November 11, 2009

In Uncle Caiaphas' Eyes

2009 1531 page16 capEAR JUDITH:

Sorry for not writing in so long. As high priest and spiritual leader of the remnant, I do have many responsibilities. Between dealing with the Romans, who’ve become incorrigible of late, and with Am Yisrael (always incorrigible), I’ve been lax in my familial duties, especially in writing to my only brother’s youngest child (and my favorite niece).
Perhaps you’ve heard of the strange happenings in Jerusalem with that Y’shua. I know now, more than ever, the meaning of the statement “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” I can’t begin to express the heartache we leaders have faced ever since he first crawled out of that carpenter’s shop about three and a half years ago. The nuisance he caused came to a feverish pitch a few weeks back, but—with the exception of some stragglers who, I pray, will vanish—the matter is, I think, finally settled. Praise be to God!
I don’t know all that you’ve heard; the rumors have been echoing louder than the shofarim during Rosh Hashanah. People have said, “But he was such a good man! He did so much good! And the miracles! What about the miracles?”
2009 1531 page16Miracles, schmiracles. I, for one, never saw any of these “miracles” myself. And even if ?he did perform some—so what? We know from the book of Shemot that the magicians ?in Egypt performed miracles as well, and the sages tell us they were from Beelzebub, the chief of demons. So couldn’t these so-called “miracles” of that uneducated Nazarene plebe have been from the same source?
Judith, ever since the release from Babylon centuries ago our fathers gave us strict rules, traditions, on how to keep the Shabbat holy, lest we violate its sacred precepts and go back ?into captivity. And this man, this Y’shua, even if he did miracles, he did them on the Shabbat, which is strictly forbidden. In one case, he even told a man to carry his bed—on the seventh day! In all sincerity I ask: how could a man from God so openly and brazenly violate such a pillar?
But, my child, forget the things he did, or supposedly did (eyewitnesses can be very unreliable). Listen to what he said. Talking about the Temple being torn down and he, himself, raising it? What kind of nonsense is that? Even worse, he declared before many witnesses: “Before Abraham was”—my hand shakes as I write it—“I am.” How dare any man ever speak about himself in such a manner?
Then, the Lord be my witness, standing right before me and other priests, he had the audacity to claim he was, indeed, Mashiach Ben-HaM’vorakh! If that is not worthy of death, what is? Before our Lord and Maker, I ask—what choice did we have?
People have said, “But he was such a kind man.” “He was such a loving and caring man.” Maybe he was, but that made him all the more dangerous. I admit that, for a few moments, as he stood before me, even I felt drawn to him, as if I were in the presence of holiness itself. And if I, I! the High Priest, could feel that way—what about the masses of our Hebrew people? If we rulers hadn’t stopped him, I’m sure all Israel would have followed this deceiver. Imagine how well that would have gone over with Pilate and his brutes.
It’s never easy turning one of our own over to the Romans. But leadership is never easy, and so before the God of our fathers I took my stand in defense of the traditions and teachings of the holy prophets and Moses. I could do nothing else.
At this point, my dear Judith, despite the ridiculous rumor about him being resurrected from the tomb—which is causing a bit of a stir now—I expect that the Nazarene and his few remaining followers will fade into the dustbin of history. I predict that they will all be gone and forgotten, Lord willing, by no later than Pentecost.
Your loving uncle,
Clifford Goldstein is editor of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide. This article was published November 12, 2009.