Will the real Yeshua (Jesus) please stand up!
I as a rabbi, over these past many years have and am still diligently working to present our Messiah Yeshua not only to my own Jewish people but also to the non-Jews. There have been great misunderstandings on all sides about the true character of Yeshua as he was 2000 years ago. First let me say that the Torah is not a book about the rules and regulations that we need to follow or we will be punished; it is a book of principles which have been passed down to us through stories, parables and pictures. It was revealed and handed down on Har Sinai (Mount Sinai) to Moshe Rabeinu who carried the Ten Commandments to the people of Israel after which he, for the most part wrote it down. The purpose and role of Israel after receiving these Commandments was to obey them and bring them to rest of the nations. To put it in simple terms, we failed. The picture of Yeshua that we have been given is similar to that in Torah when it states that the nation of Israel was called to be a kingdom of priests, cohanim. After our sin of the golden calf, this role was passed to the sons of Aaron. When Israel failed to bring His commandments to the nations, another son of Israel, representing them was chosen for this task. His was a message of the universality of the Torah.
Rabeinu Yeshua began his public service to Israel with the “Sermon on the Mount” bringing back what Moshe had received at Mount Sinai. This was a sign of the Messiah who would bring his people back to the Torah. Rabeinu Yeshua told us that he did not write a new Torah, neither did he destroy nor invalidate it. What Moses began by bringing the Ten Commandments to the Jews, Yeshua would continue and make it universal. When it is said that Jews do not proselytize, they are wrong. We were supposed to be the ambassadors of the Creator, His emissaries for the Torah so that the world could live in peace and harmony.
Christian theologians refer to Yeshua as “Moses Redivivus” – Moses Resurrected. By naming him Jesus Christ, they created a completely different persona from Yeshua min Natzeret (Yeshua from Nazareth). Although he had a great calling, Moshe was a simple human being with failures and limitations. If Yeshua is seen as Moses Redivivus then he too can be regarded as a human being with failings and limitations. The teaching about Yeshua’s divinity was fabricated by those who had an agenda and this ideology is now indelibly imprinted upon the minds of millions of people.
Today in the 21st century many of the great Orthodox rabbis and Jewish scholars are re-examining Yeshua’s true identity, calling him both Yeshua “our brother” and the greatest Jew who ever existed throughout the course of history. Once we remove the prejudice of the past 1700 years about him and we examine the facts, we find the true Yeshua.
Deuteronomy 13 warns the Jewish people not to follow other gods which they have not known even if a prophet arises among them performing miracles, signs and wonders and leading them to other gods. This chapter is used by Rabbinic Judaism and rightfully so, to reject Yeshua as a possible candidate for Messiah, pointing out that even if a prophet does miracles, this doesn’t make him God. Thus they changed Yeshua’s name to Yeshu ישו, an acrostic of Yimach Shemo V’zikhro ימח שמו וזכרו – ‘may his name and all his memory be obliterated’. Yeshua would never lead anyone to any god other than the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Sadly, he is still called Yeshu today instead of Yeshua – ישוע which was a nickname of Yehoshua and a common name at that time. This answers the very common question — “Why don’t you Jewish people believe in Jesus Christ?” We were instructed from the beginning not to believe in other gods. We have heard and read that Yeshua performed miracles, signs and wonders. Didn’t the prophets Elijah and Elisha do the same yet they were not considered to be gods? Did Yeshua himself ever tell us to worship another god? Did Yeshua himself ever say that he was God? If he was a Torah observant Jew this was something that he could never do. He did however say that he was “one” with his Father meaning he was one in purpose with Him. He was trained to do the will of his Father. Almost two thousand years of changes, misquotes, misinterpretations in the NT have sealed these untruths well into the minds of the people. One of these is that Yeshua a.k.a. Jesus Christ is the founder of a new religion and others say that Rav Shaul a.k.a. Apostle Paul did that. There is enough evidence today for anyone willing to see that neither one did such a thing. It is important to know that Yeshua who was a Jewish Rabbi of his day is not the same person as Jesus Christ. Moshe was totally human; he lost his temper, blamed his brother and the people of Israel. Our rabbi, prophet and messiah Yeshua was also a man who committed mistakes. Did he not lose his temper turning over the tables of the money changers? When he said take up your sword, did he not really mean that? He doesn’t need to be defended.
Allow me now to address the Gentiles: Yeshua never spoke at that time to Christians (Christianity did not exist at that time!). Nor did He speak to the Gentiles. He spoke to his own people, specifically to the organized religion, to those who were leading the people away from the Torah. He spoke to the Perushim (Pharisees), the Tsadokkim (Sadducees) – Cohanim (Priesthood) telling them that they did not have the right to change the Torah given to Moshe for all the people of Israel who were to be light to the world. They created another Torah, the Sheve’al Peh – the Oral Torah. We Jews are so quick to accuse the Christians of creating another god and writing another book. Why don’t we look at ourselves first? This second Torah can be made to say whatever they want it to say and even to contradict the true Torah. The Oral Torah had been given more authority than the written Torah of Moshe. This is what Yeshua came to undo. It is written in Deut. 4:2 we must not add nor take away from His Word.
When Yeshua taught his talmidim to pray he said “Our Father in Heaven, Holy is your name…” He never said “pray to me”. This is an example of how gossip has destroyed Yeshua’s image as our messiah forcing him to be someone that he was not. It is important for us not to put words into Yeshua’s mouth that he never spoke.
Our sages have written that there are around 455 prophecies in the Tanach which point to Mashiach and it is written in the Talmud “All the prophets prophesied only for the days of Messiah” (Berachot 34b). Yeshua fulfilled them all.
I agree with the new Jewish scholars who say that Yeshua was the greatest Jew that ever lived. He is the only Jew who changed history forever and through him the Goyim Tsadikkim the righteous Gentiles have been included in God’s promises to Israel. Once we accept his humanity we truly find a leader whose example we can follow.