Israeli "One for Israel" Missionaries Make False Claim
As a parent and grandparent, I see the birth of a child as miraculous. In fact, the doctors gave one of my children a zero percent chance of surviving a pre-mature cesarean delivery. After intense prayer, he survived, and the staff of the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit referred to him as the “miracle baby.” Today he has children of his own.
Our sages say there are three partners in the creation of a child, the mother, the father, and God - who gives the soul (Niddah 31a).
The Torah portion Tazria (Leviticus 12:1–13:59 ), speaks about the circumstances of a woman giving birth and the offerings she presents to God in recognition of this momentous event.
Since this portion discusses childbirth, I would like to take this opportunity to respond to a comment I heard on a missionary video from Israel.
To validate their erroneous belief in a virgin birth these missionaries bring several sources in their attempt to demonstrate that the Hebrew word “Almah” means a “virgin” rather than a “young woman.”
On the Jews for Judaism website there are in-depth responses to all their arguments; however, in this post, I will respond to one erroneous claim.
Israeli born "One for Israel" missionaries Eitan and Moti, attempt to validate the “virgin birth” by claiming that a renowned 11th-century rabbi, known as Moshe haDarshan, states that “the Messiah will not have a father.”
A careful review of the Midrashic sources related to Moshe haDarshan's statement demonstrates that his comment is taken out of context and misinterpreted.
Based on his comment in Bereishit Rabati on Genesis 49:15-16, Moshe haDarshan clearly believes that the Messiah would have “a human father from the tribe of Judah and a mother from the tribe of Dan.”
However, when Moshe haDarshan mentions that the Messiah will be “fatherless,” he is quoting the words of Rabbi Berachia in the Midrash Eichah Rabbah 5:3. Rabbi Berachia explains there that being “fatherless” refers to being an orphan. His proof is Queen Esther, who was adopted by Mordechai, as it says, “He brought up Esther, his uncle’s daughter; for she had neither father nor mother” (Esther 2:7). Obviously, Esther had a physical father [Mordechai’s uncle], but, being orphaned, she is referred to as “fatherless.”
There are many reasons why the Messiah is referred to as a “fatherless orphan,” including the explanation of Rabbi Isaac Abarbanel (1437-1508), who teaches that the Messiah’s knowledge will surpass his predecessors in a way that we will not see him as a recipient of his wisdom/path in life from his father or teacher.
We can see that when missionaries make claims which sound convincing, it is essential that you get a second opinion. This is the essence of critical thinking as King Solomon said, “the first to bring an argument sounds right until someone examines him” (Proverbs 18:17).
Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz