zenpundit.com » judaism

Archive for the ‘judaism’ Category

Released, recidivist

Friday, July 31st, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — Jerusalem and San Francisco, religious and not ]

Two recent cases of recidivism:


and just a short while ago:


In making the comparison, it is worth considering that in one case there were multiple wounded victims, in the other one victim killed; that in one case there’s a very close correspondence between the earlier and later crimes, in the other not so much; that in once case the concept of sanctuary cities is involved, in the other not; that in one case there was a clear religious motive, while in the other, not; that one plays into a narrative on the right, the other on the left..

My personal interest will be to see whether the Jerusalem Pride stabber claims he acted, as did Phineas in Numbers 25, without consulting a religious authority — because he knew he was carrying out the will of G*d. Yigal Amir, the assassin of Yitzak Rabin, made that claim according to the late Israeli analyst, Ehud Sprinzak.

Two new collections from Tim Furnish, plus two

Friday, July 31st, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — a chance to have Tim Furnish’s recent writings in book form, plus a couple of recent apocalyptic issues bcoz apocalypse hasn’t gone away, oh no ]

Friend, blog friend and colleague Dr Tim Furnish recently tweeted:

I hope to review these two volumes of Tim’s essays here on Zenpundit.


Plus Two:

While we’re on the topic of apocalypse..

Sara A. Carter of the American Media Institute posted on the 28th on USA Today:

Islamic State recruitment document seeks to provoke ‘end of the world’

An apparent Islamic State recruitment document found in Pakistan’s lawless tribal lands reveals that the extremist group has grand ambitions of building a new terrorist army in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and triggering a war in India to provoke an Armageddon-like “end of the world.”

The 32-page Urdu-language document obtained by American Media Institute (AMI) and reviewed by USA TODAY details a plot to attack U.S. soldiers as they withdraw from Afghanistan and target American diplomats and Pakistani officials.

AMI obtained the document from a Pakistani citizen with connections inside the Pakistani Taliban and had it independently translated from Urdu by Harvard researcher and translator Mustafa Samdani. The Pakistani’s identity was shared with USA TODAY, which has agreed not to identify him publicly because of concerns for his safety.
The document was reviewed by three U.S. intelligence officials, who said they believe the document is authentic based on its unique markings and the fact that language used to describe leaders, the writing style and religious wording match other documents from the Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS. They asked to remain anonymous because they are not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The undated document, titled “A Brief History of the Islamic State Caliphate (ISC), The Caliphate According to the Prophet,” seeks to unite dozens of factions of the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban into a single army of terror. It includes a never-before-seen history of the Islamic State, details chilling future battle plans, urges al-Qaeda to join the group and says the Islamic State’s leader should be recognized as the sole ruler of the world’s 1 billion Muslims under a religious empire called a “caliphate.”

“Accept the fact that this caliphate will survive and prosper until it takes over the entire world and beheads every last person that rebels against Allah,” it proclaims. “This is the bitter truth, swallow it.”

Retired Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who also reviewed the document, said it “represents the Islamic State’s campaign plan and is something, as an intelligence officer, I would not only want to capture, but fully exploit. It lays out their intent, their goals and objectives, a red flag to which we must pay attention.”

That. friends, is the Ghazwa e-Hind, which we’ve been discussing on occasion here on Zenpundit for several years:

  • http://zenpundit.com/?p=4462
  • http://zenpundit.com/?p=12683
  • http://zenpundit.com/?p=12756
  • http://zenpundit.com/?p=20592
  • http://zenpundit.com/?p=31402
  • http://zenpundit.com/?p=44267
  • Look for Tim Furnish to have more to say about this document and its implications



    from a Jewish source quoted and discussed in the Times of israel on March 11 this year — yes, I’m playing catch up here — comes an apocalyptic call for two nuclear attacks — with a specific reference to the coming of the Messiah in the final paragraph:

    Op-ed calls on Israel to nuke Germany, Iran<

    Right-wing media outlet Israel National News published an opinion piece Tuesday calling on Israel to launch nuclear bombs at Iran and Germany, only days after the outlet came under fire for publishing a piece accusing a war widow of killing her husband over her pro-peace views.

    In the opinion article published Tuesday, the author claims that only through nuclear annihilation of Iran and Germany, with 20 or 30 nuclear bombs each, can Israelis prevent the state’s destruction.

    “If Israel does not walk in the ways of God’s Bible,” author Chen Ben-Eliyahu wrote in Hebrew, “it will receive a heavy punishment of near complete destruction and doom and only a few will be saved.”

    One of Israel’s missions is to remember the crimes of Amalek, a tribe representative of pure evil in the Bible, whom Jews are commanded to obliterate. Among those descended from the band, the author writes, are Iranian leaders Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and current President Hassan Rouhani.

    “They don’t miss an opportunity to discuss the need for the annihilation of Israel,” he wrote.

    To combat this Israel must respond in kind, Ben-Eliyahu declared. “To an existential threat we must respond with an existential threat,” he wrote, “not with speeches in Congress. We must make it clear to the Iranians that Israel will wipe out their nuclear program and Tehran and Isfahan as well.”

    “If [an enemy] rises up to destroy you, rise earlier to destroy him: twenty, thirty nuclear bombs will do to assure the job gets done,” he continued.

    He also called on the Jewish people to remember its near destruction at the hands of the Nazis and exact revenge on Germany, now a staunch ally of Israel.

    When the Messiah comes, Ben-Eliyahu wrote, Israel will reverse the Final Solution. “Twenty, thirty atomic bombs on Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Nuremberg, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Dresden, Dortmund and so on to assure the job gets done. And the land will be quiet for a thousand years,” he wrote.

    Of note here: The phrase rendered here “If [an enemy] rises up to destroy you, rise earlier to destroy him” is not a remark of Ben-Eliyahu — he is quoting the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 72a:

    Im ba l’hargekha, hashkem l’hargo

    variously translated “If he come to slay thee, forestall by slaying him<" in the Soncino edition and more colloquially "If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him (first)" on the AJC site.

    Interfaith support for the restoration of burned churches

    Friday, July 17th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — good news, whether in Hebrew, Greek, Arabic or English ]

    Today’s DoubleTweet:

    Duly noted, duly grateful.

    A parallel between New Testament and Qur’an noted

    Saturday, May 9th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — picking up on a point in conversation with Itamar Marcus ]

    There’s a Qur’anic passage that is often quoted by opponents of Islam to suggest the Prophet acted lecherously and composed certain Qur’anic verses to grant himself divine authorization for sleeping with those with whom he would not otherwise have had the right to sleep. I don‘t presume to sit in judgment of the Prophet here, nor intend to get into the discussion of cross-cultural sexual morality. I take scriptures as scriptures with respect, and my interest is solely in the wording by which Allah instructs the Prophet, in the Qur’an, at 66.1 – here quoted in the upper panel in AJ Arberry’s translation:

    SPEC DQ Peter and Muhammad

    The lower panel – and again, I don’t intend to get into the spirituality of Jewish dietary restrictions – comes from a passage in the New Testament book of Acts (10. 9-16), in which Peter in a vision refuses to eat food he considers unclean, and is reproved by God for considering ritually impure what God is declaring pure.

    What interests me here is that in each case we see a divine “loosening” of a previously “tight” behavioral injunction.

    It is probably wise, too, to remember that dietary morality in Judaism in the time of the Acts of the Apostles may well have been taken as seriously as sexual morality in the time of the Sunna and Companions of the Prophet: different cultures in different centuries weigh such things very differently from the secular (and sometimes puritanical / salacious) western mind of today.


    Let us look at the context of the remark made by God to Peter in a vision, taking that context in two stages. The immediate story of Peter, God and the pure / impure food is found in verses 9-16 of Acts, chapter 10:

    Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. Then he heard a voice saying, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.” The voice said to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” This happened three times, and the thing was suddenly taken up to heaven.

    There are various translations of the verse I highlighted in the DoubleQuote, verse 15, as you might expect — and they could probably be graded from “easily digestible” to “venerable and archaic” with varying degrees of nuance in between. Thus The Living Bible (TLB, a paraphrase) has:

    The voice spoke again, “Don’t contradict God! If he says something is kosher, then it is.”

    which at least tells us it’s kashrut the passage is talking about. But for utter simplicity it’s hard to beat The Message:

    The voice came a second time: “If God says it’s okay, it’s okay.”

    So. Peter felt himself unauthorized to kill and eat something “unclean” and God rebukes him for imposing on himself a restriction God himself claims he is free from, telling him that the visionary food is in fact pure.

    The Orthodox Jewish Bible translates the verse (Gevurot 10.15):

    And the bat kol came to Kefa again for a second time, “What Hashem made tahor (clean), you should no longer regard as tameh (unclean).”

    — noting a reference to Bereshis (ie Genesis) 9.3.


    But there’s a context to that context, too, and it’s fascinating in part because it indicates that Peter’s vision contains not a literal but a metaphorical meaning and morality. Peter himself is confused once he returns to his senses. And then all becomes clear…

    The whole event takes place while a Roman centurion’s messengers are approaching Peter, who then accompanies them at their request to the centurion’s house, where Peter says (verse 28):

    Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

    So the understanding of ritual purity in respect of food is, in the vision, a metaphor for a parallel understanding of ritual purity in respect of tribe and humanity.

    It is only then, for the first time, the Christian gospel or kerygma is preached to one who is not a Jew, and Christianity becomes universal (“catholic”) whereas previously it had preached solely within a Jewish context, ie as a school within Judaism.

    Unsurprisingly, for Christianity this is a radical point of departure and redefinition.

    And it is notably accomplished by vision and metaphor — not by text or literal interpretation.

    Definitely my “Best Book” of 2014

    Monday, February 23rd, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — I’m posting this not just to recommend Brown’s book, but also to make a significant excerpt from it readily available on the net ]

    Misquoting Muhammad cover


    One book I received this year has given me a greater depth of understanding than any other by a wide margin. That book is Professor Jonathan AC Brown‘s book, Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy.

    Brown is a Muslim, a professor at Georgetown, and author of Hadith: Muhammad’s Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World. His book Misquoting Muhammad — not his choice of title, btw — lays open the varieties of interpretive possibility in dealing with the Qur’an and ahadith with comprehensive scholarship and clarity. In light of the upsurge in interest in Islamic and Islamist religious teachings occasioned by Graeme Wood‘s recent Atlantic article, I asked Prof. Brown’s permission to reproduce here the section of his book dealing with abrogation and the rules of war.

    Here then, with his permission, is an extract from Misquoting Muhammad. I hope it will prove of use both here and to others beyond the circle of Zenpundit readers. Spread the word!

    The whole book is worth reading, the whole of this extract is worth reading — but the section within the extract that I particularly recommend is the passage which begins with “Abrogation brought into sharp contrast” (p.100) and ends with “but were those who died not also my servants?” (p. 103).


    By way of a bonus, here’s a related DoubleQuote:

    SPEC DQ hadith & midrash

    Midrash Source:

  • Rabbi David Levi, JTS Torah Commentary

  • Switch to our mobile site