A leading rabbi claims Jesus Christ’s behavior in the New Testament was that of “not a very good Jew” in a candid interview in which he explains to Guardian Liberty Voice readers why the historical religious figure is not a Jewish prophet. On Wednesday, May 14, the Jewish faith marks Pesach Sheni (Second Passover), a time set aside one month after Passover to allow Jews to make up the Korban Pesach, or pascal lamb sacrifice, if they missed it the first time.
Yet while Jews use the time to reflect on one of, if not the most significant date in their calendar, in three days’ time, Christians will observe Ascension Day, which marks the last earthly appearance of Jesus Christ. He was arrested on – before being crucified – the most talked about Passover meal in history.
Even though many Jews became followers of Jesus Christ following what Christians believe to have been his resurrection, he never converted the majority. Although there are some Jews who follow him – sects like Jews for Jesus, for example – the Jewish faith is still waiting for its Messiah to arrive. Still, there is a question: why is Jesus not even a Jewish prophet?
Rabbi Yitzchack Schochet, a leading scholar based at Mill Hill Shul in London and son of the late, renowned scholar Rabbi Jacob Immanuel Schochet, argues that most Jews immediately associate the man Christians call the “Son of God” with negativity. “Many Jews died in his name over the centuries,” Rabbi Schochet tells Guardian Liberty Voice. “Whether you go back to the crusades, pogroms or even the Holocaust, there is an invariable link between the persecution of Jews and Christianity. Often that persecution was done in his name. Jesus is undeniably associated with bad or negative things when Jews are concerned.”
Although we know Jesus is not the Messiah in the eyes of the Jews due to the fact he never fulfilled the Messianic prophesies – a warrior-like king who would free the Jews from years of persecution – there is nothing negative written about him in the Gospels. Instead, the reader hears about a peace-loving rabbi who was there to teach Jews to love their fellow man. So why then is he not even regarded as a prophet like he is in Christianity or even Islam?
“You can’t really have it both ways,” Schochet adds. “If the Gospels were conveying his message, then I revert to the fact that, that message was used to persecute Jews. If they distorted his message, then that calls into question the whole of the New Testament which then begs the question – what is so special about Jesus? To suggest that he did good things – so did countless Jews throughout history. Frankly, the New Testament itself attests to his disregarding the ancient Rabbis in certain instances. That doesn’t make him a very good Jew.”
While the debate on Jews, Jesus and his lack of role as a prophet in Judaism goes on, religion is rarely out of the news. Whether it is Pope Francis meeting US President Barack Obama, the conflict in the West Bank or Jews having to register in Ukraine, it is hard to pick up a newspaper and not see something to do with faith. British Prime Minister David Cameron recently stoked the flames when he described Britain as a “Christian country” first and foremost. The country was split on his comments and but Rabbi Schochet says Cameron made a valid point and backs his stance. “When a country has a long association with a religion, then that religion goes to the core of the country’s identity,” Rabbi Schochet adds. “When atheists want that identity reversed, that essentially makes them as fundamentalist as all fundamental people in whichever other faiths. Atheism is growing, effectively becoming a ‘religion’ of its own, with their beliefs or lack thereof being imposed on society. In so doing, they are being as militant as they claim others to be.”
By Robert Shepherd
Interview with Rabbi Yitzchack Schochet