Sid:  My guest Dr. Michael Brown, we are plate forming his new book “What do Jewish People think About Jesus? And other questions Christian ask about Jewish belief, practices and history.”  You know what Michael I think most Jewish people don’t even know the answers to most of these questions.

Michael: Yeah, I think so I think if you ask your average Jewish person why do Jewish men cover their heads or what’s the tradition of that or why some of the outfits, or why in certain ultra-Orthodox the women shave their heads and wear wigs?

Sid:  Everything you have in this book is so fascinating, but I have a few questions; I want you to explain what Kabbalah is and what your position is on Kabbalah.

Michael:  Sure, Kabbalah literally means that which is received, it’s the passing on the traditional Jewish mystical teaching.  The central book of Kabbalah is called the Zohar, and traditional Jews believe it is written as early as the 2nd century of this era and other scholars date it as a thousand or so later.

Sid:  In Hollywood, the reason I ask this, in Hollywood it’s the in thing for people to be studying Kabbalah, is this good or bad?

Michael:  Okay, it’s definitely bad; it’s the pop version of Kabbalah.  So let’s separate that first.

Sid:  It’s the Pop version of Kabbalah?

Michael:  Yeah, in other words it’s kind of a bastardized version. It’s to wear the scarlet thread around your wrist.  In traditional Judaism you’re not supposed to study Kabbalah unless you’re a married man, well studies in Torah and forty years old.  In other words this, Kabbalah in traditional Judaism…

Sid:  That leaves out Shirley McLain.

Michael:  And Britney Spears and Madonna etcetera.  So it’s very esoteric, now Kabbalah itself, in other words not the pop version that everybody’s into today, which some have said is just like a restyled self-help New Ageish kind of thing.  But the traditional Jewish Kabbalah is very esoteric, very difficult to understand.  It has some major concepts that for example because God fills the entire universe or fills everything that is in order to create the universe He had to constrict Himself to make room for the universe.  So He constricts Himself and then puts the universe in place, but then there’s this catastrophe it’s kind of like this universal spiritual fall, and the vessels get shattered and these pieces of light are everywhere in the universe and there’s these lights in every Jewish soul that if Jewish souls will then follow the commandments of Moses it will kind of rekindle the light and the spark.  And the ultimate goal is what is called “Tekun ha-olam” , the restoration of the world, you know the repairing of these broken vessels and so on.  It’s very esoteric and mystical, and I’m sure some of it, if people really get into it opens them up to some kind of demonic influences and sources because it is to esoteric.

Sid:  The older version of Kabbalah is a mixture and since you don’t know the difference, and the devil is so subtle don’t walk from Kabbalah, run from Kabbalah! Do not touch it! That is my spin!

Michael:  You know the real stuff to me is much more mystical superstitious, you read the scriptures, it’s definitely not.  Paul warns about these kind of seductive things, Revelation talks about satin so cold deep secrets and Sid there’s no question a lot of Christians get taken in with this.  The great secret is all the wisdom of God, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Yeshua, and hidden in the cross, the place nobody would think of looking, some crucified Jewish carpenter, a guy dying a criminal’s death. That’s where God hides the treasures of His wisdom and knowledge.  But these false revelations come and say “We will enlighten you, come our way we will enlighten you.”  Even in the church people are looking for the secret revelation, how about the glory of God as revealed in Jesus, what is higher than that?

Sid:  Okay, new question, hell. Is that a Christian concept, what do Jewish people believe about hell?

Michael:  What do Jewish people believe about hell?  Well, most Jews today are fairly secular, and don’t really believe in an afterlife at all,  So there is not even a sense of a hope of life beyond the grave for your average Jewish person in any kind of concrete way.  For a religious Jew there is a hope for resurrection from the dead although not in the fervent way that Christians would say someone’s left this body, their with the Lord, there is rejoicing.  But on the hells side traditional Judaism only hints here and there in an eternal hell otherwise it believes in some form of punishment because basically everybody accept the perfectly righteous has fallen short on some level, and there may be a period of punishment up to one year because basically nobody is that bad, you’re got maybe eleven months of purging, suffering after death.

Sid:  So how do they handle Daniel that talks about everlasting life or everlasting condemnation, and everlasting’s pretty long time?

Michael:  Oh Daniel 12:2 seems to speak of eternal consequences for not being right with God that would be either read in terms of well the shame forever and ever, not that you are going to feel the shame or be alive to it.  But the more simple answer Sid is that Judaism is not primarily based on what’s taught in the Bible alone it’s primarily based on Jewish traditions.  And so hell is believed according to what the Talmud teaches and other things, and the Talmud teaches that basically most people go down for a little while and then go up.

Sid:  What about heaven, what’s the Jewish belief and I read a commentary once that the early Christian belief wasn’t in heaven as it is today.

Michael:  Yeah, the idea that this kind of going to this place and sitting on the clouds where the angels strum their harps is certainly a very very foreign concept.  The thing that Jewish people, religious Jews are waiting for more is the Messianic era when the Messiah will establish peace on earth etcetera which is why they can’t see Jesus as being the Messiah.  Of course there are solid answers for that.  That’s the first thing this time when the Messiah’s going to come establish peace on earth etcetera, that’s what they’re looking forward to, and then the world to come beyond that in traditional Judaism is the place that you get to study Torah forever and ever.  It’s a projection of this world for the Rabbinic student, but let’s just say that the hope was a bit more earthly; the hope was not just to go somewhere and some soul-less way and float along, but to have a resurrected body and to have a concrete future hope.  And I think that some believers have lost sight of the concrete nature of our future hope; ultimately God’s kingdom was going to come down here on earth forever.

Sid:  But what about Christian view the early Christian view of heaven, was it evolved like it is today?

Michael:  We don’t have evidence that it was evolved as it was.  There was certainly to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

Sid:  But the idea of heaven, you know a whole world that is without evil, that whole concept.

Michael:  Certainly, that was the hope of the prophets that they do no more war, no more hatred, no more harm on God’s holy mountain.  That the wolf would lie down with the lamb, and the lion would eat straw with the oxen, that was absolutely looked forward to in the concrete way. So that Acts 3 they’re talking about what the prophets spoke of; the restoration of all things.  That’s what they were looking forward to; Jesus speaks in Matthew 19 about the time of regeneration.

Sid:  Alright new question because you deal in detail brilliantly with so many of these questions that many Christians never even thought of.  Asking, should Christians unconditionally support the nations of Israel?

Michael:  You cannot unconditionally support Israel in every last decision because Israel’s a flawed nation, even though it has many good qualities.  So to say unconditionally meaning absolutely every decision Israel makes every Christian should support, “No.”  Should Christians say “We have a covenantal commitment to stand with the lost sheep of the house of Israel, we recognize modern Israel as raised up by God and loved by God; we recognize we must show solidarity to that which God has raised up and that there is a future for Israel therefore we must support Israel.  Absolutely, we should stand in strong support, we should be known as having great solidarity with the Jewish people because God’s ancient covenant because of the ongoing fulfillment of His covenant today.  Paul said in Romans 11 that the Jewish people even though they were enemies on account of the gospel we’re loved by God on account of the Patriarchs, that has never changed.

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