Jesus and the Talmud - Similarities, Continued.
September 29, 2006
Santa Cruz, California
Received by FAB.
I am here, Jesus.
Many people consider my ideas to have been completely original. For example, there is the famous idea, “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44). And yet the Talmud says this:
“Who is the greatest hero? He who turns his enemy into a friend.”
Another example is the following.
“And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)
Yet we find this in the Talmud:
“He who humiliates [read ‘humbles’] himself will be lifted up; he who raises himself up will be humiliated [read ‘humbled’].”
Many consider my teaching that “God hates sin, but loves the sinner” to be completely my own, yet the Talmud has this to say:
“Rabbi Meir was vociferous against evildoers and often prayed God, saying, ‘Destroy the sinners.’ Beruriah, his pious wife, gently admonished him, saying, ‘Rather pray that God destroy sin and the sinners will be no more.’”
I taught that it is the heart that God considers as most important. Here is a Talmudic anecdote to support this belief, spoken by Rabbi Yochanan ben Zaccai to his five primary disciples:
“‘Go out and discern which is the proper way to which a person should cling.’
Rabbi Eliezer says, ‘a good eye.’
Rabbi Yehoshua says, ‘a good friend.’
Rabbi Yose says, ‘a good neighbour.’
Rabbi Shimon says, ‘one who considers the outcome of a deed.’
Rabbi Elazar says, ‘a good heart.’
He said to them: ‘I prefer the words of Elazar ben Arach to your words, for in his words yours are included.’” (Pirkei Avot, Chapter 2)
So, the point I have been making is that I preached in a very specific context, and this context was first century Judaism. When this is fully seen, then Judaism will be truly seen as the true and necessary foundation for everything I represented.
One of the greatest Talmudic rabbis was Hillel, whose influence was pervasive when I lived. One of my Beatitudes was:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Here is what Hillel said about peace:
“Be of the students of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving people and bringing them closer to Torah.” (Pirkei Avot 1:12)
Elsewhere in the Talmud is this idea from Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel:
“The world is established on three principles: truth, justice, and peace, as it is said: ‘You shall administer truth, justice and peace within your gates.’” (Pirkei Avot 1:18)
People are accustomed to focus on the Jewish Zealots, who wanted to throw out the Romans. And yet there were some who felt as I did, that peace and not conflict was the right priority. Of course, under the circumstances, it was very difficult to sustain this conviction - but some beside me did.
I have been showing that what I represented was known and shared by my Jewish contemporaries. But what they did not know was that God’s Love had been poured out in my soul, and that therefore the exquisitely meticulous concern of my contemporaries for right living had been fulfilled in my soul, which experienced the New Birth.