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.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Are the English-speaking Catholic Bishops Anti-semites? A Hebrew Catholic Opinion

Cheil and Soreg (Dividing Wall) in the Second Temple

It is rather shocking and disturbing when one tries to do the daily "Divine Office" of the Church when ones reads the translation of Ephesians 2:15 as "He abolished the Jewish Law with its commandments and rules". This would seem to destroy all the progress made in Jewish- Catholic dialogue over the last 40 years. It also would make Paul an antinomian and a denier of Jesus own words that he came not to abolish the Law. 

It was bad enough with the translation used in Missal and I discussed this in another article on this blog. "Recently I did the readings at Mass and I had to control myself from stopping and re-translating the version used in our missals from the New Revised Standard Version. If I could I would burn all these missals and all copies of the New Revised Standard Version. Fancy getting a Jew to read "He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances"   in Ephesians 2:15. This is a totally incorrect and anti-Jewish interpretation. The Douay-Rheims  Bible translates this as "Making void the law of commandments contained in decrees".  

These same decrees are mentioned in Colossians 2:14 where St Paul refers to "the handwritings in decrees". Paul uses the Greek word dogmasin to translate the Hebrew gezerot . The average Catholic reads this and gets the impression that the Torah (Law) is abolished by Jesus on the Cross in direct contradiction to the words of Jesus who said "I came not to abolish but to establish the Law". These gezerot are nothing to do with the Biblical Commandments of the Torah but are the Rabbinic 18 gezerot enacted by the House of Shammai to ensure a stricter separation between Jews and Gentiles. It is these man-made decrees of the Sanhedrin by a faction of the Pharisees (they were opposed by the House of Hillel) that Heaven revealed to St Peter had been made void or annulled by the death of Jesus on the Cross (see Acts 10).  St Paul is not making some radical antinomian statements but is following the ruling of St Peter who holds the Keys of the Kingdom. The orthodox Jews themselves annulled these stringent decrees of separation when Heaven spoke to the Sanhedrin that was gathered at Yavneh after the destruction of the Temple which now contained a majority of those from the House of Hillel..."

The version used in "The Divine Office" which has been approved by the Bishops of Australia and the other English speaking countries is even worse. Isn't it time that our Bishops took some action to remedy these anti-Jewish translations of the Bible that seem to be so popular with the Bishops? A return to the Douay-Rheims might be a step in the right direction.

When Ephesians 2 is read in its Jewish context one sees that Paul is alluding to the separation of Jews and Gentiles, men and women in the Temple worship. He uses this Jewish paradigm to demonstrate that in the Eucharist (flesh, blood of Messiah), which is the worship ceremony of the New Covenant, the dividing walls and partitions that separated people in the Temple and reinforced by the Rabbinic 18 gezerot has been spiritually made void in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. In the Eucharist we are all mystically one. Through the Eucharist those in the outer courts (far away) have now been mystically brought into the Eucharistic Holy of Holies (brought near). 

These 18 gezerot were seen by the House of Shammai as part of the Pharisee endeavour to bring Temple sanctity and  spirituality into the daily life and home of the Jewish family. An endeavour with which the House of Hillel also agreed and participated in. Thus using the Temple principle of distinguishing the holy from the unholy and the ritually clean from the ritually unclean they (the Shammaites) took it a step too far for the House of Hillel and the ordinary Jewish people. 

The House of Shammai took a principle which was part of an extra voluntary stringency popular in Judea at the time and gave it the force of law and then added even more stringencies that instead of increasing spirituality and sanctity caused hatred and division between peoples.

Paul was not really saying anything about the physical barriers observed in the Temple but of the barriers of the heart and mind. All he writes is in the context of the crucified Messiah in the Eucharist. All are equal in the domain of salvation- no-one is separated or excluded from the free gift of salvation offered by the Eucharistic Lord. 

We know that in the early Church men and women sat separately (and had different roles) and that there were separate Jewish and Gentile congregations. Thus we know that Paul was not speaking of outward modes of worship but of the mystical and inner world of the Spirit and Heart. He and the early Church were opposed to calling any man ritually unclean based on his nationality or ethnic group as in Baptism and the Eucharist (the Last Supper and Calvary as one event made present on the altars) all men were clean and any Rabbinic gezerot based on this false premise were void as they did not apply.

The original Temple and Tabernacle provided for a court of the Gentiles but with the growing fanaticism of the priests influenced by Sadducees the Court of the Gentiles was enclosed with a dividing Wall to separate them from the Jews. This wall was called "mesotoichon" which is referred to in Ephesians 2 and also by the Jewish historian Josephus. 

The Hebrew for this dividing wall was "Soreg". There was a small stone wall (Cheil or Hel) about half a cubit high and then surmounted by a ten handbreath high lattice work screen or fence (soreg). The area between the wall and the Couryard of the Women was 10 cubits was also known as Cheil. In the cheil area 4 cubits were level and then in the remaining 6 cubits were 12 steps up to the Courtyard gates and wall. The Norse term for the underworld as Hel or Hell may come from this origin as a place of exclusion. The Norse expression "go to Hel" meant to die. On the Wall of Cheil in the Temple were signs warning that the penalty for Gentiles or the ritually unclean people going past this wall was the death penalty.

The word "nomon"  or "nomos" in Greek could be a translation of the word "Torah" or it could be a translation of the Hebrew word "chok" or "chok u mishpat" which means  Divine law, ordinance or decree.  "Dat" is also another word that can mean law or custom and could be translated by "nomon" or "nomos" in the Greek. 

"Dogmasin" also is the Greek for decree  or ordinance (gezerah or takanah). A gezerah is a  Rabbinic prohibition whereas a takanah is a Rabbinic postive command- thus we know that Paul is referring to gezerot (decrees) and not takanot (ordinances).Thus the Hebrew of Ephesians 2:15 may refer to the dati mitzvot b'gezerot (law of commandments in decrees). 

Yanki Tauber writing on the teachings of Rebbe Menachem Sneersohn states: "...Nevertheless, Halachah (Torah law) distinguishes between biblical and rabbinical laws, applying a different set of standards to each of the two categories. One of these differences is that, according to many halachic authorities, biblical laws define the nature of their object, while rabbinical degrees are only prohibitions upon the person. For example, if biblical law forbids a certain food, this indicates that the very substance of the food is intrinsically negative and profane; on the other hand, rabbinical proscription of a certain food is strictly a prohibition upon the person not to eat it.
At first glance, this seems to indicate that rabbinical mitzvot are less "real" than biblical ones; that while the biblical law affects the very nature of its subject, the rabbinical law is superimposed over human life, having the authority to command and instruct but not to define reality. On a deeper level, however, this alludes to the fact that the rabbinical law is the more profound expression of the essence of the mitzvah as divine will.
The biblical mitzvot define the nature of our world, expressing the fact that their predominant element is the mitzvah's role as molder and illuminator of the created reality. Not so the rabbinical commandment, which is concerned only with what man should or should not do, not with how this affects him or his world. Thus it asserts the "decree" element of the mitzvah: the mitzvah as it transcends all relation to physical life, its sole purpose being the fulfillment of a divine desire."

Another reason that the 18 gezerot of the House of Shammai were anulled by Heaven, through the Sanhedrin in Yavneh and St Peter in Acts 10, was because they were based on a wrong premise and a confusion of biblical law (chok u mishpat) and rabbinic law (gezerot and takanot). The House of Shammai were enacting these 18 gezerot because they had judged that Gentiles were unclean and evil in themselves and could not attain to the World to Come unless they converted to Rabbinic Judaism. The House of Hillel disagreed- they saw that Gentiles could be righteous if they obeyed the seven laws of Noah and attain to the World to Come without needing to observe the Torah in the same manner as the Jews. In a sense it was impossible for Gentiles to be ritually unclean (only a Jewish person could be) as they were not commanded to be ritually clean.

Even in the time of Noah we know that animals were classified as ritually clean or unclean. This meant that certain animals were suitable for sacrifice to God, others were not. Noah and his sons were permitted to eat all animals those ritually clean and those ritually unclean. It is only with the giving of the Torah at Sinai that a new discipline or stringency was made law for Israelites. That new Discipline was for Israelites to refrain from eating ritually unclean animals and only eat from the category of ritually clean animals. The animals in themselves were not clean or unclean (kosher or non-kosher, suitable or unsuitable) but clean or unclean for ritual purposes. Thus a horse is ritually unsuitable for eating by Jews but not for riding.

For the believer in Jesus a new paradigm falls into place where all Catholic canon laws (the gezerot and takanot of the New Covenant) must be evaluated through an Eucharistic focus on the Salvation of souls as Paul demonstrates in Ephesians 2. If the translation in our Breviaries is correct then no Jew would become a Catholic and Paul would be considered rightly as an apostate for holding to antinomianism. This translation makes St Paul seem schizophrenic as in Romans 3:31 he says: "Do we, then, destroy the law (Torah) through faith? God forbid: but we establish the law (Torah)." We can't at the same time establish or build up the Torah if at the same time we are abolishing it.

An interesting translation of Ephesians 2:11-22

"...Therefore, have zikaron (remembrance) that formerly you, the Goyim in the flesh, who are called "arelim" (uncircumcised ones) by the ones being called "nimolim" (circumcised ones) which is a Bris Milah performed in the flesh by human hands 12Have zikaron(remembrance) that you were at that time bazunder (unrelated and separate) from Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach, having been alienated from the torat haEzrakhut (the citizenship) in the Am Brit, from Yisroel, being zarim (strangers) to the Beritot HaHavtacha, farfoiren (lost)and having no tikvah (hope) and without G-d in the Olam Hazeh. [YESHAYAH 14:1; 65:1] 13But now in Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach Yehoshua, you, who formerly were in the outermost courts, have been brought near by the kapporah of the dahm of Moshiach. 14For Moshiach himself is our shalom, who made the Shnaym into Echad, having broken down in the basar of Moshiach the barrier of the Mechitzah (the dividing partition), the Soreg (barrier of the holy precinct in the Beis HaMikdash between Jews and non-Jews), the Eyvah(Enmity), 15By annulling the chok (decree, law) of mishpatim in ordinances that the Shnaym He might create in Himself into Adam Chadash Echad (One New Humanity), arbitrating shalom, 16And that Moshiach might bring the ritztzuy (reconciliation, cessation of enmity), reconciling to Hashem the Shnaym into one guf (body) [BERESHIS 47:18; TEHILLIM 16:9-10; IYOV 19:25-27; YESHAYAH 53:11]through the Moshiach's Etz, having put to death the Eyvah by it. 17And having come, Moshiach preached shalom to you, the ones in the outermost courts, and shalom to the ones near; [TEHILLIM 148:14; YESHAYAH 57:19] 18Because through Moshiach we both have HaSha'ar laHashem (gate to approach G-d's presence, access of the tzaddikim TEHILLIM 118:20) by one Ruach Hakodesh to Elohim HaAv. 19Therefore, then, no longer are you zarim and aliens, but you are fellow citizens of the Kadoshim and bnei bayit members of the household of G-d, 20Having been built upon the yesod (foundation) of the Shlichim and Nevi'im, Moshiach Yehoshua himself being the ROSH PINAH (TEHILLIM 118:22), 21In whom all the binyan (edifice), being fitly joined together, grows into a Heikhal Kadosh b'Hashem;22In whom also you are being built together into a Mishkan of Hashem in the Ruach Hakodesh. [T.N. IN THIS CHAPTER RAV SHA'UL USES THE COURTS OF THE BEIS HAMIKDASH TO TEACH THE SAVING WORK OF MOSHIACH.]..." (Orthodox Jewish Bible)