Rabbis, “evangelicals” and Messianic Jews of Maozisrael


I was very saddened by this piece from MaozIsrael

“Many wonderful Christians and Christian organizations have given millions of dollars to the Israeli government, to Israeli charities and other organizations. Jewish Orthodox charitable organizations have also benefited by gathering many millions of dollars from Christians and channelling these funds to Israeli Orthodox and secular organizations. On the other hand, the Messianic Jews as well as the born-again Arabs of Israel, have, for all practical purposes, received absolutely nothing from these gifts from Christians. In fact, these same Orthodox or other charitable funding organizations have done all in their power to keep Israeli believers from receiving any benefit whatsoever.”

I then watched the relevant videos and read the follow up cloying piece of recant by Rabbi Riskin. He was trying to dig himself out of a hole after charming the socks off the American “evangelical” community by eulogising the “rabbi Jesus.” (Rabbi Riskin recants)

Rabbi Riskin:

Indeed, my comments referred to Jesus the historical figure, the man who was not a “Christian,” who did not hate Jews but rather was himself a committed Jew. In order to emphasize this point to a Christian audience, I referred to him as “Rabbi” Jesus, the Jewish historical Jesus as many historians such as Professors Joseph Klausner and David Flusser have proven him to be. However, let me be clear: While I refer to Jesus poetically as “Rabbi” Jesus, he was not a rabbi in the classical sense of the term. It was used only to explain to a Christian audience the Jewish Jesus, and in hindsight, the term was an inappropriate one to use. The entire Evangelical community worldwide have asked for our forgiveness, have made serious revisions in their theological positions, and are standing squarely behind the Jewish people in the State of Israel.”

Comment: “Evangelical.” The term doesn’t mean anything any more. Sad, because, “evangelical” is the εὐαγγέλιον “Gospel,”

As an Orthodox rabbi, I deeply believe that there is a need for mutually-respectful dialogue between the Jewish and Christian worlds.”

Comment: Very diplomatic. The ”evangelicals” fawn over all Jews.

This dialogue must express our common commitment to a G-d of love, pluralism and peace, but must at the same time never gloss over the very different faith commitments of our individual respective religious communities.”

Comment: “Pluralism” here means acceptance of all faiths as valid paths to God. Many modern Catholics, led by their Popes, for example, no longer hold the view that all paths should lead to Rome (Roman Catholic Church). Pope Paul II is an example. I will say more about Pope Paul II later. Orthodox Jews also agree with this view, but the ideal would be if they converted to Judaism. This view is represented by Rabbi Blech, whom I shall introduce shortly.

And now the punch line:

Dialogue between Jews and Christians is especially crucial now for the political future of the nation of Israel as well as for the security of the free world in the face of the rapidly spreading Islamic Fundamentalism which is terrorizing humanity.” (My emphasis).

Comment: Rabbi Riskin’s “evangelicals” have fallen for his common“commitments to a G-d of love.” But I think that “evangelicals” don’t really care what Jews may say or do, or how sincere they may be; they believe God’s in charge (and they are dead right), and they also believe that God wants as many Jews in Israel as soon as possible because as soon as this happens, the end-times would be well on its way (and I think they are wrong, if not dead wrong).

Many of Riskin’s “evangelicals” are driven to fulfil their idea of end-time prophecy, falling over their feet to assure the Jew that he doesn’t need a New Covenant, because Christ said – did He? that there are two valid covenants for eternity: one for “evangelicals” and one for Jews. So then, Christ didn’t tell Nicodemus (John 3) a member of the Sanhedrin that unless he is born again (through faith in Him), he would never see God.

I think Rabbi Riskin knows like any Torah Jew, I would imagine, that when he ventures into the “world” – including the world of “evangelicals”  he is risking his soul among enemies. And that is exactly what J.C. Ryle says about Christians:

A Regenerate man is very careful of his own soul.

“He endeavors not only to keep clear of sin—but also to keep clear of everything which may lead to it. He is careful about the company he keeps. He feels that evil communications corrupt the heart, and that evil is far more catching than good, just as disease is more infectious than health. He is careful about the employment of his time—his chief desire about it is to spend it profitably. He is careful about the books he reads—he fears getting his mind poisoned by mischievous writings. He is careful about the friendships he forms—it is not enough for him that people are kind, and amiable, and good-natured—all this is very well—but will they do good to his soul?”

“He is careful over his own daily habits and behavior—he tries to recollect that his own heart is deceitful, and that the world is full of wickedness, that the devil is always laboring to do him harm, and therefore he would sincerely be always on his guard. He desires to live like a soldier in an enemy’s country, to wear his armor continually, and to be prepared for temptation. He finds by experience that his soul is ever among enemies, and he studies to be a watchful, humble, prayerful man.”

I now want to give an example a Rabbi who advocates that Jews should treat the gentiles better because many “evangelicals” in America support Jews. Contrast Rabbi Blech’s attitude towards evangelicals in America with the belligerent attitude of Jews in Israel towards the Messianic communities of “MaozIsrael” described at the beginning of this blog.

In his radio talk, “What should our attitude be towards Gentiles?”, http://www.ouradio.org/ouradio/channel/C368/, Rabbi Blech tries to justify the horrible things said about Gentiles by Jews such as “a good goy is a dead goy.” That, says Rabbi Blech, refers only to goyim who treated Jews badly. That’s fair enough.Let’s look at a bit of history in this regard.

The RamBaM, Maimonides  (1137–1204), wrote “as for gentiles [non-Jews], the basic … principle is that their lives must not be saved, although it is also forbidden to murder them outright.” (Maimonides, in his “Mishneh Torah”, as quoted by Arthur Segal, in “A Spiritual and Ethical Compendium to the Torah and Talmud”, 2009, p. 228). As Rabbi Blech warns, the context must be taken into account. The non-Jews, in this context, were idolaters. (Schwarz, Sidney, 2008. Judaism and Justice: The Jewish Passion to Repair the World. Jewish Lights Publishing. p. 74). On the other hand, there exist Talmudic anti-Gentile Talmud texts that are difficult to excuse in this fashion.

Rabbi Blech also said that if the Torah discriminated against Gentiles, it was because God said they were bad. I agree, though most Jews and Christians and all atheists would disagree. Rabbi Blech discusses other discriminations against Gentiles, some of which I don’t think are justifiable, but I won’t deal with this here because I am trying to show that Rabbi Blech sincerely wants his fellow Jews to have more respect for the goyim.

Rabbi Blech mentioned a “priest” he met at an airport who asked him for a blessing. Here is the transcript of that meeting from the mp3 (10 minutes before the end of his talk).

Priest: “May I ask you a very important favour?”

Rabbi Blech: Sure

Priest: All my life, I’ve been waiting to meet a rabbi because I know that you are God’s chosen people, and all my life, I’ve been waiting to ask a rabbi for a blessing. I would love a blessing from a rabbi, could you do that for me.”

Rabbi Blech: (To his audience) By the way. How would you respond. Some people would say, “Ah, a goy,” – and I gave him a blessing. I said a posik (portion) for him and translated for him and this man walked away as if he had been given the greatest gift in the world, a brocha (blessing) from a Jew. Do you understand where the Bible belt in America is today? Do you understand how much respect there is in America today for Jews? There’s a whole world out there that thinks that knows that acknowledges that recognises that we are God’s chosen people, that puts us on a higher level. I said to myself I was a Rabbi in young Israel for 40 years, nobody came to me and said, Rabbi, you know you are the ultimate, give me a brocha..

Blech believes we are living in the pre-messianic soon return of Messiah. “One of the signs is that the goyim will start to do tchuva (Repentance).” Rabbi Blech then tells of the story he heard about Pope John Paul II, who Rabbi Blech had met years before. Blech and a a dozen or so invited Jews celebrated the Passover with the Pope and explained to him the significance of the various pesach ceremonies. Now the story.

Pope John Paul II went to acting school as a young man. His favourite teachers were Jews. The Pope described how the Nazis shot his Jewish teachers in front of his eyes. “This (Rabbi Blech relates) changed his whole perception. He said we have to go to the Kotel [wailing wall] to do tshuva”, he used the Jewish word tshuva. (Blech addressing his audience) [You say it] can’t be because he is a goy. Goyim can change.”

( ‘tshuva’” עשרת ימי תשובה Aseret Yemei Teshuva “Ten days of Repentance. The first ten days of the month of Tishrei, usually around September, It begins with Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and finishes at the end of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).

Blech met his Pope (John Paul II) and did a Pesach seder for him. I also met mine: Pope John XXIII. When I was in Rome in 1962 during Vatican II, I and about 60 others were in an audience in the Vatican with John XXIII, which is less exalted and intimate than a choice group of rebbes doing a Seder. As a fresh-minted Jewish Catholic, looking into those sparkling loving eyes of the gentle Pope John, I was close to the portals of heaven. A year ago, I read Pope John’s diary, into which he poured out a few drops of his tormented soul. I wrote about it here.

Blech mentions the Reform Jews who say the greatest threat to the Jewish people and perhaps to the world is the evangelicals. Because they take political positions based on theological issues. Blech passionately – almost desperately – reminds his Jewish audience that evangelicals love Israel and visit Israel more than do the American Jews. “They have one small problem (Blech says); they think we will convert. But in the meantime they are supporting Israel. Let us accept their support and with regard to conversion I’ll say to them, ‘eventually you’ll see the light.’”

What are my impressions of Rabbi Blech’s encounters with priest and Pope.

The priest

The priest was right; the Jews are still God’s chosen people, but the priest has a very poor – and sentimental – understanding of the difference between Old Covenant chosenness (election) and New Covenant chosenness (election). The priest obviously believed that Romans 11 was about the preservation and crucial future role of ethnic Israel in the conversion of the Gentiles. I believe this as well. But, it doesn’t seem to matter to the priest that the Jewish rabbi he was so ecstatic to meet, rejected the priest’s LORD – Christ Jesus. This priest seems to be no different from Rabbi Riskin’s fawning “evangelicals.”

Contrary to modern Catholic and much of American “evangelical” teaching, the Jew still needs to repent and turn to Christ. Not only does Christ tell his disciples to go to all the world (to “evangelise” – it used to be such a poignant word) but they had to start in Jerusalem (to the Jews first):

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’ And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. …and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you: He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but He who has disbelieved shall be condemned. Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Pope John Paul II

Here is a photo of Pope John Paul II kissing the Koran, given to him as gift on his visit to Iraq. On the right is a Muslim cleric.

How would a Christian view this act? One brazen Christian may want to put these words into John Paul’s mouth:

Is that a Koran; doesn’t it say that God cannot have a Son? Oh well, I’ll kiss it anyhow, because Jesus would’ve surely done the same. What am thinking! I am the Vicar of Christ, I AM Christ Jesus – on earth,”1

Here is a Catholic who thinks the Pope’s kissing of the Koran was an admirable humble gesture of goodwill. I think many Catholics would support this view, after all, he is Christ’s Vicar on earth.

He was a good man that had all the qualities of a man that will go to heaven even if he not necessarily following Gods religion of choice. People in general need to practice more what they preach and get inter-faith knowledge, understanding, acceptance of other faiths.”

This view is identical to the Jewish view of tolerance that Rabbi Blech entreated for “evangelicals”.

Was there perhaps someone listening to Rabbi Blech’s talk, thinking: “Let live, and let them give.”

The Pope is all religions to all men, One day, he wants to do tshuva, the next he’s kissing a Koran. Would the Grand Mufti of Mecca, if invited to the Vatican, return the gesture by kissing a Bible? I wonder how Rabbi Blech would have reacted if the Pope had kissed a Torah scroll. Delighted? It would perhaps have put kissing the Wailing Wall in the shade.

What is the upshot of all this:

Whereas the Messianic communities of MoezIsrael are being persecuted by the rabbis of Israel, one of them (at least) like Rabbi Riskin gets what he can out of the affluent an influential American “evangelicals” living off the fat of their religious and economic freedoms. One other Rabbi (there may be more) is trying hard to turn the hearts of his fellow Jews towards a greater tolerance of the inferior and unchosen goyim. After all, they support the Jews, they love the Jews so much that they part with millions of dollars to support the State of Israel – AND they do the hora in church. But Rabbi Blech is seriously thinking along more spiritual lines – their conversion. To repeat Rabbi Blech’s optimistic conviction: “They have one small problem; they think we will convert. But in the meantime they are supporting Israel. Let us accept their support and with regard to conversion I’ll say to them ‘eventually you’ll see the light.’”

The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (John 1:5).

1These words are written in the Roman Canon Law 1685: “To believe that our Lord God the Pope has not the power to decree as he is decreed, is to be deemed heretical.”

Father A. Pereira says: “It is quite certain that Popes have never approved or rejected this title ‘Lord God the Pope,’ for the passage in the gloss referred to appears in the edition of the Canon Law published in Rome in 1580 by Gregory XIII.”
Writers on the Canon Law say, “The Pope and God are the same, so he has all power in heaven and earth.”
Barclay Cap. XXVII, p. 218. Cities Petrus Bertrandus, Pius V. – Cardinal Cusa supports his statement.
Pope Nicholas I declared: “the appellation of God had been confirmed by Constantine on the Pope, who, being God, cannot be judged by man.”
Labb IX Dist.: 96 Can. 7, Satis evidentur, Decret Gratian Primer Para.

5 thoughts on “Rabbis, “evangelicals” and Messianic Jews of Maozisrael

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  2. bography,

    I didn’t have you pegged as an anti-Semite!

    But you wrote that the sentiment “a good goy [gentile] is a dead goy” enjoys some degree of prevalence in the Jewish community. This is a deeply offensive expression that would not be welcome in any corner of the Jewish world. By your forcing it into the Jews’ communal mouth, you incite undeserved gentile hostility against the Jews.

    If you’re not an anti-Semite, why would you have written something as mean and painful as this?

    • Anon

      You wrote that I said:
      “a good goy [gentile] is a dead goy” enjoys some degree of prevalence in the Jewish community.

      Those are your words. Here are mine:

      I described Rabbi Blech’s views about what Jews think of goyim and my response (IN CAPITALS below). I wrote:

      “Rabbi Blech tries to justify the horrible things said about Gentiles by Jews such as “a good goy is a dead goy.” That, says Rabbi Blech, refers only to goyim who treated Jews badly. THAT’S FAIR ENOUGH.”

      Now, please indulge me by pulling that peg out of my heart. If, though, you remain in two minds, your avatar from Wittenberg could be of some help.

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