Thursday, July 23, 2009

Oh, The Irony Of It All...

On ChabadTalk, there is a discussion going on regarding the authorship of the prayer Nishmas Kol Chai, which is recited on Shabbos mornings. The general consensus of the posters in that thread seems to be that Shimon ben Shetach wrote the prayer.

However, it seems that there is an old Christian legend that the prayer was written by Paul (Saul) of Tarsus. That legend is discussed in the thread as well.

During the course of the conversation, someone made the following comment about Paul:

I have also heard it said that this Saul/Paul was actually sent by Chazal on a mission to make Yushkie-worship a completely different religion so that it could not be confused with Judaism.

I highly doubt that that legend is true. However, there just seems to be something very ironic about such a statement coming up on a Chabad message board. I wonder how long before some of the anti-Yechis believe the same thing about some of the Meshichists.

The Wolf


micha berger said...

It's all one tradition, and it's ours.

The notion was that Peter was someone the Sanhedrin sent into the Christian camp to insure that the new religion wouldn't adulterate Judaism. Points made include the NT claim that while captive, Peter only ate fish (to make kashrus easier?). There was other such circumstantial evidence of his purportedly continuing to observe halakhah, but I don't recall it.

Then, before Peter died, he expressed his regret for all his years spent as a "Marrano" in the words of Nishmas. That turns Nishmas into expressing words of teshuvah.

I think the fact that so many knowledgable Jews believed this story means that there must be something in Nishmas that fits the theory. Even as fiction, it still can inform how we interpret the tefillah. I think that looking for elements that deny early Christian beliefs, or that express regret, is valid. They must be there, even if Peter didn't put them there, or else the legend would have no legs.


Unknown said...

I heard about this theory recently.
Except I didn't hear that Chazal sent him, or that the San Hedrin sent him. Rather, I just read that it's something he decided to do.

I missed the actual class/lecture about this, but those who went to it seemed very convinced by the sources.

Unknown said...

Somebody wrote a book about this topic:

Unknown said...

And apparently there is somebody else who has made this topic his life's mission to explain:

Frum Heretic said...

For a summary of this topic - largely taken from a Shnayer Leiman lecture - see my post The Fast of the 9th of Tevet.

Frum Heretic said...

Um, sorry, to clarify, the post is not about nishmas but about the purported inside job by Simon Peter as described in Toledot Yeshu.