Jewish Intellectuals On Yeshua

בס״ד

Rambam

And all the doings of Yeshua the Nazarene… are nothing but to… prepare the entire world to worship G-D together…”

-Orthodox Rabbi Maimonides, Mishnah Torah, Kings and War 11:7
Rabbi Emden’s father, Rabbi Tzvi Ashkenazi

Rabbi Jacob Emden

Rabbi Jacob Emden was a universally respected rabbi and was one of the fiercest and staunchest opponents of the movement of the false messiah, Shabbtai Tzvi.

“Therefore you must realize–and accept the truth from him who speaks it– that we see clearly here that the Nazarene [Yeshua] and his Apostles did not wish to destroy the Torah from Israel, G-D forbid… It is therefore exceedingly clear that the Nazarene never dreamed of destroying the Torah

The writers of the Gospels never meant to say that the Nazarene came to abolish Judaism, but only that he came to establish a religion for the Gentiles from that time onward. Nor was it new, but actually ancient; they being the Seven Commandments of the Sons of Noah, which were forgotten. The Apostles of the Nazarene then established them anew

Certainly, therefore, there is no doubt that one who seeks truth will agree with our thesis, that the Nazarene and his Apostles never meant to abolish the Torah of Moses from one who was born a Jew

It is therefore a habitual saying of mine (not as a hypocritical flatterer, G-D forbid, for I am of the faithful believers of Israel, and I know well that the remnant of Israel will not speak falsehood, nor will their mouths contain a deceitful tongue) that the Nazarene brought about a double kindness in the world. On the one hand, he strengthened the Torah of Moses majestically, as mentioned earlier, and not one of our Sages spoke out more emphatically concerning the immutability of the Torah. And on the other hand, he did much good for the Gentiles (provided they do not turn about his intent as they please, as some foolish ones have done because they did not fully understand the intent of the authors of the Gospels. I have recently seen someone publish a book, and he had no idea about what he was writing. For if he had understood the subject, he would have kept his silence and not wasted the paper and ink. There are also found among us foolish scholars who know not their right from their left in the Written and Oral Torahs and cause the people to err with their pompous pronouncements. But there are true scholars among the Christians, just as there are the chosen few among Torah scholars; and there are few of the truly great.) by doing away with idolatry and removing the images from their midst. He obligated them with the Seven Commandments so that they should not be as the beasts of the field. He also bestowed upon them ethical ways, and in this respect he was much more stringent with them than the Torah of Moses, as is well-known

If certain Christians who consider themselves scholars would understand this secret, who believe that they are commanded to abolish the Torah of Moses from the seed of Israel, they would not engage in such foolishness. The people listen to their self-conceived words, something which was never intended by the writers of the Gospels. Quite the opposite, they have written clearly that they intended the contrary.

Because of these errant scholars, hatred has increased toward the Jews who are blameless of any guilt and proceed innocently to observe their Torah with all their heart, imbued with the fear of G-D. They should instead bring their people to love the ancient Children of Israel who remain loyal to their G-D, as indeed commanded to Christians by their original teachers.

They even said to love ones enemies. How much more so to us! In the name of heaven, we are your brothers!

… 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…

-Orthodox Rabbi Jacob Emden, SEDER OLAM RABBAH VEZUTA

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Called,America’s Rabbi,” The Washington Post referred to Rabbi Boteach as “the most famous rabbi in America,” Newsweek named him one of the 10 most influential rabbis in the United States, and The Jerusalem Post named him one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world.

“They [Christians] yearn and hunger to discover more about the Jewishness of Jesus in order to experience their own faith more authentically, and it is the responsibility of the Jewish community to provide this vital information.

At so many public Christian events in support of Israel, pastors refer to Jesus haltingly if at all, afraid to offend Jewish sensibilities, while the Jews likewise are on guard to ensure that they are not accused of being used as props for a covert Christian evangelizing effort.

If Jesus can never be mentioned we risk the relationship becoming a fraudulent one, with mutual suspicion growing on both sides. The political bridge of support for Israel is not enough. A theological bridge must exist as well.

“Kosher Jesus” proposes that Jesus the Jew, rather than Jesus the Christian, be that bridge. It is not for Christians to teach the Jews about Jesus, as has been attempted for so many centuries, but rather, for the Jews to teach Christians about how Jesus lived, prayed, worshipped, and died as a Jew…

In an age of Jewish-Christian rapprochement, ignorance of Jesus is no longer an option.

-Orthodox Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “Kosher Jesus?”, The New York Jewish Week

“… They portrayed his teachings as being hostile to Judaism when, in fact, everything he taught stemmed from the Judaism he practiced.

I seek to correct this injustice at long last. Just as Christians would greatly benefit from a deeper understanding of Jesus the man, Jews need to accept that they have something to learn from Jesus as well albeit in a manner very different from the way that Christians understand him. Nearly all his authentic lessons were restatements of classical Torah wisdom, and his ethical teachings still have the power to speak to us today. Awareness of their truths would enrich a Jewish community that, by rejecting the fictional, anti-Semitic Jesus, has mistakenly rejected the man himself.

In these pages, based on ancient Hebrew sources as well as Christian scripture, you will discover the authentic story of Jesus of Nazareth.


Jesus lived, taught, and died as a Jew. He defined himself and his Jewishness in much the same way as today’s Torah-observant Jews. He conducted himself as a devout rabbi and Pharisee. He wore a Jewish head covering, prayed in the Hebrew language, ate only kosher food, honored the Sabbath, had the mezuzah parchment on the doorposts of his home, lit a Chanukah menorah, wore the tzitzit-fringes, donned tefillin daily, waved an esrog and lulav on Sukkot, ate matzo on Passover, and studied the Torah regularly. He enjoyed the selfsame relationship with God shared by all Jews.


Though this book does not consider Jesus holier than any other human being and certainly not divine, I argue that Jews should claim him as one of our own. Through Jewish sensibilities, we can see in the Christian Bible one of our rabbis, Jesus, ever our brother. As Jews, we should celebrate the family bond we have with Jesus…”

Ibid.

All Jews can embrace Jesus as part of a grand tradition of heroic leaders who fought to free Israel from tyranny. Looked at from this angle, Jesus was a great, world-changing patriot for Judaism.”

Ibid.

It is unjust to hold Jesus accountable for the millennia of anti-Semitism perpetrated in his name… The transformation of Jesus from lover of Israel to sworn enemy of the Jewish people constitutes one of the greatest acts of character assassination in all of human history…”

Ibid.

“A new era in Jewish-Christian brotherhood awaits us if we can only reverse these historical untruths, embracing Jesus for who he truly was.”

-Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Kosher Jesus

“Not only was Jesus a rabbi, he was a deeply learned, well-versed student of Jewish holy texts. Almost all his teachings derive directly from the Torah. The lessons he articulated line up squarely with Jewish morality and statements of rabbis found in the Talmud. Some of Jesus’ most famous and recognizable teachings are taken directly from earlier Jewish sourcesAs a devout rabbi trained in the Torah, Jesus founded his sermons, parables, and aphorisms upon the same Jewish sayings and traditions that governed every aspect of his life.

-Ibid.

None but a well-trained Pharisaic rabbi would draw so reliably and so heavily on the knowledge of his rabbinic predecessors in such a textbook way. And we can only conclude that Jesus was exactly that – a classically trained rabbinic scholar. What is the most important message to take away from this chapter? Not only how much of Jesus’ teaching was rooted in Pharisaic Judaism and Torah, but how similar the rabbis and Jesus sound. In many ways, Jesus and the rabbis shared both purpose and vision. Jesus was a trained rabbi, who taught like a rabbi, spoke like a rabbi, and thought like a rabbi.

-Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Kosher Jesus

Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh

Whether Yeshua was a prophet or not, this may be discussed, but whether Yeshua was G-d, this may not be discussed.”

-In a personal meeting at his Kefar Chabad home with two heads of organizations and myself

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin

“I am an Orthodox Rabbi, and an Orthodox Rabbi who is very profoundly interested in religion in general, in Christianity, and especially in the persona of Jesus in particular… I was truly fascinated with the personality of Jesus, who certainly to myself I always referred to as ‘Rabbi Jesus,’ because I think he is indeed a model Rabbi in many accounts and he lived the life of a Jewish Rabbi in Israel at a very critical time in our history. I have constantly come back to a study of his personality and his teachings which are very strongly rooted in Talmudic teachings and I’ve come to the very obvious conclusion that Christians and Jews are the root and the branch, because Jesus emerged out of Jewish teachings and Jewish society. Jesus went on to present much of the fundamental truths of the Bible to the entire world.”

I think you understand, all of you, that there are really two Jesus figures. There’s the Jesus of Christianity and tragically in his name, millions of Jews have been murdered through the generations and I always mention this and every Christian audience to whom I mention this asks forgiveness, shows empathy and pain. But there’s the Jewish Jesus, who kept commitments to the Bible, to the Torah even as we understand it, and in strengthening the personality of the Jewish Jesus, one begins to understand in depth how Christianity emerged from Judaism truly and that strengthens the connection… I was speaking not of the Jesus of Christian history, but of the historical Jesus who was a Jew and even a committed Jew.”

-Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, former chief rabbi of Efrat, Israel
Rabbi Moses David Valle’s student, Ramhal

Rabbi Moses David Valle

Rabbi Valle was the teacher and then the revered and beloved colleague of one of the greatest Kabbalists in history, Rabbi Moses Haim Luzzatto (RaMHaL).

“Repentance is found in the Torah first, not Christianity…

The whole strife and conflict between Christianity and Torah has no basis in fact

There was a whole fabrication about the danger of the teachings of that man Jesus. It was created with false dogmas and it was done in a repugnant manner. The result was that a lot of nations were going to know G-d, and now we have to fix those mistakes formulated in each religionIt’s repugnant to see how the falsification of Jesus’ teachings was done in order to prevent what was going to be the redemption of the Gentile Nations. He was sent to save them from their miseries… The Children of Israel refused to believe that the power of G-d was flowing through Jesus and that he came to redeem the gentiles. And the Christians refused to believe that it all came from the One G-d, the One Light…

There is a prohibition against looking at a rainbow. It’s not really forbidden to look at a rainbow. Rather, it really means we cannot see the true essence of a rainbow when we see the colors, for they are all part of the white sunlight. The sunlight is separated when you see a rainbow. You see illusion. You do not see the one light. This is what happened with Christianity. They see fragmentation and separation and do not see the true Light. They do not understand Jesus’ true teachings because they do not use Kabbalah to understand it...

If Christians did not make the separation between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but saw the unity, that it was the One Light of One G-d flowing through Jesus, there would be no problem with Christianity. But when you start making distinctions between the aspects of the One Light, it’s like the rainbow, where you see individual colors but not the underlying unity of the white light. The Children of Israel make the same mistake as the Christians when it comes to this idea. And so, you get persecuted by the people who think like you. Both Israelites and Christians fail to see the simple unity.

The secret of the Trinity is that Chesed, Gevurah and Tiferet (The sephirot) are always surrounding you and it’s part of the One Light radiating from the one Creator. When it’s judgment, it’s the Light. When it’s mercy, its also the Light. The distinction is an illusion. When you separate, this causes idolatry.

The triple (trinity) is like the Tefillin, and the Mezuzah and the Tzitzit, which is called the Triple Thread. These are three vessels but they are revealing the same One Light.

You know a person by three things: How they behave when they are drunk, how they behave when it concerns money and how they behave when they are angry.

Jesus never told the people to idol worship so there was no reason to kill him. So when Christians said the rabbis killed him for being a false prophet, this is also false.

There was a lot of false information and confusion about why Jesus was really killed. This was done on purpose to set up strife and trouble and conflict. The whole strife between the two faiths has no basis in fact...

Jesus was sent to bring salvation to the other gentile nations. This is why the gentiles never let go of him…

There are Christians who split the Oneness of G-d into the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Christians created this separation…

The purpose of Christianity was to turn Jesus into an idol, but its not really idol-worshipping when you get to the essence of the meaning. Only the false information about Jesus and Christianity, created by the church, creates the illusion of idolatry. But when you take away the lies and you understand the Kabbalistic truth, then it’s all Torah...

The first dove that Noah sent out and came back with nothing, that is Jesus. He came into the world and tried, but did not get the job done at that time. The second dove that brings back olive branch, that is the Messiah who gets the job done…

Until now Jacob and Esau (Israelites and Christians) fight with each other, two nations that contradict one another, but they could have made an alliance to create the biggest force in the world.

-Rabbi Moshe David Valle, I Sette Giorni della Verità, circa 1722 CE

Rabbi Eliyahu Tzvi Soloveitchik

“While writing this commentary of the New Testament, I had no other goal, as I have said in the first volume, but to reconcile these two enemy sisters: The Church and the Synagogue…

to show everyone that the New Testament only comes to show that the root of existence is in the unity of Gd (ahdut ha-Bore) … and also to strengthen the law of Moses (Torat Moshe)… I publish this commentary (to Matthew) in Hebrew for Jews, to introduce them to the New Testament who, until now, have not recognized its beauty (eynam makirim ’et yofya).

… Notwithstanding the contrary misconception, the New Testament is in no manner contrary to the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) or to the Talmud.

the real Yeshua was held in high esteem by our most revered rabbis, who cite his words with approval…

most of them [the New Testament writers] were of the sect of the Pharisees, thus being students of the Talmud. Even Paul the shaliach said: ‘I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee’…

… thus, everyone who acknowledges [Yeshua], that is, anyone who judges [Yeshua] favorably, the Holy One, blessed be he, will judge him favorably, as we find in the Talmud…

the writers of the New Testament were mostly, or entirely, masters of the Talmud. And just as masters of the Talmud, they would use a verse to prove their statements, and even go so far as to take it out of its original, plain context, in order to use to allude to the subject in question, and they do not intend to say that this is the true meaning of the verse

Yeshua saw that many were gathered to him, all of them with differing opin-
jons, as he said to them: I know that everyone will interpret my words according to his own opinion. Therefore, if they err or are mistaken, God forbid, in interpreting my words, no guilt will be upon me, for the disadvantage will go to the one receiving. And there are four types or receivers, and they are listed in
the Talmudic passage above. And he who distorts the words of Yeshua, his
mistake is not the fault of Yeshua.

… As to the doctrine of the Trinity to which the modern Jew so much objects (which was a doctrine really held by many of the most learned of the Rabbis) it is a very sublime thing, more extended than the circumference of the earth, and more expanded than the sea, and has many sublime principles depending on it, and truly does the Apostle say: ‘Great is the mystery of Godliness’; for not everyone can fathom the depth of that mystery.

Yeshua proclaimed and demonstrated everywhere his devotion to the Torah of Moses […]. And whosoever claims that Yeshua violated, or permitted the violation of, a single command of Moses utters vicious slander against him…”

Kol Kore, Soloveitchik’s Commentary on Matthew

Dr. Pinchas Lapide

“I accept first of all – to put it quite bluntly – that this Jesus of Nazareth, as a devout, believing Jew, was a chosen tool of G-d who had to play a central role in the divine plan of salvation, in whose name a worldwide gentile church was founded. I fully believe that it is part of G-d’s plan of salvation. It didn’t happen behind the back of G-d and it wasn’t a mistake, to put it even better…

He has become the savior of the Gentile church, in fact I would never gainsay, but he has not yet become the Messiah of Israel. He could very well become that, during his second coming.

It took a long, long time, to the end of this, our twentieth century, but people came forth like me and G-d forbid I’m not the only one, but I’m the spearhead I do trust, who will detach this luminary of Judaism by the name of Jesus from the misdeeds of many, many of his ill-baptized followers for almost two millennia, and let Jesus be Jesus. Let him shine forth in his own light without the dark shadows many pseudo-Christians have cast upon his figure.”

-Dr. Pinchas Lapide, debate with Professor Walter Kaiser

“We Jews are very proud of our Einsteins, Heinrich Heines and Sigmund Freuds. We ought to be much prouder of Jesus.”

“Jesus was as faithful to the law as I would hope to be. I even suspect that Jesus was more faithful to the law than I am— and am an Orthodox Jew.”

-Dr. Pinchas Lapide, Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Temple University in Philadelphia

Martin Buber

Martin Buber was an existentialist philosopher, a Zionist, and a seven-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee known to have influenced Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Paul Tillich, among many others. He is also one of the most famous professors of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

“It must be borne in mind, as I have pointed out, that in the teaching of Jesus himself, as we know it from the early texts of the gospels, the genuine Jewish principle is manifest. When later on Christians desired to return to the pure teaching of Jesus there often sprang up, in this as in other points also, an as it were unconscious colloquy with genuine Judaism…

There is scarcely any need to say that every apologetic tendency is far from my purpose.

For nearly fifty years the New Testament has been a main concern in my studies, and I think I am a good reader who listens impartially to what is said.

From my youth onwards I have found in Jesus my great brother. That Christianity has regarded and does regard him as God and Savior has always appeared to me a fact of the highest importance which, for his sake and my own, I must endeavor to understand. A small part of the results of this desire to understand is recorded here. My own fraternally open relationship to him has grown ever stronger and clearer, and to-day I see him more strongly and clearly than ever before.

I am more than ever certain that a great place belongs to him in Israel’s history of faith and that this place cannot be described by any of the usual categories…”

-Martin Buber, Two Types of Faith

“A Jew once said: “One thing above all is needed.” With this saying he [Yeshua] expressed Judaism’s soul which knows that all meaning-contents are null and void unless they grow into a unified one, and that in all of life this alone matters: to have such unity.”

-Martin Buber, On Judaism, “Judaism and Mankind”

“It was against ritual works emptied of the intention of faith that the Prophets fought. It was against moral works emptied of the intention of faith that their successors in the time of Jesus fought, to whom belong the great Pharisaic teachers and Jesus himself.”

-Martin Buber, Eclipse of God

Early Christianity teaches what the Prophets taught: the unconditionality of the deed. For all great religiosity is concerned not so much with what is being done as with whether it is being done in human conditionality or divine unconditionality. And this chapter, the original Sermon on the Mount, closes with the words which, significantly, paraphrase a verse of Leviticus: “Therefore you shall be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (11:14). Are not these words, and particularly the words “even as,” a Jewish creed in the innermost meaning of the term? And may we not answer those who are currently recommending to us a “rapprochement” with Christianity: “Whatever in Christianity is creative is not Christianity but Judaism; and this we need not reapproach; we need only to recognize it within ourselves and to take possession of it, for we carry it within us, never to be lost. But whatever in Christianity is not Judaism is uncreative, a mixture of a thousand rites and dogmas; with this — and we say it both as Jews and as human beings — we do not want to establish a rapprochement.” We may, however, give this answer only when we have overcome our superstitious horror of the Nazarene movement, and when we have placed it where it belongs: in the spiritual history of Judaism.”

-Martin Buber, On Judaism, “Renewal of Judaism”

“… The early Christian movement became barren for the Jew when it converted Jesus’ truly Jewish proclamation that every man could become a son of God by living unconditionally into the doctrine that nothing except belief in the only begotten son of God could win eternity for man.”

“… early Christianity was lost as a source of renewal for Judaism when it became untrue to itself, narrowing the great idea that had carried it aloft, the idea of the God-winning “turning,” to a communion by grace with the Christ; at that point it won the nations, and abandoned Judaism by sundering the structure of its community. From then on Christianity rose to dominion over the nations, and Judaism sank into rigidness, humiliation, and degradation; but its core unshakably maintained its claim to be the true ecclesia, the ever faithful community of divine immediacy.

-Martin Buber, On Judaism, “Jewish Religiosity”

I cannot today trace history step by step. But I must mention a man, a Jew to the core, in whom the Jewish desire for realization was concentrated and in whom it came to a breakthrough. His is the original Jewish spirit of true community when he [Yeshua] teaches that two who become one on this earth can gain everything from God, and that he who has put his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God. What he calls the kingdom of God — no matter how tinged with a sense of the world’s end and of miraculous transformation it may be — is no other-world consolation, no vague heavenly bliss. Nor is it an ecclesiastical or cultic association, a church. It is the perfect life of man with man, true community, and as such, God’s immediate realm, His basileia, His earthly kingdom…


Whatever else may separate him from traditional teaching, Jesus did not want to abolish society; he wanted to perfect it, as did Israel’s prophets. And like the Essenes, he did not want to flee the worldly community but to build out of it the true, the spiritual, community. This knowledge-that God wants to be realized within the world and its worldliness through their purification and perfection; that the world is a devastated house that must be restored for the spirit; and that so long as this remains unaccomplished, the spirit has no dwelling place is Jesus’ most deep-seated Judaism. And yet tradition has transmitted a declaration of his that seemingly expresses the very opposite — his answer to those who ask whether one should pay tribute to the emperor: “Render unto Caesar what iş Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s.”


This answer apparently implies a separation between world and spirit, between the corrupt and monstrous actuality whose existence one must accept and the pure ideality through which one may be delivered from this actuality. Outer life must pay tribute to the first, but the inward life belongs to the second.

But this only appears to be a separation. The state Jesus confronted was no longer a state that one could attempt to recast in its totality by looking its ruler straight in the eye, as the prophet had done with Judea’s or Israel’s kings; it was not a state that could be conquered by an idea. This was Rome; it was the state pure and simple…

Founding a new community that wished to grow in the monster’s body and burst it open — a pattern embodied by Jesus. He who declared “No one can serve two masters” did not mean that one could serve God as well as Rome. He meant that uprisings and revolutions are futile and bound to be self-destructive so long as the new structure of genuinely communal human life is not born out of the soul’s renewal, a structure that, in gaining strength, will jolt the loathsome old system… Jesus wished to build the temple of true community out of Judaism, a community whose mere sight would cause the despotic state’s walls to crumble.

But it is not thus that later generations understood him. Two millennia of the West’s history of ideas are filled with massive misinterpretations of his [Yeshua’s] teaching…

Though the peoples of the West took over Jewish teaching when they took over the teaching of Jesus, they did not take over its essence…

-Martin Buber, On Judaism, “The Holy Way”

Moses Hess

When Theodor Herzl, the founder of Modern Zionism and the State of Israel, read the Zionist Moses Hess’ book, Rome and Jerusalem, Herzl wrote that “since Spinoza, Judaism has brought forth no greater mind than this forgotten Moses Hess,” and, “everything we have attempted can be found in his [Hess’] work.” Herzl said he might not have written Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) if he had known of Rome and Jerusalem beforehand.

Theodor Herzl


From Judaism, permeated with the scientific spirit, Christianity will receive full justice and its importance will be properly estimated. The Jewish historian no longer finds it necessary to assume an attitude of fanaticism toward it. Graetz, in the third volume of his history, has shown how one can be a loyal Jew and at the same time an objective judge of that phenomenon which has been a source of persecution to the Jews for the last eighteen hundred years. A few quotations from that writer will show with what freedom of spirit and objectivity a Jewish historian, not a reformer, has characterized Christianity and its founder.”

-Moses Hess, Rome and Jerusalem 12:2, “CHRIST AND SPINOZA”

In his book, Moses Hess’ quoted the Jewish historian Heinrich Graetz, in reference to Yeshua,

“A strange event occurred… people scarcely noticed it, but gradually, through the force of circumstances it assumed such proportions that it turned the history of the world into new paths… Israel was now to commence his mission in earnest; he was to become the teacher of nations.

It was due to the strange movement which arose under the governorship of Pilate that the teachings of Judaism won the sympathy of the heathen world. But this new form of Judaism, changed by foreign elements, became estranged from and antagonistic to the source from which it sprang. Judaism could hardly rejoice at her offspring, which soon turned coldly from her and struck out into strange, divergent paths…”

-Moses Hess, Rome and Jerusalem 12:2, “CHRIST AND SPINOZA”
Heinrich Graetz

As regards Jesus himselfEarnestness and moral purity were his undeniable attributes; they stand out įn all the authentic accounts of his life that have reached us… The gentle disposition and the humility of Jesus remind one of [Pharisaic Rabbi] Hillel, whom he seems to have taken as his model, and whose golden rule, “What you wish not to be done to yourself, do not do unto others,” he adopted as the starting-point of his moral code. Like Hillel, Jesus looked upon promotion of peace and the forgiveness of injuries as the highest forms of virtue. His whole being was permeated by that deeper religiousness which consecrates to God not only the hour of prayer, a day of penitence, and longer or shorter periods of devotional exercise, but every step in the journey of life, which turns every aspiration of the soul toward Him, subjects everything to His will, and with childlike trust, commits everything to His keeping. He was filled with that tender, brotherly love which Judaism teaches should be manifested even to an enemy. Certainly no curse against his enemies escaped his lips, and his enthusiastic admirers have done him an injustice when they placed in his mouth a curse or even unfriendly words against his own mother. He reached the ideal of the passive virtues which the Pharisees inculcated: “Be of the oppressed and not of the oppressors; receive abuse and return it not: let the motive of all your actions be the love of God, and rejoice in suffering.”

Ibid.

Jesus made no attack upon Judaism itself. He had no idea of becoming the reformer of Jewish doctrine or the propounder of a new Law. He sought merely to redeem the sinner, to call him to a good and holy life and to make him worthy of participation in the approaching Messianic time. He insisted upon the unity of God, and was far from attempting to change in the slightest degree the Jewish conception of the Deity. To the question once put to him by an expounder of the law, What is the essence of Judaism? he replied, ‘Hear, O Israel, our God is one,’ and Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself;-these are the chief commandments. When a man approached him with the words: ‘Good Master;’ Jesus remarked: ‘Call me not good, there is none good but One, that is, my Father in Heaven’: His disciples, who remained true to Judaism, promulgated the declaration of their master I have not come to destroy but to fulfill till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the Law till all be fulfilled.’


He must have kept the Sabbath holy, for those of his followers who were attached to Judaism strictly observed the Sabbath, which they would not have done had their master disregarded it. It was only the Shammaitic [Pharisaic School of Rabbi Shammai’s] strictness in the observance of the Sabbath which forbade even the healing of the sick on that day, that Jesus protested against, declaring that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath. Jesus made no objection to the existing custom of sacrifice, he merely demanded-and in this the Pharisees agreed with him-that reconciliation with one’s fellow-man should precede any act of atonement. He did not even oppose fasting when practiced without Ostentation or hypocrisy. He was so completely Jewish... When a Canaanite or a Syrian Greek woman from Phoenician implored him to heal her demon possessed daughter, he replied harshly, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and it is not right to take the bread away from the mouth of the children and cast it to the dogs.” To his disciples he repeatedly spoke: Do not follow in the paths of the heathens and do not enter the cities of the Samaritans. While Jesus thus confined himself to the bounds of Judaism, he had no intention to proclaim a new revelation or to originate a new covenant, but limited himself to the task of sowing the seeds of religion and morality in such hearts as had heretofore been barren of it. Jesus did not teach the immortality of the soul, in the sense of a continued existence of the soul after its liberation from the body and its sojourning in the abode of heaven, but emphasized the resurrection of the body at a definite time, in accordance with the teachings of Judaism current in his day. The resurrection of the just and pious was, according to him, to take place on earth, and as the beginning of the inauguration of a new order of things, the future world (Olom habba), which he, like the Pharisees and Essenes; identified with the Messianic era and the initiation of the Kingdom of Heaven. He, like the Pharisees, threatened sinners with eternal punishment in a fiery pit (Gehenna). The merit of Jesus consists in his efforts to impart inner force to the precepts of Judaism, in his upholding the Jewish doctrine of the brotherhood of Man, in his insistence that moral laws be placed in the foreground, and in his endeavors to have them accepted by those who had hitherto been regarded as the lowest and most degraded of human beings…

He [Yeshua] wished to prevent any misconception as to his desire to change the Law, and his ready reply to the Pharisee who asked what would be required of him if he became his disciple was, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments; sell what thou hast and give to the poor.”

-Ibid.

In order to conquer the pagan world, the daughter of Judaism was forced to make greater concessions to paganism than the latter made to Judaism… Christianity represents a departure from the classical essence of both Judaism and Paganism…

This other-worldliness [of Christianity], in the course of historical development, in the measure that the nations approached the Jewish historical religion, assumed more and more of a secular character. And the more Jewish, the more humane the pagan world became, the more could Jews participate in the culture of this world and contribute to its progress. And finally, when, after the long struggle between the pagan world of sensuality and barbarous force, on the one hand, and the spiritual, mystic, Jewish view on the other, the sun of modern humanitarian civilization shed its feeble rays upon a better and more perfect world, it was a Jew [Spinoza] who was able to signal to the world that the final stage of the process of human development has begun…


The basic idea of the system of Spinoza, namely, that God is the only substance, the ground and origin of all being, is the fundamental expression of the Jewish genius, which has ever manifested itself in divine revelations from the time of Moses and the Prophets, down to modern days…

-Moses Hess, Rome and Jerusalem 12:3, “THE GENETIC VIEW OF THE WORLD”

Albert Einstein

“As a child, I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.”

No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life. How different, for instance, is the impression which we receive from an account of legendary heroes of antiquity like Theseus. Theseus and other heroes of his type lack the authentic vitality of Jesus.

No man can deny the fact that Jesus existed, nor that his sayings are beautiful. Even if some of them have been said before, no one has expressed them so divinely as he.

-Albert Einstein, “What Life Means to Einstein: An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck,” The Saturday Evening Post, Oct. 26, 1929, p. 17. 

“Our time is distinguished by wonderful achievements in the fields of scientific understanding and the technical application of those insights. Who would not be cheered by this? But let us not forget that knowledge and skills alone cannot lead humanity to a happy and dignified life. Humanity has every reason to place the proclaimers of high moral standards and values above the discoverers of objective truth. What humanity owes to personalities like Buddha, Moses, and Jesus ranks for me higher than all the achievements of the enquiring and constructive mind.

What these blessed men have given us we must guard and try to keep alive with all our strength if humanity is not to lose its dignity, the security of its existence, and its joy in living.

-Albert Einstein, Einstein’s God by Robert N. Goldman

Once a Catholic science student, worried about Einstein’s soul, wrote to Einstein and asked him to pray to Christ, the Virgin Mary, and see a Catholic priest immediately. This was Einstein’s reply to him…

If I would follow your advice and Jesus could perceive it, he, as a Jewish teacher, surely would not approve of such behavior.

-Albert Einstein, Ibid.

I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals Himself in the orderly harmony of what exists…

-Albert Einstein, The New York Times

Baruch Spinoza

Baruch Spinoza was one of the most influential philosophers and a founder of the European Enlightenment. He was raised in the Jewish community of Amsterdam, where he later grew to reject superstition and dogma in favor of a religion more fully grounded by reason and rationality.

The famous philosopher Hegel once wrote of Spinoza,

“The fact is that Spinoza is made a testing-point in modern philosophy, so that it may really be said: You are either a Spinozist or not a philosopher at all.”

-G.W.F. Hegel

If Einstein believed in Spinoza’s God, how did Spinoza describe God?

“Clearly, therefore: 1. God is one, that is only one substance can be granted in the universe, and that substance is absolutely infinite, and 2. extension and thought are either attributes of God or manifestations of the attributes of God… All things are in God, wherefore nothing can exist outside himself, whereby he can be conditioned or constrained to act…”

-Spinoza, The Chief Works

Martin Buber describes Spinoza’s God in this way,

The unitary tendency, however, would not be dragged down. The battle between schema and longing raged unceasingly. Temporarily, there was a reconciliation in the views of Philo; it was followed by a new flare-up among the talmudic masters; the struggle permeated the early Christian movement, filled the discourse of the Midrashim, and was the soul of the Kabbalah. But during that struggle the nature of the idea of unity underwent changes. God, inclining toward the world, was met by the hosts of His emanations, the sephirot, coming to unite Him with the world. His “indwelling,” the shekhinah, descended to the world in order to abide with it. Sparks of the Divine fell into the soul of man. Transcendent unity became immanent – the unity of the world-permeating, world-animating, world-being God: deus sive natura.

This was the God of Baruch Spinoza. Again a peak was reached in the spiritual process; a synthesis between the faculty of conceptualization and that of yearning was found. But it was followed by still another decline; again the battle raged. For a moment, the active unitary tendency rose once again, in Hasidism…”

-Martin Buber, “Renewal of Judaism,” On Judaism

So how did Spinoza view Yeshua?

“Therefore I do not believe that anyone has attained such a degree of perfection surpassing all others, except Christ. To him God’s ordinances leading men to salvation were revealed not by words or by visions, but directly, so that God manifested himself to the Apostles through the mind of Christ as he once did to Moses through an audible voice. The Voice of Christ can thus be called the Voice of God in the same way as that which Moses heard. In that sense it can also be said that the Wisdom of God that is, wisdom that is more than human – took on human nature in Christ, and that Christ was the way of salvation.

“But I must here ask it to be noted that I am certainly not alluding to the doctrines held by some Churches about Christ, nor am I denying them; for I freely confess that I do not understand them. What I have just stated I gather from Scripture itself. Nowhere have I read that God appeared to Christ or spoke with him, but that God was revealed to the Apostles through Christ, that Christ is the way of salvation, that the ancient Law was transmitted through an angel, not directly by God and so on. Therefore, if Moses spoke with God face to face as a man may do with his fellow (that is, through the medium of their two bodies), then Christ communed with God mind to mind…”

-Spinoza, Theological-Political Treatise

“With regard to Christ, although he also appears to have laid down laws in God’s name, we must maintain that he perceived things truly and adequately; for Christ was not so much a prophet as the mouthpiece of God. It was through the mind of Christ that God made revelations to mankind just as He once did through angels, i.e. through a created voice, visions, etc…”

“Hence, we can readily understand that Christ by no means abrogated the law of Moses, for it was not Christ’s purpose to introduce new laws into the commonwealth.”

-Spinoza, Ibid.

Moses Mendelssohn

Moses Mendelssohn was a philosopher and one of the founders of the Jewish Enlightenment. Renowned Enlightenment philosopher, Immanuel Kant, wrote that Mendelssohn’s Jerusalem was an “irrefutable book.” This is what Mendelssohn wrote about Yeshua in Jerusalem

“Then it evidently comes down to this: what God has bound, man cannot dissolve. If one of us go over to the Christian Church, I cannot conceive how he can believe, thereby, to compound with his conscience, and exonerate himself from the yoke of the Law. Jesus of Nazareth never signified that he was come to acquit the house of Jacob of the Law; nay, he said the reverse in express terms; and, which is still more, he acted the reverse. Jesus of Nazareth himself kept, not only the Mosaic Law, but also the Rabbinical institutions. And whatever seems to be contrary to this, in the sayings and proceedings recorded of him, only seems so at first sight. Carefully examined, every thing will be found perfectly to agree, not only with Scripture, but also with tradition. If he came to put a stop to the more and more spreading Pharisaism and hypocrisy, surely he would not himself have set the first example of them by sanctioning, by his own observance, a Law which he thought should be abrogated and set aside. On the contrary, the Rabbinical maxim, that he, who is not born in the Law, need not bind himself to the Law; but he, who is born in the Law, must live according to the Law, and die according to it, obviously characterizes his whole conduct, and that of his disciples, in the beginning. If, on later times, his followers thought differently, and believed they might absolve also the Jews, who joined them, it certainly was not done by his authority. And ye, good brethren and fellow-men, who follow the doctrine of Jesus, should you blame us for practicing what the founder of your religion himself practiced? Should you think you may not love us in return as brethren, not unite with us as citizens, as long as we distinguish ourselves outwardly by the ceremonial law, as long as we do not partake of viands or intermarry with you, all which, for ought we can see, the founder of your religion would neither have done himself, nor have allowed us to do? If that be your real feeling, and is to continue so — which we cannot suppose of Christian-minded men — if civil union cannot be obtained on any other term than that of departing from the Law, which we consider still binding upon us, we are heartily sorry for what we deem necessary to declare — that we will rather renounce civil union: then may that philanthropic man, Dohm, have written to no purpose, and every thing remain in the bearable state in which it is now, or in any other, your own humanity may think fit to change it. To compromise, is not, here, in our power; but if we be just, it is in our power to love you like brethren, notwithstanding; and in a brother-like manner intreat ye to make our burdens as bearable as ye can. Look upon us, if not as brethren and fellow-citizens, at least, as fellow-creatures and countrymen. Show us the way and Supply us with the means of becoming more efficient men and countrymen; and let us also enjoy as much of the rights of man as times and circumstances will admit of. We cannot, in conscience, depart from the Law; and of what use would it be to you, fellow-citizens void of conscience? But, in this manner, how can the prophecy be fulfilled, that a time will come when there will be only one shepherd and one flock?”

-Moses Mendelssohn, Jerusalem

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