Responding to Rabbi Greenberg’s Challenge


Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim




In A Challenge To Christians And Jews” (The Jewish Week, 1/28) Rabbi Yitz Greenberg is quoted as anticipating a “future of acceptance and respect” between Jews and Christians. Certainly, God created all members of mankind, desirous that we attain our true purpose: studying His creation, pondering His infinite wisdom, and acting justly and charitably. Not only must we dedicate ourselves to this lifestyle, we must also secure this good for all members of mankind. For this reason, and due to his concern for his fellow, our forefather Abraham did not keep his discoveries to himself. The world had sunk to the depths of idolatry and fantasy. Upon his realization of truths, and the fallacies harbored by many cultures, Abraham disproved their corrupt, religious beliefs, demonstrating what is true, and what is God’s desire for man. Due to his accurate intelligence, his moral perfection, and his desire for mankind’s well being, God established Abraham’s seed as a beacon to mankind in the form of Torah educators. God desired the good for all peoples.


Later, God reiterates His plan to the Jews (Deut. 4:6):


“And guard them (the 613 commands) and do them for they are your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the nations who will hear all these statutes, and they will say, ‘but what a wise and understanding people is this great nation’.”


Here, God unequivocally distinguishes Judaism from other religions. He desires that the other nations realize the beauty and perfection of the Torah system.


We violate God’s word; simultaneously causing a grave injustice to all other religions when we hide God’s Torah from them, as they too must follow the Torah’s seven Noachide laws. But far worse are claims like those of Rabbi Greenberg when he said; “Judaism and Christianity spread the message of God and morality to the world in different ways.” God says otherwise: that other nations will respect Judaism - to the exclusion of their religion. Otherwise, they would not shift their admiration from themselves to the Jews. God desires the world understand truth, and entrusted Abraham’s descendants with the mission to teach His one, exclusive religion. On this point, Rabbi Greenberg errs again with his statement, “Maimonides shared his positive historical evaluation of Christianity.” In truth, Maimonides actually states the opposite in his Laws of Kings, Law 11:10 (Capach Edition):


“Can there be a greater stumbling block than this (Christianity)? That all the prophets spoke that the Messiah will redeem Israel and save them, and gather their dispersed and strengthen their Mitzvot, and this one (Jesus) caused the Jews to be destroyed by the sword, and scattered their remnants and humbled them, and exchanged the Torah, and caused the majority of the world to err to serve a god other than the Lord.”


Maimonides makes it clear: Christianity serves a god other than the Lord”.  This is understood: their notions of God violate God’s very statements to Moses, “For man cannot know Me while alive” (Exod. 33:21) and to Isaiah, “To what shall your equate Me that I should be similar?” (Isaiah, 40:25) With Christianity’s fabrication of a man-god, Christianity does in fact imagine to know what God is, also equating God to man. Christianity denies God’s fundamentals, thereby, worshiping fantasy - not God. All of their principles are thereby compromised. Rabbi Greenberg’s statement “Jews should appreciate – but not convert to – Christian spirituality” unveils the Rabbi’s own struggle with his position. For if Christianity is worthy of a Jew’s “appreciation”, why shouldn’t a Jew convert? Conversely, if a Jew should not convert, then Rabbi Greenberg feels that something in Christianity is not to be “appreciated”. Either way, he contradicts himself.


Most inexcusable is Rabbi Greenberg’s statement, “Jesus is not a false messiah, merely a failed one”. This is clearly not true, as Jesus was not of Davidic descent – a requirement of the Messiah. Additionally, a failed messiah does not flagrantly contradict Torah principles…however, Jesus did. In Matthew 5:39 Jesus’ “turning the other cheek” opposes the Torah principle of preempting your would-be assailant. One must protect himself by Torah law. (Talmud Brachos 58a) In Matthew 23:3 Jesus instructs others not to follow the Rabbis’ actions as indicative of law. He calls them hypocrites numerous times. Jesus is not a failed messiah, but a false messiah, as he attacks Torah leaders, and violates “Makchish Maggideha”, “defaming the Torah’s teachers.” This practice also violates the Torah prohibition of “Judges you shall not curse and a prince among your people you shall not accurse.” (Lev. 22:27) In Luke 4:18, Jesus claims God spoke to him. But, as Jesus was not of Davidic descent, he cursed the Rabbis, and opposed Torah, he cannot be the Messiah and his claims that God sent him are false. He is thereby the one God describes as, “And it will be that the man who did not hear My word and speaks in My name, I will requite it from him.” (Deut. 19:18) And as quoted above, Maimonides states that Jesus “exchanged the Torah, and caused the majority of the world to err to serve a god other than the Lord.”


What is the correct attitude? God did not create “Jews” and “Gentiles” - rather, He made “man” and “woman.” There is but one “type” of man, and thus, only one religion makes sense. There was one mass revelation, at Sinai. God also commands us not to alter His Torah at all. Religions are man’s fabrications, and after 2448 years since Adam, God gave the Torah to direct all mankind back, towards the lost truth. God desires the Jew educate his own, and all other people. God desires the good for all mankind, and we must follow this directive, showing concern for Gentiles as for Jews.


Friendship is a good, and all agree that Christians and Jews should live in peace. But friendship is not the final goal if it causes one to suppress his obligation of educating others on truth, and unveiling their fallacies. In fact, the greatest friendship is expressed when we enlighten our Jewish brothers and sisters, and Christian friends to their errors. We then also observe God’s will. King Solomon said, “Rebuke a wise man and he will love you”. (Proverbs, 9:8)


God’s words and those of Maimonides do in fact display Rabbi Yitz Greenberg’s position to be unsound.