Judaism is primarily an orthopractic religion, meaning that uniformity of behavior is more highly valued than uniformity of belief (orthodoxy). For this reason, Tzaddik Media (formerly NHNS) did not have an official, public "statement of faith" for many years. To us, beliefs are of secondary importance. Nonetheless, many people have requested a statement of faith - many of whom are interested in our unique perspective of the New Testament, Judaism, and Jewish-Christian relations. You will find a brief summary of our beliefs on various topics below.
Who am I?
My name is Jonathan Weideman. I am an Orthodox Jew with some Chasidic/ Haredi tendencies (e.g. modest dress, strict adherence to kosher laws, and dislike for modern American culture, television, music, etc.). In 2017, I received private semicha (rabbinical ordination) from my rabbi (who is a Chasidic Sephardi rabbi). I have been a long-time student of history, physics, renewable energy, business and economics, philosophy, 19th and 20th century political philosophy, religion, and the interaction of religions throughout history. I am particularly intrigued by the figure of Yeshua (Jesus). I approach the New Testament (NT) from an Orthodox Jewish perspective.
After reading the NT and studying it for many years, and studying history, I came to realize that much of the conflict between Judaism and Christianity is actually artificial. In short, it is all a big misunderstanding that can be remedied through proper education. While this is not to say that I believe that Christianity is without error, I do recognize that a person can be both an observant Jew and a follower of Yeshua. I fully recognize Yeshua as a Jew, a Jewish rabbi, and an incredibly righteous individual. Rabbi Jacob Emden, a prominent Talmudic scholar in the 1700s, once remarked that Yeshua had brought a "double blessing" to mankind by teaches the Torah to Jews and teachings Jewish ethics and spirituality to the Gentiles. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, whom I revere, taught that there is a tzaddik (incredibly righteous man) whose teachings were hijacked y the Gentiles and corrupted over time. This figure, I believe, refers to Yeshua and he is described by Rebbe Nachman the same way by Rav Jacob Emden.
Rebbe Nachman taught that it is the duty of every Jew to rectify the tarnished reputation of this tzaddik and restore his name. Therefore, following the dictate of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, I have dedicated this website and my life's work to rectifying the misunderstanding between Judaism and Christianity, and rectifying the tarnished reputation of the forgotten tzaddik - Yeshua of Nazareth. Thus: Tzaddik Media.
In accordance with traditional Jewish beliefs, we cannot accept the Greco-Roman concept of the Trinity. Additionally, we reject all claims of divinity about Yeshua (Jesus). We understand that there is one, single, unique, infinite God whom both Jews and Christian call "Father." We recognize Yeshua as a unique son of God yet, nonetheless, understand that all humans are children of God. "Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother?" (Malachi 2:10, JPS). "Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live" (1 Corinthians 8:6, NIV). It is our belief that Yeshua was a mortal human being who did not possess any level or amount of divinity or divine nature. In short, Yeshua is not God.
Who is Yeshua?
As Orthodox Jews, we are instructed by our holy sages of blessed memory to "earnestly await" the coming of Moshiach tzidkeinu. The person who believes that Yeshua is Moshiach ben Dovid fulfills this requirement when he/ she earnestly awaits the coming of Yeshua as Moshiach. In fact, the Talmud remarks on the possibility of Moshiach ben Dovid's resurrection by stating "If he is from among the living, his name is Dovid. If he is from among the dead, his name is Dovid" (see source). Because the matter of the personal identity of Moshiach is not a legal matter (in other words, it is not something which halacha comments on), the topi falls under the category of "belief" and therefore a person is free to believe what they like. This includes believing that virtually anyone is Moshiach. In fact, many Jews today and throughout history have believed that their own rabbinic leaders are Moshiach (see source) and they are never condemned for possessing such beliefs. Ultimately, the entire world will discover who the true Moshiach is (whoever he is) and we will no longer argue with one another. According to certain statements made throughout Jewish literature, especially Chasidic Jewish literature, it is not impossible for Yeshua to be considered Moshiach. In fact, some would argue that there is a good case to be made. However, until Moshiach's coming, I abstain from definitely taking a position on the subject.
The Torah Covenant and Conversion
The God of Israel made a unique and eternal covenant with the Israelites (Jewish nation) at Mt. Sinai wherein the Jews are to obey His Torah. No part of the Torah has ever been changed, nullified, abolished, or in any other way modified from what God has given. Every mitzvah (commandment) in the Torah is valid, binding, and in effect from the moment it was given until today (and beyond). This includes hilchos korbanos, the laws of sacrifices, which the disciples continued observing many decades after the death, resurrection, and ascension of the Yeshua (cf. Acts 21). This unique covenant of Torah which God gave to the Jewish people (Israelites) is necessary to be observed by Jews in order to have a place in the World to Come. This is essentially equivalent to the Christian idea of "salvation." Thus, Jews must obey the Torah in ordered to be "saved."
Because of the unique status of the Jewish people, I must now address two popular doctrines that are making their rounds in the Messianic and Hebrew Roots worlds: the "Two House" movement and "One Law" belief. There is a belief among many today that the Southern Kingdom of Judah is represented by the modern Jewish people today and the Northern Kingdom of Israel is represented by "Torah-observant Christians" today (this latter group includes Messianics and Hebrew Rooters). This belief is very misguided and potentially dangerous. In essence, it it nothing new. It is merely a rehashing of a very ancient Roman Catholic belief that the Church is the "true Israel" and Protestant Reformer John Calvin's belief that the Church is the true "spiritual Israel."
When Messianic and Hebrew Rooters associate the Northern Kingdom with themselves and identify with it - contrary to well-documented history and genetic testing results - they are, in essence, re-asserting this old, misguided belief that the Church can somehow be called "Israel." There have been various justifications fort this belief made by many Christian denominations throughout the centuries. Nonetheless, no matter how often or loudly this belief is spouted, it will never be true. We do not believe that Christians of any variety (including Messianics and Hebrew Rooters) are descended from the Ten Lost Tribes, the Northern Kingdom, or are in any way Ephraimites. Doctrine does not have any connection with ancestry. While we do believe that these Christian movements are perhaps prophetic in nature to some degree (cf. Zechariah 8:23), we completely reject the idea that these fringe Christian groups are long lost Israelites.
Because of this, and because the Torah was given to the Jewish nation alone, we do not teach that non-Jews are required to keep the entire Torah. It is our opinion that non-Jews should obey the entire Torah, and that non-Jews would benefit from observing the entire Torah, but we do not mandate that non-Jews observe the Torah in its entirety. This is in accordance with mainstream Jewish theology and in accordance with Yakov ha'Tzaddik's (James') ruling in Acts 15. However, some prominent rabbinical authorities are beginning to teach that the Jewish nation should teach the entire world the Torah, namely the non-Jews, and that the entire world should come under the blessings and influence of the Torah. See Rav Yitzchak Ginsburgh's article for more information.
While we firmly maintain that non-Jews are not required to obey the entire Torah, we do happily encourage them to study the entire Torah (in both its written and oral aspects) and apply as much as they are comfortable with. Application of Torah laws must cot cause strife and division within a family, however. Preservation of one's family is of extreme importance and must not be compromised. Nonetheless, if an individual or family desires to convert to Orthodox Judaism and strengthen their relationship to God, God's Torah, and God's people (the Jewish nation), we support such a decision. In fact, it can be said that we encourage such a decision.
Contrary to popular belief, a person is not required to reject Yeshua as the Messiah in order to convert to Orthodox Judaism. Additionally, nothing Yeshua taught contradicts what modern or historical Orthodox Judaism teaches regarding Torah. However, the Orthodox rabbinical establishment is hesitant to admit Yeshua-followers into the fold due to legitimate historical concerns. As a result, many have found it difficult to finalize their gerus (conversion). Therefore, in association with Benai Avraham and Neveh Ohr, we at Tzaddik Media are working to solve this problem. As Orthodox Jews who follow Yeshua as the Messiah, we are willing to work with individuals and families who sincerely desire to convert to Orthodox Judaism without leaving their belief in Yeshua as the Messiah.In accordance with halacha (Jewish law), we have converted dozens of people and brought them into the Jewish nation. And while our conversions are not recognized by the RCA (Rabbinical Council of America) or the RCC (Rabbinical Council of Canada), and therefore a person is unable to making aliyah to Israel - a person nonetheless becomes a full-fledged Jew in the eyes of God. To learn more about conversion to Judaism, please email me at email@example.com.
The Land of Israel
In accordance with God's promise to Abraham, we recognize the indispensability of Eretz Yisroel (the Land of Israel) to the Jewish nation. We also recognize that some mitzvos (commandments) can only be fulfilled within the geographical boundaries of Eretz Yisroel. Therefore, Tzaddik Media takes a strongly Zionist position and opposes all efforts to establish an Arab-Palestinian state within the borders of the State of Israel. We believe that the re-establishment of the State of Israel is fulfillment of biblical prophecy despite the state's less-than-favorable origins. We believe that God is using the modern State of Israel to bring about good in the world and draw all of humanity closer, especially the Jewish people, to the geulah - final redemption. Just as the Rambam instructs us to earnestly await the coming of Moshiach, we earnestly await the rebuilding of the entire Land of Israel and the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash (the Holy Temple) on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. We fully support the dismantling of the Mosque of Omar and the Dome of the Rock which currently occupy the Temple Mount. Tzaddik Media has a Religious Zionist (Chardal) perspective.
The New Testament
Many well-meaning Christians, Messianics, and Hebrew Rooters regard the New Testament as the authoritative, divinely-inspired, infallible "word of God." While Jews do generally regard the Tanach in this way, we cannot regard the New Testament as such. This is for a few reasons:
1) Sealed Canon: The rabbis sealed the canon of Scripture and prohibited additional books from being added. While Jews use and consult many other books outside of the Bible, we do not consider these books to be "biblical" or part of the biblical canon. The Church went too far in adding its own texts to the Bible (Tanach), especially without proper authority or approval from the rabbinic establishment.
2) Suspicious Transmission: The manuscripts of the New Testament were in the hands of heretics and pagans and therefore suspect. While we do not assume that they are corrupted, we also cannot assume that they are in their original, pristine, uncorrupted forms. It is true that the New Testament was canonized by the Church in the mid-to-late 300s CE, beginning with Constantine at the Council of Constantinople (325 CE). No Jews (not even Jewish followers of Yeshua) were invited to the various Ecumenical Church Councils which decided the canon of the New Testament and therefore only Greeks and Romans - who were ignorant of Judaism, the Bible, and true spirituality - decided by democratic vote which books would be included in the New Testament and which would not. They also decide which manuscripts of the New Testament would be considered the "true" manuscripts (since there are many manuscripts which differ from each other). Christians often defend this process of canonization as "God moving through fallible men to ensure the transmission of scripture" but this is never supported by a teaching from the Bible, a teaching from the books of the New Testament themselves, or by any Jewish concept. The idea that the Church Fathers faithfully transmitted the texts of the New Testament faithfully, without bias, and without corruption or error is completely wrong.
3) Minor Errors and Inconsistencies: It is unfortunate that there exist within the New Testament minor errors and inconsistencies. For example, Stephen says that the Patriarchs are buried in Shechem when, in reality, they were buried in Hebron. While this can certainly (and legitimately) be dismissed as the personal error of Stephen and only recorded for historical purposes, many Christians trust the error of Stephen rather than the original account given in Genesis. This is very problematic for obvious reasons. Additionally, there are some inconsistencies. There is sometimes disagreement about where Yeshua delivered a particular sermon (a mountain or a field?) or about what the context was of an argument with the Pharisees (in public or in a home?). These inconsistencies are especially visible in the Gospel of Luke. Additionally, there is no historical support for Luke's claim regarding the Roman census in his early chapters - and the Romans are renown for being good record-keepers, so it is incredibly unlikely that such an empire-wide event occurred without any documentation whatsoever. There is also the case of the virgin birth mentioned in Matthew and repeated in Luke. The earliest followers of Yeshua (called Ebionites, and Nazarenes) rejected the virgin yet they, nonetheless, used a version of Matthew. This means that their version of Matthew (which is surely more authentic than the version currently possessed by the Church) was the original and did not contain any story about a supposed virgin birth. These are just some of the errors and inconsistencies of the Greek New Testament. Fortunately, none of these affect the core teachings of Yeshua.