“Yehoshua ben Perachiah said to Yeshua, “What a beautiful hotel, huh?” And Yeshua (Jesus) didn’t like it. “Why? Did the Mashiach (Messiah) come? The Mashiach didn’t come yet. Look at the ba’alat aksanya (the woman that leads this place, the manager). Her eyes are ‘terutot’ (crying, or sick). Her eyes are sick. Because maybe her husband beat her? We don’t know, so instead of looking to enjoy the good fruit, the beautiful walls, and the beautiful service, let’s see more of the inside here, what’s going on. Are the people that are living here happy? Or maybe it’s not beautiful like it looks from the outside.” Then Yehoshua ben Perachiah tells Yeshua, “Rasha!” (“Evil one!”). “You looked at the eyes of a woman? You should be ashamed of yourself!”
There is a story of Chassidim (Hasidic Jews)… There are many stories that try to teach you what is the difference between a Chasid and a Mitnagid (someone ‘opposed’ to Hasidic Jews). The Chassidim are like a modern attempt to do a rectification of Christianity. This is really what is Chassidut (Hasidic Judaism), which has more ‘vessel’ (of Torah), but you will find many similar things with Chassidut and what Yeshua said. There is a story like this. The Mitnagid, which is like the Jews before Chassidut, sees everything as black and white. It’s not enough heart and an understanding of the way things have to be. Chassidut has to do with a rectification of the heart. A Mitnagid is more about rational learning and teaching. They are just rational and about the mind.
A Chasid and a Mitnagid are walking together and all of the sudden, there is a woman who’s yelling, “Help! Help!” She’s going to drown in the water and she has no clothes. So the Chasid immediately jumps into the sea, takes her, saves her, gives her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. He saves the woman and they continue to walk. One hour after this, the Mitnagid asked the Chasid, “how could you do this with the woman, mouth-to-mouth, and she was dressed with nothing? How could you do this?” And the Chasid said to him, “which woman?” The Chasid forgot the story, but the Mitnagid saw all the time this naked woman and didn’t stop to think about her. So the Chassid did what he had to do and forgot about it, but the Mitnagid had this woman in front of his eyes.
This is just an example to see here about the kind of critiques of Jesus here towards this rabbi. He was enjoying the outside of the thing. It’s exactly like the way you would expect the real Yeshua from the New Testament to teach. It means our Sages bring a story that in many ways is a true story of who Jesus was – someone who looked at the inside of the thing, and not the outside. This was the main critique of Yeshua against the Perushim (Pharisees) of his time. You try to look beautiful from the outside, to be respected, to be called, “Rabbi,” etc. but inside (Matthew 23:28)… He compared them to a grave, which outside is very nice, but inside, if you go into the grave, you will find worms and all bad things in the world. Our Sages in the Gemara have a lot of criticism against bad Perushim (Pharisees) too. They gave seven names of all kinds of different Pharisees and they brought seven examples of bad Pharisees (Avot D’Rabbi Natan 37:4). One is a bad ‘wise person’ that everything they’re doing is just so people will see them. Exactly the same criticism of Jesus against the bad kinds of Perushim, you will find in the Gemara too.
We will come back to the story… After Yehoshua ben Perachiah spoke to Yeshua, he’s put in his place, but a little bit too strongly. He denied him. He did a ‘cherem’ (‘taboo’). You can no longer pray in the synagogue. It’s all with four hundred shofarot (trumpets). It is a very severe cherem (excommunication). It’s like you are not part of Am Yisrael (the People of Israel) in many ways. You are still a part, but nobody can marry you, be friends with you. It’s like an embargo, a taboo. Then, Yeshu asked forgiveness. “Please forgive me. Forgive me, Rabbi!” “No, no.” Then, he asked again, again, and again – many times.
Then, finally Yehoshua ben Perachiah thought, “I’m going to accept him (Yeshu) back.” So the next time he came, Yehoshua was busy saying ‘Kriyat Shema’ (‘the recital of the Shema,’ “Hear O Israel, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One”). ‘Kriyat shema’ (קריאת שמע) has the acronym of ‘kash’ (קש), ‘Straw.’ It is an expression, “to push someone with straw,” in the Talmud and Gemara. For example, the Christians will say that we came to the Jews and gave them proof that Jesus is the Mashaich (Messiah). So the Christians are not smart enough in Torah to give them a real answer. You know, just like you say to a kid. You give him a reason for his level of understanding and it’s enough. When you do this, the expression is, “you push him back with straw.” ‘Straw’ means that the reason you give I know is not a good reason and all the Jews will know it’s not a good reason, but for you, it’s enough. I can’t explain to you really all the big secrets that are in this thing and why you are not right. Maybe more deeply you are right, but it’s only in a high level of understanding that you are right, but at your level, you are not right. So I just give you an excuse that is not a real excuse. This kind of excuse you call, ‘kash’ (‘straw’).
So Yehoshua ben Perachiah gave a sign to Yeshua to wait a little bit more – “I am busy.” He cannot talk (while reciting the Shema), so he gave him a sign to wait. So Yeshu thought that another time he is being denied, so he took bricks from the building. From where came this story? It’s not really logical, unless you understand what our Sages are trying to teach us from this story… He took one brick from all of the building and made a god from it. What are they trying to say here? That Christianity took one ‘stone’ from Y-H-V-H, from all the Ten Sefirot (of Kabbalah). This stone you call, ‘love,’ or whatever. They took one ‘stone,’ one Jewish person, one part of all the ‘building,’ Mashiach ben Yosef (Messiah son of Joseph), but not Mashiach ben David (Messiah son of David). They took one brick and made this brick into a god.
Then, our Sages said a critique to who? To Yehoshua ben Perachiah. “Always will be your left pushing back, but your right hand will bring close to you.” This is the ‘right hand’ which is strong and represents love. This ‘left hand’ represents the ‘din,’ (severity, or judgment, which says, “no”), but this hand is more weak than this (right) hand, which means this (love) has to be more strong. With this hand, you say, “No, no, no, you are not right,” but from the other side (right), you give him love, so he will not be lost completely and fall to evil forces. Our Sages said that “always your left will be pushing, but your right hand must bring close, not like Elisha who pushed Gehazi with his two hands.”
“The Sages taught: Always have the left hand drive away and the right draw them near. This is unlike Elisha, who pushed away Gehazi with his two hands and unlike Yehoshua ben Peraḥya, who pushed away Jesus the Nazarene with his two hands.”-Sanhedrin 107b:8
It is written in Kabbalah that one of the roots of the soul of Yeshua is Gehazi. It is written that he was sick and Elisha punished Gehazi that he will become a leper. It’s a big story. After this, Elisha became sick and died from this sickness. It is written that he received this sickness as a punishment because he pushed Gehazi back with his two hands. Elisha is one of the roots of my soul. The only person that I can say for sure is the root of my soul is Elisha. It means, if in another life, I pushed Yeshua back, now I have to, with my two hands, bring him back. This is my tikkun (rectification).
So our Sages said about this story, “It’s our fault.” It’s the fault of Yehoshua ben Perachiah that he pushed him with his two hands and this is why he have Christianity. This is the first story about Jesus in the Talmud and from this story, I can learn only good things about Yeshua. Someone, who is not looking more deeply, he will understand that Yeshua looks on women and that’s why Yehoshua ben Perachiah pushed him. No, this is not the true meaning, but it’s written in a way that everyone will understand that he’s bad, because if we understand that he’s good, we might become Christians. It’s written in a way that if you learn it well, there’s nothing wrong with what he did and our Sages said that it’s our fault and not his fault, really. End of story.
The same story appears in another place in the Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud), in Massechet Sota 47, the first page, but there is not the name of Yeshu. The same story appears without the name of Yeshu, so it can just be any disciple, but we don’t know who he is. It can be the same story like this, but not with Yeshu. Only later on, they say it was probably Yeshua. The same story appears in Talmud Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud), again without the name of Yeshu. Instead of Yehoshua ben Perachiah, the story is with Yehudah ben Tabbai. Yehudah ben Tabbai goes to Egypt because of Alexander Yannai, with his disciple. When they came back, there was a beautiful hotel, etc.
Let’s say that you are in a trial, and we take your testimony about what happened. One testimony said that Yeshu was a disciple of Yehoshua ben Perachyah. Another testimony says he is one generation after (with Yehudah ben Tabbai). As a judge, I can say that if there are two different testimonies here, I cannot count on any of them. I must be suspicious that there is something which cannot be right here as a historical fact. When you judge someone, it’s not just a teaching, but it needs to be a historical fact of what exactly happened. It’s not anymore a question of fighting and arguing with Christianity (e.g., “we have a different reason for why he said so and so”). In a judgment (trial), you cannot use all of these reasons. In a judgment, you judge Yeshua with the exact story (of what historically happened), what is the actual testimony of our Sages about the story. We have here one story like this and a story with another rabbi, so I’m not sure if this is a true story anymore. It’s just a story that is trying to teach me something.
One of the things that Yehoshua ben Perachiah said, “vehevei dan et kol haAdam lechaf zchut” (“you have to judge every person for good”). “Try to find and search for the good point about him.” This doesn’t sound like somebody who acted like this with Yeshua, but the Rebbe m’Lubavitch (Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson) wrote about this saying of Yehoshua ben Perachiah, from all of what he did, it’s only this saying that stayed (in Pirkei Avot, “Ethic of the Fathers”). The Rebbe m’Lubavitch said in his Perushim (commentaries) about this, that this was like the teaching of Yehoshua ben Perachiah about his mistake (with Yeshua). As a correction for what happened, he taught us to, “[not do like me with Yeshua, and] always look at the right point in every person. “See the good in everyone. First, try to see the good and not the bad…””