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Friday, May 23, 2014

"The Return of the Kosher Pig" (Rabbi Itzhak Shapira)

TITLE: Return of the Kosher Pig
AUTHOR: Rabbi Itzhak Shapira
PUBLISHER: Clarksville, MD, Lederer Books, 2013, (334 pages).

The title is provocative, even offensive to some. The idea is intriguing at best, but also controversial especially to Judaism. The book is food for thought on many levels. In a passionate plea for Jews to consider Yeshua as the Messiah, Rabbi Itzhak Shapira brings together the concepts of kosher and unkosher, clean and unclean, and applies the understanding to the Person of Yeshua, or Jesus as the Messiah. For centuries, Jews have accused both Christians and Messianic Jews as unkosher, unclean, and to be put together under the same category as pigs. The author knows the negative sentiments firsthand, as he himself was once so paranoid about pig and pork, that any other meat placed next to pork, he would not even touch.

His main focus in this book is to build bridges between Jews and Gentiles; Jews in general and the Messianic Jews. How successful he is will be arguable but the intent is honourable. He begins with the Jewish historical and cultural understanding of Jesus, which many Jews brand Jesus as "Yeshu" which is an acronym for "may his name be blotted out." In Jesus, Jews will readily consider him the greatest of all uncleanness. It is all because of an incorrect interpretation of the Old Testament Scriptures in the first place. Incorrect interpretation had shaped the understanding of Jesus. Shapira gives a list of false Jewish prophets who then misjudged Jesus. He points out the legitimacy of Jews who accepted Jesus as Divine Messiah. He highlights primary Jewish sources like the mitzvot, the Brit HaChadasha, and the development of the Rabbinic Literature. He relates the secondary literature such as the Talmud, the Targums, and others that influence the Jewish understanding of Jesus. He builds a bridge between Messianic Jews and other Jews saying that they hold in high regard as well, people such as Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki, Abraham Ibn Ezra, Rabbi David Kimhi, Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon, Rabbi David Altshuler, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, and others.

The phrase "kosher pig" has more to do with the interpretative framework. Eventually, pigs will be kosher. At the end, the most unkosher and "offensive" person in Jewish mind, will be made kosher and clean in the minds of people. That is why the return is anticipated and this return understood in the person of Jesus as the Divine Messiah, the very person that many Jews had rejected in the first place. The author digs deep into Jewish literature. He argues for the case of God being One. He affirms that Jesus is the One having Full Authority as God in Heaven.  Quoting Scripture extensively, he argues that there is no contradiction of Jesus claims to be Divine. The Son of God is "Yeshua" (Mishlei 30:4).

Shapira continues with evidence provided through case studies, that Judaism anticipates a Divine Messiah. Slowly, he brings in New Testament evidence too, that God is Creator, Redeemer, Messiah, and Divine. It is densely populated with Jewish commentaries, teachings of top Rabbis, interpretations, contextual analysis, and other Jewish evidence that urges readers to consider again that Jesus is not to be blotted out as many insist on. Finally, Shapira concludes with a plea for the people of Israel not to form conclusions based on faulty interpretations in the past. Weigh the evidence carefully. See how Moses and the prophets spoke of the Messiah beautifully. For the "pig" will return to Israel, and when that happens, do not case him out again. This pig is not an unclean creature. It is a symbol of reconciliation between God and man. Let truth shine forth. Let no prejudice blindfold us.

Boldly written, this book is filled with Jewish literature that argues the salvation of man is through Judaism, in particular the person of the Divine Messiah, Yeshua. He is Redeemer and comes with the full authority of God. The casual reader may be overwhelmed by the piles of Jewish documents and references. Those familiar with Judaism and the principles of Jewish interpretation will be tempted to read the arguments. While primarily written for Jewish minds and ears, Christians who are not familiar with Judaism may find this book a little hard to read or understand. The main point is that, it is an apologetic, a plea for Jews to re-consider the path of grace, to move from seeing Jesus as "Yeshu" to see Jesus as "Yeshua," the Divine Messiah.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Lederer Messianic Publications and Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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