Book: Judaism— Revelation of Moses Or Religion of Men?

The heart of man is hopelessly deceitful; who can even begin to understand it?”

The Jewish notion of an “oral tradition” somehow passed on from God to Moses—which is the central plank of Judaism—stands exposed as a fraud. The utter impossibility of such an “oral law” proves that Judaism is most decidedly not the true “religion” of the Old Testament. Judaism, at best, reflects the seriously misguided efforts of men to please God; at worse, Judaism embodies that which is universally condemned in any religion— hypocrisy, idolatry and self-righteousness.

Judaism is by no means alone in this particular criticism, as nominal Christianity functions largely as a fair-weather, “Sunday-only” religion with little real-life influence on its followers. Protestantism is quite tainted by hypocrisy and self-righteousness, and Catholicism clearly demonstrates a proclivity for idolatrous forms of worship (particularity with its contra-biblical reverence for the virgin Mary and its virtual deification of its popes). Regardless of the belief system, wholesale idolatry, hypocrisy and self-righteousness are always signs of false religion.

In the case of Judaism, the rabbis' claim to follow the Scriptures while openly venerating and exalting the Talmud epitomizes the spirit of hypocrisy. Talmudists idolatrously exalt their rabbis and consider the word of their rabbis as supreme, even above Scripture. And, as we will see, Judaism is a religion of self-justification, wherein its adherents claim a form of “righteousness” based on ritual works. Judaism is also shockingly racist in nature, secretly teaching that non-Jews are “less than human.”

Judaism—A Religion of Hypocrisy

As has been shown, Judaism is Pharisaism. Recall what Jesus had to say about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and their scribal leaders: “Guard yourselves from the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1). Hypocrisy was their signature trait. In the book of Matthew, Jesus duly noted how the sect typically taught one thing, but practiced another. He warned, “But do not do according to their works, for they say and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and [those which are] hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of men; but they [themselves] will not move them with [even] one of their own fingers” (Matt. 23:3-4). Here, Jesus compares the Pharisees' traditional regulations to physical “burdens” one might bear on his shoulders; the idea is that the Pharisees were openly severe to others, but privately indulgent to themselves.

Jesus continued: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and as a pretext you offer prayers of great length. Because of this, you shall receive the greater judgment” (verse 13). The Pharisees financially abused widows and the needy while only appearing to be pious. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven before men; for neither do you yourselves enter, nor do you allow those who are entering to enter. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel the sea and the land to make one proselyte, and when he has become one, you make him twofold more a son of Gehenna [destruction] than yourselves” (verses 14-15). It wasn't enough that the Pharisees themselves were living contrary to the ways of God's kingdom—their corrupting influence was hindering others from attaining genuine righteousness.

It is important to understand that the spirit of ancient Pharisaism is alive and well in modern Judaism. Rabbi Louis Finkelstein (1895-1991) was chosen in 1937 by the Jewish Communities of the World as one of the top rabbis best representing the “lamp of Judaism” to the world. His most recent post was head of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. In the foreword to Volume I of his two-volume 1946 work The Pharisees, Finkelstein wrote: “Pharisaism became Talmudism, Talmudism became Medieval Rab-binism, and Medieval Rabbinism became Modern Rabbinism. But throughout these changes of name, inevitable adaptation of custom, and adjustment of law, the spirit of the ancient Pharisee survives unaltered. When a Jew [today] reads his prayer, he is reciting formula prepared by pre-Maccabean [scribal] scholars ..... [and] when he studies the Talmud, he is actually repeating the arguments used in the Palestinian [rabbinical] academies” (The Pharisees, Vol. I, p. 21; emphasis added).

Finkelstein adds that not only have the “outer accoutrements of Pharisaism ..... survived in [the modern Jews'] life,” but “the spirit of the doctrine [of the Pharisees] has remained quick and vital.” He writes that “ancient Pharisaism has wandered” from Palestine to almost the entire world, wherein “the disciples of the Pharisees have sought on the one hand to preserve the old, and on the other to create the new.” He notes that various Jewish leaders—”spirits of diverse types, yet united in their common loyalty to the ancient teachings”—have over the centuries arisen to maintain “Pharisaism as a religious movement” (pp. 21-22; emphasis added).

Finkelstein points out two 19th-century rabbis—Isaac Spektor and Israel Salanter—as “equals of the greatest of the Pharisaic or Talmudic sages,” whose “lives approached [those of] the ancient Pharisees.” (p. 22). (Later we'll see how Spektor was instrumental in the Jews' abrogation of the biblically-commanded land sabbatical.)

Although unintended, Finkelstein's emphatic linking of ancient Pharisaism to modern Judaism works as an indictment against the religion. It is indeed the same spirit, the same doctrine, the same ritual traditions— and, above all, the same hypocrisy. As we will see, the hypocrisy of Judaism is most evident in the many loopholes designed to circumvent not only the Scriptures, but even the Jews' own oral laws. But perhaps the most glaring hypocrisy of all lies in how Judaism claims to be the religion of Moses, as based on the written Torah, while simultaneously venerating the Talmud as superior to the Scriptures.

The “Superiority” of the Talmud

We have already seen in previous chapters how Judaism reveres the Talmud above the Scriptures—quoting such scholars as John Phillips, who wrote that, on account of the Talmud, the Scriptures have been “buried beneath vast accumulations of tradition and encrusted with enormous deposits of human interpretation. The Torah itself has been largely superseded in Judaism by the Talmud.... [The development of the oral law] had little to do with the [written] Torah. The rabbis, while professing great reverence for the Mosaic law, had buried [the Scriptures] beneath their oral traditions” (Exploring the World of the Jew, pp. 55, 61; emphasis added). As noted earlier, the Talmud itself claims preeminence over the Scriptures: “There is greater stringency in respect to the teachings of the scribes than in respect to the [written] Torah” (BT Sanhedrin, 88b). “Some teachings were handed on orally, and some things were handed on in writing . [but] we conclude that the ones that are handed on orally are more precious” (BT Hagigah, 1:7V).

This hypocritical approach to the Scriptures remains well intact in modern Judaism. Rabbi Aaron Parry, an Educational Director with the international organization “Jews for Judaism,” writes that, for Orthodox Jews, “the Talmud represents God's divine will and instruction” (The Talmud, p. 10). In another of Finkelstein's works, The Jews: Their History, Culture, and Religion (1949), he notes the singular authority of the Talmud. “The Talmud derives its authority from the position held by the ancient academies. The teachers of those academies, both of Babylonia and of Palestine, were considered the rightful successors of the older Sanhedrin.... At the present time the Jewish people have no living central authority comparable in status to the ancient Sanhedrin or the later academies. Therefore, any decision regarding the Jewish religion [i.e., how to live one's life] must be based on the Talmud”—never mind the fact that Isaiah 8:20 says Scripture alone is the sole authority in human affairs—”as the final resume of the teaching of those authorities when they existed” (vol. 4, p. 1332; quoted in The Jewish Religion—Its Influence Today by Elizabeth Dilling, p. 1).

In Judaism Discovered, Michael Hoffman quotes Robert Golden-berg, Professor of Judaic Studies at the State University of New York: “In a paradox that determined the history of Judaism, the Talmud was Oral Torah in written form, and as such it became the clearest statement the Jew could hear of God's very word.... The Talmud provided the means of determining how God wanted all Jews to live, in all places, at all times.... The Talmud revealed God speaking to Israel, and so the Talmud became Israel's way to God” (Back to the Sources: Reading the Classic Jewish Texts, pp. 166-167; Hoffman, p. 141; emphasis added).

Hoffman also notes that, according to the Talmud, there are three levels of study in Judaism. The highest is to study the Talmud, the second is the Mishnah, and the third (and lowest) is to study the Scriptures. Studying the Scriptures is, in the opinion of the sages, a matter of indifference to God; studying the Talmud is meritorious (BT Baba Mezia, 33a). Hoffman writes that “while Judaism pays elaborate lip-service to the Bible, the Bible is not a factor in the rise, formation, progress and emendations of rabbinic law . [and serves only] as a prestigious cover and front for what are, in fact, entirely man-made enactments [and] figments of rabbinic imagination. (pp. 132-133; emphasis added).

While this is denied among rabbis, the following rabbinic passage demonstrates the Jewish belief in the superiority of the oral law over the written Law of the Bible: “[The] difference between [the] written and oral regulations finds expression in the appraisal that 'The sages safeguarded their own enactments [oral laws] more than those of the [written] Torah' and in the hyperbolical statements concerning the supreme authority of the expositions and decisions of the rabbis. The Almighty Himself is bound by them” (Pesiqta de-R. Kahana, Para, ed. Mandelbaum, p. 73; quoted by Hoffman, p. 132). As this astonishing passage reveals, the rabbis consider their laws and rulings to be superior to those of the Scriptures—and that God Himself, as if conceding His inferior status, is bound by such rulings!

Scholars are anything but shy when it comes to admitting how little the Scriptures have actually influenced the development of Judaism. In the introduction to the 1988 Yale University English translation of the Mishnah (a key part of the Talmud), the editors write that the Mishnah is “remarkably indifferent to the Hebrew Scriptures.” Indeed, “Scripture plays little role in the Mishnaic system. The Mishnah rarely cites a verse of Scripture, refers to Scripture as an entity, links its own ideas to those of Scripture, or lays claim to originate in what Scripture has said.... [The] Mishnah stands in splendid isolation from Scripture.... Since some of the named authorities in the chain of tradition appear throughout the materials of the Mishnah, the claim is that what these [sages] say comes to them from Sinai through the processes of qabbalah [the handing down of traditions].... [Thus] the Mishnah does not cite Scripture [because] it does not have to” (The Mishnah: A New Translation, pp. 13; 35-36; quoted by Hoffman, pp. 288, 294; emphasis added). In other words, the Mishnah, and thus the Talmud, rests totally on the alleged authority of the sages, in “splendid isolation from Scripture”!

In spite of the pretentious claim that the Law as given by Moses is the foundation of the Jews' religion, Judaism clearly portrays the Talmud as “morally superior” to Scripture. Jewish author Herman Wouk writes, “The Talmud is to this day the circulating heart's blood of the Jewish religion. Whatever laws, customs or ceremonies we observe—whether we are Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or merely spasmodic sentimentalists—we follow the Talmud. It is our common law” (The Talmud: Heart's Blood of the Jewish Faith, published serially in the New York Herald-Tribune, Nov. 1959 installment; quoted by Dilling, p. 2).

Karaite Jews represent a notable exception to this Jewish hypocrisy concerning the Scriptures. Scorning the Talmud and upholding Scripture as the supreme authority, the Jewish sect arose in Babylon in the 8th century AD. Reminiscent of the Pharisees' hatred toward the Sadducees (a sect, you will recall, which denied the validity of an oral tradition), Karaites are even today disdained as “idolatrous” by modern Pharisaic Judaism.

"Hedge” Around the Law or System of Loopholes?

Nowhere is Judaism's hypocrisy more evident than in the numerous rabbinic loopholes designed to circumvent not only the Scriptures, but, amazingly, many of the rabbis' own Talmudic laws. Hoffman writes that “hypocrisy and double standards are Judaism's stock in trade.” American minds are conditioned by the mainstream media to “believe that Orthodox Judaism is a rigorously scrupulous, ultra-conservative Old Testament religion. They mistake the elaborate outer show of piety that historically was the hallmark of Pharisaic mentality for genuine biblical sanctity.” However, he writes, when the religion is closely examined the “situation-ethics of Judaism's counterfeit Torah [the Talmud] are brought to light and the anti-biblical consequences of making the Holy Scriptures subsidiary to rabbinic enactments are made manifest” (p. 677).

Hoffman contends that the Jews' so-called oral traditions are not really a protective “hedge around the Torah” at all, but serve as loopholes to get around the Law. He writes that the phrase “hedge around the law” is a “generic euphuism invoked to cover falsification and abrogation of the biblical text” (p. 172). The typical Christian understanding of the Jews' “oral law” is that such traditions are “detailed expositions of [biblical] Law ..... in the form of innumerable and highly specific injunctions designed to build a hedge around the Torah and thus guard against any possible infringement of the Law by accident or ignorance” (Zondervan Pictorial Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 748). Hoffman, who scoffs at this view as an example of Christian naivety, asks, if the Pharisees and sages were so careful in guarding the Scriptures against any possible infringement, “how is it that they came to infringe on that very Word by denying that the Scriptures testify of Jesus Christ?” (p. 173).

The idea that Judaism's oral “hedge laws” originated as a pretext for a system designed to circumvent the Scriptures is overstated. As is often the case, the truth is somewhere in between. It is almost certain that the “oral traditions” of the Jewish sages were originally intended to protect the written Torah; but, human nature being what it is, the “oral law” has over the centuries morphed into a theological system replete with loopholes. Such loopholes are clearly designed to get around certain laws of Scripture as well as some of the Jews' own less convenient regulations. (One might wonder why such Talmudic regulations cannot simply be repealed rather than circumvented by additional rabbinic rulings. The Talmud, however, by its very design, does not allow for deletion; apparently, existing laws or rulings can only be clarified, commented on, expanded on, or contradicted by subsequent laws and rulings.)

Regardless of the original intent behind the Jews' oral “hedge laws,” Judaism remains guilty of misusing Scripture in an attempt to justify their beloved traditions. The philologist John Selden (1584-1654) explains this process: “It is a most common thing among the Talmudists to seek for some support for their additional customs from some words of the Scriptures, and, as it were, try to hedge [their traditions] behind some biblical word, interpretation or analogy.... [Thus] the original words [of the Scriptures] are twisted and distorted with great boldness to give some seeming confirmation to their customs [irrespective] of the sense of the original” (Hoffman, pp. 173-174; quoted from John Owen's 1661 Latin Theologoumena Pantodapa, published under the title Biblical Theology, 1994, p. 577).

Indeed, when it comes to “situation ethics,” the Talmud and rabbinic Judaism provide the modern Judaic with a system of clever, yet hypocritical, loopholes. For example, because Thanksgiving is considered Christian (and thus a form of idolatry), Jews are forbidden to celebrate the American holiday. But Jews are also taught not to refuse a free turkey—as long as they are careful to eat it on a different day. Similarly, Christmas gifts are given by many Jews in order to obtain favor; the gift is simply “renamed” and given a few days before the holiday (Hoffman, pp. 373-374).

Here are a few more examples:

Based on a flawed interpretation of Deuteronomy 7:2, rabbis teach that Gentiles are not to be shown favor. But a loophole exists to make it possible to give a gift to a Gentile—the gift is considered a business bribe.

Since charging interest on a loan violates the Torah (Lev. 25:36-37; etc.), Talmudic Jews have a loophole designed to allow them to charge interest on loans made to fellow Jews. The rabbinical provision heter iska simply classifies such loans as “investments” (Hoffman, p. 447).

Moses taught that anyone who committed adultery with his neighbor's wife should be put to death. The rabbis, however, get around this by defining “neighbor” as “a fellow Jewish neighbor” (BT Sanhedrin, 52b). This led to the rabbinic ruling that adultery with a Gentile's wife was not adultery at all (Hoffman, p. 330).

The rabbis also ruled that cursing one's parents—a violation of the Fifth Commandment—was not a sin unless the curse included the name of God (BT Sanhedrin, 66a).

Hoffman writes: “The Talmud itself admits that most of its endless rules and regulations have little scriptural basis and that the oral tradition of the Mishnah supersedes the written law of the Scriptures” (p. 287). For example, he notes the Mishnah's Hagigah, 1:8a: “The absolution of vows hovers in the air, for it has nothing [in the Scriptures] upon which to depend. The [numerous] laws of the Sabbath, festal offerings, and sacrilege—lo, they are like mountains hanging by a string, for they [the rabbis] have little Scripture for many laws” (p. 288; emphasis added). The question of the “absolution of vows” will be examined later; but first, an examination of Judaism's approach to the Sabbath will prove quite revealing.

Sabbath Anxieties

Even a casual reading of the Scriptures shows that the Sabbath was created by God for man to enjoy as a time of rest and rejuvenation, spiritual reflection and contemplation, and joyous fellowship. But for Orthodox Jews, the Sabbath is often an anxiety-ridden day filled with burdensome rabbinical regulations. In the Talmud, tractate Shabbat identifies thirty-nine categories of activity prohibited on the Sabbath by Jewish law. These categories are then expanded into a vast tangled web of nitpicky, trivial rules. With literally hundreds of regulations (many of which are quite complex) dictating how the Jew is to “properly” observe the Sabbath, the day is easily robbed of its meaning and becomes nothing more than a futile exercise in self-righteousness as the Talmud-observing Jew anxiously tries to avoid violating rabbinical regulations.

“In Judaism, the Talmudic burlesque of the Sabbath is not a God-given period of rest, but rather a rabbinic plague of mountains of bureaucratic rules and regulations governing everything from ovens to elevators to automobiles.... Fear and anxiety over whether the hundreds of trivial Shab-bat rules are fulfilled or broken robs the Judaic of the rest that God intended for us to experience on a truly biblical Sabbath” (Hoffman, pp. 943, 947).

A Jew, for example, may fret if his shoestring breaks on the Sabbath. Since tying knots on the Sabbath is forbidden by the Talmud, how can he repair the break? (Tying one's shoelaces together is permitted, however, since the knot is temporary.) Installing a new shoestring is also prohibited, as it violates the law against “weaving”—and is also considered melachah, or “creative work.” Similarly, if there is a need to tie up a garbage bag on the Sabbath, a temporary knot must be used—and the Jew must remember to come back after the Sabbath and retie the knot, making it permanent. While these are trivial, nonsensical matters, they represent genuine concerns in the minds of Talmudic Jews.

In Teshuvah: A Guide for the Newly Observant Jew, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz writes that observing the Sabbath day means concerning oneself “completely with personal reflection and matters of the spirit, free of struggle and tension.” Steinsaltz, however, admits that “the body of Shabbat prohibitions can appear to be an endless maze of details,” adding that such “elaborations” are intended as a “hedge around the more fundamental prohibitions” and thus “prevent certain habitual activities from leading to Shabbat violations.” He advises that Sabbath-keeping “details need to be mastered” and that one should avoid making “assumptions about what is permitted and what is not” (; emphasis added).

The Web site—used to promote ultra-Orthodox Judaism throughout the world—notes this about Sabbath observance: “The Shabbat laws are quite complex, requiring careful study and [the help of] a qualified teacher. At first, it's often overwhelming and seems like an impossible number of restrictions. But spending Shabbat with others who are Shabbat observant will show you that eventually you, too, will become comfortable with the Shabbat laws” (emphasis added).

A Sabbath observance “free of struggle and tension”—really?

As a former Talmud-observing Jew, Avi ben Mordechai has personally experienced the burden of Rabbinical Judaism. In his commentary on the book of Galatians, Mordechai writes, “[Eventually,] I realized that the [rabbis'] halachah [laws] had no end in sight; that it was nothing short of a deep, black hole and an endless system of legal minutiae. It was always tiring for me to try to keep up with all the daily demands [of Talmudic law]. I did not have a difficult time agreeing with Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810) who once said that his daily religious obligations felt like a crushing burden (The Empty Chair, p. 40)” (Galatians—A Torah-Based Commentary in First-Century Hebraic Context, p. 48; emphasis added). Mordechai candidly adds that it has been his observation that those who choose to submit to Pharisaic Judaism with its vast code of laws will ultimately “end up in denial of the written Torah” (p. 371).

In Judaism, even the definitions of work and rest are anything but clear—leading to more Sabbath anxiety. Rabbi Aaron Parry writes that “rest can mean many things. The ambiguities of these meanings are what the Talmud addresses in the tractate Shabbat” (The Talmud, p. 61).

“The Bible doesn't prohibit work in the classic sense of the word. But it does prohibit melachah.... The distinction between work and mela-chah can be difficult to grasp.... Melachah, which means creative work in Hebrew, refers to work that is creative or that exercises control or dominion over one's environment” (p. 61; emphasis added). Thus, “on Shabbat we abstain from creating and not necessarily from exertion.... So, it's not an issue of stressful versus un-stressful—it's an issue of creative versus non-creative” (

Exodus 20:10 commands us to “do no manner of melachah” on the Sabbath. Throughout the Old Testament, melachah—mostly translated work or business—means, simply, work; Hebrew Lexicons say melachah refers primarily to one's occupation. In Judaism, however, the prohibition against “creative work” stems from Genesis 2:3, where God rested from His work of creating. Steinsaltz explains: “The concept of melachah is understood both in the simple sense of 'work,' which is its plain meaning, and in the more complex sense that flows from the context in which it first appears, the story of the Sabbath of creation.... What is decisive is not the degree of effort involved, or whether the action receives monetary compensation, but rather whether [the action or work] results in the appearance of something new in the physical world. Thus, relatively effortless activities like writingare forbidden” (; emphasis added). Obviously, an almost unlimited number of activities may be considered “creative.” For the Talmudic Jew, the level of vigilance required to avoid melachah on the Sabbath leads to obsessive paranoia—not rest and peacefulness.

This clever manipulation of Scripture—a tactic commonly employed in Judaism—obscures the plain meanings of both rest and work. Thus, for observant Jews, the Sabbath becomes a day of senseless burdens—not unlike the ones Christ referred to in Matthew 23:4. For example, the rule against melachah regulates the proper use of a simple can opener. Rabbi Menachem Posner asks, “Is it permissible to use a can opener on Shabbat?” He replies, “There are different opinions regarding this matter. [Those] cans which will be needed on Shabbat should be opened prior to Shabbat—thus avoiding a questionable situation [Such uncertainty has to cause at least a little anxiety!]. The main concern is that opening the can creates a [new] useable receptacle. Such an act could conceivably [lead to] the formation of a utensil. The key therefore is to avoid creating a receptacle.” Posner then gives this clever advice: “Many people will open the top of the can while puncturing its bottom. This prevents the container from becoming a useful receptacle” (; emphasis added).

Likewise, cooking is forbidden, not because it is work (see Ex. 16:23), but because it is creative; playing musical instruments—even for relaxation and to add to the joy of the Sabbath—are prohibited as creative. Driving a car is forbidden because it involves “the creative manipulation of physical resources” (The Talmud, p. 63); moreover, driving a car requires “kindling a fire” (via its internal combustion engine) and could well lead to a “carrying” violation. (These two key issues—”kindling a fire” and “carrying”—are central to the Talmudic Jew's rigid observance of the Sabbath and are discussed below.)

Again, such absurd regulations—and there are hundreds of them— rob the Sabbath of its intent and purpose. Clearly, the mindset behind such rabbinic teachings is precisely that of the ancient Pharisees: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you [are very careful to] pay tithes of mint and anise and cummin, but you have abandoned the more important matters of the Law—judgment, and mercy and faith. These you were obligated to do, and not to leave the others undone. Blind guides, who [meticulously] filter out a gnat, but [willingly] swallow a camel!” (Matt. 23:23-24).

Similarly, Talmudic Jews knowingly allow certain liberties that are clearly contrary to Scripture (swallowing a camel), but go to extremes to “avoid even the tiniest gnat” by being fanatically obsessed with a multitude of trivial laws that accomplish nothing except to create a facade of piety. Such liberties violate the Scriptures either through misunderstanding and misapplication or through the deliberate circumvention of the Law through clever loopholes.

Sabbath Loopholes

Aside from how senseless it is that Judaism actually features a body of laws on such trivial subjects as “how to wash dishes” to how one should “use the toilet” on the Sabbath, it is the numerous rabbinic loopholes concerning Sabbath observance that stand out as evidence of the religion's Pharisaic hypocrisy. Like many rabbinical rulings, such loopholes not only circumvent the clear teachings of Scripture, they also provide clever ways for Jews to skirt their own Talmudic laws.

For example, the biblical prohibition against “kindling a fire” on the Sabbath—grossly misunderstood in Judaism—is not only taken to fanatical extremes by Talmudic Jews, it is also an area of Jewish ritual observation that is fraught with hypocrisy. Exodus 35:3 reads, “You shall kindle no fire throughout your living places upon the Sabbath day.” Misunderstanding this passage, Orthodox Jews assume they are not to start a fire of any kind on the Sabbath—even to keep warm. Jews will argue that it is permissible to have a fire on the Sabbath, as long as it was started prior to the beginning of the Sabbath. (According to one authority, one could technically start the fire outside on the Sabbath and then bring the fire inside the house.) Interestingly, however, they overlook the fact that maintaining a fire throughout the day actually entails more “work” than the simple act of kindling a fire. Thus, it is illogical that kindling a fire would violate one's respite from work on the Sabbath, while maintaining a fire would not. Many Jewish authorities, however, argue that feeding a fireplace or stove with wood is also prohibited as the act contributes to further “combustion.”

Are we really to understand this passage to mean that one is not to kindle a fire on the Sabbath in one's home—even in order to keep warm? The fact is, this prohibition refers primarily to kindling fires for the purpose of conducting one's livelihood in an agrarian society. Notice the context, which is set by verse two. “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord. Whoever does work in it shall be put to death.” There are many ways in which the Sabbath could be violated; yet, the prohibition against kindling fires is the only command in the entire passage concerning the Sabbath. Why?

When one reads the remainder of the chapter, which deals with the work of building the Tabernacle (and note the reference in verse 35 to “engravers,” which is sometimes translated “smiths”), it becomes clear that the prohibition against kindling fires on the Sabbath was given not only in regard to routine work necessary in an agrarian society, but particularly in reference to fires utilized in the work of building and crafting implements for the Tabernacle. Again, the idea that on the Sabbath one can have a fire, but cannot kindle a fire, is ludicrous. Clearly, the intent of the passage in question is that one cannot have a work fire on the Sabbath—period.

Moreover, if Exodus 35:3 was dealing with building a fire in one's home, the Hebrew bayith would likely have been used. Rather, the term mowshab is used, which is generic for “dwelling place” and frequently carries the same weight as city, town or village. The sense of this passage is that, throughout all of their settlements, the Israelites were not to kindle work fires on the Sabbath—even when it came to building the Tabernacle. But starting a fire in the home, even on the Sabbath, was clearly permissible. Granted, one was to prepare ahead of time, before the Sabbath, by gathering wood (see Num. 15:32). But from that point on, kindling and maintaining a fire for heating food or bodily warmth required little effort.

Would Jesus—who is “Lord of the Sabbath” (Matt. 12:8)—hesitate to kindle a fire on the Sabbath to keep from being miserably cold? He thought nothing of stopping by a field of grain on the Sabbath to allow His disciples to satisfy their hunger (verse one). They weren't “harvesting” a crop—which would have been a violation of the Sabbath—they were simply getting a quick meal. The Pharisees, however, obsessed with their own contrived Sabbath regulations, accused them of violating the Sabbath.

Likewise, Talmud-thumping Jews today attempt to apply Exodus 35:3 via Pharisaic rules. Not only will they not kindle a fire on the Sabbath—though they have no problem having a non-Jew come over and start one for them!—they will also refuse to turn on a light, or a stove, or anything that generates heat or might be construed as a “fire”! In his Guide for the Newly Observant Jew, Rabbi Steinsaltz notes: “[It] is not permitted to kindle or handle fire on Shabbat, a fact that has always been of great practical significance [How, one wonders, has not having fire been practical?]. Not only is smoking prohibited, so is operating a vehicle or tool requiring internal combustion.... Warm foods are permitted on the Sabbath when their preparation does not require ignition [turning on the stove or oven] or changing the heat of the oven on the Sabbath itself....

“In our own time, Shabbat observance has been made easier by the introduction of automatic timing devices ('Shabbos clocks') to turn electrical appliances on and off, and thermostatically controlled heating elements for keeping food warm.” But if Jews really believe it is wrong to kindle (or handle) a fire (or turn on a stove, or flip on a light) on the Sabbath, then why is it permissible to have an automatic timer do the work? Even if you set the timer before the Sabbath, you still caused the appliance to be turned on. Isn't this approach at least somewhat disingenuous? Naturally, Steinsaltz explains the “logic” behind the loophole: “These technological advances may be used because the Shabbat prohibitions apply not to the processes themselves, but to the human performance of them. Still, there are numerous halakhic restrictions [there's that anxiety again] involved in the use of such devices” (; emphasis added). “Numerous restrictions” on the use of automatic timers? Even the loophole itself is complicated!

Again, one must revisit the rabbis' clever definition of work—or me-lachah. “[On] Shabbat we abstain from creating and not necessarily from exertion.... When we drive a car, for example, we are creating fire (in the internal combustion engine). When we turn on the light, we are creating an electrical circuit. And so on with all other Shabbat prohibitions. So, it's not an issue of stressful versus un-stressful—it's an issue of creative versus non -creative” (

On the ultra-Orthodox Web site, Rabbi Eliezer Zalmanov is asked about having a non-Jew load wood for a fireplace on the Sabbath. “Our house is heated by a wood burning stove. Our winters are cold. To keep warm, we must load the stove several times a day.... However, we are faced with a dilemma on Shabbat—feed the fire or be cold, sometimes very cold. Can we ask a non-Jew to load the stove?” Zalmanov answers: “Though ordinarily it is not permitted to ask a non-Jew to violate the Sabbath for us, there are a few exceptions to this rule.... Now, while your situation—a wood burning stove—may be an anomaly in today's day and age, it was the norm before the twentieth century. As such, it is discussed in the Code of Jewish Law—which rules that one may ask a non-Jew to load the wood” (emphasis added; Zalmanov cites Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch, or “Code of Jewish Law,” Orach Chaim 276:15; see Appendix Two).

The hypocrisy here is palpable. If it is wrong for a Jew to kindle a fire (or load a stove) on the Sabbath, then it should also be wrong for a non-Jew. Otherwise, in Zalmanov's own words, you are knowingly causing the non-Jew to “violate the Sabbath.” However, as we will see later, this is really a moot point. Jews believe the Sabbath was made for Jews, not for Gentiles. Thus, to ask a non-Jew to “violate the Sabbath” is oxymoronic. Zalmanov's suggestion is misleading to say the least, and cleverly obscures the Jews' disdain for Gentiles.

Another set of patently hypocritical rabbinic loopholes involves what is known as a “Sabbath day's journey”—or, the distance one can “legally” travel on the Sabbath. First, it should be noted that no such restrictions are found in Scripture. While Acts 1:12 makes a passing reference to “a Sabbath day's journey,” there is no proof that such a restriction was sanctioned or observed by Jesus or His disciples. Rather, the rule originated as a part of Jewish tradition. Albert Barnes notes that a Sabbath day's journey was “two thousand paces or cubits; or seven furlongs and a half—not quite one mile.... The distance of a lawful journey on the Sabbath was not determined by the laws of Moses, but [by] the Jewish teachers [who] had fixed it at two thousand paces. This measure was determined because it was a tradition that, in the camp of the Israelites when coming from Egypt, no part of the camp was more than two thousand paces from the tabernacle; and over this space, therefore, they were permitted to travel for worship” (Barnes' Commentary, “Acts 1:12”; emphasis added).

Ostensibly, the origin of this Jewish tradition is Exodus 16:29—”Do not let anyone go out of his place on the seventh day.” However, as Barnes notes, the Jewish sages reasoned that the children of Israel were allowed to travel at least the distance to the tabernacle—some “two thousand paces or cubits” at the most. Thus, they concluded, a Sabbath day's journey would be set at 2000 paces.

This distance, however, eventually proved to be too limiting. Thus, subsequent rabbis looked for a loophole—or, at least, an amendment—to the tradition. “Over the centuries, the authorities within the rabbinical circles of Judaism found ways, from examining the miniscule details of the Law, to increase the distance that an Israelite may travel on the Sabbath day. In ancient times they [had] determined that one may travel on the Sabbath within the city boundaries [a distance of] 2000 cubits.... Then, after some time, the rabbis interpreted 'place' [in Exodus 16:29] to mean city, so that it would be acceptable to travel 2000 cubits outside the city limits on the Sabbath day.”

But even this loophole was eventually found to be insufficient. “[The] Pharisees [later] doubled the distance that one might travel by yet another minute detail. They inserted a rule that if one placed food preparations at another location, then that [second location] figuratively became his abode [his place, per Exodus 16]....” Thus, the Jew was allowed to travel 2000 paces outside the city to his second “place”—then travel another 2000 paces from that “figurative abode”—making his actual “Sabbath journey” a total of up to 4000 paces. Yet, technically, he was never more than 2000 paces from his “place.” Moreover, the rabbis later reasoned that since a person would need to return home, that same journey could be legally retraced, for a total of 8000 paces (How Far Was a Sabbath Day's Journey?,

Jesus, however, taught that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). As Lord of the Sabbath (verse 28), Jesus repeatedly reproved the Jewish religious authorities for misunderstanding the spirit of the Law and laying heavy Sabbath burdens upon the people. As we have seen, such Pharisaic burdens are alive and well today.

The Sabbath Prohibition Against “Carrying”

Another peculiar case in point is the rabbinic ruling against “carrying,” one of the 39 categories of activities forbidden on the Sabbath. The original Talmudic ruling is based, once again, on Exodus 16:29, “let no man go out of his place on the seventh day,” and Jeremiah 17:21-22, “carry no burden on the Sabbath day.... Nor carry out a burden from your houses on the Sabbath day.... “ From these passages come the rabbinic prohibition against transferring an object—such as a pen or pencil, a woman's purse, a set of car keys, an umbrella, a sack lunch, or even one's small baby—from a private domain (“his place”) to a public domain on the Sabbath day. However, in keeping with Jesus' statement concerning Pharisaic hypocrisy— “they say but they do not”—clever rabbinic loopholes exist in order to get around this absurd Sabbath regulation.

Again, this is a classic case of gross misunderstanding by Jewish sages. When Jeremiah used the term burden, was he really referring to simple items such as pen or pencil, one's purse, a book, an umbrella, etc.? Or, as the context shows, was he not referring to the transporting of goods for the purpose of being sold on the Sabbath? Verses 21 and 24 mention bringing such burdens through the gates of Jerusalem. For what purpose? In a similar passage, Nehemiah had to confront Jews and non-Jews alike who persisted in bringing such “burdens” to Jerusalem on the Sabbath (Neh. 13:15-22). Here, the context is clearly about conducting the business of buying and selling on the Sabbath.

For those who understand the purpose of the Sabbath and have a modicum of common sense, it is easy to see that carrying a purse, wallet, basket of food, or a child on the Sabbath is no burden at all and certainly does not constitute work. Recall the incident in John five where, after healing a man on the Sabbath, Jesus instructed him to take up his “bed” (more like a sleeping bag or bedroll) and go his way. The scribes and Pharisees were offended to say the least—as the man violated an early form of the Jews' prohibition against “carrying.” But by no means did the man violate any biblical law or ordinance.

As brought out earlier, the key is understanding of the spirit of Law. While there is no biblical sanction against “carrying” or transporting everyday objects on the Sabbath—in one's home or in public—it is obvious to those who understand the spirit and intent of the Law that packing up one's household and having a “moving day” on the Sabbath would be wrong, as the entire day would be one of extensive work. But the idea that carrying such mundane items such as one's purse or a pencil into the “public domain” violates the Sabbath is, to say the least, a ludicrous example of the nitpicky, obsessive paranoia that has become an integral part of Judaic Sabbath-keeping.

From a moral standpoint, if you are going to boast of such Sabbath regulations—as absurd as they are—then, by all means, abide by them. If carrying everyday items into the “public domain” on the Sabbath is really forbidden by the Law, then the stipulation must be obeyed. But apparently Talmudic Jews are more interested in following their own humanly-devised traditions than in obeying the Scriptures. In this case, the rabbis get around the “carrying” prohibition through what is called an eruv—a make-believe border that converts entire neighborhoods into giant “private domains.”

Note the flagrant hypocrisy. “On Shabbat, all activities associated with work are prohibited, and according to traditional Jewish law include formal employment as well as traveling, spending money, and carrying items outside the home, in the public domain. The prohibition against 'carrying' includes house keys, prayer books, canes or walkers, and even children who cannot walk on their own. Recognizing the difficulties this rule imposes, the sages of the Talmud devised a way to allow for ' carrying' in public without breaking the rule. Through this means, called an eruv, communities are able to turn a large [public] area into one that is considered, for Jewish [legal] purposes, a large private domain, into which items may be carried” (Sharonne Cohen, What Is An Eruv?,; emphasis added).

The term eruv refers to “the act of mixing or combining and is shorthand for eruv hazerot—the mixing of [private and public] domains.” Once a number of private and public properties have been integrated into a single, larger “private domain,” individuals are then permitted to “carry” objects within the boundaries of the eruv. However, “having an eruv does not mean that a city or neighborhood is enclosed entirely by a literal wall. Rather, the eruv can be symbolically comprised of a series of pre-existing structures (walls, fences, electrical poles and wires) and structures created expressly for the eruv, often a wire mounted on poles. In practice, then, the eruv is a symbolic demarcation of the private sphere, one that communities come together to create” (Cohen).

Hoffman labels the tactic for what it is: “A loophole for nullifying these rules against carrying is found in the rabbinic concept of the eruv . in which a symbolic ritual wire is strung around a city neighborhood, thereby creating the eruv.... [An eruv typically] encloses several blocks. The area within the eruv is then considered a private domain where carrying is permitted” (Judaism Discovered, p. 944).

In Steinsaltz's Guide for the Newly Observant Jew (, we find another component to the eruv—a shared meal. He writes: “The two central practices connected with [an eruv] are the creation of a symbolic fence around a city (or any part of it) formed by an arrangement of posts and wire, and a symbolic communal meal shared by all those participating in the eruv.” According to Steinsaltz, in some larger cities it is not practical to erect the necessary “boundaries.” In such cases, however, the eruv can be formed through a shared meal—by which all participants in the eruv are considered to be living in a common, private dwelling. The rabbis with add: “Everyone in the city (or area of the eruv) contributes food (or, as is usually done, one person in the city can supply the food for everyone) and this food is kept in one of the houses. This symbolizes that all the people who dwell within the eruv are now 'sharing' food, and are therefore one, big happy family living in one 'private' domain.”

Lorne Rozovsky of writes that an eruv is “one of those traditions which has blossomed from a basic [biblical] principle into a highly complicated legal matter” (What is an Eruv?; emphasis added).

Highly complicated? When the plain teachings of the Scriptures are clouded by vain, humanly-devised traditions—which are themselves subject to numerous revisions and deceptive loopholes—then, yes, religion does get complicated. But the teachings of Moses as set forth in the Old Testament are straightforward, honest, practical—and, above all, not subject to the revisionist whims of men. To borrow a phrase from the apostle Paul, Rabbinical Judaism has “changed the truth of God into a lie” (Rom. 1:25), and can in no way represent the God of the Scriptures.

The Land Sabbath Abrogated

The Old Testament explicitly states that “you shall sow your land six years, and shall gather in the fruits of it. But the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie still, so that the poor of your people may eat. And what they leave, the animals of the field shall eat. In the same way you shall deal with your vineyard and with your olive-grove” (Ex. 23:10-11; also Lev. 25:1-5). If Judaism's claim to be the embodiment of the “religion of Moses” was at all valid, one would suppose that Orthodox Jews who own agricultural land today would follow this injunction to allow the land to rest every seventh year. After all, violation of the land Sabbath was one of the key reasons for God punishing ancient Judah (Lev. 26:34, 43; II Chron. 36:20-21).

But such is not the case. In keeping with the hypocrisy of Pharisaic Judaism, a loophole has been created by rabbis that allows Jewish land to be temporarily “sold” to a non-Jew so that it might remain productive (and profitable) even on the shmita, or sabbatical year. In direct defiance of God's command, the land Sabbath has never been officially observed in the modern state of Israel. This particular nullification of God's Word by “greater than God” rabbis is called Heter Mechirah (“leniency of sale”).

“According to the Talmud, observance of the sabbatical year is of high accord.... Nonetheless, rabbinic Judaism has developed halakhic (religious law) devices to be able to maintain a modern agricultural and commercial system while [ostensibly] giving heed to the biblical injunctions. Such devices represent examples of flexibility within the halakhic system” ( Numerous shmita rulings have appeared since the first century, all designed to get around the land Sabbath command.

In more modern times, according to Hoffman, a rabbinical ruling to relax the land Sabbath requirement was issued in 1888—and implemented in the sabbatical year of 1889—by Rabbi Shmuel Z. Klepfish of the rabbinic court of Poland. Klepfish, regarded as one of the outstanding Jewish legal authorities of his time, intended that the measure provide relief for the impoverished Jewish settlements of those days (Judaism Discovered, p. 913).

Soon afterwards, Rabbi Yitzchak (Isaac) E. Spektor engineered the Heter Mechirah loophole that nullifies the sabbatical year through its mock-sale of Jewish land to Gentiles. Hoffman includes this quote from the 1978 Encyclopedia Judaica: “On the question of agricultural labor in Eretz Israel, in a shemittah ('sabbatical') year, he [Spektor] favored its permission by the nominal sale of land to a non-Jew, a measure which is employed to the present day” (Vol. 15, pp. 259-260; Hoffman, p. 914-915). The online Wikipe-dia explains Spektor's approach: “In the late 19th century, in the early days of Zionism, Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor came up with a halakhic means of allowing agriculture to continue during the shmita year. After ruling . that the biblical prohibition consists of not cultivating the land owned by Jews ('your land,' Exodus 23:10), Rabbi Spektor devised a mechanism by which the land could be sold to a non-Jew for the duration of that year under a trust agreement. Under this plan, the land would belong to the non-Jew temporarily, and revert back to Jewish ownership when the year was over. When the land was sold under such an arrangement, Jews could continue to farm it. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of British Mandate Palestine, adopted this principle, which became known as the Heter Mechirah” (

Hoffman adds that “all subsequent Israeli Chief Rabbis have continued to uphold the validity of the Heter Mechirah” (p. 915)—which means that since its inception the modern nation of Israel has never kept the land Sabbath as mandated by Scripture!

The “Absolution of Vows”

One of the more striking rabbinical loopholes is one that allows Jews to intentionally break vows—which Scripture forbids (Num. 30; etc.). The controversial rabbinic ritual—the Kol Nidrei rite of Yom Kippur—entails the nullification of all vows made in the coming year, thus allowing the Tal-mudist to conveniently break his word with impunity. Hoffman writes that this rite is portrayed in the media as a “noble plea for forgiveness and atonement for having broken promises in the past”—which would indeed be a commendable exercise (p. 966). But the loophole is specifically designed to give advance absolution for the upcoming year. “This advance stipulation is called bitul tenai and is the basis for a Judaic being absolved in advance of breaking promises that he will make in the future.” (Hoffman, p. 967).

Rabbinical Judaism makes no attempt to justify the doctrine of Kol Nidrei by the Scriptures; indeed, the Mishnah plainly admits that the rite has absolutely no biblical basis. “The absolution of vows hovers in the air, for it has nothing [in the Law] upon which to depend” (BT Hagigah, 1:8a). Even the highly respected Maimonides confirms that the rite is in no way scriptural: “[The absolution from oaths] has no basis whatsoever in the Written Torah” (Mishneh Torah, Sefer Haflaah, Hilkhot Shevuot, 6:2).

Concerning the ritual, the Talmud says: “And he who desires that none of his vows made during the year shall be valid, let him stand at the beginning of the year [on Yom Kippur] and declare, 'Every vow which I make in the future will be null' “ (BT Nedarim, 23a, 23b). The Mishnah adds: “He who desires that none of his vows made during the [upcoming] year shall be valid, let him stand at Rosh haShanah [the beginning of the year] and declare, 'Every vow which I may make in the future shall be cancelled,' provided that he remembers [the stipulation] at the time of [making] the vow” (Mishnah Nedarim, 3:1).

Note that the action taken to nullify vows is taken at the beginning of the year with regard to vows made in the future. The distinction is critical as it contradicts the popular perception of Kol Nidrei—that it is a humble rite of repentance and contrition. The hypocrisy of the Kol Nidrei rite adds to the pretentiousness of the whole Yom Kippur ceremony—an observance laden with hollow displays of penitence, piety, fasting and prayer.

In explaining the Kol Nidrei rite, Rabbi Louis Jacobs, a leader of Conservative Judaism in the United Kingdom, emphasized that a Jew's vows are valid “only if the vow is uttered with full intent. A person's declaration beforehand that all vows he will take in the year ahead are null and void means that any vow he will make is held to be without sufficient intention and hence without binding power” (; emphasis added).

Yet, as Hoffman notes, the rite is far from an ancient practice. “Kol Nidrei is an integral pillar of a proud, resurgent and assertive religion that continues to [self-righteously] announce to the world that it is the standard-bearer of justice and ethics” (p. 970).

Jesus simply taught, “But let your word be good, your 'Yes' be yes and your 'No' be no; for anything that is added to these is from the evil one” (Matt. 5:37; also James 5:12). The Kol Nidrei rite exposes Judaism to the disdain and indignation of honest men everywhere. Clearly, any religion that teaches men how to absolve themselves of commitments cannot be the religion of the God of the Old Testament.

The “Divine” Status of Rabbis

In a subtle but clearly cultish fashion, Judaism embodies the dogma of control—by which every observant Orthodox Jew is “enslaved down to the most minute and intimate particulars of his or her daily life.... The religion of Judaism, the religion of [the] Talmud . is an all-encompassing form of totalitarianism” (Hoffman, pp. 147, 819). This element of control is made possible only because of the exalted status given to rabbis. In fact, the status enjoyed by rabbis can only be described as idolatrous. As we will see, in the eyes of the Talmudic Jew, the rabbi is much more than simply a teacher, guide or mentor; the rabbi is a virtual “demigod,” worthy of reverence, awe and adulation. While it is carefully understated, the Talmud clearly bestows its sages with a certain level of divinity. For example, the Talmud teaches that the commands of the rabbis are more important than the commands of the Scriptures: “My son, be more careful in [the observance of] the words of the scribes than in the words of the [written] Torah, for in the laws of the Torah there are positive and negative precepts; but, as to the laws of the scribes, whoever transgresses any of the enactments of the scribes [and, by extension, today's rabbis] incurs the penalty of death” (BT Eruvin, 21b). The Talmud also says that the decrees of rabbinic councils are not to be questioned, as such councils carry authority equal to that of Moses (BT Rosh Hashanah, 25a); moreover, the Talmud makes the fallacious claim that even the Scriptures teach that the rulings of the rabbis must be obeyed—and that those who obey the rabbis are holy, while those who disobey are wicked (BT Yebamoth, 20a). With such blatant self exaltation, it is no wonder that writers like Hoffman argue that “Judaism teaches the ultimate delusion, the supremacy of the rabbi above God” (p. 304).

Avi ben Mordechai, who spent much of his life under the oppressive rule of Rabbinical Judaism, explains how the ancient sages blatantly trashed the context of Deuteronomy 30:12—seizing the single phrase, “it is not in heaven”—in an attempt to claim “sole authority on earth” and justify their lofty position. “Lo bashmayim hi [“It is not in heaven”] is a doctrine of Pharisaism evidenced from at least the days of Rabbi Eliezar [about 90 AD]. The rabbis teach that God assigned all His earthly jurisdiction over to them, supposedly telling them that they will be His voice to all Israel on earth, based on Deuteronomy 30:12. No voice of [God] is needed for guidance; the Pharisees and now the rabbis have removed that. They tell us (directly or indirectly) to have faith in them. This includes their carte blanche authority on earth to correct, repair, add to or take away from the written Word—on earth—all under the skirt of an oral law love affair. It is forbidden to annul what they pass down; [one may] only improve upon it.... Anyone who brings forth an opinion contrary to established oral tradition—even if he was known to be a holy prophet—is to be ignored” (Galatians, p. 412).

As Mordechai brings out, Judaism's most honored sage, Maimon-ides, wrote in his introduction to the Mishnah: “If there are 1,000 prophets, all of them of the stature of Elijah and Elisha, giving a certain interpretation, and 1,001 rabbis giving the opposite interpretation, you shall 'incline after the majority' and the law [ruling] is according to the 1,001 rabbis, not according to the 1,000 venerable prophets.... And so if a prophet testifies that the Holy One, Blessed be He, told him that the law [ruling] of a certain commandment is such and such . that prophet must be executed.... [For] it is written, 'it is not in heaven' (Deuteronomy 30:12). Thus, God did not permit us to learn from the prophets, but only from the rabbis who are men of logic and reason.” Mordechai notes that this is not “some obscure teaching” of Judaism, but a “basic tenet of rabbinic doctrine.” According to Rabbinical Judaism, the sages have the “full prerogative to make laws in addition to or in spite of the written Word, because they believe Scripture says, ' it is not in heaven' “ (p. 413; emphasis added). Indeed, according to the Talmud, the sages view their enactments as having the same (or greater) force and authority as the laws and commandments of the Scriptures (BT

Ketubot, 84a).

Obviously, without the Talmud, the rabbi is nothing. In fact, it is the mastery of the Talmud that gives the rabbi his mystical authority. On the surface, the rabbi is a teacher of the “wisdom” contained in the Talmud; on a deeper, cultish level, the rabbi is seen as the embodiment of such wisdom. By no means is Judaism alone in this criticism; to one degree or another, every religion devised by men tends to deify its teachers. And the process always begins with the supposition that a religion's sages have access to secret knowledge. As you will recall, biblical scholar Joachim Jeremias noted that “it was knowledge alone which gave . power to the [ancient Jewish] scribes” (Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus, p. 235). “Only ordained teachers [scribes and, later, rabbis] transmitted and created the tradition derived from the [written] Torah which, according to Pharisaic teaching ..... was regarded as equal to and indeed above the Torah. Their decisions had the power to ' bind' or ' loose' for all time the Jews of the entire world” (p. 236; emphasis added). Again, “the decisive reason for their dominant influence over the people . [was] that they were the guardians of a secret knowledge, of an esoteric tradition” (p. 237; emphasis added).

Jeremias continues: “It is only when we have realized the esoteric character of the teaching of the scribes [rabbis] . concerning the whole of the oral tradition, even with respect to the text of the Old Testament, that we shall be able to understand the social position of the scribes [rabbis]. From a social point of view they were, as possessors of divine esoteric knowledge, the immediate heirs and successors of the prophets.... We understand therefore that the scribes [rabbis] were venerated, like the prophets of old, with unbounded respect and reverential awe, as bearers and teachers of sacred esoteric knowledge; their words had sovereign authority” (pp. 241, 243; emphasis added). In fact, the Talmud actually states that the rabbis are greater in stature than even the prophets (BT Baba Bathra, 12a).

Concerning the rabbis and their absolute authority, “even if they tell you right is left or left is right, you must listen to them” (Sifrei Deuteronomy, 154-11 and the Midrash Rabbah Exodus, 47-1; quoted by Mordechai, p. 240). But God says in Isaiah 5:20-21, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who put darkness for light and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”

It was only a matter of time before the rabbis began to see themselves as the “embodiment of their own teachings.” Referring to Judaism's tendency to worship its own leaders, Hoffman writes that the rabbi is seen as the Talmud incarnate. “[The rabbi] actualizes this divine status through rote memorization and vain repetition of the Talmud and Talmudic interpretations . in a manner similar to the import which Eastern religions attach to mantric incantations. The Talmud mantra is believed to give the rabbi supernatural power and his intrinsic divinity is made evident by this means. He himself becomes an object of worship ..... because, having achieved his full manifestation as the incarnate Torah [both written and oral], he himself becomes the main source of Judaic salvation and revelation” (Hoffman, pp. 294-295; emphasis added).

Hoffman quotes Rabbi Jacob Neusner, one of the world's foremost authorities on Judaism, as claiming that “the Babylonian Talmud represents God in the flesh.” (Rabbinic Judaism, p. 62; Hoffman, p. 295). Later, paraphrasing Neusner, Hoffman says that in Judaism “the authority of the Mish-nah is derived from the authority of the rabbi, because whatever the rabbi declares to be from Sinai is from Sinai, because the rabbi is Sinai incarnate” (p. 295; emphasis added).

The inevitable conclusion is that if the Talmud is God incarnate, and the rabbi fully embodies the Talmud—then, the rabbi is, at least on some level, divine. Hoffman again quotes Neusner: “[The] rabbis believe that the man [who is] truly made in the divine image is the rabbi; he embodies reve-lation—both oral and written—and all his actions constitute paradigms that are not merely correct, but holy and heavenly. Rabbis enjoy exceptional grace from heaven” (Invitation to the Talmud—A Teaching Book, p. 8; Hoffman, p. 514).

The rabbis' demigod status is easily seen in how their Talmudic students hold them in reverential awe. In what Hoffman calls the “Cult of the Guru,” he says that in Judaism “the relationship between teacher (rebbi) and student (talmid) is one of slavish idolatry” wherein the rabbi is a “guru, whose image is engraved before [the student's] eyes” and “is adored by [the] awed and cowed follower” (p. 296). Quoting a March 16, 2007, article by Rabbi Elozar Kahanaw entitled “Between Rabbi and Talmud Student,” Hoffman writes: “[The rabbi] often spoke to his tamidim [students] about the importance of establishing a bond of closeness between rebbi and talmid. In every matter, in every circumstance, it is necessary that the image of one's rebbi be engraved before one's eyes. In every question that arose and in every issue, [the Talmudic student is to always ask] 'What would my rebbi ..... say about this?' “ (p. 296).

Talmudic students endeavor to imitate their guru-like rabbis in all things, being so infatuated with the “wisdom” of the rabbis that they think everything the rabbi says and does is divinely inspired. Just how wise are the rabbis? They are wise enough to be frightened of going to the bathroom, believing that devils reside in latrines. The Talmud teaches that, on coming from a toilet, a man must not have sexual intercourse without first walking half a mile, as the demon of the toilet will be with him for about that length of time. If he does not walk the half mile, any child conceived after going to the bathroom will be epileptic (BT Gittin, 70a). The rabbis wisely prescribe a hand-washing ritual to remove the demon.

Hoffman concludes that the attitude of the student toward the rabbi is one of “extreme idolatry. They [the students] adore them [the rabbis] as infallible, supernatural, prophet-like figures” (p. 297). For example, the late Grand Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of New York was lauded by fellow rabbi Ariel Sokolovsky as “Rebbe-Almighty” (Saul Sadka, “The Lubavitcher Rebbe as a god,” Haaretz, Feb. 12, 2007). Sadka adds that Schneerson's followers would routinely chant, “Long live our Master, our Rebbe, King Messiah.” Proclaiming their “dedication to the Rebbe above all else,” they affirmed, “As far as we are concerned, we can pray to the Rebbe and he can deal with God for us. The Rebbe was not created; the Rebbe has always been around and always will be.... [You must] start with God and work your way up to the Rebbe” (quoted by Hoffman, pp. 298299; emphasis added).

Hoffman says that Schneerson's followers viewed him as a demigod. “They are loath to state this explicitly, but they will assign him characteristics of God, pray to him and, when pressed, suggest that there is really no difference between him and God, except that Schneerson is higher.” From Sadka's article, Hoffman adds: “Since the Rebbe was perfection personified, he is greater than any man that ever lived; ergo he is godly—omnipotent, omniscient and unlimited.... None [of his followers] have a problem with praying to Schneerson [or] using his books for divination in place of the Bible. Even amongst those viewed as moderates, 'the Rebbe' is often substituted for God in normal conversation.... Does this not idolize Schneerson in the literal sense? We cannot connect to God directly—we need the Rebbe to take our prayers from here to there and to help us in this world. We are told by our rabbis that a great man is like God, and the Rebbe [Schneerson] was the greatest man ever” (p. 300; emphasis added).

Rather than having faith in God and learning to think for themselves, Talmudic students are taught to have absolute faith in their rabbi. Hoffman quotes an article—”It is Mitzvah to Heed the Words of Our Sages”— published by the Ahavas Emes Institute in which such faith is emphasized. “Having faith in [our] sages ..... is a tenet of Judaism and is no less obligatory than the laws pertaining to forbidden foods or the laws pertaining to money matters.... [Thus] regarding all matters of faith and mitzvah observance, we must rely on the decisions of the sages instead of making our own.... [The] more trust a person has in our . sages, the greater his chances for the salvation he so yearns for” (Hoffman, p. 937; emphasis added).

Could the idolatry be any more evident? In Judaism, the rabbi takes the place of God, much like the priest assumes the mediatory role of Christ in Catholicism.

Rabbinical Power and Abuse

Like any cultish religion that deifies its leaders, fear and intimidation figure prominently in Judaism, running like an undercurrent in the relationship between rabbi and student. After all, “Judaism teaches that the rabbi's word is the word of God. The rabbis' enactments are equal to those of God” (Hoffman, p. 935). Naturally, then, the rabbi is someone to be feared. A good example of how rabbis subtly utilize intimidation can be seen in their approach to the Jews' day of fasting and mourning known as Tisha B'Av—the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av.

Historically, Tisha B'Av has been a day of suffering and catastrophe. Solomon's Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians on this day in 515 BC; likewise, the Second Temple, build by Herod, was destroyed by Roman armies on the ninth of Av, 70 AD. Numerous other calamities are held by the Jews to have occurred on this date. Tisha b'Av—which occurs in either July or August—is a time of mourning and contrition. Numerous regulations dictate how the devout Jew is to go about mourning—such as not wearing leather shoes, not bathing, going without food and water, not greeting friends or socializing, etc. Rabbis consider the day to be specially cursed by God (Hoffman, p. 932).

According to Hoffman, of the several catastrophes commemorated in Judaism on this date, “the one that occupies the center of attention is the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans” (p. 932). He also notes that the rabbis use the calamity to leverage obedience and reverence from their followers. In conjunction with mourning the destruction of the Temple and the exile of Jews, rabbis are almost fanatical in reminding their disciples of why such destruction came upon the Jewish people in the first place. They ask, “What were the Jews' forefathers of the first century guilty of that resulted in the terrible destruction of the Temple?” Sidestepping the truth, however, rabbis quickly quote the Talmud: “[Jerusalem] was destroyed only because they [the Jewish laity] demeaned [the] Talmidei Chachamim [Talmud scholars]” (BT Shabbat, 119b).)

Why should we be surprised that rabbis would deflect the blame away from their Pharisaic ancestors—and, thus, away from themselves—and shift it onto the Jewish people? With disdain and contempt, they dismiss what the New Testament gives as the singular reason for the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple—the rejection of Jesus as the Messiah by the Jewish leadership. “And when He came near and saw the city [Jerusalem], He wept over it, saying, 'If you had known, even you, at least in this your day [of judgment], the things [that would have made] for your peace; but now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you that your enemies shall cast a rampart about you, and shall enclose you around and keep you in on every side, and shall level you to the ground, and your children within you; and they shall not leave in you a stone upon a stone, because you did not know the season of your visitation” (Luke 19:41-44). Jerusalem is here personified by its corrupt leadership; Christ was actually addressing the Jewish religious leaders who reject Him. Likewise, He laments: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who have been sent to you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you refused! Behold, your house is left to you desolate. For I say to you, you shall not see Me at all from this time forward, until you shall say, 'Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord' “ (Matt. 23:37-39).

The rabbis' stance on why Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed gives them a formidable tool by which they are able to intimidate and control their followers—fear. As Hoffman writes, the rabbis “teach that the Second Temple was destroyed not due to the horrible corruption of their spiritual ..... [predecessors], but because the Jews of the first century failed to sufficiently idolize the Pharisees.... Hence, the ninth of Av represents a ritualized reminder that all those Judaics who seek the liberty to think freely according to conscience, independent of the [Jewish] traditions of men, bring ruin upon Judaism” (p. 934; emphasis added).

But the rabbis take their diabolical heavy-handedness a step further. If the Jewish laity of the first century could be held accountable for the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, could not similar lackadaisicalness be the cause of the Messiah delaying His appearing? Hoffman argues that “Tisha b'Av reinforces rabbinic mind control over the Judaic people. They are told that the Temple will not be rebuilt and the Messiah will not come unless they rededicate themselves in total subservience to the tyrannical rule of the rabbis, the heirs of the tyrannical religious rulers who crucified [the] Messiah” (p. 934; emphasis added).

As a former Talmudic Jew intimately familiar with Judaism, Avi ben Mordechai notes that “the Pharisaic system appeals to a man's base appetite for self-aggrandizement. It is a [religious] system that leads to a hierarchy of masters and slaves. In turn, this will lead to one who controls another, with the result that people will live in fear of their peers and spiritual taskmasters and not in fear of YHWH [God]” (Galatians, p. 371).

By creating and perpetuating the myth of the “Oral Torah”—with its vast wealth of mystical, esoteric knowledge—both the age-old scribe and the modern-day rabbi have mastered the art of manipulating and controlling their followers. The observant Jew simply has no idea of the deception into which he has fallen. On the surface (and certainly as portrayed in the mainstream media) the rabbi is admired as a prudent teacher, spiritual guide and skeptical philosopher—one who holds the answers to life's most perplexing problems. In reality, however, he does what all teachers, gurus and leaders of humanly-devised religions ultimately do: Assuming a sort of messianic character, he presumptuously positions himself between his followers and God, as if their salvation was dependent on him. In Judaism, the rabbi's godlike status makes such a position most palpable.

Rabbinical Self-Righteousness

An arrogant spirit of self-righteousness is readily apparent in Rabbinical Judaism—even to the point of racial nationalism. When the Talmud states, for example, that God wears phylacteries on which are inscribed praises for the Jewish people (BT Berakhot, 6a-b)—or that God asks rabbis for rabbinical blessings (BT Berakhot, 7a)—it becomes obvious that there is a disturbing tendency in the religion (and certainly in the rabbinate) toward self-worship. Indeed, with smug self-assurance, the sages have proclaimed that no rabbi can ever be condemned to hell (BT Hagigah, 27a).

Just how arrogant are the rabbis? In Daniel Boyarin's controversial book, Border Lines: The Partition of Judeo-Christianity, he describes what he calls the “complete rabbinic takeover of religious life and practice via the Oral Torah.” Boyarin portrays the ancient development of the oral tradition as something of a coup against God, in which “not even God, not even the angels, can compete with the rabbis and their [oral] Torah. The [oral] Torah is no longer in heaven. It is on earth in the possession of the rabbinic institution” (p. 171; emphasis added). He adds that Rabbinical Judaism thus represents a “particular [form] of power/knowledge ..... [that] seeks to effect a transfer of authority and of control over discourse from heaven . to earth [through] the allegedly God-given authority of the majority of the rabbis.” A necessary aspect of this “transfer of authority” has been the “divine submission to rabbinic power” in which “divine voices have nothing to say in the lives of Jews anymore. Only the rabbis, designed the sons of God, and their [oral] Torah serve that function. Only the majority decision of the rabbis has power and authority, and only their knowledge is relevant” (p. 172; emphasis added).

Could the rabbis' arrogance and conceit be any more obvious? Yet, God says, “I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God” and “My glory I will not give to another” (Ex. 20:5; Isa. 42:8). What a fearful position, indeed, to be found in direct opposition to the ever-living God of Scripture!

The self-righteous conceitedness replete within Judaism can also be seen in the rabbinic concept of Jewish “chosen-ness.” Dr. Raphael Jospe, senior instructor and lecturer in Jewish Philosophy at the Open University of Israel in Jerusalem, has conducted extensive research on this topic. In his article, “The Concept of the Chosen People: An Interpretation,” he suggests that, while various rabbinic scholars have differing approaches to this controversial subject, there is considerable consensus that “the Jews chose to be chosen” (

Jospe presents two radically differing perspectives from medieval rabbinism, both of which “reverse the logic and chronology of election.” In the first, it is theorized that the Jews possess a divine biological faculty enabling them to “communicate prophetically with God”—thus, “they, and only they, could receive the Torah [both written and oral] in divine revelation.” This means that “one cannot argue that God chose Abraham and his progeny. Rather, because only Abraham, and subsequently the Jewish people, were already endowed with the biological capacity to receive divine communication, God could reveal the Torah to them. This is not to say that the Jews first chose God. It means that God could choose only them to receive the Torah because they alone had the prior capacity to receive it. The Jews did not choose God, but it was the Jews who made God's choice possible.” Perhaps this helps to explain why the Talmud states that striking a Jew is, in God's eyes, an assault on the “Divine Presence” (BT Sanhedrin, 58b).

The second viewpoint—developed by the legendary 12th-century Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides—is based on the alleged initiative of the Jews, or specifically, that of their ancestor Abraham. According to Jospe, Abraham “arrived at a rational understanding of God through speculation and reasoning.” Rabbi Maimonides, he writes, described Abraham as “weaning himself from the prevailing idolatry [of his day] and contemplating the cosmos without the benefit of any teacher, until, at the age of forty, 'he attained the way of truth and apprehended the right line [of thought] by his correct reason . and he [thus] knew that there is one God who governs the sphere and created everything, and that in all existence there is no God besides Him.' “ Jospe concludes that, ultimately, the initiative was entirely Abraham's. “God did not choose Abraham; rather, Abraham discovered God” (

In a similar vein, Hoffman notes that there is a “huge chasm between Christian and rabbinic theology. The Christian believes himself to be absolutely worthless and irredeemable without Christ—a sinner sentenced to eternal death, were it not for . the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus.... In contrast, Judaism is replete with racial conceit. [As author Eli Soble wrote,] 'The Jewish people and God are wholly one....[The Jews'] redemption will take place because of the merit of the Jewish people' “ (p. 303; quoting Eli Soble's “Our Rebbe is the Messiah,” The Jerusalem Post, Jan. 30, 2008; emphasis added).

As we will see in the next chapter, there is definite biblical validity to the idea of the Jews being a chosen people—chosen for a specific purpose in God's overall plan. But most decidedly, that does not mean that Judaism is in any way representative of the “religion” (way of life) God established through Moses and the prophets. The prevailing Judaic approach to the “chosen” status of the Jewish people is strikingly conceited. Rather than humbly seeing themselves as chosen for a special purpose—through no inherent merit of their own (see Ezekiel 16:1-14)—there is instead a haughty, even racist, elitism that characterizes itself in discrimination against non-Jews. In fact, according to Rabbinical Judaism, Deuteronomy 7:2 is considered a proof-text—taken completely out of context, of course—that Gentiles are to be shown absolutely no favor. After all, the Talmud itself teaches that non-Jews are actually subhuman (BT Kerithoth, 6b; Yebamoth, 61a; Baba Mezia, 114b).

Rabbinical Racism

Elizabeth Dilling writes, “The Talmud's basic law [concerning race] is that only the Pharisee Jew ranks as a man, or a human being. All others rank as animals” (The Jewish Religion: Its Influence Today, p. 2). In each of the Talmudic passages referenced above, non-Jews are said to be “not of Adam”—i.e., not human. The 1905 Jewish Encyclopedia links this teaching to the Pharisees, who, grossly misapplying Ezekiel 34:31 (“and you My sheep . are men”), held that “only Israelites were men . [and] Gentiles they classed not as men but as barbarians” (“Gentiles”).

“The basic Talmudic doctrine includes more than a super-race complex. It is an only-race concept. The non-Jew thus ranks as an animal, has no property rights and no legal rights under any code whatever” (Dilling, p. 16). According to the Talmud, Gentile children are animals (BT Yebamoth, 98a), and Gentile girls are in a state of filth from birth (BT Abodah Zarah, 36b). In general, non-Jews are inclined to bestiality, lewdness and murder; Eve, the Talmud claims, had sexual intercourse with the serpent, transmitting lust to Gentiles, from which Jews are exempt (BT Abodah Zarah, 22a). The Talmud also instructs Jewish men to say the following prayer every day: “Thank you God for not making me a Gentile, a woman or a slave” (BT Menahoth, 43b-44a).

Moses, however, taught one law for Israelite and foreigner alike (Ex. 12:49; Lev. 24:22). Over time, Jewish tradition made it unlawful for a Jew to associate in any way with a non-Jew (Acts 10:28)—a prejudice swiftly dealt with by the early church (Acts 10:34; Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11). While the Talmud actually encourages hatred towards one's enemies (BT Pesahim, 113b), Jesus taught otherwise. “You have heard that it was said [by self-righteous scribes and Pharisees expounding their oral traditions], 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' “ As previously noted, the rabbis define neighbor as “a fellow Jewish neighbor” (BT Sanhedrin, 52b). Jesus continues: “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt. 5:43-44).

In a perverse attempt to “explain” Rabbinical Judaism's bias against Gentiles, the Jewish Encyclopedia submits that Jews feared the “vile and vicious character of Gentiles” and that “discriminations against Gentiles, while strictly in accordance with the just law of reciprocity and retaliation, [had] for their object to civilize the heathen” (“Gentiles”). After all, the ancient sages had written that while the deeds of Jews are righteous, Gentiles are capable only of sin (BT Baba Bathra, 10b).

In his essay “The Non-Jew in Jewish Law,” educator Jeffrey Spitzer writes that “Jewish law tries to separate Jews from Gentiles in order to prevent Jews from adopting idolatrous behaviors.... There are exceptions and loopholes, but the general force is to discourage interaction between Jews and non-Jews.” Citing the ancient sages, Spitzer adds that various Talmudic rules assume that Gentiles are, at best, unreliable—and, at worst, malevolent and violent. For this reason, Gentiles are grouped together with dishonest butchers, gamblers, usurers and thieves (Shulhan Arukh Hoshen Mishpat, 34;

It should come as no surprise, then, that it is forbidden in the Talmud for one to teach the Scriptures to Gentiles. The Jewish Encyclopedia says “the Talmud prohibited the teaching to a Gentile of the Torah.... R. Johanan [an ancient sage] says of one so teaching: 'Such a person deserves death.... It is like placing an obstacle before the blind' (Sanhedrin, 59a; Hagigah, 13a).” And, “Resh Lakish [another ancient sage] ..... said, 'A Gentile observing the Sabbath deserves death' (Sanhedrin, 58b) ..... inasmuch as 'the Sabbath is a sign between God and Israel alone' “ (“Gentiles”).

Importantly, Hoffman notes that such prejudice is far from limited to some narrow sect of Judaism, but overwhelmingly represents the rabbinic mindset within modern Orthodox Judaism. According to Hoffman, the American mainstream media frequently features stories about rabbis reaching out to non-Jews in a “spirit of brotherhood.” He argues that such rhetoric is but part of a clever public relations campaign aimed at naive Gentiles. “These [media] lies are laughable to those who were raised inside Orthodox Judaism.... If we look at the precepts by which Talmudic youth are raised, trained, formed and educated, we discover the reality of Judaism, aside from the hypocritical and fantastic image of benevolence that is projected on its behalf by media moguls” (Judaism Discovered, p. 463).

Hoffman contends that there is a “bigoted image of Gentiles” that Jewish youth “imbibe from Orthodox Judaism's religious elders.” “In the eyes of the rabbis, the Gentile is eternally Esau”—persecuting the Jew (or Jacob, Esau's biblical rival). Hoffman writes that Jewish children are taught from earliest childhood that “friendship with Gentiles is temporary” and that “the Gentile can never be your friend.” They are taught that the Gentile is “another Esau come to kill the Jews.... War with him is unavoidable and eternal. The first step in the war is our segregation” (p. 463).

In her book The Hole in the Sheet, Evelyn Kay writes of this Jewish preoccupation with Gentile persecution. “[The] essence of anti-Goyism [anti -Gentile] is passed to Jewish children with their mother's milk, and then nurtured, fed and watered carefully into a full-blown phobia throughout their lives.... Their attitudes are then perfectly formed. They know how to hate.... They [the rabbis] want [Jewish] children to hate the Goyim.... They want to deny the humanity that links all people.... Anti-Goyism is a foundation of the Orthodox and Hasidic [Judaic] philosophy and way of life” (pp. 112-115; quoted by Hoffman, p. 464).

The rabbinic bias toward all things non-Jewish extends as well to Christianity. Noting the underlying motive for their contempt, Spitzer writes that “most [rabbinic] authorities considered the Christian belief in the Trinity as idolatrous”—as it naturally contradicted Jewish monotheism. Hoffman concurs: “The rabbinic authorities teach that Christianity . constitutes idol worship and any place set aside for the worship of Jesus Christ [viewed as a second God] is a house of idol worship” (p. 379). He writes that “Maimonides ruled unequivocally that Christians are idol worshippers (Hilchos Ma'achalos Asuros, 11:7)” (p. 381).

Rabbinical disdain for Christianity is well documented in the Talmud. For example, Christians and others who reject the Talmud will go to hell and be punished there for all generations (BT Sanhedrin, 90a); those who read the New Testament (considered non-canonical by the sages) will have no portion in the world to come (BT Rosh Hashanah, 17a); when the Messiah comes, He will destroy all Christians (BT Sanhedrin, 99a). There are many similar statements sprinkled throughout the Talmud, expressing condemnation for both Christians and Jesus.

The central prayer of Judaism, the Amidah (recited three times each day), contains a section called the Birkat HaMinim, which pronounces a curse on Judaism's enemies. According to Hoffman, the section—when properly rendered from the Talmud—reads, “Let there be no hope for the wicked and for Christians” (p. 279, footnote 272).

According to the on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia, Birkat HaMinim “asks God to destroy those in heretical sects” ( From a Judaic perspective, Christians are fundamentally heretical. Today, this particular portion of the Amidah is typically rendered, “Let there be no hope for slanderers, and let all wickedness perish in an instant.... “ The word for slanderers, however, was originally minim—and all credible scholars admit that minim refers to sectarians or heretics.

“The prayer has undergone since the days of Gamaliel many textual changes, as the variety of versions extant evidences.... [In] order to obviate hostile misconstructions, the text was modified.... Originally, the opening words were La-zedim ula-minim [using minim, those of heretical sects].... For minim was substituted the expression all doers of iniquity.” The Birkat HaMinim is thought to be the brainchild of Gamaliel II, who invoked the prayer “against heretics, traitors, and traducers: the minim and the posh'im.... The latter were the free thinkers; the former, [were] the Judaeo-Christians” (; “Shemoneh 'Esreh”).

According to Hebrew researcher John Parsons, the Birkat HaMinim was “instituted at the council of Yavneh sometime after the destruction of the Second Temple, and was composed in response to the Essenes and early messianic believers in Yeshua [Jesus].... [The] Talmud (BT Berakhot, 28b-29a) states that the original form of this blessing had the term laminim, which is rendered 'for the sectarians,' which was generally understood to be the Essenes and Messianic Jews of that time.” Parsons adds that the malediction served as a litmus test against suspected followers of Christ. “A messianic Jew could faithfully recite the other eighteen blessings of the Amidah, but could hardly invoke a curse on followers of Yeshua [Jesus]. In this way, [Jews] not reciting the Birkat HaMinim were suspected of heresy and subject to ..... excommunication” (

In spite of the conciliatory revisions, the original Talmudic version of the Birkat HaMinim remains as a viable tenet of Rabbinical Judaism. We must recall the words of the preeminent Rabbi Louis Finkelstein: “Pharisaism became Talmudism, Talmudism became Medieval Rabbinism, and Medieval Rabbinism became Modern Rabbinism. But throughout these changes of name, inevitable adaptation of custom, and adjustment of law, the spirit of the ancient Pharisee survives unaltered.... [For indeed,] the spirit of the doctrine [of the Pharisees] has remained quick and vital” (The Pharisees, Vol. I, pp. 21-22; emphasis added).

Judaism's Pretentious Display of Piety

As we can see, on a truly spiritual level, nothing has changed since the first century when Jesus denounced the scribes and Pharisees as blind guides, hypocrites and “whitewashed tombs” who were more interested in the adulation of men than in being right with God. Many of the modern “trappings” associated with Judaism reveal the vanity behind the religion. For example, Orthodox Jews today continue the Pharisaic tradition—based on an overly-literal interpretation of Deuteronomy 11:18, etc.—of wearing phylacteries (or tefillin), tiny leather boxes containing passages from Scripture that are worn on or above the forehead and on the left arm next to the heart. The Mishnah requires all males thirteen and older to wear tefillin each day (Shebu, 3.8, 11). The boxes are held in place by special leather straps. Apparently, the Pharisees would broaden the leather straps in order to make them more prominent. “And they do all their works to be seen by men. They make broad their phylacteries and enlarge the borders [fringes or tassels] of their garments; and they love the [place of honor] at the suppers, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the salutations in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi' “ (Matt. 23:5-7).

If one intends to wear phylacteries (as misguided as that may be), it should be done out of a sincere desire to fulfill Scripture—not in a self-righteous attempt to draw attention to one's piety. Similarly, modern Jews attempt to follow the injunction in Numbers 15:38-39 by wearing fringes or knotted tassels (tzitzit) on their “prayer shawls,” or tallit. (Apparently, the original command applies to one's garment in general, and is not restricted to the so-called “prayer shawl.”) As noted in Matthew 23:5, the Pharisees would lengthen their tzitzit in a pretentious and prideful display which drew Jesus' condemnation. Even when not praying, Orthodox Jews often wear the tallit under their shirts, purposely displaying the knotted tassels at the waist.

The Jewish skull-cap worn on the back of the head—known today as a kippah—is based entirely on rabbinic tradition. Such caps are noted in the Talmud as a sign of a rabbi's high status (BT Kiddushin, 8a). In his book Understanding Judaism, Rabbi Benjamin Blech writes that the kippah is worn with the intention of making a “religious statement” and serves as a “visible way of identifying oneself as an observant Jew”—underscoring, once again, the modern-day Pharisaic mindset of conceit and vanity.

He adds that the kippah is also the Jew's way of “acknowledging that there is One above us” and signifies the Talmudist's “acceptance of a higher power” (p. 308). Interestingly, the apostle Paul wrote almost exactly the opposite—that covering one's head while praying brought shame to his Head. “But I want you to understand that the Head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the Head of Christ is God. Every man who has a covering on his head when he is praying or prophesying puts his Head [Christ] to shame” (I Cor. 11:3-4).

Another accoutrement worn pretentiously by Jewish men is the long, braided peyos or “sidelocks.” The practice is based on an erroneous understanding of Leviticus 19:27: “You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure [or mar] the edges [sides] of your beard” (NKJV). “The biblical injunction not to 'mar the edges of your beard' in the fashion of pagan worshipers was interpreted by the rabbis as a prohibition against shaving in general” (The Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion, 1986, page 59; “Beard”). While the subject of wearing beards remains somewhat controversial, it is the common practice among conservative Ju-daics. However, the peyos—which has become a standard fixture among pious Talmudists—may be seen as an extreme answer to the prohibition. Much like the kippah, the wearing of “sidelocks” identifies one as an observant Jew. Ultra-conservative Hasidic Jews let their peyos grow particularly long.

All of this self-righteous showiness fits with Hoffman's description of how Judaics celebrate their Yom Kippur holiday. He characterizes the event as an “extravaganza of Pharisaic displays of penitence and purification, [and] fasting and prayer, that allegedly give evidence of the supposed special relationship which Talmudist enjoy with God. Quite a gaudy show is made of the confessional., the catalogue of sins which is meaningless as a form of self-accusation, since the Judaic recites the whole litany whether he is actually guilty of each transgression or not. Like so much of Judaism, Yom Kippur as practiced by the rabbis is an empty tradition signifying little more than self-justification through works-righteousness” (Judaism Discovered, p. 965). Moreover, the Kol Nidrei rite (discussed earlier) makes the whole Yom Kippur ceremony—with its pretentious displays of penitence and piety—an exercise in hypocritical self-righteousness.

Like their Pharisaic predecessors, modern rabbis love the adulation and applause of men. As Jesus said, everything they do is to be “seen of men” (Matt. 23:5). Like “whitewashed tombs” they appear beautiful on the outside—but, on the inside, they are wholly unclean (verse 27).

Jesus' timeless instructions in Matthew chapter six offer insight into the mindset of the Pharisaic rabbi: “Beware that you do not bestow your alms in the sight of men in order to be seen by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father Who is in heaven. Therefore, when you give your alms, do not sound the trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may have glory from men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. But when you give your alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father Who sees in secret shall Himself reward you openly. And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, in order that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward.... And when you fast, do not be as the hypocrites, dejected in countenance; for they disfigure their faces in order that they may appear to men to fast. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to men to fast, but to your Father Who is in secret; and your Father Who sees in secret shall reward you openly” (Matt. 6:1-5, 16-18).

Indeed, the venerated “trappings” of Orthodox Judaism—the lavish phylacteries, the exaggerated tassels, the ubiquitous skull-cap and the long “sidelocks”—represent nothing but a prideful display of self-righteousness. In contrast, God says “to this one I will look, to him who is of a poor and contrite spirit and who trembles at My Word” (Isa. 66:2)—not at the words of Jewish tradition. “Surely,” as King David wrote, “every man at his best state is altogether vanity” (Psalm 39:5).

The Deceptiveness of Judaism

As this chapter has unequivocally demonstrated, Rabbinical Judaism is plagued by idolatry, hypocrisy and self-righteousness. There may indeed be a zeal for God, but it is a misplaced zeal that is “not according to [true] knowledge” (Rom. 10:2)—for it is wholly based upon a humanly-devised code of law that stands in sharp opposition to the written Word of God. As such, Judaism is a deceptive religion of men—and can in no way represent the true “religion” of God as delivered by Moses and the prophets of the Old Testament. As Mordechai notes, “We Jews are supposed to be a 'People of the Book'—the written Torah. Any other ideology, doctrine, teaching or philosophy that sets itself up to compete with the written Law of Moses is ..... nothing more than a [humanly-devised] religion.....” (Galatians, p. 177; emphasis added). Indeed, any religion characterized by deceit, hypocrisy, self-righteousness and idolatry cannot be of the Holy One of Israel, and must of necessity be false.

As we have seen, Judaism's rabbis proudly claim to have perpetuated the spirit of the ancient Pharisees—the very ones Jesus reproved as deceitful vipers, blind guides and hypocrites; the very ones He said were of the devil, the father of lies (John 8:44). Judaism is a cultish religion in which its adherents—albeit unknowingly—both worship and fear their rabbinical leaders. Talmudists make no effort to hide their belief that the Talmud and the rabbi are all-important, while God and the Scriptures are secondary. In utter hypocrisy, Judaism has totally ignored a central passage of Scripture: “Look to the written Torah and to the testimony of the prophets! If anyone does not speak or teach according to this word alone, it is because there is no truth in them” (Isa. 8:20; author's paraphrase).

Where does this passage leave the Talmud?

The prophet further writes: “Hearken to Me [alone], you who know [true] righteousness, the people in whose heart is [written] My Law; do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their revilings” (Isa. 51:7). Does the observant Jew really “know righteousness”? Can the Talmudic Jew honestly say that God's laws and commandments are being written in his heart? Does not the Talmudist fear the rabbi more than God?

All humanly-devised religions are, at their core, deceptive. As the prophet Jeremiah explains, “the heart of man is hopelessly deceitful; who can even begin to understand it?” (Jer. 17:9; author's paraphrase). Indeed, as Hoffman has rightly observed, Judaism is the ultimate in self-deception, wherein a people uniquely called of God have scorned and rejected Him in favor of their own traditions and demigod rabbis. For Talmudists, perhaps the greatest deception is, as Hoffman has also noted, that Judaism is a religion of “self-justification through works-righteousness” (p. 965). As long as the observant Jew adheres to the vast code of ritualistic laws of the Talmud (and stays in favor with his rabbi), he is considered “righteous.”

But this is merely the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees—of which Jesus said, “unless your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, there is no way that you shall enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20). What was Jesus saying? By any moral standard, the Pharisees were absolutely unrighteous; but by their own standard, the oral law, they were quite “righteous.” As brought out in the remainder of Matthew five (as well as in chapter six), Jesus was steering His listeners away from the ritual works-based pseudo-righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, and was demonstrating the true righteousness that comes from keeping the laws and commandments of God with a pure heart according to their spiritual intent. Any so-called “righteousness” that is based on works of a humanly-devised code of law is only self-righteousness.

As we will see in the concluding chapter, Rabbinical Judaism, “being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God,” has attempted to “establish its own righteousness” through ritual works of law (paraphrased from Roman 10:3). But Judaism, like all false religions of men, is destined to fail—and ultimately be abolished. More importantly, the future of the Jew—once freed from the shackles of Judaism—could not be brighter!