The First Holocaust

by nicolaou 47 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • KalebOutWest

    P.S.--I know you are not mad at God.

    Or Luke or his dad.

  • joey jojo
    joey jojo

    Kaleb, I don't profess to be an expert on anything, let alone Judaism. However, I'm usually left a little confused after reading how some Jewish people explain their faith.

    For example, after reading your last post I dont know whether you believe there is a god or whether you believe the bible- you said that Jews don't take it literally. What does that mean exactly? If they don't take it literally, or you 'dont obey or believe blindly', why are so many jews enslaved to countless biblical obligations like the sabbath?

  • KalebOutWest

    We are not "enslaved" as JWs teach or you suggest.

    A Secular Humanistic Jew, for example, who observes the sabbath or a holy day or places a mezzuzah on their door post is not doing this because they are enslaved to biblical obligations. Humanist Jews don't even believe in the Bible and most are strict atheists.

    These are cultural practices, most of which came before they were written down into laws and regulations and given mythical significance. Jews celebrated things like the Passover and the Festival of Tabernacles with totally different meanings before the priesthood attached the meanings you read about them in the Torah. Our culture didn't start with the Bible. It is older. The laws you read in the Bible are not the way the Jews ever did things or do them today.

    The Torah is mainly illustrative, not practical. That is why we have the Talmud and responsa.

    Our culture is impotant to us. The music, food, dress, languages, holidays and myths and just some of the ways we celebrate our identity as a people.

    It isn't slavery to celebrate your culture.

  • markweatherill

    I think the answer to those who would take Genesis literally, and then raise questions about God's motives or judgement, is found in Job 38:4, words to the effect that maybe the Almighty God of the universe knows more about it than you.

  • TonusOH

    KalebOutWest: First, the Noachin Deluge is the newer myth.

    I was referring to the stories that follow in Genesis, such as the tower of Babel, which I also referred to in my earlier post.

    KalebOutWest: As a Jew I can attest that we do not teach anywhere in our Scriptures that "God is love,"

    I appreciate the different viewpoint, but my own viewpoint -the one I speak from- is as a former JW, a fundementalist Christian. This is the viewpoint I grew up with, and is the one I know. Naturally, it is the one I apply to my reading of the Bible and to my understanding of its contents.

    KalebOutWest: As for reading these stories, we Jews know how to read them.

    Cool. I wasn't raised Jewish. I know the Bible from the JW perspective, and from the Christian perspective. I have found it both entertaining and interesting to approach it just as it is written. And yes, I understand that it is a translation from other languages. That is actually a point I made in my earlier post, regarding the tower of Babel. But the English translations are what I have and what I know, so it makes sense that these are the ones I use.

    Christians believe that the Bible is the inspired word of god, and that god possesses certain qualities, and that the stories in the Bible reflect those qualities. I find that not to be the case. My references to this god's actions in Genesis are some of many examples of this that I find in the Bible. "You hate god" or "You're angry at god" is a common deflection thrown at people who point these things out. But, even if this is the case, it doesn't invalidate my comments. Star Wars is a good analogy. We could spend a fair amount of time pointing out the flaws and plot holes in the various movies and books, and these would exist whether we hate Darth Vader or not.

  • no-zombie

    The more that I think about this topic and the way various people have commented on it, has made me reflect on something, which I'd like to share.

    Its is a well known political concept that, national leaders (with their weakness, their strengths and their base personalities) are a rather accurate reflection of the people they govern, as a whole. Which breaks the basic democratic concept, that anyone could be President or Prime-Minister of their country.

    For example ex. President Trump would never be elected, even to the Australian lower house of parliament as a minister, because his antics are so against the Australian national culture, that no one would tolerate him. Similarly, I couldn't I see someone like the very British, Boris Johnson becoming the US president, but he's not what Americans are.

    And if this is actually true, can this concept not also apply to the God's people worship? Maybe it can be.

    I've always thought about the disconnect between the God of the OT and the God, Jesus talked about in the NT. How could one be happy to arrange for the deaths of millions, eradicate whole nations and burn individuals with fire, in one period ... and then turn into a God of love and peace in another?

    My conclusion is that, because the ancient Israelites were basically a collection of warring tribes (probably little better than their Canaanite neighbors), their god Yahweh, had to be a mighty warrior god, to bless their efforts of conquest. But latter in the Roman times, bathing in Greek enlightenment, many people began to accept a more peaceful deity ... because they themselves, were more peaceful.

    The same thought experiment could be applied to the warring Inca peoples and their Sun God, who demanded the beating hearts of freshly killed human sacrifices.

    Perhaps God didn't make us in his image ... we made God in ours.

  • KalebOutWest

    You are right NZ.

    There was a Jewish philosopher of the Middle Ages, Rambam, who though persecuted at the time eventually won the Jews over with the prevailing theology that we had to reject the literal reading of any text of Scripture that suggested that God had a body or human traits or features.

    While in many of the stories of the Bible, God is merely a player no less or greater than any other, this went often forgotten by the rabbis and they began to take it literal that God had a body. Rambam taught the opposite, that the writers made a character out of God in our human image to make God pliable for the purpose of each storyline. If one takes these literally, Rambam taught, you are actually guilty of idolatry.

    Today this, outside of the claim that "God is one," is the only other universal definition that Jews tend to agree upon (if even they are agnostic and atheist), that the Jewish God is "Ineffable."

    This is why the idea of a deity flooding the world and "feeling regret" for his actions is not taken literal by the Jews. It breaks Rambam's rule of ascribing anthropomorphic facets to God.

    This makes most of Watchtower's theology incompatible with Judaism because it basically advocates worship of a god in human form with human features and qualities.

    To many Jews, due to the introduction of teachers like Spinoza and Kaplan and even Sherwin Wine, God is not a person or there is no personal God.

  • joey jojo
    joey jojo
    Our culture is impotant to us. The music, food, dress, languages, holidays and myths and just some of the ways we celebrate our identity as a people.
    It isn't slavery to celebrate your culture.

    I understand there are a lot of jews that dont necessarily believe in god and yet are still proudly jewish and may follow some customs or none at all. However, around 90% of jews are circumcised. Why is that? Is that not a direct result of a commandment from god that is expected to be followed by every jewish family? I would argue that it is a religious ritual that has enslaved generations.

    From what I understand, the passover and festival of tabernacles may have been observed before the torah as harvest festivals. Harvest festivals were universally celebrated among early humanity and are not unique to the jewish culture.

    What I am referring to by 'enslaved' is any ritual with a religious origin that obligates a person to do a certain thing at a certain time. If the torah is 'mainly illustrative', then why bother with any of it? If its culture and tradition that dictates these observances, where did that tradition start? Most traditions observed by modern jews seem to have religious beginnings and are therefore commands, not lifestyle choices.

    What Im trying to say is that if god doesnt exist to many jews, or may exist, why follow any jewish rituals if most of them originate with the torah and are religious commands given by god - who many jews dont believe is real?

  • KalebOutWest

    For joey jojo:

    I will offer below two good sources to help answer your questions. But first a brief explanation.

    Judaism is a spectrum of belief and practices, not only among its groups of peoples such as the Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Secular Humanist, Renewal, and Post-denomantional, but also among each individual person that allows for constant change.

    Can an atheist change their beliefs and still remain an atheist? Can a Christian change theirs and still remain a Christian?

    Unlike Westerners who are usually identified and self-identify according to strict creeds or general static set of definitions, Jews can and will switch what they believe and practice among this spectrum as they live and grow and age employing a diverse cornacopa of traditions and ethics to without losing their place in the tribe.

    This doesn't work for, let's say a Jehovah's Witness who cannot stop believing in Jesus one day and still expect to remain a Witness. But a Jew can indeed go from theist to atheist one day then agnostic the next and then decide that they are something called an "ignostic" the next day, only later to start the cycle again, never to loose there place or membership in Judaism.

    How? Why?

    Open Judaism: A Guide for Atheists, Believers, and Agnostics by Rabbi Barry L Schwartz (it's available as an Ebook too)

    and a YouTube series about charts--yes, charts, by Dr Matt Baker (yes, he is also a Jew). How will charts help? Click on his playlists and watch his Introduction to the Bible series at

    and his Religious Studies series.

    Many, many hours of stuff that will explain things.

    Now, I am off to be "enslaved" by resting on the Jewish Sabbath.

    Shabbat Shalom.

  • Rivergang

    It is always good to get the Jewish perspective of the Old Testament - and particularly for those who would allow themselves to be bent out of shape by a collection of Middle Eastern folklore.

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