Shabbat Tisha | A Yid in Goy’s Clothing
Shabbat Tisha – A Yid in Goy’s Clothing
By Richard Abbott, UK
￼I think it might be a right of passage for a Jew to feel uncomfortable around xtianity. To understand that reference you need to know a little about xtianity and a little about Jews.
Picture the scene; high energy, hands-raising, all emotion xtianity with medium to low biblical knowledge or conceptual grounding. These are good people, beautiful, loving people full of kindness and empathy. That doesn’t mean they’re right.
As part of a sermon of love I was told I was going to hell. In worship of G-D, His name wasn’t mentioned once. You wanna hear the story?
A couple of weeks ago I broke the fast of Tisha B’Av with my fellow congregants of The Bristol Hebrew Congregation. I told the Rabbi that my sister would soon be christening her son, Isaac, she asked me to come. I wanted to know the Rabbis opinion, should I go? I asked him if respecting my father and mother extended to my sister, whom I love very much.
The Rabbi said, you’re not yet Jewish, hallackhicly you can do what you want. Seeing the look on my face he could tell that I wouldn’t be assuaged so easily.
“I’m not supposed to go where idolatry is practiced.”
“I’m not sure it’s idolatry in the truest sense,” he answered.
“But they worship a man.”
“It’s tricky,” he said, “but there are two quite strong rabbinical opinions that it’s not the man they’re worshiping, but their belief that G-D inhabits the man, we don’t agree with them but it’s still G-D they’re trying to worship.”
I felt satiated by this opinion, it’s the same position my Father holds.
With this reassurance I returned to my family home and prepared to support my sister in a decision I disagree with. My grandmother also visited and I rarely get time with her. She isn’t a blood relative but a wonderful religious lady from my father’s youth who took on the role of grandma as we were running short. I was worried about conversing with her as the conversation invariably turns to religion.
Baruch HaShem, there was no problem I merely kept things torah based and expressed opinions about the nature of G-D and Jewish history and refraining from expressing any opinions regarding Mr ‘of Nazareth’. The only point of conflict came when I expressed doubts about the existance of satan, but that’s a whole other article. Remind me to come back to that cause it was a doozy. When it time to get ready for the service I reached for my yarmulke and looked at my wife.
She gave me a look of trepidation. “Just kidding,” I said.
We went to the church, we met the lovely people; some of whom were characters from my childhood, I greeted them and kissed them and introduced them to my wife. I’m not comfortable with small talk so after a moment of floundering Sophie said we should take our seats and we did. I looked around the room, the wooded crosses set up, the stone carvings of dead men, images from nature set in wood and stone. This was the scene I grew up with but I felt like a light had been turned on it all. This was all forbidden, how could the church be draped in all that G-D decreed unclean.
We sat among my sister’s friends and family. I knew everyone in one way or another, I wan’t sure if they were xtians but my guess was that they weren’t, certainly they weren’t Jews, no one else was sweating. We chatted politely while the church’s rock band warmed up. Then my nephew came in, he’s my little buddy, I blew a raspberry in his direction and he came over and sat on my lap. I tickled him for a bit and then my sister mouthed that he hadn’t been for a weewee for a while so I stopped I didn’t want his xtianing to end the way mine did.
Isaac is three, he likes cars, chocolate and hide n seek. Theologically one thing I now about him is that G-D loves him and won’t mind if my sister baptises him. That’s not the kind of thing G-D gets
annoyed about. Isaac is awesome, just the way G-D made him. Playing with him for ten minutes made me feel much better about being in church.
The music was lovely, not my cup of tea at all, but it was very nice. All the musicians were talented congregants with day jobs who dedicate their efforts either to G-D or to Jesus, the fact is you can’t do both without acknowledging that its a polytheistic religion.
One of the songs included the lyrics our G-d is 3 in 1. That idea is simply not biblical, the concept, even the word trinity appears nowhere, not once in the xtian texts, certainly not in the Torah.
G-D is very clear about His nature:
The Lord is our G-D the Lord is one. Deuteronomy 6:4
I [am] the LORD: that [is] my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. Isaiah 42:8
Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I [am] the first, and I [am] the last; and beside me [there is] no God. Isaiah 44:6
Ye [are] my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I [am] he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. Isaiah 43:10
“there is no one like the Lord our God.” Exodus 8:10
“the Lord, He is God; there is no other besides Him.” Deuteronomy 4:35
“the Lord, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.” Deuteronomy 4:39 “See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me” Deuteronomy 32:39
You are great, O Lord God; for there is none like You, and there is no God besides You” 2 Samuel 7:22
“For who is God, besides the Lord? And who is a rock, besides our God?” 2 Samuel 22:32 ” the LORD is God; there is no one else.” 1 Kings 8:60
“You are the God, You alone [bad], of all the kingdoms of the earth.” 2 Kings 19:15
“O Lord, there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You” 1 Chronicles 17:20 “You alone are the Lord.” Nehemiah 9:6
“For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God” Psalm 18:31 “You alone, Lord, are God.” Isaiah 37:20
“Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.” Isaiah 43:10 “‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.” Isaiah 44:6
“Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.” Isaiah 44:8 “I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God.” Isaiah 45:5
“Surely, God is with you, and there is none else, No other God.” Isaiah 45:14
“I am the Lord, and there is none else.” Isaiah 45:18
“Is it not I, the Lord? And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me.” Isaiah 45:21
“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me” Isaiah 46:9
“And the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one [echad], and His name the only one[echad].” Zechariah 14:9
I looked for opportunities to praise G-D, but every time I saw a phrase that gloried HaShem mr ‘of Nazareth’ was added in and it became traif. I couldn’t sing anything that was so blatently counter to the first commandment. HaShem tells us specifically not to add foreign g_ds to His face, what strange language, it must have seemed odd until you witness the xtians adding j to the godhead.
Out came the preacher, who was actually also the lead singer of the band. I had met him before. Some of you know my story, how I returned to my parents church when I intended to marry Sophie, we asked him about the history of marriage in the bible and were stunned by his lack of knowledge. It was, in part, his glaring ignorance about the Jews that set me on this path towards the truth in Torah. He told jokes and stories, he was very charismatic, irreverent (ironically). He told a story about a pub he visited that had missed a beer delivery, how could they call themselves a pub if they lacked the very thing that defined them as a pub. He said this was like a preacher who never mentioned Jesus. His whole sermon was on the importance of the name of Jesus, the power of the name, the importance of the name and the glory of the name and do you know something?
He never once mentioned G-D. Not once.
The only sidenote was in a reference to J being the ‘son of _ _ _’.
I wanted to shout. I wanted to stand up from my seat and shout:
“You are the pub with no beer! You are the salt with no flavour. You are the preacher who doesn’t know G-D.” But I was there for Isaac, I was there for my sister. I can tell you something though; those to rabbinical opinions in the talmud? I disagree. This is the richest form of idolatry, the most subtle and insipid. I never want to enter that building again. The people are beautiful, wonderful, but their eating up half-truths and falsehoods like sustenance. I won’t be party to it.
The preacher talked about hell, he was very clear about his opinion. Neglect the name of j and he’ll neglect you on the day of judgement. Later on he talked about Syrian refugees and how we should all pray for them because even though they don’t know the name of j, j still loves them.
‘Sure,’ I thought, ‘he loves them here on earth, but when they die he’s gonna set them on fire!’
Is that love?
When the service ended I fled and found a quiet place to calm down. My wife came too.
“Sorry,” I said. “am I overreacting?”
“No way,” she said. “I was uncomfortable and I’m not even Jewish! It felt like he’d written that just for you. I’ve never heard even a preacher repeat the name jesus that many times,”
“I felt like he kept looking at me,”
“Hey don’t sweat it,” she said “According to his theology we’re all going to hell.”
We mingled at the aftershow party. My sister provided trifle and I dished it up for everybody. I love trifle and I was going to have a bowl but Sophie shook her head at me and mimed the word “PORK!” I checked the packet. This was not my day.
We played a game of football with the toddlers, proper football I mean, you call it soccer, and then I took Sophie on a tour of the church I grew up in. The tower, the Sunday school, the organ. It’s all been expensively remodelled of course, man they had a lot of lighting and sound equipement, decent stuff too. Projectors and radio mics.
“I know they need some of this stuff, but a lot of it could be turned into soup for the homeless!” said Sophie. When were got back to the hall every one was gone. Seriously the whole place was empty and all the doors were locked. It was like a Jewish nightmare. HaShem really has a sense of humour about these things.
Once I’d phoned everyone I knew and got answerphones for everyone Sophie started laughing. “This will be great for your shabbat article!”
I got hold of my sister, she got hold of my dad and he got hold of some keys, he’s not a tall man so he also had to get hold of a step before he could unlock the lock at the top of the door. I was very pleased to get out.
We walked calmly to my sisters house.
We ate crisps and ice cream and cake and played with giant chalk and Isaac went on his swing. I stated to feel human again.
I got chatting to my father. We hold different theological positions but he’s always up for G-D-chat. I pointed out that when baptising Isaac the preacher used a scallop shell which he claimed was perfect for a baptism?
“That’s not a reference you know is it Dad?” I asked
“I expect he wasn’t being profound Rich, it’s probably just a nice scoopy shell for splashing the baby!” We both laughed. With that kind of sarcasm I’m sure my Dad would be much happier as a Jew than a xtian!
“I certainly don’t know it as a new testament reference,” he continued, “Is it in the OT?”
“Well no,” I said, “It wouldn’t be allowed because it’s not…” he finished my sentence for me.
“Of course! It’s not Kosher!” he exclaimed.
My Granny looked curious, over hearing our strange conversation. My Dad intervened:
“Rich knows about these things,” he sounded like he was kvelling! We’ll make a Jew of him yet… “So is it just scallops or no shell fish at all Rich?” asked my granny, wandering into dangerous territory.
“No shell fish at all,” I answered munching on some ‘prawn cocktail flavour’ crisps that Sophie had made me check were kosher. “You can only have fish with fins and scales” I continued, “and only then if the scales come of easily when you scrape them, however you can eat young fish without scales if they would have grown up to have shells that shed.”
I looked up and was greeted by a whole host of quizzical faces, my goyishe disguise was slipping…
My brother-in-laws mother asked me if I was baptised. I wanted so badly to rock the boat, but this was Isaac’s day, well my sister’s day at least. Technically I was baptised so I answered factually.
“About fifteen years ago, as a teenager, the minister bought a terracotta pot from the garden centre, filled it with water and baptised me in front of the congregation. He set up a tarpaulin on the stage so as not to make mess. The water flowed out of the dirty pot into my long hippie-hair filling it with pieces of pottery and dead spiders and splashed off the tarp, wetting my crotch as if I’d had an accident. I stood up shivering in front of the church; dirty, shivering and embarrassed and declared I’m one of you!”
I wasn’t lying, but I wasn’t telling the whole truth.
I wished I could just say I’m a Jew, I’m a Jew and your religion is crazy! But it wasn’t my day, it was my wonderful, funny, innocent, little nephew’s day.
What the heck? Some day I’ll just invite them all to my bar mitzvah! Oy.