Posts Tagged ‘Jacob Emden’

Sabbath to Sunday shift on purpose by the Jewish community of the apostle James?

April 11, 2013

I had an interesting conversation with a rabbi who said “that Rabbi Jacob Emden proposed that the founders of Christianity deliberately adopted Sunday as a day of sabbath, to stress that they were not creating a conversion-based Torah religion. His proposal is that the founders of Christianity wanted to create a new religion for Gentiles to institutionalize observance of the seven Noahide laws (which don’t include the Sabbath) and instituted Sunday as a remembrance of the Sabbath.”


He furthermore said that Rabbi Jacob Emden had the opinion that baptism was the denominator to enter the new religion for the gentiles. Instead of circumcision which was meant for Jews.

This was quite new for me, and gave me a lot to think about. And indeed, it is in the letter of Rabbi Jacob Emden what is translated and published by Rabbi Harvey Falk. It is derived from the Hebrew book Seder Olam Rabbah Vezuta, 1757. His Hebrew name is: יעקב בן צבי (Yaacov ben Zvi, 1698-1767)

Rabbi Jacob Emden said:

But for the Gentiles he [Jesus] reserved the Seven Commandments which they have always been obligated to fulfill. It is for that reason that they were forbidden pollutions of idols, fornication, blood, and things strangled (Acts 15). They [the apostles] also forbade them circumcision and the Sabbath. … The Apostles of the Nazarene therefore chose for those Gentiles who do not enter the Jewish faith that instead of circumcision they should practice immersion (for truly immersion is also a condition of full conversion), and a commemoration of the Sabbath was made for them on Sunday.

In the New Testament we can find a difference between Jewish observance of the Torah and Gentile observance of the 7 Noachides. This is laid out in Acts.15. That means that if a new believer did not accept (the yoke of) the Torah, then he might enter the new Christian religion by baptism. In some sense you can call this new religion a part of Judaism, or something that fits into Judaism (7 Noachides), but it is not Judaism itself. That will teach us that there were two deliberate tracks for believers: The Jewish Torah observance and the Gentile 7-Noachides observance (without sabbath and circumcision).

If not the whole Jewish community of believers led by the apostle Jacob was scattered around since the destruction of the temple in 70, then, we probably would find the difference of Jewish and gentile believers also in the scriptures of our church fathers. Unfortunately the church went in its own and Judaism was not only singled out but also forbidden. And they deleted almost everything what remembers Judaism. E.g. highlighting (un-biblical) Christmas, change passover/easter date, etc.


Quotes on “Kosher Jesus”

February 4, 2012

Christianity meets Judaism and it is intensifying. In the discussions on internet about the new book “Kosher Jesus” from Shmuley Boteach I found some interesting quotes. I watch the debates with great interest. What Shmuley would do with his book for Christians works out precisely the opposite way for Jews. Allthough, rabbis are afraid of that. I think it’s not that much attracting for orthodox Jews but what it shows clearly is that there are put efforts in re-picturing the Jew Jesus. One who laid a very worthy basis for both camps is the high respected rabbi Jacob Emden. (17th cent.) His approach of Jesus and Christianity is of great significance for Jews.

So I will begin with citing rabbi Jacob Emden from a post of Shmuley.

“In his commentary Eitz Avos (40b-41a) on Pirkei Avot (4:11), Emden describes Christianity as a ““religion in the service of God,” a religion which God sees as good and, therefore, He sustains it; it came to spread the word of God to those ‘who, until then, had worshipped wood and stone, who denied the existence of God altogether, who did not believe in good and evil, or in the afterlife. Christianity spread the notion of one God, one Ruler of all the universe who metes out justice to His creations. Christians accept the seven Noachide Laws and many other mitzvot which they voluntarily take upon themselves. In addition to these good qualities, God also gave them prophecy through their righteous ones, and through these prophets gave them laws and commandments by which to live. Because of all this – because they met these tests of a holy community – their religion was upheld and maintained by God.” Emden continues: these two families, Christianity and Mohammedanism, which God selected as vehicles to bring faith into the world, were never brought under the yoke of mitzvoth (commandments) of the Torah; their fathers never gave it to them, nor did they stand at Sinai; neither were they slaves in Egypt; therefore, they are not obligated for the 613 mitzvos and are thus exempt from the prohibition of shittuf (loosely translated here as the Trinity).  Emden concludes with the repetition of a previous theme: though some of their evil ones cause us sorrow with their violent actions and false accusations, there are righteous ones who protect us from those who rise up against Jews, and wise ones among them who search for truth in our works and find no fault in our faithfulness to our Torah and mitzvot.”

In the same article Smuley said also:
“We (the Jews) must teach Christians about the Jewishness of Jesus rather than Christians teaching Jews about the Christianity of Christ. Jesus was always a Jew and never a Christian. Period.”

“It is time for the Jewish community to stop playing defense and go on offense. We should stop fearing assimilation and start sharing with the world the universal wisdom and values of Judaism, beginning with demonstrating the Jewish sources of Jesus’ teachings.”

“The political bridge of support for Israel is not enough. A theological bridge between Jews and Christians must exist as well. Kosher Jesus proposes that Jesus the Jew, rather than Christ the Christian, be that bridge. It is not for Christians to teach the Jews about Jesus, as has been attempted for so many centuries, but rather, for the Jews to teach Christians about how Jesus lived, prayed, worshipped, and died as a Jew.”

“Today, Christians want to learn from us.”

“Christians need Jews to discover the truth about their faith”

Rabbi Smuley sees that times has been changed. The most catching saying of him perhaps is this one: “ Christians are our best friends today. “ This is a very interesting one because this is new since WWII (the Shoa). I think the older rabbi’s (with great respect) aren’t able to say this. But younger ones have new perspectives. We are heading a new era. History is a big shame, it’s a scandal. There are no winners at all. We lost. We, all human beings, we lost. And of course, as a Christian I believe that Yeshua, yet the stumbling block but in future the corner stone, will win. (Rabbi Skobac identified the book as a stumbling book.)

Rabbi Smuley wants to “allow a new era of Jewish-Christian reapproachement to begin.”

But, probably he asked too much from his fellow Jews. As Rabbi Blumenthal called it: insensitive.

The book is banned by rabbi Immanuel Schochet. Read the ban here.

There is more at hand. Chabad is also drawn more and more towards Christian tenets. As I read here: “This is fascinating, because what we have seen in the last 20 years is Chabad publicly adopting tenets of Christianity long rejected by Jewish communities and scholars worldwide – most notably a messiah that will come from dead, a second coming.”

The world is changing…

Jesus the Pharisee, Harvey Falk and the letter of Jacob Emden

June 20, 2011
This is a very exciting book. And I never read such a good explanation of Matthew 23. Harvey Falk, a rabbi who has written extensively on rabbinic Judaism, wrote his vision on the emerge of Christ and Christendom out of the Jewish tradition in his book Jesus the Pharisee, A new look at the Jewishness of Jesus, 1985.
He boldly leans upon the famous rabbi Jacob Emden’s work Seder Olam Rabbah Vezuta, 1757, which has an investigation of Christianity in it and a letter which “laid the groundwork of this book”, p.4. The thesis of rabbi Emden is that Jesus and Paul would establish a religion for the gentiles based on the 7 Noachide laws, strengthening the Torah of Moses (who commanded this) and removing idolatry from the gentiles.

This very important letter of Rabbi Jacob Emden came to existance because of some troubles in Poland regarding the false Messiah Shabbatai Zevi. A brief history was given on page 113. I’ll share it here:

The thesis I have proposed is based on the writings of the great Talmudist and anti-Shabbatean Rabbis Jacob Emden, a valiant champion of Orthodox Judaism during the eighteenth century. His adversaries at the time were the Shabbateans, or followers of the false seventeenth century messiah, Shabbatai Zevi. These Shabbateans – or Frankists as they were called in his day – desecreted Jewish law and openly practiced sexual immorality. When excummunicated by the polish rabbinate, they complained to certain Catolic bishops of being persecuted by the Jews because they believed in the Trinity. This eventually led to the burning of the Talmud in Poland and these Frankists even tried to revive the notorious blood-libel against the Jews. When the leading rabbis of Poland asked Rabbi Emden whether it would be permitted to explain the true nature of these immoral heretics to the Polish authorities, Rabbi Emden replied in the affirmative, and also advised them to ask the Christians for help against the Shabbateans. This led him into a thorough analysis ofthe origins of Christianity and the original intent of its founders. He concluded that Jesus and Paul had intended to create a religion for the Gentiles based upon the seven Noahide commandments. According to the Talmud and Toseita, those Gentiles who observe these Commandments are considered of the Hasidim (pious ones) of the Nations, and merit a share in the World to Come. (The basic seven Noahide Commandments consist of the prohibitions against idolatry, blasphemy. stealing, murder, Sexual sins, eating the limb of a living animal [cruelty to
animals], and the imperative to establish courts ofjustice) He believed that Jesus of Nazareth acted entirely according to the Halakha, and “brought about a double kindness to the world.” R. Emden stressed that Jesus spoke out strongly on behalf of the Torah of Moses, which indeed grants salvation those Gentiles who practice the Noahide Commandments. R. Emden referred to Paul as “a scholar, an attendant of Rabban Gamaliel the Elder.”
[end qoute]

Rabbi Harvey’s book took 8 years of preparation and he read the (Hebrew) letter of rabbi Emden only some years before the completion of his book. (His book is only a pocketbook, about 160 pages, easy to read when you are a bit familiar with Judaism.)

What he is arguing in his book is what Jesus says against the Pharisees and Scribes is not as much as said to the pharisees in general, but more specific to the pharisees of the school of Shammai. Those who cooperates with the Zealots and were against salvation for the gentiles. The school of Hillel was much more kind to the gentiles, but they disappeared a bit and went to the Essenes.

“I have expressed my opinion many times in this book that Christianity as a religion for the Gentiles was founded by the Hasidim – the Essenes and disciples of Hillel from whose midst Jesus of Nazareth emerged. I have also demonstrated that the Pharisees criticized by Jesus were the school of Shammai, who dominated Jewish life and thought in Jesus’ time, and therefore were the Pharisees in control of Caiaphas’ Sanhedrin as wel. Bet Shammai would have been opposed to Christianity on two grounds. First, they held salvation for the Gentiles to be impossible.” (p.132)

Some more qoutes:

“We have previously expressed our belief – based especially on the many similarities between the Christian bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls – that the Essenes helped found Christianity as a religion for the Gentiles, in accordance with the Noachide Commandments.” p.60

“Paul of Tarsus didn’t bother the Jews, and instead devoted all his energies to bringing Christian teachings to the gentiles. It would appear to me that the rabbis where only too happy to see those outside Judaism learn of God and the Bible. Paul said, “Everyone should remain in the state in which he was called” (1Corinthians 7:17-20).” p.78

He ended his book with this saying: “It is my fervent hope that these writings will make a contribution toward bringing bringing all men and woman who seek God and the brotherhood of humanity into a closer bond of fellowship. If we achieve this, we may hope to merit being considered among the disciples of the prophet Elijah, who, according to the Mishnah (Eduyyot 8:7), will appear before the coming of the Messiah to bring peace to mankind. For as Rabbi Jacob Emden wrote (Seder Olam 34a): “In the name of Heaven, we are your brothers; one God has created us all.”

I just had prepared this review, but now, today, I heard an interesting lecture of an orthodox rabbi and I want to share with you someting. (He didn’t want to have his name mentioned.) I spoke to him personally and asked him if he knows the book of rabbi Harvey Falk. And he did because of Jacob Emden. I asked him because he began to say that he was so exciting about Jacob Emden. He said Jacob Emden gives a very good and interesting view of Christianity. So that triggers my ears boldly and I realised that we have much in common. I saw that there is so much to be revealed to both Christianity and Judaism. He said this could be a very good base for Jew and Christian to build on. He also pointed out that rabbi Emden published his book on his own. Unfortunately he also said that there’s a little change that any of the orthodox Jewish scholars know about the letter of Jacob Emden. He told me he would like to re-translate and to write a scholarly version of this letter without the opinion of rabbi Falk of the beth Hillel/ beth Shammai matters. I hope he does! He was very exciting and told that among the many Christian theologians he spoke to, I was the first who presented the book, which he found very encouraging.

So, the bottomline: This letter of Rabbi Jacob Emden might going to be very important.

I also want to share a review of this book from a fellow blogger (Paula) here.

The 7 noachides: fair enough

April 16, 2011

This is not only the meaning of contemporary rabbinical Judaism but also of the disciples of the Notsri Rabbi Yeshua ben Joseph, according to rabbi Jacob Emden(1697-1776) son of chacham Tzvi. The gentiles are not bound to the Torah.

Since I read this blogpost recently which shared an article of rabbi Jacob Emden, I more and more came to realize that this little saying of this rabbi can be a key for me to understand the distinction of the unique position of the Jews with respect to the Gentiles. Not all is clear for me, but that there is a difference between Jew and gentile is pretty clear. Not in terms of Grace, but in other terms.

When it comes to replacement theology many church-people would say that it has been an error, and now with just recognising Israel as something special, as “the chosen ones with the promise of conversion to Christianity”, we can go on and everything is fine. Just a reconciliation of their own faith and recent Jewish history.

But what the unique position of Israel implies to Christianity is much more than many church-people could think about. The fact is that we remain gentiles, not Jews. You can say that we are “grafted in”, and yes its true (I never can deny that because my heart agrees with it) but we are not become Jews. The apostle Paul recognized the Jewish people clearly as a different people in his letter to the Romans. The difference will end in a broad repentance of the Jewish people, the chosen ones with the benefits they have, and a great glory will begin when this beloved people will come to their God. In the Messianic era, times will change. Then we would not say Christianity or Judaism, we would say One God. (Zach.14:9) But until then Jews are separated and kept under their covenant.

Christians (a few amongst the broader common who are true and faithful) have a share in that covenant. There’s one covenant above everything and that is the so called covenant of grace. And those who have a share in it can only have it through the Messiah Jesus, as a part of the Jewish people. Becoming a part of that will mean a dying life. Dying because you are a part of Him, the despised Messiah, he who is rejected until now. You’ll share the same. Only through dead you’ll become righteous. The kingdom is not now, but after resurrection. Now we are all defiled, no man is perfect. Nice churches and great buildings have nothing to do with real Christians. No, Judgement begins at the house of God (1Pet.4:17) and Many are called but few chosen. (Matthew20:16 and 22:14) So in fact true Christians are hard to find, the majority of the Christians make not a good picture of it. It’s hard to understand but in the church are the most anti-christian powers active. That’s why it is so difficult for orthodox Jews to get the right picture of it.

A share in this grace and this new life and ultimately in the world to come, will be the same for the faithful Jew and Christian. However there’s a difference in the way they have to go and the purpose they have. The Jew has a unique covenant and halacha in which role they serve also as a keeper of the Torah, a shomer Torah. (Rom.3:2) And as gentiles: From the Jews we learn Torah, from them we have the Messiah, from them we have grace.

As we enter that share in Torah, grace and salvation, we have a share in their benefits as there are the adoption to be a child of God, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Torah, and the service of God, and the promises. (Rom.9:4) But it is never said (by Jesus and the apostles) that the gentiles are obligated to keep the 613 commandments and the authorised halacha of rabbinical Judaism. Even the 10 commandments are not obligated. The disciples only began to say to keep the 7 Noachide commandments. (Acts15)

But a very special result of entering the covenant of grace is that we have got a new will and a new desire to serve the God of Israel. Then it comes to happen that a person wants to keep the law fully. Through the law he sees that he violated His goodness which he regrets. In order to get saved from the wrath of God he is going to obey the laws with a great love in his heart to do this. He is convinced by his own heart whether something is good or not. (Rom.14) But the underlying law comes always from the bible, the very word of God, which speaks to the heart. This is the voice and commandment of the Messiah. Which the called and chosen gentile heartily will obey.

How far can we serve God? So far as we know Him and His commandments. If we want to serve God and we want to get His kingdom on earth, how recommendable is it to “assist the Jews in the observance of their Torah” as Jacob Emden said. If they really come to the Torah of God they’ll come to their Messiah too, or better to say the Messiah will come to them. And to us.