"What The Jews Believe" is the subject to which "Life" magazine devoted eleven pages of its September 11th issue. The writer, Rabbi Philip S. Bernstein of Rochester, N.Y., is the president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, "the largest organization of rabbis in the world." The article enforces the conviction that the Judaism of today is not Old Testament Judaism.
The two opening sentences alone of the lengthy article warrant the above declaration, viz:-"The Jew has no single organized church. lie has no priests." This is enlarged upon in these words:--"The congregation's rabbi is a teacher, not a priest." The rabbi is "without any vested ecclesiastical authority, he is not even necessary to the functioning of the synagogue. Any male Jew with sufficient knowledge of the prayers and the laws can conduct a religious service, officiate at marriages and bury the dead." This is not new in Jewry. Ludwig Lewisohn, professor of English literature at Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass., says in his "Midchannel": - "With the destruction of the Temple the sacrificial cult of the Jews was destroyed. For among the people there was but one altar, hence the Jewish people were suddenly laicized. Priests and sacrifices and tangible mysteries were no more."
Surely this is not Old Testament Judaism, which was, as the Catholic Church is, an authoritative God-Instituted priestly religion; the high priest being the supreme ecclesiastical authority. Aaron was its Peter, who was ordained by God through his brother Moses (Exodus 28), having successors until about the time of the destruction of the Temple in the year 70 A. D.
"God Is One," as the Rabbi says, the SHE-MA is the profession of this, that synagogues of all divisions in Jewry recite, viz:-"Hear 0 Israel, the Lord thy God, the Lord is One." One God permits of but one religion of God, an organic religion, hence but one church of God; as God is not a contradictory Being, Who has two or more
religions functioning at one and the same time. Such an exclusive religion was Judaism; such an exclusive religion is the Catholic religion, which existed POTENTIALLY in Judaism. The Catholic Church came into existence with the predicted priesthood "according to the order of Melchisedec" (Ps. 109), and the "clean oblation" (the unbloody Sacrifice)1 as foretold by Malachias (1:11). This was at the time of the ending of the Aaronic priesthood and Mosaic sacrifices, when Judaism was displaced by Catholic Christianity. This is the basis for the claim of the convert from Judaism, that his conversion is not a denial of the faith of his holy forebears in Israel, but the realization of its potential greatness as fulfilled by the Messiah, Jesus. The convert passes, so to speak, from the caterpillar to the butterfly stage of Judaism.
Rabbi Bernstein says, as do all rabbis, that "the central fortress of Jewish spirituality, the repository of the law of Judaism, is the Torah (Pentateuch)." So "precious" is it, that it is "divided into fixed weekly portions and read (in the synagogues) on every Sabbath and holy day of the year. When the sacred round (of reading) is completed, there is a gay festival of Simchas Torah (rejoicing in the law)." To read the Torah, Book of Leviticus in the Synagogue, for instance, which deals largely with the Jewish priesthood and the Mosaic sacrificial ritual, and boast that "the Jew acknowledges no ecclesiastical authority," is an inconsistency, to say the least.
A Jewish religion minus a priesthood, sanctuary, and sacrifices, such as existed in Jewry during pre-Christian times, is a religion devoid of the God-instituted means of atonement for sin. The Jewish Encyclopedia says:-"Judaism saw in the sanctuary the manifestation of God's presence among His people, and the priest the vehicle of divine grace, the mediator through whose ministry the sins of the community, as the individual, could be atoned for" (Vol.4, p.125). Realizing this loss, Orthodox Rabbi David Levi exclaims in his Siddur (book of daily prayer), "Sovereign of the universe! Whilst the Holy Temple was established, if a man sinned, he brought an offering, and made atonement for himself; but now because of our iniquities, we have neither sanctuary, nor altar, nor offering, nor priest to atone for us; there is nothing left but the commemoration of this. 0 may that be our expiation, and we will render prayers of our lips instead of offerings."
The Jew with "no single organized church," who has no priests," is left devoid of much more than the means of making the Mosaic called-for offering as an atonement for sin. He is left without a divinely authoritative means of knowing what shall be taught; he is left without a judge of matters of a religious and moral nature, recorded in Deuteronomy 17:8-12; such as his forbears were privileged to have in the days before Jesus, the Messiah, instituted a Universal hierarchy to teach matters of faith and morals, that dis- placed the teaching and judging hierarchy of an exclusive people, the children of Israel.
Judgment must he allowed to flee to brutish beasts to declare pridefully, as does the writer of "What Jews Believe," that "Judaism around the world is marked by diversity of practice and latitude of faith;" that "there is only one thing that two Jews can agree upon, that is what the third Jew should give for charity." Surely no part of the Torah gives warrant for such religious anarchism, which is the cause of the rabbis failing to agree even upon what constitutes a person a Jew. It is such religious chaos that accounts for Rabbi Israel Goldstein of New York City, Chair-man of the American Section of the World Jewish Congress, listing enemies of Old Testament Judaism in his "Ten Greatest Jews of the Last Fifty Years." First named is Albert Einstein, who publicly proclaimed his disbelief in a personal God; substituting a "Cosmic God" for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Second in the list is Sigmund Freud who declared that "religion is a delusion;" and ended his life work with the publication of a book to discredit Moses, who was second to Christ as the greatest figure in history. And, lo and behold! Leon Trotsky, who played the second foremost part in afflicting the world with Atheistic Communism, is listed as one of "The Ten Greatest Jews of the Last Fifty Years," because he was "next to Lenin, as a military genius in the early days of the Bolshevik regime in Russia."
To converts from the synagogue to the Catholic Church, this article justifies their claim that the Judaism of Moses and the Prophets is non-existent; while to "cradle Catholics" as well as converts, it adds to their realization that the Catholic Church alone is the Church of the Living God. A further analysis of Rabbi Bernstein's article will appear in this column next week.
The point was stressed last week, in our analysis of Rabbi Philip S. Bernstein's article, "What The Jews Believe," that a God-instituted religion must be an organic, visible, authoritative heirarchical, priestly religion. Such was Judaism, before it blossomed forth into Catholic Christianity.
It is reasonable to believe that God, Who commands obedience to His mandates would provide an authoritative guide in matters of faith and morals. The Old and New Testaments give warrant for this belief, as do Jewish and Christian tradition. The Jewish evidence of the existence of a priestly caste, empowered by God to instruct and guide the children of Israel in the ways of God, are set forth in the Torah. For instance, the Book of Deuteronomy says:-- "If thou perceive that there is among you a hard and doubtful matter... thou shalt come to the priests... and Judge... and shall ask them, and they shall show the truth and the judgment. And thou shalt do whatever they shall say . .. thou shalt follow their sentence, neither shalt thou decline to the right nor the left hand" (17:9-11). The Christian evidence of reliance upon priests, who are called "Ambassadors of Christ" (2 Cor. 5:20), is found in Matt. 16; 19:6; 28:18, and elsewhere in the New Testament.
That such an authority no longer exists in Jewry is universally acknowledged. Rabbi Louis Epstein, Brookline, Mass., says in the Brandeis Avukal Volume:---"When a dispute of the law arises there is no authoritative body to give final decision. Authority is contained in a dead-letter book, not in any individual or organized body."
Surely Rabbis Epstein and Bernstein do not imagine that God is less wise than were the framers of our American Constitution! They instituted an "authoritative body," the U.S. Supreme Court, for "final decision when disputes arise" as to the meaning of its contents, instead of leaving the citizens of the United States "with authority contained in a dead-letter" Constitution!
Such Rabbinical reasoning regarding the moral law, if applied to civil law, would lead to chaos in our country, even worse than exists in the present-day Jewish religious world. All this is intended to stress the fact that Old Testament Judaism is no more; that it ended with the end of the Aaronic priesthood; just as the Church that Christ established would be at an end, if its priesthood were to be a thing of the historic past, assuming this to be possible, merely as an analogy.
The "Life" magazine article is permeated with false concepts. For instance, the made-in-Jewry declaration is echoed, that Christianity is of Paul's making, and not of Christ. The historic fact is ignored that St. Paul's life was devoted to "preaching Christ, and Him crucified," which was taught by the Apostles before Saul traveled the road to Damascus, in which he was miraculously brought to the realization that Jesus is the predicted Messiah. Of course, great credit is due this learned, courageous, illuminating exponent of the things Christ represented and taught. For this he willingly suffered the acrimonious hostility of the Jews that converts from Judaism have had to suffer in varying degrees throughout the Christian ages.
This famous convert translated the charity of Christ (1 Cor. 13) into a "Hymn of Love," the like of which has never been equaled. Rabbi Bernstein fails to appreciate the fact that the Charity of Christ, eloquently expressed by St. Paul, is a Christian and not a Jewish virtue. In fact charity is a word not in the Hebrew language. The word "tzedodah, which literally means righteousness," as the Rabbi says, is not synonymous with the word charity, which in a word is love, great though the quality of righteousness is. The "charity" the Rabbi refers to, had better be called philanthrophy, a virtue commonly practiced by Jews, for which they deserve credit. Henry Drummond, the Scottish scientist, author of "The Natural Law in the Spiritual World," called the charity of Christ as expounded by St. Paul, "the spectrum of love in nine ingredients." It embodies the spirit of righteousness, but is not synonymous with the Hebrew word "tzedodah." Here are the "nine":---
1-Patience. . ."Love suffereth long."
2- Kindness . . . "And is kind."
3-Generosity . . . "Love envieth not."
4-Humility.. . "Love vaunted not itself, is not puffed up."
5-Courtesy . . . "Doth not behave itself unseemly."
6-Unselfishness . . "Seeketh not her own."
7-Good Temper . . . "Is not easily provoked."
8-Guilelessness . . . "Thinketh no evil."
9-Sincerity. . . "Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in truth."
The declaration of the Rabbi, that "the Jews rejected not Jesus, the teacher, but Christ, the Messiah," is another of his far from historic facts. Jesus as the Messiah cannot be separated from Jesus as the teacher. It was as the Jewish Messianic teacher that Jesus fulfilled the law and prophecies, by word and example. The Jews hailed Jesus in Jerusalem as the Messiah, crying out "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." This salutation might have been heard throughout Jewry were it not for the corrupt Sanhedrin. It was the claim of Jesus that He is the Messiah, that brought the charge of blasphemy from the lips of High Priest Caiphas, who rent his garments and declared Jesus worthy of death for claiming to be the Messiah.
The Apostles, and the thousands of first converts to Christianity, were Jews who recognized Jesus as the Jewish Messianic teacher. Of course, Jesus was a Jew, a faithful Jew, Who held the Jewish religion to be the one and the only then existing divine religion; as is the Catholic religion that Jesus instituted in fulfillment of the prophecies. Jesus was not only obedient to the law, but He also insisted upon obedience to the existing religious authority on the part of disobedient Jews, as "they sit in the Chair of Moses;" just as Catholics are obliged to respect the Christ- instituted religious authority that sits in the Chair of Peter.
Rabbi Bernstein denies belief in a personal Messiah as do nine out of every ten rabbis whose writings and speeches reach the general public. He expressed belief in the coming of a "Messianic I Kingdom," but without a King. Maimonides, the Jewish Aristotle, 12th century codifier of the oral law, says that a Jew who denies belief in a personal Messiah "is a heretic, forfeits membership in the community of Judaism, and cuts himself off from all hope of future bliss."
"The Orthodox Jews still believe in the coming of a personal Messiah. They pray 'each day for his advent" as the Rabbi says; and also for the reinstitution of the Aaronic priesthood, with the Mosaic sacrifices. The pity of it is, that Orthodox Jews sincerely pray for the impossible. This is said not merely because the Messiah came from the family of David, nineteen centuries ago; not merely because the Catholic priesthood instituted by Jesus displaced the Jewish priesthood; but because there is no known family of David in which anybody could be born; nor an existent family of Aaron from which the Mosaic priesthood could be reinstituted. May the Messianic light of Jesus shine upon the darkness of Rabbi Philip S. Bernstein, and his fellow Israelites.