“It happened in those times and again in our time!”
They say there never was a Chanukah
2,200 years ago, the Maccabees fought off an attempt from the Greeks to delegitimize the existence of the Jewish people. But you and I know that the battle to deny Israel’s right to exist is still going on in our time and you can help us do something about it.
Only last week, a senior Palestinian Authority Ministry of Information official had the audacity to say, “The Jews have no historical or religious ties to the Temple Mount or the Western Wall. There is no archeological evidence that the Temple Mount was built during the period of King Solomon….”
This lie was contradicted by their own Supreme Muslim Council, the highest Muslim religious authority in Jerusalem which, from 1924 to 1953 published their own official guide to Jerusalem which described the Dome of the Rock as follows, “Its identity with
the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot according to the universal belief, on which [quoting Hebrew Scripture] ‘David built there an altar unto the Lord.”
We must respond to this continuous campaign to delegitimize Israel by the Palestinian leadership. Only two weeks ago, UNESCO joined in in this campaign by calling Rachel’s Tomb a “mosque,” attempting to steal from the Jewish people one of its most sacred religious sites.
Remember the words of the Chanukah prayer, “It happened in those times and again in our time!!”
With your help, we will be successful in standing up to these revisionists as our ancestors did 2,200 years ago on the first Chanukah. Please email this Chanukah message to your family and friends.
Rabbi Marvin Hier
Dean and Founder
Simon Wiesenthal Center
Federal Light Bulb Ban Creating Jobs in China (from my email)
A federal law banning ordinary incandescent light bulbs has already had a negative effect on the American economy — GE has closed its last major bulb producing factory in the United States, creating job opportunities in China.
Legislation enacted in 2007 orders the phase-out of incandescent light bulbs beginning with the 100-watt bulb in 2012 and ending with the 40-watt light in 2014. These bulbs cannot meet efficiency requirements dictated by law.
Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are the least expensive alternative. But the manufacture of CFLs is “labor intensive and too expensive to be done at U.S. wage rates,” according to a report from The Heartland Institute, which estimates that domestically produced CFLs would be 50 percent more expensive than bulbs manufactured in China.
So instead of retrofitting its plant in Winchester, Va., to produce CFLs, GE closed the plant in September and laid off 200 workers.
CFLs are already being manufactured in China, and increasing American demand will no doubt create new jobs there.
As the Insider Report disclosed earlier, while CFLs use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last far longer, they cost significantly more, take longer to turn on, can flicker, and contain small amounts of highly toxic mercury, which creates problems for users when they break or need to be disposed of after they burn out.
“Environmental activists and their allies in Washington were either too ignorant of basic economics to see these job losses coming, or they were simply too callous to really care,” said Heartland Institute science director Jay Lehr.
“Either way, compact fluorescent light bulbs in the real world fail to live up to environmental promises, unnecessarily subject American households to toxic mercury, produce poor-quality light, and are sending American workers to the unemployment line.”
And Sam Kazman, general counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said: “If the new energy-saving technologies being pushed by government are really that good, then we don’t need government to mandate them. And if they are being mandated, that’s a sure sign that they’re not very good.”
Three Republican members of Congress — Joe Barton, Marsha Blackburn and Michael Burgess — have introduced a bill that would repeal the ban on the incandescent bulb.
The three said in an article on The Daily Caller: “The unanticipated consequence of the ’07 act — layoffs in the middle of a desperate recession — is what sometimes happens when politicians think they know better than consumers and workers.”
I was asked that since the whole topic of the new covenant has to do with Israel, where do the Gentile nations fit in. I'm quite sure that everyone is familiar with the Noahide Laws as shown in Tractate Sanhedrin, Rambam's Mishneh Torah: Kings and their Wars and, those that are Christian, in the book of Acts,chapter fifteen. If any aren't acquainted with the laws, just ask, and I'll post information.
The questions remain if a Gentile can accept more than the seven laws of Noah and the corresponding sub laws or if they can take on many of the Mosaic Laws as well and if and how are they are connected to Israel.
Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Teshuvah 3:4 based on Tosefta Sanhedrin 13:1; Talmud Sanhedrin 105a :The righteous of all nations have a share in the World to Come.
Jerusalem Talmud Peah 1:1 :It says (Job 37:23): "With justice and an abundance of kindness, He does not deal harshly." G-d does not withhold reward from gentiles who perform His commandments.
Avos4:3:Do not despise any man
Tana DeBei Eliahu Rabbah 9: I call heaven and earth as witnesses:Any individual,whether gentile or Jew,man or woman,servant or maid,can bring the Divine Presence upon himself in accordance to his deeds.
In the Jewish world view all gentiles who are ethical monotheists will achieve salvation. Judaism does not denigrate gentiles and does not see them as condemned to eternal damnation. Rather we see them as fellow human beings, from other nations, searching for G-d and for meaning in life. Judaism wishes them well with their search and celebrates those who succeed in becoming ethical monotheists. Jews are obligated in many rituals and ceremonies and those Jews who fail to fulfill these rituals are considered sinners. Gentiles, however, are not obligated in these commandments and are only obligated to be ethical monotheists. Those who fulfill this obligation receive their full reward in the world-to-come.
There are three main categories of gentiles [see R. Yom Tov ben Avraham Alshevili, Chiddushei HaRitva, Makkot 9a n.]. The first category is the gentile who fulfills his obligations as an ethical monotheist. This person is generally called a Ben Noach (or Noachide) meaning a proud descendant of the biblical Noah. In the Jewish tradition Noah and his sons were commanded to fulfill seven commandments which amount to ethical monotheism [see Aaron Lichtenstein, The Seven Laws of Noah]. Those gentiles who observe these commandments are considered righteous gentiles. They are, however, not Jews and are not considered part of Jewish society. They are righteous people and recognized for their accomplishments. However, they remain part of the human brotherhood but not part of Jewish society.
There are those who go beyond this step and approach a Jewish court and, in exchange for entering Jewish society, they vow to observe their commandments and be ethical monotheists. Such a person is called a Ger Toshav. By pledging that he will fulfill his obligation to be an ethical monotheist he enters Jewish society. He is not a convert and does not become Jewish. In fact, he can worship any monotheistic religion he chooses. He is, however, a righteous gentile and is gladly received into the Jewish community. He is welcome to live in Jewish neighborhoods (should he so choose), is supported by Jewish charities (if he so needs), and is considered part of the fabric of Jewish society in many ways [see Talmud Pesachim 21b; Talmud Avodah Zarah 65b; Nachmanides, Additions to Book of Commandments, 16; Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Zechi'ah Umattanah 3:11, Hilchot Melachim 10:12; Ra'avad of Posquieres, Comments to Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Issurei Biah 14:8]. Both the Ben Noach and the Ger Toshav are righteous gentiles. However, the Ben Noach has not entered Jewish society and perhaps does not wish to. Therefore, he is treated like a stranger. He is respected as a righteous human being, one who is fulfilling his divine purpose in the world. However, he is not part of the Jewish community.
It is of these two categories of gentiles that the Talmudic literature states:
Midrash Bamidbar Rabbah 8:2
(Psalms 146:8) "G-d loves the righteous." G-d said: 'I love those who love Me and so it says (1 Samuel 2:30) "For I honor those who honor Me." They love Me so I love them in return.' Why does G-d love the righteous? Because righteousness is not an inheritance or a family trait. You find that priests are from a priestly family and Levites are from a levitical family as it says (Psalms 135:19-20) "O house of Aaron bless G-d! O house of Levi bless G-d!" If someone wants to become a priest [from the family of Aaron] or a Levite he cannot because his father was not a priest or a Levite. However, if someone wants to become righteous even if he is a gentile he can because it is not a family trait as it says (ibid.) "O those who fear G-d bless G-d!" It does not say the house of those who fear G-d but those who fear G-d. It is not a family trait rather on their own they chose to fear and love G-d. Therefore, G-d loves them.
Midrash Sifra, Acharei Mot 9:13
(Leviticus 18:5) "Which man shall carry out and by which he shall live." Rabbi Yirmiyah would say: We see from here that even a gentile who fulfills his laws is like a [Jewish] high priest. He would also say: (2 Samuel 7:19) "And that would be fitting for priests, Levites, and Israelites" is not what it says rather "and that would be fitting for great men - O Lord G-d." He would also say: (Isaiah 26:2) "Open the gates so the priests, Levites, and Israelites may enter" is not what it says rather "Open the gates so the righteous nation, keeper of the faith, may enter." He would also say: (Psalms 118:20) "This is the gate of G-d; priests, Levites, and Israelites" is not what it says rather "This is the gate of G-d; the righteous shall enter through it." He would also say: (Psalms 33:1) "Sing joyfully, O priests, Levites, and Israelites" is not what it says rather "Sing joyfully, O righteous, because of G-d." He would also say: (Psalms 125:4) "Do good, G-d, to the priests, Levites, and Israelites" is not what it says rather "Do good, G-d, to good people." We see from here that even a gentile who follows his commandments is [as righteous as the Jewish] high priest.
The third category is of the gentile who is not an ethical monotheist. He is violating the covenant G-d made with Noah and his descendants and will be punished for those sins. It is with these people that Judaism has a very ambivalent attitude. On the one hand, they are acting contrary to G-d's purpose in the world. For this reason, Judaism tries to distance Jews from them. On the other hand, they are people created in G-d's image and must be respected as such. The compromise is that their positive traits, examples of which we will shortly see, are recognized and respected. However, their negative traits are never fully forgotten and full societal integration with such people is discouraged.
Talmud Semachot 1:8
Rabbi Yehudah said: [The euology of a gentile is] Alas! The good, alas! The faithful who eats the fruit of his own labor. [The sages] said to him: What then did you leave for the worthy? He replied: If he [the gentile] was worthy why should he not be lamented in this manner.
Professor Saul Lieberman, Greek in Jewish Palestine, p. 77
The virtues enumerated in this eulogy are purely secular; there is no trace of religion in them. The man was good, faithful and enjoyed the fruits of his labor. The Gentiles spoken of is a heathen; he is neither a semi-proselyte nor a Christian; no mention is made of his fear of G-d... The Rabbis understood the heathen society and credited it with the virtues it was not devoid of.
Talmud Avot 4:3
[Ben Azzai] would say: Do not regard anyone with contempt, and do not reject anything, for there is no man who does not have his hour and nothing that does not have its place.
Talmud Avot 3:10
[Rabbi Chaninah ben Dosa] would say: Whoever is pleasing to his fellow creatures is pleasing to G-d; but whoever is not pleasing to his fellow creatures, G-d is not pleased with him.
Talmud Avot 3:14
[Rabbi Akiva] would say: Beloved is man who was created in the divine image. An extra amount of love is given to him because he was created in the divine image as it says (Genesis 9:6) "For in the image of G-d He made man."
Those gentiles who have the status of Ger Toshav, who have requested acceptance into Jewish society and have pledged obedience to their commandments, are treated almost like Jews. Those who have the status of Ben Noach because they have not requested acceptance are respected but are not treated like brethren. They receive letter-of-the-law treatment because to treat them beyond that would be to detract from our brothers. What has a Ger Toshav gained if a Ben Noach is treated the same? What extra connection is there between fellow Jews and within the entire Jewish/Ger Toshav society if everyone is treated extra specially?
Consider the case of a family. My brother needs to borrow money and knows that if he asks me I'll give him the special interest-free family package. This type of family treatment solidifies us as a unit and increases love between us. I don't hate everyone else because I treat my brother specially but I have an agreement that my family receives special treatment. Now, what if a stranger off the street knocks on my door and I give him also my special interest-free family loan? It loses its specialness and there is no difference between my bond with my brother and my bond with some guy off the street. Should I treat every human being equally or should I treat everyone properly and reserve extra-special treatment for my family?
The same applies within the Jewish/Ger Toshav society. All members, both Jewish and gentile, are joined together as a community united in its single goal of worshipping the one G-d. While we treat all human beings with the respect due to someone created in the divine image, those within the Jewish/Ger Toshav society get slightly better treatment. They are handled above and beyond the letter of common human interaction.
There are those who point out these differences in treatment and wish to demonstrate that Judaism is anti-gentile. Quite the opposite. Judaism is one of the few religions that recognizes that even those outside its faith can be saved and allows them into its community. Righteous gentiles have a place in the world to come and can choose to join Jewish society if they wish. If they decline this invitation then they are given the full respect that these righteous people deserve.
From Kabbalah made easy
Pi and Spirituality
If there is a God, then everything is interconnected, so we shouldn’t be surprised when we find the famous math enigma Pi π hinted to in the Torah, and in Kabbalah. Sure, the Greeks, Babylonians, and Egyptians may have had the kabbalists beat in the general field of ancient mathematics, but while science and math have evolved in amazing ways over the millennium from abacus to supercomputer; spirituality, the mystic's forte, hasn’t.
They had it back then and they still have it. We’re still waiting for the world to catch on to ideas like Love Your Fellow Man, and we’ll continue teaching and talking about it until it does. We can find Pi hinted to if we look a little deeper into the words of scripture, so too the meaning of life and the important ideas are still there. We need to continue to mine the depths of Jewish wisdom. It’s not out of date.
Despite the fact that Jews were involved in advanced mathematics in Egypt, Babylon, Greece and all throughout the ages, some historians are quick to dismiss their understanding of math, based on a cursory glance of Jewish literature. We may not have had the first textbook for algebra, but numbers and calculations are of primary concern in every corner of Judaism; from the song Who Knows One? sung on Passover, to the complicated systems of Gematria (math coded in the letters of the Torah). Indeed the early sages were often called Sofrim, which means “scribes” but can also mean “counters” as the sages were often involved in counting days, months, years, as well as letters, words, and verses in Tanach.
Mysterious and profound
On a deeper level, the kabbalists delve into the concept of holy emanations or divine traits called Sefirot which comes from the same grammatical root as Sofrim and refers, among other things, to the divisions the Almighty created that are inherent in the transition from an infinite being to the finite world we live in. So counting or enumeration is not just a practical way of measuring lima beans to be sold in the market, but an esoteric path to the heavens as well.
Sages in the Talmud also took numbers as symbols that traverse huge gaps, tying together discordant themes. For example, the number of judges needed in concluding a court’s ruling on the new moon is seven, which the sages compare and relate to the seven words in the last sentence of the Priestly Blessing, and the seven officials that served King Achashverosh in the Book of Esther. In other words, numbers can serve as bridges that unite disparate divine texts. Put that in Newton’s pipe and smoke it.
A little bit of infinity
Fascination with Pi, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, has occupied mathematicians for a long time, and math history buffs are familiar with a verses from the Book of Kings I Chapter 7 that describe a pool that King Solomon had built which state the ratio of 3:1, a very rough estimate of Pi which is partially calculated as 3.14159. (The digits keep going forever without any known pattern.) It’s a given that the ancients did not use the number symbols we use, called Hindu-Arabic numerals; these symbols didn’t become popular until the 10th Century. But the Hebrews had words for numbers and used the letters of the Aleph-Bet in place of numbers. And of course they were no strangers to the concept of infinity. Certainly mathematical infinity is not exactly the same as philosophical infinity, but they are cousins. What many people who don’t know Hebrew miss out on is the basic understanding of the primary four-letter name of God, -spelled yud, hey, vav, and hey, it is a construct of three words: he was, he is, he will be, i.e. infinity in time. The English word God is an accurate word but it’s like instant coffee; just doesn’t quite hit the spot. Compounded with a weak word, English speakers are also Godophobic. Unless they are Bible thumpers people tend to avoid talking about God in any real way. But the Psalms and other parts of our tradition are filled with interesting nuances about the Creator. There is infinity in time, space, love, omniscience, and much more; maybe infinitely more. We cannot limit the concept of the Creator, but He gave us a variety of influences or qualities of His, so to speak, to focus our attention on.
If a circle and a line that cuts through it are a type of miniature infinity in our world, or the world of mathematics, then maybe the ancients knew more about it than we think. Math historians say one ancient manuscript Mishnat HaMiddot by a second century Rabbi Nechemia apparently adjusts the math of King Solomon’s pool by pointing out that it had a lip, which would add a bit to the 3, not quite one seventh which is needed but nonetheless intriguing.
They did know a thing or two
Another overlooked source is in the Babylonian Talmud Tractate Eruvin 14a. The statement is made that for every circle the ratio of the circumference to the diameter is 3:1, to which the Talmud asks, “From where?” and the answer is the verses from Kings regarding the pool. This Talmudic passage is odd since the Talmud generally asks “From where?” when it wants to know the Biblical source for Jewish Law. The question doesn’t make sense in this context when we’re asking for the source of an easily demonstrated geometrical measurement. Take a string or rope and measure any circle’s diameter and circumference and you’ll get a fairly accurate answer. A commentary on the Talmud therefore states that the real question of the Talmud is the following: We know 3:1 is inexact. We want to know for purposes of Jewish Law can we round it off this ratio to 3:1. Since the Book of Kings uses an inexact measurement we understand God to be teaching us that it’s ok to use that inexactness in questions of Jewish Law like the proper dimensions of a round sukkah.
And if you aren’t asleep yet, I’ll tell you something even more fascinating. What makes Pi unique is that it can’t be described in a fraction, i.e. it is irrational. 22/7 is approximate. Through Gematria, we find a more exact version of Pi based on a fraction. Gematria is the numerical system of the Hebrew letters. In the verses of the pool the word for diameter is kav- spelled kuf vav, which would have the numerical value of 106. But instead, in this passage it is spelled with an extra hey, kuf vav hey which makes it 111. An 18th C. sage and math expert, called the Vilna Gaon, noticed that if the value of 111/106 for the diameter is multiplied by 3 for the circumference the result is 3.1415, a closer approximation to Pi. Maybe the ancients knew more than we think?
A kabbalistic metaphor
With the world of technology and science advancing at a dizzying pace, we often put the past into a box labeled “Primitivo”. Whatever is older is less intelligent. Less sophisticated. In math the concept of infinity has evolved and advanced over the years. Our understanding of galaxies and light years has broadened our minds. Yet some fundamental truths like peace, love and harmony still struggle like a clinically depressed turtle to move forward for humanity. The Torah is still relevant after thousands of years. And what whets our collective appetite from the paths of spirituality outlined in the Torah all come back to the infinite Creator and His creation. All lines lead back to the circle. What a surprise to find the kabbalists articulating that creation in geometric terms.
They meant it as a metaphor, not a visual account but an esoteric description. They described the divine act of creation as a circle cut through. Is it a coincidence that the kabbalists use a metaphor that is one of the paradigms of mathematical enigma, the Pi that fascinates mathematicians and has a cult following of people trying to memorize its endless amount of numbers? Contained infinity. That’s a description of Pi, and a description of the creation itself. Once upon a time we were a little closer to the truth.
| It is difficult to write about the crucifixion of Jesus. Rivers of Jewish blood have been shed because of it, despite the fact that it was Romans, and not Jews, who performed the execution. But the Gospels insist that a Jewish Sanhedrin delivered him up to the Romans, after adjudging him guilty. The most enigmatic aspect of all this is that scholars have been unable to ascertain with any degree of precision the cause of the guilt. Some have suggested blasphemy, others that he claimed to be the Messiah, but all such theories lack substance when scrutinized in the light of Jewish law .|
I should like to suggest a different approach based on R. Jacob Emden's thesis that Jesus of Nazareth had sought to establish a religion for the Gentiles based upon the Noahide Commandments. The Christian Bible tells us John 11:49-51; 18:14) that the High Priest Caiaphas, who had convened the Sanhedrin to try Jesus, said to them, "It is better for one man to die for the people, than for the whole nation to be destroyed." This phrase is found virtually verbatim in one rabbinic source (Midrash Genesis Rabbah 94:9) in conjunction with a Halakhic ruling which was discussed some two hundred years after Jesus' crucifixion. We shall seek to demonstrate that this later case bears a direct relationship to Caiaphas' remark and the resultant crucifixion.
The Halakha under discussion there states (Tosefta, Terumot 7:23) that if a group of traveling Jews are suddenly confronted by Gentiles who demand that they hand over a Jew to them to be killed, or else they will all be murdered, they must all agree to die and not hand over one of their number. However, if the Gentiles identify a specific Jew to be handed over, he should be given to them.
It is then related (Jerusalem Talmud, Terumot, end ch. 8, and Midrash Genesis Rabbah 94:9) that a certain Ulla bar Koshev-apparently a member of the rabbinic community-was once sentenced to death by the Romans, and he sought protection at the home of the third century C.E. Sage R. Joshua ben Levi. Representatives of the Romans soon appeared in the town, and threatened to kill a large number of Jews if Ulla was not turned over to them. The Jerusalem Talmud records that the Sage then spoke to Ulla, convinced him to surrender, and handed him over to the Romans. But the Midrash is more explicit, and quotes R. Joshua as uttering basically the same words spoken two hundred years earlier by Caiaphas, "It is better that you should die than that the community should be punished because of you," and R. Joshua then handed him over to the Romans.
The Jerusalem Talmud and the Midrash then tell us that R. Joshua ben Levi had previously been frequently visited by the prophet Elijah (according to the Taimuds, exemplary pious sages were accorded this honor), but the Prophet ceased visiting him following this incident. R. Joshua fasted for a long time, until Elijah finally appeared to him. Angrily, Elijah rebuked the Sage, "I do not visit those who hand over a Jew. " R. Joshua replied in self-defense, "Did I not act in accordance with the Mishnah (teaching or law)?" Ulla had of course been identified by the Gentiles as the one causing the danger, and it was therefore permitted to surrender him in order to save the other lives. The Prophet again reprimanded him, "Is this the Mishnah of the Hasidim (pious ones)?" The usual interpretation here is that although R. Joshua had acted in accordance with the law, the Hasidim (truly pious) were expected to act beyond the letter of the law, and someone other than the sage should have handed Ulla over to the Romans .
However, this is difficult, especially as we do not find any precedent in Jewish law to differentiate between Hasidim and others where danger to life is involved . (The Halakhic principle involved here is that of the "rodef" [pursuer], i.e., one who pursues an innocent person with the intent of killing him,any individual having the right and obligation to save the pursued innocent,even if it necessitates slaying the pursuer [see Sanhedrin 72B-74A] .)33
Since we have established that the formula spoken by Caiaphas and R. Joshua ben Levi pertained to the same Halakha, there is a more profound analogy here. In previous posts the opinion is shown many times 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 Shammal, who dominated Jewish life and thought in Jesus' time, and therefore were the Pharisees in control of Caiaphas' Sanhedrin as well. Bet Shammai would have been opposed to Christianity on two grounds.
First, they held salvation of the Gentiles to be impossible, for, according to them, even those Gentiles who observed the Noahide Commandments did not merit a share in the World to Come, as per R. Eliezer (Sanhedrin 105A). The only mitigating factor would have been that such a Gentile religion might have helped the Jews especially in the long exile foretold by the prophets, which was soon to begin. Perhaps Rome's conversion to Christianity might even have saved the Jerusalem Temple, as the Romans would have been brought closer to the Torah of Moses. But Bet Shammai's negative attitude toward the Gentiles would have dismissed such a stance. They would have argued that if the pagans received a new religion based on the Torah of Moses, it would only be a matter of time before they would insist that theirs was the only true religion, thatJews be missionized, and even persecuted and forced to embrace their new faith. A "new covenant" to the Gentiles would come to mean a breaking with the old, rather than a strengthening and reaffirmation . According to Bet Shammai, such a new religion would not lead to brotherhood under God, but to the murder and persecution of Jews .
We may now attempt to comprehend the session of the Sanhedrin as recorded in John (I 1:47). The priests and Pharisees said, "If we let him go on like this, the whole world will believe in him. Then the Romans will come in and sweep away our Sanctuary and our nation." In other words, they feared that if the Roman rulers should embrace Christianity, they would destroy the Temple and Jewish government. Caiaphas then pointed out to them that the main issue was not the Temple or government, but Jewish lives! Christians would murder Jews! Jesus would have then been accounted as a "pursuer" (rodef) of the innocent under Jewish law, and it was for this reason that he was sentenced to death.
Needless to say, the Hasidim-Bet Hillel and the Essenes-held a different view of the Gentile world. Hillel had taught "Love mankind and bring them nigh to the Torah," and the Essenes had given as their goal "to love all the sons of light. R. Joshua ben Hananiah of Bet Hillel gave their tradition (Sanhedrin 105A)-which is accepted by all Jewry since the Heavenly Voice's intervention in favor of Bet Hillel-that those Gentiles who observe the Noahide Commandments merit a share in the World to Come. To them the Gentiles were not a threat, and certainly not murderers. To the Hasidim, the Gentiles would become brothers in God's Kingdom. I would venture to say therefore that Jesus of Nazareth was mainly motivated by just such a hope: that the conversion of Rome to Christianity-according to the Noahide Commandments of the Torah of Moses-would save the Temple.
Unfortunately,the beliefs of Bet Shammai and the Saducee Zealot priests were the ones that came true.The lack of understanding of the Judaic concepts that spawned the Christian movement and what the real meaning of what was said in their texts,led to its break away from brotherghood with Judaism and a millinium and a half of murder,torture and forced conversion.
It is only today that Christianity seeks its roots with a desire to understand the cultural and historical aspects of the first century.
Through earlier posts,I have shown by examination of what the two schools taught,that it was the one's that applied the concepts of Bet Shammai to thier beliefs that opposed the early Christians.The Saducee,who had ties to Rome,the Zealots that were violently anti-gentile,and the sect of Pharasee that believed no Gentile could merit the World to Come.
With regard to Bet Hillel's relationship with early Christianity, attention should here be drawn to R. Gamaliel the Elder's intervention in order to save the lives of the Apostles, after they had been sentenced to death by the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:34). In his statement to the latter body-which is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles (5:39)-this grandson of Hiliel states, "If it (Christianity) does in fact come from God you will not only be unable to destroy them, but you might find yourselves fighting against God." (See R. Jacob Emden's comment in Lechem Shamayzm to Avot 4: 1 1, where he refers to Christianity and Islam as an "assembly for the sake of Heaven" which will in the end be established.) R. Gamaliel thereby offers a strong indication that he knew what the ultimate purpose of its founder was-namely, as a religion for the Gentiles according to the Halakha.
I have also previously pointed out that the Jewish-Christians who initially opposed Paul and refused to admit uncircumcised Gentiles into the Christian Church were influenced by the teachings of certain Pharisees who had joined them (Acts 15:5); we now understand that those Pharisees were Shammaites who would have given their School's position that even those Gentiles who observe the Noahide Commandments do not merit a share in the World to Come, and this position caused the error of the Apostles. Paul, like Jesus before him, had ties to Bet Hillel, and knew the Hillelite view that righteous Gentiles merit salvation. Accordingly, Paul's statements concerning Jews must also be viewed within the same context of protest against Bet Shammai's influence in his time.
Jewish scholars have long been mystified as to why Simeon son of Hillel and father of R. Gamaliel the Elder-who served as Nasi(leader of the Sanheddrin) following Hillel's death, is not quoted or discussed even once in the entire Talmudic literature (except for the brief statement that he succeeded Hillel [Shabbat 15A]). I believe that the Talmud is thereby telling us that the School of Hillel reached its nadir in his time, and that he had no say at all in the affairs of the community.
Returning now to the Jerusalem Talmud and Midrash, we realize that R. Joshua ben Levi is not recorded as having approached the Romans in an attempt to save Ulla's life. If he would have spoken to them as a rabbi of God's love for humanity, of man being created in the image of God, or similar teachings, perhaps they would have relented and spared Ulla. He made no attempt however to plead with the Romans. The Prophet Elijah thus rebuked R. Joshua ben Levi for uttering Caiaphas'words and handing over a Jew. When R. Joshua replied that he had acted within the law, the Prophet reminded him that this was not "Mishnat Ha-Hasidim, that a true Hasid would have first endeavored to speak to the Gentiles, to intervene and attempt to teach and inspire them. A Hasid had to see the best in humanity. Since R. Joshua had not acted in such a manner, he was not worthy of the Prophet's visitation. Thus, Elijah's condemnation was in reality directed simultaneously toward Caiaphas and his Sanhedrin as well, for they too had handed over a Jew, and not judged the Gentiles as the Hasidim had.
The Jerusalem Talmud in fact gives the Prophet's rebuke as "Is this the Mishnah of the Hasidim?" to which the Midrash adds, "Such an act should have been carried out by others, and not by you." But here again the Midrash does not mean to imply that R. Joshua should have bowed out of the picture, while someone else surrendered Ulla. The Prophet is rather saying that some other person should have remained with Ulla, ready to hand him over at a later time should the Sage's mission to the Gentiles prove fruitless.
We should also note that after giving the Tosefta's ruling that the Jew identified by the Gentiles may be handed over and immediately prior to the incident involving the Prophet Elijah-the Jerusalem Talmud records a dispute between the two third century C.E. Amoraim, R. Johanan and Resh Lakish. According to the latter, he may be handed over only if he is guilty of a capital offense according to the Torah, whereas
R. Johanan rules that even a completely innocent person may be surrendered to the Gentiles. It is entirely possible then that Ulla bar Koshev was really an innocent man despite an unjust Roman conviction, and this led to the Prophet's condemnation (Turei Zahav initially offers this interpretation, but abandons it because he believes Maimonides to have assumed that Ulla was guilty of a crime). If this were so, two important questions before the Sanhedrin at Jesus' trial would have been, first, whether an innocent man may be handed over, and second, whether a mission to the Gentiles takes precedence.The term "Mishnah of the Hasidim" would then apply both to Resh Lakish's opinion (which would explain why Maimonides adopted his view, even though R. Johanan's opinion is always accepted) and to the mission.
Our previous identification and analysis of the mission of the Hasidim to the Gentiles two centuries earlier has thus enabled us to offer this new understanding of the Prophet's reference to "Mishnah of the Hasidim."
It would seem that R. Judah Ha-Nasi-a descendant of Hillel in the second century C.E. who compiled the most important work of Jewish law, the Mishnah-left Bet Hillel's view of Caiaphas for posterity by referring to him (Parah 3:5) as Ha-Kof (the monkey), a play on his name which would be related to his remark before the Sanhedrin.