Which Rabbi Do You Believe?
But I have another question, also from the Hebrew prophet Isaiah (“Yasha’yah Hanawbe”), Isaiah 52 and 53. He said, “Kullanu kasso tainu…” (Is. 53:6)
All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way;
In the Middle Ages, a rabbi from France called Rashi said that this was about the Jewish people suffering for the Gentile nations, of vicarious atonement. It wasn’t about the Messiah, it was a about the Jews themselves.
Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through…
…as in crucified…
…for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
The rabbis say this is about the suffering Jewish people since Rashi. What is it that the Targum Johannan and the ancient rabbis beforeRashi say it was about? The Messiah. Why did Rabbi Avraham Farisel say this looks like Jesus? Before Rashi they didn’t say that. This was included by Eliezer Ha Kalir in the synagogue liturgy for Yom Kippur. This one whom God would smite would become an atonement for sin – a “korban”, a human sacrifice.
Yet to this the rabbis object. Judaism says the “akada” is against human sacrifice; it was an abomination. Why would God have somebody sacrifice a human when He said it was evil? In the akada God told Abraham, “Don’t sacrifice your son”, and Christians would, of course, say it was because He was going to sacrifice His. The rabbis say human sacrifice is anti-Jewish. I agree that human sacrifice to other gods is demonic; however, the same Rashi who said this is about the Jewish people said it is a human sacrifice! He said it is a human sacrifice! He said it’s the Jews suffering vicariously for the Gentile nations. We can’t have it both ways.
Either Judaism does allow humans to suffer vicariously for the sins of others or it doesn't. Rashi and those who believe Jesus to be the Messiah agree it does. How can you say God does not allow you a human sacrifice for sin on behalf of someone else when the Jewish interpretation itself says it is?
The question is, who was suffering? Was it Israel or was it the Messiah? Well, Isaiah repeatedly castigated Israel for its sin; this servant of the Lord was innocent. He had done no wrong, Isaiah says. He’d done no wrong at all.
He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, for whom the stroke was due…”
The Gentiles were not God’s people at that time. He was cut off for the sake of Israel’s sin. He came to the Gentiles afterwards. How could it be Israel when Israel had sin? In a broad sense it resembles Israel, but this was a sinless servant. The question is not who was right, the Christians or Rashi, the question is who was right, Rashi or the earlier rabbis who said it was the Messiah. It is the Messiah. It’s not a question of who's right, the Christians or Rashi, it’s a question of which rabbi do you believe? That is my question.
How could it be the Jewish people primarily if they had sin? How could it be the Jewish people suffering for the sins of the Gentiles whenthey had sin? This was a sinless servant. And how can you say that God would not let one die for the sin of another when Judaism itself says the direct contrary?