- It is incorrect to argue that Jewish people think we are better than non-Jewish people. The word “chosen” means that we are supposed to follow God’s commandments as expressed in the Torah. We have not lived up to that charge all the time and the Scripture is full of references to this fact. We are told numerous times that God will keep his promise to Redeem His people (i.e. the Jewish people, who accepted the Torah when the other nations did not) not because of our deeds but despite them.
- It is incorrect to argue that one person is better than another or more preferred by another. Rather each person has a mission in life, just as men and women have somewhat different commandments and roles in Judaism, and just as different nations play different roles in the world.
- When the Bible speaks of the “nations of the world” it is speaking of idol-worshipers, not Christians. The term “idol-worshipers” can also be understood as referring to satanists, who repudiate religion altogether but worship themselves instead.
- Maimonides, the foundational Jewish sage of the Middle Ages whose writings are universally accepted by observant Jews, stated that although Jesus was not God, Christianity (and Islam) were paving the way for the ultimate coming of the Messiah. We do not understand why God made it this way, he said, but it is a fact.
“Nevertheless, the intent of the Creator of the world is not within the power of man to comprehend, for [to paraphrase Yeshayahu 55:8] His ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts our thoughts. [Ultimately,] all the deeds of Jesus of Nazareth and that Ishmaelite [i.e. Mohammed] who arose after him will only serve to pave the way for the coming of Mashiach and for the improvement of the entire world, [motivating the nations] to serve G-d together, as it is written [Zephaniah 3:9], ‘I will make the peoples pure of speech so that they will all call upon the Name of G-d and serve Him with one purpose.’”Maimonides, “The Laws Concerning Moshiach,” Online Text-Only Version, Sichos In English
- The Messianic era, per Maimonides, will appear “normal” and natural; distinguishing feature will be that all of humanity will worship God together.
“At that time there will be no famines and no wars, no envy and no competition. For the Good will be very pervasive. All the delicacies will be as readily available as is dust. The world will only be engaged in knowing G-d.. Then, there will be very wise people who will understand the deep, sealed matters. They will then achieve knowledge of the Creator to as high a degree as humanly possible, as it says, “For the Earth shall be filled of knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, 11:5
Blessed be Hashem who helped me.”
- Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet and will come back; therefore one can argue that Christianity as a religion holds primacy over Islam for the purposes of this discussion.
- In the same place that Maimonides said Christianity was paving the way for the Messiah, he referred to Jesus as immoral/a renegade and invoked the prophecy of Daniel to explain his downfall. This is not a contradiction. Rather Maimonides recognized that from the perspective of the Torah, the statements made by Jesus about himself were blasphemous. Nevertheless he has served to further the overarching greater good.
- The revered and renowned Rabbi Yehudah (Judah) HaLevi (middle ages) made the same point as Maimonides.
- Rabbi Jacob Emden, a leading 19th century Orthodox rabbi who zealously fought the false messianic movement of Sabbateanism-Frankism, made the point that Christians are not the theological concern of the Jews. Rather it is the false Jews who point Jews down the path of believing in a false messiah.
“For it is recognized that also the Nazarene and his disciples, especially Paul, warned concerning the Torah of the Israelites, to which all the circumcised are tied. And if they are truly Christians, they will observe their faith with truth, and not allow within their boundary this new unfit Messiah Shabbetai Zevi* who came to destroy the earth.”Rabbi Yaakov (Jacob) Emden, Letter
- Thus, Jewish people can be inspired by Jesus, as I am, but may not believe that he is God, a prophet or the messiah. Jesus was a knowledgeable Jew, a man of the people, and a fierce opponent of corruption. Those are all traits to emulate.
- Jewish people regard Christianity as idolatry for all the people of the world only because Jesus is viewed as God within Christianity and Jews view the Seven Noahide Laws (a.k.a. the Laws of Universal Morality) as binding on all humanity – one of them is to worship the Lord and only the Lord. It is not problematic from a Jewish perspective to revere, adore, and praise Jesus. Jewish people revere, adore, and praise certain rabbis in much the same way.
- If a Jewish person converts to Christianity, they are regarded as an idol-worshiper not because they are inspired by Jesus but because they worship him as God, violating the second of the Ten Commandments (e.g. the commandment not to worship another god/an idol). You can believe that someone is a prophet or the Messiah and be wrong about it, but there is no commandment that dictates these beliefs. For example, many Jews believed that the Lubavitcher Rebbe (Chabad) was the messiah. He was not. Some continue to believe it even after his passing. That doesn’t make them any less observant nor does it make them blasphemers. It just makes them wrong.
- Many observant Jews think that Jewish theology dictates one must not be inspired by Jesus. This is false. Maimonides (Jewish sage, universally accepted), while repudiating the notion of Jesus as God, also argued that Christianity and Islam set the stage for the coming of the Messiah because together they move the world to monotheism.
- Many think that Christianity seeks to eliminate Torah observance. This is false. Christianity advocates for the basic laws of morality and the belief in Jesus as God/prophet/messiah. The former applies to all humankind. Observant Jews do not believe the latter.
- Many think that Jews seek to dominate the world. This is false. Jewish people seek to be free of dominance by non-Jews.
Note: All of the rabbis cited below are Orthodox Jewish. Their views are universally accepted as observant Jewish theology.
The Ten Commandments
The Seven Noahide Laws
Maimonides’ view of the Moshiach (Messiah), Jesus and Christianity – in Mishneh Torah (these are three different translations)
The Prophet Daniel, Original Citation by Maimonides
The word “Pritzus” as used by the Prophet Daniel and cited by Maimonides
Rabbi Yaakov (Jacob) Emden on Christianity
Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi on Christianity
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on Jesus and Christianity
By Dr. Dannielle (Dossy) Blumenthal. All opinions are the author’s own. Public domain.