Sid: One of the tools that’s going to help Christians understand Jews, and Jews understand Jesus is the debate that we recently had between, as far as I’m concerned the most well known foremost Rabbi in America Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, and the foremost and the best Messianic Jewish scholar in America Dr. Michael Brown. The two of them went head to head and who is the real kosher Jesus. And a question that many Christians don’t have a clue about and many Jewish people don’t have a clue about is “What happens to a Jewish person when they die from a rabbinic viewpoint.” Let’s see what Rabbi Shmuley Boteach had to say.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Excerpt: Their soul could go to this place of Gahanna for up to twelve months, is why we say the mourner prayer the caddish for eleven months. If you did it for twelve you’re saying, “Wow that was the worst person ever.” If you do it for eleven you’re showing that they had some redeeming graces. The vast majority go into a place called Heaven until such time as the resurrection of the dead will bring their soul into a body where we will live eternally in a perfected state here on this earth.
Sid: And what happens to a non Jew that dies?
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Excerpt: A non Jew who lives a righteous life goes to the same place as Jews, and the Jews have always believed that. Well before any kind of interfaith dialog began you do not have to be a Jew to be saved, we do not claim an exclusivity, or copyright on truth, we believe that all are God’s children.
Sid: Dr. Brown did I understand him right, the worst that happens to a Jewish person when they die is they suffer for eleven or twelve months. By the way, I asked the Rabbi, “What is the suffering?” The suffering is “Well, you see all the ways you have hurt other people throughout your whole life.” That’s sure a different view of the suffering I see about hell. The worst that happens is you live a horrible life like maybe an Adolph Hitler, and in twelve months after seeing all the bad things you did then you got to the same place that the righteous Jews go to. Did I understand that right?
Michael: Oh, you did, you can argue that in the first century there were Jews who believe that there was eternal punishment, and there are Talmudic traditions that speak of the totally wicked person goes down means to hell and never comes up. The totally righteous person goes straight up and everybody else which is a vast majority of the human race they go down for a little while and they come up. Well that they go down for a little while and come up is basically what traditional Judaism where Judaism as a whole embraces now. So the concept is the very worse person would suffer for a year, but no one is that bad so eleven months. That’s why you pray the mourners kahdish if your family member, like you did for your dad. If a family member dies, or your dad dies or something you go to the synagogue.
Sid: My dad use to believe that if I would do that for him he wouldn’t have to spend as many months suffering.
Michael: Yeah, it would help them out, it’s not exactly like that, but it’s similar to what Catholics believe about Purgatory, and pray for the dead and so on. Here’s the idea, it’s a great concept I’d love it if it was true, wonderful.
Sid: Everyone would become a Jew.
Michael: Wonderful if true, but where is that written, what’s the foundation for it? What do we do with Daniel 12:2 which is in the Hebrew Scriptures that says “Many who sleep in the dust of the earth?” Not meaning a majority but many meaning lots and lots and lots of people. “Many who sleep in the dust of the earth will rise; some to everlasting life and some to everlasting shame and contempt.” Number one there’s no middle ground in the Torah there was blessing or cursing there is no middle ground. In the Proverbs there is the righteous and wicked there is no middle ground so that’s the first thing. Everybody rises, people go one place or the other and it’s permanent. Whatever happens is permanent and irreversible, and you can’t change it. And even the idea of some of the suffering is that you feel guilt for what you did. I’m sure there’s guilt, guilt is one of the most horrific things, but there’s more than that, we suffer the judgment of God, we suffer the punishment of our sins. And Sid our sins are worse than we realize, human beings are more guilty in God’s sight than we realize. According to the Torah in Genesis 8 the reason God has not wiped out the earth again with a flood is not because we have improved but because our wickedness is such as a human race that He’d have to wipe us out all the time. So He said, “I’m never going to do that again because man’s thoughts are only evil continually from the days of his youth.” The fact of the matter is that we receive mercy from God all the time and don’t even know it. If we reject the ultimate mercy, Messiah’s death on our behalf, Messiah taking our sins, Messiah paying for our sins, if we reject that Sid we’re lost. What are we going to do stand before God one day and say “Well, I was pretty good, I didn’t commit adultery in my mind as much as the next guy; I didn’t hate my heart as much as the next guy; I wasn’t as selfish as the next guy.” No, no we’re guilty and you can drown in twenty feet of water or you can drown in a hundred feet of water either way you are still going to drown. If you reject God’s mercy we’re lost and there’s no way out and there’s no turning back and there’s no exit cart, zero.
Sid: You know Mike to me, the strongest apologetic that there is, that Jesus is the Messiah. I had an opportunity at this debate, because it was in context, I shared about my Orthodox Jewish Father, and I went to my father and the last thing in the world that he wanted to believe was that Jesus is the Messiah; the last thing that he wanted to believe. I read the 53rd chapter of Isaiah from a Tanach, Jewish scriptures that my Orthodox Rabbi inscribed something to me in the cover of it, and my Father said, “Stop, your reading about Jesus.” And I had a chance to show Rabbi Boteach that Tanach and he looked at it when you see the debate and you will see it…I had the opportunity to read most of Isaiah 53. You did a PhD on the 53rd chapter of Isaiah in reference to healing. Tell me the strongest reason in Isaiah 53 that it speaks of Jesus and not some of the apologetics’ that it’s really speaking about the Jewish people or something like that.
Michael: Really Sid from the beginning to end of the text it’s the strongest apologetic and we were both pleased that Rabbi Shmuley respectfully let you share all that because you were hosting a debate and he let you share all of that. He had his reaction, but you talk about a powerful intense moment, boy it was.
Sid: You know I felt like the Holy Spirit showed me how I’d be able to get away with it and the Holy Spirit was right but go ahead.
Michael: Yeah, and he had his reaction to it and the audience heard the whole thing and it was quite amazing. But you start in Isaiah 52:13 going on 53:12, and it speaks of one whose going to be so highly exalted that the Rabbis’ said He’s going to be more exalted than Abraham, Moses, or the angels. But first He’s going to be terribly disfigured and not even recognized as a human being He’s so disfigured.
Sid: Excuse me this was written 800 – 8,000 years before Jesus came to earth you know, this wasn’t written after the fact.
Michael: No, no Sid only 700.
Michael: That’s the point, 700 hundreds and hundreds of years before Jesus who could have imagined this so He’s going to be highly exalted, but He’s going to suffer terribly first and the message about Him when kings hear it, “Ahhh, I’ve never heard of such a thing.” And then it unfolds, “Who believes our report?” Who believes this message we’re carrying? He didn’t grown up significant, He’s like a nobody, Nazareth? Carpenters Son? That’s what they thought He lives in Nazareth, it’s nowhere land, just an obscure Guy. He grows up nothing special about Him. But then here’s what happens He ends up sitting in for us, He ends up taking our place. We think He’s dying because He’s guilty, here’s what the text says. We think He’s dying because He’s guilty, only afterwards do we realize, “Uhh, it was our sicknesses He was carrying, it was our sins He was baring, and by His wounds at the cost of his wounds there was healing for us.” And yes I did my PhD, and the Hebrew word for healing and it’s ancient Near Eastern context, restoration, restoration for the whole person at the cost of His wounds. And then it goes on to describe how He’s taken away the prisoner to the judgment how He goes as a lamb to the slaughter. And then it speaks of Him not only dying a violent death, the Hebrew is in the plural, there it’s violent death, but it even speaks of His grave and He ends up He’s appointed with the wicked but His tomb was with the rich. But it’s in detail the way it unfolds and then He’s going to see light, see the light of life as it reads in the Dead Sea Scrolls. In other words He’s going to resurrect, He’s going to have a future, He’s going to make Himself a guilt offering; He is going to make many righteous and God is going to reward Him because He interceded for sinners and was numbered with the transgressors. It is the clearest presentation of the gospel through a Jewish narrative anywhere in the entire Bible, and the revelation is we didn’t understand what was happening? Who does that speak of? Rabbis, sincere Rabbis, devoted Jews around the world.
Sid: It starts out with “Who will believe the report of the prophets?” I mean it’s even saying today there will be those that will not believe these straight forward reports of the prophets.
Michael: And then people say, “Well where, count your missionaries, rabbis say where does it say we have to believe? Well, Isaiah 53:1 “Me heh-ehmee l’shmu-ahtaynu”, “Whose believed our report?” This is the report we are now giving, who has believed it? And you have Zachariah 12:10 to bring in another text “v’hebaytu aylai et asher dokru” “that the Jewish people living in Jerusalem will look to one that they pierced.” The day will come when eyes of understanding will be open on a national level. But it says in 2nd Corinthians 3:1 “Any one,” (any Jewish person) turns to the Lord the veil is lifted.” All of us Jew and Gentile before we came to faith had a veil over our eyes, but there’s a specific promise when the Jewish people turn to the Lord the veil is lifted.
Sid: But there have been times in history that the veil has lifted on multitudes of Jewish people.
Michael: It’s lifting now Sid.
Sid: And especially in Israel and if Jesus hasn’t been your Messiah and Lord, repent because He’s coming back soon. Tell Him your sorry, believe the blood of Jesus is strong enough to wash away your sins. Ask Him to live inside of you and become your Lord…
Sid: I’ll tell you what, I have a dream and my dream is that Jewish people will think for themselves, not think what I say, not think what their Rabbis’ says, but get a hold of the only book that Muslims, Jews and Christians all are in 100% agreement come from God, at least that’s the way it use to be with Jewish people and that’s the Torah. And there are many Jewish people that don’t know that the Torah comes from God, but you get a hold of that one book and think for yourself! And that’s my dream, you don’t have to believe, but you must think for yourself on the most important question of your eternity. Now we had a debate with the foremost Messianic Jewish scholar in America, and probably the best known Orthodox Jewish Rabbi in America, Dr. Michael Brown, the Messianic Jew, and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach the Orthodox Rabbi. The subject “Who is the Real Jesus?” And I put the question to Rabbi Boteach and I said, “Rabbi we don’t have a temple today therefore according to Torah you can’t have a blood sacrifice unless it’s done in the temple; what do we Jews do about the blood today.” And this was His answer:
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach recorded answer. The Messiah in Judaism is someone who must fulfill the Messianic prophecies, and the idea that the Messiah comes along to absolve us of sin. As Mike was saying before that we need blood because the temple is no longer in existence. Mike is well aware of the fact that the most famous story of repentance in the entire Bible is a story of Jonah where not one drop of blood is even spilt. Jonah sends God, God sends Jonah to the city of Nineveh and Nineveh says, “You guy are all toast unless you repent and there’s not a single blood sacrifice, there is not a single animal brought, they repented of their ways. You don’t have to have blood sacrifices and the suffering servant. The idea of a suffering servant which you are quoting from Isaiah 53 clearly if you want to just get literal it can’t be Jesus because Jesus says on the cross, My God, My God why have you forsaken me both in Mark and in Matthew where it says there. “Whoever it speaking of goes silently to His death and doesn’t complain at all.”
Sid: All right we’re back in the studio now that was an excerpt from the debate. The most amazing, amazing…tension. We had unsaved Jewish people in the audience; we had Christians in the audience. I mean the video footage of the reactions and the tension that was going on it’s just like reading the New Testament. So Mike “How do you handle Jonah, no blood?”
Michael: God never commanded the Gentile nations to build the temple and to offer blood sacrifices that was the role of Israel as a priestly nation. The Gentile nations needed to repent and turn to God it was up to the Jews to be the priestly nation to offer sacrifices not only on their own behalf, but on the behalf of the sins of the world. There is even a Rabbinic Tradition that when the temple was being destroyed the second temple was being destroyed in the year 70 of this era, that one of the Rabbis said, “Foolish Romans, foolish gentiles who’s going to intercede for you now, whose going to do this for you if you are destroying the temple?” So Israel as the priestly nation offered the sacrifices, interceded between human beings and God, and the Gentiles, people of Nineveh and Syrians they just had to repent and return to God. God never gave them blood sacrifices. But here’s the thing, blood sacrifices are the heart and soul of the atonement system in the Torah. Read through the entire…
Sid: But wait a second Mike, there is mention of other sacrifices, other offerings besides blood sacrifices in Torah.
Michael: The fact of the matter is there’s one mention of flour offerings if someone was too poor to even bring an animal of a bird, but the point of fact the flour offering was still offered on the altar was added in, was thrown on top of the fire offerings, the blood sacrifices that were already there. And no Jew….
Sid: And so the foundation was always an animal sacrifice.
Michael: Yeah, what Jew in the world ever say “I have flour, I can make atonement I have flour?” It’s folly, the fact is the heart and soul, the foundation of the entire atonement system was blood sacrifices. Repentance is important, but go through the entire Torah and see how many times repentance or confession of sin is mentioned just a few. Blood sacrifices over and over. Go to the day of Atonement, the central day of atonement in the Biblical calendar for the Jewish people worldwide, to this day it’s centered on blood sacrifices to purge the tabernacle to cleans the people to atone for their sins; a sacrifice to carry the sins that went into the wilderness.
Sid: But what about Leviticus 17:11?
Michael: Leviticus 17:11 says plainly that God has given the blood on the altar because it’s the blood that makes atonement for our souls by reason of the life. In other words when the blood is drained out the life force is gone. So it is life for life as some rabbinic commentators understood. It is substitutionary I’m guilty, instead of me dying the blood sacrifice dies instead. So here’s the whole thing you take that away yeah repentance is still important, yes prayer is still important, yes the other things are important but you’ve taken away the heart and soul of the entire atonement system. And once those are taken away Sid there is no atonement either as the Jewish people, as the nation for 1,900+ years we have had no national atonement and God has no to us every Yom Kippur, every day of atonement for almost 2,000 years where God provided a better way. Isn’t it fascinating that the same one that said He would fulfill the law and the prophets, He would bring to fullness the things that they were speaking of and pointing to. Was also prophesied the destruction of the temple, so Jesus, Yeshua, the last and greatest prophet the Messiah and the one to whom the sacrificial system was pointing said “Take My life, I will be the ransom.” And point in fact as He was going to death when He was being tried He didn’t resist, when the scriptures say in Isaiah 53 “He went as a lamb to the slaughter.” He did, it was striking to everyone that He didn’t defend Himself that He didn’t try to fight, why? Because He came as a lamb, Sid there is atonement for our people; there is forgiveness for our people, and it is found in the perfectly righteous One. It says in Isaiah 53 “He would be an ah-shom, a guilt offering a reparation offering that He would take the place of the sins of the people. Isaiah 53:6 lays it out so plainly. The Hebrew begins with kulonu and it ends with kulonu, “All of us like sheep have gone astray each one has turned his own way and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of all of us.” He takes our sin when we turn to God in repentance God, wash me, God cleans me, give me a brand new heart, give me a brand new start that’s what happens through the power of Messiah’s blood.
Sid: Now the Rabbi raised the apologetic of Jesus when He was dying on the cross, he said, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”
Michael: Yeah, He’s pointing to Psalm 22, in saying those words He’s pointing us to Psalm 22 one of the most amazing Psalms written by David according to Psalm 22, but speaking of something more than David’s suffering. Some Rabbis’ say that it’s the parable of the suffering of the people of Israel through the centuries. Yeshua is saying “Look at this it’s a Psalm of an ideal righteous sufferer, it’s a Psalm of someone who comes to the jaws of death, the description there, it looks like a description of a crucified person. You read it and say, “Awe that sounds like a crucified person being described there and crucifixion it was devised hundreds of years later by the Persians.
Sid: So he was looking into the future when David wrote that.
Michael: Yeah, he’s speaking beyond, he’s speaking prophetically, he’s speaking poetically of his own suffering, but prophetically speaking beyond them. And here’s what’s amazing he get’s delivered from death and the deliverance is so great that he calls for all the ends of the earth to praise God, it even say that the ends of the earth will turn to God. Who died, what righteous one died, was delivered from the jaws of death and His deliverance from death is so profound that the ends of the earth turn to God, who else is that Sid? So Jesus hanging on the cross draws our attention to that Psalm, and the idea that He wouldn’t lift his voice to cry out. It’s talking about resisting arrest, it’s talking about resisting death clearly there in Isaiah 53. Like a Lamb going to slaughter, like a sheep before his shearers is dumb.
Sid: But why, what was the real reason at that moment that Jesus cried out that prophetic Psalm 22 by King David, “My God my God why have you rejected me?”
Michael: It gets us looking at the Psalm, number one, and number two it gets us to understand that at that moment He’s barring the guilt and the sin of the world. At that moment He is taking the punishment and the wrath that you and I deserve.
Sid: How could anyone bare the sins of the world? I mean that is beyond my comprehension.
Michael: Think of this, He and His Father enjoyed perfect fellowship from before the creation of the world.
Sid: He said that He didn’t do anything unless He saw His Father doing it.
Michael: He said, “The Fathers always with me because I only do what pleases Him. That’s how He lived, and now he is the one in the public way taking on our punishment, taking on our guilt, He did not become a sinful person; he took the penalty of our sin. Who can imagine what was happening in the heart of God towards His Son at that moment? Who can imagine it was not just crucifixion; who can imagine what Yeshua bore for us? And this is what I want our Jewish people to understand, we need a Messiah like Him; we need a Messiah who can identify within the midst of our suffering. We need a Messiah that’s not just high and lofty and going to come riding on a white horse one day. We suffered in Auschwitz people; we suffered in the crusades and the inquisitions of the pogroms, we’ve suffered through all of our history. We need to look at a Messiah that suffered like we did and more and yet was perfectly innocent; One that could say, I understand your suffering and I have the remedy for suffering because all suffering is ultimately do to us being estranged from God and in a fallen broken world and Messiah brings us back. Sid it’s the Messiah we need, it’s the Messiah of the scriptures.
Sid: He was sin-less, He was the only person that ever walked as a man sin-less. It says your sins have separated you from God. Therefore one sin would have separated Jesus from God, but the sins of the whole world, no wonder God couldn’t look at Him
Michael: Yeah, yeah and at that moment at that moment the feeling was of one being forsaken and abandoned by God. But that’s not the end of the Psalm it’s the beginning of the Psalm. And I wish that every Jewish person would read this. And in my book “The Real Kosher Jesus” I have a chapter on the secret of the suffering Messiah; and not just how Biblical this concept is, how Jewish this concept is.
Sid: Christians have never realized, read the New Testament through the eyes of the Jewish Paul, through the eyes of the Jewish Jesus. What an eye opener…
Sid: I have Dr. Michael Brown in the studio. Dr. Brown and I go back many many years, and I am so privileged to have been able to put together a debate between America’s Rabbi, an Orthodox Rabbi, Shmuley Boteach, and Dr. Michael Brown. He is the top Messianic Jewish scholar in the world as far as I’m concerned, on who is the “The Real Kosher Jesus?” The audience, the real studio audience, was on the edge of their seat, we had the best representative of the traditional Jewish community. I have to put it this way, as far as I’m concerned, the best representative of the real Jewish community. Because as far as I’m concerned you can’t be a true Jew, you can be a Jew, but you can’t be a true Jew unless you know the Jewish Messiah and He lives inside of you. You can’t understand scripture unless you have the Spirit of God and the Word of God with the scriptures written down in them. Now one of the things that the Orthodox Rabbis feel strongly about is they have been entrusted as the true teachers of Torah, and you can’t understand Torah unless you understand the oral law, or the Talmud. The problem is this is much more than Moses got if he got a moral law at all. How big is the oral law today Dr. Brown?
Michael: Oh, tens of thousands of volumes.
Sid: So you think Moses got that on Mt. Sinai?
Michael: Well, see the Jewish view would be that he got the principals of interpretation and specifics of interpretation so that he could transmit those on. The problem is we don’t find the evidence of that, the problem is out of all the thousands of rabbinic and Jewish laws and traditions that have been developed over the centuries is the Rabbis have zealously sought to preserve what they understood was Torah life. The fact is you don’t find God ever dealing with those in the scripture.
Sid: Is the Talmud mentioned in the New Testament or the Old Testament at all?
Michael: Oh, the Talmud itself, the Babylonian Talmud is the primary one, is put in writing in the fifth and sixth century so about 500 years after the time of Jesus.
Sid: But is the oral law mentioned in the New Testament or the Old Testament?
Michael: The traditions are mentioned, Jesus speaks about the traditions of the Fathers and sometimes…
Sid: I thought that came from “Fiddler on the Roof.” Go ahead.
Michael: No the traditions of the Fathers, here’s the deal some traditions are fine, some traditions are great; the fact going to a synagogue that was a tradition Jesus went to the synagogue that’s fine. Not all traditions are wrong, but what Jesus dealt with was this when the traditions took authority over the Word. He said for example in Mark 7 to some of the Jewish teachers “You have a fine way of setting aside the Word of God with you your traditions.” Every church has traditions, every religious group has traditions, every human being has traditions, that’s fine, but when the traditions take on a divine authority that they don’t have and when the traditions come in conflict with the Word of God that’s where the challenge is. Sid, think about this and I lay this out in depth in my book “The Real Kosher Jesus.” Yeshua has a conflict with many of the religious leaders. Rabbi Shmuley my dear friend, says “No, that didn’t really happen, Jesus was a Rabbi, he was a Pharisee, the Rabbis loved Him, they were all in harmony they were all in harmony it was the correct High Priest and the Romans that had a problem with Jesus,” okay. And yeah the corrupt High Priest did and so did the Romans but He had a lot of conflict even with the Pharisees.
Sid: Of course!
Michael: Why? Because He was a Prophet, just like Jeremiah had a conflict. When Jeremiah spoke to the destruction of the first temple they didn’t applaud him, they were ready to kill him. And you have text like Jeremiah 26 that say that all the other prophets and all the priests and all the political establishments they all wanted to kill him. That’s what happens when a prophet speaks a prophet speaks with divine authority, and unless we understand Jesus, Yeshua, to be not just a Rabbi, but to be a prophet sent by God, the last and greatest prophet, the prophet like Moses and even greater than Moses. Unless we see Yeshua like that we don’t understand the New Testament. And the Rabbis need to say “Oh, He was the one speaking with divine authority, we had our traditions, He was speaking with divine authority. So let me ask you a question, when you read through the Old Testament, when you read throught the Torah does it say, “Well Moses said this and Aaron said this and they had a debate?” No, the Lord to spoke to Moses and Moses spoke to Aaron. Do you hear the prophets say “Well, Isaiah said this and Jeremiah said this and Zechariah said this and so we are going to debate. No, No “Thus says the Lord!”
Sid: And that’s what the Rabbinic writings, the Talmud is all about the debates. One Rabbi says this, another Rabbi says this, and the majority of the Rabbis’ say, but this is the conclusion because this is the answer. So obviously half the Rabbis’ weren’t inspired and half were based on their standard.
Michael: And there’s a view that says that they’re both inspired because they’re both the Words of God because they’re both streams of tradition. You say, “Okay that’s a very nice concept, but number one it’s self contradictory.”
Sid: Let’s see what Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has to say about that question during the debate on “What is the Oral Tradition.”
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach during debate excerpt: It’s very easy to prove that the oral tradition was given to Moses at Sinai, very easy I’ll just use a single proof. The Bible says that on the Feast of Tabernacles, in Hebrew we call it Sukkot you have to take a pr’ate Ha-dar, you have to take a choice fruit, and you have to take other things that go from the ground and you have to wave it. This is where the tradition of the lulav of the palm comes from, which survives in Christianity today with Palm Sunday etc. When Jesus is welcomed they said, “Hoshanna” Hoshanna is part of our tradition of taking the lulav. Now listen to what it says, “You have to take a choice fruit.” So imagine Moses comes down, let’s say Mike is right, Torah doesn’t say anything about an oral interpretation of the law. So Moses comes down from Sinai and he says “Hey, I was just talking to God and He said, “On Tabernacle you have to take a choice fruit.” And the Jews look at him and they say, “Which fruit?” And Moses said, “I don’t know He did not say, there is no oral tradition.” Now imagine what the synagogue would have looked like that Sunday! It would have looked like farmers market. One guy hears a choice fruit, that to him is a cluster of grapes, he’s waving grapes. The next guy says I love pomegranates. Another guy with his kids holding a giant watermelon you know trying to wave it, but interestingly you will see that all Jews use a citron, they use an etsrog in Hebrew as that choice fruit because of course it was interpreted otherwise the whole Torah is mumble jumble it makes absolutely no sense.
Sid: Okay but the question was, “Where in Torah does it say there is an oral law?”
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: Oh, it says in Deuteronomy it says that you must listen to all of the sages who instruct you in that day.
Sid: Well, Dr. Michael Brown why don’t you respond on this radio interview to that. I’ll tell you that was such an eye opening debate for Christians, and for Jews. In the audience we had Christians, and we had Jews that did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. And we had a lot of fruit from that debate, but go ahead.
Michael Brown: Yeah, and again Rabbi Shmuley is doing a great job of representing the traditional Jewish viewpoint there that the Torah is given as ambiguous. It says “Don’t work on the Sabbath there is a death penalty if you work,” but it doesn’t tell you what work is and everything has to have these detailed laws. Well, the problem is (snickering) when you get into Rabbinic laws it’s not just a little clarification it’s hundreds of laws, it’s thousands of laws it takes years to master what the laws are. Yet God just spoke it to Israel and they said “Yes, we’ll obey.” Theres no evidence of those thousands of laws that are within the Torah. So first thing when Rabbi Shmuley said, “The Torah says “Follow the Sages.” No it doesn’t say that that’s a misuse. We talked about it yesterday, it’s a misuse of Deuteronomy chapter 17 which is just speaking of the court system that God would establish. When you have a legal dispute you go there and they settle it. It wasn’t saying that the Rabbis can tell you what time you get up in the morning and what to pray, how to pray it, what words to say.
Sid: Alright if that is they’re authority, if that establishes their authority and it’s a misquote then what about the whole structure of Rabbinic Judaism as far as influencing our Jewish people?
Michael: It has exerted an authority over our people that for all the good it’s done in preserving our people, and for all be beauty of the traditions it’s ultimately been detrimental in terms of the Rabbis taking on authority God never gave. Sid, “How could that be for the good of our people when…”
Sid: As far as I’m concerned Mike, Rabbinic Judaism has put a picket fence around Jewish people to prevent Jewish people from thinking for themselves as to who Jesus is, and that outweighs all the good that they’ve accomplished.
Michael: Rabbinic Judaism would basically say that we in this generation are less than the people of the last generation and they were less than the people of the last. There’s a Talmudic tradition that says “If this generation is men, then the former generation was angels; and if this generation is donkey’s the former generation was men.” In other words each generation is further away from the revelation. So Sid “Who are you and I to argue with the Rabbis’ because they learned it from the generations past, the generations past settled it and therefore…” Sid you don’t think for yourself of who Jesus is because the Rabbis who were there rejected Him and that settles it.
Sid: Yeah, but all the Rabbis that accepted Him, in other words some Rabbi whose name I don’t even know said Jesus wasn’t the Rabbi, another Rabbi whose name I don’t even know said, “Jesus was the Messiah.” And I am living my life based on some Rabbi whose name I don’t even know that might have been on the wrong side of the fence.
Michael: But Sid your thinking too individualistically, you see you have to think as part of the people of Israel, and the people of Israel have the traditions and the laws. Ultimately here’s what’s so funny and it’s kind of ironic, there was no study tradition more intense than the Rabbinic study tradition, you talk about people using their minds and thinking day and night and wrestling out knotty problems, but you must think within the walls, you cannot think outside of those walls. And for any Jewish person listening especially traditional Jew you know there’s some times you questioned the Rabbis’ you know there’s some contradictions you see, you know there’s some things that don’t line up right. Could it be that these Rabbis as sincere as they are, are wrong on the most fundamental thing of all, who is the Messiah? Could it be they’re wrong? Oh yeah, use your mind just within these parameters if you dare think outside of the traditions…awe now there’s something matter with you.
Sid: But when you go back to that conservative Rabbi that I was talking about on Monday, but this Conservative Rabbi had the debate with a Christian Minister, when you go back to him and he says the foundation of God that has been given to us we know is the book of Genesis, and he tosses it and says “It’s not inspired, you can believe anything you want.”
Michael: Hey which Rabbis then the Conservative Rabbis’, the Reformed Rabbis’, the Orthodox Rabbis’, the Ultra Orthodox Rabbis’. You say “Well they all agree that Jesus is not the Messiah,” isn’t that interesting they have so many other disagreements could it be they got this wrong?”
Sid: Well my guest is red hot for the Messiah, that’s an understatement for Dr. Michael Brown. As far as I’m concerned he is the most outstanding Messianic Jewish scholar on the face of the map today. He was handpicked by God for this assignment; when he became a Jewish believer in Jesus as a young man he had such an encounter with the Lord just like I did, that no one could talk him out of his faith even his Rabbi. But his rabbi really floored him one day when he challenged him on “Young man do you speak Hebrew?” Tell me about that Mike.
Michael: Yeah the Rabbi and I became friends he was the new Rabbi of the Conservative Synagogue where I’d been Bar Mitzvahed. So I’m sixteen years old, seventeen years old I’m reading the Bible day and night. I’m praying and he’s fresh out of seminary he’s about ten or eleven years older than me and he challenges me “Look, you don’t know Hebrew, how can you talk to us how can you explain; it would be like a kid who knows 2 + 2 = 4 is going to lecture a Physics Professor, or someone like calculus
Sid: He’s finished, he’s become a Rabbi, who are you?
Michael: Right, he learned it from his father, who learned it from his father even though he was conservative and wasn’t really Orthodox, his upbringing was more Orthodox so I told him well, in the meantime I’ve got the Strong Concordance and in the back of the Strong’s Concordance there’s a Hebrew dictionary. I remember what he said to me, “Meantime, shmeen time, if you can’t read the Hebrew it doesn’t mean anything. And then he brings me to meet Ultra Orthodox Rabbis in Brooklyn. Now I’m a believer at this point about a year and a half, I’ve read the Bible the King James through cover to cover about five times, I’ve been memorizing twenty verses a day for at least six months so I’ve got about 4,000 verses memorized; I’ve got the Bible down cold.
Sid: And you know you’ve experientially come to know Jesus, you know Him.
Michael: He’s transformed me, I was shooting Heroin, I was living in rebellion, I was lost. The Lord turned my life around there is undeniable that He sought me out, that He convicted me and He got hold of me and He turned me around. Somebody asked me the other day when I got off drugs did I go through rehab? I said, “No, it was basically instant, God got hold of me and I was set free and that was basically that.” So I knew that and I had a wonderful fellowship with the Lord; I would meet with Him and I would pray, and when I would be in His presence the joy, it was undeniable, not just what He did, but who He was in my life.
Sid: So what did you do with this challenge?
Michael: Well, the Rabbis, these Ultra Orthodox Rabbis they take out their Hebrew Bible, now remember they’ve been reading this since they were little kids and their pointing letter for letter because the little Hebrew I learned when I was Bar Mitzvahed I had forgotten. So they’re pointing letter for letter like they said, “Were not lying to you, I felt like a little kindergartner; I letter by letter I thought I’ve got to learn this so. When I started college and Sid to be honest I only went to college in those days to honor my parents, to honor my father in particular because they wanted me to go and I still had my hippy mentality “Who needs college and all that.” So I said, “Of course I’ll honor you, I’ll go” I go to college and I thought I should start taking Hebrew, but they had modern Hebrew, I didn’t want to speak Hebrew I wanted to read Biblical Hebrew and they’re pretty different. So I got a Biblical Hebrew Grammar, a Rabbi recommended it and I taught myself Biblical Hebrew and I thought, “You know, I’m really interested in studying this some more so when I was in college I said, “I should learn Arab because that’s like a sister language. But the New Testament was written in Greek, I should work on that, but Latin is also an important language. But you know when you do academic studying you need to learn German and but Yiddish that’s like our family language and my Dad spoke Yiddish before he spoke English so I ended up taking six languages at the same time in college which wasn’t the smartest thing. But I went on the NYU I did my Masters and PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures. Ultimately worked with about twelve thirteen different languages at different levels of proficiency.
Sid: I have to believe your knowledge of Hebrew because of all these side languages that you mastered some dozen or so that you speak, read or write put you in a class beyond most Rabbis even.
Michael: You see the Rabbis would be massively fluent in the Hebrew literature in the related Aramaic literature and the Talmud, massively fluent within the walls of their tradition. In other words if their scientific study of the text if there’s a better way to read Biblical Hebrew there’s a larger science to it. So by learning the surrounding languages and culture really enables you to do it and yeah I love to study, I love to study to this day I don’t work it Babylonian today as I used to but I still love the study.
Sid: Did you get that Babylonian?
Sid: Babylonian, ha it sounds like Babel to me.
Michael: Yeah, well these are amazing languages to study and it’s exciting and all of that, but the fact of the matter is I want it to, it was personnel integrity I knew what God had done in my life.
Sid: Okay here’s my question to you, the same the Rabbi had for you. Yes you had an experience with Jesus; a Rabbi would call it an emotional experience. Yes, you found a lot of scriptures that look like Jesus is the Messiah. But you don’t know Hebrew. Now after having studied Hebrew, studying eleven other Semitic languages, memorizing most of the Old Testament, I might add in Hebrew. Is there anything that causes you to doubt that Jesus is the only way to God, the only Messiah of Israel, the only Messiah of the world?
Michael: Nothing, nothing, zero, nothing the more I’ve studied the more I’ve loved God with all my heart and mind. The more I’ve studies Sid the surer and surer I’ve become. God is my witness, any debate that I’ve ever done, any challenge I’ve ever had from Rabbi for years and decades I never, ever, ever worry for a split second that anything is going to be raised that would cause me to question one iota of my faith. It’s not just a matter of He changed my life; it’s a matter of He is the One who is spoken of. I haven’t memorized quite that much of scripture but I’ve been in it over and over and over and over and taking all the challenges and I’ve no question. I have less question about Jesus the Yeshua being the Messiah than I even question I’m sitting here in the room with you; it is the very bedrock and foundation of my life based on truth of scripture Sid.
Sid: Okay, let’s go to the debate, this was a debate between one of the most outstanding Orthodox Jewish Rabbis’ in America, many people even consider him America’s Rabbi. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and Dr. Michael Brown a top, top Messianic Jewish scholar if not the top in the world. And we’re going to ask him what well, you’ll hear my question.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and Dr. Michael Brown Debate excerpt:
Sid: This is one of the perhaps most important questions I’m going to ask this evening and I’ll stop with Rabbi Boteach. In the Jewish community, and I was raised in a traditional Jewish family the Rabbi is highly revered, he is our source of understanding of Judaism. What is the authority of the Rabbis’, where do the Rabbis’ get there authority to be in such a place, honored place before the Jewish Community?
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: First of all I guess you don’t pray at my Synagogue. It’s high reverence, God willing hopefully. Well, Judaism, thank you at least someone chuckled at that. Judaism is a religion of learning. Torah means instruction, it doesn’t even really mean law, it means instruction. Torah from the word ho-rah to instruct, to guide. Because we believe that God gives us His law, the Torah to help us guide our lives and the Rabbis are looked up to because they are the people who study the Torah.
Sid: Mike, I wasn’t satisfied with his answer, where do the Rabbi’s get their authority over the Jewish Community?
Michael: Basically this would be the concept that’s really we’re seeking to convey. When you have a law based religion, and you believe that God wants you to live your life according to every detail of what He’s given in the Torah. Then the Torah teachers are the ones that are going to want to have the authority because you have to go to them, what does this text mean, how am I to live this out? And there’s a text in Deuteronomy 17 which is basically been misapplied in the rabbinic tradition. The text in Deuteronomy 17 says that “if you have some legal dispute, let’s say that it’s an issue of bloodshed or something so you go to the court, the highest court in your area, it could be the Levitical priest, the judges whoever’s there and you share the case and whatever their verdict is you have to obey you can’t violate it. They say you go left you go left, go right whatever the verdict is you have to obey what they say.” Well it’s the court system, well basically that authority from Deuteronomy 17 has now been given to the Rabbis, so if the Rabbis say go left you go left, if the Rabbi say go right you go right. If the Rabbi’s say Jesus is the Messiah, he’s the Messiah. If the Rabbis say he’s not the Messiah He’s not the Messiah. The Text has nothing to do with the Rabbis, nor was that authority ever given to man.
Sid: Well, even beyond that in the Talmudic writings they basically say the only voice of God on earth, this is the way I understand it you correct me, the only real voice of God on earth is the majority of the Rabbis.
Michael: Right basically they would say the spirit that was on the prophets is now on the Rabbis, and you’ve got to be pragmatic Sid, the Supreme Court comes to a five forward decision that’s the law.
Sid: So if a voice from heaven says go right and the majority of the rabbis say go left what happens?
Michael: The Torah is no longer in heaven; the Torah has been given to us to work out.
Sid: So there can’t be a voice from heaven?
Michael: It would get over ruled. Now here’s what I believe Sid.
Sid: Oy Vey, which loosely means Oy Vey.
Michael: What I believe though is it’s easier to say the voice would be overruled until the voice actually speaks.
Sid: Okay, so the way I look at it Mike, the Rabbis do not have authority over the Jewish people from heaven. The Rabbis do not have authority over the Jewish people, period! Correct me if I’m wrong.
Michael: Here’s how I look at it, they have been caretakers, they have been shepherds, they have been fine people that have wanted to guard Israel, the Jewish people and keep them in what they believe is the Jewish calling, to be obedient to Torah and tradition.
Sid: That’s good by the way that’s preserved our people in a sense.
Michael: Right and I appreciate that, however, when there’s a conflict between what the Rabbis say and what the scripture says, when there’s a conflict of what the Rabbis say and what the Holy Spirit is saying, when there’s a conflict between what the Rabbis are saying and what the Messiah is saying, it is incumbent that every Jew respectfully say to the Rabbis, “I respect you but I obey God and His word,” period.
Sid: Doesn’t it bother you what this wonderful friendship you’ve established with this rabbi that if he were to die in the state he is right now he would not go to heaven. Does that brother you?
Michael: Of course it bothers me deeply.
Sid: Well, I don’t get it, if there was a one percent chance that what we’re saying is true, it’s everything, it’s all of eternity. How can he and others be so blind?
Michael: Well, they look at church history; they see a great misrepresentation of Jesus.
Sid: Oh, I’ll tell you what we got to pick up here on tomorrows broadcast.