The Talmud, Christian Zionists and World Peace
*****Reader discretion is advised.***** The topic to be explored is tabu for many persons of both the Jewish and the Christian faiths. People of all faiths need to govern their religious fervor with reason, or else risk degenerating into senseless fanaticism.
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Originally, this essay began several weeks ago as a draft with the proposed title “Can one be anti-Zionist and not be anti-Semitic?” Upon further reflection, we have chosen to change the contents and thrust of the draft essay and present it here in its new form.
The Talmud, Christian Zionists and World Peace
The Talmud is the governing document for Rabbinical Jews. The Talmud is a collection of the writings and commentaries of Jewish Rabbis from approximately the second century BC through the end of the 5th century AD (roughly 200 BC to 500 AD). The earliest code of Talmudic law is the Mishneh Torah, written by Moses Maimonides (1135 – 1204). (An Internet link is at the bottom of this essay.) The Talmud (63 books) and subsequent commentaries on it (and not the Old Testament of the Bible) form the basis of the worldview held by many, if not most, contemporary, religious Jews. The Talmud has been referred to as the textbook used in the training of Rabbis.
Exposing to non-Jews what is written in the Talmud does not make one “anti-Semitic”. When done by a Jewish person, or a former Jew (one who has converted to Christianity), that person is not thereby a “self-hating Jew”. (Is the term “anti-Semitic” used to stifle open discussion of inconvenient and unpleasant facts? The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) routinely uses this charge of “anti-Semitism” to discredit, silence or intimidate any and all critics of Jews.)
(As to the charge of “anti-Semitism”, one may rightly ask: what constitutes “anti-Semitism”? If you, in the USA, call for a more balanced foreign policy with respect to Palestine, you leave yourself open to being called “anti-Semitic” from some quarters. If you fail to show sufficient deference to the Jewish Holocaust of the 1940s, you will likely be called “anti-Semitic”. Pointing out other genocides – such as in Stalin’s manmade, artificial famine in the Ukraine (for resisting collectivization, known as the Holodomor) in the early 1930s, that of Armenians in eastern Turkey in World War I, Tibet (1950s – 1960s), Cambodia (mid to late 1970s), and Rwanda (1994 – 1995) – is no defense. Given all the other recognized genocides just in the 20th century, one may wonder: why the exclusivity of Jewish suffering?)
When Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) read the Talmud, he was very troubled by what he encountered. He condemned the Talmud for its vile, scandalous and hateful statements about Christ and Christians.
There is a recent book that treats this subject: Jesus in the Talmud, written by Dr. Peter Schafer and published by Princeton University Press (2009). (The interested reader can read the reviews of this book on the Amazon website.)
Schafer presents his research, findings and conclusions in the historical context of the mutual antagonisms, rivalries, and persecutions existing between Jews and Christians in the early centuries of the Christian era (the time in which most of the Talmudic texts were composed). His book has received high praise from some Jews and from some Christians. However, the Talmud contains numerous verses that give evidence of a firmly held group superiority mindset on the part of the Jews vis-a-vis all non-Jews (not just Christians). Even non-Christians, who may not be offended by the verses that attempt to discredit or vilify Jesus, will likely be troubled or disturbed by many other Talmudic verses. (In this book, it is noted that, among other things, the Talmud mocks Jesus’ virgin birth, says Jesus was rightly executed for being a blasphemer, and that He is in hell and His followers (i.e. Christians) go to hell as well.)
Benjamin Freedman (1890 – 1984, American, a Jewish convert to Christianity) wrote a long letter to another Jewish convert to Christianity (Dr. David Goldstein) in 1954. This lengthy letter was subsequently published in paperback under the title, Facts are Facts and has been printed by various small independent publishers, most recently by Bridger House in 2009. It is a short book of about 80 pages. The copy that I will quote from is by an earlier publisher, Omni Christian Book Club (Palmdale, CA). (A little irony here as a Jewish friend and co-worker of mine earlier in my working career was fond of using the expression “The truth is the truth.”)
The reasons I give credence to what Freedman wrote in this little known book are: he had been an informed Jew and he knew very well what the Talmud teaches; what he says about the origins of the Ashkenazim Jews from eastern Europe keeps being independently corroborated by a growing number of researchers and authors (both Jewish and non-Jewish). Linguistics (the Yiddish tongue – as opposed to the Hebrew alphabet they adopted for writing their language (Yiddish) after their conversion), historical evidence and archaeological evidence all support the thesis of a Russian steppe origin (not an ancient Judea origin) of the Ashkenazim Jews (which make up about 90 percent of today’s Jewish population). Per Freedman, even The Jewish Encyclopedia supports this as it has a few pages on the Russian steppe tribe (known as Chazars or Khazars) that converted en masse to Judaism in the early Middle Ages (circa 740 AD). This is consistent with the presence of millions of Jews living in eastern Europe over the past several centuries. See also The Thirteenth Tribe by Arthur Koestler (a Jewish author), Random House (1976), and Fawcett Popular Library (1978).
You may ask why does this matter? The eastern (Russian) European origin of the Ashkenazim calls into question the legitimacy of the Zionist claim to Palestine as a Jewish homeland.
According to Freedman, it is more correct to say that Jesus was a Judean than it is to say that Jesus was a Jew. He says this because he believes that most non-Jewish persons do not have an accurate understanding of the Jewish people and their beliefs. Thus, the teachings of Jesus are not the teachings of a Jew as Jesus did not have or share the values/views of modern Jews. Freedman says that modern “Judaism” is just another name for Talmudism or Pharisaism. (Jesus opposed Pharisaism.) He cites leading 20th century Rabbis who trace modern Judaism back to Pharisaism.
(Freedman spends some time tracing the history of the word “Jew” in the English language and claims that it was first used by (and thus entered the English language) by Sheridan in a play in 1775 (p. 16). Prior to this date, the word in English, Iewes (p. 20), was closer to the Latin Iudaeus, (Greek: Ioudaios), which meant Judeans.)
The Pharisees of Jesus’ time and the early centuries of the Christian era must have found Christianity an insufferable creed. The new religion taught universal brotherhood transcending tribalism, with all humans (Jew and gentile alike) having a common father, God (we are all God’s children). The most troublesome part of the Christian message was that salvation was open to all people who truly love God and love their neighbor, and salvation was not the exclusive property of the Jews.
There was an unabridged translation into English of the 63 books (or tracts) of the Talmud in 1935 (known as the Soncino Edition as it was printed in London by the Soncino Press, p.28). This was approved of by many leading Rabbis at time of publication. Freedman quotes from this official translation at length in the middle part of his letter. From these extensive quotations, it becomes clear that there are many passages on sex in the Talmud, with a seeming obsession with coitus during the wife’s menstruation. There is also much hair splitting over a woman’s loss of her virginity. Even pedophilia and bestiality are discussed at some length in various verses. We will not dwell on or quote any of these. Freedman was citing these verses to refute the assertion that the Talmud (even in its earliest books) was the “sort of book” from which Jesus “drew the teachings which enabled him to revolutionize the world” on “moral and religious subjects.” (p. 43).
There are four pages (p. 65 – 68) of separate 1 line (short) summaries of Talmudic verses. Freedman notes that he is summarizing the substance of each listed verse for the sake of brevity (and is also excluding the corresponding footnotes to such verses from the Soncino Edition) but that he is accurately conveying the substance of each verse in his short summary. Here he is drawing from the book, The Talmud Unmasked, The Secret Rabbinical Teachings Concerning Christians written by Rev. J. B. Pranaitis (a Roman Catholic professor of Hebrew language). This book’s thesis is based on the translation of the original selected Hebrew verses into Latin (1893). These Talmudic verses quoted in Rev. Pranaitis’ book were later translated from the Latin into English in 1939 by Latin scholars in the USA (p. 64).
Readers, be aware that there is much (heated) controversy about Rev. Pranaitis and his translation of the selected Talmudic verses that are critical of Christ and Christians. On Amazon, you can read through the numerous reviews and comments both pro and con about this book and its author. Even Amazon’s book description has been taken to task by commenters for its inaccuracy. As well, there are other websites with articles both pro and con about this book and its contents. Pranaitis did not claim that he was translating the entire Talmud (several thousand pages) into Latin. He was only dealing with those verses critical of Christ and Christians.
Here are some of Freedman’s quite numerous one line summaries of verses from the Talmud concerning Jesus, and Christians (from p. 65 – 68 of Facts are Facts). The first 3 verses are selected from those referring to Jesus.
Kallah, 1b. (18b) Illegitimate and conceived during menstruation.
Sanhedrin, 67a. Hanged on the eve of Passover.
Sanhedrin, 103a. Suggested corrupts his morals and dishonors self.
Orach Chaiim, 113. Avoid appearance of paying respect to Jesus.
Iore Dea, 150, 2. Do not appear to pay respect to Jesus by accident.
Kerithuth (6b, p. 78). Jews called men, Christians not called men.
Zohar II (64b). Christian idolators likened to cows and asses.
Rosch Haschanach (17a). Non-Jews souls go down to hell.
Schabbath (116a) Tos. Gospels called volumes of iniquity, heretical books.
Chagigah, 15b. A Jew considered good in spite of sins he commits.
Abhodah Zarah (72b). Wine touched by Christians must be thrown away.
Iore Dea (154, 2). Forbidden to teach a trade to a Christian.
Babha Kama (113b). It is permitted to deceive Christians.
Babha Kama (113a). Jew may lie and perjur to condemn a Christian.
Hilkhoth Akum (X, 2). Baptized Jews are to be put to death.
Zohar (II, 43a). Extermination of Christians necessary sacrifice.
Sepher Or Israel (177b). If Jew kills Christian, commits no sin.
For me, it seems not unreasonable to conclude that these summaries of Talmudic verses are likely accurate. Other verses quoted from the Talmud found in other books and articles are congruent with Freedman’s one line summaries.
Here is a small sampling.
The Jew is to say on Purim Day: “Cursed be Haman, blessed be Mordechai; cursed be Seresh, blessed be Esther: cursed be all non-Jews, blessed be all Jews.” (Orach Chaim, 660, 16)
“A heretic gentile you may kill outright with your own hands.” (Aboda Zara, 4b.)
“A thing lost by a gentile may not only be kept by the man who found it, but it is even forbidden to give it back to him.” (Choschen ha-Mischpat, 159, 1.)
“A Jew may rob a gentile, that is he may cheat him over a bill if unlikely to be detected.” (Choschen ha-Mischpat, 348, 1.)
“You are human beings but the nations of the world are not human beings, but beasts.” (Baba Mecia, 114, 6.)
“Every goy who studies Talmud, and every Jew who helps him in it, ought to die.” (Sanhedrin, 59 a, Aboda Zara, 8-6, Szagiga, 13.)
It is rather hard to believe that so many verses are fabrications or misinterpretations and/or inaccurate translations.
In previous essays, it was noted that Muslims have – in practice – 2 distinct sets of ethical rules. One for their dealings and interactions with other Muslims, and another very different set of ethics in practice for their interactions with non-Muslims. The Talmud encourages this same practice among Jews. In fact, as we have seen above, this dual set of ethics is codified in the Talmud and in commentaries upon it. Jews are not prohibited from wronging non-Jews. Non-Jews are viewed as being less human than Jews.
The often encountered term “goim” or “goyim”, which denotes all non-Jews, literally translates as “cattle”. It does not translate to “human beings” or anything close.
Here is the problem with these very disturbing and offensive statements from the Talmud – such verses serve to instill, foster and encourage attitudes of contempt for, if not hatred of, others (Christians and other non-Jews). It needs to be said that such attitudes, and the people who cling to and act upon them, are not informed by authentic, spiritual values.
When you foster hatred or hateful attitudes, you are sowing the seeds of violence. And, make no mistake, pious Jews in Israel act upon these verses. In the early years of the modern Jewish state, many Christian churches, schools and hospitals were damaged or destroyed by the zealous Zionists. Fr. Leonard Feeney, a Catholic priest from Boston, compiled a list in late 1955 of Jewish desecration of Christian sites within the new state of Israel (founded in 1948). This list is too lengthy to include here, but it gives evidence of a pattern of wanton destruction on the part of the Israelis towards non-Jewish religious sites and institutions. (For this catalog of destruction, see the Internet link at bottom of essay.)
As well, in today’s world, these chauvinistic and exclusivist attitudes are very dangerous. The Talmud’s verses may (in fact, do) serve to cause Jews to believe in their superiority and that all the world’s peoples ought to be, indeed one day will be, beholden and subservient (even prostrate at the feet of ) to the Jews as part of God’s master plan. However, this belief is an unrealistic (and rather bizarre) fantasy, and a product of very primitive and narrow minds. These tribal beliefs and attitudes are not conducive to peace with one’s neighbors, and really ought to be rejected and discarded and that would actually be of much benefit to Jews. Decent Jewish (or some might say Judaic) people need to question these long-held prejudices in the light of reason and objectivity. The cause of peace, especially in Palestine, would be well served by such an honest self-examination.
Some Jewish scholars and Israeli dissidents are in fact doing this now. See Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years, by Dr. Israel Shahak (1933 – 2001). This book was published in hardcover in 1994 and released in paperback in 1997 (Pluto Press). Dr. Shahak (a Holocaust survivor) points out in several passages that Christians are badly mistaken in assuming that the Jews share similar beliefs and values with Christians.
I could never understand Christian Zionists. (Prominent examples are Pat Robertson with his Christian Broadcasting Network, and Joseph Farah and his World Net Daily website, and there are many other Christians of the same persuasion, or very similar views.)
One may ask: What is Zionism? Is there a widespread agreed upon definition in current use? Not sure on this. Skipping any ideology concerns, we will provide a working definition of Zionism as strong support of Israel, even to the point of ignoring or trivializing wrongs and injustices committed by Israel. As well, such ardent supporters of Israel show a reluctance to criticize individual Jewish Zionists, even when they engage in outrageous behavior.
There is no Biblical mandate that Christians must support and defend the modern state of Israel. That would be a gross misinterpretation. The new Israel refers to the Church founded by Jesus and His new covenant. Christians have a duty to defend the Christian Church. (I cannot at present quote chapter and verse on this from the New Testament, but I have heard on the radio (in recent years) Protestants asserting that Christians are instructed (even commanded) by the Bible to defend modern day Israel, the nation state.) Rather than reflexively taking sides without full understanding of the conflict, Christians ought to honor the Sermon on the Mount, and strive to be peace makers, working with all parties involved in conflicts.
If these Christian Zionists were to give serious consideration to what the Jews actually believe about Christ and about Christians (and about all non-Jews on the planet), they might rethink their enthusiastic and unqualified support for the Zionist state of Israel. If they would still cling to such unquestioning support of Israel for purposes of trying to bring about the fulfillment of prophecy as in the so-called “Rapture” or “Armageddon”, we caution them to both govern their religious fervor with reason, and also not to presumptuously try to hurry God along in His timetable.
Both Jews who cling to and live by such bigoted and non-rational attitudes, and Christian Zionists who give unqualified (and uncritical) support to Israel, either because of emotional fervor, brainwashing, ignorance, or even insanity (strong words I know), really need to take a close and critical look at these strongly (passionately) held views/positions.
As well, real “anti-Semitism” does not occur as in a vacuum. Jews must honestly acknowledge that some of their actions have indeed served to provoke the animosity of others towards them. They may be perpetually “innocent” per the chauvinist verses of the Talmud, but Jews are not wholly innocent by any rational and objective standard or measure. (The long suffering victims are quite capable of playing the role of victimizers.)
One interesting and enlightening tabu read is The Zionist Factor – The Jewish Impact on Twentieth Century History by Ivor Benson (1907 – 1993, a South African journalist of Swedish ancestry). This book is not printed by any mainstream publishing houses. It is published by revisionists because of the inconvenient, unpleasant (and politically incorrect) truths it deals with. The fact is that much of 20th century history was influenced by Zionism.
Chauvinistic Talmudic Zionism (with Israel currently possessing hundreds of atomic bombs) is a threat to world peace. The so-called “Sampson Option” calls for Israel, if threatened with imminent national destruction, to use its atomic weapons against all nations within reach of its air force and its missiles, including southern European capitals. Debating whether such a Zionist threat is real or only potential misses the point. At present, we see 3 major threats to world peace: Zionism, militant Islam, and the arrogant Chinese communist regime in Beijing. The commonality in these 3 threats is that the 3 groups involved, Zionists, Muslims and Chinese communists, all suffer from a very virulent and irrational superiority complex. (In the case of militant Islamists, it appears to be a combination of a group superiority complex as regards their beliefs coupled with an obsession with the inferiority of their military and economic power.)
In today’s Israel, the Palestinians are often victimized. (And, approximately 30 per cent of the Palestinians are Christians.) Sadly, the cycle of violence seems to be unstoppable. If we are to achieve lasting peace in the world, all groups are going to have to make ongoing sacrifices for it.
Links to essays and articles
people.ucalgary.ca/~Elsegal/TalmudMap/Maimonides.html – for more, see the bullet points under “Description” at the bottom of the web page. As well, interested readers can search the Internet for more on the Talmud and more on Moses Maimonides.
Here is a link to Fr. Feeney’s list: http://fatherfeeney.wordpress.com/category/1955/ You will need to scroll down a little to the section “Christian Reminder”.
Incendiary and controversial: A Sephardic Jewish researcher’s views and conclusions. This is a very lengthy piece by Michael Bradley and is sure to cause cognitive dissonance for those who read it. Providing this link does not imply endorsement of his views. We want that readers will be aware of the existence of such controversies. (In May, 2010, Science (journal of the American Academy of Sciences) confirmed the presence of Neanderthal genes in modern humans based on recent research at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. To be precise, this is covered in the May 6, 2010 issue of Science.)
As a piece of trivia, here is part of a sentence from p. 74 illustrating Benjamin Freedman’s ability to use alliteration.
“proudly pandering pernicious propaganda for pecuniary profit and political power.”
Thank you for reading and thinking about this essay. Feel free to forward a link to this essay on to any friends or associates that you think would be interested in its subject matter.