By Jacob Neusner
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Extra resources for A Rabbi Talks with Jesus
The Torah knows nothing of not resisting evil and does not value either the craven person, who submits, or the arrogant person, who holds that it is beneath one's dignity to 43 A R A B B I TALKS WITH JESUS deign to oppose evil. Passivity in the face of evil serves the cause of evil. The Torah calls eternal Israel always to struggle for God's purpose; the Torah sanctions warfare and recognizes legitimate power. So I find amazing Jesus' statement that it is a religious duty to fold before evil. True, Proverbs teaches, "A soft answer turns away wrath" (Prov 15:1).
These evasions of the Christian claim to truth will serve no more. Christianity does not believe in a Galilean miracle worker, nor does Christianity worship a rabbi. For my part, I will not evade. I will not concede. I will not praise with excessive, irrelevant compliments someone else's God: it is demeaning and dishonest. So to conclude, by addressing teachings of Jesus as Matthew portrays him, I pay the tribute of serious attention to what, until 32 A P R A C T I C I N G JEW IN D I A L O G U E WITH JESUS now, has found little serious attention among Jews.
In fact, the sage on the mountain himself identifies the reason. The contrast between the message echoing from Sinai and the one announced today is drawn explicitly. So I am told to expect to hear something fresh, original, and superior to anything that has gone before - and yet, torah in conformity with the Torah revealed by God to Moses at Sinai. So the sage sets for himself a worthy challenge, one that every sage in every generation does well to meet: receive a tradition whole and perfect, hand it on never intact but always unimpaired, so taking a rightful place in the chain of tradition from Sinai.