Isaiah 65 and 66 Ramblings

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EmilySC

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Perhaps I'm off base; I know I'm usually blissful and that may indicate more than mere happiness, I know. Anyway, I'm not one to dodge an issue. I'm bound to learn something.

Originally Posted by EmilySC
Smiling Ted,

thanks,

Your input is very valuable.

I was reading in Isaiah 65 and 66 last night and it certainly looks like Jews are to BE more missionary minded in the future.

Really. Where in Isaiah 65/66 does it say that?
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Smiling Ted
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Another response questioned why I thought these two chapters were prophecy (as opposed to history or current events, I'm supposing).

Let me deal with the prophecy issue first.

My Old Testament is the King James Version. I'll defer to whatever source you prefer to use if any of my points hinge on the way those English dudes did their translation of the scriptures.

In verse 65 (my verse 17) "For, behold, I create new heavens and new earth and the former shall not be remembered nor come into mind."

I think God (through Isaiah) is talking about the future, not the past. If anyone thinks I'm off on this, please let me know.

If we can agree that this one passage is prophecy, then the issue becomes whether chapters 65 and 66 in their entirety are prophecy.

I don't think so. I think Isaiah references past sins of his people (in chapter 65 before the quoted passage above). I think the rest of chapter 65 and all of chapter 66 is prophecy in Isaiah's time without question.

If we are in agreement so far (and we may not be) then the question is whether or not the prophecy in the last part of Ch. 65 and all of Ch. 66 has been fulfilled or is yet to be fullfilled.

There are some passages that have not yet occurred if they are taken literally. To me, Isaiah is talking about the millenial kingdom. If you believe that the millenial kingdom will not be a literal 1000 years of messiah's reign, then we don't have much to discuss. If you don't think an actual wolf and an actual lamb will feed together, we can stop now.

If anyone still reading this thread believes that the scripture is to be taken literally--that God inspired Isaiah to write the words he actually wrote down (not necessarily the ones I see in my KJV Old Testament) I'll explain why I came to the conclusion that Jews will be missionary minded in the future after reading these two chapters.

In Chapter 66, Isaiah talks about a group of people who will be sent into the nations to declare God's glory among the Gentiles. This group "shall bring all your brethern for an offering unto the Lord . . . " and God will "also take of them for priests and for Levites"

Clearly the people being brought back are Jews (Levites and priests are taken from them). I think the group of people going out into all nations are also Jews. Otherwise, God would be using Gentiles to gather some of his people back to his holy mountain.

Smiling Ted: This is why I drew my conclusion about Jews being more missionary minded. If they are declaring God's glory to the Gentiles, that's being a missionary.

Please let me know what you think. I would like to learn all I can from any who care to comment.

Emily S-C
 
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Smiling Ted

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Not missionaries

Perhaps I'm off base; I know I'm usually blissful and that may indicate more than mere happiness, I know. Anyway, I'm not one to dodge an issue. I'm bound to learn something.
....
Smiling Ted: This is why I drew my conclusion about Jews being more missionary minded. If they are declaring God's glory to the Gentiles, that's being a missionary.

Please let me know what you think. I would like to learn all I can from any who care to comment.

Emily S-C

Emily-

The key word is "if."

The Book of Isaiah is almost three thousand years old. It is both prophecy and poetry. Some of its verses are fragmentary, its language can be very dense, and it makes heavy use of metaphor and allusion. Any translation of Isaiah is an approximation at best. And unfortunately, Christian translations of the Hebrew Scriptures - especially the Book of Isaiah - have historically been slanted to create apparent prophetic support for Christianity. For instance, the King James bible translates the Hebrew word alma as "virgin," thereby making it seem that Isaiah is prophesying a virgin birth. In reality, alma merely means "young woman."

That is why, when you (it seemed to me) very confidently and casually predicted the future of my people, based on a cursory reading of our Scriptures - which I've read in the original and you haven't - you raised my hackles. It's presumptuous to lecture others about their own faith and texts. I wouldn't dare to tell a Navajo the "real meaning" of the Coyote tales, for instance. Yet time and again, Christians have felt very comfortable lecturing me about "what the Bible means." Not that this is what you personally intended, I'm sure.

In fact, if you look at the Hebrew, or at a translation of Isaiah prepared directly from Hebrew into English according to the 2,000 year-old Jewish tradition of Biblical interpretation, and you read Isaiah 66:19 together with the preceding pasuk (verse) of 66:18, an entirely different reading becomes possible:

In these verses, God first gathers together not the Jews, but the Gentiles. "Behold, I will gather all nations and tongues, and they shall come and see my Glory."

God will show his power to the Gentiles - and not gently - and the Gentiles who survive will scatter to the four corners of the earth. And these Gentiles, having seen God's power, will proclaim it.
"And I will work a sign among them. and I will send such as escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard My fame, neither have seen My glory; and they shall declare My glory among the nations."
Here "they" are the Gentiles, not the Jews.

And now that God's power is known, those Jews suffering captivity far from their homeland will be returned in honor.
"And they shall bring all your brethren out of all the nations for an offering unto the LORD, upon horses, and in chariots, and in fitters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to My holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the children of Israel bring their offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD."

In other words, this is not a prediction that Jews will become missionaries. It is a prediction that God will open a can of whup-ass on the Gentiles, who will then send the Jews back to Israel in a second Exodus.

Perhaps I misread your comment, or perhaps you didn't mean it to be as certain as it sounded to me. But even rabbinic scholars who've spent their entire lives in "the ocean of the Torah," and speak Hebrew and Aramaic as first languages, know they will disagree about the interpretation of some verses. That's the kind of humility I'd like to see as well in those folks who can't read the original.

I hope I haven't offended you, but I did have to be as honest and clear as I could.

All the best.

Ted
 

StephanieFox

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Just my opinion...

I don't think I can top the depth of Ted's answer, but do want to say they Jews notice that Christians have taken the Torah, our sacred texts, and in our view misinterpreted them to support their own religion.

Christians seem certain that their religion is at worst a spin-off and at best the new chosen religion. Feel that way if you'd like, but Jews do not feel that way at all. If it were true, the Christian mind set, theology, holidays, etc. would be the same.

Instead, Christianity borrowed extensively from the local Pagan religions, borrowing more and more as Christianity spread. Jews simply do not believe that God planned on having a divine son, and that son would need to die for the sins of Adam and Eve. The 'dying and reborn god' motif is taken from many of the religions of the ancient Near East, where the god was born (oft times by a virgin) only to die with the harvest (or sometimes the winter solstice.)

'Washed in the blood of the lamb' comes from the Roman religion of Mithra, where new members would be washed in the blood of a sacrificed bull. The idea of 'once saved, always saved,' comes from the Roman religion of Dionysis.

I could go on.

Please understand that I do not mean to tell you that you are wrong or that Christianity is wrong. But while Christianity is the largest religion in the world, it is not the only religion.

My belief is that the right religion is the one which brings you spiritual peace and that doesn't impose a belief on others. I also think that people with no religion or no belief in God are A-OK, too.

Sorry. I've gone off a bit. Please don't take offense, but please try to understand the Jewish mind set, just a little.
 

Smiling Ted

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Instead, Christianity borrowed extensively from the local Pagan religions, borrowing more and more as Christianity spread. Jews simply do not believe that God planned on having a divine son, and that son would need to die for the sins of Adam and Eve. The 'dying and reborn god' motif is taken from many of the religions of the ancient Near East, where the god was born (oft times by a virgin) only to die with the harvest (or sometimes the winter solstice.)

'Washed in the blood of the lamb' comes from the Roman religion of Mithra, where new members would be washed in the blood of a sacrificed bull. The idea of 'once saved, always saved,' comes from the Roman religion of Dionysis.

Just as I don't want Christians lecturing me about the meaning of Isaiah, I also try to avoid telling them where their religion "came from." I might say that some elements of Christianity are similar to those of other Near Eastern religions, but I wouldn't presume to go farther than that, especially when the origins of all these faiths is really shrouded in mystery.

Once again, not trying to be confrontational...just the opposite, in fact.

Just my opinion.

Ted
 
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dadburnett

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I was raised Christian with the KJ Bible. I have long suspected that the so-called Christian Old Testament is heavily biased towards Christianity. Can you recommend a English translation of Jewish scriptures that would better reflect God's words and interactions with O.T. peoples?
 

Smiling Ted

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Recommending a translation

I was raised Christian with the KJ Bible. I have long suspected that the so-called Christian Old Testament is heavily biased towards Christianity. Can you recommend a English translation of Jewish scriptures that would better reflect God's words and interactions with O.T. peoples?

It's been a while since I had to think about it, but I guess you'd do all right with the Jewish Publication Society's translation, The Holy Scriptures. You can probably find it at any Judaica store in Portland. You can also find other translations that feature Hebrew and English side by side.

But even a less biased translation is still a translation. Hebrew is very different from English (English is Indo-European; Hebrew is Semitic) so context is important. It is important to read books and chapters as a whole, and not to pluck out verses in isolation. (This is especially true when reading the poetry of the Psalms and the Prophets.)

BTW, Jews don't use the term "Old Testament" - it implies that the Torah has been superseded by the "New Testament." Instead, we say Torah, or Jewish Bible, or Jewish Scriptures, or Hebrew Scriptures.

Good luck.
 
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rwam

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It's been a while since I had to think about it, but I guess you'd do all right with the Jewish Publication Society's translation, The Holy Scriptures. You can probably find it at any Judaica store in Portland. You can also find other translations that feature Hebrew and English side by side.

But even a less biased translation is still a translation. Hebrew is very different from English (English is Indo-European; Hebrew is Semitic) so context is important. It is important to read books and chapters as a whole, and not to pluck out verses in isolation. (This is especially true when reading the poetry of the Psalms and the Prophets.)

BTW, Jews don't use the term "Old Testament" - it implies that the Torah has been superseded by the "New Testament." Instead, we say Torah, or Jewish Bible, or Jewish Scriptures, or Hebrew Scriptures.

Good luck.

As an open-minded Christian, always on the lookout for Truth, I'll pick up a copy...thanks!

OTOH, is there any chance that in an effort to avoid a heavily-slanted Christian version that I'm, instead, buying a heavily-slanted Jewish version? I suspect the only way for any believer of any ilk to be truly objective is to learn the ancient language (and its nuances) and delve into an authentic, untouched copy of the original Torah.
 

Smiling Ted

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As an open-minded Christian, always on the lookout for Truth, I'll pick up a copy...thanks!

OTOH, is there any chance that in an effort to avoid a heavily-slanted Christian version that I'm, instead, buying a heavily-slanted Jewish version? I suspect the only way for any believer of any ilk to be truly objective is to learn the ancient language (and its nuances) and delve into an authentic, untouched copy of the original Torah.

Rwam -

The "Jewish version" is the "original Torah," "authentic" and "untouched." The Torah we read every week in the synagogue is the Hebrew original. It has been copied unchanged by generations of religious scribes (sofrim) for more than two thousand years. The scribes follow an ancient code of comparison and rechecking to guarantee "x copies." Their accuracy has been confirmed by comparison with ancient manuscripts found at Jerusalem, Qumran, the Dead Sea and elsewhere. The Septuagint, the King James, the Latin Vulgate - all are translations, for better or worse, from that original that Jews read every week.

Second, all observant Jews read and understand "the ancient language." It's Hebrew. Millions of Jews speak it every day. "Jewish" translations into English, Yiddish, Aramaic or whatever are only study aids, and don't replace the original. The ideal is for every Jew to read the Hebrew whenever possible. And to deliberately deviate from the plain meaning of the Torah would be sacrilege. I can't really convey how nauseating the concept would be to a devout Jew.

Finally, unlike Christians and Muslims, Jews don't proselytize. So there's no reason for us to try to win converts by lying about what's in our Scripture. And since we reject the claim that the Gospels or the Quran are the culmination of the Torah, we don't have to reconcile inconsistencies between the Gospels and the Torah.
 
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rwam

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Rwam -

The "Jewish version" is the "original Torah," "authentic" and "untouched." The Torah we read every week in the synagogue is the Hebrew original. It has been copied unchanged by generations of religious scribes (sofrim) for more than two thousand years. The scribes follow an ancient code of comparison and rechecking to guarantee "x copies." Their accuracy has been confirmed by comparison with ancient manuscripts found at Jerusalem, Qumran, the Dead Sea and elsewhere. The Septuagint, the King James, the Latin Vulgate - all are translations, for better or worse, from that original that Jews read every week.

Second, all observant Jews read and understand "the ancient language." It's Hebrew. Millions of Jews speak it every day. "Jewish" translations into English, Yiddish, Aramaic or whatever are only study aids, and don't replace the original. The ideal is for every Jew to read the Hebrew whenever possible. And to deliberately deviate from the plain meaning of the Torah would be sacrilege. I can't really convey how nauseating the concept would be to a devout Jew.

Finally, unlike Christians and Muslims, Jews don't proselytize. So there's no reason for us to try to win converts by lying about what's in our Scripture. And since we reject the claim that the Gospels or the Quran are the culmination of the Torah, we don't have to reconcile inconsistencies between the Gospels and the Torah.

Ted-
Thanks for the clarification. I'm just unfamiliar with the concept of versions of the Torah and didn't know if Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews read from different translations. I (wrongly?) suspected/assumed that some "less serious" (non-Orthodox?) Jews may not have gone to the trouble to learn Hebrew, thus, perhaps there were various English versions of the Torah in existence.
Rob
 

Smiling Ted

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Ted-
Thanks for the clarification. I'm just unfamiliar with the concept of versions of the Torah and didn't know if Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews read from different translations. I (wrongly?) suspected/assumed that some "less serious" (non-Orthodox?) Jews may not have gone to the trouble to learn Hebrew, thus, perhaps there were various English versions of the Torah in existence.
Rob

Rob-

I'm glad I could help, and I'm sorry if my reply was a little brusque.

Generally speaking, Jews might use a translation for Sunday school or a sermon, but for the services, the Torah is read in the original Hebrew, whatever the denomination of the synagogue. Also, while there might be less knowledge of Hebrew among members of a Reformed congregation than among those of an Orthodox one, no Jew would consider a translation of the Torah to be the same thing as the Torah itself, or equal in authority.

For observant Jews, Hebrew is literally a sacred language. The original Hebrew Scriptures (Torah) are considered holy, whereas translations, no matter how accurate, are not. In terms of making a religious decision or conveying any kind of religious information, the basis of the decision would be the Torah, the Hebrew original, not the translation; and since the original Torah is accessible to many ordinary Jews in a way that the original Greek and Aramaic gospels are not accessible to most ordinary Christians, translations are less important to us. We would also be able to spot a theologically dubious translation at once.

Hope that helps.
 

ishtar'sgate

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May I ask a question, Ted? As I do not understand the Hebrew language so only have a KJ translation to read from and not Hebrew scriptures, I was wondering if you could help me to understand the Jewish perspective on Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6 and Daniel 9:25. Perhaps your scriptures do not say what I'm reading but this is what I read,
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
I realize a virgin simply means an unmarried female, so that isn't a question. But does not Immanuel mean 'God with us' and Messiah mean 'annointed'?
I realize you do not regard Jesus as Immanuel or Messiah but who do you believe these passages are speaking of? One person or more than one? Perhaps they have a meaning I'm not familiar with. If this question has been asked and answered before I apologize for asking again.
Linnea
 

Ralyks

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. In reality, alma merely means "young woman."

Which, at the time, pretty much meant virgin. I always smile at this controversy, given that the words "virgin" and "young woman," even in the English language, had been used fairly interchangeably prior to the 20th century. At any rate, the Septuagint translated the word alma into the Greek word for virgin well before the birth of Christ, and so the Christians (who used the Septuagint), were really just going from there. This is why they translated it as virgin: not to bolster their theology, but because the Jewish scholars before them had already translated it as virgin into the Greek-language scriptures upon which the majority of the earliest Christians relied. This is why I do not like the oft repeated canard that the Christians chose virgin this to booster their theology. THEY didn't choose it. The translators of the Septuagint did.

As a Christian, I don't believe the Jews were sitting around at the turn of the century expecting a virgin birth, and, lo and behold, here was a virgin birth. Rather, people were NOT expecting what happened to happen. Jesus, on the whole, was nothing like what was expected of the Messiah based on Jewish scripture and tradition. And yet his disciples EXPERIENCED him as the Messiah and as the Lord. And so, to make sense of this experience, they looked back and said--ah, well, maybe that's what that verse meant after all, even though we didn't initially realize or expect it to mean that. This is how Christians interpret Jewish scripture as a whole--in the light of Christ's life, death, and Resurrection, and in the light of early church experience, none of which was anything like anything they had been expecting.

What the Gospel writers did, particularly Matthew, was to find fulfillment in all sorts of verses after the fact and in light of events and try to make sense of those scriptures in light of what they had experienced. They were re-interpreting the Jewish scriptures on the basis of the knock-your-socks-off experience they had just had.

Likewise, I imagine, Jews probably interpret much of the Pentateuch in the light of the later Jewish scriptures and later Jewish experiences, rather than in a vacuum that precisely mirrors the original understanding that the earliest Jews had of the Pentateuch.

I'm sure it annoying to Jews that Christians interpret their (Jewish) scriptures in light of their (Christian) experience, but the truth is that there's no religion that hasn't built on someone else's religion in some way, and the truth is that Jesus was a Jew, and so were many of the first Christians, and so this was inevitable.
 
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Smiling Ted

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Which, at the time, pretty much meant virgin. I always smile at this controversy, given that the words "virgin" and "young woman," even in the English language, had been used fairly interchangeably prior to the 20th century. At any rate, the Septuagint translated the word alma into the Greek word for virgin well before the birth of Christ, and so the Christians (who used the Septuagint), were really just going from there. This is why they translated it as virgin: not to bolster their theology, but because the Jewish scholars before them had already translated it as virgin into the Greek-language scriptures upon which the majority of the earliest Christians relied. This is why I do not like the oft repeated canard that the Christians chose virgin this to booster their theology. THEY didn't choose it. The translators of the Septuagint did.

I'm sorry, Skylar, but that's not correct.

At the time of the writing of the Torah, "young woman" and "virigin" were NOT considered pretty much the same thing. The Old Testament uses one very specific word for "virgin." That word isn't almah. It's b'tullah. You can see the difference between the two words by their context. Read it for yourself - for b'tullah, cf. Genesis 24:16, and the marital status of women in Exodus 22:15-16. For almah, cf. Exodus 2:8 and Proverbs 30:19. Substitute "virgin" for "young woman" in Exodus 2:8 or Proverbs, and you'll have a pretty odd-sounding verse. (For the original Hebrew and an English translation side by side, go HERE.)

In Biblical Hebrew, the nouns are very specific.
The word for a teenaged girl is na’arah.
The word for a young woman is almah.
The word for a female virgin is b'tullah.

Unfortunately, the Septuagint uses the Greek word parthenos indiscriminately for b’tullah, na’arah, and almah. The most common meaning of parthenos is “virgin,” but the Septuagint also uses it to mean “young woman” - even in contexts like Genesis 24:16, where this results in word doubling. (cf. Parthenos here.) There are also several instances in Classical Greek where parthenos means "young woman." So anyone who translated the Septuagint from koine Greek into another language (in short, any gentile, because a Jew would already have the Hebrew original) would have to consciously choose the meaning of parthenos in Isaiah. No surprise that these translators chose “virgin.”

However, the Septuagint is actually irrelevant – because the translators of the KJV didn't use the Septuagint to translate the Torah. They used the Septuagint to translate the Apocrypha, but they translated the Torah, including Isaiah, directly from the Hebrew. (See here.) So they knew the meaning of b'tullah and almah. Once again, using "virgin" was a consciously incorrect choice, not an unknowing assumption. As to why they made that conscious choice - you tell me.

I'm sure it annoying to Jews that Christians interpret their (Jewish) scriptures in light of their (Christian) experience, but the truth is that there's no religion that hasn't built on someone else's religion in some way, and the truth is that Jesus was a Jew, and so were many of the first Christians, and so this was inevitable.

Skylar, I have nothing against reinterpretations - even ones with which I disagree. But there's a difference between a reinterpretation and something that's factually incorrect.
 
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robbrichards

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i like what you have to say

It's been a while since I had to think about it, but I guess you'd do all right with the Jewish Publication Society's translation, The Holy Scriptures. You can probably find it at any Judaica store in Portland. You can also find other translations that feature Hebrew and English side by side.

But even a less biased translation is still a translation. Hebrew is very different from English (English is Indo-European; Hebrew is Semitic) so context is important. It is important to read books and chapters as a whole, and not to pluck out verses in isolation. (This is especially true when reading the poetry of the Psalms and the Prophets.)

BTW, Jews don't use the term "Old Testament" - it implies that the Torah has been superseded by the "New Testament." Instead, we say Torah, or Jewish Bible, or Jewish Scriptures, or Hebrew Scriptures.

Good luck.


Hi my friend with good taste (Adams family fans rule)

sir, i have thorough training in the Torah, albeit through a Christian interpetation. our training exposed the Torah as the foundation of the New Testament and the New Testament as the fulfillment of Toreh. I would say that the Torah is all about Jesus as much as is the New Testament, but to you I say the Toreh is all about the Messiah. I love the Jew. I have to. My Father calls them His people. When I meet a Jew I am honored, which sets some back a pace. I believe the Jew has to some degree forgotten who he/she is, God's chosen people, but even more I see the Jew is letting go the hope of the Messiah. We all, Jew and Christian alike should be celebrating in the hopes of the Messiah and the resurection. And that is Old Testament teaching, Torah to you. I would love to get into some deep Torah based conversations. This might be a good venue, for me. But you'll have to envite me to enter, set the pace and direction. I don't want to step on your toes.

with great respect and thanksgiving,

robb
 

semilargeintestine

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Hi my friend with good taste (Adams family fans rule)

sir, i have thorough training in the Torah, albeit through a Christian interpetation. our training exposed the Torah as the foundation of the New Testament and the New Testament as the fulfillment of Toreh.

Which is where your problem starts.

I would say that the Torah is all about Jesus as much as is the New Testament, but to you I say the Toreh is all about the Messiah.

And you would be wrong.

I love the Jew. I have to. My Father calls them His people. When I meet a Jew I am honored, which sets some back a pace. I believe the Jew has to some degree forgotten who he/she is, God's chosen people,

We are His people, and we have not forgotten (although I'd argue that the reform and many conservative Jews have).

but even more I see the Jew is letting go the hope of the Messiah. We all, Jew and Christian alike should be celebrating in the hopes of the Messiah and the resurection.

If we were losing hope, we would not be praying for him 3 times a day everyday (except on Sabbath when we are forbidden from any additional prayers for requests), nor would we be awaiting with sincerity his coming every single day (including the Sabbath).

And that is Old Testament teaching, Torah to you. I would love to get into some deep Torah based conversations. This might be a good venue, for me. But you'll have to envite me to enter, set the pace and direction. I don't want to step on your toes.

with great respect and thanksgiving,

robb

If you want to get into some good Torah based conversation, you should probably refrain from telling us what we believe. It's nice that you have respect for Jews (we appreciate it a lot), but we don't need someone telling us we've lost hope in Moshiach when we cry out for him daily.

Also, Jews are only permitted to discuss Torah with non-Jews if it involves something pertinent to their lives. This excludes all the deeper layers of the Torah and pretty much all of the Talmud. So, I would be happy to discuss things with you on a basic level, but you won't find an Orthodox Jew who will be willing to discuss the deep stuff with you.
 

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Also, Jews are only permitted to discuss Torah with non-Jews if it involves something pertinent to their lives. This excludes all the deeper layers of the Torah and pretty much all of the Talmud.

Non-Jews being anyone not born Jewish, or non-Jews being anyone who does not hold the Jewish faith?
 

Smiling Ted

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Non-Jews being anyone not born Jewish, or non-Jews being anyone who does not hold the Jewish faith?

Neither, really.

Unlike Christians and Muslims, Jews are both a religious and an ethnic group. Non-Jews can choose to become Jews, although it takes a long time and a lot of study and preparation. (To discriminate against someone who wasn't born Jewish, but became a Jew, is considered a terrible sin, by the way.) And a loss of faith doesn't turn you into a non-Jew...although aggressively adopting a different faith that conflicts with the Torah would pretty much take you out of the community. In other words, doubting the existence of the one God is one thing; worshipping the Triple Goddess and her consort is another.

Having said that, we have no Vatican maintaining our ideological purity, and the only thing that holds true for all of us is the ancient mystical saying: "Two Jews. Three opinions."

Semi - What's the source for the prohibition against discussing the Torah with non-Jews? I'm not familiar with it. (I know there's a prohibition against discussing Kabbalah with non-Jews.)
 
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semilargeintestine

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Non-Jews being anyone not born Jewish, or non-Jews being anyone who does not hold the Jewish faith?

Anyone who isn't Jewish. If your mother isn't Jewish or you didn't convert, you're not Jewish.

Neither, really.

Unlike Christians and Muslims, Jews are both a religious and an ethnic group. Non-Jews can choose to become Jews, although it takes a long time and a lot of study and preparation. (To discriminate against someone who wasn't born Jewish, but became a Jew, is considered a terrible sin, by the way.) And a loss of faith doesn't turn you into a non-Jew...although aggressively adopting a different faith that conflicts with the Torah would pretty much take you out of the community. In other words, doubting the existence of the one God is one thing; worshipping the Triple Goddess and her consort is another.

One of the commandments is to love the convert. When someone accepts the Torah and becomes a Jew, they are just as Jewish as someone born into the faith. Don't forget that the original Jew was a convert (Abraham).

Doubting the existence of the one G-d is terrible and outside the bounds of Judaism, but worshipping another deity is punishable by death.

Having said that, we have no Vatican maintaining our ideological purity, and the only thing that holds true for all of us is the ancient mystical saying: "Two Jews. Three opinions."

Very true. That saying can be seen daily. However, while we have no Vatican, we do have the Torah. The Torah is eternal, and ultimately that is what maintains our ideological purity. It is the reason why Judaism has virtually been unchanged for thousands of years (obviously we have had sects, and adaptations have had to be made, but the ideology and core tenets have not changed, nor have a large majority of the practices).

Semi - What's the source for the prohibition against discussing the Torah with non-Jews? I'm not familiar with it. (I know there's a prohibition against discussing Kabbalah with non-Jews.)

The prohibition can be found in a few places.

For one, we know that the Torah is a special gift given to the Jewish people by G-d. "And the L-RD said unto Moses: 'Write thou these words, for after the speaking of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel'" (Ex. 34:27). It is our special covenant with Him: "Moses commanded us a law, an inheritance of the congregation of Jacob" (Deut. 33:4).

In Sanhedrin 59a, it says:

Sanhedrin 59a said:
A heathen who studies the Torah deserves death, for it is written, Moses commanded us a law for an inheritance;2 it is our inheritance, not theirs. Then why is this not included in the Noachian laws? — On the reading morasha [an inheritance] he steals it; on the reading me'orasah [betrothed], he is guilty as one who violates a betrothed maiden, who is stoned.

From this it seems pretty clear that non-Jews are forbidden from studying Torah. But then, it goes on to say:

Sanhedrin 59a said:
Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which, if man do, he shall live in them. Priests, Levites, and Israelites are not mentioned, but men: hence thou mayest learn that even a heathen who studies the Torah is as a High Priest! — That refers to their own seven laws.

And so, most halakhhic authorities will agree that the prohibition refers to non-Jews studying Torah solely for intellectual stimulation. If a righteous gentile wants to study Torah that is related to their 7 mitzvos, she is allowed to do so as long as she seeks to incorporate what she learns into her life.

There are also things that are prohibited to Jews. For example, Kabbalah is not to be taught to Jews until they are well learned, married, and with children. And even then, its secrets are not to be taught to more than two Jews at a time. In modern times, the Zohar has been written down, so any Jew can learn basic precepts of Kabbalah; however, the secrets are still kept away from only the most meritorious among us.
 

Smiling Ted

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Most important, you spelled Groucho's name wrong. It's "Marx."

Then...the Torah is eternal; our interpretation of it is not. Even our greatest Sages disagree about its interpretation. Shmuel disagrees with Rav, Shammai with Hillel, Resh Lakish with pretty much everyone, and there are even six issues that will remain completely unresolved until the arrival of the Messiah.

Although we have codified the Halakhah, we preserve and study the arguments that lead to that codification to remind us of their complexity and of the strengths of the arguments on all sides. We even have the midrash of the bat kol to remind us that the interpretation of the Law is our responsibility now, not God's.

So, with so much disagreement over the meaning of the Torah, the idea of it maintaining "ideological purity" is a little silly.

As regards the "prohibition" against discussing the Torah with Gentiles, even in the most stringent interpretation it is not an absolute prohibition; and the prohibition itself does not appear explicitly in the Tanach or the Mishnah, but only as derived by the drasha of certain Sages - not all of them. We must treat that opinion with respect, but it's not the same thing as the Fourth Commandment.

And if you think about it, ALL of the Torah is related to ALL of the Seven Noahide Laws.

Which is all my way of saying that I think you're putting it a little too strongly when you talk about our ideological purity, and I'm not worried about discussing the Torah with a non-Jew...only with a non-Jew who's also an idiot. ;)
 

Smiling Ted

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Doubting the existence of the one G-d is terrible and outside the bounds of Judaism, but worshipping another deity is punishable by death.

Umm...

It's important to note here, especially for any non-Jews reading this forum, that the death penalty was *almost never* enforced for any crime.

In fact, a Jewish court that handed out a death sentence even once in 70 years was considered to be "bloody."
 

CACTUSWENDY

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IMHO

In all humbleness...may I ask a question? I wonder why G-d would bring us His written word, to be passed down through the ages, and not make it so that all could understand it? It has been my understanding that He wants us to 'know' Him and His desires for the way in which we should go. I find it a interesting that so many keep so much of it hidden away. Why is it dealt with this way?

This is not said to be snarky or insulting. It is merely a question. Thank you for your reply.
 

semilargeintestine

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Most important, you spelled Groucho's name wrong. It's "Marx."

I noticed that, but I figured it would be a good display of my idiocy, so I left it.

Then...the Torah is eternal; our interpretation of it is not. Even our greatest Sages disagree about its interpretation. Shmuel disagrees with Rav, Shammai with Hillel, Resh Lakish with pretty much everyone, and there are even six issues that will remain completely unresolved until the arrival of the Messiah.

Although we have codified the Halakhah, we preserve and study the arguments that lead to that codification to remind us of their complexity and of the strengths of the arguments on all sides. We even have the midrash of the bat kol to remind us that the interpretation of the Law is our responsibility now, not God's.

So, with so much disagreement over the meaning of the Torah, the idea of it maintaining "ideological purity" is a little silly.

I don't disagree with anything you said except for the last part. How is the Torah not maintaining our ideological purity? While we disagree one some of the details, the thirteen principles of faith remain the same. While some people hold by the eruv and some people don't, we all believe the same principles.

As regards the "prohibition" against discussing the Torah with Gentiles, even in the most stringent interpretation it is not an absolute prohibition; and the prohibition itself does not appear explicitly in the Tanach or the Mishnah, but only as derived by the drasha of certain Sages - not all of them. We must treat that opinion with respect, but it's not the same thing as the Fourth Commandment.

Actually, the most stringent interpretation is Rambam who says in the Mishneh Torah that gentiles are forbidden from performing certain mitzvos, and he mentions specifically keeping Shabbos and Torah study.

And if you think about it, ALL of the Torah is related to ALL of the Seven Noahide Laws.

Really? So the laws for Kohanim, which a non-Jew cannot be, or the laws regarding Tefillin, which a non-Jew cannot wear, or the laws concerning Shabbos, which a non-Jew cannot keep are related to the Noahide Laws?

It is true that the Seven Noahide Laws really encompass a good 50-60 mitzvos, and so there are large chunks of the Torah that are relevant to b'nei Noach. That I do not deny, and in fact I encourage gentiles to learn those parts.

But the fact remains that it appears specifically in several places that the Torah is for the Jewish people, and its secrets are for us. I'm sorry if that's not PC enough for this society, but it's true.

Which is all my way of saying that I think you're putting it a little too strongly when you talk about our ideological purity, and I'm not worried about discussing the Torah with a non-Jew...only with a non-Jew who's also an idiot. ;)

I have given classes on the Torah to non-Jews. I have no problem discussing it with them, but I will not discuss the parts that have absolutely no relevance to them, and I will not discuss it with people who have no interest in incorporating it into their lives.


Umm...

It's important to note here, especially for any non-Jews reading this forum, that the death penalty was *almost never* enforced for any crime.

In fact, a Jewish court that handed out a death sentence even once in 70 years was considered to be "bloody."

That doesn't mean that it is not punishable by death. It just means that our requirement to not take a life takes precendence over the commandment to execute an idol worshipper.

The more relevant concept is that as Jews, we are required to give our lives before committing idol worship. In fact, many Jews throughout history have given up their lives in the face of an oppressor attempting to force idols upon them. There is the famous story of the mother who watched her 7 children be murdered because they refused to bow down to an idol; she said to Avraham, "You sacrificed one child, I sacrificed seven."

An argument that it is okay to worship false gods is outside of Judaism. There is no way around it.

Exodus 20:1-2 said:
And G-d spoke all these words, saying: I am the L-RD thy G-d, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.

When we say the Shema every morning and evening, we profess that G-d is One, and that all the divine facets--judgment, mercy, ruler--are all One.

Deut. 6:4 said:
Hear, O Israel: the L-RD our G-d, the L-RD is One.

The word for One there is echad, which is just the cardinal number one. There is another word that means one and only, but that is not used here. It is not used here because that would imply that G-d is a singular being. By using just the number one, we see that despite there being many aspects of Divinity, they are all actually one. It is like a prism. The light we see coming out of the prism has many different colours; however, they are all just reflections of a single beam of light.

If you are saying that it is okay to worship another deity, you are way outside the bounds of Judaism.

IMHO

In all humbleness...may I ask a question? I wonder why G-d would bring us His written word, to be passed down through the ages, and not make it so that all could understand it? It has been my understanding that He wants us to 'know' Him and His desires for the way in which we should go. I find it a interesting that so many keep so much of it hidden away. Why is it dealt with this way?

This is not said to be snarky or insulting. It is merely a question. Thank you for your reply.

While every Jew has a mission, the purpose of life is to learn Torah. It is through the study of Torah and the performance of the mitzvos that we become closer to Him and "know" Him.

One again, I reference the Shema:

Shema said:
And thou shalt love the L-RD thy G-d with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house, and upon thy gates.

First, we are commanded to keep the words that G-d commanded us in our hearts and teach it to our children, talking of them in our homes and outside. This is refering to the Torah. We are to study, learn, and teach Torah.

Second, we are commanded to bind them to our hand and between our eyes, and write them on our doorposts. These are the commandments for Tefillin and Mezuzos, which are mitzvos.

We are commanded to do these things for the love of G-d.

As far as the hidden nature of the information in the Torah, the answer has multiple parts. For one thing, the Torah is Eternal and was created to last throughout the ages. Because of this, the Hebrew language was created in such a way that multiple layers of information could be contained in a small space--even just a letter. This allows for the Torah to be able to address multiple concepts at once, with the deeper levels coming out as they are needed in time.

In addition, there are things in the Torah that are just not meant for non-Jews, nor would they be understood by them. In addition, there are things there that are not meant even for most Jews, but a select few of the holiest people.

What you have to remember is that the Torah was not given to the Jews to be spread around the world. The Jews were given the mission to bring the concept of One G-d to the world and make it a moral place--not to convert everyone to Judaism or to spread the Jewish "gospel." The Torah represents our special relationship with G-d, and it is our gift from Him.
 

EmilySC

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I started this thread about 18 months ago. Wasn't offended by what has been posted--just didn't have the nerve to check back to see what my ignorant interpretation might have stirred up. Finally did that today.

At the age of 60, I sometimes wonder how much of G-d's spiritual message we (Christians) have maintained uncorrupted. I envy the reliability that you speak of -- how good it must be to KNOW that you are reading an unchanged original.

I will keep my presumptions to myself in the future--especially in matters about which IDHAC.


I don't have a clue
ESC
 

semilargeintestine

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The only people I have a problem with are missionaries. :D If someone actually wants to discuss things in the Torah, as long as it's something that is open to discussion with a non-Jew, I'm game. :)

Just a few random notes though. Being a missionary and declaring G-d's glory are different. In Judaism, not everyone has to be a Jew to get into heaven or the World to Come. When Jews proclaim G-d's glory and the Truth of the Torah to goyim, we are not necessarily trying to convert them to Judaism; in fact, we generally discourage people from converting because we only want people dedicated enough to take on the extremely rigorous and technical lifestyle that comes with it. What we DO want is for people to recognize the Truth and live by it (which isn't necessarily as a Jew).

Second, the wolf and the lamb, etc. are most likely metaphors for world peace. Most of the Torah sages view it as a metaphor, and in fact the Rambam--whose views we try to basically make all others work with--says that nothing supernatural will occur after the Moshiach comes (aside from the resurrection and end of sickness/death), and people will still be growing crops and working, etc. We will simply all get along, because all of us will know the Truth.
 

Happy Thanksgiving

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