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Rabbi Arthur Segal’s love of people, humanity, and Judaism has him sharing with others “The Wisdom of the Ages” that has been passed on to him. His writings for modern Jews offer Spiritual, Ethical, and eco-Judaic lessons in plain English and with relevance to contemporary lifestyles. He is the author of countless articles, editorials, letters, and blog posts, and he has recently published two books:

The Handbook to Jewish Spiritual Renewal: A Path of Transformation for the Modern Jew


A Spiritual and Ethical Compendium to the Torah and Talmud

You can learn more about these books at:

Friday, September 5, 2008


In our Passover seders, which I hope we make sure our friends of various faith communities attend besides just our Jewish friends and family, we continually read about rabbi Gamliel. In all of the seders I have had or have been to, with many ministers invited or in attendance, not one, ever mentioned how Gamliel kept the new sect of Paulistic followers of Rabbi Y'shua, which turned into what we call today Christianity, nor how he is mentioned in the Christian bible.
One Passover at my rabbi's home he graciously allowed me to give a d'var, if you will, on this topic.

Peter, ne`  Shimion, and his Jewish supporters, all Talmudim of Rabbi Y'shua ben Yosef,  are about to be condemned by the Sanhedrin as apikoret, apostates.

''A certain Pharisee, (Talmudic rabbi)  Gamliel by name, a teacher of the law (Torah, usually mistranslated in the Christian Bible) esteemed by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered these men out of the court for a short time. He said to them, "Fellow Israelites, be careful about what you are going to do to these men…Keep your distance from these men and let them be. For if this scheme or this undertaking is of human design, it will destroy itself. But if it is of God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God. They were won over by him. (Acts 5:34-39)''

Rabbi Gamliel was a Talmudic Teacher of Rabbi Saul, aka Paul (see Tractate Shabbat 30B's characterization of Saul-Paul as a student; "impudence in learning,"),  and of Rabbi Simon- Peter.( Shimion-Cephas ). As we know from Tractate Sanhedrin, a death sentence, cannot be carried out unless all 70 judges are unanimous , and sleep on the verdict over night, and if God speaks to just one of them, to be  merciful, and he announces such the next day, the death sentence is commuted. We also know that the rabbis were quite lax to carry out a death sentence, stating that any court that does such once in 7 years, or even once in 70 years, is a ''bloody court.'' In circa 35 C.E., they did away with the death penalty, allowing ''God Himself'' to carry it out.

Well, historically from Flavius Josephus, Roman-Jewish historian, albeit somewhat inaccurate, we know that Gamliel saved Peter's life as being an Apostate, by following the Sanhedrin's very rules. And Peter of course is said to be the first Pope. His name was Shimion, aka Simon, but Y'shua called him the Rock, Cephas in Aramaic, Petras in Greek, and Peter in English. And he is the ''rock'' which the Church's foundation  was laid.
The records of the Catholic church actually record that Gamliel was an Ebionite, and a Jewish follower of Y'shua, but did not believe in his divinity, which of course made Ebionites aka Evionim in Evrit, still Jews, but eventually all apostates to the Church by the time of the Nicean creed and Constantine. Many Evionim exist today. But I digress.
Sometime after the death of Constantine One,  the Eastern Roman Catholic soldiers, dug up Rabbi Gamliel's bones in Jerusalem, (relics were a big thing in Catholic churches back then, with churches competing with ''who had the skull of James'', or ''who had the finger of John''), and years later, eventually  buried him, with full Catholic ceremony and honors. And guess where? At the baptistery at Pisa, right next to the Leaning Tower, and after you buy your souvenirs of the Tower,   you can go inside and see the only Rabbi to be buried inside  a Catholic church's crypt.
Up to 1956, Rabbi Gamliel was a Christian Saint, but Jewish lobbyists got him ''demoted'' back to Rabbinic status and head of the Sanhedrin and a great sage.
"At Jerusalem, the finding of the body of blessed Stephen, protomartyr, and of the Saints Gamaliel, Nicodemus, and Abibo, through a divine revelation made to the priest Lucian, in the time of Emperor Honorius."
"Hierosólymis Invéntio beatíssimi Stéphani Protomártyris, et sanctórum Gamaliélis, Nicodémi et Abibónis, sicut Luciáno Presbytero divínitus revelátum est, Honórii Príncipis témpore." (393-423 CE ).(from the Catholic Church's archives. )
The whole thing is ironic as it was Gamliel  who decreed  in the Talmud that we Jews should be buried in white linen with no pockets, in a plain pine box, as all Jews are equal in God's eyes, especially when we die.  (Talmud Bavli Tractate Gittin 27B)
While this passage in Acts may be a conflation, conflations are everywhere in the Tanach and the Christian bible. At least something nice was said about a Jew on this page.
As mentioned above, as  we need to remember, Jews who read the Christian bible 1700 years ago, or at least heard the old tales before they were written, 1900 years ago,  knew of Hebraic as well as Talmudic law. Most Christians theologians did as well. A modern average Christian is clueless to Hebraic and Talmudic law when reading the texts and this has lead to some awful conclusions about Jews, whose rabbis, via the Talmud, changed our religion from a cult involving priests and animal sacrifices to one involving prayer and mitzvoth. Frankly, so are many Jews today, who are mired in Hebrewism, lost from Judaism as taught in the Talmud, and need Jewish Renewal, and Jewish Spiritual Renewal, to understand.
 Gamliel, via God  talking to him that night, (and this doesn't need to be mentioned as it is understood to those of the time), let Peter and others live, and hence, allowed the Church to be born. Christian Scriptures portray this  leading sage in such a positive light  because they claim Gamliel became a follower of Paul. Its inclusion helps to form a bridge between what the Christians consider the Old outdated covenant and their New one. If a well known Talmudic scholar and rabbi from a prestigious family line, from Hillel and hence King David, can accept the new "emet,'' [truth] then so could all Jews.   
When the council of Nicaea, circa 325 CE with Constantine as its head decided what books to place in or out, and in what order, Gamliel's act, is central in justifying the Pope and the Catholic church, as being Universal and Correct.
This is not unusual, as our rabbis, made sure that they gave themselves authority, to make what we call today Talmudic law, by saying that God gave it all to Moses, who passed it to Joshua, who passed it to the Elders, who passed it Prophets, who passed it to the Great Assembly. And note that Moses' own brother, the High Priest Aaron, was not taught any of the ''oral law'',  and neither were any Kings, not even David or Solomon! (Judaism and their rabbis were setting the stage to supplant the priests and move forward).
So, just as our Rabbis lobbied in Yavnah to keep the books of the Maccabees out because they had animus to the Hasmoneans, who made a real mess of things and actually invited the Romans into Judea to help them rule, Constantine had every reason to lobby the Gamliel story in, (and as well the books of the Maccabees).
As a transdenominational Rabbi, working with Jewish renewal and Jewish Spiritual Renewal, I understand our sages understood that Judaism is pluralistic. While we believe we have the path to God for Jews, we also teach in the Talmud, that God has had theophany with others Prophets in other religions and given them different paths to Him.
 I am one of these transdenominational Rabbis that looks at the Christian bible in many parts as cliff notes to our Talmud and Torah, except no one is  giving credit to the sages who originally quoted as rabbis are supposed to do. (E.g: In teaching, a rabbi respectful of his teachers, would say: ''Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No, as Rabbi Abaye taught." ( Matthew 5:34-37)). The Torah teaches us this more than 100 times over by repeating, ''V'YeDabar Adonai al Moshe L'Amor...God spoke to Moses, saying:'' We see this over and over in the Talmud, when a rabbi teaches : ''Rabbi Dostai ben Yannai said in the name of Rabbi Meir.''
So while they are not mentioned by name, our Talmudic sages are mentioned by their words. So I have no problem seeing Rabbi Gamliel mentioned in Acts, or frankly Rabbi Y'shua, Rabbi Saul, and the whole rest of Jewish folk whose names are mentioned, but in a non-Evrit manner. (Mary for Miriam, for example). 
Note that the Traditionally the Oral Law, the Talmud {Mishna and its Gemora} , is as old as the Written Law, the Torah, 1300 B.C.E, but in reality, was begun circa 586 B.C.E. in Babylonian captivity. It predates the time of Rabbi Y'shua and his Talmudim by circa 600 years.
Some of the name examples of the Christian bible as a cliff note for the Talmud are:
Mark 2:27: The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
Talmud: Yoma 85b: Rabbi Jonathan ben Joseph said: For it is holy unto you; I.e., it [the Sabbath] is committed to your hands, not you to its hands.
Matthew 25:45: Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, In as much as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
Tosefta Sh'vuot, ch. 3 :One who betrays his fellow, it is as if he has betrayed God.
Matthew 5:21-22: Insulting someone is like murder.
Talmud: Bava Mezia 58b: He who publicly shames his neighbor   is as though he shed blood.

Matthew 5:28: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Kallah, Ch. 1: One who gazes lustfully upon the small finger of a married woman, it is as if he has committed adultery with her.


Matthew 5:45: That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Talmud Taanit 7a : Rabbi Abbahu said: The day when rain fails is greater than [the day of] the Revival of the Dead, for the Revival of the Dead is for the righteous only whereas rain is both for the righteous and for the wicked


Matthew 6:1: Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 

Talmud Beracoth 17b: In the case of the recital of the Shema', since everybody else recites, and he also recites, it does not look like showing off on his part; but in the case of the month of Av, since everybody else does work and he does no work, it looks like showing off.


Matthew 6:3:  But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.

Talmud Bava Batra 10a - 10b: What kind of charity  is that which delivers a man from an unnatural death? When a man gives without knowing to whom he gives. and the beggar receives without knowing from whom he receives. 


But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.- Matthew 6:7

If one draws out his prayer and expects therefore its fulfillment, he will in the end suffer vexation of heart, as it says, Hope deferred maketh the heart sick. - Talmud Berachot 55a


Do not worry about where your food will come from tomorrow, or your drink. - Matthew 6:25-31

Rabbi Eliezer the Great declares: Whoever has a piece of bread in his basket and Says. 'What shall I eat  tomorrow?' belongs only to them who are little in faith . - Talmud Sotah 48b


Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. - Matthew 6:34

A parable: [They were] like a man who was kept in prison and people told him: Tomorrow, they will release you from the prison and give you plenty of money. And he answered them: I pray of you, let me go free today and I shall ask nothing more! - Talmud Berachot 9b

 Talmud Beracoth 9b - Each day has enough of its own troubles.


Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No. - Matthew 5:34-37

A righteous yes is a Yes; a righteous no is No. - Talmud Bava Batra 49b

Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. --R. Abaye, Talmud Baba Metzia 49a


At that time Y'shua answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. - Matthew 11:25

Rabbi Johanan said: Since the Temple was destroyed, prophecy has been taken from prophets and given to fools and children. - Talmud Bava Batra 12b


And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. - Matthew 5:29-30

Come and hear what was taught: Rabbi Tarfon said, 'If his hand touched the membrum  let his hand be cut off upon his belly'. 'But', they said to him, 'would not his belly be split'? 'It is preferable', he replied, 'that his belly shall be split rather than that he should go down into the pit of destruction'. - Talmud Niddah 13b


But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Mashiach ; and all ye are brethren. - Matthew 23:8

Shemaiah used to say: love work, hate acting the superior, and do not bring thyself to the knowledge of the ruling authority. - Mishnah: Avot 1:10


Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. - Matthew 24:44

Even as R. Zera, who, whenever he chanced upon scholars engaged thereon [I.e., in calculating the time of the Mashiach's  coming], would say to them: I beg of you, do not postpone it, for it has been taught: Three come unawares: Mashiach, a found article and a scorpion. - Talmud Sanhedrin 97a


Y'shua taught in a parable that they can please the king (God) by pleasing one another. - Matthew 25:40

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. - Matthew 25:40

Rabbi Simeon said: if three have eaten at one table and have not spoken thereat words of torah, [it is] as if they had eaten sacrifices [offered] to the dead, for [of such persons] it is said, for all tables are full of filthy vomit, [they are] without the All-Present. But, if three have eaten at one table, and have spoken the words of torah, [it is] as if they had eaten at the table of the All-Present, blessed be he, as it is said, this is the table before HaShem . - Mishnah Avot 3:3


Love your enemy. - Matthew 5:43

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor , and hate thine  enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; - Matthew 5:43

They who are insulted but insult not back; who hear themselves reproached but answer not; who serve out of love and rejoice in their affliction--of them it is written in Scripture: They that love God are as the going forth of the sun in its might. - Talmud: Yoma 23a, Gittin  36b  and  Shabbat  88b


For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. - Matthew 22:23-30

There will be no marital union  in the world to come.  Ma'asrot 4:5-6


Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. - Matthew 5:23-24

If a man said, "I will sin and repent, and sin again and repent", he will be given no chance to repent. [If he said,] "I will sin and the Day of Atonement will effect atonement", then the Day of Atonement effects no atonement. For transgressions that are between man and God the Day of Atonement effects atonement, but for transgressions that are between a man and his fellow the Day of Atonement effects atonement only if he has appeased his fellow - Talmud Yoma 8:9


Matthew 5:43 Love thine neighbor and hate thine enemy.

Talmud Yoma 23a, Gittin 36b and Shabbat 88b - They who are insulted but insult not back; who hear themselves reproached but answer not; who serve out of love and rejoice in their affliction--of them it is written in Scripture: They that love God are as the going forth of the sun in its might.


Matthew 5:23-24... first be reconciled to thy brother.

Talmud Yoma 85b - Yom Kippur atones for all sins, but first you must reconcile your conflict with others.


Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses ...

Talmud Rosh Hashanah 17a - Only if you forgive others will God forgive you.

 Talmud Shabbat 151b - One who is merciful toward others, God will be merciful toward him


Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth ...

Jerusalem Talmud  Pe'ah 15b - It happened that Manobaz had squandered his father's wealth to charity. His brothers admonished him: "Your father gathered treasure and you wasted it all!" He replied: "My father laid up treasure where human hands control it; I laid it up where no hands control it. My father laid up a treasure of money; I laid up a treasure of souls. My father laid up treasure for this world; I laid up treasure for the heavenly world."


Matthew 7:1 Do not judge, or you too will be judged ...

Talmud Pirkei Avot 2:14 - Do not judge your fellow until you have been in his place.

Talmud Pirkei Avot 4:10 - Do not be a judge of others, for there is no judge but the one (God).


Matthew 7:2 ... with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Talmud Sotah 1:7 - By a person's standard of measure, is he, too, measured.

Talmud Shabbat 127b - How you judge others, does God judge you.

Talmud Sanhedrin 100a, attributes to Rabbi Meir the saying: "The measure which one measures will be measured out to him."


Matthew 7:3-5 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye ...

Talmud Er'chin 16b - Rabbi Tarfon said, "I wonder if there be anyone in this era who will allow himself to be reproved. If someone says to another, 'Cast out the speck that is in your eye!' he will retort, Cast out first the beam that is in your own eye!'"

Talmud Kidushin 70a - He who condemns others, sees in them his own faults.

Talmud Bava Mezia 59a - Do not rebuke your fellow with your own blemish.


Matthew 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs

Talmud Ketuboth 111a - R. Levi said: "God made Israel swear that they should not reveal the [Messianic] end, and should not reveal the secrets of [of the Torah] to the idolaters."


Matthew 7:12 Do to others what you would have them do to you ...

Talmud Shabbat 31a - What is hateful to you, do it not unto others -- this is the entire Torah, and the rest is commentary.


Matthew 7:26 every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not ...

Talmud Pirkei Avot 3:17 - One who studies Torah but does not do good deeds is likened to one who builds with a foundation of straw, so that even a minor flow of water will destroy it.


Matthew 10:21 ... brother shall deliver up the brother to death

Talmud Sotah 49b - In the footsteps of the Mashiach, insolence will increase and honor dwindle; the vine will yield its fruit [abundantly] but wine will be dear; the government will turn to heresy and there will be none [to offer them] reproof; the meeting-place [of scholars] will be used for immorality; galilee will be destroyed, gablan desolated, and the dwellers on the frontier will go about [begging] from place to place without anyone to take pity on them; the wisdom of the learned will degenerate, fearers of sin will be despised, and the truth will be lacking; youths will put old men to shame, the old will stand up in the presence of the young, a son will revile his father, a daughter will rise against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's enemies will be the members of his household; the face of the generation will be like the face of a dog, a son will not feel ashamed before his father. So upon whom is it for us to rely? Upon our father who is in heaven.


Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. --Matthew 5:7

He who is merciful to others, shall receive mercy from Heaven. - Talmud Shabbat 151b

Sifri, Ekev No. 49 - As God is, so shall you be: As God is merciful, so shall you too, be merciful.


Freely you receive, freely give. --Matthew 10:8

Just as I teach gratuitously, so you should teach gratuitously. - Talmud Beracoth 29a


Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. --Matthew 23:12

He who humbles himself for the Torah in this world is magnified in the next; and he who makes himself a servant to the Torah in this world becomes free in the next. - Talmud Baba Metzia 85b


Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the beam that is in your own eye? --Matthew 7:3

Do they say, take the splinter out of your eye, he will retort: "Remove the beam out of your own eye." Talmud Baba Batra 15b


Mathew 9:37: The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.

Talmud Pirkei Avot 2:15:The day is short, and the work is much; and the workmen are indolent, but the reward is much; and the Master of the House is insistent.


The following lines are from the commonly called ''Lord's Prayer" although Y'shua does not refer to this prayer by this name in its version in Matthew nor Luke.

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Our Father who art in heaven (Talmud Yoma 85b, Sotah 49b, and Pirket Avot 5:20; and Midrash Vayikra Rabbah ch 32.)

Thy kingdom come,

May God's kingdom be established during the days of your life. (Kaddish prayer said multiple times in every Jewish prayer service)

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.

Do thy will above and give comfort to those below, and to everyone his need. ( Talmud Beracoth 29b)

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

One who is merciful toward others, God will be merciful toward them. (Talmud Shabbat 151b)

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

Bring me not into temptation, and lead me away from iniquity ... and save me from the evil one. ( Talmud Berachot 80b)


For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

For Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty (TaNaK, 1 Chronicles 29:10)

As we can see because Y'shua was indeed a Pharisee Talmudic rabbi, from the House of Hillel, from the liberal tradition, as were his followers, he was teaching to those in Judea who were either followers of the more strict school of Rabbi Shammai, or still considered themselves Hebrews, and following the cult of the priests. The priests at the time of Y'shua were corrupt, not of the line of Aaron, nor Kohan's, but were Hasmoneans and Roman puppets. The Talmudic rabbis despised  them saying 'if you meet a priest and his is arrogant, you can be sure of his lineage.'' The Talmud states that God's holy Presence did not reside in the second Temple.

Y'shua was preaching to Jews and Hebrews Talmudic spiritual Judaism and in cases were Talmudic law was trumped by Talmudic law, he was quick to tell those who would listen. Unfortunately, in the Christian bible, the words Jew and Hebrews get interchanged, and it sounds as if Talmudic Jews were still mired in the Temple priestly cult which Y'shua, as the rabbis too, were against.

Hence, every time I go to a Christian wedding, I shudder when the minister reads about how "Jews'' can just divorce their wives at whim, but followers of "Jesus'' most hold marriage sacred. While it was true that Hebrews could give a wife a ''get'', a divorce, with very little grounds, and the wife had no say in the matter, Talmudic Judaism, developed the Ketubah, the pre- nuptial agreement, protecting a wife if a divorce occurred, and the Rabbis developed grounds for divorce, until rabbi Gershon actually gave women the right to have an equal say in the matter.

As I have written in many articles, there are major differences between Judaism and Hebrewism and the Christian bible points out much of what is wrong with Hebrewism, which was a secondary religion to Judaism, for at least 500 years, in the 'known' world, except for the area around Jerusalem where the priests still had power, given to them by the Romans.


Rabbi Arthur Segal,

Hilton Head Island,SC

Bluffton, SC

Jewish Renewal

Jewish Spiritual Renewal