Wednesday, 27 February 2013

A Pharisee's letter of grave concern

From Rabbi Onkelos to my brethren of the Great Diaspora in the month of Tammuz; 18th year of the Common Era:

'Fellow rabbis of the avowed pact of Separation to God from all that is ungodly: 'As many of you are aware, the young Nazarene rabbi, Yeshu has completely lost his way. His insight, once a pleasure to behold, has become marred by His shameless self-promotion throughout Judaea. As if the Desert Baptiser's madness was not enough, this latest insanity has reached new heights. Our spies report that his itinerant rabble-rousing has won him a large following of the basest in society, all claiming the experience of his 'miracle' of instant forgiveness. He acts with little concern for rites of penitence and sacrifice, nor does he recognise our structures and processes since the 'Isaiah' incident at his local synagogue precipitated his expulsion from regular worship, study and discussion.

His unflattering comparisons of our present troubles with that tragic era of past errors were, to say the least, unhelpful: but to say further that somehow God would favour these benighted heathens over we who are Abraham's offspring was unforgivable. Yet, this was just one of so many wild and preposterous assertions.'

'He has taken it upon himself to conduct his 'mission' outside of the normative structures of our faith, even flouting the Sabbath rest that is enjoined upon all our people. Indeed, his actions are so contrary to the oral traditions passed from generation to generation from Moses himself that he even gorges food after a quick blessing, paying no attention to sacramental cleansing.

We must report our fears that he must harness the power to whip the crowds up into mindless frenzy from the Evil One. Could this not explain the strange charisma that he exerts upon the simple-minded and upon notorious reprobates alike? His effort to mix with those who have strayed away from God unforgivably (including those who have sold their birthrights to exact Rome's taxes) must be treated with extreme suspicion.'
'There are rumours that he claims that the Temple of Jerusalem will soon be no more . So, what next? Will he incite his followers to attack God's house as he did the Temple treasury exchange?

The discerning will recognise this as another attempt to seduce our nation into that pernicious blasphemy that is Mount Gerazim. This is what happens when our people hopelessly interbreed with Samaritans. He is one of them, for he even vaunted one as humane in his parables.

Our options for dealing with this crisis are severely limited. Israel may not survive divine judgement, if we connive any further at this insult. Perhaps, it is time to discuss our common concerns with the Sadducees. For all of their pomp and pretence, they are still our brothers.

Rabbi Onkelos