Conservative Judaism/isiah 53

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Question
HEllo there i was wondering if you could tell me.Who is the man of sorrows that is mentioned in Isaiah 53 .THANK YOU......

Answer
Dear Steve,

Thanks for writing.

This is a common question from those who rely upon Hebrew Bible verses to support their Christian beliefs. saiah 53, the suffering servant, is a commonly used text in this regard.

To begin with, let's not forget that - at least according to Jewish tradition and modern scholarship - there was more than one Isaiah. Deutero-Isaiah, the second Isaiah begins at chapter 40, when you have a shift from the blaming, threatening, damning prophet to the comforting words and promise of redemption and return from Exile to Israel.

It was common - and not considered plagarism or falsehood - for writers/prophets to attach their words anonymously to the words of a great teacher. It was considered a compliment to the great teacher and a divinely inspired complement to the prophetic teachings.

In addition, no prophet was addressing a future such that it could be speaking of Jesus and that time frame.

Even if and when the prophets spoke of a Messiah or messianic age, they were promising the redemption of the Jews as a People and nation, returning to their own land from Exile and Diaspora, being ruled once again by their own king from the lineage of David.

In Jewish commentaries, Isaiah 53's key 15 verses refer to (1) Israel the People as the suffering idealized servant, (2) a minority within the Jewish People who were pious and were suffering because of majority sin or (3) a messianic return under a leader back from Babylonia in the near and immediate future.

Hope this helps. You might also check Jews for Judaism homepage or the class "Hizzuk Emunah" Faith Strengthened by Troki.

Rabbi Dov

Conservative Judaism

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Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner

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Write to me with questions about Jewish customs and law, history, philosophy and tradition for answers from a Conservative perspective or conversion. I am a graduate of The Jewish Theological Seminary and a member of the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly. Having served in congregational pulpits since 1970, I now am President of the Foundation For Family Education, Inc. a non-profit educational endeavor. I established it to create new formats of hands-on programs and provide free educational downloads at www.jewishfreeware.org. In addition to general informational questions I welcome your questions about programs for social action, outreach to dual-faith families, inter-faith clergy projects, healing services, education for conversion, adult education for the congregation and the community. If you have questions about Informal and Formal Education I am ready to share my extensive experience with Youth Activities, Camping and Religious School/Hebrew High School on a congregational, community and national/international level.

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I have served on the National Youth Commission for more than 25 years and serve on the Boards of the Conservative Zionist movement MERCAZ and the World Council of Synagogues. I have always dual-families and taught candidates for conversion with a great sense of fulfillment. I am very proud of 25 years on the Jewish camping staff of Camps Ramah. My greatest source of pride is my family! Ask me about them, please!:-)

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