Anniversary, Martin Luther!

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14 Responses

  1. dr. bill says:

    Your reference to Christian interests in the bible reminds me of an event that I found fascinating. About a dozen years ago I attended a fabulous lecture by Prof. S. Leiman on archeology and the Bible. The last question that evening came from the young Rabbi of the shul, who asks is there any evidence for the events in Esther? Prof. Leiman answered, read the Anchor Bible. I asked the rabbi if he understood the answer, to which he said no. I proceeded to tell him about the Anchor Bible. A few minutes later, I could get to prof. Leiman and told him that about 40 years ago, I had the opportunity to ask my late teacher prof. Michal Bernstein, the same question to which he gave me the same answer. Leiman was not surprised and said baruch she’kivanti. Whenever anyone asks me that question, I tell them of a rock-solid proof that Esther was written in the Persian period and close to the time of the events described. It would thus be hard to make up an event like that close to its reported occurrence.


  2. lacosta says:

    i would agree with your point 5. i don’t think we could imagine an entity ‘christian zionists’ if there was only the Holy Roman See. the precursors to a Balfour declaration [ i know the chafetz chayim eg would say such a document is worth tearing kriya over ] were in British christian pro-zionism , before capital Z Zionism even existed.

    • You might be surprised. Here is what I’ve seen quoted from Ohr Yechezkel, by R. Chatzkel Levenstein, Mashgiach of the Mir:

      והנה כאשר נתבונן נראה בעליל שימים אלו הם ימות המשיח…והנה עתה ארץ ישראל נבנית בצורה שלא נבנית מעולם, ויתכן שנבנית למען מטרה זו שתבוא הגאולה בהיות ארץ ישראל מיושבת.

      זכרוני בעת הצהרת בלפור שהחפץ חיים זצ”ל אמר שזו התעוררות לגאולה, אך מאוד צריך לדאוג מי יחטוף את הארץ שלא יעשו הם לבעלים עליה, על אחת כמה וכמה עתה שרואים אנו בניין ארץ ישראל ודשי שזו הכנה לגאולה

      • lacosta says:


        if so , i will have to look through my old Jewish Observers for the opposition opinion, that rather than settling for a pittance a la Balfour , Mashiach would be the valid option. especially if one holds like the early century gdolim that jewish pursuit of nationalism and socialism was countered , middah knegged middah , with the hybrid National Sozialismus as the means for the RBSO to conduct the events described in Ezekiel 20….

        2. if that recollection of Chafetz chayim is correct, he correctly predicted the inevitable outcome of the haredi community hands off the palestine question, as history is determined by the players, thus the State was 90%+ non haredi at its founding….

  3. Raymond says:

    My impression of Martin Luther is the following. On the positive side, he sought to bring Christianity closer to its Old Testament roots. That in itself can never be a bad thing. His challenging of the Catholic church created a whole lot of competition among seemingly endless sects of Christianity, which in turn created the necessity for freedom of religion, which became the hallmark of democracies everywhere, but especially here in America, which in turn eventually enabled Jews to live to a degree of religious freedom unprecedented in our history. On the negative side, Martin Luther was such a virulent antisemite, that he was one of the three main heroes (along with Richard Wagner and Frederick Nietzsche) deeply admired by adolf hitler. In fact, some of the most vicious antisemitic quotes attributed to hitler, were actually first expressed by Martin Luther.

    In other words, despite being such an antisemite with absolutely horrible consequences for our Jewish people, some good came out of Martin Luther’s ideas, too, almost in spite of himself. About the only comparison I can think of to this, although of course on a far smaller and less significant scale, is the fact that the leading kosher grape juice sold around the world today, namely Welch’s Grape Juice, was started by Robert Welch, who himself was a terrible antisemite. I am not sure what all this means in the grander scheme of things, other than perhaps that G-d has a rather ironic sense of humor. It also helps make it clear Who is really in charge of our history.

    • Nachum says:

      It should be pointed out that Luther wasn’t the only originator of the Reformation: John Calvin and Henry VIII spring to mind as well.

    • Lawrence M. Reisman says:

      Actually, Martin Luther’s theology contains some pretty horrible ideas. He preached that “salvation” came from faith alone, and that man’s deeds in this world had nothing to do with how he was judged at death. He held that man’s state in the world was predestined at birth, and that he had no free will to do good or evil. While not as extreme as Calvin, he was still pretty bad.

      By the way, Henry VIII had very little to do with the Reformation. He used it for his own purposes. Apart from his lack of loyalty to Rome and his plundering of the religious houses, he was a Catholic in belief and in practice.

      • Raymond says:

        I have tried to challenge Christians concerning Martin Luther’s designating even our ethical behavior as “filthy rags” but have made zero progress in every single one of my attempts. I invariably get such a reaction of indifference even when I phrase things in the starkest terms, such as asking them, “Do you mean to tell me that because Adolf Eichmann ultimately came to believe in the Nazarene, that upon death he went straight to Heaven, while the six million Jews he played such a key role in murdering, went straight to the other place?” It is pretty frustrating trying to reason with those who do not seem to value thought, at least when it comes to religious matters. For the life of me, I just do not understand how anybody can live their lives believing in not only such utter nonsense, but really evil nonsense. And what a total contrast such a total lack of thinking is especially when compared to our own religion, where we are never quite settled in our thinking, always striving for better and better understanding of G-d’s Ways.

  4. Nachum says:

    “He himself had nothing but unvarnished contempt for it.”

    Is this true? The introduction to the JPS Tanakh claims that Luther based his Bible translation on Rashi (from a Latin translation of it), and thus ultimately on the Targumim, Midrashim, and Talmud which Rashi uses. Most if not all subsequent English and other translations are rooted in Luther’s to one extent or another, which would mean that everyone reads the Bible through a traditional Jewish view. (Earlier, the Greek translations were made by Jews; Jerome, in making the Latin translation, consulted with Jews.)

    • Briefly, yes, it is true. He knew about Jewish commentary. He knew of Rashi, likely through the work of Nicholas of Lyra. He knew of much more. He despised them for missing the chief point, which was that there was no white space between the OT and the NT. The two testamenets differed only in that properly understood – which the rabbis didn’t – everything in the OT prefigured Jesus and alluded to him. The NT picks up the story after his arrival.

      • Mycroft says:

        PThe late Prof Harry Wolfson refused to use terms like NT and OT. The terms are indicative of what we specifically reject and why they believe that they have superseded us in Gods eyes.

  5. Bob Miller says:

    Many love us as long as they think we’re conversion bait. Others value us as Jews.

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