A Critical, Orthodox Review and Synopsis of :

Jesus the Pharisee. A New Look at the Jewishness of Jesus
, Paulist Press, New York 1985, Rabbi Harvey Falk

Introduction to Review

"Potential" Criticisms of Rabbi Harvey Falk’s Book

Summary of his book

Pharisees: There were more than one school of?

Mission to Spread "Existing" Noahide Laws: They Were Not A New Religion

Bet Shammai Pharisees Hire Siccari (Zeolots)

Talmudic References

Time Magazine Article







































A Critical Review of Harvey Falk’s book: “Jesus the Pharisee”: 
An Observant Jewish Review

In this book, Rabbi Harvey Falk’s translates Rabbi Yaqov Emden’s letter to the Polish Rabbinate [from the original Hebrew into English]. I happen to agree with most of Rabbi Falk’s conclusions, identifications and research. However, some of what he asserts is speculative (IE: like his identity of people in the Talmud as Essenes). However, this identification is hard to deny, and does make sense (in my personal opinion) - when seen in the Talmudic light. In addition, the implications of this attribution are significant (in my humble opinion).

In his book, I was able to verify most of his Talmudic references. Many times, I had to search old Talmudic MSS, in order to circumvent Christian censorship of the past. On the surface, Rabbi Falk appears to draw from these old texts.  If one is unfamiliar with the issue of Talmudic censorship, they may be unable to correctly verify his references - in a minority of cases. In the end, I only had one major issue with the book - which was the apologetic way he "legally categorized" modern Christianity. All in all, this book definitely caught my attention - and even enlightens the area of Dead Sea scroll scholarship (in my humble opinion).


Potential Criticisms

During the review, we categorized SIX issues that aroused our caution. However, they need not make us blind to what is being written, as the facts are (indeed) verifiable. In addition, many of the so-called criticisms are easily debunked: 


This work is shockingly published by a Catholic (missionary branch) of publishers called the Paulist Press. After visiting their web site, one receives no information about this book (other than that it existed). In addition, it is not listed for sale anywhere on the site (any more?). This (by itself) made me wonder why the original publisher is no longer offering it for sale. Of course, books that describe how Catholics should missionize to Jews (for conversion) still did appear on this very site - the last time we checked! As an observant ("Orthodox") Jew, one can only speculate on why Rabbi Falk chose this publishing house for his work. How can anyone not immediately wonder: is this a legitimate work? Did a Rabbi really write this? Or is this just another piece of missionary propaganda, pushed by the Catholic Church itself?
[1] .

Apparently, the Holy See views Rabbi Falk’s work as a weak but benevolent, “non-historical/non-critical” attempt to bridge the gap between the two faiths. How ironic and oxymoronic that they would use the terms (non-historic and non-critical). Ironically, it may turn out to be one of the most historically accurate (modern day) pieces to have ever been produced by a modern Catholic publishing house.

The Holy See secondarily asserts that the Rabbi’s “attempt” to place “Yehoshuah” (i.e.: JESUS) squarely in the Pharisaic camp is doomed to fail. Apparently, they claim to have a monopoly on "scientifically critical" investigative reporting. And while they may not appreciate the science of Rabbi Falk's methods, one can only wonder how they can prematurely conclude failure, when they themselves have never scientifically published anything scientific on this SPECIFIC matter (Jesus as Pharasaic) - that proves otherwise. In all honesty, they really can't, because they don't swim and breath Talmud. Thus, I must respectfully and strongly disagree and reject both of the assertions - which ignore too many facts.

Regarding the second assertion: the existence of two (or more) schools of Pharisees is in an undeniable, provable fact – which is seldom acknowledged in the Christian world of Theology - least of all by the Church. Yehoshuah’s comments are undeniably and specifically aligned with the Bet-Hillel (BH) camp of Pharisaic thought - which our heritage and tradition comes from. Even as Rabbi Falk meticulously identifies Yehoshuah as a “BH” Pharisee, he goes through great pains to show his simultaneous association with other 1st century groups too - which isn't surprising. Thus, I am perplexed by what is bothering the Holy See in this instance. Perhaps the Holy See fears that the Christian public is not smart enough to accept this fact - without being effected by its significance?  Bahhhhhhh. If that is the case, I give more credit to my Christian brothers and sisters - who can decide for themselves.

Regarding the Holy See's first assertion, that this work was not historical or critical: all I will say is this:

Rabbi Falk’s work could have been better organized, defined and formatted; however, Rabbi Falk does list his all of his sources, while backing up his thesis with specific examples. So I just didn't think the Vatican's criticism of being "more traditional than scientific" was warranted. After all, he clearly didn't intend to write a Doctoral dissertation on the subject. On the other hand, he is presenting undeniable facts - which have been ignored or under-stressed by the Holy See for over a thousand years.



Was this book actually some conspiratorial effort that was designed to soften the traditional Jewish stance against a Christian (Messianic) candidate like Yehoshua (Jesus)? No. Definitely not.

Was the Rabbi just trying to reach out to Christians? Well, he does admit as much throughout the book. But I don't see him stretching our faith (with the one exception of Christianity's legal designation), to accomplish this. One of the stated purposes of Rabbi Falk’s work is to improve relations between the two faiths. I am sure this is going to be accomplished with this book.

NOTE: In general, I am operating with the ‘Maimonides principle’ in mind. Everything needs to be verified. However, the truth can still culled from some very unlikely sources (like a Catholic publisher publishing an Orthodox Rabbi).

According to a Time Magazine article on this subject, “Falk, 53, who had studied at the Academy for Higher Learning and Research in Monsey, N.Y., was intrigued when he came across this document [the letter of Rabbi Yaqov Emden]  in 1974, and it led to his decade of research on Jesus... It is Falk's belief that Orthodox Jews will slowly enter inter-religious discussions, in part because the "Christian world is asking us…Orthodox Rabbi Harvey Falk of Brooklyn believes that much inter-religious tension need never have existed at all. His current book, Jesus the Pharisee: A New Look at the Jewishness of Jesus, just issued by a Roman Catholic publisher (Paulist Press; 175 pages), contends that Jews and Christians alike fail to grasp Jesus's ties to the competing Jewish factions of his time. Christians, says Falk, have misunderstood some of the teachings of Jesus, while Jews have been needlessly hostile toward "Yeshua ha Notzri" (Jesus of Nazareth). Falk's book offers a provocative and controversial theory on Christian origins.



It's a valid question - especially for us Jewish folks. After all, what kind of observant Rabbi would go out on such a limb, by writing such a controversial book - with such a controversial publisher. For many, this is pure shtuyot (an utter waste of time). So why bother? For many years, I was not able to contact “Rabbi” Harvey Falk, in order to verify his actual attendance at Yeshiva Torah VaDaat and Midrash Elyon. In fact, for many years, I was unable to verify his existence at all. However, at this point, I have heard from enough sources to know that he was indeed the real deal. In 2009: Someone claiming to be Rabbi Harvey Falk’s grandson contacted me last year, and said that Rabbi Falk had recently died. I believe he mentioned an accident, but I may be remembering incorrectly. He said that Rabbi Falk never stopped receiving flack (from our Jewish community) over this publication. In the end, I surmise that Rabbi Falk kept falling back on Rabbi Emden - as the source for his arguments - when faced with overwhelming flack. Either way, as far “as little old me” is concerned, this person was definitely a real Orthodox Rabbi! As recently as 2011, I've re-confirmed his existence through a non-Jewish brother too, who remembers his speaking engagement. According to this source: "He spoke at a special joint meeting meeting we had at SUNY Stony Brook between the Roman Catholic Campus Ministry and The Hillel Foundation at Stony Brook. Case closed." After all this, I conclude he most certainly did exist! Case closed on this issue.


According to one renown Hebrew scholar (who shall remain anonymous), Rabbi Falk’s translation (into English) of Rabbi Yaqov Emden’s letter may contain minor distortions. It should be noted that these issues have ZERO to do with his Rabbi Falk's main thesis, but has everything to do with the dogmatic transmission of Rabbinic Judaism. The problems appear in the following instances:

Translation Issues in the book: Words like “fornication” (should be forbidden relations), “blood” (should be murder) and “strangled things” (should have instead been a clear reference to eating living things) cause problems in the dissemination of the Noahide Laws. These so-called translation errors appear on page 19 of his book. However, in these instances, he is clearly quoting the New Testament’s own reference (translation) of the Noahide Laws. Whoever said the NT is accurate? This is easily seen and corrected in the mind of most readers. The proof that Rabbi Falk was aware of this problem appears in Chapter 5, where he “more accurately” defines the Noahide laws correctly (when referencing Jewish sources). However, in his effort to be kind to our Gentile brothers, he probably held back criticizing the (English Translation) of the New Testament, where most versions portray an inaccurate definition of the Noahide Laws. As Jews, our obligation is (first and foremost) to accurately spread these laws. Perhaps he should have looked for (and translated) a more ancient (reconstructed) version of the New Testament, to be clearer and more accurate? You can decide.


CATEGORIZATION OF MODERN CHRISTIANITY: NOT IDOLATRY? This was disturbing. Of course, he is not the first to present a view of Christianity that is more apologetic. And he is sure to quote others, who did the same thing. However, he does mention the RMb"M (Maimonides), who clearly documents (post 135ce) Christianity as a forbidden form of Idolatry. He really should have been straighter about this. Obviously, Rabbi Falk based his ideas on the most lenient opinion he could find, to make his theory flow to all our brothers and sisters. Perhaps he did this in the name of peace, because our brothers wouldn't be as open to listen (otherwise). 


SOME ORTHODOX JEWS ARE OFFENDED: Some of my fellow Jews say that this type of book besmirches the memory of great Rabbis. I don’t see that - not even a little bit. Unless of course, you are steeped in an isolated (previously persecuted) section our faith, that can't handle speaking about this subject honestly at all. Personally, I just can't throw the baby out with the bath water any longer. Apparently, Rabbi Falk couldn't do it either.


With all this in mind, I shall now give you a brief summary of what appears in this book. You can draw whatever conclusions you choose from this. In addition, I have included additional information from Church historians, which collaborates or expands much of what the Rabbi states. Warning: This is not an exhaustive study or summary of this book. If you want that, you must buy and read it yourself.




Summary of Jesus the Pharisee: By Rabbi Harvey Falk

The name of the book is “Jesus the Pharisee,” which was written by an Orthodox Rabbi named Harvey Falk. According to the book, he attended Yeshiva Torah vaDaat, in addition to Medrash Elyon in Monsey, NY. It looks like his specialty was Talmudic studies. These two yeshivot are legendary institutions in the American Torah world, with the likes of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein involved with them.

This book represents one of the few Orthodox sources to ever discuss the real historical “Yehoshua.” However, there are (were) others. 

According to historical Church history, the actual person “Yehoshua” is quite different (in many significant ways) than the person described in the modern “New Testament”. Unfortunately, many Jewish & Christian sources take today’s version of the “New Testament” (at its word) on all the historical details of his life, in terms describing a historic picture of this person’s actual life. I personally think this is a huge mistake for sincere scholars and truth seekers alike.

My objective here is to present a basic summary of the book. As someone who has read the entire book, I will take the liberty to interject my own comments. However, I will not attempt to prove or disprove Rabbi Harvey Falk’s thesis. The only exception will be if (and when) the book veers away from Torah al fi RaMb”M (according to Maimonides). In addition, I will explore and interweave relevant information provided by Church historians, which is so often ignored or unknown. I am only doing this as background information – in the assumption that most of his thesis could be sound.

THEME: The so-called “hypocrites” described in the New Testament were “Bet Shammai” Pharisees. To turn around, and ascribe these very same labels to modern Jews (who come from Bet Hillel Pharisees who existed at that time) is a betrayal of everything the real Yohoshuah (“Jesus”) stood for.

Historical Research & Summary (Some of this includes Netsari research not discussed in Rabbi Falk’s book)

The Netzarim (original Jews who followed Torah law and chose “Yehoshuah” as their messianic figure) were most likely a simple beit-Hillel (House of Hillel) group of Pharisees, who were opposed to a corrupt beit-Shammai (House of Shammai) group of Pharisees. The Bet Shammai group was dominant from about 30 BCE to 70 CE). This is not to say that the original Rabbi Shammai (who died in 30 CE) was a bad guy, as Rabbi Falk constantly differentiates between him and his later followers (Beit Shammai). In ancient traditional Jewish sources, Rabbi Shammai is a righteous man - even though some of his followers  eventually became corrupt, and were associated with the murderous Sicarri (zealots) - who caused serious problems later on down the line. Whereas the peace loving Bet Hillel group taught that non-Jews who lived righteously (ie: specifically followed the Seven Noahide Laws) had a share in the world to come, the Bet Shammai group taught otherwise. Eventually, Bet Hillel came back to power (after 70 CE), and the law of Judaism has always gone according to the original Rabbi Hillel.

One of his critical points is that there were two different prevalent categories of Pharisees (although there may have been more). This undeniable fact is usually overlooked by non-Jews - in the reading of their “New Testament.” The communication of this fact (to our Christian brothers) may (in the end) be the greatest contribution of his entire work. Besides Talmudic documentation, this fact is extrapolated through studies of the earliest Dead Sea scrolls – which illuminate the disputes that began between these two schools at a very early stage (before the Common Era).

Thus, the portrayal of Jews as “evil Pharisaic hypocrites” - as described in the New Testament – can not possibly represent a fair or historically accurate understanding of the Pharisees. Assuming Yehoshuah was real, it is no wonder he was upset with these Beit Shammai Pharisees!

According to Rabbi Falk, the beit-Hillel Pharisees opposed the beit-Shammai Pharisees who ruled at that time.[3] Again, this is supported in Talmudic & pre-Talmudic literature. I believe this can also be demonstrated through Dead Sea scroll references too. If I understand Rabbi Falk correctly, the “beit-Shammai Pharisees” controlled the Sanhedrin.


Filling In Gaps

According to early Church historians, the “Netzarim” (first, original followers of Yehoshuah) had absolutely nothing to do with the Roman oriented “Notsrim” (who were a competing, counterfeit group that would eventually become the Church we know today). This probably started when some of the “God-Fearers” group at that time had (in their ranks) people who used the current messianic belief of the original Netzarim leader (Yehoshuah) to create a new system of belief which tried to synchronize Judaism with their own pre-existing (and many times idolatrous) belief system. This eventually became the Church. According to early church history, t
he Netzarim (the first pro-Torah followers of the oral Sinai Laws) of Yehoshua and other Jews of the Evionim / Ebionites and similar sects described by Eusebius, were eradicated by the Roman/Gentile Church in 333 CE.  (Belarmino Bagatti-The Church From the Circumcision p.14/ Eutychius Patrol. gr[ae]c., v 111, c. 1012-13)

Back To The Book

Anyway, beit-Shammai (IE: the school of Shammai) only had control for about 100 years (I believe this is the number). Once Beit-Hillel regained control and rescinded the “18 ordinances” of beit-Shammai, the original Netzarim (see above) really didn't have any purpose (no more than any other Messianic oriented group within Orthodox “Legal” Judaism). So, they become rather minor. Soon after that… they ceased to be organized.

In my research, what was left of original followers of Yehoshuah (Netzarim) was wiped out by the Roman-influenced Notsrim (IE: the proto Church) for following 3 reasons (as sited in Church history above):

1)   They probably had many constituents from the house of David-- and the Romans didn't want any new leaders popping up to oppose them. I can’t prove the Davidic lineage of Yehoshuah; however, it does appear very likely (if he existed). The Jewish legend about the Roman soldier (as Yehoshuah’s father) has no basis in true Talmudic scholarship. In fact, there is no undeniably specific mention to "THIS Yehoshuah" at all in our Talmud at all.  For a rigorous, scholarly review of this topic; see Rabbi Gil Student’s page here at: http://www.angelfire.com/mt/talmud/jesusnarr.html

2)    How can you claim legitimacy when there are some leftover (Torah followers of Yehoshuah) to testify against your counterfeit sect?

3)    They disagreed with the continued insistence of the (original) Netzarim - to follow the laws in the Torah. 

Anyway… getting back to the common era:  The “Beit-Shammai” school had taken control and instituted the “18 ordinances”.

But when did this happen?

You will have to look to Rabbi Falk's book for that info. But here is a rough synopsis of what happened.

The Mission of Yehoshuah Is Born: Originally Spreading the Noahide Laws

Basically, the best students of Rabbi Hillel (Hillel lived about 100BC). In a later time period, the “Beit-Hillel” school came into existence and went on a missionary mission to the Gentiles to teach the 7 Noachine Laws (which are still incumbent on all gentiles to learn and observe - by G-D Himself).

Seven Noahide Laws were Not A New Religion: Eternal Reward for Descendents of NOAH

The idea that Yehoshuah (Jesus) came to form a new religion, based on the Noahide laws, is a contradiction in terms. Anyone slightly familiar with Torah Judaism knows that the Noahide laws were not a new religion (even then). In fact, Moses was commanded to compel the world (all the way back then) to adhere to the seven Noahide Laws. So while he may have been busy spreading the OLD WORD about the first faith commanded to mankind, it was certainly not new. In fact, there are an injunction NOT TO CREATE new religions inside of Torah Judaism. So the assertion of newness doesn't make any sense in this light. However, a concerted effort to spread these seven laws to the world (by Jews) may have been considered new at the time, if it was being done in strong way.

To bring the messianic age, beit-Hillel taught that the messianic age would only come when the Jews fulfilled this chosen purpose—of spreading the Noahide laws to the Gentiles. The School of Hillel, taught that righteous Gentiles merited a share in the world to come if they observed the seven so-called Noahide commandmentsRabbi Hillel had about 80 disciples. These were the cream of the crop students, as it were, who thought about the Messianic age. About half of those went out on a mission to the nations of the world, to try and spread the Sheva Mitswoth (seven Noahide laws) and were never heard from again!

Many in the other surviving half of Beit-Hillel (the minor students) debated with (the later school of) Beit-Shammai (not Shammai himself) over this hot topic (for many years). This is all supported by the two-thousand year old Talmudic writings within Judaism (and some of the dead Sea scrolls – which echo the existence of the same disputes much earlier). In the end, the students of Hillel won the debate. This debate went on for many years. After winning this debate, Beit-Shammi & cohorts had the majority of these beit-Hillel students killed by hiring the Sicarii! This beit-Shammai slaying of Hillelite followers (called prophets by some) took place between 20-10 BCE. Thus, the generation to whom Yehoshua is speaking to in the modern version of the  “New Testament” would in fact be located at during the same time period as the sons of the anti-Gentile Shammaite Zealots - who committed this crime.

This allowed them to gain control (of the Sanhedrin) and to pass the 18 ordinances, which were worse than the sin of the golden calf, because this nullified the purpose of Israel’s mission on Earth.

By the way, the best students of Hillel never returned. They may have started the G-D fearers’ movement of that time.

During the rule of Beit-Shammai (approximately 100 years), the “Netzarim” (original Torah followers of Yehoshuah) rose up as an opposition group to beit-Shammai’s 18 ordinances. They were made up of surviving Hillelite Pharisees. The group known as Hillelite Pharisees (before and after Yehoshuah) was also the basis of Talmudic Judaism.

And yes, Rabbi Yehoshua (corrupted to English JESUS) belonged to this group - as Rabbi Falk shows from Gemara and scroll references. If this bothers some of us in the Jewish world, it is only because we have been understandably conditions with a distaste for a Church that has been murdering us for over 2,000 years. I understand the desire to place him squarely in the camp of the Church. However, reading between the lines shows the disparity between the original Netzarim (Torah followers) and the counterfeit Notsrim (Church) – at least in terms of how it started. 

The Pharisees of the time (IE: different types of Pharisees) were split between beit-Hillel and beit-Shammai.

To reclarify, the Beit-Hillel group never broke up. Only the best went on a mission to teach the Gentile nations the Seven Noahide Laws.

 Again, it should be re-stated that beit-Shammai should not be confused with the original Rabbi Shammai. Beit-Shammai opposed Rabbi Shammai too. Rabbi Shammai was a Saddiq (a righteous man).


Bet Shammai

The other Hillelites who were left (alive) were slaughtered by the Sicarii - after the debate (between the schools) was lost. Most of the leftovers from beit-Hillel were slaughtered. Not all left and not all were killed. This is why they were unable to regain control of the Sanhedrin for more than 100 years. In that 100 years, the Jewish people were sent into the current exile.

In summary, the Netzarim apparently rose up as a opposition group (accepted within the ranks of Bet Hillel) against the corrupted beit-Shammai. 

According to Rabbi Falk, the Netzarim (original followers of Jesus) were 100% beit-Hillel followers.

Basically; after beit-Hillel regained control, they (the Netzarim) had no real purpose and kind of became obscure and soon after that ceased to be organized. They mostly became individuals from the house of David. Since the Netzarim followed beit-Hillel, they also focused on teaching Noahide Laws to the Gentiles. According to Rabbi Falk, this was the true “mission” of Yehoshuah.

As a result of the G-D fearer movement’s association with the Netzarim, you have the development (apart from the original Netzarim) of a proto-Notsrim (Church) movement (IE: pre-Church) based upon the synchronization of their own pagan religion with our Judaism. Eventually, Constantine seized this and took it all the way into CHURCH Christianity. Judaism was very popular, but the proto-Notsrim (pre-Church) derivative was fast becoming popular as well.

Constantine seized the Torah observant followers, and took the opportunity to wipe out these original Netzarim (followers of Jesus), which was good for him - because it also wiped out a lot of beit Dawid (the house of David). They had the support of ROME to deemphasize Judaism's Torah.

The Romans always wanted to wipe out beit Dawid (the house of David) - as much as possible, to prevent messianic movements which would oppose their rule. The family of Yohoshua was Davidic - and their leaders were from his family.

At the time, Constantine was not only seeking to destroy the Netzarim, but also beit Dawid (the house of David). At the time that Yehoshuah was executed, many thousands of other Jews were also being executed in the same way. Rabbi Falk does not speak to the actual way in which he was executed. I suspect he was murdered and then hung on a tree. I have serious doubts that he was actually crucified. But that is pure speculation on my part. This paper is not designed or intended to address that issue.

The Sadducees of the common era (or Tseudo “Sadhoqim” as they were called) were Roman collaborators. Beit-Shammai would turn over people they didn't like to the Romans. From this, it would appear that the Sadducees and the beit-Shammai Pharisees had some type of mutual relationship at this point.

The Sadhoqim (Sadducees) had problems regarding the Temple and the Essenes were their opposition group.

When the Sadhoqim were destroyed, the Essenes ceased to be important.


Beit-Shammai (and Sadducees) tried to justify turning their enemies over to the Romans.

Let me show you how they tried to justify it. Check this out:

The RMb"M (Maimonides), in Law of the Foundations of Torah 5:5, concludes that Resh Lakish's Talmudic opinion, and not Rav Yochanan's, is the correct one:

 "If someone is liable to the penalty of death, as was Sheva ben Bichri, they are permitted to turn him over in order to save themselves. If, however, he is not guilty of any death penalty, then it is forbidden to turn him over, but they must defend themselves and him even if it means forfeiting all their lives.

The Rema, in Yoreh De'ah 157, records the RMb"M's ruling as the correct Halakhah (Jewish law) - that it is forbidden to save one life at the cost of another, unless that individual was guilty of a death penalty, as was the case of Sheva ben Bichri.

The Romans had an open demand to turn over instigators. And anyone who would talk about the messiah or messianic age would definitely be considered one of those to the Romans. They were constantly executing Jews for this sort of thing.

TO PUT IT TOGETHER: If you are a truly evil beit-Shammai (or corrupted Sadducee) guy; you only needed to accuse the guy - to convict him of being “worthy of death”. Usually, this took the form of phony testimony, and then the guy would be turned over. At this point, Judaism was corrupted by Roman power. The problem is this: falsely convicting people shouldn't count. The halakha (Jewish Law) says they have to be deserving of death to turn them over.

Beit Hillel Triumphs Amongst The Jews In The End

Eventually, Torah law came through Beit-Hillel: Yasodhey ha Torah 5 states:

 “Anyone who rules according to beit-Shammai - when it disagrees with beit-Hillel - has no place in the world to come.” (Maimonides)

Thus, modern Christianity totally misses the bigger tragedy: The 18 measures were worse than the sin of the golden calf because they nullified the purpose of Israel.

Beit-Shammai said that the God will only forgive if you repent out of love. Thus, if you repent out of fear or ANY other reason, then God does not forgive.

The Netzarim (beit-Hillel followers of Yehoshuah) said to sincerely repent and then God WILL forgive you! This is totally in line with ORIGINAL PHARASAIC thinking of Beit-Hillel. Thus, the original Jesus said that G-D DID REQUIRE sincere repentance to be “saved”.

This was a teaching in opposition to Beit-Shammai. For example, the Netzarim told beit-Shammai to tithe dill and rue, which are spices. According to beit-Hillel, spices don't have to be tithed, but they put orphans and widows on the street.


You, members of the Christian faith, how good and pleasant it might be if you will observe that which was commanded to you by your first teachers; how wonderful is your share if you will assist the Jews in the observance of their Torah. You will truly receive reward as if you had fulfilled it yourselves-for the one who helps others to observe is greater than one who observes but does not help others to do so--even though you only observe the Seven Commandments. I have written similarly in my pleasant work Torat Ha-Kenaot-- that the Jew who observes the Torah, but doesnt support it, is considered among the cursed; and the Gentile who does not observe the 613 commandments, but supports it, is considered among the blessed."

[Translated by Harvey Falk. The above is part of Chapter 1 of "Jesus the Pharisee, A New Look at the Jewishness of Jesus", by Harvey Falk, 1985]

The only ticket required for entry is to follow the ORIGINAL MISSION of your Teacher Yehoshuah...


























Relevant (Disturbing) Church History






















Talmudic Sites Listed In Rabbi Harvey Falk’s Book

I found some of my earlier notes, but they are not YET edited - so cut me some slack:

Betsa 20A, where the school of Shammai constituted a majority in the time of Bava ben Buta, who lived during Herod's reign. The enactment of the '18 measures' by Bet Shammai, at which time they constituted an absolute majority, seems to have also taken place shortly after the establishment of the two schools (see Tosefta Shabbat 1:8 and Tosafists, Shabbat, bottom 14B). The necessity for the Heavenly Voice's intervention in favor of Bet Hillel is itself evidence of Bet Shammai's strong position. Talmudic evidence (in fact) indicates that Bet Shammai's dominance extended throughout most of the first century. See Mishna (Sukka 37B) were Rabbi Akiva notes that Rabbi Gamaleil of Yavneh and R Joshua waved the lulav in acccordance with Bet Hillel; whereas ALL THE PEOPLE observed Bet Shammai's practice. Since Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai is not mentioned this would have taken place about 80 CE or later, but before the Heavenly Voice.

There are other specific references in the Mishna which demonstrate the people's allegiance during this period, on specific issues of law. It has nothing to do with believing in Jesus as the Messiah- which I don't! Also see Mishnas Eduyyot 1:7,8, 10, 11 where the school of Shammai disputes Shammai, thus proving that Shammai the Edler lost some measure of control over his school.

There was a connection between the Zealots and bet Shammai. This is taken from many Talmudic verses and corroborated by Josephus. It is demonstrated over and over again, that the Zeolets hated bet Hillel. And in studying the two groups, the legal similarities (on the issue of the Gentiles) is stunning. Check out Talmud Yerushalmi Shabbat 1:4, to see that Bet Shammai did indeed murder (or hire out murderers to destroy) members of Bet Hillel. This included many of Hillel's disciples (Sukka 28A and bava Batra 134A). And there is strong evidence that the Zealots were present at the time of the murdering. In fact, they most likely did the actual murdering for hire.

Sanhedrin 105A shows that (according to beit Shammei) no Gentile merits a share in the World to come, even those who observe the 7 Noahide Laws. School of Shammai also discouraged the acceptance of Proselytes to Judaism (Shabbat 31A). Surely, this is what lead Jesus to call them hypocrites. They DID reject the weightier matters of the Law. And we all know how Bet Shammai treated the scholarly convert Aquila. By the way, Rabbi Falk gets this stuff from Rabbi Yaqov Emden. He isn't just pulling it out of thin air.

The love and friendship between Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai came (returned) later with Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Joshua. The initial debates portray a degree of suspicion and hostility. There is much more. I am not going to type the whole book. He identifies the ancient Hasidim as a strict, Levitical purity oriented group of Essene (Pharisees). This is based on key phrases (Hasidim and kesherim and Zenuim) in the Mishna and Gamara, that mentions cave dwellers, and some of their halakhic tendencies. And it also related to the titles used in the Mishna and Gamara (Abba and Jose). By identifying the titles of Rabbis, he is able to show who was hanging out with whom, and why. Then he ties it into some of the dead sea scrolls. You have to study this, in order to see the connections. It is too complicated to summarize here. But when you see it, it is clear.

























































TIME Magazine Article



What Sort of Jew Was Jesus?

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2005 By RICHARD N. OSTLING

Article Tools

Many Jews and Christians trace 2,000 years of anti-Jewish persecution directly back to certain pronouncements of Jesus. In Matthew 23:37, for example, Jesus exclaims, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you . . . Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate." While dialogue aiming at better understanding has taken place between the two religions, some Jews and Christians have felt frustrated that New Testament passages have been used to support anti-Semitism.

Orthodox Rabbi Harvey Falk of Brooklyn believes that much interreligious tension need never have existed at all. His current book, Jesus the Pharisee: A New Look at the Jewishness of Jesus, just issued by a Roman Catholic publisher (Paulist Press; 175 pages; $8.95), contends that Jews and Christians alike fail to grasp Jesus' ties to the competing Jewish factions of his time. Christians, says Falk, have misunderstood some of the teachings of Jesus, while Jews have been needlessly hostile toward "Yeshua ha Notzri" (Jesus of Nazareth). Falk's book offers a provocative and controversial theory on Christian origins.

Falk examines two factions of the Pharisees, a group of pious Jews who believed in the resurrection of the dead, rewards and punishments for this life in the next and Rabbinic authority to interpret Jewish law. These two parties, the School of Hillel and the School of Shammai, clashed shortly before Jesus' birth. Jewish tradition records that the rigid Shammaites held religious control throughout Jesus' life and during the founding decades of the Christian Church. But by A.D. 70 the more flexible Hillel school had become pre-eminent and the predecessor of today's traditional Judaism. In Falk's theory, Jesus was a Pharisee of the Hillel school, so that his denunciations ("Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!") were aimed at the Shammai school, not Jews in general, and not even at all Pharisees.

Falk holds that a central issue between the schools was Jewish-Gentile relations. The School of Shammai taught that non-Jews had no hope of eternal life. One of the faction's first acts upon gaining power in the Sanhedrin, the supreme council of the Jews, was to pass a series of sweeping measures that limited contacts with Gentiles. The School of Hillel, however, taught that righteous Gentiles merited a share in the world to come if they observed the seven so-called Noahide commandments, basic moral directives addressed to Adam and Noah in the Bible and binding all humanity. The usual Noahide list includes the obligation to help establish a system of justice, plus prohibitions against idolatry, blasphemy, theft, murder, sexual sins and cruelty to animals. According to Falk, the authoritative compendium of Jewish oral law and commentary, the Talmud, says that Moses called upon Israelites to spread knowledge of the Noahide commandments to all people. The Jews never undertook such a mission, says Falk, but Jesus and Paul the Apostle did, motivated "by love of God and fellow man."


(2 of 2)
To support his thesis of Jesus as a follower of Hillel, Falk draws conclusions from familiar New Testament passages. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus criticizes the "eye for an eye" view of justice emphasized by a leader of the Shammai school. Shammaite criticism of Jesus for socializing with Gentile sinners or healing on the Sabbath reflected specific debates between the schools. When Jesus attacked the money changers in the Temple, he declared that it was a "house of prayer for all the nations," but had become a "den of robbers." The author suggests that the money changers were corrupt Shammaites who were pocketing donations from Gentile converts to Judaism. Falk even proposes that the Golden Rule of Jesus is just a positive rephrasing of statement by Rabbi Hillel, who once told a pagan inquirer, "What is hateful unto thee, do not do unto thy neighboRabbi This is the entire Torah. The rest is commentary."

Although Orthodox Judaism shuns doctrinal discussions with Christianity, Falk points out that the great medieval sage Maimonides declared that Christians "will not find in their Torah [the New Testament] anything that conflicts with our Torah." Falk also refers to the commentary of the renowned Polish sage Rabbi Jacob Emden. In a 1757 letter to Polish Rabbis, Emden discussed Jesus and Paul as Torah-true missionaries to the Gentiles. Falk, 53, who had studied at the Academy for Higher Learning and Research in Monsey, N.Y., was intrigued when he came across this document in 1974, and it led to his decade of research on Jesus. It is Falk's belief that Orthodox Jews will slowly enter interreligious discussions, in part because the "Christian world is asking us."

Jesus the Pharisee has significant omissions: it does not touch on such salient matters as the Resurrection, the messiahship of Jesus, or the belief that his death atoned for the sins of all humanity. Lawrence Schiffman, a critic of the book who is a professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies at New York University, says that Falk "has bought a stereotype of the School of Shammai, who in reality were good Jews and good Pharisees." Schiffman believes that there will not be a scholarly acceptance of the book's thesis. He maintains that anti-Judaism in early Christian writings is "really there. It had a tremendously pernicious influence over the centuries. There's something dangerous about believing that it's not there, because then you don't have to deal with the problem. It's a much better solution to admit that it is there and then come to terms with it." But Falk hopes, "If my thesis is adopted, Jews will be better Jews and Christians will be better Christians." --By Richard N. Ostling. Reported by Michael P. Harris/New York

With reporting by Reported by Michael P. Harris/New York







[1] The following (sarcastic?) statement appears on the “Holy See” (Vatican website) as of April 2007. In essence, it may shed some light into the true motives of the Catholic press, in publishing such a work. At the very least, it speaks volumes to how the Holy See views this subject. Their underlying agenda is unhidden and apparent. It is disturbing, but not surprising. However, one would think that an Orthodox Rabbi considered these facts, before embarking on such a rare endeavor. 

Here is the quote: “In the last few years, especially in North America, where more and more the Jews are a minority surrounded by other minorities, in which there are also Christians, the dialogue between Jews and Christians made some notable progress even if there still remains a long road ahead. The people involved in this dialogue on various levels are always a small minority within the minority, both on the Jewish part as on the Christian part. The fruit of this climate is also a series of books on our subject….One of those is that of Harvey Falk, with the tile "Jesus the Pharisee" (25). The author is an Orthodox Rabbi, with a knowledge of very vast Jewish sources, even if more traditional than scientific. Falk takes the initiative from the affirmation of one of his most famous ancestors, the Rabbi Jacob Emden (1697-1776), that Jesus came to found a new religion for the Gentiles, based on the so-called seven commandments of Noah (26). Even if Emden's attitude towards Jesus, Paul and Christianity is very positive in general, it must be seen in the context of his very harsh polemic with other Jewish groups (especially the followers of a false Messiah, Sabbatai Zevi), his writings on the relationship between Christianity and Judaism remain very important documents, which are now more accessible thanks to the work of Falk…We have already noted that the attempt to place Jesus completely in the middle of the Pharisees is destined to fail; but notwithstanding this, the work of Falk, who uses the sources according to very traditional methods, and not in a historic-critical manner, is very interesting. He tries to demonstrate how in many cases Jesus was in substantial agreement with this Pharisaic school of Hillel, which at the time represented a minority, but later became the determining force. Apart from the details, it is really a sign of a new climate if such a work can be written by an Orthodox Rabbi and published by a Catholic publishing house…If a climate of dialogue, born out of the indescribable tragedy of the Nazi era, gave the possibility to Jews to become more serenely closer to Jesus, it must also be said that in many Jewish authors an important element in dealing with the subject is one of the anxiety of preventing a possible Christian anti-Semitism. If above all in the works of Flusser and Vermes we see a debate which at times is heated with positions of Christian exegists, Borowitz goes one step further. In a climate influenced by several decades of fruitful dialogue between Jewish and Christian scholars, he decided to study as many Christian theologians today see Jesus. He does not so much try to attain the historic Jesus, as he attempts to make an evaluation of various Christological studies.”:

SOURCE: http://www.vatican.va/jubilee_2000/magazine/documents/ju_mag_01111997_p-48_en.html:  This is an up-dated version of an article which appeared in Nuova Umanità 64/65 (July-October 1989) 125-136 and, in abbreviated form in, Unità e Carismi 6 (November/December 1996) 33-38. The Roots Of Anti-Judaism In The Christian Environment: Jesus Of Nazareth As Seen By Jewish Writers Of The Xx Century: Joseph Sievers

[2] Time Magazine: What Sort of Jew Was Jesus, Tuesday, Apr 12, 2005, RICHARD N. OSTLING

[3] See uncensored additions of Betsa 20A, where the school of Shammai constituted a majority in the time of Bava ben Buta, who lived during Herod's reign. The enactment of the '18 measures' by Bet Shammai, at which time they constituted an absolute majority, seems to have also taken place shortly after the establishment of the two schools (see Tosefta Shabbat 1:8 and Tosafists, Shabbat, bottom 14B). The necessity for the Heavenly Voice's intervention in favor of Bet Hillel is in itself evidence of Bet Shammai's strong position. Talmudic evidence in fact indicates that Bet Shammai's dominance extended throughout most of the first century. See Mishna (Sukka 37B) were Rabbi Akiva notes that Rabbi Gamaleil of Yavneh and R Joshua waved the lulav in acccorance with Bet Hillel whereas ALL THE PEOPLE observed Bet Shammai's practice. Since Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai is not mentioned this would have taken place about 80 CE or later, but before the Heavenly Voice. 

There are other specific references in the Mishna which demonstrate the people's allegiance during this period, on specific issues of law. It has nothing to do with believing in Jesus as the Messiah- which I don't! Also see Mishna Eduyyot 1:7,8, 10, 11 where the school of Shammai disputes Shammai, thus proving that Shammai the Edler lost some measure of control over his school. Thus Rabbi Shammai and Beit Shammai were different.