Sunday, November 13, 2005

July 20, 1263

This is the first part of the discussion I will have regarding my reading of The Disputation at Barcelona.

To begin with my first impression from the first day is to say that after around 750 years, the basic arguments of the Christian missionaries who are trying to convert the Jews haven’t really changed.  They continue to distort the Torah and Writings as well as the Talmud to meet the needs of the moment.

In the first day of the disputation Fray Pul (hence forth to be called Paul for sake of ease of discussion) brings up a point the Ramban quickly and quite easily shows how it is incorrect.  

The first thing discussed that I found to show the nervousness of the Catholic priesthood involved is that they don’t really wish for the Ramban to speak what is ‘on his mind.’  The comment that is made by Fray Ramon (head of the Dominican Order in Barcelona at the time) is the Ramban is granted permission to speak his mind ‘with the proviso that you do not say anything objectionable.’ (paragraph 3 of the Disputation.)  This statement really is an attempt to control the conversation and to put the Ramban at a great disadvantage.  The Ramban’s response is to basically say he has the understanding of good taste and would not say anything that was overtly distasteful without being able to at least provide the support to explain the statement.

Paul’s first attempt to put Ramban on the defensive is to try to say that the Talmud has proof that the Sages accepted that ‘the Nazarene’ was the Messiah.  Paul had been claiming this for a period of time in travels to Jewish communities through out Spain.
Ramban responds to this, even before Paul gives his first ‘proof’ that it is not possible to be true because the various listed Talmudist all lived after ‘the Nazarene’ and continued to live as Jews and to teach their children and disciples how to be ‘good’ Jews, therefore the statement that the Talmudists could have been believers in the Jesus as the Messiah was not possible.

The rest of the first day is spent discussing whether the Talmud and Torah proved that the Messiah had come.  The first day’s discussion of it centers on the discussion of whether the exile of our ‘family’ from our homeland was a proof that the rule of Yahudah had come to an end.  Ramban repeatedly states, in several different ways, that basically the fact that we are not under our own ‘kingship’ with a Yahudian king only showed that our time of renewed control of our own affairs hadn’t been reached.

I have thought about this a little bit since I read the first day’s transcript.  I think that it is interesting that an argument that was made was that we were actively fighting the truth of the Messiah having come because we were no longer in control of our own fate.  I find this to be a ridiculous argument if you accept the truth of the ‘old testament’ simple because when we were an independent kingdom, the Messiah never came. So arguing that he came when we weren’t a kingdom and we still weren’t in a kingdom of our own seems rather counter productive.  A better approach may have been to argue that we hadn’t been returned to our kingdom in the ‘1200 years’ (if you accept that the common calendar is the correct date) since the coming of the Messiah (assuming for just a moment that Jesus was the Messiah) that Hashem had turned his back on us.

The next thing that occurred to me from this discussion is that in order to successfully argue that we were incorrect in our position bringing in a single verse or a story from the Talmud, neither of which see to really discuss how we are rejecting the one true Messiah really seems to be even more than a bit of a stretch.

To look at the issues discussed in day one from a modern view it raised several questions for me.  1. Have we done something incorrect by re-establishing our own ‘kingdom?’ 2. Should Israel be a kingdom? Should Israel be constitutional or limited monarchy similar to several in Europe?  My response to the first question is probably not the best initial response, but it did occur to me so this is the start of it I guess.  I really don’t think we could have ‘reestablished’ our own national status with out Hashem allowing us to do so.  The second question raises a bit more of a problem for me.  I am not really sure that the government of Israel, prior to our final redemption as a ‘family,’ is of any real consequence.  Also I guess that my first argument could be an equally valid for this point as well.  Could we really have established a governmental entity that Hashem didn’t really want us to have?

My thinking on this also goes to the point of saying perhaps the Jews that are opposed to Israel’s existence have at least a way to validly argue the point.  

My beliefs on these issues haven’t change as a result of what I have read to date, I firmly believe that Israel exists at this time because Hashem wishes it to exist.  That the Messiah hasn’t come yet because the proper time hasn’t been reach, and that when that time come Israel will be a renewed Kingdom with a proper Yahudian king of the Dividian line.

Well until we discuss the next part . . . we return you to your regularly postings.

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