A Rare, and Hidden, Talmudic Response to Christian Teachings

In many passages, the New Testament excoriates the Pharisees (a Second Temple-era Jewish sect) as “hypocrites,” a charge that numerous later Christian authors leveled against Jews, and that early Protestants like Martin Luther leveled against the Catholic Church. Shlomo Zuckier suggests that a talmudic anecdote in Tractate Sotah is intended as rebuttal against the accusation:

While the rabbis do not often betray a direct knowledge of Christian sources, and do not utilize the Greek word hypokritai, [this] talmudic passage seems to represent a rabbinic response to this New Testament trope; . . . it describes certain impious dissemblers as ts’vu’in, literally “colored” one of the terms that roughly stands in for the term “hypocrite.”

[The term] points to someone who in truth is a sinner, but who represents himself as a saint, and moreover seeks reward for his purported good deeds. The inconsistency between integral behavior and public comportment, the “painting over” of a sullied soul, as well as the focus on public recognition and honor, fit the Gospel writers’ description of the Pharisaic hypocrites.

This teaching in some ways validates the . . . Gospels’ critique, arguing that there are those who present themselves as righteous Pharisees but in truth are sinners. At the same time, however, this teaching asserts that those performative Jews are no true Pharisees, but are actually ts’vu’in, hypocrites dressing themselves up as righteous and hijacking the Pharisees’ deserved good reputation.

Read more at Coproduced Religions

More about: New Testament, Pharisees, Talmud

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy