I just read an article by Geoffrey Alderman posted on thejc.com that interested me enough to inspire my response. The article was An Open Letter to Lord Sacks of Aldgate. The letter was written after Ruth Gledhill of The Times wrote under the headline: “Hark! The Chief Rabbi sings praises of ‘uplifting’ carols.” The whole letter is fueled by the fact that a Rabbi called a Christmas carol “uplifting.” Alderman gets to his climax with this statement,
“Be that as it may, I must also put it to you that your public affirmation that you feel “uplifted” by the singing of songs celebrating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth is bound (I’m sorry to say) to put a question mark over the precise characteristics and parameters of your own faith. After all, “that man” (to use the Talmudic phrase) is regarded by Christians as the Messiah. But not by Jews, other than “Jews for Jesus”. As a historian I naturally accept the fact of Jesus’s birth. As a Jew I deplore it. No good ever came to Jews from the birth of Jesus. The faith to which his birth, life and death gave rise has brought nothing but torment to the Jewish people. How can you – an Orthodox rabbi – possibly feel “uplifted” by songs celebrating his arrival in this world?”
So here is the finger pointed at Jesus blaming him for the persecution of the Jewish people. So obviously I have a problem with this statement. First, there is an obvious lack of understanding of the the teachings and works of Jesus. The only example of the identity of Jesus is gathered from Gentile followers who did in fact kill Jews in the name of Jesus and Christianity. Though these acts were done by those claiming a religious title, I would argue that had these evil people known what Jesus taught and commanded they would not have killed anyone. Jesus taught to love your enemy and to pray for them. Nowhere has Jesus ever commanded violence from His followers. In fact the contrary, Jesus rebukes his disciple Peter when he tries to defend Jesus by cutting of the ear of the guard. Jesus said, “those who live by the sword die by the sword.” So we see that Jesus commanded us to love, to turn the other cheek, to pray for our enemies.
Second, Judaism has a deep understanding that God will redeem the world and bring it back to tikkun olam (the way things were intended.) Through mitzvot (good deeds) and keeping the Torah many Jews believe that they are doing their part to bring about Shalom (peace). Not many Jews today know this but Jesus came to do exactly that. He came to deal with the hearts of man and to bring tikkun olam and shalom by dealing with the problem of sin and evil. It was not the Christians who made the Jews suffer, it was the sin and evil in their hearts that they treasured more than obedience to Jesus. These men who killed countless Jews for centuries will have to answer to God. That brings me to my point, we will all have to answer to God. Being a victim does not make you innocent only the Sacrificial Lamb of God can make you clean. This is the way God intended it to be and it is through the birth, death, and Resurrection of Messiah that we are made clean. Now those who have been made clean are called to obey Jesus and if they obey Jesus they will love their enemy.
Geoffrey I hope you are able to look past the deeds of evil men who took on the name of Jesus but did not obey him. I hope you will take an honest look at the person of Jesus and see what the prophets were talking about. The truth is Jesus was the best thing that the Jewish people ever rejected, but it is not to late.
May you be blessed ever so greatly as both Jew and Gentile celebrate the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.