TAAM: Torah Answers for Anti-Missionaries
This page deals with Torah Answers in the category:
Objections from Anti-missionaries : Based on Torah & Prophets
(Last Update: 17-nov-13 )
1. "Why do you say that the 'new covenant' is in the Torah? I don't see it anywhere."
2. "There is no support in Tanach for the idea that G-d even has a son."
3. "If Mashiach is so important (i.e., according to Christian teaching, if you don't 'believe' in him, you will burn in hell!), why didn't those who recorded the Torah proclaim his importance?"
4. "How did the great Jewish prophets teach the world about G-d and write Tanach, without Yeshua?"
5. "If Jews before Yeshua had an intimate relationship with Hashem, like King David, why can't I do the same?"
6. "When King David sinned with Bathsheva, he was forgiven through prayer - G-d does not desire blood, or even sacrifices."
7. "We don't need Korbanot to forgive our sins. Prayer, repentance and good deeds are the modern equivalent."
8. "Why should we accept someone who died on a cross for atonement? Torah says such a person is cursed."
9. "Judaism does not accept the idea that the shed blood of any human being can save others."
10. "The Jewish scriptures do not allow for G-d to become a man."
1. "Why do you say that the 'new covenant' is in the Torah? I don't see it anywhere."
We are talking about the Covenant introduced at the end of the Torah, which is not usually recognized for what it is: a Covenant "besides" the Covenant at Sinai.
These are the words of the covenant which the L-RD commanded Moses to make with the sons of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant [îìáã äáøéú] which He had made with them at Horeb. - Deut.29:1 (28:69 in Heb)
Many Jews assume that this declaration refers to what came before it, because it ends Deut.28 in the Hebrew. But chapter division was a Masoretic device, which was not part of Torah until the 8th c. CE at the earliest. In the original Hebrew, this verse is set apart in an unusual way, separated by space from the narrative before it AND after it.
If we take it as a conclusion for the preceding text, the statement loses its essense as a "covenent besides... Horeb". The entire book of Deuteronomy is a review and explanation of the covenant terms laid out at Horeb:
Across the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses undertook to expound this law, saying, "The LORD our God spoke to us at Horeb, saying,..." - Deut.1:5-6
The terms mentioned in Deut.28, just before the "besides" statement, are the same as Exodus 34 and Leviticus 26: to obey all G-d's commands and to not go after other gods. The blessings and curses in Deut. 28 are also similar to Leviticus 26, just in more graphic detail.
On the other hand, reading this "besides" declaration as an introduction to the following text in Deut.29, we can clearly see a new and different covenant. For example, it involves more people: in v.14-15 we see it includes even people not present (past and future generations), in direct contrast to the Sinai covenant, which was only with "all those of us alive here today" (Deut.5:2-3). The new covenant covers a longer time period than the Sinai covenant: whereas Deut.28:68 ends with captivity and slavery because of the curse brought on by disobedience, this covenant continues beyond that point:
So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you... then the L-RD your God will restore you from captivity... - Deut.30:1-3
In fact, Moses announces that those assembled are about to "enter into the covenant with the L-RD your God, and into His oath which the L-RD your God is making with you TODAY, in order that He may establish you TODAY as His people..." (Deut.29:12-13). This would have made no sense if it had been simply a review of the Sinai covenant. Even more significant, it implies that in some sense Israel had not been established as G-d's people at Sinai.
It's true. Something was missing from the Sinai covenant: the power to give Israel the proper heart for being G-d's people. Moses says that this "besides" covenant will do something the earlier covenant was unable to do:
And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, "You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants and all his land; the great trials which your eyes have seen, those great signs and wonders. Yet to this day the L-RD has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear. - Deut.29:2-4
Moreover the L-RD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. - Deut.30:6
Nowhere in the Sinai covenant does G-d speak of circumcising our hearts. On the contrary, we are told we must circumcise our own hearts (Deut.10:16). Rashi calls this "another covenant", which is confirmed by Moshe's clear statement that at the time he spoke, G-d had yet to do this new-heart thing.
So if it is only by this covenant that Israel is "established" as His people, then what is the role of the covenant made at Horeb? It is incorporated into this additional covenant as the guide for obedience that brings blessing. Notice above that the commandments do not bring life; the circumcision of the heart and the resulting love of G-d brings life. Moshe's well-known challenge ("I have set before you life and death... therefore choose life!") is likewise found in this "covenant besides" (30:19)
Therefore, there is a change in the Sinai covenant, but not in the commandments; it is in the heart condition of Israel, which finally allows them to obey "all" the commandments, and thereby receive the blessing:
And you shall again obey the LORD, and observe all His commandments which I command you today. Then the LORD your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the LORD will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; if you obey the LORD your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and soul. - Deut.30:8-10
The heart circumcised by G-d will enable Israel to truly keep all His commandments, because they "turn to the L-rd" and call on Him for the enablement. This is why the next statement tells us that the ability is "in your mouth and in your heart".
For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it. - Deut.30:11-14
Rabbinic teaching says that this refers to our own efforts, insisting that we really can keep all G-d's commandments if we just exert ourselves and try hard enough. The most dedicated Jews know best that no one is ever sure they are keeping ANY of the commandments one hundred percent - let alone "all" of them. Any claim to the contrary is only managed by legal loopholes and denial. And it's no wonder - we are already told in Deut.29 about our blindness and deafness and lack of "a heart to know".
2. "There is no support in Tanach for the idea that G-d even has a son."
Not only is that statement wrong, but our earlier sages, who knew the relevant Scriptures and taught on them, would be very disturbed by such a statement. See here for more.
3. "If Mashiach is so important (i.e. according to Christian teaching, if you don't 'believe' in him, you will burn in hell!), why didn't those who came before us and recorded the Torah exalt and proclaim his importance?"
First let's lay to rest the notion that "burning in hell" is a Christian invention. The sages not only listed Gehenna as one of the things created before the world (Pes. 54a), and described it with fire, brimstone and darkness (Gen R.), but they went so far as to teach about who would "inherit" Gehenna for various sins (Avoth 1:5 - gossip; Sota 41b - hypocrisy; Midrash on Eccles 1:15 - robbery; Peah 15c - dishonoring one's father; Eruv 19a - being controlled by passion; Kid. 82a- being a physician!...). They explicitly speak about Jewish sinners receiving more severe punishment in hell than those who never had Torah (Midrash on Ps.31, 120a). Being circumcised sons of Abraham will not save them (Exod. Rab. 19:4).
The view that there was no hell after death did not appear in the rabbinic community until the 3rd c. CE, and it was accepted only by a few rabbis. Normally, that unpopular opinion would have faded out, due to the strong obligation in the rabbinic community to follow the majority ruling. For some reason, the opposite occurred: Jewish teaching for hundreds of years was overturned, to the point where most orthodox Jews today don't even know what was once taught in yeshivot about "burning in hell".
Even without reference to hell, a strong teaching was passed down that Jewish sinners would certainly not inherit the World to Come - including the well-known passage (Mishna, Sanh.10:1) that begins, "All Israel have a share in the World to Come." Most Jews have no idea that immediately following is a long list of possible exceptions to that rule.
The same censorship developed with rabbinic teaching about the Messiah. The fact is, all the prophets (starting with Moshe) proclaimed the importance of Messiah, who would speak with G-d's own authority. Moshe Rebbenu himself proclaimed G-d's displeasure on those who would refuse to listen to Him (Deut.18:19). So did King David (Ps.2:1-5). And our sages spoke of the Messiah among the seven things created before the foundation of the world (Pes.54a, Pesikta Rab.152b), thus making Him equal in importance with other central elements of Jewish faith: the Torah, repentance, the Throne of G-d's Glory and the Temple.
Our collection of rabbinic comments about Messiah is full of statements that would be considered Christian inventions, if it were not for the fact that they are documented in Talmudic and other rabbinic literature (and the fact that even Christians have not dared to attribute some of these things to Messiah!). Yet the author of the classic work Everyman's Talmud (1949) was so unaware of this body of opinion that he wrote in all sincerity:
Naturally speculation was rife as to who the Messiah would be, and Scriptural texts were studied for enlightenment. On one point, the Rabbis were unanimous, viz, he would be just a human being divinely appointed to carry out an allotted task. - Everyman's Talmud, Abraham Cohen, p.347
And yet even this author acknowledged the prevailing rabbinic opinion that both Isaiah 53 and Zechariah 12 refer to the Messiah atoning for our sins:
The Rabbis maintain that his [Messiah's] name is "the leprous one of the school of R. Judah the Prince," as it is said, "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." (Is.53:4)... (Sanh.98b) - Cohen, p.347-8.
Mention is once made of a rather mysterious figure called Messiah son of Joseph. The passage reads: 'Messiah son of Joseph was slain, as it is written, "They shall look unto me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son" (Zech.12:10).' (Suk. 52a) - Cohen, p.348
Interestingly, this book highlights the Talmudic teaching that in the days preceding the revelation of the Messiah, "the learning of the scribes will decay..." (quoting Sanh.97a). So the fact that the above-mentioned learning has been denied, hidden and lost by today's Torah teachers only underscores the fact that Messiah is about to be revealed.
Meanwhile, the natural Jewish response is to wonder what G-d thinks of such a decay in Torah learning.
He not only spoke to us through the Prophets - thousands of years ago - about such a condition on our day; He also announced that He would provide a remedy.
òúä áåà ëúáä òì-ìåç àúí åòì-ñôø ç÷ä åúäé ìéåí àçøåï ìòã òã-òåìí ëé òí îøé äåà áðéí ëçùéí áðéí ìà-àáå ùîåò úåøú ä' àùø àîøå ìøàéí ìà úøàå åìçæéí ìà úçæå-ìðå ðëçåú
åðúï ìëí àãðé ìçí öø åîéí ìçõ åìà-éëðó òåã îåøéê åäéå òéðéê øàåú àú-îåøéê åàæðéê úùîòðä ãáø îàçøéê ìàîø æä äãøê ìëå áå
Now go, write them on a tablet, and inscribe on a book, and it will be for the last day, forever and ever. For it is a rebellious people, children who deny, children unwilling to hear the Torah of G-d, who say to those who see, 'you shall not see', and to the those who have visions, 'you shall not envision for us straightforward things'....
And my Lord will give to you scanty bread and water of pressure, and [yet] no longer will your Teacher be hidden, but your eyes will see your Teacher, and your ears will hear a word from behind you saying, 'this* is the Way, walk in it* [or, in Him]." - Isa 30:8-10, 20-21, from Heb)
*The word "derech" is normally feminine, but here it is framed with two masculine words, which tells us it's a Person, not a path on the ground. This provides Tanach support for Yeshua's declaration, "I am the Way..." (John 14:6).
åäåìëúé òåøéí áãøê ìà éãòå áðúéáåú ìà-éãòå àãøéëí àùéí îçùê ìôðéäí ìàåø åîò÷ùéí ìîéùåø àìä äãáøéí òùéúí åìà òæáúéí
I will bring blind one in a Way they did not know, in paths they did not know I will guide them, I will make darkness into light before them and the crooked places into a straight place. These are the things I have done and I have not abandoned them. - Isa. 42:16
4. "If Yeshua is who Christians claim he is, how do you explain those great Jewish prophets who taught the world about G-d, monotheism, morality, wrote the Tanach, etc. -- how did they do this without Yeshua?"
The Talmud warns that men will be judged for many issues that they thought were too trivial to worry about (Avoda Zara 18a). One of the questions G-d will ask a Torah Jew at the Judgment is: "Did you hope for salvation?" (Shab 31a)
We have declarations of that hope throughout Tanach, voiced by the most righteous of our people: Jacob (Gen.49:18), David (Ps.25:5, 62:1, 119:81, 119:166), Micah (7:7); and even by lost Jews (Isaiah 59:11, Lam.3:26). David understood that to hope (or wait - same word in Hebrew) for G-d's salvation is a sign of believing in Him, and a negative answer provokes His wrath (Ps.78:21-22).
The author of Everyman's Talmud explains that "salvation" as used in Shabbat 31a means "the salvation of the Messiah" (Cohen, p.375). This understanding is backed by other Talmudic connections between "salvation" and "Messiah" (Sanhedrin 99a, Genesis Rabbah LXXV.6, XCVIII.9, Ecclesiastes Rabbah I.9#1). Without a doubt, one of the things that every Jew must do to be accepted by G-d is to pin his hope of salvation on the Messiah's work, even if he does not know who the Messiah is or where He is. We believe the Messiah has been revealed as Yeshua Ha-Notzri, but even those who do not believe this are obligated to put their hope in the (as yet unidentified) Messiah.
If He does turn out to be Yeshua, then those who took this rabbinic teaching seriously will discover that they had been hoping in Him all along.
åàîø áéåí ääåà äðä àìäéðå æä ÷åéðå ìå åéåùéòðå æä ä' ÷åéðå ìå ðâéìä åðùîçä áéùåòúå
And it will be said in that day,"Here is our God, this one for whom we have waited [or, hoped in], that He might save us. This is the L-RD for whom we have waited [or, hoped in]; we will rejoice and be glad in His salvation." - Isaiah 25:9
5. "If Jews who lived before Yeshua lived had an intimate relationship with Hashem, like King David, why can't I have that same relationship with Hashem?"
First we need to debunk the idea that anyone can have intimacy with G-d based on his/her own righteousness. King David would be the first to tell us so. He committed adultery with Bathsheva, and then arranged for her husband to die on the battlefield so that he could marry her.
Rabbis have no answer for how he was forgiven these sins, since there is no remedy in Torah. So they deny that David had sinned in these ways.
Both David and Bathsheva should have been put to death (Lev.20:10) for adultery. However, the rabbinic community teaches that David didn't really commit adultery, because Bathsheva wasn't really married at the time David slept with her. The standard explanation is that all Jewish men who went to war gave their wives divorce papers (in case they went missing in action on the battlefield, which would cause their wives to become "agunot", unable to marry). In other words, Bathsheva was unofficially "divorced" and was therefore halachically available to David. This contradicts the Biblical account (2 Samuel 11-12). Bathsheva was identified as the "wife of Uriah" by David's servants (11:3), by Uriah (11:11) and most importantly by G-d, who sent Nathan the prophet to confront David (12:9-10).
The second sin is reasoned away by the technicality that David didn't actually lay a hand on Uriah; he simply put him in a position where he was likely to die. However, this is not exactly righteous conduct, so additional attempts are made to justify David's betrayal of one of his best warriors. The standard teaching (the Chabad website for example) is that Uriah's brief conversation with David (2 Sam.11:10-13) is judged as somehow meriting a death penalty; and that David only instructed Yoav that "he should not endanger the lives of other soldiers to save Uriah from any predicament" that might befall him in the battle.
As above, the Scripture challenges this several times over. David had actually told Yoav, "Place Uriah in the front line of the fiercest battle and withdraw from him, that he may be struck down and die" (11:15). When Nathan described in parable form what David's lust for Bathsheva looked like to G-d, David judged such an act worthy of death (12:5). And G-d Himself expllicitly contradicts the rabbis in judging both of David's actions in harsh terms:
îãåò áæéú àú-ãáø ä' ìòùåú äøò áòéðå àú àåøéä äçúé äëéú áçøá åàú-àùúå ì÷çú ìê ìàùä åàúå äøâú áçøá áðé òîåï
ëé áæúðé åú÷ç àú-àùú àåøéä äçúé ìäéåú ìê ìàùä
Why have you despised the word of the L-RD by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon.... for you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.
The word "despised" (áæéú / áæúðé) is used twice here, which invokes the Torah penalty of being "completely cut off" (rabbinicallly understood to be both physical and spiritual death):
ëé ãáø-ä' áæä åàú-îöåúå äôø äëøú úëøú äðôù ääåà òåðä áä
Because he has despised the word of the L-RD and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his iniquity is in him [lit, in his soul]. - Num.15:31
In spite of all this, we know that David was somehow forgiven. (We examine that mystery below.)
The Jews who called on the Name of G-d throughout history were similarly hoping for an atonement that would cover their sins to a degree not covered by Torah remedies. But unlike David, those earnest Jews made no claim to an intimate relationship with G-d. They had no idea if the remedy G-d had provided for David could be applied to them. One of the great rabbis of Jewish history, R. Yohanan ben Zakkai, was identified as the "lamp of Israel", and yet on his deathbed he cried because after a lifetime of Torah observance, he had no assurance that G-d would receive him into Gan Eden (Ber.28b).
6. "When King David failed with Bathsheba, Nathan the prophet came and admonished him. David turned to G-d in prayer and supplication and asked forgiveness. *Without a sacrifice and without the shedding of blood,* G-d accepted King David's prayer. Thereupon King David writes Psalm 51 in which he says: 'My Master, open my lips and my mouth shall declare Your praise. For You do not desire sacrifices, otherwise I would give it; nor do you wish burnt offerings. The offerings [desirable] to G-d are a contrite spirit; a contrite and broken heart O G-d you do not disdain' - Psalm 51: 17-19.
The implication is clear – G-d does not need or desire blood or even sacrifices. It isn't the sacrificial system that provides atonement. It isn't the blood, the fat or the incense. What G-d desires is the contrite heart - a heart turned towards G-d."
Two observations here. First, David knew that the sacrificial system could not provide the kind of atonement that he needed. The Hebrew of Ps.51:18-19 is:
ëé ìà-úçôõ æáç åàúðä òåìä ìà úøöä
...which literally says,
You will not take pleasure in a sacrifice; I will give a burnt offering [that] You will not accept.
There were Korbanot for certain categories of sin, but not for taking another man's wife or for premeditated shedding of innocent blood. More than that, Num. 15:27-31 makes it clear that Korbanot were effective only for sins "b'shgagah" (committed in ignorance). Those done "b'yad ramah", "with a raised hand (deliberately)" - particularly the two above-mentioned sins - could not be atoned for by anything except the sinner's death. When Natan says to David, "...why have you despised the word of the L-rd...?" (2 Sam.12:9), he is quoting Num.15:31 to him (see the verse in the previous objection), emphasizing that there is NO Korban available for what he had done.
The second verse, which was translated by our anti-missionary friend as "the offerings [desirable] to G-d are a contrite spirit," cannot be supported by the Hebrew: the "spirit" David writes about is singular, the adjective really means "broken", and "desirable" doesn't appear at all.
æáçé àìäéí øåç ðùáøä ìá-ðùáø åðãëä àìäéí ìà úáæä
A more faithful translation would be:
My sacrifice, O G-d, is a broken spirit; a broken and crushed heart, O G-d, You will not despise.
David was not claiming that a "broken spirit" would be accepted in G-d's sight as a substitute sacrifice. He was saying he had no acceptable sacrifice, and nothing else to offer, and so he was throwing himself on G-d's mercy.
Our second observation: As soon as David confesses that he has indeed sinned, Natan immediately tells David that although there would be consequences, there was somehow a cancellation of the death penalty:
åéàîø ãåã àì-ðúï çèàúé ìä' åéàîø ðúï àì-ãåã âí-ä' äòáéø çèàúê ìà úîåú
Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the L-RD " And Nathan said to David, "The L-RD also has removed [borne away] your sin; you shall not die.
The Hebrew says literally that G-d has "transferred" David's sin. To where? By what means? If not by a Korban provided under Torah, then by what vehicle could deliberate sins - even adultery and murder - be taken off someone's soul? Was the prophet Natan annulling the eternal Torah in order to save David? Impossible.
And how could that transfer already be in past tense, while David was still in the act of confessing his sin?
The prophet speaks here with the same kind of time-warp as G-d Himself in Lev. 17:11 - "I HAVE given it on the altar..." when He is giving the commands concerning blood sacrifices. We not only miss the past tense here, we automatically read past that phrase, "I [G-D] have given it...", mentally translating that into, "I have decreed that it can be used" on the altar.... But that's not really what it says.
Isn't it the repentant sinner who is giving (or will give) the blood on the altar? Or is it actually being provided by G-d, in some past place and time? And then He says, "it is the blood that WILL atone..." Something already done by Him, which can be applied for the future.
The same peculiar thing appears after the Akeda - first spoken by Avraham, and then reinforced by Moshe Rebbenu:
åé÷øà àáøäí ùí-äî÷åí ääåà ä' éøàä àùø éàîø äéåí áäø ä' éøàä
And Avraham called the name of that place 'G-d WILL provide', as it will be said today, 'in the Mount of G-d He WILL provide [or, it will be provided].' - Gen.22:14
G-d will provide what? Avraham said (v.8) it would be "Ha-seh la-olah", "the lamb for the burnt offering". Well, we are told that Avraham's olah was provided by G-d. But it was a ram ("ayil") and not a lamb (v.13). So, after this experience, what "seh la-olah" did Avraham understand "will be" provided?
The very first offering mentioned in Torah as "given by G-d" on the consecrated altar of Israel is the "Olat Tamid", the continual burnt offering (Ex. 29:38). It is such an important Korban that G-d pauses here and promises that as this offering is given "throughout your generations", He will meet with Israel and dwell among them. But unlike most Korbanot, the actual purpose of the "Tamid" is not explained, and our sages sought the answer. It is taught that the "Tamid" was for the sins committed by the nation without their knowledge - the morning Tamid for the sins at night, the evening Tamid for the sins in the day (Midrash Raba Bamidbar Parsha 21, Pesikta d'Rav Kahana ch. 5). A teaching that dates back to 2nd Temple times says that this sacrifice is so powerful it can even atone for sinful thoughts (Talmud Yerushalmi, Yumah ch. 8 p.45, Shavuot ch. 1 p.23).
But the Tamid was ordained in the desert, not "in the Mount of G-d". We have to apply Avraham's prophecy to Solomon's temple, which Avraham foresaw would be built on that same mountain. Or do we?
There is another mountain called "the Mount of G-d" for generations: Mount Sinai or Horev (Exod.3:1, 18:5, 24:13, I Kings 19:8). And right in the middle of the Torah ordinances for the Olat Tamid, we see a reference to it:
'òìú úîéã äòùéä áäø ñéðé ìøéç ðéçç àùä ìä
A continual burnt offering, the one which was [literally, is being] done in Mount Sinai, for a soothing smell, a fire-offering to the L-RD. -Num.28:6
English readers miss this completely, because translators smoothed it over to read, "the continual burnt offering which was ordained in Mount Sinai". But the sages of Israel puzzled over this verse, knowing that the Hebrew indicated a Tamid was actually "made" or "performed" in the Mountain... and this had to be reconciled with the fact that the Tamid offering was not made until the Mishkan was finished -- almost a year after Moshe met with G-d on Sinai (compare Exod.19:1 with 40:17).
The key is in remembering what Torah says about the sacrifices and the Mishkan in general: Everything shown to Moshe in Mount Sinai was a pattern or a symbolic copy ("tavnit") of something in Heaven with G-d (Ex. 25:9,40; 26:30). From this, the rabbis derived the understanding that Moshe had seen a Torah being practiced in Heaven, before it was revealed to Israel. In fact, the sages agreed that there was a Torah in Heaven since before the foundation of the world.
Unknown to the rabbinic community, the NT also teaches this (Hebrews chapters 8-9), and quotes the Torah foundation for it (Heb.8:5). In addition, it offers the logical conclusion that a perfect atonement for sin could only be accomplished with the Heavenly original, not with the earthly copies, which were just a reminder of what is taking place in Heaven. This leads us to realize that Israel was ALWAYS receiving atonement through the Heavenly original, and NEVER through the earthly reminders.
There is evidence that all this was understood by Avraham, David, Shlomo, and the Prophets. All of them looked forward to a time when the Heaven-based atonement would intersect with earth in an observable historical event, and bring with it the additional covenant promised in Deut.29:1 (Deut.28:69 in Heb), which includes the "circumcised heart".
Avraham's prophetic name for Mount Moriya can be read both as a vision of the Temple sacrifices and Yeshua's sacrifice. Or was it just a coincidence that Yeshua was put to death only meters away from the Temple, on a hill which is part of that same mountain? What did Yeshua mean when He said (John 8:56), "Avraham rejoiced to see My day"?
David also looked forward to that "day", and in Ps. 110:4 he declared G-d's irrevocable oath to David's "Lord", who is at G-d's right hand, that He would be a "priest forever" (a role that clearly did not apply to David himself).
David's son Shlomo built a house that he knew could not contain G-d (1 Kings 8:27), and he knew that whatever sacrifice was done in the Temple, G-d would both "hear" and "forgive" from Heaven. He also knew that when (not if) Israel was exiled and the Temple was unavailable, G-d would continue to "hear" and "forgive" from Heaven (v.49).
The prophet Isaiah told of an ultimate sacrifice that would be offered up before G-d for sinners. Isaiah 53 speaks repeatedly about G-d's blameless Servant bearing iniquities for others and interceding for sinners (taking the roles of both priest and korban). There was no one in Israel who performed this service - "He saw that there was no man, and He was astonished that there was no intercessor; and so His own arm brought salvation for Him." (Isa. 59:16)
But, "who has believed our report, and to whom has the arm of G-d been revealed?" (53:1) Belief is scarce because what G-d has done doesn't match our expectations. Even though we have a tradition about Isaiah 53 and the "leprous Messiah", our Messiah somehow was never supposed to "pour out His soul to death and [be] numbered with the transgressors", and we deny that anyone could have "carried the sin of many and will intercede for transgressors."
The purpose of the "Olat Tamid" fits perfectly with John's proclamation of Yeshua as "the Lamb of G-d that takes away the sin of the world " (John 1:29), since the son of a priest would know all about the Tamid. (There is no other "lamb" in Torah that removes sin.) The purpose of the Tamid in covering sins of ignorance is further illustrated in Yeshua's prayer in the midst of His sacrifice: "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)
The Heavenly Sacrifice identified by rabbinic tradition as Messiah intersected with human history in the death of Yeshua, where the Heavenly "Olat Tamid", originally outside of time, was established as a visible event within time. That event both confirmed the earthly Torah and also surpassed it in strength (as we would expect a Heavenly thing to do). Part of the "good news" to the Jewish people, as recorded in the NT, is that even sins that could not be forgiven in Torah could be forgiven by the atonement provided through Yeshua (Acts 13:38-39).
Another part of the NT message is that Yeshua's sacrificial act was "once for all time" (Heb. 7:27) -- as a Heavenly thing acted out on earth, this atonement is retroactive as well as forward in time, and therefore accessible to all G-d's people of faith whenever they lived or will live. It is an established rabbinic teaching that the Messiah will provide this kind of all-inclusive atonement, a teaching which has been suppressed for many generations.
Yet another part of the "good news" is the effect of this Heavenly atonement on a sinner. The Torah sacrifices were a reminder of sins and served to "cover" them, but they were never a way to restore a sense of purity, or to "cleanse the conscience of sin" as the NT puts it. It's one thing to be forgiven, it's another thing to have your sins removed as though they never existed, making you a fit dwelling for the Spirit of G-d. The latter requires a "new heart" (David's main prayer in that psalm quoted in the objection), or a "circumcised heart" which the Torah promises will be done by an act of G-d in a future time. It was never expected to happen by offering the Korbanot of Torah.
So we now hold the key to the mystery of Natan's prompt response to David. A knowledge of this Heavenly Tamid, with the power to forgive and cleanse a guilty conscience, is the only explanation for how the prophet could pronounce David instantly forgiven without a sacrifice - and where sacrifices would not be accepted. It's the only basis for David's plea for a "pure heart... right spirit" and his trust that there was a way for G-d to "blot out" his sin.
7. "We don't need a blood sacrifice (Korbanot) to forgive our sins. The rabbis established prayer, repentance and good deeds as the modern equivalent."
It would be dishonest to say that today's rabbinic community no longer sees the Korbanot as necessary for forgiveness. The fact that there is no Temple and no opportunity to offer those Korbanot causes such deep distress and such a Torah dilemma that we pray several times daily for G-d to restore them.
To understand that Torah teaches the "Tamid" was being sacrificed in Heaven even while the Korbanot were offered down here, that it has been going on since the foundation of the world, and that it is still being offered without dependence on its earthly counterpart, is to have this dilemma resolved for all generations. But to understand what G-d is using for the "Olat Tamid" in Heaven is to unlock the mystery of "the pattern" shown to Moshe Rebbenu on the mountain of G-d. (Surely we don't think earthly lambs are being offered there! What then?)
The Jewish people already have some of the pieces, even if we don't realize it. Consider the second statement in the objection. What did the rabbis choose for the equivalent of the lost Korbanot?
On Rosh Hashana and on Yom Kippur, we repeat that "Tefillah, Tshuvah ve-Tzdakah" will avert "the evil decree". We tend to interpret the last requirement as "charity" (giving monetary gifts to the poor). But the word itself means "righteousness", and in these same prayers, we repeatedly admit that we have NO righteousness of our own. Yet there IS someone whose "Tzdakah" we are depending on to be applied to us -- we appeal to G-d to allow "the binding of the son" (the Akedah) to be effective in securing our atonement and forgiveness.
In the end, the one representing that sacrifice (Isaac) was not allowed to carry it out; instead a ram was substituted. But based on that experience, Avraham prophesied of a future "seh le-Olah" which "G-d will provide". It is therefore this "Seh" from G-d that we are depending on for the Tzdakah to "avert the evil decree" against us. That brings us back to the rabbinic perception that Messiah would be a once-for-all atonement - the personified Olat Tamid.
8. "Why should we accept someone who died on a cross for atonement? According to Torah, someone who dies that way is cursed."
This refers to the passage:
If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the L-RD your God gives you as an inheritance. - Deut.21:22-23
The New Testament doesn't hesitate to deal with this passage as a real curse:
Messiah redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us -- for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE". - Galatians 3:13
The idea of an innocent party taking on the guilt of a sinner is not foreign to Jewish thinking; Torah sacrifices are built on this very principle. Our sages used to teach that the Messiah would provide atonement, carrying our penalty (see the previous answer). They also understood from Isaiah 53 that even as that was happening, we would somehow conclude He was rejected by G-d. Moreover, the way in which Yeshua died was foretold in Psalm 22, which describes not only the physical effects of crucifixion, but other circumstances surrounding His death.
9. "Judaism does not accept the idea that the shed blood of any human being can save others."
There is an interesting teaching about the Passover parashah, which tells us the opposite.
[From Nahar De'ah - "Blood of the Pesach, the Binding of Isaac and the Threshing Floor of Ornan", by Professor Yisrael Yuval, Department of the History of the Jewish People]
According to the simple reading of the Bible, HaShem's seeing the blood [at Passover] expresses the spiritual power of the sacrifice to "protect man against the hand of the destroyer". The blood of the animal is in place of the blood of man. However the sages give this seeing of blood an almost opposite meaning:
"'And I shall see the blood' (Sh'mot 12:3) - I see the blood of the sacrifice of Isaac, as it is written 'And Abraham called the place: HaShem will see' (B'resheet 22:14). What did he see? He saw the sacrifice of Isaac, as it is written 'HaShem will show him the lamb' (B'resheet 22:8)" (Mechilta D'Rabbi Yishmael Masechta D'Pischa, Horowitz and Rabin Version, Pages 24-25, 29).
According to this, the blood which saved in Egypt was not that of the lamb, the Passover sacrifice, but rather the blood of Isaac who was bound. It is fairly clear that this Midrash follows the opinion that, at the time of the Akeida (binding), Abraham spilt a revi'it (approximately 86ml or 3 fl oz) of Isaac's blood (Tanchuma Vayeira, 23)....
The connection is not merely literary but also theological and is established already in the "Targum Yerushalmi" (Jerusalem translation) of Sh'mot 12:42, according to which the act of the Akeida, like the creation of the world and the Brit Bein HaBetarim (Covenant between the pieces) both took place on the 14th day of the Hebrew month Nissan.
On this date the future redemption is also supposed to take place; a common date indicates a common theme.
It seems that the common religious theme of the Akeida and Passover is the principle of substitution that is offered: the ram in the Akeida or the Paschal lamb are substitutes for the sacrifice of Isaac or of a firstborn son. However, on this point the Midrash builds another idea, as it completely abandons this message when it declares that the God who sees in Egypt sees the blood of the bound Isaac.
God saw his blood, human blood, and not the blood of an animal from the Passover in Egypt and the establishment of Jerusalem. This is a completely innovative step that stands in contradiction to the simple reading of Sh'mot 12.
This rabbinic interpretation of the Akeda as foreshadowing "a future redemption" on the 14th of Nisan is not "completely innovative"; the New Testament expounded on it in full. But it's new to most Torah Jews that the earlier sages viewed the sacrifice of Isaac as having atoning power. Yet this message is built into the Rosh Hashana service. For those with eyes to see, there are also clear connections made between the Akeda and the Messiah.
Even more astonishing, the Akekah remembrance on Rosh Hashana is used as an occasion to appeal to G-d for atonement based on the merits of a mysterious "Yeshua", about whom nothing further is said.
10. "The Jewish scriptures do not allow for G-d to become a man."
The standard anti-missionary objection uses the verse from Bilaam's prophecy, "G-d is not a man that He would lie, or a son of man that He would repent" (Num.23:19), as though this proves conclusively that G-d could not take on a human form. If we look closely, we see that the context of the declaration has nothing to do with this argument. It was prompted by the Moabite King Balak's assumption that G-d might change His mind as a man does, when presented with the same petition more than once. The verse goes on to say, "Has He said, and will He not do it? Or spoken and will He not establish it?"
Historically, the notion that G-d cannot appear as a man became accepted Jewish teaching only with Rambam. It was one of the reasons that he encountered strong opposition from his rabbinic colleagues. And no wonder: the Talmud (for example, Sanhedrin 93a) took for granted that G-d could reveal Himself to men in the form of a Man:
R. Johanan said: What is meant by, "I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom," etc.?[quoting Zech.1:8] What means, "I saw by night"? — The Holy One, blessed be He, wished to turn the whole world into night, "but behold, A man riding". This "Man" can refer to none but the Holy One, blessed be He, as it is written [Ex.15:3], ä' àéù îìçîä ä' ùîå - "The L-rd is a Man of war: the L-rd is His name."
With that said, it's quite a different matter to claim that a man can become G-d, and unfortunately this is the general impression Jews have of Yeshua's relationship with G-d. Any Christians who are teaching this about Yeshua have unwittingly adopted New Age doctrine. The New Age Messiah is a being who "evolved" through many reincarnations and finally became worthy of becoming a "vehicle" for the "christ spirit". The "office of christ" in New Age teaching is a transferrable anointing that has rested in different ages on favored "vehicles". If these chosen channels fail in their divine mission, it is the fault of the audience who is "not ready" for it.
Ironically, the rejection of the possibility that G-d can take on human form to represent Himself (Incarnation) led to the acceptance of a pagan version of the same idea. In Chasidic Judaism, the disembodied pre-existent "Mashiach soul" is expected to descend from Gan Eden and "impregnate" a living human who has no awareness of his mission, "infusing" that man's soul with multiple reincarnated souls (Moses, David, etc) in order to make him into the Messiah - even without his consent. (See the Chabad article, "The Personality of the Messiah".) These Hindu notions of reincarnation, overshadowing and spirit possession (renamed with the Kabbalistic terms "gilgul" and "ibbur") are not found in Tanach. Neither is the idea of a "Messiah role" that can pass from one individual to another in every generation, nor the entry into anyone of a spirit that is not Hashem Himself. According to Chabad rabbis, these ideas originated in the teachings of medieval Kabbalists such as the Bartenura (R. Ovadia of Bertinoro, a 15th c. CE commentator). The disaster of hailing a Messiah who proves false (as R. Akiva did with the lawless Bar Kosiva) is justified, with the blame laid at the feet of the Jewish community: "We did not merit that the Messianic spirit was conferred upon them. They were fit and appropriate for this, but their generations were not fit." (Chabad)
In sharp contrast with the above, the Tanach (and the sages who were faithful to it) taught that the pre-existent Messiah was appointed from the days of Creation with His own unique identity; He would come from G-d at the appointed time in loving obedience, bearing the Name Y-H-V-H (Go here for a few examples). Although He would have complete awareness of His mission, the people would not and they would reject Him. But their unworthiness would not change the identity of the Messiah or prevent His coming.
At the End of Days, there will be a clash between the nations and G-d over this very issue (described in detail in Psalm 2). The idea of one "Messiah" for the world, especially one who comes from the Jewish people, is considered narrow-minded and even dangerous. (Go here for a Jewish expose of "the Plan" to clear the way for the New Age god-man by doing away with both Torah Judaism and fundamental Christianity.)
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