by Rabbi Victor Gross
Today is spy Wednesday. For one side of the equation a spy is a hero. On the other side a traitor. It references the story found in Matthew 26:14-16 where Judas “went to the chief priests, and said to them: What will you give me, and I will deliver him unto you? But they game him 30 pieces of silver. And from then on Judas sought opportunity to betray him (Jesus).”
In the world of via negativa this is the ultimate calumny! This verse led to the defamation of the Jews, seemingly for all time until today. It gave rise to the charge of deicide. History ignored the via positiva of the non-canonical, Gnostic Gospel of Judas, which contrasts Mathew’s version of Judas as betrayer with the view of Judas acting in accordance to his instructions given by Jesus. Jesus was convinced that only Judas understood his teachings that included the meaning of his life, ministry, and death.
During this week, the reading from the Quran for this Wednesday is Surah Hud 6 through Surah Yusuf 52, which is the Quranic vision of the unfolding of Creation to the time of Joseph. It is a lyrical and expansive sense of the positive and the potential of the unfolding. There are insights into why we are here – so “that He might test you as to which of you is best in deed,” [Qur’an 11: 7]. Joseph is the character whose qualities should be emulated as a model of response to extreme challenges.
Jewishly, this week is the ending of the effort to convince Pharaoh and thus we are getting ready to experience liberation in search of becoming a free people.
The next world is via creativa, and when confronted with texts that challenge us and are found in all spiritual texts of each of the western religions, we can best follow the advice of Professor Amy-Jill Levine who said: “We choose how to read and thus live into the time when both synagogue and church proclaim that we can love God and our neighbor.”
Then we can experience the fourth world of via transformativa, where we are liberated from the past misfortunes of text and become truly liberated to be able to express the deepest yearnings of Deep Ecumenism and that is to say “Free at last, free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last!”
Rabbi Victor Gross (he/him) is co-Founder and President of Yerusha. His interests have been the intersection of history and theology with the demands of Deep Ecumenism.
An Auspicious Convergence
This year, Holy Week and the lead-up to Pesach coincide with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. This convergence is a unique opportunity for a “Spiritual Spring Cleaning.” Each day of this week, we offer you a brief teaching on this auspicious occasion.