Thursday, January 8, 2009

Rami: Response to Mike's 1/7 Post

We call what you are talking about teshuvah/return and tikkun/repair. The two operate together: you return to God and repair the world with godliness: doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God and God’s creation (Micah 6:8). Some people are more prone to begin with teshuvah and the life of prayer, study, and contemplation that is the way of return. Others are more comfortable beginning with tikkun, becoming socially active and working for justice for both persons and planet. Wherever one starts, the other is always bound to kick in at some point. My understanding is that when one lives teshuvah and tikkun one lives in Malchut Shamayim, the kingdom of God.

Jesus’ reference to God’s kingdom is, itself, very Jewish. In the Talmud, tractate Berachot 40b (published centuries after Jesus, but containing the teachings of his rabbinic predecessors and colleagues) the rabbis taught that for a prayer to be valid it must mention both the Name of God and the Kingdom of God. In practice this has become the classic opening of almost every Jewish blessing: “Blessed are You, YHVH our God, King of the universe.”

Judaism speaks of two opposing kingdoms, Malchut Zadon, the kingdom of the proud, and Malchut Shamayim, the Kingdom of Heaven. Pride, along with anger, arrogance, greed, and ignorance, is what keeps God’s kingdom from manifesting on earth. The way we will know God’s kingdom has come is that justice and peace will reign around the globe. Because we believe only the Messiah (or messianic consciousness) can bring this global transformation, and because we believe that this will be a this-worldly socio-economic-political-spiritual transformation we believe that the Messiah has yet to come. When Jesus says, “My kingdom is not of this world,” (John 18:36) we Jews lose interest. This is where the kingdom is needed, not in some heavenly realm.

Judaism is a profoundly this-worldly faith. We have little to say about life after death, and pay scant attention to heaven and hell. We believe that behavior alone determines your fate after death, and that a person whose good deeds outweigh her bad deeds by even a feather’s weight will have a place in heaven. Our hope is articulated in Jeremiah 23:5: “The days are surely coming, says YHVH, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.” The “land” refers not only Israel but the whole world.

I understand that for many Christians this Branch is Jesus, and that the Second Coming will accomplish what we Jews expect from the first. Numbers aside, the goal is the same: global peace and justice.

I am struck by Jesus’ prayer that “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” What keeps God’s will from operating on earth? Again, I would point to pride, anger, arrogance, greed, and ignorance. If we want to see the Kingdom of God our prayers must be, to borrow from Rabbi Abraham Joshua, “subversive” and thus overthrow Malchut Zadon, the kingdom of pride. Unfortunately most of us are so invested in Malchut Zadon that we rarely if ever pray subversively. On the contrary, our prayers reinforce our own will and pretend that God wills what we desire.

True prayer is humbling, subversive, and transformative. It reveals the holiness at the heart of humanity and liberates us from fear that we might refashion the world in love. It manifests as teshuvah and tikkun; returning us to God that we might remake the world with godliness.


Thanksgiving First said...

Hi Rami and others...hope all is well!

Rami, you said,
When Jesus says, “My kingdom is not of this world,” (John 18:36)

Look at the entire sentence as this has much to do with the Lord's prayer.
"Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered unto the Jews: BUT NOW IS MY KINGDOM NOT FROM HENCE"
(John 18: 36 in entirety)

Until Christ would die to accomplish his atonement and priesthood offering as prophecied in the law and prophets then he could not fulfill Daniel 7: 13, 14. He had to die to be miraculously raised up and then He could go on to the Higher Kingdom of Heaven and do the work to bring the authority that He then received (Daniel 7: 13, 14 and Acts 1: 9-11....and Stephen's vision witness of seeing the 'son of man' on the throne of Heaven Acts 7:55, 56) These men, the early apostles of the faith in Christ saw that part of Daniel's vision that Daniel either did not see or report. The early Hebrews (Jews) were studying Daniel's writing and expecting their Messiah to appear in the clouds...but Daniel's vision was that part of the man in the clouds going to the throne of the Ancient of Days (not here on earth) the early disciples (Acts 1) report seeing 'a man' (the Son of man) going from earth on a cloud Daniel saw the part of the cloud to Heaven and the coronation. Stephen witnesses that indeed he has seen (a vision) of the 'son of man' standing at the right hand of GOD.

What Christ had told his disciples in the Lord's prayer was to pray for His Kingdom (which had yet to be achieved as he stated this before he was resurrected and taken up to Heaven) to come on earth as in Heaven (because the plan had yet to be completed...and this is why Jesus is reported as saying while dying on the cross, IT IS FINISHED). So when the early Jews that did not recognize Jesus (YESHUA) as the messiah prophecied by DAniel is because they didn't want to for one reason and that they had convinced themselves that their Messiah would come to them from heaven in a cloud of glory. Really similar to what some expect of Jesus's second coming....if that also hasn't already happened. You see God in his marvelous plan was looking for the fruit of righteousness so that if the Messiah came in the form of an infant born in a stable (kinda interesting that Christ is reported as laid in a manger..a food trough and then later Christ refers to Himself as food)....rather than in the clouds (which Daniel's vision clearly says going up to the Ancient of Days).....then the arrogant peoples of that day would not accept seeing a grown man claiming to be 'the son of man' even with the miracles and such....because they didn't want to see the truth that God had brought the man (the Branch) into earth thru another way than in a cloud.

Thanksgiving First said...

So when Christ was stating that His Kingdom had yet to be from He says that 'now' indicating it had yet to be fulfilled.

Thereby He had instructed the disciples to pray for He and His Father's Kingdom will to be done here on earth as the plan to accomplish this had come from Heaven.

Remember that Christ revealed the fact that there had been a 'spiritual battle' in Heaven and that there were violent spirits trying to usurp His Father's authority and the Heavenly Kingdom.
"And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force" (Matthew 11: 12)

Some of us on earth tend to think of heaven as without sin or conflict...but clearly Christ was stating that there had been a battle and I suppose it wasn't of human form. Later in the gospel reports we learn that Christ states that He saw satan fall as lightening from heaven to earth (a vision most likely) and then in Revelation it speaks of satan being cast to the earth and all those who rebelled with him ( Rev. 12: 7 - 12)...which leaves planet earth with a problem...even the angels felt sorry for mankind.

Rabbi Rami said...

John 18:36 is one of the most anti-Semitic passages in the Gospel. John's hatred of Jews is clear. In fact Jesus was not turned over the Jews. There were millions of Jews, and thousands of them welcomed him into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. To charge all Jews with deicide is wicked, and it is the cause of Christian murder of Jews for century after century. In the end it was the Roman officials to whom Jesus was turned over, and it was the Roman officials who murdered him. And all because God demands blood ransom for sin.

I doubt John's history, I abhor John's politics, and I deny any god who calls for the blood of any one-- animal, human, or divine.

anam cara wppc said...

I see parallels with this entry & Parker Palmer's “Active Life,” as well as Merton's various writings. They both talk about the complementary pairing of the contemplative life with acts of social justice.
Regarding your 'kingdom of heaven' discussion, maybe Jim Marion's “Putting on the Mind of Christ” might help? Cynthia Bourgeault helpfully suggested that book to us.
I look forward to more stimulating sharing, as you visit us in March.

Thanksgiving First said...

Hi there...nice to hear from you about this subject!

Rami...John didn't hate the Jews..he was a Jew. That statement was definitely not well Jesus was only referring to those of the Jewish sect that had rejected his teachings, his miracles/wonders, his right to fulfill Daniel's vision of the 'son of man'.

I spoke today with a black woman after the inaugaration...she is a Christian lady. I mentioned that I saw much prayer today in the ceremonies and she remarked back .."oh I hope the white people won't stop Obama from introducing God to the nation".. Hmmm. I am 'white' and I definitely let her know she was out of line in proclaiming that she hoped the 'white people' won't stop there are many white people that worship GOD and there may be many 'black' people that wouldn't care for Obama's worship to GOD thru Christ. She then corrected herself and said she meant the 'whites' in political circles of influence. I then said even some of those whites worship GOD and wouldn't be wanting to stop Obama's faith. Now she has something to think about.

We were not there to correct Jesus in his statement...He was facing a crucifixion and He knew it....He knew that "certain Jews" had wanted him to die, yet he did not do a grammar correction and evidently neither did John. Clearly Jesus was speaking of the men of Jewish authority who had rejected him but he was not clear in the statement.
Verse 7 of John 19 aslso uses the words, "The Jews answered him"...clearly John isn't stating that all and everyone of the Jews in the entire world was answering Jesus. This same Jesus also told the Samaritan woman at the well, "salvation is of the Jews" (John 4: 22) as he was making a point in conversation. Clearly Jesus is using the word "Jews" very loosely or John is reporting too loosely.

Don't you ever get tired of hearing someone say "they did this to the world" and the person doesn't always indicate who the 'they' is? The word 'some' clearly is a better word to use when referring to a group of people in reference to what they are doing if not all are doing the same thing. A better word would have been, "that I should not be delivered to some of these unbelieving Jews" as clearly he was speaking of those that He was being brought to for judgment (those of the High Priesthood and of the Sanhedrin that did not accept Him).

The fact is that Jesus laid down His own life (as He had prophecied to the disciples that He must go to Jerusalem) (and the discussion in the Mount of Transfiguration was about Jesus going to Jerusalem to be arrested, tried, and crucified). Like I said was necessary for Jesus to overcome the 'death barrier' in order to become the 'forever High Priest of the New Covenant' which GOD had established thru His only begotten Son.

Thanksgiving First said...


(Luke 9: 30, 31) "And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem"

whoa...these two men..Moses and Elijah...were had they been? Here they are appearing centuries later to a man named Yeshua (JESUS) and speaking with Him about the plan of his death in Jerusalem before it ever happened!

Now we as Christians in believing the whole story need to believe in this special event that Peter and John and James supposedly also witnessed. But where had Moses and Elijah been? Were they privy to go to heaven and discuss Jesus's demise with Almighty GOD (the Ancient of Days)? Were they hearing "heavenly gossip" while resting in a place on earth and then going to Jesus to let Him know what they had heard? Were the two saintly men already raised up to Heaven? They were clearly in the know of the plan.

How did the disciples know it was Moses and Elijah? Peter wanted to make three tabernacles (tents? worship? verse 33) then they hear Almighty GOD speak to them from within a cloud...and He told them to listen to His Son. So those three disciples also knew of the plan of Jesus demise at Jerusalem.

Makes Star Trek look like a child fairytale.

Thanksgiving First said...

Rami, you also stated,
"I doubt John's history, I abhor John's politics, and I deny any god who calls for the blood of any one-- animal, human, or divine."
in your above posting.

Clearly when you eat meat some animal had to be a sacrifice to put food on your table and there are many in the entire world that eat meat. Those sacrifices exist daily. Genesis 3: 21 is where it is written that the Lord directed the killing of an animal to clothe mankind with coats of skin (he had to kill the animal to get its skin) that first sacrifice for Adam there was blood shed.

You may not agree with God's way of thinking but clearly if you needed clothes to keep yourself warm as Adam did and to clothe his nakedness you would have wanted to agree that God had a good idea of slaughtering an animal for mankind to have such provision. I guess if you rejected His idea to clothe mankind with animal skins (esp. fur) then you would have had to tell him a better idea at that time (Adam evidently agreed with GOD when he got to that part).

Also you most likely would agree with God when it comes to eating meat because you would also like the protein and other nourishment found in the meat of such animals (plus your body functions better with the right nutrients). There may have been some vegetarians in those days but most people were meat eaters...all from an animal sacrificing it's life to be food. A healthy book on vegetarianism had not come about yet...remember that mankind was just starting to learn to think ..verse it is that God is evolving mankind into a better society of people when they agree with Him. (Amos 3: 3)

Christ sacrificed his life so He would not only be remembered clearly but listened to (a death that clearly was remembered and still is) He did arise in a resurrected body. Christ also referred to Himself as 'food' meaning to take in what could be productive of what He did in his teachings and his sacrificial offering of Himself...His words live today as 'food for the soul'.

I know that I posted 3 times in a row...but I can't edit after posting and I had this time to share with you all...and I hope you will reply soon also.