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Filtering by Tag: Judaism


Thomas Whitley

The Jewish festival begins tonight at sunset and ends at sunset on 16 April. If you’re not familiar with Passover, it celebrates the Israelite Exodus from Egypt. Here is the basis from Exodus for the festival:

And this day shall become a memorial for you, and you shall observe it as a festival for the L-RD, for your generations, as an eternal decree shall you observe it. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove the leaven from your homes … you shall guard the unleavened bread, because on this very day I will take you out of the land of Egypt; you shall observe this day for your generations as an eternal decree. - Exodus 12:14-17

To any Jew that comes across this, I hope this Pesach is one of great memory and great celebration.

Shalom Aleichem!

Moving in the Right Direction

Thomas Whitley

The Pope issued this statement today:

“any denial or minimization of this terrible crime is intolerable,”

The Pope is, of course, speaking of the Holocaust.

The Pope is also planning to visit Israel soon, possibly in May. This is an important step forward in the recent relationship between the Vatican and Jews worldwide in the wake of comments made by Bishop Williamson, a member of the ultra-traditionalist Society of St Pius X (SSPX). Williamson told Swedish television in an interview broadcast on January 21: “I believe there were no gas chambers.” He also said that no more than 300,000 Jews died during the Holocaust.

He has still not recanted, saying he needs more time to review the evidence, but nevertheless, the Church has taken a step in the right direction by letting everyone know that they will not accept anyone in their ranks denying or minimizing the Holocaust.

NOTE: Full story can be found here.

Holocaust Denying Bishop Apologizes ... Sort Of

Thomas Whitley

Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, reported today (original article can be found here) that Bishop Richard Williamson, who has recently been reinstated from his 20-year long excommunication by Pope B16, has written a letter and apologized. This letter, though contains no remorse for what was actually said about the Holocaust.

The letter was posted on Williamson’s personal blog and addressed to Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who has been dealing with the rehabilitation of Williamson and other renegade bishops who had been excommunicated. The Holocaust denial had outraged Jewish groups and many others. It was not immediately clear if Williamson’s letter, which contained no apology for the content of his remarks, would ease that anger.

“Amidst this tremendous media storm stirred up by imprudent remarks of mine on Swedish television, I beg of you to accept, only as is properly respectful, my sincere regrets for having caused to yourself and to the Holy Father so much unnecessary distress and problems,” Williamson wrote.

If you ask me, which you obviously did because you’re reading this on my blog, I’d say this isn’t much of an apology. It’s like the child who is sorry that he got caught stealing cookies from the cookie jar, but who isn’t actually sorry he stole them. It smacks of immaturity and recklessness.

While some Jews have severed ties with the Vatican, Mordechay Lewy, Israel’s ambassador to the Holy See, “said the Jewish state has good relations with the Vatican, despite the flap over Williamson’s comments.”

I’m in agreement with the some 50 Catholic members of the US Congress in their letter to B16:

“We do not question your reasons for revoking the excommunication of Bishop Williamson or your right to do so, but we fail to understand why the revocation was not accompanied by an emphatic public rejection of his denial of the Holocaust,” the letter said.

“The bishop’s remarks about the Holocaust echo those of neo-Nazis, Islamist extremists, racists and others who choose hatred and violence over peaceful co-existence among peoples of all races and ethnicities.”

Jews Severing Ties with the Vatican

Thomas Whitley

A USA Today article (found here) speaks of Israel’s chief rabbinate severing its ties with the Vatican.

Israel’s chief rabbinate severed ties with the Vatican on Wednesday to protest a papal decision to reinstate a bishop who publicly denied 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

The Jewish state’s highest religious authority sent a letter to the Holy See expressing “sorrow and pain” at the papal decision. “It will be very difficult for the chief rabbinate of Israel to continue its dialogue with the Vatican as before,” the letter said. Chief rabbis of both the Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews were parties to the letter.

This is quite saddening, as their relationship had been quite good since 2000 when the relationship was formally made by Pope John Paul II’s visit to Jerusalem. I cannot say, thought, that I find fault in the move of these Jews. The Church needs to realize that there are consequences to their actions.

B16 “expressed his ‘full and indisputable solidarity’ with Jews.” These words seem to be too little, too late. The old adage proves once again to be true: actions speak louder than words. The Pope’s action of reinstating Bishop Williamson has been heard around the world, while his verbal solidarity with Jews is but a whisper.

NB: Thanks to my mom for sharing the article with me.

Not a Good Move

Thomas Whitley

The Pope (B16 as I like to call him) has just made a bad move. He reinstated Bishop Richard Williamson, who is:

“…a member of the ultra-conservative Society of Saint Pius X who rejects the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and recently said ‘there were no gas chambers’ during the Holocaust.”

Williamson was excommunicated by Pope John Paul II in 1988.

In comments to Swedish television broadcast on Wednesday and widely available on the internet, Mr Williamson said: ‘I believe there were no gas chambers and only up to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, instead of 6 million.’

‘I believe that the historical evidence is hugely against 6 million having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler,’ he said.

‘There was not one Jew killed by the gas chambers. It was all lies, lies, lies!’

What is B16 thinking? Can anyone help me out here? Better yet, can someone please help B16 realize how ridiculous this is? Not only is he infuriating Jews worldwide, he is setting a negative precedent for how he may interact with other religions.

Happy Hanukkah

Thomas Whitley

Hanukkah started this evening at sundown. (Actually, it didn’t. See Correction below)

The holiday’s origins are described in the apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees 4:52-59. This is the earliest account (late second century B.C.E.). I quote from the RSV:

52: Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-eighth year, 53: they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt offering which they had built. 54: At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals. 55: All the people fell on their faces and worshiped and blessed Heaven, who had prospered them. 56: So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and offered burnt offerings with gladness; they offered a sacrifice of deliverance and praise. 57: They decorated the front of the temple with golden crowns and small shields; they restored the gates and the chambers for the priests, and furnished them with doors. 58: There was very great gladness among the people, and the reproach of the Gentiles was removed. 59: Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with gladness and joy for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev.

There’s a somewhat later (first century B.C.E.) account in 2 Maccabees 10:1-8 (again, RSV):

1: Now Maccabeus and his followers, the Lord leading them on, recovered the temple and the city; 2: and they tore down the altars which had been built in the public square by the foreigners, and also destroyed the sacred precincts. 3: They purified the sanctuary, and made another altar of sacrifice; then, striking fire out of flint, they offered sacrifices, after a lapse of two years, and they burned incense and lighted lamps and set out the bread of the Presence. 4: And when they had done this, they fell prostrate and besought the Lord that they might never again fall into such misfortunes, but that, if they should ever sin, they might be disciplined by him with forbearance and not be handed over to blasphemous and barbarous nations. 5: It happened that on the same day on which the sanctuary had been profaned by the foreigners, the purification of the sanctuary took place, that is, on the twenty-fifth day of the same month, which was Chislev. 6: And they celebrated it for eight days with rejoicing, in the manner of the feast of booths, remembering how not long before, during the feast of booths, they had been wandering in the mountains and caves like wild animals. 7: Therefore bearing ivy-wreathed wands and beautiful branches and also fronds of palm, they offered hymns of thanksgiving to him who had given success to the purifying of his own holy place. 8: They decreed by public ordinance and vote that the whole nation of the Jews should observe these days every year.

The story about the lamp that didn’t run out of oil for eight days is found in the Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 2 (p. 34):

What is ‘Hanukah? The rabbis taught: “On the twenty-fifth day of Kislev ‘Hanukah commences and lasts eight days, on which lamenting (in commemoration of the dead) and fasting are prohibited. When the Hellenists entered the sanctuary, they defiled all the oil that was found there. When the government of the House of Asmoneans prevailed and conquered them, oil was sought (to feed the holy lamp in the sanctuary) and only one vial was found with the seal of the high priest intact. The vial contained sufficient oil for one day only, but a miracle occurred, and it fed the holy lamp eight days in succession. These eight days were the following year established as days of good cheer, on which psalms of praise and acknowledgment (of God’s wonders) were to be recited.

CORRECTION: Hanukkah starts at sundown on Dec. 21st. I was a bit premature. My apologies.