Va-et’ chanan and Nostra Aetate

JPS Tanakh -Jewish Bible

Reading the Ten Commandments
In this week’s Torah portion
It gradually dawned on me
That the solution to the challenge
Of ‘indissolubility of marriage’
Is right here:

Do not commit adultery;

When Jesus declared
That there was to be no divorce
Amongst his followers
He was insisting on perfection;

He meant that there was to be no adultery

In thought
In word
In deed

For a basic assumption of Jesus’
Was that the law given by Moses
Was a concession to human weakness

And his disciples
Were to be strong
Resist all such ungodly weaknesses

Given that the Catholic Church
Has never denied the truth of the Ten Commandments
How did it get the laws on marriage
So terribly wrong?

For surely
Any interpretation of scripture
Must conform to these Ten Words;

And if the foundation of ethical living
States that adultery is forbidden
Then to insist that in practice it must by women be endured
Distorts it to the point of turning one’s back on it:

To equate ‘unconditional love’
With torture of a human being’s soul
Denying them their God-given dignity
Is weeping for correction;

The dogmatic insistence
That Catholics have to be true
To the spirit of what Jesus intended
And wanted

While in the process ignoring this self-correction
Strengthens arrogance
Not Truth

Contemptuous of life,
Particularly the life of women
Caught in nets of shadow patriarchal demands,
Cannot be what Jewish-Jesus intended

After all
The messianic age
Was his chief desire;

A time of peace and harmony

Freed from Roman yoke
Freed from hardness of heart,
Of men and of women,
For Jewish-Jesus was egalitarian

At least this was what I was taught

Besides, much is made of Mary his mother
Being the first amongst the apostles.
Or was it Mary Magdalene?

Between my writing yesterday
And this morning
I became aware
That to ask the pope to bless my reverting to Judaism

Looks large
And forbidding
Because of memory
Of bygone years

If I were to write to Pope Francis
In this regard
I would expect consent

For the church has made much progress
Since the Holocaust
To rectify its relationship with the Jewish people

Starting with Pope John XXIII
Who reformed the church
During the Second Vatican Council;

My favourite pope of all time
Pope John XXIII remains

For it was he who said
That it was time
To open the windows
And let a little fresh air in;

This is what I remember remembering
From what I was told
Yet what he intended and stated
Was to do so in order to allow the Spirit in…

The Vatican had become

So much so
That the Holy Spirit couldn’t get in;
Needed a reform
Which has come down to us in sixteen documents

Including Nostra Aetate
anti-Semitism was denounced
And a call to build bridges with people of all faiths
Went out

With a special place given to Judaism:
The faith of Jesus
The faith of the Apostles
The faith of his followers

Even of Paul…

All the popes since then
Have taken steps to build those bridges
To the extent that in 2015
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated:

“Fifty years after “Nostra Aetate”, the Jewish-Catholic dialogue is open, honest, and warm. The main challenge today is to spread the message of “Nostra Aetate” in Christian communities throughout the world.”

This is heartening
Yet it is not where I am at
For I come from a lineage
With a different set of experiences:

The experience of the forcibly converted

Specifically, the forcibly converted Jewish person
Escaping the torments
Inflicted on those who refused to deny the Oneness of God
And Jewish practices:

The mitzvot
The commandment-blessings
That transform the world from Godlessness
To Godliness;

From lawlessness
To just law

On my own behalf
And on behalf of my forebears,

(My Portuguese foremothers
To be specific,
For our forefathers
Imposed their conversion decisions upon them)

Have been particularly negatively impacted
By the loss of centuries of Sabbaths observing
And its laws keeping,

By the loss of kosher living;

And for me specifically,
The prohibition on adultery
And the right to divorce
When our feminine dignity was dismissed

By our husbands
By unholy father church
Became an additional burden

Led to the loss of the Ten Commandments correctly interpreting

As well as the loss of knowledge
Of the covenant made with our ancestors
As an eternal covenant
That has not been replaced by any other

For God was
And remains
The faithful partner in the Sinai Covenant…

The ‘New’ Covenant
Does not replace the ‘Old’ Covenant
For there is no such thing as New or Old Covenant;

There is only One Covenant

Signed and sealed
As a bond
Between Y-H-V-H
And my Jewish ancestors at Sinai

Binding me and all their descendants…

Which is not to say
That the Covenant was not extended outwards
To include Gentile converts;

Nor is it to say
That the world is without God
That the only way to God is via Judaism

For Judaism is the path to God for Jewish people only;

To each people God gave a gift
A talent
Or talents
To multiply for their own good

And the good of all

There is no need for conversion
To access the bounty of God
To be Godly

And no doubt the Catholic community,
When it has been true to Jewish-Jesus,
Has helped add a Jewish ethos to the world.

Is this not what the Church, when aligned with the Sinai Covenant, truly represents?

Yet until now, Noahides
New Jews pretending to be;
With authentic Jewishness hidden
As though being Jewish remains an unforgivable sin

As though Nostra Aetate was never written;

Yet this document requires a facelift
For the assumption even here
Is that the covenant at Sinai
Has been nullified

For the Jews
Whose ancestors had Jesus killed
Forfeited their position as God’s co-creative partners;

As Light to the Nations;

The wording of Nostra Aetate
Is carefully considered
Forbidding Catholic persecution of Jewish people from that date onwards

Whilst never denying the primacy of the Catholic Church;

It is the covenant with Abraham that connects Christianity to Judaism
Nostra Aetate implies;
Makes of the two faiths brothers;

It is the Sinai Covenant that still divides us…
This is where the arrogance lies
Where the lie persists;

It continues to be assumed
That the New Covenant
Has superseded the original God-the-Father
Given one

Through Moses

Based on this new understanding
All three monotheistic religions
Have equal right of claim to the Holy Land
Of Israel

At first glance this appears true;
I certainly thought so
Until a few weeks ago

Until by my Jewish ancestors I was corrected

Abraham was promised by God
That he would be the father of many nations;
Sarah’s children were given the land now called Israel-Palestine
Hagar’s children were given the lands that surround it

And Keturah’s children were sent east beyond both territories…

While Jews and Arabs
Have a direct biological link to Abraham
The same is not true of Gentile Christians

Their link is through Jesus
The Jew;
It is a spiritual link
A relationship based on adoption

This adoption
Was worked out by Paul the Benjaminite;
Not by Jesus the Judahite
Whose task he saw as uniting the descendants of Jacob

Starting with the Samaritans
Whom he saw as part of the Sinai Covenant –
Despite their refusal to make the annual pilgrimages
To the Temple in Jerusalem

It would seem then
That the time to clear the Covenant-identity confusion
Within the Catholic Church has arrived
If it is to include the Jewish souls in its midst:

The descendants of the Jewish disciples of St Paul?
The descendants of the forcibly converted?
The Jews who willing converted throughout the ages?

It might have to dig deep into its history
Deconstruct its theologies
Decide if it is Jewish-Jesus they wish to follow
Or St Paul

Or both
If this is possible

Which it might be
Once there is agreement about who is Jewish
And who Noahide

Separating the sheep from the goats;
A concept that always puzzled me

I seem to remember
That I thought it meant separating
The lovely gentle sheep from the ugly horny goats

Penning them in different kraals

Which might explain why
I now think it might just mean knowing your identity
Vis-à-vis the Jewish people:

The people of the Sinai Covenant

That’s all
Nothing more sinister than that
No need for fire and brimstone
And terror setting on the loose

Are you Jewish?
Or are you a Noahide?
If Christian you are.

Both are perfectly acceptable to Y-H-V-H

There is no judgement
There is no punishment
Just clarity as to what your ethical path entails…

(©Archaela 5780 Av 13/14)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *