Recently I got into a conversation about Judaism. The people on the other side were Jewish and I am a convert. At one point I was told, “Isn’t Christianity an “appropriation” of Judaism? And isn’t that a good thing? Extending the Covenant? And even I’m offended by calling the Virgin Mary – a Jew – pagan. To each their own. Blessings to all.”
I was surprised by this. I realize that there are many Jews that are not observant and some branches, such as Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, etc. do not approach the Torah in the same way as the Orthodox. But, this person informed me that this idea is acknowledged by some Orthodox rabbis. He quoted from a letter by THE CENTER FOR JEWISH–CHRISTIAN UNDERSTANDING & COOPERATION. link It was, “Both Jews and Christians have a common covenantal mission to perfect the world under the sovereignty of the Almighty, so that all humanity will call on His name and abominations will be removed from the earth.” This letter was signed by several respected rabbis.
As a convert, I understand that there are many things I do not yet know. I don’t claim to be more learned than these men. I’m sure they have studied long hours. But I can’t help but have a few questions because it sounds like these learned rabbis are acknowledging that Christianity is what it says it is. This is strange to me because a simple understanding of the Torah, which is the only thing I claim, and the most simple at that, does not support such a position. While I know that there are hidden and secret meanings in the Torah, it is my understanding that the secret meanings will not contradict the simple meanings. So, as far as I know, it can’t be that I just don’t understand what the Torah says.
These rabbis assert that Jews and Christians are part of the same covenant. I wonder how this is possible. Can the unchanging covenant of Sinai be changed by a group of men from two completely different religions? Does the covenant say it is only for a set amount of time and then some other group will be included? Does it say that this new group of people, who are somehow included in the covenant, are not obligated by the rules of the covenant?
The Torah does allow for non-Jews to live within the gates of the Jewish cities. But they are required to adhere to the same rules. The church asserts that the Law of Moses is null and void. Are we expected to believe that the same people who think the law has been made void are now an equal part of the covenant that is governed by that same law? Is that even possible? That is saying that they are governed by something that does not exist. The fact is that they put their faith in something that does not exist. Furthermore, they expect us to believe the same things.
If, in fact, we are part of the same covenant, where is it written? Every covenant has a written set of instructions which outline what each party is obligated to do in order to keep the covenant. The written Torah states clearly that the covenant is between HaShem and the Children of Israel. The only way one can become part of that covenant is to become one of the two parties mentioned in the covenant. That is to say that one must become Jewish or, Heaven forbid, become HaShem. That sounds foolish, but if Christians are not willing to become Jews and live by the commandments, there is only one other party in the covenant; HaShem. Therein lies the problem with this foolish letter. What is even more insulting is that they actually think that a man did become HaShem, or HaShem became a man. Either way, this contradicts the Torah. The Torah warns that if someone comes along claiming to be from HaShem, and they teach that which is contradictory to Moses’ teachings, that person is a false prophet. He warned us about these people and these men who call themselves rabbi, choose to ignore that warning. Worse still, they encourage their communities to do the same.
The letter says that “the emergence of Christianity in human history is neither an accident nor an error…”. I can agree with this because I know that all things come from HaShem and all things are for the very best. Egypt, Assyria, and Greece also had a reason for being. That doesn’t mean that they can be a part of the covenant. There are many things in this world that can be considered “good” but are not a part of the covenant. For example, non-Jews are not forbidden to eat pork. They consider it good and for them it is. They are free to eat any foods they wish. They can thank HaShem for them and not be in the wrong. But pork is excluded from the rules of the covenant. This is a simple example, but it is the exact same thing.
I am not saying that Christians are bad people. They do good things in the world. They help people in need and we know that HaShem wants us to give charity. In fact, it forgives a multitude of sins. Other religions do good things as well. That doesn’t make them a part of the covenant. That doesn’t make it okay to put forth the ideas in that letter.
The letter begins with this: “After nearly two millennia of mutual hostility and alienation, we Orthodox Rabbis who lead communities, institutions and seminaries in Israel, the United States and Europe recognize the historic opportunity now before us. We seek to do the will of our Father in Heaven by accepting the hand offered to us by our Christian brothers and sisters.” These are our leaders and they are asking us to do that which is not only wrong but forbidden. How do they say it is the will of our Father in Heaven? Are they prophets, knowing the will of HaShem that has not yet been revealed through the Torah? What exactly is the opportunity? Where in the Torah does it say that we are to turn to anyone but HaShem?
The sad thing, to me, is that people will use this letter as the person with whom I was arguing. They think this is what Orthodox Jews actually think. People might think that Orthodox Jews have finally decided that Christianity is what it claims and that is a terrible thing. We know that it is based on false teachings, mistranslations, and scriptures that were taken out of context. People might come to believe that this is what Jews believe and that is not okay.
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