Judaism has no concept of “becoming one” with God, such as is the dominating feature of Gnostic theology, and a goal of the eucharistic formulation. The Jew perceives the human creation as “of God” and so uses the term “likeness” (B’tzalmo) to express this reality. To be “of God” recognizes the relationship to humankind, and a natural inclination to nurture and protect His “Created.”
Metaphorically the use of parallels in relationship between humans, such as the parental model:God is our “Father” or “God gives us land for an inheritance” or, “We are God’s Bridal People” all serve to animate the sense of our “Of-ness” from the Source-of-being who has given us our existence.
But to be “of” God is not to be “the same” as God, or to be God.
The concept of communing with God in Christianity leads to the elite members of the “sanctified” community perceiving themselves as generally being more “in tune” with God than other members of their creed. Such a theological doctrine as that which elevates a “church” and its clergy to speak for God (in formal dicta, edicts, etc.) is the consequence of clerical-exaltation. Mostly it is experienced as the “Holy Spirit”–that Presence of God which they believe resides within them, a special anointing to their station witnessed by their “calling.”
One sees such evidence of this dogma in the tradition of the “confession” which empowers a priest to forgive a fellow human his/her sins, with the “father” (the priest) as one who is vouchsafed his authority from on high by God. The catastrophic cruelty resulting from self-anointed Divine authority has been beyond measure across the landscape of Christian history. From the Crusades to the Inquisition to Luther and our Ghetto-ization, to the pogroms and the Holocaust every pulpit has reverberated with a voice speaking evil of the Jews in the name of God. Once an individual believes he/she speaks for God any perceived enemy is a legitimate object of judgment, ranging from persecution to oppression, to genocide.
Judaism is not without risk of similarly mistaking “of-ness” from God, for “sameness” as the source of our being. But markedly less so. Mostly, the potential for crossing the line stems from two Biblical traditions: one, the hope/faith in a God-imbued leader, the messiah, to usher in an ideal era, free of torment. And, two, the Tanach (Hebrew Bible) which imputes at times of immense importance to the Jewish People, God’s intervention through personalized messages to individuals, instructing them to illuminate the correct path for the nation to follow.
This is not the place to provide a historical survey about where Jews invented the idea of a messiah. First, just what type of individual the messiah would be has changed from warrior to king, from mortal to immortal, to God’s anointed with the time-frame varying and the poetry of hope such a figure would arrive to “save” the Hebrews/Jews more prominent in periods of crisis than others. Naturally, to believe a man could have Divine power would potentially become a model for those wielding religious sway over followers to claim the same aura of divinity. Here, one may think of the famous “false messiah” figures. However, I am referring to the contemporary rebbis with their yeshiva followers brainwashed to think every word they are hearing is coming down from Mount Sinai.
The second cause of Jews mistaking “of-ness” for “sameness” is, as I note above, the personalized messages God conveys in our Bible to individuals, creating a false perception that people so-empowered can “speak for God.”
Such sanctified messages opens the door for those Jews inclined to such self-exaltation, if deeply engaged in national crises, to believe they are “in tune with what God thinks” and their words are an instruction to the People from God. (Of course, false prophets were an ancient problem.)
Today, we face a burgeoning of the ranks of influential Jews who have committed, what I proffer, is genuine helul ha-shem–defamation of God’s Covenant. They have adopted a new dogma describing themselves as “the same as God”: Not “of” God; not in His Likeness. Instead, they see themselves as those who have received “messages” concerning what God wants and thinks. These are the new Jewish false prophets.
As their number increases sufficiently to control the political landscape of oppressive rule by Israelis over Palestinians on the West Bank, we see the exile of Torah values happening in front of our eyes. A Prime Minister on trial. Thousands of Israelis marching in the streets to bring down a government of corruption. Arab citizens of Israel declared second-class. Orthodox Jews supporting Donald Trump despite the Capitol insurrection because their rebbi told them to, since he declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel.
One may, with due justification observe, that man’s usurpation of the Divine, in an attempt to claim the “Unknowable” heavenly realm as a personal kingdom, when done under the false exaltation that we are not “of” but the “same as” the Source of All Being, is brandishing a sword, not turning it into a plowshare.
My newly published book is the first academic challenge to the Gospel portrait of Jews as conspiring to kill or participating in the crucifixion of Jesus. It is called: “The Case Against the Gospels’ False Accusation of the Jews–Responsio Iudaeorum Nostrae Aetatis”