God has promised, and so will, uniquely “tabernacle in the “house of habitation” that Solomon built for Him, without it “confining” Him, in a manner such that His presence in the temple is exclusive.

I believe in light of this, that Isaiah 66 was directed at those, who much gloried in the temple, using it as a false sense of security, whilst forgetting and losing sight of the more spiritual and greater matters i.e. those matters which concern the heart. I think these verses are just a reminder for them, God essentially saying: “Just because I promised to be uniquely present in this temple, this doesn’t mean I am confined to it, as if this is where I am exclusively, I am Majestic beyond the false conceptions you have of me, I am the absolute infinite omnipresent being, so quit your superstitious reverence of this temple, and remember the greater things - the temple of the heart, in which I also dwell.” Such verses were therefore intended to humble them, and shake their vain confidence. This can be paralleled to the fact that though God required atoning sacrifices to be made, He clearly elsewhere says that He does not rejoice in sacrifice - addressing those specifically who worship the Lord in vein, forgetting the greater matters (i.e. more concerned with the physical sacrafice then the sacrafice of a "broken and a contrite heart".

To further this point, Jesus Himself rebuked the very sort of line of thought adopted by the people that Isaiah was addressing. If we go to John 4:19-24 we read:

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19“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”


At this point I would like to bring up one of your initial comments:

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For the greater part of our history, we have had to live without the Tabernacle/Temples,


Since the Lord, as I have explained thus far, is not “confined” nor “exclusive” to the temple, nor is His promised presence, intended for the temple to be received superstitiously, nor is worship in the temple which is filled with the glory and shekinah of the Lord supposed to give one a false sense of security, such that they worship in vein, with disregard to the “greater temple” of our hearts; then this really presents no problem.

In one of my previous posts, I briefly mentioned the fact that Christ is also identified with Torah. At this stage I would like to quote New Testament scholar and 1st century historian (who is also specialized in second temple Judaism) is N.T.Wright, with regards to the absence of the temple which you speak of, and the position of the Torah in such times. He states in his book “The Challenge of Jesus” (A great introduction to a great series on the historical Jesus), on page 43:

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“The Pharisees had begun to articulate the view that the blessings one normally got from the Temple could be had instead by study and practice of the Torah. ‘If two sit together and study the Torah, the Divine presence rests between them.” (Mishnah Aboth 3.2); this early Rabbinic saying meant that one could have the temple-priviledge of being in the presence of God anywhere in the world.”

Interestingly, we find that Christ Himself in speaking to his contemporaries says to them:

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”For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20

In commenting on Christ’s identification with the temple he states:

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“There are several indications in the Gospels that Jesus was deliberately acting in a way such as to say, that where he wasGǪIsrael’s God was active and present in the same way as He normally was in the temple” (page 49).


In this was Jesus presented Himself as the personal embodiment of what the temple stood for, as though He were a one-man counter-temple movement. Briefly summarishing some of the ways which support this, he goes on to say on page 60:

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“The Temple was the greatest Jewish symbol, and Jesus wasGǪclaiming authority over it, claiming for himself and his mission, the central place the Temple had occupied. The Last Supper was Jesus’ own alternative symbol, the kingdom-feast, the new-exodus feast. And, just as the Temple pointed to the sacrficical meeting of the covenant God and His people, the sign of forgiveness and hope, of God dwelling in their midst as the God of covenant renewal, covenant steadfastness, covenant love, so now Jesus, by His own double action, was claiming that here, in his own work, in his own person, all that the temple stood for was being summed up in a new and final way.”

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From the angel's reply to Samson's papa-to-be, we learn that the angel was not God.

Coming from an Orthodox Christian perspective, we do not find that this verse; which draws a distinction between The Angel of the Lord and the Lord (which I presume is your reasoning towards the conclusion that the Angel is not God) to be mutually exclusive to the fact that The Angel of the Lord is indeed the Lord. As I mentioned earlier, we identify the Angel of the Lord with the pre-existent Word. In John 1:1, the Word is clearly and explicitly said to be distinct from God: “The Word was WITH God”, yet the next clause clearly affirms that “The Word WAS God” i.e. of His essence. Here we would identify “God” as “The Father”, and the “The Word” as “The Son - Christ”, who is as I mentioned before an intrinsic, essential aspect of God’s very being, thus Jesus can clearly affirm in John 10:30 “I and the Father are One.”

This sort of distinction and identification is thus exactly what we expect to see, from our own Christian perspective.

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Manoah was saying that he & his wife had been graced with a divine revelation, with a manifestation of a Heavenly being, which such as we, normally, cannot see.


Yet no matter how heavenly this being is, you affirm it is a mere angel - and though angels “cannot normally be seen” (to paraphrase your words), surely one would not expect to die as the result of seeing one. The very reaction of Manoah as with the reaction of Jacob, presupposes that they did indeed see God, for it is in seeing God alone which results in death. Since God’s “face” was veiled by the form of an angel however, they did not behold that very essence which would cause one to die, if it were beheld, and hence their reaction to the same paradox.

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Angels, we believe, are conduits, messengers (that's what the Hebrew word malach means).


Yes I understand this, the question however remains, whether this particular messenger in question - "The Angel of YHWH", was in fact a “mere messenger” or rather a “divine agent” of God’s very being, a “personified extension of God’s will or a distinct personification of God’s self-manifestation”.

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Not only can they speak for God but God can speak through them.


Do you mean in first person? And if so, then what do you think it would take, for the scriptures to show that the Angel of the Lord is indeed distinct from yet equal to the Lord in essence and of His being? As in, if indeed this doctrine was taught, what would you expect to find in the scriptures?

So far it has been shown that the Angel of the Lord has a distinct identity (the only logically necessary conclusion to be drawn from this fact, is that we have a distinction of name/identity/persona rather than being/existence/essence). So we can agree at this stage that they’re two different “persons” in this sense. We know that there exists only One God, and that this God possesses a divine essence characterized by certain divine attributes and characteristics. We also understand from the scriptures, that to behold this essence, will result in death. We also know that when the Angel of the Lord was beheld, a paradox occurred such that death was expected, yet it did not come to pass, suggesting that through the Angel of the Lord the divine was present yet veiled through a non-divine form.

Id like to put forth further factors to support why as Christians we believe that we have more than an angel on our hands, with regards to the Lord’s angel.

"See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out." Exodus 23:20-23

I emphasized the personal pronouns in italics to emphasise the point that the Lord and His angel are indeed two differing persona’s, Yet the Lord clearly affirms that it is the Angel who has the ability to forgive sins and the who possesses the power to destroy the enemies of Israel! And, as if that is not enough, the very divine Name of the Lord is “in Him” witnessing to the fact that this Angel embodies the very divine character and nature of the Lord. The fact the divine name was in the Angel is a statement that “What the Angel isGǪ.God isGǪ” which is affirmed by the preceding divine attributes that the Lord says His Angel Possesses. As I understand it in its Hebrew context, it is the name of someone that reveals His character - Here we have a distinct persona, possessing the divine attributes, having the name of the Lord to reflect His character, in the context of a text which is strictly monotheistic. From our point of view we can only identify this Angel as an aspect/persona of God’s being, and furthermore identify Him with the Word, who according to the New Testament is depicted in the exact same manner.

The “High Christology” of the New Testament finds its very precedent in the Old Testament, and other pre-Christian Jewish scriptures (especially concerning The Wisdom of the Lord).

Another minor point I’d like to point out, is that in contrast to the Angel of the Lord, whenever a mere angel such as Gabriel, or Michael appear to one bearing a message from the divine - theyre always identified by name: Daniel 8:15-16, Daniel 9:20-21, Daniel 10:10-14, 21.

Again, I apologise for another essay! I know you're thinking ---> :violent:

Peace!


« Last Edit: February 24, 2005, 10:25:40 PM by EkhristosAnesti » Logged

No longer an active member of this forum. Sincerest apologies to anyone who has taken offence to anything posted in youthful ignorance or negligence prior to my leaving this forum - October, 2012.

"Philosophy is the imitation by a man of what is better, according to what is possible" - St Severus
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« Reply #54 on: February 24, 2005, 11:23:36 PM »

One more thing I wanted to comment on:

Concerning this link: (Your links are great btw, keep them coming, the more i read the more i learn how much in common we really have)
http://www.aish.com/hhyomk/hhyomkdefault/To_Become_Like_Angels.asp

It states:

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Yes, indeed, we can attain the highest of levels.

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But our journey along the path to spiritual perfection must begin with constantly being "holchim," continuously moving upward. After diligent work and tireless efforts in pursuit of endless striving towards personal spiritual completion,

This is very interesting, because Christianity teaches also that there is a level of spiritual perfection that can be attained. According to the scriptures, it comes about as a progress from the corrupt fallen nature of man towards the image and likeness of God. Hence Christ was not giving man false hopes when he commanded plainly in  Matthew 5:48:

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“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

According to our theology, however, although perseverance and striving is necessary:

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“For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. (Colossians 1:29)

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

“It is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. (Matthew 10:22)

“7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-“ 2 Timothy 4:7,8

It is a) Not possible of our own selves, but possible because of the help of God:

Quote
“So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.”  (1 Corinthians 3:7)

“So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” (Romans 9:16)

For the Lord says: “5"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he (E)bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

b) Striving is not enough to attain this state of Spiritual perfection, rather, it is attained through a process called theosis in which we become “transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit’ (2 Cor. 3:17-18). This according to Orthodoxy, was only possible through the incarnation of The Word. Through the Divine’s participation in humanity, we are able to participate in His divinity - NOT in a literal sense, but rather in the sense that through the communion of the Spirit and Christ dwelling within the believers, we become endowed in Christs resurrection, with both the perfect moral character of God and immortality.

Hope i havent given you a headache  Embarrassed
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« Reply #55 on: February 26, 2005, 05:29:57 PM »

Hi EkhristosAnesti!

It's 22:45 Saturday evening here.  DW & Da Boyz are Zzzzz; it's just me & Meirav (the hamster; I think that Saul's daughter would be flattered!).

You posted:

Quote
We find in Islam on the other hand, the teaching of "kill thy enemy" and "slay them wherever ye find them", and the perversion of eye for an eye into a law of personal revenge.

This bugs me too.  DW & I went to hear this woman http://www.muslimrefusenik.com/ lecture at Hebrew University in Jerusalem last week.  What she had to say was fascinating.  I'd like to read her book.

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(Out of curiosity, how much authority do these targums have within Orthodox Judaism?).

The targums are certainly an authoritative commentary, among the many others.  Their views have votes, not vetoes.

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However, logically speaking, an absolute infinite can be expressed and can be manifest at a single focal point or within a finite dimensional space...

This reminds of the encounter with The Point in Chapter 20 of Edwin Abbot's delightful Flatland: http://www.alcyone.com/max/lit/flatland/20.html.

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...such as the physical temple or the physical body of Christ which He testified to be the temple of God

I think that whereas we say that God made Himself present in the Temple, you believe that God was/is Christ.

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Yet no matter how heavenly this being is, you affirm it is a mere angel - and though angels “cannot normally be seen” (to paraphrase your words), surely one would not expect to die as the result of seeing one. The very reaction of Manoah...

Manoah was overwhelmed by his emotions; his wife had more of a spiritual grip on herself (as, we believe, women are wont to have) & set her husband straight.

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Do you mean in first person? And if so, then what do you think it would take, for the scriptures to show that the Angel of the Lord is indeed distinct from yet equal to the Lord in essence and of His being? As in, if indeed this doctrine was taught, what would you expect to find in the scriptures?

Yes.

Ah, to us, it's (and here comes that very loaded word again) obvious.  The angel appeared to Abraham on Mt. Moriah & Abraham addressed God directly through it.

Regarding Exodus 23:20-23, most of our commentators see this as one of the instances in which the Hebrew word malach dies not refer to an angel per se but to another "messenger" (what malach literally means) but to earthly messengers, i.e. prophets, i.e. Moses.

Regarding your second post (and stop apologizing for the length of your posts!),


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« Reply #56 on: February 27, 2005, 01:44:44 AM »

MBZ,

Hope all is going well with you.

Quote
DW & I went to hear this woman http://www.muslimrefusenik.com/ lecture at Hebrew University in Jerusalem last week. What she had to say was fascinating. I'd like to read her book.

It looks interesting, though Im not sure that having an honors in history and being the producer and host of “queer television”, sound like the kind of credentials of a person that I would consider seriously with regards to their views and opinions on Islam. I have a problem with this idea of "reforming Islam" - I see it as a cop out. If it is recognised that fundamental Islam is dangerous, and that it promotes racism, hatred, and terrorism etc., then the only real solution is to eradicate it all together. By dishing out a fake version of Islam; what i like to call "diet Islam" or "islam lite" as i see it in the west; is simply pretense, its an attempt to veil the dark truth. My views may seem a bit radical, but i certainly wont comrpomise them for the sake of political correctness. I have tried as dispassionately as i can to objectively discover whether or not the Islam of Muhammed, was intended as a political agenda to "conquer the world" so to speak, through methods of terrorism and intimidation...and I can only in all honesty state what i truly believe on the matter.

I would recommend the works of Mark Gabriel; he was the former Imam of the mosque at Giza, Cairo. He was also former professor of Islamic history at Al-Azhar university (The most renowned and reputable Islamic university in the Islamic world), having graduated from their with a doctorate and masters in Islamic theology. He is now an Orthodox Christian, having escaped Egypt after close encounters with those who sought his life following his apostasy.

I have both his books: “Islam and the Jews: The Unfinished Battle” http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0884199568/qid=1109465120/sr=2-2/ref=pd_ka_b_2_2/002-0715877-2635224

And: “Islam and terrorism” http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0884198847/ref=pd_bxgy_text_1/002-0715877-2635224?v=glance&s=books&st=*

I have yet to start the first one and im about a fifth of the way into the second one. So far it seems like ive made a valuable investment.

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I think that whereas we say that God made Himself present in the Temple, you believe that God was/is Christ.

Well the analogy can only be taken so far. Its simply a matter of, “just as God tabernacled in our midst via the physical/created temple, so too He tabenacled in our midst when His Word became incarnate in the form of a physical/created human being.” The Shekinah and glory of God is also identified with both as I said before; and just as the fullness of God’s glory filled the temple, in Christ the “fullness of deity dwells in bodily form" (Colossians 2:9)

Our conception of Christ, is that He has two perfect, distinct yet united natures. Since eternity Christ has existed as the eternal Word of God. In-time the eternal Word took upon Himself a human nature, which was united with His divinity “without mingling, without confusion, and without alteration”, such that we can affirm that the one person of Christ exists with two perfect natures, “his humanity parted not from His divinity, for a single moment, nor the twinkle of an eye.” This is made clear through Phil. 2:5-11 where St Paul says that “He who being in the form of God....made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man..." The greek term for "being" is in the present participle and implies a continuous existence or abiding reality, emphasising that the Divine did not in some way "transform" into humanity, nor did it ever cease to exist at the point of incarnation.

Thus, when we say “Christ is God”, we would technically translate this to “Christ possessed a divine nature, according to His eternal identity as The Word of God, and hence the person of Christ was God in essence.”

The incarnation of Christ and Christology in general is not an easy topic for us to graspGǪThere is a point where we have to submit our finite reason and logic:

Isaiah 55:8-9 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts."

1 Timothy 3:16: "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory."


Quote
Ah, to us, it's (and here comes that very loaded word again) obvious. The angel appeared to Abraham on Mt. Moriah & Abraham addressed God directly through it.

From our perspective, there could be no more explicit way to suggest two distinct persona’s existing of the same One being/essence - a doctrine further explicated through the progressed revelation of the New Testament. I guess we will have to file this one under agree-to-disagree.

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Regarding Exodus 23:20-23, most of our commentators see this as one of the instances in which the Hebrew word malach dies not refer to an angel per se but to another "messenger"


First of all, id just like to point out, that even in the New Testament, “agency” language is not a foreign concept. Christ is depicted as the “sent agent” or “messenger” of God in a sense, yet we don’t see this as negating the fact He is still of the very essence of God. To put forth an analogy, I can say that my tongue is the agent of my thoughts, expressing my thoughts to people in an intelligible manner - i.e. through Words, yet my tongue remains of the human essence and of my very being.

Likewise, Christ is The Word (since God is infinite and perfect, He doesn’t have “many words” such as we do in human language, but one perfect infinite “Word” “encapsulating the infinite divine knowledge” as I mentioned before), the agent of God, of His very being and essence, expressing God personally, to mankind. If we look at John 1:18 again, it says that Christ has made God “known”. The Greek word for this is exegesato from which we derive the word “exegesis”. Christ is the eternal divine agent, who was sent to “exegete” God to mankind, in this sense.

Quote
(what malach literally means) but to earthly messengers, i.e. prophets, i.e. Moses.

How does this solve the problem of the fact that the subject is given the divine attributes of God - forgiveness and judgement, and possesses the very name of YHWH, which can only mean that the subject reflects the very character and nature of YHWH Himself?

Peace!
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« Reply #57 on: February 27, 2005, 08:29:59 AM »

Hi EkhristosAnesti!

Hmm...I was working on a post late last night when I thought that I had hit the wrong key and lost my post. Now I see that the rough draft I was working on actually posted...oh well.

Anyhoo...

So, here's take-two!

Regarding Exodus 23:20-23, some of our commentators see this as one of the instances in which the Hebrew word malach does not refer to an angel per se but to another "messenger" (what malach literally means) but to earthly messengers, i.e. prophets, i.e. Moses. But, thinking I had lost my post, when I went to synagogue this morning for morning prayers (at 06:00), I looked up these verses in an edition of Exodus that has the commentaries of about different Sages in it. Opinion on Exodus 23:20-23 is decidedly mixed. Some say it refers to Moses and Joshua. Others say that yes, it refers to an angel that God intended to lead the way for us, but they note that this was before we sinned with the Golden Calf. These Sages compare 23:20-23 with God's post-calf remarks in 32:34 and 33:2. Note the differences. In 32:34, God simply says, "My angel shall go before you," as we are en route to the Holy Land. In 33:1-2, God mentions the angel only in the context of entering & conquering the Land of Israel. They refer 33:1-2 to Joshua 5:14, which the angel confronting Joshua says, "I am captain of the host of the Lord; I have/am now come..." Our Sages comment on the seemingly redundant now & ask why the text doesn't simply say, "I have/am come"? What does now add? Our Sages teach that the angel is telling Joshua that he has come just then, as per God's promise in Exodus 33:1-2. I would again note that the angel doesn't tell Joshua, "I am the Lord," but identifies himself as a being apart/different from God, namely as "captain of the host of the Lord." That God then, after the parenthetical statement of 6:1, proceeds to address Joshua directly is another example of God speaking through an angel in the first person & using the latter as a conduit.

See http://www.netivot-shalom.org.il/parshaeng/vayishlach5762.php for a good read (I found it today) on our beliefs regarding angels.

Regarding your second post (and stop apologizing for the length of your posts!), you posted:

Quote
According to our theology, however, although perseverance and striving is necessary...It is a) Not possible of our own selves, but possible because of the help of God...

This reminds me of a famous Hasidic parable that I first heard at the end of the film version of Chaim Potok's The Chosen (with the late, grear Rod Steiger, Maximillian Schell & Robby Benson). A king had a son whom he loved very much. But as the son grew up, he & his father gradually grew apart until at last they were almost totally estranged. The son moved far away. But the king still loved hi son very much and, more than anything else in the world, wanted him to return to him. So he sent a message to this effect to his son, bidding him to return. The son, deep down in his heart wanted to, but he felt that too much time had passed and he was more than a little intimidated by the vast distance between himself & his father. So he sent a message back to his father & said, "I cannot come back to you; it is too far." The king, loving father that he was, sensed what was in his son's heart and sent another message to his son & said, "Then come as far as you can and I shall come to meet you." I love that story! Even if one small shuffle is all we can manage, we still have to make that effort.

Quote
...rather, it is attained through a process called theosis in which we become “transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit’ (2 Cor. 3:17-18). This according to Orthodoxy, was only possible through the incarnation of The Word. Through the Divine’s participation in humanity, we are able to participate in His divinity - NOT in a literal sense, but rather in the sense that through the communion of the Spirit and Christ dwelling within the believers, we become endowed in Christs resurrection, with both the perfect moral character of God and immortality.

I like to cite Deuteronomy 30:10-14:

Quote
...if you shall hearken to the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Torah scroll; if you turn unto the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul. For this commandment which I command you this day, it is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say: 'Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it?' Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say: 'Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it?' But the word is very nigh unto you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that your may do it."

"It is not in heaven, that you should say: 'Who shall...bring it unto us..." I see this as a statement of Jewish belief against the Christian belief that in order for us to participate in God's Divinity (NOT in the literal sense, as you point out; neither of us are Mormons!), He had to participate in humanity. He gave us the Torah & we believe that that is sufficient.

The point that Irshad Manji made in her lecture was that Islam wasn't always as profoundly static, conservative & fundamentalist as it is today & that there ample precedents of periods in which Islamic society was decidedly more tolerant of non-Muslims and in which debate and the asking of pointed questions was encouraged. Try Johns Hopkins University Prof. Fouad Ajami's Dream Palace of the Arabs: A Generation's Odyssey (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0375704744/102-3838073-2441721); this might be more to your liking. I adore Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat (FitzGerald translation, first edition, see http://www.armory.com/~thrace/ev/siir/Omar_Khayyam.html). I can't help but think that Islam & the world would be a lot better of if the cultural millieu which enabled Khayyam to write such an epic were still current today. Rubaiyat reminds me very much of Ecclesiastes, which is my favorite book of the Tanakh. If I figure out just 10% of Ecclesiastes in this lifetime I'll have done very well for myself.

Be well & be in touch!

MBZ

« Last Edit: February 27, 2005, 11:07:11 AM by MBZ » Logged

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« Reply #58 on: February 28, 2005, 09:29:56 AM »

MBZ,

I thought it was strange how your previous post ended so abruptly like that, thanks for retyping your lost response, and sorry for the trouble!

Tommorow morning (its 11:55 pm here) I will be leaving my hometown, to spend a week at the nearest monastery (7 hours away!), as a sort of spiritual preparation before i resume university. It will be a week of secluded prayer, worship, and labor, and so that means no computer until i get back! (Thats like going a week without air for me!) lol

Anyways, continuing with the discussion:

Quote
Opinion on Exodus 23:20-23 is decidedly mixed.


I guess the question remains, how do you reconcile the fact that the subject, possesses the divine attributes of God, and reflects YHWH’s very nature and character as a result of bearing YHWH’s very name, with your submission that the subject is a mere angel or prophet?

Quote
In 33:1-2, God mentions the angel only in the context of entering & conquering the Land of Israel.

I think if we let chapter 33 speak for itself, taking into account 23:20-23, we are given further confirmation of the divine identity of the figure in question. In 33:1-2 it mentions the Angel as the one who will be sent, 11-12 verses later it is the Shekinah who will be sent. I believe the ancient Targums were spot on when they explicitly identified the Angel of the lord with the Glory of the Shekinah, by using the terms as if they were logical equivalents - it certainly makes sense of the qualities given to this “Angel” as it is shown in 23:20-30.

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I would again note that the angel doesn't tell Joshua, "I am the Lord," but identifies himself as a being apart/different from God, namely as "captain of the host of the Lord."

You can only come to this conclusion if you presuppose that God is a unipersonal “solidarity-within-unity” type of being. Distinction in identity/name does not necessitate distinction in essence/being - the only logically necessary conclusion to draw is that there is a diversity of persons rather than a diversity of beings. We understand that God has a “foundational ego” so to speak- namely "The Father", the name used interchangeably with “God” throughout the New Testament. His Word - The Son, though distinct from God (The Word was with God John 1:1 b) is of His very being (And The Word was God - John 1:1 c). But again, even if The Angel did address Himself saying “I am the Lord”, im sure you would still escape this with your conduit justification Wink.

If we read on, Joshua fell on his face and worshipped this “Angel” as His Lord (such a practice is only ever given in the context of divine worship of YHWH, or reverence to a royal king - and since the worship is followed by the statement of “my Lord” - clearly divine worship is what is intended here), and took off his shoes due to the fact that the very presence of this “Angel” made the ground in which he was standing holy!! The Christian conception of God, although not in any sense contingent upon the identity of This Angel as The eternal Word of God, a distinct persona of His very being, could not be presented any more explicitly. To further this point from our perspective, the New Testament reveals to us certain occasions in which an angel of the Lord (here we refer to an actual created angel, rather than a manifestation of God) rebuked certain men for mistankingly worshipping the angel. In Revelations 19:10 we read:

Quote
"Then I (St John) fell at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, "Don't do that! I am a fellow slave with you and your brothers who have the testimony about Jesus. Worship God, because the testimony about Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."

And again, in Revelations 22:8-9:

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"I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. When I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had shown them to me. 9 But he said to me, "Don't do that! I am a fellow slave with you, your brothers the prophets, and those who keep the words of this book. Worship God." "


Regarding Deuteronomy 30:10-14:

Quote
I see this as a statement of Jewish belief against the Christian belief that in order for us to participate in God's Divinity (NOT in the literal sense, as you point out; neither of us are Mormons!), He had to participate in humanity.


I don’t see how Deuteronomy 30:10-14 contradicts, or has any relevance to the Christian doctrine of theosis at allGǪ. Maybe you can elaborate on how exactly?

As I see it, the verse: “'Who shall...bring it unto us..." is simply speaking about the fact that the law is so evident that none can pretend ignorance of it - it is not distant nor out of reach, it is given to man to follow, it is easily accessible, and so no one has any excuse not to strive to live by it. We know however, that no matter how hard one strives, we all ultimately fall short, and have all at some point in time transgressed the law as the result of the weakness of our fallen human nature - hence the need for the incarnation.

Deuteronomy 30:10-14 is actually another Old Testament passage quoted in the New Testament in substance/essence (in contrast to a word for word quotation), and St Paul is seen to apply a Midrash to the passage. If we go to Romans 10:5-14 it reads:

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5: "Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.e]
12: For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile-the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,
13: for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

St Paul applies midrash to Deut 30 to convey the message that the righteousness of faith given by God, has pre-eminence and superiority over the righteousness that one attains through their own individual observance of the law. The Gospel of Christ has been preached, and so no one has any excuse not to confess with their tongues and believe with their hearts that Christ is Lord, who became incarnate, died and rose from the dead on the third day, for our salvation - it is through such a faith, that our righteousness is justified, and through such faith does our “other righteousness” - that which we attain through obedience, (which usually fails) - succeed..

Breaking it down:

First, in verse 5, he speaks of the righteousness one attains by observing the law, quoting the law itself (Leviticus 18:5), in order to show that the law was against those who use the law as a way of securing righteousness. Leviticus 18:5 (which is reinforced also in Galatians 3:12 :
Quote
12And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them
.) states that those who keep His law, in all respects, living a blameless life (for a perfect sinless life, follows from a perfect obedience of perfect moral precepts of the law), shall have life - immortality and salvation. However, this way of justification is not possible to those who have ever transgressed any law at any point. St Paul has shown elsewhere, that it is impossible for man to perfectly observe the law, to live a sinless life - why? Because of our fallen nature, and hence the need for the incarnation, so that through the grace and truth that comes with Christ, we can start to undergo this transformation: John 1:17 “
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For the law was given through Moses; but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”


In verse 6, St Paul contrasts two categories of righteousness, righteousness that one attains through following the law, and righteousness imputed by God as a result of our faith in His Gospel (i.e. Christ, His incarnation, death and Resurrection). He now quotes a slightly modified phrasing of the Deut 30 passage to bring out a more spiritual interpretation in application to The Christ.

He is addressing the Jews of his day who had expectations of a Messiah who would reign the earth, and establish an earthly kingdom, more or less saying “Show us where your Christ is, bring him down from heaven where you say He now reigns, so that we might believe in Him” - . In verse 7, St Paul tells of another stumbling block for the Jews of his day, namely the death of the Lord Christ on the cross, and hence they more or less ask that The Christ be produced from the realm of the dead, so that they may witness the Risen Lord with their own eyes.

In verse 8 he refers to Deut. 30:14 to tell us what the righteousness of God demands - that we neither go up to heaven, nor go down to the abyss (nor go beyond the sea), that we neither need to bring Christ down from heaven, or bring him up risen from the dead, in order to inherit salvation - for the Gospel is at hand, it is evident, it has been witnessed and preached - and that our faith in Christ, that we nourish in our hearts, and openly confess by tongue, is primarily the security of our salvation.

Hence St Paul says elsewhere:

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"know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified," (Gal. 2:16).

and

"For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law," (Rom. 3:28).

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He gave us the Torah & we believe that that is sufficient.

I don’t see anything in those verses that describes the complete “sufficiency” in the Torah - its simply saying that the law is before men, it is plain, it is simple to understand, and it is given to them, such that they have no excuse not to at least strive to obey it. The Torah is sufficient, if a perfect observance of that Torah was possible - for it is in such a perfect observance that one may find life, as St Paul emphasises upon quoting Lecitivus 18:5 in the context that he does in the above Romans passage.

According to Christian theology, the Torah exposes man’s weakness, as He struggles to live by its perfection.

Quote
"...I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, ‘You shall not covet,’" (Rom. 7:7).

"Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin," (Rom. 3:20).

"What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘Do not covet,’" (Rom. 7:7).

"Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law," (Rom. 3:20).


The Torah points to the need for the incarnation - I don’t see how it fulfills the Christian understanding of the purpose of incarnation (as outlined above), such as to nullify its necessity. St Paul further states:

Quote
"Cursed is every man who does not abide by everything written in the book of the law to perform them," (Gal. 3:10).

And then:

Quote
"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree,’" (Gal. 3:13).

Im not quite sure what the Jewish idea is concerning the nature of man, but according to Christianity when Adam sinned, the human nature of mankind became corrupt, and it is this corrupt fallen nature that mankind inherits. The only way our nature may be restored to the perfect image and likeness of God, is through Him taking upon Himself a human nature, and perfecting it Himself. As we know from the New Testament, the human nature of Christ was just like any one of us, with one exception - Christ was without sin, of perfect righteousness. He thus participated in our humanity, perfecting it, such that we can progress through the grace which came with His incarnation, to this perfect likeness and image.

Quote
The point that Irshad Manji made in her lecture was that Islam wasn't always as profoundly static, conservative & fundamentalist as it is today & that there ample precedents of periods in which Islamic society was decidedly more tolerant of non-Muslims

The only relevant period in understanding the true context and intent of the teachings of Islam, is that inhabited by Muhammad and his immediate followers. Forget what some liberal lesbian has to say about Islam, read the 5 oldest written sources on Islam: Qu’ran, Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Ibn Ishaq’s Rasool Allah, Al-Tabari’s Ta’rikh, which show explicitly how the sharia was interpreted in the Sunnah of Muhammed himself. Pointing out some "peaceful" period in Islamic history, doesnt prove nor achieve anything in my opinion.

Hope to hear from you soon, and I will be back to reply in a weeks time! Enjoy your week.

Peace!
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« Reply #59 on: March 01, 2005, 07:24:55 PM »

MBZ
I have a couple of questions about one of your posts a little ways back.  I hope you don't mind...
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Don't get me started about that bastardized version of Kabbalah being imbibed by the likes of Madonna!  :flame: ugh!  Suffice to say that what Madonna is dabbling in has about as much to do with real Kabbalah as a Twinkie   does with real pastry.
I've heard this before, do you know any details about it?  Is what Madonna's involved in some sort of a sect or is it just a few authors writing books?  It seems like a few of the "Hollywood star" types are getting involved.
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Neither does orthodox Judaism deny/disparage a married woman’s sexuality; indeed, it is our view that satisfactory sexual relations are the wife’s right & the husband’s duty to meet that right & not the other way ‘round.
I was a little confused by this.  Why wouldn't it be seen as going both ways?
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Brown should know very well that Jews have never accepted Jesus’s presumed Davidic descent (no offense)
What is the basis for this?  Couldn't the descent be accepted without accepting Jesus as the Messiah or even a prophet?  There were definitely plenty of other descendants of David who were just ordinary people.

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« Reply #60 on: March 02, 2005, 09:50:30 AM »

Hi all!

Penelope (glad to make your cyberacquaintance!), you asked about my remarks about Madonna & Kabbalah.

I saw this in the Toronto Star back in late September when Madonna was here:

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Ethereal Girl seeks cheap grace

COLLEEN CARROL CAMPBELL

OPINION

As Madonna soared out of Israel on her private jet last week, she left behind her trademark trail of controversy and chaos. Secular Israelis were intoxicated by her five-day trip to the Holy Land; Orthodox Jews were repulsed. Palestinians protested. Israeli police arrested two of her bodyguards who had assaulted photographers outside her hotel.

By Sunday evening, the entertainer famous for commandeering the spotlight by any means necessary seemed tired of the attention. Reporters noted that her voice trembled as she spoke at a fundraising dinner for the American foundation that promotes her New Age version of Kabbalah (pronounced ka-BA-la in North America and ka-ba-LA in Hebrew), a strain of Jewish mysticism. The singer who now answers to "Esther" said she represents no particular religion and is only "a student of Kabbalah" who wants to "put an end to chaos" in the world.

As she did in Israel, Madonna has spent most of her career adding to the world's chaos, not ending it. From her early days of mocking the Catholic faith, to her later forays into sadomasochism and the onstage kiss she shared with barely legal Britney Spears last year, the 40-something pop diva has built her fortune on scandal and sleaze.

So it's no surprise that the Orthodox Jews at the Western Wall did not roll out their welcome mats when the self-professed Boy Toy pulled up in her SUV one night to join them at prayer. And it's no wonder devout Jews question the sincerity of Madonna's newfound faith, since six years of Kabbalah studies apparently have had little influence on her outrageous public behaviour.

Madonna's purported transition from Material Girl to Ethereal Girl has all of the hallmarks of her previous spiritual kicks, and few signs of authentic conversion. Once again, this sometime-devotee of Catholicism, Anglicanism, Hinduism and now, Judaism, has latched on to a faddish form of a venerable religious tradition.

Her new spiritual home is the Kabbalah Centre of Los Angeles, which peddles a Jewish mysticism unmoored from Judaism's monotheistic roots and biblical morality. It is a trendy spirituality, popularized in the 1960s by an American rabbi and now sold to celebrities whose most obvious sign of religious commitment is the red string they wear around their wrists to ward off the so-called "evil eye."

Like many Americans today, Madonna has turned her back on traditional religion and morality, opting instead to make her own rules. Her meandering spiritual search suggests that her self-referential beliefs have repeatedly failed to satisfy her. But she is unwilling to fully embrace a religious tradition that makes real demands - demands that go beyond wearing a bracelet or making a quasi-pilgrimage overseas.

Madonna wants spirituality without religion and salvation without repentance. She wants cheap grace. And try as she might, she cannot find it.

She cannot find it because authentic spirituality is always rooted in conversion, commitment and community. It always comes with strings attached - not the strings of a bracelet donned for good luck but the strings of objective moral standards that require the believer to conform her life to God rather than the other way around.

The holy women whose names the singer bears knew this. Queen Esther was a devout Israelite who risked her life to do God's will, and plead to the Persian king on behalf of her people. Her faithfulness helped deliver the Jews from genocide, and they celebrate her memory each year during the feast of Purim. Christians also consider Esther an example of great holiness, and the early church fathers saw her as a biblical forerunner to Mary, mother of Jesus, who Christians consider a model of purity and obedience to God's will.

Through the millennia, Esther and Mary have been revered by their respective traditions for doing God's will and following God's rules rather than their own. Their character was shaped not by feel-good spiritual fads but by revelation and religious tradition. And the faithful say that their reward was peace - a peace that seems to have bypassed their famous namesake.

Perhaps Madonna realized that something had eluded her when her trip to Israel concluded on the same notes of chaos and controversy that follow her everywhere. Perhaps someday, after so many years spent on the fringes of Judeo-Christian tradition, this aging star will experience the joy of embracing full-fledged religious commitment and worshipping someone greater than herself - a joy that Queen Esther and the true Madonna probably knew well.
_____

Colleen Carrol Campbell, a fellow at the Washington-based Ethics and Public Policy Center, is author of The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy.

Religion News Service

Link: http://tinyurl.com/58xo7

As an orthodox Jew, I endorse Ms. Campbell's article 100%!

I'll add the following.

As an orthodox Jew, I know next-to-nothing about Kabbalah & as committed as I am to orthodox Judaism, I feel no need whatsoever to delve into Kabbalah. In terms of my faith, I am an unlettered bumpkin & have nowhere near the requisite levels of learning & holiness to delve into Kabbalah.

Kabbalah (i.e. esoteric Jewish mysticism) is, quite properly, the province of very few Jews (only). Only the most pious, learned & saintly need delve into kabbalah in any depth. (As far as that chain of so-called "Kabbalah Centers", that Madonna associates with, is concerned, see http://tinyurl.com/2smgx, http://tinyurl.com/65mn8, and http://tinyurl.com/5s6m3.)

http://www.jewfaq.org/kabbalah.htm is a very good intoductory read on this subject. I'll cite one sentence:

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Today, many well-known celebrities have popularized a new age pop-psychology distortion of kabbalah (I have heard it derisively referred to as "crap-balah") that has more in common with the writings of Deepak Chopra than with any authentic Jewish source.

Kabbalah is a very holy & precious concept to we Jews; we treasure it and we guard it very closely. I once went to lecture here in Jerusalem by a noted Hasidic rabbi who said that he always found it amusing that Jews and non-Jews who had no knowledge whatsoever of the most basic Jewish concepts, want to study Kabbalah. He said that it's like someone who hasn't even studied basic anatomy immediately delving into advanced neurosurgery.

I posted & you asked:

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Neither does orthodox Judaism deny/disparage a married woman’s sexuality; indeed, it is our view that satisfactory sexual relations are the wife’s right & the husband’s duty to meet that right & not the other way ‘round.

I was a little confused by this. Why wouldn't it be seen as going both ways?

Our Sages cite Exodus 21:10
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If he take him another wife, her food, her raiment, and her conjugal rights, shall he not diminish...
in teaching that, "satisfactory sexual relations are the wife’s right & the husband’s duty to meet that right." http://www.jewfaq.org/sex.htm is a pretty good read. I'll cite one short excerpt:

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Sex is the woman's right, not the man's. A man has a duty to give his wife sex regularly and to ensure that sex is pleasurable for her. He is also obligated to watch for signs that his wife wants sex, and to offer it to her without her asking for it. The woman's right to sexual intercourse is referred to as onah, and it is one of a wife's three basic rights (the others are food and clothing), which a husband may not reduce...A man may not take a vow to abstain from sex for an extended period of time, and may not take a journey for an extended period of time, because that would deprive his wife of sexual relations. In addition, a husband's consistent refusal to engage in sexual relations is grounds for compelling a man to divorce his wife, even if the couple has already fulfilled the halakhic obligation to procreate.

Although sex is the woman's right, she does not have absolute discretion to withhold it from her husband. A woman may not withhold sex from her husband as a form of punishment, and if she does, the husband may divorce her without paying the substantial divorce settlement provided for in the ketubah.

I posted & you asked:

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Brown should know very well that Jews have never accepted Jesus’s presumed Davidic descent (no offense)

What is the basis for this? Couldn't the descent be accepted without accepting Jesus as the Messiah or even a prophet? There were definitely plenty of other descendants of David who were just ordinary people.

Well, aside from the fact that David's line survived in Babylonia until well into Islamic times, as I mentioned, we simply do not take the Gospels' account of Jesus's Davidic descent at face value. We have no record/tradition of David's line being traced with certainty except the line in Babylonia. Also, I have always wondered, if God Himself was Jesus's father & if Mary was impregnated by the Holy Sprit & received no DNA from Joseph, how can Jesus be said to be of Davidic descent, assuming the line to Joseph is accurate? Any descent through Mary is irrelevabt since a Jew's tribal affiliation in general & the kingship in particular (along with priestly & Levitical status) are passed in the male line only.

EkhristosAnesti, good luck on your week in a monastery. Good for you! I hope that you get out of it even more than you expect to. (Please tell me about it when you come back online!)

You posted:

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You can only come to this conclusion if you presuppose that God is a unipersonal “solidarity-within-unity” type of being.

Bingo! Well, now that you mention it, I guess that this is exactly how we comprehend Him.

Look at Exodus 20:3 & the strange syntax therein.

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You will have no other gods before Me.

In the (original!) Hebrew, this is:

Lo yihyeh lekha elokim aherim al panai.

What's strange about this is that the verb yihyeh ("will have") is singular while the subject elokim ("gods") is plural. Grammatically, both verb and subject should be both either singular or plural, but this is not the case here. This is no mere semantics. We believe that every word and every letter of the Torah are full of meaning & are there to teach us something. Although this verb-and-subject-don't-jibe phenomenon recurs in the scripture, our Sages have endeavored to learn why it is used here. The phrase goes from the singular to the plural. In my Jewish way of thinking, I cannot help but think that this is a refutation of the Christian concept of a triune God, i.e. that in this verse, which links the singular & the many, the Torah is telling us that we cannot claim that He who is singular & utterly unique is, in fact, many. The reflexive connotation of the seemingly redundant al panai, which literally means "in/on my face" but is in fact an expression meaning "in my place/in my stead," only adds to this. In effect, God is using Exodus 20:3 to tell us (inter alia): Do not claim that I, the One, am I, the Many.

Just some (kosher, of course) food for thought!

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...the New Testament reveals to us certain occasions in which an angel of the Lord (here we refer to an actual created angel, rather than a manifestation of God)...

I would say that we see all references to angels in the Tanakh as "actual created angels." I couldn't have said it better meself!

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As I see it, the verse: “'Who shall...bring it unto us..." is simply speaking about the fact that the law is so evident that none can pretend ignorance of it - it is not distant nor out of reach, it is given to man to follow, it is easily accessible, and so no one has any excuse not to strive to live by it. We know however, that no matter how hard one strives, we all ultimately fall short...The Torah is sufficient, if a perfect observance of that Torah was possible...

I see the verse as teaching that the recipe (as it were) for realizing one's spiritual potential (I am deliberately not using the word "salvation" here; "salvation" is a Christian frame-of-reference, not a Jewish one) is in the Torah & not in a divine or semi-divine figure who will bring it to us from Heaven, even embodied in his person.  Of course, "no matter how hard one strives, we all ultimately fall short," but the important thing is the effort, the striving (like in that parable from The Chosen I mentioned in my previous post). As one of our Sages says, "You are not called upon to complete the work but neither are you free to desist from it."

I am aware of Paul's statements in Galatians 2:16 and Romans 3:28. I suppose that thhey are the core of the theological divergence/difference between our respective faiths.

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Im not quite sure what the Jewish idea is concerning the nature of man...

See http://www.jewfaq.org/human.htm & http://www.jewsforjudaism.com/web/faq/faq123.html.

Howzat?

Be well & be in touch!

MBZ
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« Reply #61 on: March 02, 2005, 10:21:36 AM »

MBZ,

    It has been pleasure reading your posts.  I have a couple of questions for you.

    Let me preface what I say by way of background.  I work in an office where I am the only lawyer that is not Jewish.  A couple of my co-workers or Orthodox Jewish, the rest Conserative, although there might be an argument that a few "Conservative" guys lean more "reform" than anything else.

     Well, every Friday, before Shabbas, we have (usually) a couple of visitors who are Lubavitcher Jews.  They generally come in, hand out fliers and ask any of the Jewish lawyers if the want to put on Tefillin and say prayers.  I enjoy conversation with one of the gentlemen in particular as I'm always inquisitive as to customs in Judaism.  So here are the questions...

     I have been told that many in the Lubavitcher community reveared Rabbi Schneerson as the Messiah.  Have you heard anything about that and if so, any thoughts you might have?

     Second, why is it, that the Lubavitcher sect is very different in their approach to finding Jews and trying to get them to pray and be good Jews as opposed to to other relgious Jewish groups?  Often during a regular work week, the Lubavitcher's have a Moshiach Mobile (mobile home) parked on Broadway and they try to bring in "secular" Jews for prayer.   Just curious.

     Lastly, I wanted to get your thoughts about the followers of Grand Rebbe Joel Teitelbaum?  I had an opportunity to talk to a follower and was quite astonished at the things he was saying.  Again, just curious.

Thanks and take care.
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« Reply #62 on: March 02, 2005, 10:22:56 AM »

In reference to the Davidic line, I had that question too when I first read the prologue of the gospel to St. Matthew. The answer is that St. Luke's genealogy is generally thought of to be Mary's genealogy-- so both lines come from David (St. John Chrysostom discusses this at length in his homilies on the gospel.) The reason that St. Joseph's genealogy is given is to establish that Jesus is heir to him *by adoption* according to the Jewish law of the time. He needed Joseph's genealogy because it comes from Solomon-- through legal right, but not by actual flesh and blood, because of the curse of Jeconiah, and he needed Mary's genealogy (through Nathan) in order for David's seed to bring forth the messiah.

Marjorie
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« Reply #63 on: March 03, 2005, 08:58:25 AM »

Hi all!

SouthSerb99, you posted:

Quote
It has been pleasure reading your posts.

Thank you!

Quote
I work in an office where I am the only lawyer...

A...a...lawyer??!! Nooo-ooooooooooo!!! Wink I'm sorry; I couldn't help myself!

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I have been told that many in the Lubavitcher community reveared Rabbi Schneerson as the Messiah. Have you heard anything about that and if so, any thoughts you might have?

'Scuse me while I go swallow a few Extra-Strength Excedrin Plus for the headache I'm about to have.

Dum-de-dum...GULP...SWALLOW

OK. I'm back. Not only have i heard about it but it is hardly possible to be an orthodox Jew and to not hear about it. The whole thing is very controversial especially here in Israel.

Rabbi Schneerson passed away 11 years ago. He was quite the scholar & charismatic leader. This January 2002 Canadian Jewish News article (http://www.cjnews.com/pastissues/02/jan17-02/features/feature3.htm) & this Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) article (http://www.jta.org/page_view_story.asp?intarticleid=14191&intcategoryid=5) from this past June are a pretty good place to start. They touch on both the controversy surrounding the Messianic claims of some Lubavitch Hasidim & the Rebbe's work in Jewish outreach. This New York Jewish Week op-ed piece http://www.thejewishweek.com/top/editletcontent.php3?artid=3518 from last June is by the same Rabbi Berger referred to in the aforementioned Canadian Jewish News article. This http://www.icjs.org/info/rebbe.html is a review by a rabbi affiliated with the Institute of Christian and Jewish Studies of Rabbi Berger's book (referred to in the Canadian Jewish News article) The Rebbe, The Messiah, and the Scandal of Orthodox Indifference.

Now that you've read all that ( Smiley ), I'll throw in my $0.02.

Personally, as n orthodox Jew, I cannot possibly see how the late Rabbi Schneerson coulf have been the Messiah. He simply did not meet any of the criteria set down by our very great medieval Sage Maimonedes. Maimonedes authoritatively summarized longstanding Jewish beliefs very succinctly. He writes:

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"In the future, the King Messiah will stand up and restore the Davidic monarchy...build the Temple, gather the dispersed of Israel, and restore all the laws as they were in former times: offerings, sabbatical and jubilee years as they are commanded in the Torah. Anyone who does not believe in him or who does not await his coming is a heretic, not only against the other prophets, but against the Torah and Moses Our Teacher...Do not entertain the notion that King Messiah will have to do signs and wonders, make new things in the world or raise the dead...This is not so...If a king arises from the House of David, learned in the Torah and engaged in [its] precepts like David his father, both the Written Torah and the Oral Torah, enjoins all Israel to follow it and hold fast to it, and fights God's wars, he may be presumed to be the Messiah. If he succeeds in building the Temple on its place and gathering the dispersed of Israel, he is certainly the Messiah, and he will repair the entire world so that it worships God together...If he does not succeed, or is killed, then know that he is not the one promised in the Torah...Do not entertain the notion that in the days of the Messiah, anything will be canceled from its way in the world or there will be new works of creation, but the world will continue as it always has...Our Sages said that the only difference between the current world and the days of the Messiah will be service to the kingship of Heaven...There are those among our Sages who say that Elijah will herald the coming of the Messiah...One must not [try to] calculate when this will take place; our Sages say: 'Blast the bones of those who so calculate;' they should wait and believe."

The late (if you say the Hebrew equivalent of "the late..." in reference to Rabbi Schneerson at a Lubavitch gathering, you'll get booed) Rabbi Schneerson wasn't even remotely close. However, I recall what J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote about "the willing suspension of disbelief" and thus, I am not all surprised that some, more fervent Lubavitch hasidim (to use the plural) believe that owers believe that a) Rabbi Schneerson is not really dead (this reminds me of the Shiite Islamic belief about the hidden state of the 12th Imam) or that if he is , b) that he will return from the dead to be the Messiah. Having read all the articles I posted ( Smiley ), you'll see that the numbers/influence of just how many Lubavitch hasidim hold to these beliefs is a matter of bitter controversy. How controversial are these beliefs? I once had an orthodox Sephardi Jew tell me to my face that some Lubavitch hasidim here in Israel are engaged in idol-worship. There's joke in orthodox circles that Lubavitch is the religion closest to Judaism. The Lubavitch movement (or "Habad" as it is also known) has done/does so much good work in outreach, in running soup kitchens, schools & all kinds of charities. I think that it's sad that (some of) his followers will not let this admittedly great man rest in well-deserved peace.

There is a kabbalistic notion that in every generation there is latent, potential Messiah who will prove himself as the Messiah if that generation merits it. Whether Rabbi Schneerson may have had that status is not for me, or anyone else, to say.

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Second, why is it, that the Lubavitcher sect is very different in their approach to finding Jews and trying to get them to pray and be good Jews as opposed to to other relgious Jewish groups? Often during a regular work week, the Lubavitcher's have a Moshiach Mobile (mobile home) parked on Broadway and they try to bring in "secular" Jews for prayer. Just curious.

Lubavitch is hardly the be-all and end-all of such Jewish outreach as you have described. Maybe they're more adept at it and have a greater flair for publicity but very many orthodox groups/synagogues/rabbis are engaged in such holy work.

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Lastly, I wanted to get your thoughts about the followers of Grand Rebbe Joel Teitelbaum? I had an opportunity to talk to a follower and was quite astonished at the things he was saying. Again, just curious.

Ah, the Satmar Hasidim. They espouse an anti-Zionism (see "Anti-Zionism Among Jews" at http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Zionism/Anti-Zionism.html and the biography of him at http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/teitelbaum.html) that is not to my liking (to say the least).

Howzat?

Be well & be in touch!

MBZ
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« Reply #64 on: March 03, 2005, 09:29:33 AM »

A...a...lawyer??!!  Nooo-ooooooooooo!!!   Wink  I'm sorry; I couldn't help myself!

Yes, a lawyer and my Yiddish is impeccable  Wink

Thanks for the great response.  Very informative.  I met the Satmar Hasid one say as I walking through Manhattan and just happened to be passing the Israeli Embassy.  To my surprise, I saw some Arabs protesting in front of the embassy and they were joined with a few hundred Satmars.  I was baffled to say the least.

I spoke to one of the Orthodox Jewish gentlemen in my office about the Satmars and he didn't have too many kind things to say.
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« Reply #65 on: March 03, 2005, 10:16:44 AM »

Hi SouthSerb99!

You posted:

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Yes, a lawyer and my Yiddish is impeccable Wink

Did you ever see the 1996 movie City Hall with Al Pacino as a Greek American Mayor of New York City & John Cusack as his Louisiana-born Catholic assistant. One of the charming things about the movie (aside from the fact that it was very good) was Cusack's ongoing education in colloquial New York Yiddish, which he learned from his Greek American boss, the Irish American woman attorney he was trying to hit on & a Jewish friend. See http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115907/quotes.

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Thanks for the great response.

You're welcome.

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Very informative.

Thank you.

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I spoke to one of the Orthodox Jewish gentlemen in my office about the Satmars and he didn't have too many kind things to say.

1) I'm not surprised.

2) I was trying to be as charitable, & as understated, as I could. Wink

Something else that we orthodox Jews and orthodox Christians have in common is that we survived Communism. Just as Orthodox Christianity had, to some extent, go underground in order to survive the dark years, so too did orthodox Judaism. Lubavitch was instrumental in, for example, smuggling matzah for Passover into the Communist countries, keeping secret ritual baths open, holding all sorts of lifecycle ceremonies out of view, etc. I heard a story once that a Lubavitch rabbi was arrested by the NKVD in the late 1920's. He had been teaching religious studies to Jewish children somewhere in the USSR. An NKVD officer ordered the rabbi to stop doing this. The rabbi politely refused. The officer thereupon took out his pistol, loaded it, and placed it on the table in front of him & told the Rabbi that unless he agreed to stop teaching that he, the officer, would kill him right then & there. The Rabbi replied: "For you Communists, this world is all there is. Thus, the prospect of being made to abruptly leave it terrifies you and thus you attribute such great importance to the instruments by which this might be accomplished [the Rabbi gestured toward the pistol]. But we are not like you. For us, this world is not all there is. We believe that there is a world-to-come and life everlasting. Therefore, I do not fear your gun. I will not agree to do as you ask." The Rabbi must have rattled the NKVD man's cage a bit because he holstered his pistol & told the Rabbi to get lost.

Look at Exodus. As Moses and Aaron were negotiating with Pharoah prior to the plague of locusts, Pharoah asks who would go to serve God. When Moses replies that everybody will go (animals too!), Pharoah angrily dismisses them and says that only the adults (men only) may go (10:11). Pharoah pointedly refuses to let the children go to serve God (10:10). Very recently, in our times, we have seen that the anti-religion Communist goverrnments in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union didn't care so much about adults practicing their respective faiths (Judaism, Christianity, whatever) but were prepared to use very strong repressive measures to prevent the religious instruction of children. Like Pharoah before them, they knew that if faith in God is confined to adults only, it will, very quickly, wither and die. The key to the survival of any faith is the transmission of that faith to children who will teach it to their children who will teach it to their children, etc. The Communists, like Pharoah, understood this very well and, thus, were prepared to use terrible repression to sever this chain of tradition & prevent belief in God from being instilled in the younger generations. Like Pharoah before them, the Communists failed miserably (of course!) and we see that religion is flourishing all over eastern Europe and the countries of the former USSR as people flock to the same synagogues & churches (mainly orthodox) that the Communists had hoped to turn into old-age homes.

Be well!

MBZ
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« Reply #66 on: March 03, 2005, 02:18:22 PM »

MBZ,

In regards to Communism, one of my favorite writers is Elie Wiesel and I remember that when I read The Testament (in, like, 7th grade) it was my first realization that Communism in Russia had been bad for the Jews (I was a kind of naive socialist-ish at the time.) Indeed both the Orthodox and the Jews have suffered greatly in this century, from Communism and otherwise.

Marjorie
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« Reply #67 on: March 03, 2005, 02:57:34 PM »

one of my favorite writers is Elie Wiesel

Hi Marjorie,

     I use to really love reading Wiesel aswell, however, after reading many of his atricles positions vis a vis Serbians and the recent problems in the former Yugoslavia, I have been turned off by his works.  In fact, his willingness to just throw around words like "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing" (in the context of Serbs) was IMHO a great disservice to all that perished at the hands of the Nazi's in WWII.

    I think it is tragic that Mr. Wiesel forgot that Serbia was one of the few "safe" areas for almost all people during WWII (including Jews, Roma, Croat communists etc...). 

    I know I'm off topic...but sometimes I just can't help myself. Wink
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« Reply #68 on: March 03, 2005, 05:30:05 PM »

I did not know that, and, as you can probably tell from my signature, have a great respect for Serbian Orthodoxy. I hadn't read any of his words on Serbia-- I will stick with his novels (and autobiographical accounts.)

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« Reply #69 on: March 04, 2005, 09:22:37 AM »

MBZ,

So, not only did i end up having to drive back home after 5 hours already on the road, now im stuck at my Dad's work doing database projects. Ive been flat out, and its very late (12:18 am now), but i figure this is my best chance to get my response in, before uni starts in just over a few days. It will be time to farewell the forums - im involved in a few, and theyre just way too addictive for my good!

Continuing on with the discussion, and again I appreciate your input very much:

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Quote by me:
You can only come to this conclusion if you presuppose that God is a unipersonal “solidarity-within-unity” type of being.

Bingo!


Well, any argument that presupposes the conclusion you’re trying to prove is certainly not sound, don’t you think?

We need to look at the facts objectively, and use what the scriptures make explicit, as our premises. With regards to the particular passage in question we have the following facts:

1) The Angel is distinct from the Lord (the distinction is necessarily in terms of identity/name/persona alone - further data is required to speak of the nature of their being/essence).
2) The Angel is addressed with the divine name, and given divine worship
3) The ground the angel was standing on, was considered holy.
4) The Angel possesses the name of YHWH in Him.
5) The Angel possesses the divine prerogative to forgive sins.
6) The Angel has the power to destroy Israel’s enemies.

Therefore, The Angel is divine, yet distinct from the Lord.

Plausible conclusions:

a) The Angel is a second God.
b) The Angel is a personal hypostasis of God’s being - an extension of His Will and self-manifestation.

7) The scriptures testify that God is One.

Therefore - b)

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Look at Exodus 20:3 & the strange syntax therein.

Okay, I’m not going to pretend to be a Hebrew scholar here, and I’m still less than a week premature of even properly labeling myself a student of the Hebrew language (I will be taking my first class in a 2 year study of classical Hebrew once university resumes, in just over a few days) But I’d like to comment according to the capacity that I feel I can, for I have done my own bit of personal research into the issue - and I believe there’s other factors exclusive to those concerning linguistics, that need to be taken into consideration regarding the true intent of this verse.

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In the (original!) Hebrew, this is:

Lo yihyeh lekha elokim aherim al panai.

What's strange about this is that the verb yihyeh ("will have") is singular while the subject elokim ("gods") is plural.


As I see it, your observation only goes to prove the Trinitarian position! God in addressing the nationS (plural), uses the singular verb yihveh (which is actually modifying the nations He is addressing, and not His own being), -  a prime example of pluarilty within unity as I see it.

Lets consider some other semantic issues. As I understand it, there are quite a few Hebrew words which can be translated into “one”, a few of them being: ishah;  ish; nephesh, yachid, and echad. As I know it, the first three are never applied to God, but rather creation; the first applied to man; the second to woman; and the third to the soul. The word yachid, denotes absolute solitary oneness - its general meaning, whereas in contrast the word echad is often employed in a context of compound unities. Since you believe: 
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that every word and every letter of the Torah are full of meaning & are there to teach us something
- then you must question, why God would employ the word Echad (a word often used to describe pluralities within unities) in reference to Himself, rather than the word Yachid (a word always used to describe absolute solitary oneness), if He truly wanted to condemn the Christian Trinity? Especially since the verses establishing that God are one, are in direct reference to His being, in contrast to Exodus 20:3 which has nothing to do with the nature of His being?

Here are a couple precedents for the usage of echad to denote a compound unity: a) Gen. 2:24: Here, Adam and Eve (2 distinct persons) become one (echad) flesh. b) Ezra 2:64: The "congregation" of  42, 360 is described as "one" (echad).

Furthermore, we see that plural nouns (such as Elohim, Adonai, Creators, judges) as well as singular nouns (such as El, Creator, judge), plus plural pronouns (such as We, Our, Us) as well as singular pronouns (such as I, me, myself) are used in reference to God. Even the verbs and adjectives employed in relation to God, are used in both their singular and plural forms numerously.

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the Torah is telling us that we cannot claim that He who is singular & utterly unique is, in fact, many.

Before I go on to discuss what I believe the verse is plainly saying in light of the above basic linguistic observation, I would like to make a few side comments.

First of all, lets assume for arguments sake, that God is telling the nations “Do not say that I am many” - Again, many with regards to what? As a Jew, you would affirm that God has a plurality of attributes correct? Now can you give me one objective reason to turn around and say “Well God wasn’t speaking of His attributes, He was speaking concerning His personhood.”?

We both know, that there is absolutely no basis for this, and hence your argument is inconsistent and bias towards your very presuppositions - a presupposition which in itself is very intellectually presumptuous to say the least (no disrespect intended!). Furthermore, it is interesting that you employ the word “unique.” to qualify the very nature of God's existence. As Christians, we affirm likewise, that God is unique, and that means in every aspect - Being, attributes, personhood, etc. etc.

Lets briefly analyze the concept of being and personhood, and do a comparison between our respective ideologies of God’s personhood and being, and the being and personhood of man.

We’ll start with being. Christians affirm that God is one in reference to His existence/being, however despite the fact each individual human, can also be said to be one being/existence, Orthodoxy maintains that the nature of God's existence transcends that of creation, such that:

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“If we say He exists, we must qualify this immediately by adding that He is not one existent object amongst many, that in His case the word ‘exist’ bears a unique significance.” (Bishop Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way, page 14)

With regards to personhood, it is clear that each human being is one person. The reason for this, is quite simple. A person by definition, is simply a continuously existent substantial principle of the intellectual mind. Of all the aspects of the human intellectual mind: knowledge, ego, self-consciousness etc. It is the ego alone, the “self” which qualifies as our person. Why? Very simply because, as finite human beingsGǪour knowledge is not a continuously substantial principle of our beings (i.e. we are not born with a set amount of knowledge), rather it is finitely progressing, from the day we are born, to the day we go to school, to the day we graduate from university etc etc and contingent upon certain external factors (what books you read, what people you speak to etc etc). Self-consciousness, also fails this criteria, for this is something that comes and goes.

So at this stage, we see that man is one person as the very result of his finite nature. To restrict God to one person, is to deny His transcendence and uniqueness, as the result of comparing His personhood to that of a man; a personhood which is restricted as such, purely because of the finite nature of man.

The Word, the encapsulation of God’s infinite divine knowledge/reason is a persona of His own being - for God possesses His knowledge since all eternity, and it is eternally infinite.

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In effect, God is using Exodus 20:3 to tell us (inter alia): Do not claim that I, the One, am I, the Many.

I see this as quite a creative conclusion to come to, unfortuantely i dont believe it is exegetically sound. Besides the fact that the singular verb is clearly modifying what the behaviour of the nations should be (rather than the being of God - and hence a great example of plurality within unity), we must consider the historical context.

The first commandment clearly concerns the fact that YHWH alone is to be the object of or our worship. The neighboring cultures, such as the Egyptians, were polytheists, believing in many Gods to the exclusion of the God of Israel. There was absolutely NO one who had any conception of One God with multiple persona’s, this kind of thinking simply did not exist, so to argue that God is commanding people not to ascribe more than one persona to Him, although clearly not the intended implication nonetheless, simply does not fit in its historical context - it wouldn’t make sense at all.

I think the verse speaks plainly, the Lord YHWH is the One exclusive God, and the command is directed to the polytheists of that day, telling them to reject their many gods which they have taken besides/to-the-exclusion-of/in-the-presence-of (al-panai - an expression which can also be said to intimidate the fact that to acknowledge any other gods besides Him is something very provoking to him; a sin that kind of dares Him to His very face, such that he cannot overlook or connive - See Ps. 21:2, 44:20) YHWH - the One and only God of Israel.

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I would say that we see all references to angels in the Tanakh as "actual created angels."

Well as you mentioned before - the word for angel, simply means messenger/agent; so I can see no real objective reason, why every one of these "messengers" must be an “actual created angel” - I think we will just have to agree to disagree I think. The very reason why I concluded that the Angel of the book of Revelations is an “actual created angel” is that it refused to receive divine worshipGǪin contrast to the “Angel” of the book of judges, which openly received the title “my Lord” and the divine worship that followed, without objection, and even went further, commanding Joshua to take off his shoes in the place which the angel was present.

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I see the verse as teaching that the recipe (as it were) for realizing one's spiritual potential (I am deliberately not using the word "salvation" here; "salvation" is a Christian frame-of-reference, not a Jewish one) is in the Torah & not in a divine or semi-divine figure who will bring it to us from Heaven, even embodied in his person.


Where are you reading “spiritual potential” in the verses in question? That’s what im trying to understand. The object of the passage is the Law, not Spiritual completion i.e. when the verse says “who will bring..it to us” - the object - “it” - is the TorahGǪthe implication being: “You already have the Torah in your possession, no one needs to go into the heavens to bring it down to you, nor does anyone need to go beyond the seaGǪits right here there front of your noses, what excuse do you have not to follow it?”

Even the ancient Targums agree with this plain interpretation. The Jerusalem Targum paraphrases this particular passage: Jerusalem Targum paraphrases it saying:

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``the law is not in heaven that it should be said, oh that we had one of us, as Moses the prophet, who could go up to heaven and bring it to us! nor is it beyond the great sea, that it should be said, oh that we had one of us, as Jonah the prophet, "who could descend into the depths of the great sea", and bring it to us;''


The Talmud, putting an interesting twist to it states:

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"says Abdimo bar Chama bar Dousa, what is the meaning of that Scripture, "neither is it in heaven, nor is it beyond the sea?" it is not in heaven, for if it was in heaven you must needs go up after it, and if it was beyond the sea, you must needs go over after it; Rabba says, not in heaven is it, you will not find it in him that exalts his knowledge in himself as the heavens, nor will you find it in him that enlarges his knowledge in himself, as the sea; R. Jochanan says, not in heaven is it, you will not find it in those that are of a haughty spirit, nor beyond the sea is it, you will not find it among traders abroad, or merchants.''

As St Paul pointed out in the context in which he quoted these verses in Romans 10, “life” is found in the Torah, only with regards to those who perfectly observe it.

Upon consulting the targums, we find that this was understood as a reference to eternal life; Onkelos and Jonathan ben Uzziel paraphrase the words, "he shall live in them", to "in eternal life". Likewise Jarchi explains it as, "he shall live in the world to come"; which agrees with the note of Rabbi Aben Ezra, who interprets it of life in both worlds; saying that if a man understands the secret of them, he shall live for ever, and shall never die.

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Of course, "no matter how hard one strives, we all ultimately fall short,"

Hence the necessity that God perfect our humanity, and renew our nature, such that we can achieve a certain state of spiritual perfection where we don’t fall short. It is through such spiritual perfection that the Torah testifies that one may have life (Lev. 18:5).

For on the one hand, both the Old and New Testament acknowledge that man is sinful by nature, and are transgressors of the law:

Ecclesiastes 7:20:

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"There is not a righteous man upon the earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not"


1 Kings 8:46:

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“If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near”

Romans 3:23:

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“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”


Yet on the other hand, they command us to be perfect and holy as God.

Leviticus 11:44-45:

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I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves about on the ground. 45 I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.


Leviticus 19:2:

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2 "Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: 'Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.


Leviticus 20:7

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" 'Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the LORD your God. 8 Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the LORD , who makes you holy.

1 Peter 1:15

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15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.


Matthew 5:48

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”Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

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but the important thing is the effort, the striving (like in that parable from The Chosen I mentioned in my previous post).  As one of our Sages says, "You are not called upon to complete the work but neither are you free to desist from it."

That’s where we disagree, for the scriptures testify that we ARE called upon to complete the work, and we can indeed complete the work, yet this is impossible without the incarnation and atoning sacrafice of the Lord. Striving is an “important thing” as you said - and I quoted you quite a few New Testament scriptures that attest to this - but it alone is not sufficient. Allow me to modify this parable of yours in a Christian context.

A king had a servant whom he loved very much, even as a son (I employ the term servant, only to distinguish him from the unique Son). But as the servant grew up, he & his father (for he addresses his King as such, according to the intimate and affectionate relationship they shared) gradually grew apart until at last they were almost totally estranged.  The servant moved far away, becoming acquainted with his Father’s enemy, who offered him many gifts and bribes, to stay and serve and work for him instead.  But the king still loved his servant very much, though his servant had fallen in love with, and started to serve the King’s enemy, and, more than anything else in the world, wanted him to return to him, for he had so much more to offer.  So he sent a message to this effect to his servant, bidding him to return.  The servant, deep down in his heart wanted to, but the bridge he crossed to get to the Father’s enemy had collapsed, and the King’s enemy had set up a barrier to prevent the servant from going back.

So he sent a message back to his father & said, "I cannot come back to you; the barrier is too strong, and the separation between the two cliffs too vast for me to overcome.  The king, loving father that he was, sensed what was in his servant's heart and sent another message to his servant & said, "Then I will send you my only Son, he will bridge the gap, and break down the barrier for you, even if the enemy conspires against him, and leads him to shame, suffering and death. Once His mission is accomplished, you can make your way home my child, and I’ll be waiting to receive you with open arms." 

The bridge was established by the incarnation of the Lord's Word; the barrier broken down by His sacrafice. Works, repentence, sacraments, can now clearly help us make that journey back to the Father through His Grace and the work of His Holy Spirit.

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I am aware of Paul's statements in Galatians 2:16 and Romans 3:28. I suppose that thhey are the core of the theological divergence/difference between our respective faiths.

Indeed, however, I would still conclude that the whole idea that works alone, do not and cannot justify us in the sight of God or lead us to eternal life, to be a principle evident in the Hebrew scriptures.

Again, Leviticus 18:5 comes into play. Those who keep the Law without transgressing it, have life.

Yet, we find that the scriptures teach that it becomes impossible for man, even to obey “easy laws” because of the weakness, corruption and sinfulness of our human nature. If we go to Deuteronomy 31:14-22, we find that Moses prophecied that Israel would fail to do what God commanded and would, therefore, come under God's judgment. Moses is then told to write down his song as a testimony against them. cf. Deuteronomy 32.

It is interesting that at the conclusion of the Son of Moses, God says the following:

     43")Rejoice, O nations, with His people;
        For He will avenge the blood of His servants,
        And will render vengeance on His adversaries,
        And will ATONE for His land and His people."

God will atone for both the people and the land after all the judgments of 31 come upon them.

Joshua basically says the same thing, that Israel is incapable of pleasing God. If we go to Joshua 24:14-28. Joshua plainly tells them that they are not able to serve God because he is Holy. When they still insist they can, he then says that they have testified AGAINST themselves. Clearly, these passages affirm what Paul said, that by the doing of the Law no one can be justified because no one is able to perfectly obey them, in perfect holiness, just as God is holy.

A further indication of their incapability can be seen from the sacrificial system and priesthood which God established. If man is capable of doing what pleases God just by “striving to do the best one can, and repentance”, then there would be no need for atonement or for a priest to mediate on behalf of the people. What this all means is that the Law was given to show Israel why they can't please God and why they need a Savior, a Mediator to do for them what they cannot do for themselves. This, again, is basically what the NT says. Cf. Galatians 3:19-25; Hebrews 8:5-6; Romans 3:28; 10:1-10.

With regards to the Jews for Judaism article:

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The Augustinian conception of original sin that it presents, is not one accepted by Orthodoxy.

Let me quote you from Bishop Kallistos Ware’s book, “The Orthodox way”, on page 62 he says:

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“For the Orthodox tradition then, Adam’s original sinaffects the human race in it entirety, and it has consequences on both the physical and moral level: it not only results in sickness and physical death, but in moral weakness and paralysis. But does it also imply inherited guilt? Here Orthodoxy is more guarded. Original sin is not to be interpreted in juridicial or quasi-biological terms, as if it were some physical “taint” of guilt, transmitted through sexual intercourseGǪ.The doctrine of original sin means rather that we are born into an environment where it easy to do evil and hard to do good; easy to hurt others, and hard to heal their wounds; easy to arouse men’s suspicions, and hard to win their trust.”

Hence, Psalm 51:5 reads: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; And in sin did my mother conceive me.”

The above mentioned sacrificial system indeed attests to the sinfulness of man. The Sin offering reminds us that due to the corruption of our human nature,  a person can even sin without being aware of it i.e.  "sins unintentionally" (Leviticus 4:13, 22,27).

Okay, one more post to go, then its time to lie down...

Peace!


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« Reply #70 on: March 09, 2005, 08:37:47 AM »

Hi all!

Ahhh...the rennovations are 90% over & our bathroom is looking very nice, thank you.

I'll harp on two related points. The idea that any individual Jew can literally fulfill all 613 precepts is patently absurd, always has been and is foreign to traditional, normative Judaism & always has been. We do not believe that God demands the impossible from us. I cite the following excerpt from http://www.beingjewish.com/mitzvos/allcomm.html:

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Can a Person Fulfill all the Torah?

Be careful, it's a trick question.

Are you a farmer? No? Then you are not required to fulfill the commandments relevant to farmers. You are not likely to create hybrids of two plant-bearing fruits, nor are you likely to cross-breed animals, so the Torah's Commandments about these matters do not apply to you. You have not transgressed the Torah by not being a farmer.

Are you a Cohen (a member of the Priestly family of the Tribe of Levi)? No? Then a great many other Commandments do not apply to you. True, you can't fulfill them, but that's not a sin. You can't fulfill those, because you are not allowed to!

Are you a judge? No? Then you can't fulfill another whole set of Commandments that pertain to judges in Jewish Courts. But that is not a sin; you simply cannot fulfill them.

There are nevertheless a few ways in which you can share in the fulfillment of those Commandments. For one thing, whenever we perform a Commandment, we are supposed to dedicate its fulfilment to everyone in Klal Yisrael (The Union of Israel). That is, when I do a good deed, I include myself with the entire Jewish People, so that each and every Jew has a share in doing that Commandment. Thus, when a judge fulfills his duties, I have a share in them.

To solidify my vicarious participation in those Commandments, I study them. It is true that I cannot personally fulfill the Commandment of building a fence around my roof, since I have no accessible roof in my home, but when I study the Laws of this Commandment, and I have a strong desire to fulfill the Commandment, Hashem counts it as if I have fulfilled the Commandment. For the Talmud teaches, "A good intention that a person honestly tries to fulfill but is prevented or unable to fulfill Hashem counts as if it has been performed."(1)

And there are other ways to participate in Commandments we cannot actually do. The Torah commands each of us to write a Torah Scroll. Most of us cannot do that, and most of us cannot afford to hire a Scribe to write one for us. So we buy holy Books of the Torah, the Talmud, the Rabbinical Writings. We bring those into our homes and we study them. And when we get the chance, we participate in someone else's writing of a Torah Scroll. We might pay a few dollars to be included in the writing.

Few of us can afford to build a Synagogue or Jewish school. So we donate money to have one built or maintained. Supporting someone so that he can continue to study Torah in Yeshivah is one of the biggest Mitzvos, and when we do that we have a share in the fulfillment of the Commandment.

(...).

But figuratively, metaphorically, fulfilling all of the Torah is certainly within our grasp. Indeed, it is, "very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it." We come back to Deuteronomy 30:10-14. About Paul's quotation in Romans 10:8: "But what does it say? 'The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart' (that is, the word of faith which we preach)." Note what key part Paul (deliberately?) left out: "that you may do it."

I think that in the end, as we quaff a couple of :brew: s, we will have to stuff a very thick file into the drawer labelled "Agree-to-disagree."

Be well!

MBZ
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« Reply #71 on: March 09, 2005, 09:41:08 AM »

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The idea that any individual Jew can literally fulfill all 613 precepts is patently absurd, always has been and is foreign to traditional, normative Judaism & always has been.


Well yes, to the literal extent described in the excerpt you pasted, this is indeed absurd e.g. to expect one who is not a farmer to observe the laws pertaining to agriculture. What I was referring to is the universal moral principles of the Law, and the capacity to which it relates to the individual in question. The fact remains; that due to our fallen nature, each and every single individual has transgressed the law according to his own capacity, and fallen short of the Holiness God prescribes us to live by. A life of perfect holiness is attained by a perfect observation of the perfect morality which the perfect law embodies. The scriptures however testify that none is able to achieve this state of holiness in the condition that they exist in. This was the point made by a number of Old and New Testament scriptures that I cited above.

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fulfilling all of the Torah is certainly within our grasp. Indeed, it is, "very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it."


The verse certainly speaks of the Torah itself being within our grasp (as the Jerusalem Targum understands it), but I fail to see where it says that fulfillment of the Torah is within our grasp. Indeed I believe it would contradict the relevant scriptures mentioned in my previous post, if we were to assume for arguments sake that such an interpretation of the text could be held.

The clause at the end - “that you may do it”, seems to be suggesting that the Torah is available for one to fulfill it, but speaks nothing of the possibility of whether such a fulfillment can actually be achieved. To put forth an analogy, I could give you a pole for a pole vault event and tell you: “Here use this pole, that you may jump the bar” - however it could be very well impossible for you to jump the bar, if it is set at an unreachable height. Again, I believe the above mentioned scriptures, including the institution of the sacrificial system and priesthood strongly testify against an understanding that the Torah can be fulfilled in the manner prescribed by Leviticus 18:5 such that one may reach a state of spiritual perfection and live eternal life.

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'The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart' (that is, the word of faith which we preach)." Note what key part Paul (deliberately?) left out: "that you may do it."

Well as I explained when I initially brought forth this passage; St Paul is applying a midrash to this passage. He is not referring to the Law, he is referring to the word of faith which he and the apostles preached, namely: That Jesus is Lord, who was raised from the dead, and in whose name one finds salvation. So obviously in this context, it would make no sense if St Paul added that extra clause.

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I think that in the end, as we quaff a couple of   :brew: s, we will have to stuff a very thick file into the drawer labelled "Agree-to-disagree."

 :brew: Cheers!

Peace

« Last Edit: March 09, 2005, 09:44:00 AM by EkhristosAnesti » Logged

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"Philosophy is the imitation by a man of what is better, according to what is possible" - St Severus
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