Nittlenacht 2006: If Blogs Existed 2000 Years Ago

It’s often stated that blogs are the modern day equivalent of pamphlets, like those (largely anonymous) pamphlets we know today as the Federalist Papers. I wonder what the world would look like today if blogs and the Internet had existed 2000 years ago. Would Jewish the rabbis have blogged? Would the Sadducees? Beit Hillel? Beit Shammai? The Essenes? I don’t know. I tend to think most of these groups would have reacted to the Internet and blogs much the way Gary Rosenblatt of the NY Jewish Week does, treating blogs with disdain and using the Internet to promote his own agenda while disdaining other’s.

But I do think Jesus (or, at the very least, his close disciples) would have blogged. Much of Jesus’ life was dedicated to righting what he felt had gone wrong within the Pharisaic movement, particularly the positions and behavior of the Beit Shammai faction. He would have screamed in the courtyard of the Temple and blogged about it that night. To many Jews, what I just wrote treifes blogging. But it should not. Why?

Just look at the numbers. Christianity has grown in leaps and bounds, both during times of persecution and during times of plenty while Judaism has shrunk, almost without exception. Christianity has always been based on bringing its message to the masses, while Judaism has largely been about favoring the rich and influential at the expense of the masses. (Yes, I know this goes against the Torah, but it is our history, nonetheless.)

Blogs and the Internet (and their technological progeny) are here to stay. Is Judaism? If you look at the numbers and speak to teens and college students, the answer would have to be no. They see no relevancy to Judaism and feel no uplift from Jewish leadership. We’re stagnant and vapid, and we’re vested in maintaining institutions and not maintaining Jews.

Tonight, as you eat Chinese food and talk with your friends about how glad you are not to be goyyim, remember this. Also remember that every Jew alive 500 years ago has at least as many non-Jewish descendants as Jewish ones. And the reason for that goes well beyond persecution. It is the elitism of Jewish leadership coupled with the vapidness of their message that has done the most damage.

A Freilichen Nittlenacht.

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27 Comments

Filed under Blogs, History, Religion

27 responses to “Nittlenacht 2006: If Blogs Existed 2000 Years Ago

  1. Anonymous

    Scotty, who are your descendants?

  2. TM

    Oh come on, cut it out with the revisionism. You wanna know why Christian conscription to its ranks thrived in relation to Judaism? No circumcision necessary and easy to join up without the requisite commitments and discipline required on the Jewish side. Simple, really.

    It’s always easy to claim that there is a power structure and you’re opposed to it, but to remind you, for the majority of the past 2000 years in the West and parts of the East, the power structure has been Christian. Also to remind you, they had little concern about converting people and in fact dedicated themselves to doing so even by the sword. Could that be one of the reasons it’s far easier to lose Jews to Christianity than the other way around? You betcha. Look around at American society today and note how easy it is to absorb or join the dominant Christian culture. In contrast, joining the Jewish community, even where it is made relatively easy such as in Reconstructionist or Reform circles, it still remains far more difficult and without the attendant comfort of knowing you belong to the vast majority of people.

    I don’t disagree with all of your criticism, some of it is valid. However, you are way overboard in this post.

  3. TM is just about right. There were many reasons for Christianity’s ascendancy, not the least of which was the power of the Roman Empire from Constantine onward. It was Paul’s genius to be all things to all men, inventing a blend of Judaism and Hellenism that appealed to the pagan masses and made few demands on them. They could keep their virgin goddess, continue to venerate statues, enjoy their familiar comfort foods, and so on.
    Our calling, on the other hand, has always been to swim against the stream. Avraham on one side and the rest of the world on the other. All in Ahashverosh’s court bowing down to Haman and Mordekhai not. All in Antiochus’ realm forsaking their religions and cultures and embracing Greek paganism, and we holding steadfast to Torah. That is not going to conquer the world, nor is it intended to. Ours is a life apart.
    I wish I could see a “dominant Christian culture” in contemporary America. What we have is a post-Christian neo-pagan culture of unrestrained hedonism. Just look at how women and girls dress in any non-Orthodox neighborhood in summertime. Nothing Christian there. Look at what the entertainment industry is serving up – largely pagan smut. Don’t like being pregnant? Kill the baby. Your comatose wife is burdensome? Take out the feeding tube.
    I wish my Christian neighbors a Christ-centered Christmas and not a pleasure-centered one, but I’m increaingly pessimistic about seeing that in my lifetime.

  4. contemporary

    Unfortunately, my comment on this was sent to your article on Sexual abuse

  5. Yos

    If blogs existed two thousand years ago? Israel Finklestein would argue that ‘Jesus3767’ was actually a pimply Greek kid living in his mom’s basement.

  6. Isa

    “””In contrast, joining the Jewish community, even where it is made relatively easy such as in Reconstructionist or Reform circles, it still remains far more difficult and without the attendant comfort of knowing you belong to the vast majority of people.”””
    It is too bad that Arabs cannot easily become Jewish is Israel- The ‘gate’ should be wide open for the Arab that is, for instance, out casted. If this were the case then prayer books would be printed in Arabic and Hebrew to facilitate an easy entry. OK Palestians! Do you want to come back? Guess what you have to do? Convert and send your children to Jewish school.

  7. Yes, I duly consecrate Shmarya Rosenberg with Beatification, and hereby Canonize him as a true Christian Saint.

  8. Christianity has grown even when it was a minoruty religion, even when it was oppressed and even without use of the sword. For the most part, we have not.

    Further, what TM is referring to above are people who adopted many Jewish practices except circucision and one or two others. They were similar to Bnai Noach and had the status of half-Jews. They’re mentioned in in the Talmud and Midrashim. Perhaps the most famous story is the one with Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Yehoshu and Rabbi Eliezer (if memory serves me) and the Roman senator and his wife.

    Christianity outgrew Judaism because it tried to. It tried to win converts and influence society. Judaism did not, although we are commanded to do it. We did not do this, in part because of oppression. But a large part was due to our decision to become insular, which is itself largely a rejection against Judeo-Hellenism, which was much like Modern Orthodoxy.

    In other words, we became Lakewood, Kiryas Joel and Boro Park rather than the Five Towns and Teaneck.

  9. Larry S.

    While i find chassidic attitude to nittel to be stupid and reprehensible, especially from hypocritical primates who go around making “kiddush hashem” lighting chanuka menora’s on every elevated hill and under every green tree, holding gentile leaders hands as they do it.
    (indeed I often wonder what do they tell those gentile mayors, presidents and senators off the record? do they whish them merry holidays? or they tell them sorry, it is against our faith to wish you well, but hey, let’s keep smiling just , for the cameras we will bring you the votes ).
    At the same time, I am not sure I would take anything from the New Testament description of Jesus life for granted.

  10. rebeljew

    Many years ago, professor Harvey Falk (related to the Pnei Yehoshua, I believe) wrote a work called “Jesus the Pharisee”, which asserted that Jesus was a proponent of the Rabanan against Beit Shammai and that many of the sayings and actions in the Jewish part of the New Testament show this. The book you link here is either an updated edition or an expanded one.

    I agree with much of what he says that, properly translated, it is likely that there is nothing new in the “Mew Testament” and that Jesus did not mean to depart from Jewish doctrine at all. Though Falk does not mention it, if one reads the first Chapter of John (chas v’chalilah of course ;)), and then one reads the second section of Tanya, Shaar HaYichud v’HaEmunah, you will begin to understand how overliteralized statements that were translated by people who understood words, but not idioms, crept into the canon and created early Christianity. The very term Chritianity is correctly translated as “moshichism”.
    At the same time, I think the stories in the NT are conflation, confabulation, and fabrication. As I have mentioned on your pages before, it is fairly clear that in the case of Jesus of Nazareth (the main character in the “gospels”), lo haya v’lo nivra. For people who are slowly peeling away at the icons of Judaism, for some reason, against all evidence, they insist on exposing the “real Jesus”. There is no one behind the curtain.

  11. rebeljew

    I would add that “Trinitarian Christianity” seems to have developed centuries later. What we would call “Elokism” in Christianity may have had a very slow evolution (again chas v’chalila), but recent events show that it might have happened much more quickly, especially under unified charismatic leadership. It seems a twig more evidence for the concept that such a leader did not exist.

  12. Anonymous

    “Blogs and the Internet (and their technological progeny) are here to stay. Is Judaism? If you look at the numbers and speak to teens and college students, the answer would have to be no?”
    We survived two thousand years of torturous persection, as well as most recently the holocaust. What more proof do you need that the Jews are here to stay?

  13. Yochanan Lavie

    In America, religious Christians are usually not the enemy (I say “usually” to exclude the missionary minority, and Jimmy Carter). W/o them, the US probably wouldn’t support Israel, as only committed Jews seem to care about it. (That’s maybe 3 million out of 6, at best). So I wish our neighbors a merry xmas.

  14. Jim the Catholic

    To Benedict XVI: Surely your Holiness remembers you can ONLY canonize the dead? Thought I agree Shmarya is a good guy.:-)

    Anyway one of the reasons Christianity has grow is because it is a Commandment in the New Testament for Christians to seek converts(Islam & Mormonism have grown for similar reasons)also we believe knowing Jesus is needed for salvation. The Torah doesn’t command Jews to seek converts also Judaism teaches that a
    Gentile need not become a Jew in order to enter the “World to Come” he need only abandon idolatry & embrace the Seven Laws of Noah. If Catholicism ever taught objectively you need never become a Catholic in order to be saved you would see Catholicism shrink to nothing.

    Rebel Jew wrote:
    >I would add that “Trinitarian Christianity” seems to have developed centuries later.

    I reply: I read the Early Church Fathers the doctrine of the Trinity can be traced as early as the Second Century in the writings of Saint Hypolotus, Tertullian, & Melito of Sardis. Thought the use of the word “Homousos”(i.e same substance) doesn’t appear until the fourth century. I wouldn’t put much stock in the “Divinci Code”.

    Anyway believe what you want. Cheers!

  15. Jim the Catholic

    OTOH Shmarya speaking as a Christian, growth in numbers doesn’t really mean anything if when you make converts you “make devils of them twice as worthy of going to Hell as you yourselves”.

    I look at the Crusades, Christian persecution of the Jews, the rise of the holocaust in a “Christian” nation like Germany and the whole history of Christiandom & Our constant disrepect for the teachings of Our Master & I feel no pride in it. Only shame.

    >while Judaism has largely been about favoring the rich and influential at the expense of the masses. (Yes, I know this goes against the Torah, but it is our history, nonetheless.)

    I reply: Don’t kid yourself in thinking only Jews have a lock on such sins. I read Father Fannery’s book. I believe Jesus & Mary are sinless but not Catholics(or anyone else for that matter).

  16. Yos

    “As I have mentioned on your pages before, it is fairly clear that in the case of Jesus of Nazareth (the main character in the “gospels”), lo haya v’lo nivra”

    If you’re saying there is literally no one behind the curtain, I’d have to disagree. Peeling back the traditions of Christianity doesn’t reveal a fiction as much as it reveals a banality. A marginal rabbi preaching for three years and then being killed is dull even with miracles left intact. For sure there is generous embellishment but that doesn’t necessarily indicate fabrication. There’s nothing fantastic enough in Christianity to make me think it was based on a conflation of period characters or pure imagination.

  17. Neo-Conservaguy

    One attraction of Christianity is that, despite backfilled pseudo-mitsvoth, it was a modification of a religion that demanded a great deal of legal and ritual (post temple) observance by the laity. The Christian approach is very seductive: absolution (in the form of a one-time Grand Pascal/Kippur Sacrifice) can be obtained by largely by belief (in Yeshu as the Messiah) rather than by actions. The cute saying is Jews follow deed, not creed. Deed involves rather more work. The numbers speak for themselves in terms of which marketing line has been more attractive (even discounting sales at the point of a sword) 😉

  18. RebelJew –

    It’s Harvey Falk’s original book, just a new cover and publisher. BTW, Harvey Falk has smicha from Torah Vodaas and Beis Midrash Elyon.

  19. Isa

    “””The Christian approach is very seductive: absolution (in the form of a one-time Grand Pascal/Kippur Sacrifice) can be obtained by largely by belief (in Yeshu as the Messiah) rather than by actions.”””
    The Catholic approach to salvation is belief AND good actions. The Protestant approach to salvation is belief.

  20. Harold

    Luther derived the Protestant doctrine of belief from the Jewish Bible: “And the righteous shall live by their faith.”

  21. Jim the Catholic

    >Luther derived the Protestant doctrine of belief from the Jewish Bible: “And the righteous shall live by their faith.”

    I reply: The Latin Vulgate has the same verse & it’s quoted by the Council of Trent dude.

    >The Catholic approach to salvation is belief AND good actions. The Protestant approach to salvation is belief.

    I reply: Faith & belief are not the same(in genral Christian theology). In theory I could believe there is a God but choose not to trust him to submit to him. Still as theologically anti-Protestant as I obviously am I must point out that even the so called Reformers didn’t completly count out good works.

  22. Yochanan Lavie

    Jim: I hope you had a Merry Xmas. Like you, I say believe and let live.

  23. Jim the Catholic

    Thanks bud. HaShem be with you!:-)

  24. justayid

    “Christianity has grown even when it was a minoruty religion, even when it was oppressed and even without use of the sword. For the most part, we have not.”

    Christianity has always grown? Really? Where are the Christians of the Magreb? Of Nubia? Where is the solid Christian majority of Egypt? Of Syria? Yes, of Palestine? Most of THEIR descendants are Sunni Muslims, not Christians. While Christianity HAS gained converts by pure outreach, the vast majority of conversions where related directly or indirectly to the dominant Christian position in the state.

    The largest mass conversion to Christianity past 1000 CE was the conversion of the indians of what was to become Latin America. One of the driving factors were infections diseases, which struck down the (never before exposed) pagan indians, while sparing the christian Spaniards. A good argeument for whose god was favored, if ever there was one. See McNeil “Plagues and Peoples”.

    in the 1st century CE Judaism WAS growing, if NOT as rapidly as Christianity. From the time of COnstantine to the enlightenment, Jews were forbidden to encourage conversion in Christian lands, and shortly thereafter in what became Dar al Islam.

    Today we can convert Christians. Mazel Tov. Some of my best friends are Jews by Choice. Who generally found Judaism on their own, or through immediate family, not an organized effort. We are currently debating how much effort to put into “inreach” to the affiliated, and outreach to the unaffiliated, including those currently intermarried. Do we have the resources to reach out further?

  25. The largest conversion to Christianity is by far happening in Sub-Saharan Africa today.

    Where are the Christians of Egypt, etc.? For the most part, they were forcibly converted by Islam, just as many Jews were. Others moved to Europe, the Caribbean, etc.

    Jews have not sought converts since about 100 CE. We also gave up the idea of ohr lagoyyim, which is my point.

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