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Tuesday, 1 January 2013
New Year’s Eve Jewish Stop And Think Moment

From Brian of London in Israelly Cool

Before you celebrate New Year’s eve you might want to read this:

Throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods, January 1 – supposedly the day on which Jesus’ circumcision initiated the reign of Christianity and the death of Judaism – was reserved for anti-Jewish activities: synagogue and book burnings, public tortures, and simple murder.

The Israeli term for New Year’s night celebrations, “Sylvester,” was the name of the “Saint” and Roman Pope who reigned during the Council of Nicaea (325 C.E.). The year before the Council of Nicaea convened, Sylvester convinced Constantine to prohibit Jews from living in Jerusalem. At the Council of Nicaea, Sylvester arranged for the passage of a host of viciously anti-Semitic legislation. All Catholic “Saints” are awarded a day on which Christians celebrate and pay tribute to that Saint’s memory. December 31 is Saint Sylvester Day – hence celebrations on the night of December 31 are dedicated to Sylvester’s memory.

I’m staying at home with a glass of Glenmorangie

Posted on 01/01/2013 10:43 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
1 Jan 2013
Hugh Fitzgerald

After your wee dram, Brian of London,  you could tweet about Sylvester.

1 Jan 2013
Send an emailreactionry

- or you could quaff this Dutch tweet from Mr. Fitzgerald:

2 Jan 2013
Christina McIntosh

There is a different way of thinking about the Circumcision and Naming of Yeshua - Joshua - of Nazareth.

And it turns upon the doctrine of the Incarnation: the doctrine that - as a parish priest of mine once preached - "in the Incarnation the Second Person of the Trinity, the Word of God, assumed human flesh once and for all and forever". 

He did not simply arrive on earth as 'generic Universal Man'; he humbly accepted a mother, a Jewish mother; the Word was born as an infant that must learn to speak, that - like all humans on earth - had a mother tongue (in his case, Aramaic, and probably liturgical Hebrew), and a homeland, which in his case was the land of Israel, and a people, the house of Israel. His Jewishness, in its historic particularity, precisely manifests his humanity, for there is no human being without a mother tongue nor without a present or ancestral tie to a homeland.  He redeems all humanity, but the place where he does it is in the land of Israel and the body in which he offers himself in the act of redemption is that of a man of the House of Israel, of the tribe of Judah.  There and nowhere else; not in Athens or Rome or Beijing or Varanasi  or Lhasa, but in Jerusalem, in Judea, as this man, bearing the Hebrew name of a figure (Joshua) from the TaNaKh, speaking this language, practising this faith and culture...not any other.  

The redemption embraces all; he is now understood as speaking all languages (and he has been experienced as doing so, in dreams and visions granted to people of many times and places, including today many who have been liberated from Islam by such visionary encounters); but his 'universality' does not, I think, erase or nullify his Jewishness.

He was 'Born of a woman; born under the law' (that is, under the Torah).

And since Christian scripture says plainly that his glorified post-crucifixion post-resurrection body still bears the scars of the Crucifixion, I see no reason to suppose  - and this reveals the shockingly down-to-earth non-ethereal quality of this faith that I profess - that he does not also bear forever, in heaven, the mark of the wound he received at eight days of age, which signifies his belonging to the People of Israel.

The fact that those Gentiles who place their trust in Jesus are not required to follow the civil and ceremonial law of historic Israel  - they are 'saved' and come under his authority, without having to become Jews - doesn't seem to me to imply a de-Judaising of their Lord that cuts him off from his historic human identity and turns him into a sort of 'honorary Gentile'.

I remember a story of one of the Righteous, during the Nazi years, in France. She was one of the emigre Orthodox community, and she was helping Jews to hide from and escape the Nazis.  One day the Nazis burst into her house and said, 'Are there any Jews here?'  Without batting an eyelash, she said, 'Yes'; and then she pointed to the icons on her wall, depicting Jesus, and his mother Mary.

There is a passage in the first letter of John that throws a searing light on those Christians who have, historically, been  '.. those who choose/ a Jewish God/ and spurn the Jews'.

"If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen?"

How can those who claim to love Jesus of Nazareth, and adore him even as Son of God, though they have not seen him, turn round and hate Jesus' own earthly brothers, the Jew who is their neighbour, their fellow human being, whom they can see?  If Jesus stood in front of these Jew-haters in his human form as a first-century Jew, would they not also reject him?

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