I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hebrew Catholics and Sin

David P Goldman Editor of First Things

Jewish writer David P Goldman in an article in "First Things" entitled “Hebrew Catholics Association” in St. Louis: A Source of Sin? writes "...If a Jew converts to Christianity, as a handful do, he or she nonetheless is obligated to perform the commandments of the Torah, including dietary and marital-purity laws, Sabbath observance, phylacteries and so forth. For a Jew not to perform these commandments is to be in a state of grievous sin. The Torah states that anyone who rejects God’s commandments “with a high hand,” that is, wittingly and deliberately, “shall be cut off from his people.” There is no retroactive exemption from the mitzvot. This remains an issue between us and Jewish converts to Christianity. Michael Wyschogrod write an open letter to the late Cardinal Lustiger of Paris, perhaps the most prominent Jewish convert in the Catholic hierarchy, informing him that he was required to perform the mitzvot. (Wyschogrod addresses these issues in essays in the collection Abraham’s Promise).

Gentiles of course are not required to perform the mitzvot, except for the basic rules of behavior grouped under the so-called Noahide laws. St. Paul argued that Gentiles should be exempt from the mitzvot, but never once did he argue that he himself, who was born a Jew, should stop performing the mitzvot.

From the Jewish theological reading, by acknowledging an Association of Hebrew Catholics without encouraging its members to remain Torah-obedient, the Church is reinforcing sinfulness in its ranks. That is why observant Jews must feel profoundly uncomfortable with the action of the St. Louis Archdiocese. Proselytism, schmoselytism–we know that Catholics would prefer that everybody convert. But all Jews have a responsibility to discourage other Jews from sinning..."


Michael Wyschogrod a leading Orthodox Jewish Theologian of our time


Once again we see that the Jewish community gives a conflicting message. Some of them oppose Hebrew Catholics observing the mitzvot and other demand that they keep them. The AHC is not opposed to nor in any way discourages Hebrew Catholics from being Torah observant in fact they encourage and support those Hebrew Catholics such as myself who do. Hebrew Catholics come from all kinds of backgrounds- many from non-observant backgrounds. Encouraging these Jews in the Church to observe Pesach and other Jewish customs means many of these Jews are now more observant of Torah and mitzvot in the Catholic Church than they ever were outside the Church. Some Hebrew Catholics come from observant backgrounds and some coming from non-observant or limited observance have become more and more observant as Jews while in the Church.

Those Jews in the Church who are Torah observant have had to battle the prejudices of those on the right and left. Many traditional and orthodox Catholics think that Jews should cease being Jews and sit at the back of the bus and keep quiet. Others obsessed with the Jewish Catholic dialogue also wish the same thing but for a different motivation- they don't want to upset their dialogue with the Jewish community. Both are manifestation of anti-Semitism among Catholics and this form of prejudice and anti-semitism is often encouraged and abetted by many in the Jewish community. This is why the recent interview with Archbishop Burke by David Moss President of the Association of Hebrew Catholics is so encouraging to all Hebrew Catholics and especially those who are Torah observant.

An interesting question that I have never really seen clearly answered is in regards to those Hebrew Catholics who themselves didn't leave Judaism and convert to Christianity but it was their parents or grandparents who became believers in Jesus. According to Orthodox Judaism they are halakically Jewish but do they come under the same penalties as those who the Jewish community see as apostates? Many of these second or third or more generations as Hebrew Christians are now also embracing Torah observance while retaining their belief in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. What is the official position of the orthodox Jewish community to them?

9 comments:

justin said...

Hey Aaron!!! Great blog. You know, I'm wondering if either side of those involved in the dialogue truly knows what the other side believes? I truly believe that Judaism and Catholicism are the same Faith, just in two Different Eras of Salvation History, or more accurately, in two different Worlds. It seems to me that even before both sides approach this dialogue, they are already preparing things through the lense, or "sunglasses", of not "offending" the other. Of course, I'm not too sure of this, but it seems logical to wonder about this. Are they too afraid of bothering or offending the other. I think we should truly watch not to use foul language or harass the other. But we should, however, get the message of both sides out brutally and honestly. This isn't offensive, this is appropriate, because truly the Faith, both Old Era (World) and New Era (World) is just that bold...being offensive to many who don't understand It. It also seems to me as if both sides are approaching things with reservation...from a totally basic elementary, literal sense, peshat level, rather than going into typology, remez, drush, and sod. I believe Kabbalah and Chassidut is the hinge. Catholics should understand authentic Kabbalah and Chassidut. It helps us appreciate Catholicism all the more, providing we have a solid foundation in Catholicism first. And I believe Jews should consider Second Temple Judaism research as well as become acquainted with Mysticism, Mystagogy, and deeper Teachings of the Catholic Faith. We should really start out appreciating each other's friendship. Yes, first we are both solid in our own Eras. But then we should really seek to understand the other, and contemplate this understanding through intense Prayer, Sacrifice, and logic. From what I've learned, most of the comments St. Paul makes concerning the Old Law being obsolete are in regard to the Old Covenant Sacraments: circumcision, Temple worship, animal sacrifices. Those have been fulfilled by the Catholic Sacraments. However, what about Torah observance of Tefillin and things like that? The question is do THESE observances also find their root in further establishing and cementing the Old Covenant Sacramental system, thereby keeping the Hebrew mind, soul, and heart focussed on Mosaic Covenant? Next, do they serve the primary purpose of also being pedagogical training for the fulfilment the Messiah Jesus Brought?

justin said...

I think the answer lies not only in approaching things from a literal sense understanding, peshat, but also from a Kabbalistic, Chassidic one. The Chassidic Rabbis Teach that the wearing of Tefillin influences the higher realities. In some way, wearing Tefillin allows the Angels to offer a work to God the Trinity for us. A devotional holy work in the lower realities influences the higher realities, and visa-versa. I accept this, and believe this. I don't find this heretical. To me this, strikes a familiar chord with what I've learned from Second Temple scholarship: that men worshipped God, by imitating the way the Angels Worshipped Him in the Heavenly Temple (thereby possibly needing them to fulfill the devotional work in the higher realities which was originally done in lower realities). This seems to me like imitation of Angel's Worship of the Trinity, needing their assistance since what we had then was only an imitation of the True Worship Jesus Speaks about with the Samaritan woman. In that Era of Salvation History, we didn't Worship God in the Heavenly Temple beside the Angels. In Second Temple Judaism, an understanding of Temple worship being only an imitation was understood, since the blueprints for the Temple were given to Moses and David in visions. They copied what they saw in the higher realities...but these models which were then later constructed on earth were NOT the actual Heavenly Temple. They were imitations. This is the Old World in which Angels Worship God in our place, in the sense of "standing in" for us. Jesus Brings us into THAT ACTUAL Heavenly Temple, the "World to Come" which Has Now Come, through the Sacraments of the Catholic Church. I go on and on about this point because I wonder, are both sides discussing this? Are they going beyond the basics into the meat and potatoes? I also mention this to now go into the Two Worlds (eras) concept. In Judaism there is the World, and then there is the World To Come Which the Messiah Ushered in. When Jesus Teaches that Catholics are to live in this First World, but are not a part of it, is He Implying that we are already a part of the World To Come Which Has already Come through Him?...The Kingdom of God/Heaven, the Catholic Church Militant, Suffering, and Triumphant, and soon to be Resurrected? I believe so. The Catholic Church is the New Heavens and New Earth, for the Glory of Christ at the General Judgement Will Be the Same as His Eucharistic Glory already Present in all the Catholic Tabernacles of the World. The "Veil" will just be removed so we can totally behold This Glory. So therefore, if Catholics are the Body of Christ, in the 3 Levels of Church Militant, Suffering, and Triumphant, are they not also Alive In His Glory? Will Our Glory not also soon be Unveiled? I believe so.

justin said...

The problem is are Catholics involved in the dialogue with Jews discussing these facts? It's very fascinating to note that Chabad.org, an Orthodox Chassidic Jewish knowledge site has two lectures about whether Jews will have to keep the Torah Laws in the World To Come. The answer is difficult: yes and no. There will no longer be a need for Tefillin and stuff. They believe people however will totally interiorize the meaning of this, thereby keeping this Law in their hearts in a fulfilled way. If I remember I got the feeling that the Rabbis there taught that they will keep it regardless of not actually putting Tefillin on. Interesting and Mystical! If Jews Believe this, why would they want to obligate Hebrew Catholics to do this even though Hebrew Catholics have already found the Messiah and are a part of the World To Come, even presently? Would not, this be a denial of Jesus' Glory? A denial of Him as Messiah? A denial of the Kingdom of God/Heaven? Is this deliberately subversive or is this innocent ignorance of the other side's understanding and beliefs? Most likely, this is innocent ignorance, since we don't understand each other's meat and potatoes. We don't understand OUR meat and potatoes that we both share. It's interesting to note one of St. Paul's Teachings. I don't know if I'm reading it in context properly. It is written to the Romans, but, his readers very well could also have been Roman Jewish Catholics. Maybe certain parts of the Epistle deal with Jewish Catholics and other parts deal with Gentile Catholics, and other parts deal with both. He Taught that when a man has died, his bride is dispensed from his law. Jesus Has Revealed Himself As Bridegroom to the Jewish people in both the Old Covenant(especially in the Prophetic Writings) and the New. Since He Has Died, and He Is the Living Heavenly Torah, the Church is free from the parable of the Mosaic Torah Laws, such as Tefillin. The Torah Given to Moses was only a parable to help us understand the True Living Heavenly Torah to come. The Rabbis say that the Mosaic Torah looks "stupid" when compared to the Torah of the Messiah. Not that it is useless, since parables are needed to bring Heavenly Understanding down to our level of understanding, but when compared to It's Heavenly Source, the Mosaic Torah looks inadequate and stupid. Don't confuse what i'm saying though. The Mosaic Torah is still very very very Holy, and without this Parable, you can't approach the Heavenly Torah, Jesus Christ, properly with full understanding. I learned this from Chassidic Rabbis.

justin said...

It could not be a mortal sin to not practice Laws such as those concerning Tefillin. This understanding is not a rejection of Torah Law "with a high hand", that is wittingly and deliberately. It is seeing Tefillin's meaning and fulfilment in Jesus the Messiah. Everything was a pedagogical, devotional pointer to Him, which He Has Fulfilled. He Has Brought us from indirect participation in the Heavenly Temple to Direct Fulfilled Participation Literally In It. The only people that would be guilty of this mortal sin are those few Jews who condemned Him to the Cross. I do however believe that these are wonderful devotions, and if done with the right intention and understanding can help sweep us up into a Glorious contemplation of Our LORD's Person, Messiaship, and Divinity. If done through this understanding, they help reinforce the Treasures of the Catholic Faith, Treasures Both Old and New, and may be even an encouragement to Gentile Catholics to immerse themselves in the total rich Salvation History of both Worlds and both Eras, in Chassidic Judaism and in their Catholicism.

I hope this wasn't offensive. It's just my understanding on the matter. For those who read this comment of mine, BE ON GUARD. Know Catholicism well first. And then know It even better after that. If there's anything heretical in what i'm saying, correct me, and then burn this explanation of mine.

Thanks Aaron. God Bless. I love all your blogs!!!

justin said...

oh yeah, i should correct a mistake i made. The Rabbis never called the Mosaic Torah "stupid". Their correct wording was that "the Mosaic Torah is LIKE STUPIDITY when compared to the Heavenly Messiah Torah".

Aharon said...

Dear Justin,

It is always good to read your post and I love your enthusiasm.

I don't always agree with all of your comments but I appreciate their sincerity.

The reason that orthodox Jews insist that it is obligatory for Jews whether Christians or not to observe the mitzvot under the penalty of sin- is because they don't believe that Jesus is the Messiah and are thus still awaiting the One that will bring them into this higher level of understanding and living out the Torah. Jewish believers in Yeshua as the Messiah believe that that One has already Come and is Coming again has taken us into a higher level which means that the Hebrew Catholic observes the mitzvot in freedom as a son of God- not because to not do so is a penalty but because it is the way God has given the Jew to grow in sanctity. The mitzvot united to the Messiah takes them to a new and deeper meaning which is Messianic,Eucharistic and Marian. It is wonderful that Archbishop Burke sees no problem with Hebrew Catholics circumcising their children or practicing other Jewish customs and rituals as long as they are done in the light of the Messiah.

justin said...

Awesome! I agree with you totally. Have a great day, Bro. God Bless.

justin said...

haha actually Aaron, I want to apologize. After having reread my comments, i realized that it comes across as if i'm correcting you. Nothing can be further from the truth since we're probably in total agreement. My comments are for everyone who reads this blog and the comment section. lol. I just got inspired to try to teach what i know lol. I'm sorry if it looks like i'm fighting with you. wow i'm such a weirdo lol.

Aharon said...

No i didn't think you were fighting with me at all. Keep up the good work.