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A serious question
#1
Hi members:

I have thought long and hard how to ask the questions I would like to ask, while being careful to be very respectful of everyone's beliefs. 

I am a Christian, something that I believe I was always be. I also have a very keen interest in Jewish beliefs especially since Christianity has a Jewish foundation although I respect the fact that Jewish beliefs do not allow Jesus as the messiah. And I am sorry if at any time I do not use the right wording- as I may not be acquainted with specific terminology used here. 

As part of my beliefs, I have been re-reading the Hebrew Bible which we, as you probably know, we refer to as The Old Testament. I'm not saying this for any other purpose than to just state a fact.

What struck me as I made my way through Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus is the abundance of animal sacrifice and burnt offerings. With all due respect (and please understand that what I am about to ask, also causes an issue for Christianity as well), these practices struck me more as a man made thing than  of a God directed set of instructions/directions.

I know that may sound terrible to some,. and it sounds terrible to me as well, but this has troubled me.

I am wondering if anyone can explain how we can think of this issue. Do we just accept it as recounted. Is it wrong to wonder what that is all about and how a burnt offering aroma can be pleasing to the Lord?

Please understand, I am not raising this issue in any adverse form whatsoever. My beliefs are taking a bit of a hit, and I am just reaching out for wisdom or opinions. This is the first time I have had he courage to ask this and I ask it in all sincerity. .

Thank-you for your time, understanding and expertise.

WS
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#2
Welcome to the forum WisdomSeeker.

Just to let you know, the first 3 posts are moderated to keep out spam and bots.

As for your question, in true Jewish form, I'll answer with one myself.

What leads you to believe it is a "man-made' thing and not from G-d?

How do determine what are instructions given by G-d and which are by man?
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#3
Hi there and thank-you.

I grant you that there is no way to determine what are instructions given from God and which are not. In the spirit of honesty, and while battling my reservations about having these types of thoughts, there are just some indicators that seem to suggest man made. I'll give you a few examples:

a lot of butchering of animals
lot of emphasis on blood
graphic detail with respect to treatment of internal animal organs
A God that seems to be backing certain peoples against others
An angry God who at times, will even end the lives of innocent children
A rejection of human who have physical deformaties- maybe not an outright rejection, but a lowering of

and the list goes on.

Please understand that i have no need for my post to be published. I am not here for that. I just want to ask these questions of a counter part in Judaism- if I may even say that in the context of our two faiths.

By the way, my name is Charles. Pleasure to meet you.
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#4
Just another question. I noticed that you wrote G-d twice. Is the dash between G and d a particular practice that i ought to be aware of here?
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#5
(05-08-2019, 03:05 AM)WisdomSeeker wrote: Just another question. I noticed that you wrote G-d twice. Is the dash between G and d  a particular practice that i ought to be aware of here?

Many Jews do that for two reasons-reverence for G-d's name, and to prevent destruction of His name by erasure. Not all Jews do it, and it's fine not to do so here.
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#6
(05-08-2019, 02:25 AM)WisdomSeeker wrote: What struck me as I made my way through Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus is the abundance of animal sacrifice and burnt offerings. With all due respect (and please understand that what I am about to ask, also causes an issue for Christianity as well), these practices struck me more as a man made thing than of a God directed set of instructions/directions.


 Is it wrong to wonder what that is all about and how a burnt offering aroma can be pleasing to the Lord?

No, it is not wrong to ask such questions; Judaism encourages asking questions.

What is the purpose of sacrifices? It is to draw one closer to G-d. Sacrificing involves giving up prized possessions, either animal, monetary, or grain. I don't see man writing laws that would require him to make such financial sacrifices. I think they would have been written from the point of view of Cain (offer a mediocre sacrifice, or better yet don't offer anything at all)) instead of Abel (offer the best).  I don't think the actual aroma is pleasing to the L-rd. What pleases Him is man's willingness to sacrifice his best to give to G-d and in order to help others.
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#7
Hi- Thank-you for your replies. I plan to send you a reply later. I am just glancing at what you wrote and would prefer to write back a little later when I have the necessary time. I appreciate you taking the time, so I'd rather reply when I can do so thoughtfully.
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#8
Chavak:

Thank-you for your replies. I rather like the practice of using the word G-d. I'll try to incorporate that moving forward.

I buy your statement that it is the sacrifice that is pleasing to G-d, and not necessarily the form. However, on the unlikeliness that animal sacrifice would not have been man made because it would impose a financial penalty, what may work against that is that there are many examples where self inflicted punishments are part of humankind's nature- although not commonplace.

Some of my other issues are still hard to reconcile (siding with one set of people's against another up to and including the killing of innocent children, for example).

I guess what worries me, is our youth. Many go to colleges/universities where their beliefs may come under fire, or, at least be the target of criticism. Add to that the "new atheists" such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens, and it becomes complicated.

If I have these questions, as a person of faith, I worry about how those who may not be as grounded in faith or may be open to ideas, may fare- unless they are provided answers to the difficult questions that scripture sometimes raises.

To give you a small example: I am sure you know that Catholics believe that when the host is given, Jesus' body is actually in that host. Well, we were listening to a lecture about that and the person speaking went to great lengths to illustrate how G-d is all powerful, and cited many examples from the Hebrew Bible (I hope I am using the right term to refer to the Bible that Judiasm follows). He was doing so to argue that if G-d could do all that, why would we not accept that he could also transform the host into Jesus' body?

At the end of the session, a lady approached the lecturer and asked "Why can't women be Priests?" His response was "think about it. How can a woman be made into a male for the purposes of priesthood? " It was a cringe moment for me, as I thought it was a very poor response. It did not seem to impress the lady who asked either.

My point being is that people of faith need to be able to explain and defend the faith where needed, in a way that inspires those who are seeking or who may just be approaching a certain faith.

I hope I am making sense.

In any event, thanks Chavak for the dialogue.

Charles.

P.S. Are you a Rabbi?
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#9
(05-08-2019, 03:02 AM)WisdomSeeker wrote: Hi there and thank-you.

I grant you that there is no way to determine what are instructions given from God and which are not. In the spirit of honesty, and while battling my reservations about having these types of thoughts, there are just some indicators that seem to suggest man made. I'll give you a few examples:

a lot of butchering of animals
lot of emphasis on blood
graphic detail with respect to treatment of internal animal organs
A God that seems to be backing certain peoples against others
An angry God who at times, will even end the lives of innocent children
A rejection of human who have physical deformaties- maybe not an outright rejection, but a lowering of

and the list goes on.

Please understand that i have no need for my post to be published. I am not here for that. I just want to ask these questions of a counter part  in Judaism- if I may even say that in the context of our two faiths.

By the way, my name is Charles. Pleasure to meet you.

Charles,

Lots of great questions!

To put it bluntly, there really isn't an answer that we can understand as humans in this life.

To those who don't believe in G-d, there are problems understanding things as well.

Why does nature have animals needing to consume other animals to survive?

Why are there so many natural catastrophes such as hurricanes, tornado's, earthquakes, fires, tusnami's, lightning strikes and other things that take innocent lives?

So no matter whether one believes in G-d or not, there are things that happen all around us everyday that are not very pleasant and we don't necessarily know the reasons why.

One can speculate and there may be some good theories, but not all will be concrete answers.
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#10
I agree. I think there came a time when science held great promise. But perhaps people are circling back now and realizing that not everything can be explained through human capacity. Sometimes I think we're like people in a book, thinking that somehow we are bright enough to see the author of the book.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and G-d Bless you!

C
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