A Critical, Orthodox Review and Synopsis of :
Jesus the Pharisee. A New Look at the Jewishness of
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
Pharisees Hire Siccari (Zeolots)
Time Magazine Article
A Critical Review of Harvey Falk’s book: “Jesus the
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
BACK TO CONTENTS
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
WHY THIS PUBLISHER?:
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?
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
MOTIVES BEHIND THE BOOK:
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.
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."
DID RABBI HARVEY FALK
ACTUALLY EXIST AT ALL?
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.
ACCURACY OF RABBI FALK'S
TRANSLATION OF RABBI YAQOV EMDEN's LETTERS:
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
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.
BACK TO CONTENTS
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.
represents one of the few Orthodox sources to ever discuss the real
historical “Yehoshua.” However, there are (were) others.
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.
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.
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
Research & Summary (Some of this includes Netsari research not
discussed in Rabbi Falk’s book)
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
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).
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!
to Rabbi Falk, the beit-Hillel Pharisees opposed the beit-Shammai
Pharisees who ruled at that time.
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.
BACK TO CONTENTS
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, the
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
(Belarmino Bagatti-The Church From the
Circumcision p.14/ Eutychius Patrol. gr[ae]c., v 111, c. 1012-13)
Back To The
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.
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):
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:
can you claim legitimacy when there are some leftover (Torah followers
of Yehoshuah) to testify against your counterfeit sect?
disagreed with the continued insistence of the (original) Netzarim -
to follow the laws in the Torah.
getting back to the common era: The “Beit-Shammai” school had taken
control and instituted the “18 ordinances”.
did this happen?
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
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pharisees of the time (IE: different types of Pharisees) were split
between beit-Hillel and beit-Shammai.
reclarify, the Beit-Hillel group never broke up. Only the best went on
a mission to teach the Gentile nations the Seven Noahide Laws.
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).
BACK TO CONTENTS
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.
the Netzarim apparently rose up as a opposition group (accepted within
the ranks of Bet Hillel) against the corrupted beit-Shammai.
to Rabbi Falk, the Netzarim (original followers of Jesus) were 100%
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Sadhoqim (Sadducees) had problems regarding the Temple and the Essenes
were their opposition group.
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:
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."
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.
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
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
Triumphs Amongst The Jews In The End
Torah law came through Beit-Hillel: Yasodhey ha Torah 5 states:
who rules according to beit-Shammai - when it disagrees with
beit-Hillel - has no place in the world to come.” (Maimonides)
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.
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,
ticket required for entry is to follow the
MISSION of your Teacher
BACK TO CONTENTS
(Disturbing) Church History
BACK TO CONTENTS
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?
RICHARD N. OSTLING
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