Good evening, Rabbi Chaim:
I'm not sure if this needs to be said, but (just in case) should anything in the comments below seem offensive or even blasphemous, it was not my intent to be rude or inconsiderate of your feelings. We hold different beliefs to be true, but I respect your right to believe what you do and am hopeful that the reverse is also true on your part. I do know that I can benefit from your knowledge of Scripture and your wisdom even though we belong to different faiths. Hopefully, you will be able to help me answer some questions and to further develop my understanding of Scripture. Oh, and (just so you know) I have very thick skin, so you don't need to mince words unless you want to.I recently found your blog and this post while searching for information regarding Jewish marriage customs in the 1st Century and their application with respect to the betrothal of the Virgin Mary, Jesus' parthogenic birth, and her husband Joseph. I'm a Roman Catholic Christian, a follower of (as you amusedly (from my perspective) put it) the "bastard from Bethlehem", who understands that it is impossible to fully understand Christianity without understanding the Jewish roots of that faith, and who is in the process of figuring out the correct interpretations of certain Catholic doctrines, ones (the interpretations) that are in line with the Torah, Psalms, Prophets, etc. if not necessarily the Talmud, although ideally also consistent with it. Your blog raised questions and ideas that don't relate to Moses and his black wife (Zipporah?), but that I am hopeful you will be able to clarify.
Do I understand "Hashem" to be a way to not write or say one of the 11 names of G*d derived from the Tetragrammaton? I've been told that Jews do not believe it proper to write or say aloud any of the names of G*d, but I'm not sure of the source in the Torah or Talmud regarding this. Exodus 23:13 talks of the names of other gods and not the one and only true G*d that we both serve and love, whether you believe that or not. What does "Hashem" mean (translated) in English? Is it similar to "Adhonai", "Lord of All"?
In your ninth paragraph, do you really believe that what you have written is true of all priests and nuns? Of Gentiles who have dedicated their lives to serve G*d as they understand Him? When you stated: "No one else is able to suppress their most natural desires and inhibitions. Catholic Priests who outwardly live a life of "ascetic chastity" are known to be the most debaucherous depraved individuals."
I don't believe that to be a fair or objective statement. If you haven't watched the movie "Spotlight" about the pedophilia by priests in the greater Boston area, it noted that approximately 50% of priests are involved in some sort of sexual (romantic?) relationship and that there were roughly 90 priests in the city that were abusing or had abused children. This works out to approx. 6% of the total priests, bishops, etc. in Boston between 1950 - 2015, the period covered by the journalists' investigation. Refer to the following articles:
Sobering statistics to be sure, which I accept (as a Catholic) to be accurate, but not the picture that you have painted. It occurs to me that perhaps you simply have an extremely strong (or even extraordinary) libido and have made the mistake of believing that yours is average in nature, leading to your belief that "mere mortals" are incapable of resisting these natural urges. I suppose it could also be a Gentile thing; that there is something in the DNA of the Jewish people, but that seems unlikely to me. Variation of libido seems more likely on an individual basis rather than on an ethnic one, thus varying from individual to individual. Your's could simply be on the high end of the spectrum.
Deuteronomy 9:4-8 makes it clear that the ancient Israelites were not chosen by G*d to be His (first) chosen people because of spiritual superiority over Gentiles, and I expect the same is true regarding any physical superiority. As I understand it, G*d doesn't "play favourites", but rather selected Israel to be a people set aside from Gentile nations to serve as an example for what G*d commands of Gentiles as well. We Gentiles were never under the Mosaic Covenant (Law), but it serves to us as a guide to what G*d seeks from us spiritually. The Law is, after all, both spiritual and physical (written) in nature; unlike Jews, Gentiles are to follow its spiritual principles, precepts, and commands. Jews are, of course, to follow both, and it is by the standard of the Law that they will be judged by G*d when the time comes.
I firmly believe that faith can move (metaphorical) mountains and that there are many people who have learned to discipline their minds and bodies to the degree necessary to achieve perpetual celibacy, including many priests, nuns, Buddhist monks, etc. One does not need to be "damaged" (unhealthy) in some way to master one's worldly (physical) desires and cravings; one does have to be dedicated to one's reasons for doing so. I believe the Essenes were an example of Jews who learned (with difficulty) how to do so. Moses, of course, was able to do so easily, not having any temptation to give into these natural urges, but that hardly means that others are (with greater difficulty) incapable of it. And G*d and faith can work wonders (miracles).
If I understand the Jewish marriage process in the 1st Century at least, the Virgin Mary was betrothed to Joseph although the marriage had not (yet?) been consummated, so I fail to see how Jesus could be called a bastard as His mother and step-father were married fully under Jewish law.
While the rabbinic community does not accept this, Christians believe that Jesus' birth was parthogenic in nature. His not having a human father means that there was no adultery on Mary's part (as per Isaiah?), making it impossible for Him to be a bastard. Of course, I do understand that your beliefs cannot allow you to accept a virgin birth, but parthogenesis is an authentic medical possibility that occurs when two naturally occuring genetic mutations that do not naturally occur together do occur together. Even the late Christopher Hitchens, a famous Antithiest, did reluctantly have to admit the possibility of a parthogenic birth with respect to Jesus, and he refused to admit that G*d was anything more than a primitive myth, so that's something significant. Parthogenesis would be (and is) easily possible for G*d who also preserved Jeremiah's sperm in bathwater until it could "take seed" in his daughter.
About that, as it was G*d who made this happen, is it correct to say that this pregnancy could not have been classified as incestuous (making it a sin for Jeremiah) and the child would not have been a bastard despite Jeremiah not being married to his daughter (which would have been very wrong)? After all, technically, the child's human parents were not married, whereas Mary and Joseph actually were.
You mentioned that Deborah the Judgess may have been the reincarnation of Moses' wife Zipporah. Is reincarnation a part of what Jews believe happens after death? I didn't think it was; I thought that was Buddhists and faiths related to eastern philosophy (mysticism?). Is reincarnation the means by which Elijah will return and (if so) will he remember his previous life or lives? Spiritually, he will, of course. I mean physically; with his (new?) physical brain? If I understand correctly, Elisha saw Elijah carried up into heaven in a vision, although not necessarily the 3rd (?) heaven. Physically, if a whirlwind is anything like a tornado, it's not hard to conclude what would have happened to Elijah's physical body. As to where it (ie. his corpse?) was "spit out" of such a whirlwind is anyone's guess, but a body minus its soul is not that important, not even the body (shell) of a great Prophet like Elijah. It's Elijah's soul that is important and that was carried into the heavens, though which heaven I'm not sure of. Or would Elijah's spiritual journey have ended in his being delivered to "Abraham's Bosom" in Sheol, two concepts that I am still in the process of learning about? And is there any teaching about Enoch being a previous life of Elijah?
As I have thus far been successful in finding interpretations of doctrines that are in line with the Torah, Psalms, Prophets, etc. but sometimes not the Talmud, it seems more and more (as I proceed) that the Christian and Jewish faiths are not at odds fundamentally; it's simply a matter of determining, with a circumcised heart and mind, what the correct interpretations are for this to be true, and for Christianity (as it existed in the 1st Century) to be a natural evolution of Judaism (as it existed in the 1st Century) based on the Hebrew Scriptures and their Greek translation, which the Dead Sea Scrolls have demonstrated is extremely accurate and faithful to the Hebrew (Scriptural) source material that was translated.
The most significant point of disagreement is, of course, who we respectively believe the Messiah to be and whether He (and Elijah) have come once before, roughly 2000 years ago. Both faiths hold that Elijah and the Messiah are coming; Christians simply believe that it is a case of returning rather than coming for the first time.
Where the disagreement comes in, as I understand it, is with the Christian belief that the Messiah, willingly humbling Himself to serve G*d as the Suffering Servent Isaiah foretold, decisively defeated the single, greatest enemy of Israel and the entire world: the spiritual consequences of sin, spiritual death, as only a Messiah could be expected to successfully do. Due to this singular victory on the level of spiritual reality, the forgiveness of sins (past, present, and future; universally across time) "became" possible, thus allowing humanity to stand before G*d justified in His sight and His love.
The sacrifice of animals could never be entirely sufficient to cancel out the sins of human beings, simply because animals are not human beings. Those sacrifices, as I understand it, were instead a physical foreshadowing of what G*d always had planned to make happen in order to undo the damage (Original Sin) that Adam and Eve caused with their rebellion against Him. One man, the first man, caused Original Sin and so it necessitated another, the Messiah, to defeat (negate) it and thus make the salvation of Jews and Gentiles alike possible. The question becomes whether this victory on the part of the Messiah, whomever He may be, has already happened or is yet to be accomplished.