Glenn's friend Rabbi Daniel Lapin joined the radio program to talk about Christianity from the perspective of an Orthodox Jew.
At one point in the conversation, Glenn pointed out many Christians don't really know about Judaism, and many people --- both Christian and Jewish --- don't know much about the Reformation. Lapin agreed and shared some of his own insight on the subject.
"Jews do not know that there has never been an instance of Protestants committing a pogrom against Jews. Never happened in history," Lapin said. "There have been fights between Protestants and Catholics, but most Jews are totally unaware that there's that enormous difference historically."
Later, Glenn brought up the apparently mistranslated verse from the Bible often quoted during the Christmas season.
"Most times at this holiday, people say, peace on earth and good will towards men. That's a mistranslation," Glenn said. "The actual phrase is peace on earth, to men of good will."
Lapin said, "that's very interesting," before sharing what he considers the most misunderstood scripture in the Torah.
Listen to the dialogue or read the transcript below.
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin is with us. He's with the American Alliance of Jews and Christians. He is really, truly an amazing man. And I've learned from Rabbi Lapin than really -- well, more than Jeffy. Let's just leave it at that.
STU: Certainly more than Jeffy.
GLENN: You have to turn on -- push that red button up.
STU: There we go.
DANIEL: That good? We're on? Okay. Great. I was just going to say -- disclaim slightly. If I was wise, I wouldn't be able to feel particularly good about it because that would just mean that I won the ovarian lottery. That's all it is.
GLENN: Right. Right.
DANIEL: But, no, what I do have, I'm appropriately humble about it is that I have been taught a great deal of ancient Jewish wisdom.
DANIEL: And I do my best to be an accurate retransmitter of everything I was taught.
GLENN: You know what I love about you, Rabbi Lapin, is because you're so -- you're a rabbi. So you buy into the Judaism thing.
DANIEL: I do actually.
STU: Wow, that's great.
GLENN: Isn't that great? You know what --
DANIEL: I buy into it.
GLENN: What I hate to say is that there are a lot of Jews that don't.
STU: And a lot of Christians that don't.
GLENN: That don't. Yeah, and they go every Sunday. They go every Saturday. But, eh, I don't really buy into it.
STU: By the way, there's no Muslims who don't. We should point that out now. All Muslims are perfect and peaceful --
GLENN: Of course. Of course.
STU: We should just make that point.
GLENN: But what I love about you is you're so dedicated to your faith. But we were just joking off air. You said thanks for wishing me Merry Christmas. And I said, "Oh, my gosh, did I do that?" He's the like, "No, I didn't do that, but like it's an offensive thing." What I first want to start off with is Merry Christmas?
DANIEL: Thank you.
GLENN: We do a prayer at the end of the television show. And you were on with us, what, last week or so? And I asked you to say the prayer.
GLENN: And what's amazing to me, if I have a preacher on or if I'm praying, I pray in Jesus' name. That's my culture, that's my religion.
GLENN: If you're on, I don't ask you to pray in Jesus' name. By the way, rabbi, a bunch of Christians in here. You have to pray in Jesus' name. But Christians -- I mean, Jews won't. Christians will write to me and say, "Glenn, you have a lot of Jewish friends and a lot of Jewish fans, you're offending them." I don't understand that, rabbi.
DANIEL: First of all, nice of you to say that. But I myself have been in several situations where Jews have exploded in fury because the person saying the prayer finished off in Jesus' name. So it's something that bothers many Jews.
GLENN: But it also bothers Christians when you don't pray --
DANIEL: Only because they're fearful of offending Jews -- oh, the other way around, yes, yeah.
GLENN: No, no -- I'm saying --
For instance, if I go to a Jewish organization and they haven't, but if they ask me to pray, I might say in the name of Jesus Christ, but I might say in your holy name. We're not throwing rocks at each other for the love of Pete. And God knows who I'm talking to.
GLENN: But there are some Christians that would bash and say, "How dare you not say Jesus Christ."
DANIEL: Yes. Oh, I'm sure. It's vitally important to them. And I totally understand that.
But what's interesting is that, as you know, the Jewish community is hardly monolithic. I mean, there are one or two Jews in the country that don't agree with me on every point.
GLENN: Get out of here.
STU: Is that legal?
DANIEL: It shouldn't be. And when I'm in charge, it won't be.
GLENN: He is Orthodox Jew. And I'm telling you, he lives it and he's great. He's just moved to New York City. Which if we have time, I got to find out how that's working out for you.
GLENN: Because an orthodox Jewish person --
DANIEL: Well, as a matter of fact, so happens in New York City, the most recent Jewish study and survey showed something that most Jews in the country found profoundly disturbing, which is that the majority of Jews in New York City at the moment are, in fact, orthodox. Never happened before in the history of America.
DANIEL: That is really extraordinary. Our side is winning. I mean, as it is, by the way, elsewhere as well. The seriously committed evangelical community is growing by leaps and bounds. The old mainstream denominations that lean left are shrinking. Their churches are empty.
GLENN: Because they don't stand for anything.
GLENN: For instance, I have no problem -- somebody -- somebody says Happy Hanukkah to me. Thank you.
DANIEL: Happy Hanukkah, Glenn.
GLENN: Thank you. That's great.
DANIEL: I think of Hanukkah as the let's use more fossil fuels holiday. Yes.
GLENN: This is what makes you more popular in New York.
DANIEL: There you go. I'm looking forward. But let's talk about the praying in the name of Jesus for a moment.
GLENN: All right.
DANIEL: You have a very large proportion of American Jews -- a majority of American Jews that have -- I mean, let's be frank, have forsaken and abandoned the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And they have adopted something else. I call it the sacred sacrament of secular fundamentalism. It's a religion. And I can explain why.
But for the moment, the point is that, it's just fascinating but I often pose this question to non-observant Jews who are very remote from their faith.
If an invisible private detective followed you around 24/7, how long would it take him to discover that you are Jewish, as opposed to a loyal member of the Democratic Party?
It's a tough question to answer. Because if you don't live and do Jewish, then what is it exactly?
And almost every Jew will tell you, I'm proud to be Jewish. Well, about what?
Like, you're proud of a racial accident? A genetic accident? What does that mean? And so what they'll usually answer is, "Well, I am Jewish. I don't believe in Jesus." And that's become now the moral and theological slogan.
GLENN: Well, there's a lot of people that don't believe in Jesus. It doesn't make them Jewish.
STU: Penn Jillette doesn't believe in Jesus.
GLENN: The Dalai Lama doesn't believe in Jesus.
DANIEL: He should be Jewish though. He should be Jewish.
STU: Oh, he should? Okay. We'll tell him know next time he's around.
DANIEL: By the way, I mean, you will remember what a stunning display of intellectual integrity Penn Jillette did when we were together on the show.
GLENN: I love him.
DANIEL: It was extraordinary.
GLENN: If you don't remember, yeah, Penn Jillette was on, along with Rabbi Lapin in. And it was an experiment. And I said to the rabbi and I said to Penn, let's get on. I'm Christian. He's Jewish. You're an atheist. Let's model for the American people that three people who have wildly different points of view on theology, that they can actually have a conversation. And at one point, the rabbi said --
DANIEL: I said if a billion -- what was happening was Penn was saying there's no difference between facts. Islam, Christianity, they're all the same. And suggesting that they're all equally bad. And I said if a billion Muslims converted became evangelical Christians tomorrow would the world be a better place or a worst place? He paused. And on television, that pause felt like a week.
GLENN: Yeah, it was amazing. And what went through my mind was, oh, my gosh. This guy might answer this question.
DANIEL: And you know what went through my mind. My mind -- I said to myself. You know, I straight away I can think of three ways to put me down, get a lot, and move on to the next topic. And if I can think of three ways to sort of put me away, Penn probably thought of five.
GLENN: What would have you have said to that, if you were him?
DANIEL: Well, I would like to think I would have said what he would have said, but I'm not sure. I know most people would have come back with something like, "Oh, yeah, right, a million Muslims are going to turn into evangelical Christians. They may as well turn into Jews --
GLENN: Right. Right. He would have said, "I don't deal in hypotheticals. That's ridiculous."
DANIEL: Yeah, he would blow it away.
STU: What did he say?
DANIEL: He thought about it. And he came back and he said, "All things being equal, I would have to say, yes, it would be a better place." That's extraordinary.
GLENN: That's amazing.
DANIEL: And he paid a price for that because many of his atheist followers were terribly upset. Anyway, I just recalled that.
So Jews who don't believe in Jesus, at that point, their entire identity is I'm Jewish because I believe this. I'm Jewish because I don't believe in Jesus. And, therefore, Jesus becomes this -- this cross to the vampire. This frightening thing which has to be kept out of my sight. Because if I allowed it in my sight, it is violating my last lingering remnant of connection to the Jewish faith.
STU: You see this in politics too. It's always a danger when you belong in something because you don't believe in something.
DANIEL: Yes, that's right.
STU: You know, I think that's happened a lot in politics and so many other things.
GLENN: Can I tell you, when I was sitting in the great synagogue in Jerusalem, sitting in the great synagogue in Jerusalem. I've gone to a couple of synagogues, but I've never been -- they had the choir and everything. It was really amazing.
DANIEL: We call that high church. Yes.
GLENN: Okay. And it was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. And my wife was sitting upstairs, and I was sitting downstairs. And I'm just observing. And I don't understand anything -- I don't understand they're saying. And I had just been over in Europe, so I had just been over at the Vatican. And I hear the music start. And I'm thinking to myself, "This is Gregorian chant."
DANIEL: All that music is derived indirectly from the music we have on tradition that was played by the Levites in the temple.
GLENN: So let me just speak as someone who is observant. I love and going and observing other religions. And I love -- because I'm not -- a celebrate other religions. I really love it.
And I love people who are really, deeply into their traditions. And you can learn so much. And you can also -- my father taught me, he said, "Glenn, you look -- you search everything and you look for the intersection points. There's a line of theology and a line of theology and a line of theology, but where they intersect, that's where you know there's truth. There's something there that's truth."
And so I love that. And I'm sitting there in the great synagogue. And I'm hearing this music. Now I'm hearing Gregorian chant. I'm hearing the essence of Gregorian chant. And I'm looking at the way they're dressed. That's a kassik (phonetic). The Catholics have taken the kassik. And now I'm starting to think, if I'm a Jew, and I put myself back in time, you know, you know, declare your support for Jesus Christ or you're dead and I would think to myself, my gosh, they have taken all of our rituals. They have taken all of our most sacred stuff. And I don't mean it this way. Back in the time, maybe they were doing it. But then they perverted it and declared it them and theirs and said, "If you don't accept it now," so it becomes more of a mockery if you hold on to that anger, it becomes almost a mockery.
And I thought to myself, "If I was Jewish, I would have a very hard time -- if I knew my culture, I loved my culture, and I loved my faith, I would have a very hard time letting go of the past because most Christians don't know. Most Christians don't look at the history of what Christians did to Jews." And I don't -- past is past. We can't correct that. But we can recognize the strife that has been there and open our hearts to one another and go, "Wow, I see -- and maybe you don't even see -- where that rub comes from now." You know?
DANIEL: Yes. You know, it's dangerous to drive with your eyes only on the rearview mirror. And it's equally dangerous to run affairs, whether it's a family or a society or a culture or a faith with an eye only on the past and what happened back then.
The sad truth is that -- and we had at our Sabbath table a couple years ago, a judge sitting on the bench in New York, a very sophisticated and educated woman. And she said to me, these were her words. She said, I -- and she spat these words out with fury after eating my food, if you don't mind, as she said, "How can you be friends with Pat Robinson? If he has his way, the pope will be in charge of America."
GLENN: Pat Robinson. But he's not a Catholic.
DANIEL: So I said to her -- no. I said to her, "What does the words 'Protestant reformation' mean to you?" And she had no idea. Little by little, it became apparent that this was a woman who grew up as a child and a young girl and then went to college. All in New York. In New York, there are only two kinds of people: Jews and Catholics. You go to Brooklyn, you got Italians and Jews. And she never knew. To this day, she never knew anything else.
GLENN: Here's the amazing thing. And I didn't know this. So many -- just like Christians don't know about Judaism. So many Christians -- so many Jews really don't know about the reformation. They really don't -- they don't understand.
DANIEL: Jews do not know that there has never been an instance of Protestants committing a pogrom against Jews. Never happened in history. Now, Martin Luther King certainly wrote some unpleasant things about Jews. Nobody ever acted on that. There are no record anywhere of Protestants killing Jews. There have been fights between Protestants and Catholics, but most Jews are totally unaware that there's that enormous difference historically. And one of the reasons -- one of the things that brought about the reformation, of course, was the popularization of the Bible that came about because finally translating it became acceptable. Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1415. Fifty years later, you have a Protestant Reformation. People are saying, you know what, we need to go back to the roots. We need to go back to the Bible.
GLENN: Can we -- let me just jump off here in a bit. Because as I'm listening to you saying, you know, mistranslation. We have to go back to the Bible. People were kept away from things. As I'm looking at you, I see just behind you is a chalkboard with a wreath on it. It says, peace on earth to men of good will. Most times at this holiday, people say, peace on earth and good will towards men. That's a mistranslation. The actual phrase is peace on earth, to men of good will.
DANIEL: Oh, that's very interesting.
GLENN: That's totally different. Totally different.
DANIEL: Yeah, yeah.
GLENN: What do you think the most mistranslated or misunderstood phrase in the Scriptures or the in Torah that jumps out to you. If people just understood -- maybe it's not just mistranslated. It's just misunderstood.
STU: What's the most misunderstood Scripture. We have one minute. Go ahead.
DANIEL: You know, just put on the spot. I mean, I wish we did more rehearsal or something for these --
GLENN: Let me tell you --
DANIEL: The answer is very simple. It's something called Tikkun Olam. I don't know if you've heard that phrase. Tikkun Olam is improving the world. I wish people wouldn't improve the world. Just don't wreck it at all. Stop improving it. That's all.
And it's interesting that that is the spirit of the socialist revolutionary. We're improving it. Just stop improving it. That phrase Tikkun Olam doesn't appear in that way. The correct Hebrew phrase is to improve the world in accordance with God's blueprint.
GLENN: I want to pick it up there and talk about the actual word "Torah" when we come back. Something I learned from a friend the other day that I never heard before. Back with Rabbi Lapin in just a second.
GLENN: Nobody does Christmas like Rabbi Daniel Lapin.
DANIEL: What are you trying to do? Wreck me?
STU: Quick question for you, rabbi. Before we get more in-depth.
GLENN: I have a serious question in a second.
STU: Well, this is a very serious question. It's just not as in-depth. As a rabbi, can you sense the evil emanating from Jeffy from across the room? Is that something that's built in, like when you finish up and you become an official rabbi, can you sense people like Jeffy as they're near and they're pure evil?
DANIEL: Not only that, I can even read your thoughts at this very moment.
STU: Wow. What am I thinking?
DANIEL: Well, I wouldn't want to turn this into a carnival.
GLENN: Yeah. And do cheap parlor tricks.
DANIEL: I don't want to do that.
GLENN: He's a serious rabbi. He only mind reads for serious things.