Letting Go Of The Bug

So I’ve found my new, living, Orthodox Jewish, intellectual hero: Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb. He has his Ph.D. in mathematical logic, was Professor of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University, and is a senior faculty member at Ohr Somayachin Jerusalem.

Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb

Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb

What turned me on to him? Simply because he wrote a paper entitled Coming Home and in it he said: “Teshuva is the greatest creative challenge a person will ever face: the challenge of recreating oneself. A person’s whole past – talents, training, experience, successes and failures – provides the materials from which his new identity will be forged. He does not turn his back on his past, but organizes it to fulfill its potential in a new way. It is a denial of Providence to regard any of his “unplanned” prior life as a loss. Everything which happened to him was planned so that he could fulfill his unique human potential and make his unique contribution (see Luzzatto’s Derech Hashem, Part II, Chapter 3). Later, he will see how his seemingly pointless past gave him the tools for his religious future.” These words of course are a great inspiration to me as I am definitely in the process of recreating myself.

In addition to this quote, I’d also like to interact with a few more things that he said in that same paper. Rabbi Gottlieb reveals what brought him to become a Baal Teshuvah: “What led me home? I can, with effort, discern three main themes in my own Jewish development: the desire not to miss, the rejection of arbitrary limits to investigation, and the desire for an integrated world-view.” I can relate to these motivations as well. As a child, I was the first one in the house up in the morning ready to get the day started whether it be exploring, going on a trip, or creating a new game with my friends. If there was a big event coming up like a vacation (never mind that it could be weeks away or the next morning) I felt a need to stay up as late as possible to prepare. How does a child prepare? He dreams (while he’s awake of course) of all the things that could happen: what he wants to do, what he doesn’t want to miss out on, will his favorite stores be closed, could the car break down and cancel the trip? So much to consider and think about, how could anyone sleep? I find that I have similar responses to religion. There is so much to learn, so much to read, so much information to sift through. I don’t want to miss anything! I can spend hours at night studying, reading, interacting, debating. I draw energy and meaning from these activities.

Hasidism is known in secular Jewish culture an...

Which leads naturally to the rejection of arbitrary limits that Rabbi Gottlieb wrote about. With Christianity and so many other world religions, the requirement for faith is a cliché used to cover up real problems. How many times was I told to “just have faith” when I asked (smart people) about the problems in the New Testament, about unfilled prophesies of Jesus (or Yeshua as some still insist is an important distinction) that never came true, or in areas where Christianity just couldn’t be reconciled with true Judaism! How I prefer the intellectual honesty of the Sages and Yeshiva rabbis who will discuss the hard topics and expose every possible flaw all while being able to explain it. No, the explanations don’t always agree, but I don’t ever feel brushed away with “just have faith.”

Being armed with a can’t-quit stamina and a no holds barred attitude toward explanation and testing, I can truly learn and discover the integrated world-view that only Torah Judaism offers. It is in this environment that I am recreating myself, my flaws, my strengths, my past, and my potential. In spite of the vast criticism I have been receiving in the past two weeks, I press on boldly unashamed of who I am or what I have said in my honest, blunt and real attempt to reach out to the G-d of Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov. This reaching out could not have been made possible had I held on to Jesus and Christianity/Messianic Judaism because they are false. Just as you can’t enter a kosher mikvah with a bug in your hand and come out clean, you can’t find the G-d of Israel while you’re still holding on to defiling ideas that are anathema to Torah.

Pool of a medieval mikvah in Speyer, dating ba...


  1. Almoni said:

    Who were the smart people you asked? Your seminary professors? Could you give me an example of some of the questions you asked (that you haven’t already stated in this blog)? I’m asking because I’m interested in more Kushiot to investigate concerning the Messiah and NT.

    • Yes some were sem profs. Others were a friend’s parents who are learned and rational as well as some well-known and published authors in the Messianic world.

      Here’s a sampling:

      How does one explain the Jerusalem/Galilee resurrection stories–they cannot both be true.

      Jesus’ genealogy presents significant problems.

      Jesus’ supposed virgin birth means he cannot be a son of David, from the tribe of Judah, and a messianic candidate.

      Glaring contradictions in Stephen’s account of Jewish history in Acts and the Torah.

      Paul’s misquoting of the Torah in many places.

      “G-d is not a man” flies in the face of blatant NT teachings.

      This should be a good list to get you started.

  2. elishiva bloom said:

    *Gd says in Torah that He is not man.
    *Gd says in Torah that only He is Gd and knows of no other.
    *Gd says in Torah that human sacrifice is abhorrent to Him.
    *Gd says in Torah that He does not change.
    *Gd says in Torah that his covenants are everlasting.
    *Gd says in Torah to not worship images of things in the heavens. (xtians have made jesus\yashua as the image of Gd and worship a man).
    *Gd says in Tanach that when messiah comes there will be world peace.
    Gd says in Tanach that when messiah comes the third temple will be built.
    *Gd says in Tanach that when messiah comes the sacrifices at the temple will continue.
    Know Gd words before you accept a man as Gd.

    • Almoni said:

      Could you give me the verse which says that human sacrifice is abhorrent to G-d?

  3. Sophiee said:

    The Torah is clear what is an acceptable sacrifice to G-d (kosher, domesticated animals as well as grains, gold, etc.) and what is not (human beings). Human sacrifices are strictly forbidden in Torah (e.g., Leviticus18:21, 24-25; Deuteronomy 18:10; Jeremiah 7:31, 19: 5; Ezekiel 23:37, 39).

    Torah tells us that a sacrificial ritual must be administered by a Priest (see Leviticus Chapters 1-7). According to the accounts in the Greek Testament (GT), Jesus was crucified by Roman soldiers (Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:33; John 19:18, 23).

    Torah further tells us that the blood of the (chatat / sin) sacrifice had to be sprinkled by the Priest on the veil of the sanctuary and on the altar in the Temple (e.g., Leviticus 4: 5-6). GT evidence clearly shows this was not done.

    Then it tells us that the (chatat / sin) sacrifice must be without any physical defect or blemish (e.g., Leviticus 4:3). According to the various accounts in the GT, Jesus was beaten, whipped, and dragged on the ground before being crucified (Matthew 26:67, 27:26, 30-31; Mark 14: 65, 15:15-20; Luke 22: 63; John 18:22, 19:1, 3). Moreover, as a Jew by birth, Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day after being born, a ritual that leaves a scar (“sign of the covenant”). According to the GT, circumcision is tantamount to mutilation (Philippians 3:2, Galatians 5:12).

    Torah says that the Passover sacrifice be a male-goat, be offered on an individual (per household) basis (Numbers 28:22), not as a communal offering. According to the GT, Jesus’ death (termed a “sin sacrifice”) expiated the sins of mankind (Romans 6:10; Hebrews 9:12, 10:10, 10:18 ).

    Torah goes on to say that the Paschal Lamb was NOT to be offered for the removal of sins. It was a commemorative/festive offering (see also under items 4 above and 6 below). A more appropriate time for a sin offering would have been on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement; Numbers 29:11 [individual sin-offering―male goat]; Leviticus16:15 [communal sin-offering―male goat]).

    The sacrificed Paschal Lamb had to be roasted and eaten, and in the first instance in Egypt its blood was used to mark the side-posts and lintel of the doors (Exodus 12: 7-8 ). There is no record in the GT that this Jesus was eaten or that his blood was put on the door posts (lest it be suggested that Christianity promotes cannibalism).

    Torah says that the sacrificial sin offering could only atone for unintentional sins, with few notable exceptions as stated in Leviticus 5:1-6, 20-26 [Leviticus6:1-7 in Xian Bibles]; [e.g., Num 15:27-31] .

    Torah teaches that sacrifices can only atone for sins committed PRIOR to the offering of the sacrifice. No sacrifice could ever atone for sins committed AFTER the sacrifice was offered. Thus, no sacrifice could ever atone for people born after the sacrifice was offered.

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