The most important of these popular delusions: that the Jewish religion is, and always was, monotheistic.
According to the cabbala, the universe is ruled not by one god but by several deities, of various characters and influences, emanated by a dim, distant First Cause. Omitting many details, one can summarize the system as follows. From the First Cause, first a male god called ‘Wisdom’ or ‘Father’ and then a female goddess called ‘Knowledge’ or ‘Mother’ were emanated or born. From the marriage of these two, a pair of younger gods were born: Son, also called by many other names such as ‘Small Face’ or ‘The Holy Blessed One’; and Daughter, also called ‘Lady’ (or ‘Matronit’, a word derived from Latin), ‘Shekhinah’, ‘Queen’, and so on. These two younger gods should be united, but their union is prevented by the machinations of Satan, who in this system is a very important and independent personage.
Other prayers or religious acts, as interpreted by the cabbalists, are designed to deceive various angels (imagined as minor deities with a measure of independence) or to propitiate Satan. At a certain point in the morning prayer, some verses in Aramaic (rather than the more usual Hebrew) are pronounced. This is supposed to be a means for tricking the angels who operate the gates through which prayers enter heaven and who have the power to block the prayers of the pious. The angels only understand Hebrew and are baffled by the Aramaic verses; being somewhat dull-witted (presumably they are far less clever than the cabbalists) they open the gates, and at this moment all the prayers, including those in Hebrew, get through. Or take another example: both before and after a meal, a pious Jew ritually washes his hands, uttering a special blessing. On one of these two occasions he is worshiping God, by promoting the divine union of Son and Daughter; but on the other he is worshiping Satan, who likes Jewish prayers and ritual acts so much that when he is offered a few of them it keeps him busy for a while and he forgets to pester the divine Daughter. Indeed, the cabbalists believe that some of the sacrifices burnt in the Temple were intended for Satan. For example, the seventy bullocks sacrificed during the seven days of the feast of Tabernacles were supposedly offered to Satan in his capacity as ruler of all the Gentiles, in order to keep him too busy to interfere on the eighth day, when sacrifice is made to God. Many other examples of the same kind can be given.
There is yet another misconception about Judaism which is particularly common among Christians, or people heavily influenced by Christian tradition and culture. This is the misleading idea that Judaism is a ‘biblical religion’; that the Old Testament has in Judaism the same central place and legal authority which the Bible has for Protestant or even Catholic Christianity.
Many, perhaps most, biblical verses prescribing religious acts and obligations are ‘understood’ by classical Judaism, and by present-:lay Orthodoxy, in a sense which is quite distinct from, or even contrary to, their literal meaning as understood by Christian or other readers of the Old Testament, who only see the plain text. The same division exists at present in Israel between those educated in Jewish religious schools and those educated in ‘secular’ Hebrew schools, where on the whole the plain meaning of the Old Testament is taught.
Stealing property is not a capital offense (while kidnapping of Gentiles by Jews is allowed by Talmudic law)
The famous verse ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth’ etc. (Exodus, 21:24) is taken to mean ‘eye-money for eye’, that is payment of a fine rather than physical retribution.
The famous verse ‘thou shalt love thy fellow as thyself (Leviticus, 19:18) is understood by classical (and present-day Orthodox) Judaism as an injunction to love one’s fellow Jew, not any fellow human. Similarly, the verse ‘neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy fellow’ (ibid.,) is supposed to mean that one must not stand idly by when the life (‘blood’) of a fellow Jew is in danger; but, as will be seen in Chapter 5, a Jew is in general forbidden to save the life of a Gentile, because ‘he is not thy fellow’.
It should therefore be clearly understood that the source of authority for all the practices of classical (and present-day Orthodox) Judaism, the determining base of its legal structure, is the Talmud, or, to be precise, the so-called Babylonian Talmud.
First, the Mishnah – a terse legal code consisting of six volumes, each subdivided into several tractates, written in Hebrew, redacted in Palestine around AD 200 out of the much more extensive (and largely oral) legal material composed during the preceding two centuries. The second and by far predominant part is the Gemarah – a voluminous record of discussions on and around the Mishnah. There are two, roughly parallel, sets of Gemarah, one composed in Mesopotamia (‘Babylon’) between about AD 200 and 500, the other in Palestine between about AD 200 and some unknown date long before 500. The Babylonian Talmud (that is, the Mishnah plus the Mesopotamian Gemarah) is much more extensive and better arranged than the Palestinian, and it alone is regarded as definitive and authoritative.
The Talmud strictly forbids a Jew, on pain of severe punishment, to take interest on a loan made to another Jew. (According to a majority of Talmudic authorities, it is a religious duty to take as much interest as possible on a loan made to a Gentile.)
What is popularly regarded as the most ‘holy’ and solemn occasion of the Jewish liturgical year, attended even by very many Jews who are otherwise far from religion? It is the Kol Nidrey prayer on the eve of Yom Kippur – a chanting of a particularly absurd and deceptive dispensation. by which all private vows made to God in the following year are declared in advance to be null and void.
Together with the deception of God goes the deception of other Jews, mainly in the interest of the Jewish ruling class. It is characteristic that no dispensations were allowed in the specific interest of the Jewish poor. For example, Jews who were starving but not actually on the point of death were never allowed by their rabbis (who did not often go hungry themselves) to eat any sort of forbidden food, though kosher food is usually more expensive.
Note: I will be issuing condensed versions of the remaining 3 chapters of Israel Shahak’s Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years from time to time.
The above was taken from chapter 3 Orthodoxy and Interpretation which you can find here:
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