Presently there is a big to do about the future of Rabbi Riskin as chief Rabbi of Efrat. Rabbi Riskin the founding chief rabbi of the Israeli settlement of Efrat in the West Bank, a position which he has occupied since 1983. The battle is between Rabbi Riskin and The Chief Rabbinate of israel who are attempting to force Rabbi Riskin into retirement. As with all things Israeli, a complex battle of politics has ensued which has polarized the Jewish community into ‘for’ and ‘against’ camps respectively. Details of the deviations of Rabbi Riskin’s version of Orthodoxy you can read here.
In this blog I am going to take a detour around this debacle above which apparently has a showdown deadline sometime towards the end of June 2015…….. so watch this space.
The title of the blog is a reference to the taxation exile the rock band Led Zeppelin took from the UK. The exile resulted in the band being unable to tour on British soil for over two years, and trying to get back into the public mind was therefore like “trying to get in through the ‘out’ door. The title of the blog I use as a springboard for a very worrying present developement in the Jewish world which is now taking root here in Israel which has seen some very unholy alliances being formed. Speaking of unholy alliances, only just recently, Facebook has been ablaze with protestant evangelist Christine Darg vouching the virtues of the shroud of Turin. How does that go along with her protestant forebears, would they not be turning in their graves at the approbation of the whole idolatrous relic industry of the Roman Catholic Church?
In a macroscopic view of history we see an expulsion of an early movement within Judaism over two thousand years ago which was effectively extinguished and re-formed into the Christianity which we know of today. The early Jewish movement was apparently a Jewish following of Jesus or Yeshua as the recently invented messianic Judaism would like us to believe. The apparent Jewish following of Jesus or Yeshua in actual fact failed the Gamliel test described in the book of Acts 5:35-39:
For if their purpose or activity [the early jewish movement within Judaism] is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
Now unless you want to insist that Peter, James and John et al. were pork eating, Sunday keeping Baptists then it is quite obvious that the apparent Jewish following of Jesus or Yeshua in actual fact fizzled out a short while after the New Testament was written. The resurrection of so-called ‘messianic Judaism’ having its origins as recently as the 2oth century really has not a leg to stand on!! Instead we have a reliance upon the Christianity which we know of today by messianic Judaism. The reliance very much includes financial support too!
With Roman Catholic efforts such as Domus Galilaeae, the growing collusion between Evangelical Protestants and Messianics, we may ask the question what has this got to do with Rabbi Riskin? Well for starters, one of the issues in the above big to do about the future of Rabbi Riskin as chief Rabbi of Efrat is his very public displays of enthusiasm for Christian religious values. So much so that why in the world would an organization founded and directed by the Chief Rabbi of Efrat, Shlomo Riskin, and staffed by Orthodox Jews enter into the church-building business? Surely it is not a mitzvah incumbent upon the Jewish people to facilitate the spreading of the gospel of jesus christ anywhere in the world, let alone in Israel! But then again, Rabbi Riskin and his rabbinic partners have proclaimed that Christians and Jews jointly share Abraham’s covenant with G-d. Riskin and the CJCUC have also sanctioned everything from Jews engaging in theological dialogue with Christians to Jews entering churches to granting jesus rabbinic “smicha”.
To make matters worse the CJCUC as of 2011 has joined the Israel Jewish Council for Interreligious Relations (IJCIR) as partner. Such partnerships have seen recently (May 4-7 2015 at Domus Galilaeae) rabbis, cardinals, bishops and priests meeting together, praying together, discussing theology together, singing, dancing and feasting together, and reciting the Shema together. They cried together as they attended a church orchestra performance of The Suffering of the Innocents, commemorating the Holocaust, with the intertwined parallel theme of Mary crying as Jesus suffered and was killed. A bonfire celebration was held under the imposing shadow of a large gold statue of the Pope. The Jewish and Catholic clergy embraced and clasped hands as they spiritedly danced and sang Jewish song together. Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Reconstructionist rabbis… Rabbis such as Irving Greenberg of CLAL, David Rosen of AJC, and a delegation of leaders from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, lovingly declared allegiance to a new and close fraternal relationship with their Catholic counterparts.
With such coalitions going on right before our eyes, I was interested how a Jewish commentator apparently in the know would react to Rabbi Riskin and other Rabbis involvements in these coalitions. Perhaps I was a little terse in my response that such overtures to Christians which included a video of Rabbi Riskin extolling ‘Rabbi Jesus’ would eventually see further down the line, our Jewish children/ grandchildren wanting (and thinking its OK) to marry ‘messianic Jews’ and Christians who love Jews.
What the Jewish commentator apparently in the know did not see is the attempts of Christianity which includes Messianic Judaism, to get in through the out door. Getting in through the outdoor as we can already see in the activities described above, involves the idea of encouraging Jews to abandon very clear halachic guidance of our Rabbis of blessed memory with respect to interfaith relationships. To make matters worse we see Rabbis who are supposed to be leaders of our communities accepting financial incentives to encourage and practically help Christians in their endeavour to build churches here in Israel! The problem of accepting this love of the Christians/ Messianics also sees simultaneously an underhand stealth mission of funding by the same Christian umbrella organizations to fund missionaries to convert Jews to Jesus/ Yeshua. Further we see these Rabbis abandon the values of Judaism for the ‘love’ of Christians and encouraging by their example, regular Jews to adopt the Christian version of ‘love’ too. Consequently anyone who dares to speak up about this problem is branded by those who have accepted this ‘love’ as unloving, uncaring, backwards and sowing the seeds of discord.
In sum, it is a mistake to think that Christians think the same way as Jews. Christians are very good at living with the dissonance of the double talk which their theology encourages; on the one hand they pride themselves with slogans that ‘we do not evangelise Jews’ yet on the other hand their own book calls for it and their leaders cash in on it, and sadly some of our Jewish leaders are now also cashing in on it too. The ICEJ et al. bandy about slogans of ‘loving’ and ‘blessing’ Israel under the guise of humanitarian assistance to Jews here in Israel and then underhandedly define what these terms actually mean by simultaneously diverting funds to messianic groups who are in the business to convert Jews to JC. Unfortunately many Jews have bought into the Christian version of political correctness which they claim promotes ‘love’, ‘mutual repect’ and ‘community cohesion’. The reality is that we Jews are painting ourselves into a corner when we go along with the Christians and abandon our own Jewish values in the process. When some wake up to it and try to say something about it they are branded as being unloving, disrespectful and destroying the cohesion of the community. Instead we Jews must hold onto, promote and put into practice our own Jewish values, realise the value which we already have and that we do not need anything else…………. But is it already too late?
. “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” Acts 5:35-39