Quote of the Day


“At the very outset I make my honest and public confession, the result of earnest thought and inward struggle, that it is my steadfast, unalterable conviction … Yes, as a Rabbi grown grey in office, as an old Jew faithful to the Law, I confess candidly, Jesus is the predicted Messiah of Israel … for whom we long, and for whose Advent our people have ever expected. He is come! This is now my shout of rejoicing, which my lips and pen, and, if G-d wills, my prolonged life shall serve to make known.”


-Rabbi Isaac Lichtenstein, former Chief Rabbi of the norther district of Hungary, from his “An Appeal to the Jewish People.”



About Rabbi Joshua

I'm a Rabbi, writer, thinker, mountain biker, father and husband ... not necessarily in that order. According to my wife, however, I'm just a big nerd. I have degrees in dead languages and ancient stuff. I have studied in various Jewish institutions, including an Orthodox yeshiva in Europe. I get in trouble for making friends with perfect strangers, and for standing on chairs to sing during Shabbos dinner. In addition to being the Senior Rabbi of Beth Emunah Messianic Synagogue in Agoura Hills, CA, I write regularly for several publications and speak widely in congregations and conferences. My wife is a Southern-fried Jewish Beltway bandit and a smokin' hot human rights attorney... and please don’t take offense if I dump Tabasco sauce on your cooking.
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13 Responses to Quote of the Day

  1. Boaz says:

    I am sure you know this:…Thirty five years later, there was a terrible persecution in his area. The old blood libel recurred where the Jews were accused of kidnapping a Christian girl and using her blood to bake Passover matzah. The Jewish community prepared for the usual pogroms and persecution, but to Rabbi Lichtenstein’s surprise, a prominent Christian believer, Franz Deilitzsch rose up in defense of the Jewish community. Deilitzsch was the translator who had translated the New Testament to Hebrew.This inspired the Rabbi to take a second look at the New Testament. He opened it up and began to read. As he read, he was overwhelmed with truth of the Gospel and the certainty that this was real Judaism he was reading about, and that Yeshua of Nazareth was the promised Messiah.

  2. Rabbi Joshua says:

    Boaz,Of course! And we're all looking forward to your soon release of the Deilitzsch Hebrew-English Gospels.Cheers!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Joshua,In 19th century Hungary, there was a rabbi who converted to Christianity. You've found him.How do you account for his similarly educated predecessors, contemporaries and successors nearly uniform disagreement with his "decision"?

  4. Rabbi Joshua says:

    Anonymous,Rav Lichtenstein remained a devout Jew his entire life. Although he did come to believe in Yeshua late in his life, he never "converted to Christianity." In fact, he refused to be 'baptised' so that he could be buried in a Jewish cemetery. Additionally, he may have been in the minority with respect to the majority of his fellow rabbinic contemporaries, but he was hardly alone. There were many, many other fellow rabbis that also came to believe in Yeshua during his lifetime. The most well-known among these many other rabbis include: -Rabbi Daniel Zion (former Chief Rabbi of Bulgaria, a Holocaust hero, and buried in Israel with full military honors)-Rabbi Dr. Israel Zolli (former Chief Rabbi of Rome)-Rabbi Joachim Heinrich Biesenthal-Rabbi Dr. Leopold Cohen -Haham Ephraim ben Joseph Eliakim-Rabbi Nathaniel Friedmann-Rabbi Chaim Rudolf Hermann Gurland-Rabbi Daniel Landsmann-Rabbi Joseph I. Landsman-Rabbi Paul Philip (Feivel) Levertoff -Rabbi Yechiel Tzvi Lichtenstein -Rabbi John Neander -Rabbi Philipp Philips-Rabbi Sam Stern-Rabbi P. Daniel Weiss-Rabbi Dr. Max WerthheimerSo, these great rabbis may have been in the minority – but Rav Lichtenstein was in good company.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Time prohibits me from the whole peanut gallery roster. Let's just focus on Mr. Lichtenstein for the moment. His biography (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignatz_Lichtenstein) reveals the following:1. His name was Ignatz, not Isaac.2. He once was a rabbi, but In 1892 he formally resigned that title.I found no record of his having been the "Chief Rabbi" of anything.Finally, according to Websters, a Christian is "one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/christian), so I am at a loss to make sense of your argument that "Although [Lichtenstein] did come to believe in Yeshua late in his life, he never 'converted to Christianity.'"

  6. Rabbi Joshua says:

    Anonymous,I always find it amusing that when you find yourself grasping for a response your default is to dismiss rather than seriously wrestle with it. 1) "Peanut gallery roster" – hardly. Some of those listed were great leaders, thinkers, and scholars. Again, your default is to dismiss anyone you might disagree with and slap a label on them. In this case it is "peanut gallery."2) Ignatz is Hungarian for Isaac.3) In 1892 he resigned his position as District Chief Rabbi and resigned his congregation in Tapioszele (due to external pressure). But he never resigned his title.4) Do a little more research than Wikkepedia. He was the Chief Rabbi of the northern district, based in Tapioszele. 5) The issue is more complex than one line from Websters. "Christians" are indeed those who profess belief in the teachings of Jesus. BUT, not all who profess faith in Jesus are Christians.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Joshua,As long as Websters and Wikipedia are wrong, then I guess you must be right!I hope that "peanut gallery" wasn't too strong a dismissal of people you describe as Christian leaders of Jewish religious communities. I also hope you know enough to realize that no such thing is possible, which is why in Jewish history there isn't a single instance of it.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Joshua,I've been reflecting on my last comment to you, and regretting the sarcastic tone.Here is the point I wanted to make: You obviously sincerely believe that there were Christians–or whatever you would like to call them instead, knowing that they were Christians–who, while publicly espousing the beliefs of Christianity, served as rabbinical leaders of Jewish communities (that plainly did not espouse Christianity). From your writings here, it is obvious that you are a smart man. I cannot understand why it does not trouble you that your belief with respect to this matter is not only extremely illogical, but it also is supported only by Christians' claims, and not by the records of the Jewish communities these Christians supposedly led religiously. I'm just not accustomed to bright people like you buying into nonsensical stories. I again apologize if anything in my last posting offended.

  9. Rabbi Joshua says:

    Anonymous,Two intelligent people can always look at the same data and evidence and come to different conclusions. It happens everyday.My point has never been to convince you Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah. Rather, I have presented enough evidence over our conversations to demonstrate that it is not as absurd as you might think. And that there are indeed numerous examples within Jewish history of it. And the list of examples of rabbis who came to such a conclusion was only a short list of rabbis in the 1800's and early 1900's. I did not include rabbis (or even other intelligent Jewish scholars and professionals) who came to such a conclusions in other centuries. Anonymous – you and I can always agree to disagree. But if I can emphasize anything to you in which you cannot easily write off it is that there might just be something a little more to this than you have previously thought.These great Jewish minds over the centuries didn't just get "duped." And they are hardly individuals unaware of the arguments in the Gemara, Midrash, responsa, etc. SOMETHING caused them to go against the grain. What was it? Hardly because they belong in the "peanut gallery." You may decide that you disagree. Fine. But the issue cannot be just merely dismissed and written off – considered 'stupid.' As an academic, I disagree with colleagues and fellow graduate students all the time on any number of matters. However, there are also a limited number of individuals who I may often disagree with but who I greatly respect because they are so familiar with the matter, have truly wrestled with the data, interviewed and openly discussed it with others of differing perspectives. They have so thoroughly thought it through an truly considered every possibility in great depth. In the end we might disagree. But I respect their difference because it is a conclusion not based on dismissal or ignorance, but on actual intimate knowledge of the details and nuances. Afterall, there is always a chance we can all be wrong about anything. True faith is often built not on what we agree with, but on wrestling with what we don't.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Joshua,You wrote "Two intelligent people can always look at the same data and evidence and come to different conclusions. It happens everyday."Of course, you're right about that. In complex fields such as oncology, there are differing schools of thought about approaches to disease treatment. These differences are rooted in competing theories where the data is incomplete. We don't know whether a certain drug is the best approach, because it hasn't been tested yet. But we do have reasons to expect the drug will or won't work. What's missing is the conclusive evidence, and that will eventually be gathered, and when it is the two schools of thought will come together.But in the case of the propriety of praying to a man, to Jesus, there is no lack of evidence. The Jewish Bible explicitly states "G-d is not a man" (Num. 23:19). Therefore, there are not two competing theories. We have two groups, one which deals in reality and another that refuses to. We could talk about expert apologists for driving through red lights, who advance theories to support their claims that driving through red lights is appropriate. But a simple comparison between those theorists, those apologists, and the code of US law reveals that there is no question or doubt in the matter. Those advocating driving through red lights are simply wrong.The question of whether or not to pray to a man is not a complicated issue. Worshiping Jesus is plain wrong. And the Jewish Bible is so explicit on this topic that your continued involvement in that sin is astounding to me, given your obvious intelligence. We're not two professors have an academic disagreement over theories that cannot be proved out. You're holding to a discredited theory. Scientists don't do that. Smart people, generally, don't do that. That's what I was commenting about, and what I find so remarkable. I'm flabbergasted that you could believe a Christian would ever have been viewed for one second by a Jewish community as their religious leader. It just boggles the mind.Have a good Shabbos.

  11. Rabbi Joshua says:

    Anonymous,You and I have shared numerous comments back and forth for months. I have repeatedly given you clear evidence of varying Jewish streams of thought on these issues. And you come back with typical canned anti-missionary responses that ignore previous evidence presented. You are not interested in dialogging. Although you say you are, nothing you have demonstrated ever bares that out. You repeatedly come back with accusations, name calling, and simple write-offs without really engaging with a strong answer. And this is not surprising as most anti-missionary responses to Yeshua are extremely weak theologically and textually. They are primarily emotional responses. But to the uninitiated they can sound pretty good. It is difficult to converse on these topics because you already have your spoon-fed, canned responses are not even remotely familiar with any of the discussions happening in academia over various streams of Jewish Messianism. Most other Messianic blogs out there have already blocked you from posting. I have been nice, and for the sake of being open to intelligent discourse, have not done as of yet done so. However, I am truly considering it. After all, let's just be honest, you are not hear for open and honest dialog. And I am far too busy to waste my time.

  12. zayin says:

    I must admit I have seen the canned responses as well. When I was first presented with these by a friend, who also happens to be an orthodox rabbi, I assumed they were personal and well intended. Now seeing this responses a second and third time I realize it as if they are almost being read off a teleprompter.I am open to listen, but until we get past these spoonfed baby steps I have no interest. For goodness sake, this isn't a dialogue with a Catholic 500 years ago as most of these responses are geared towards (and even books such as "The Real Messiah?" are).Rabbi Singer at least gives in-depth theological arguments and stands behind them. That I can respect.Rabbi Yosh has responded to you with open, detailed responses and I just get the impression you are so blinded with a biased agenda you don't want to weigh any evidence. By no means do I think you have to accept what he is saying, but for the sake of a good debate it would be nice to show some additional effort and do some detailed research of your own.

  13. zayin says:

    I also would like to state in response to two of your comments which I think Yosh probably had already done so, but I want to address again. This is my opinion and from my experience:"But in the case of the propriety of praying to a man, to Jesus, there is no lack of evidence."I agree with you 100%. What I have told my other orthodox friends is this. There are a ton of various beliefs out there about this. Just because some do doesn't mean others do.Let me give you an example. I am assuming you are also orthodox. If I was to approach you and start criticizing you for ordaining LGBT rabbinate, you would be quick to correct me that is done by the Reform movement and you are not reform. You would quickly distance yourself from their viewpoint.The same is true with a portion in Messianic Judaism. I do not pray to Jesus. Why would I? Most Christians do however. Many in J4J do (the real missionary's you and I both should be concerned with). It needs to be understood there is a portion, that now has to remain under the umbrella of this tainted name (tainted by groups like J4J and other true missionary groups) that have no resemblance to them, live as Jews and quite honestly are extremely frustrated that their name was taken and trashed to the Jewish community.Now you may hear people pray to God in the "name of" "Yeshua". That is completely different than praying to Jesus himself and no different than that the Lubavitchers I have heard that do the same in the name of the Rebbe.It is only a more "chasidic -minded" viewpoint.Comment #2:"The Jewish Bible explicitly states "G-d is not a man" (Num. 23:19)"Again, I agree with you 100%. You are lumping everybody into one gigantic category and you just can't do that.

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