Saturday, March 15, 2008


Antelman writes from the perspective of an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi. As in Catholicism, the Orthodox Jews are rather far removed in belief from the liberal or progressive Jews of the Reform and Conservative movements. But unlike in Catholicism, no one single person speaks for Judaism. When there is excommunication, it is a group of rabbis who excommunicate through a Beth Din or Bet Din or Beis Din (a Hebrew house of judgment or Jewish court, roughly equivalent to Catholic Tribunals) convoked by that group of rabbis, not a central and universal authority. Here, for example, is the website of the American Beth Din

Wikipedia describes the forms of capital punishment administered by a Beth Din. The entry also states that at present these are not being used.

Several articles linked here also discuss corporal punishment in Judaism.

Antelman discusses the attempt to revive corporal punishment in the last section of his book. I was planning to address this when I came to that chapter, but challenges posted in the comments prompt me to do it now.

Antelman is a member of a Beth Din.

I have posted blogs in the past that cover my concern that the Noahide Law on Idolatry could be applied to Christians who worship Christ. The penalty for Idolatry is death.

I have no illusions that Rabbi Antelman is a defender of Christianity. He is not. His interest is wrapped up in defending Orthodox Judaism, and only Orthodox Judaism. The bias comes out clearly in the book. That bias is particularly revealed in this passage from Antelman's book:

The entire American movement today is based on the myth of [Solomon] Schechter's scholarship and their chain of Hebrew day schools is named for Schechter. So today "Sheker's" Sefer HaMitzvot edition stands out as the misrepresentation it is of a fraudulent anti-Judaic religion masquerading as a "branch" of Judaism. (p. 150)

Antelman identifies Schechter as a "Marxist Frankist boy-wonder disciple of Jellinek, Weiss and company, upon whom America's so-called "Jewish Conservative movement" was built. His admirers stated he was its 'chief architect'." (p. 143)

Be that as it may, sources that discuss Sabbatian Frankism are too numerous to dismiss. Scholem has written 1000 pages on his influence on Judaism. The so-called Donmeh are on the web. I think it would be an error to dismiss this strain of heretical Judaism as unimportant, and I am certainly not ready to believe that it has been manufactured as a kind of disinformation campaign.

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