Thursday, June 19, 2008

Rabbis and Kosher-Catholic Priests in Pilpul

Pilpul, simply put, is a rabbinic dialectical process of "debate" or discussion by which a predetermined outcome is arrived at. It's the Pharisaic tradition which Jesus Christ condemned calling it a "tradition of men" which "makes void the word of God." Both the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds are filled with pilpul which in most cases is for the purpose of circumventing Biblical law. The article below tells of rabbis and kosher-Catholic priests engaged in pilul for the purpose of circumventing the Gospel which condemns the very act they are engaged in. See Mark 7;13 for Christ's condemnation and Mishnah tractate Nedarim for the pilpul through which the "corban" that Christ condemned in Mark 7;13 was synthesized. And note that Jesus did not only condemn the Pharisaic "corban" invention and ritual hand washing, but He said, "many other such like things you [Pharisees] do."

Believe me when I tell you, in this "Judeo-Christian dialogue"--what is in reality pilpul--the rabbis aren't interested in hearing the Gospel. They're interested in finding ways around the Gospel, like their Pharisaic ideological forefathers found ways around Old Testament law. They intend to make the Gospel of none effect.

... if there were a transcript of the proceedings it would read very much like a discussion in the Talmud.

Rabbis and Catholic priests in dialogue

By Mark L. Shook - St. Louis Post Dispatch

June 19, 2008

The Vatican has taken great pains to define and structure religious dialogues between faith communities. As recently as June 7, Pope Benedict II spoke to the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue of “the importance of truth being the goal of all dialogue and charity being the motivation behind all dialogue.” The content of the council’s meeting and the Pope’s statement seem to imply that religious dialogue is in need of guidelines to keep Catholic participants true to Church doctrine. But very few inter-faith dialogues deal with matters of deep theological import. Most are simply efforts to establish rapport and understanding.

Religious dialogues succeed or fail because of trust and respect. Achieving trust and respect takes time and dedication. Here is yet another example of a process which does not respond well to our need for instant gratification. Rabbis and priests in St. Louis have been in dialogue with each other for more than ten years. That dialogue would never have gotten off the ground had it not been for the personal bonds of friendship which existed between Father Vincent Heier, former Ecumenical officer of the St. Louis Archdiocese, and the late Rabbi Robert P. Jacobs, in his capacity as Executive Vice-president of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association. The two of them set out to create an atmosphere of dialogue which was faithful to the aspirations of the Vatican II process of reconciliation between Jews and Catholics.

We are still going strong. Every other month, a group of about twelve dialogue participants sit down to a kosher lunch provided by an anonymous donor, and over corned beef and turkey, hold a free-wheeling discussion. Sometimes the topics touch on clergy politics, i.e., “How do rabbis/priests get assigned to congregations? At other sessions, the news of the day may form the subject matter. For the most part the dialogue centers around an agreed upon topic with readings sent out in advance. Several sessions were devoted to a careful reading of Pope Benedict’s book, Jesus of Nazareth. Most recently the group studied fundamental documents of belief of the various expressions of Judaism, from Maimonides Thirteen Principles of Judaism to the latest platform of Reform Judaism. No question or comment is ever treated as off the subject. In fact, if there were a transcript of the proceedings it would read very much like a discussion in the Talmud.

Dialogue participants do not sugar-coat their questions or their responses. With the presence of Reform, Conservative and Orthodox rabbis, there is sometimes more intra-Jewish heat generated than heat between Jews and Catholics. Along the way there is significant learning and teaching which takes place. Our priests come to appreciate the wide range of Jewish responses to religious and moral questions of the day and our rabbis develop a more nuanced understanding of how the Church works in developing its teachings and public positions.

Just for the record, no one in these dialogues has converted anyone. Both sides remain true to their faith. What really takes place is a sorting out of real and imaginary differences. Not all or even most of the real differences can be bridged. The sages of Judaism believed that theological conflicts among rabbis were like sparks striking steel and resulted in illumination. I would include this image as a worthy description of true dialogues between persons of all faiths. For each participant there is a strengthening of faith.

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