Cringe Factor 4 Mr. Scott

I am no expert in body language but in a recent video highlighted on a missionary website caused a high count on my cringeometer. The recent video highlights a new partnership between Hayovel and The land of Israel Network. In the video, one of the two Rabbis present possibly displayed fawning deference to his own role and the roles played out by the others during the video. Via the body language I could almost hear him asking himself the questions, “how is thing going to fly, what are we doing here and what have we gotten ourselves into?”.

gimp

It could of course be none of the above assumptions but the questions are still relevant. During the video it was stated by one of the rabbis:

“True love is not about changing someone or giving them what you want to give them but giving them what they need….. and when the Waller Family came here in 2004, they came here not without any preconceived notions of what they wanted to do or wanted too give but how they came to serve.”

Call me picky but this was not the program or intentions of the Wallers in 2004 and beyond, even to the present day.  As recently as February  2015 we have an example of the type of Agenda that both Rabbi Gimpel, HaYovel and Don Finto are into:

After being welcomed on stage by Gimpel and the HaYovel team, Finto expresses his gratitude at seeing “what’s happening among Christians, believers in jesus, coming together, united together for ‘your’ purposes”. Finto lays his hand upon Gimpel’s shoulder and blesses him and Hayovel. This is followed by Finto’s prayer in the name of jesus, as well as Finto’s Hebrew version of the priestly blessing.

Hayovel’s original vision and mission can be viewed in this clip:

“…for us sharing the gospel is not only verbal, it has an action to it. It’s based on relationships. As we’re working with these people [the Jews], we’ll be able to share with them this Jesus, that we know… Our family has begun a ministry called Hayovel. The vision of Hayovel is to develop a network of individuals, families and congregations who are ready to labor side by side with the people of Israel. To bless them, to stand with them, to share with them a passion for the soon coming jubilee in yeshua messiah.” (article here)

An extensive list of HaYovel activities and the Wallers may be found at the Jewish Israel site. A survey of the facts indicate that quite the opposite is true, HaYovel is heavily committed to the evangelical mission of converting Jews to jesus/ yeshua from 2004 to 2015 at the very least.

Do some of our Rabbis know what they are doing and what they are enabling? The paradox of how supposedly learned men can fall for this type of thing is not new, apostasy and idolatry is something that has plagued the Jewish people for centuries.

The NT says that the root of all evil is money, I think missionaries know what they are doing and what they are trying to achieve. How can we Jews be so subject to such enticements? What will it take? When our sons and daughters want to intermarry? By then it will be too late. It is nothing new but will we ever learn from playing with idolatry? Worse of all and more cringeworthy is how some Jews presently expect us all to acquire collective amnesia to the facts and go along with madness since the ends of political correctness along with financial gain justify the means ….apparently!

 “Can there be a greater stumbling block than [Christianity]? All the prophets spoke of Moshiach as the redeemer of Israel and their savior, who would gather their dispersed ones and strengthen their [observance of] the mitzvos. In contrast [the founder of Christianity] caused the Jews to be slain by the sword, their remnants to be scattered and humiliated, the Torah to be altered, and the majority of the world to err and serve a god other than the L-rd.”(Chapter 11 of Hilchos Melachim from the Mishneh Torah of the Rambam)

Its like as if we have not been warned many times previously!

THE ONGOING CONTEXT:

15 August 2013

“Inquiring Minds Want to Know…”

9 Elul 5773 (15 August 2013)

Commenter Goldie ZP asks a very important question.

What’s really going on with Rav Eliezer Melamed, spiritual head of Yishuv Har Brachah and its hesder yeshivah:

Devash, Has Rabbi Melamed changed his mind? Would you know? Har Bracha residents: Christians out!  …

Quoting from the article:

Settlers living on the western hill of the religious community of Har Bracha recently sent a letter to the community secretariat, protesting the housing of Evangelical Christians in their neighborhood.

According to the residents, the presence of the Christian volunteers – who arrived to work in the community’s vineyards – violates the fabric of their society, and as a result – they hardly leave their houses.

“When we came to live in a religious community, we never imagined that one of these days we would be forced to live alongside people of a different religion, which doesn’t match our faith and lifestyle,” the residents wrote.

“We’re not interested in associating with them, or alternatively – staying away from the public domain… We live in a small, intimate place, which is greatly affected by the composition of the population living here.”

…The Christian volunteers are part of a large group of American volunteers affiliated with Yuval – a pro-Israel Evangelical organization. The group includes dozens of people, and their stay in Har Bracha was made possible after the community rabbi, Eliezer Melamed, met with them and ruled that they are not missionaries.

The rabbi’s stand was recently published in detail in the Beit El Yeshiva website, under the title, “Respect and love for the lovers of Israel.”

Ahavat chinam
at its most damaging.  (The money doesn’t hurt either.)

It’s my understanding that the Jews were forced to leave that area, but I have no documentation of it.

I have not spoken to the rabbi, but I know that others have and that he refuses to listen to anything against the missionaries, only to say that they are not “missionaries” despite all the proof to the contrary. I know he has referred to them as “righteous gentiles.”

If he’s not saying the things the missionaries are reporting in his name then there is a serious disconnect between his words and the ears of those who are listening to him. One prominent missionary, who is training Christians to come to Israel and save the Jews, says in a recent newsletter:

Having noticed the unselfish and unwavering support year after year of the volunteer organization HaYovel led by Tommy and Sherri Waller from Nashville TN, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed has taken an initiative to establish a Christian Zionist Visitor Center on the Mount of Blessing in Samaria, in order to strengthen and encourage Christian support for the so called settlers.

Rabbi Melamed is Head of Yeshivat Har Bracha and is a prolific author on Jewish Law. He is well known in Israel and has a popular weekly column in the Beersheva [sic] newspaper called “Revivim.” At the moment he is gathering other rabbis in Israel to get behind his historic initiative with a visitor center open for Christians on the Mount of Blessing.

We need to pray that Rabbi Melamed will succeed. Melamed has said that it is time for the Jewish people to act like Abraham, and open up the tent in order to receive those that have come to support them. He has gone even further and stated about HaYovel, “If we say no to these people, we will say no to the Messiah!”

Another, but related, question:

Does the fact that the missionaries perform avodah zarah in the vineyards and/or believe that the wine will one day be part of a central Christian religious ritual affect the kashrut of the fruit or the wine?

THE AVODAH ZARAH

HaYovel Ministries has designated “worship leaders” to guarantee that “praise and worship” is ongoing continuously in the vineyards during the working period. (See a clip of one of their videos HERE where they explain it. Transcription below.)

Volunteer Nate Taylor: “A group of worship leaders who have taken different times throughout the day to make sure that there’s continuous praise/worship and prayer throughout the vineyards. These vineyards belong to our Abba (God, the Father) in that our praise and worship is an important part of that cycle to recognize who Ha-Shem is. I believe it does motivate and encourage others, not only to work harder and faster, but they’re not even thinking about that, they’re thinking about how we praise Ha-Shem throughout the day, not only with our words and our lips, but with our actions.”


But, they say “Ha-Shem.”  How is that avodah zarah?  Glad you asked that question.  They’ve been coached to use our terminology, but they don’t mean the same thing by it that we do. So, who are they speaking about when they say Ha-Shem?

Following are five examples taken from Messianic websites where they identify who they mean when they say Ha-Shem.

1) “The Name” in Hebrew is hashem [sic].
A Jew named Peter realized the truth about “the Name” and taught that “the Name” is Jesus; Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12

2) Since Jesus is the Name (HaShem) above every name (Phil. 2:9-10) and HaShem means God it looks as if Paul is saying that Jesus is God.

3) Facebook Page: Jews for Real Judaism(Hashem-Jesus is Messiah)

4) ..the first century Jewish Christians did not refer to “Jesus” they called Him The Name, yeah! that would be HaShem.

5) Yeshua is called HASHEM

Well, some Jews claim that this is still ok because these people no longer believe that Yeshu is G-d.  Oh, yeah?

This was written by one of HaYovel’s main volunteers – Barrett Warren – on his blog in January of this year. (Keep in mind that Tommy Waller handpicks his volunteers to insure that they are “like-minded” believers.)

Some call me a Messianic Jew or a Hebrew Christian. Let’s just say I’m a Torah observant Believer in Yeshua (Jesus).  …I thought I’d address some of the Scriptures that I believe show that Yeshua is YHWH.  …we have Yeshua claiming to be the I AM. That is He claimed to be YHWH who spoke to Moshe (Moses) in the burning bush.

THE WINE

Note that Christians (especially those of HaYovel) believe that Yeshu’s second coming will culminate in a great wedding between him and his faithful believers (who are called The Bride of Christ). They take it all very literally when they say they are helping to produce the wine which will be served at the great wedding feast…

An affiliate of HaYovel encouraging their followers to volunteer writes:

I have drunk the wine from the hills of Samaria. That is the wine that, one day, the Messiah will drink at the great reunion in Jerusalem for all His Believers!! …What if you were among the workers, who picked the grapes, of the winery from which the Messiah picks that big bottle of wine??!!

HaYovel writes in a newsletter:

At HaYovel we absolutely love weddings! …..and because we believe the vineyards have been and are being prophetically planted, pruned and harvested on the mountains of Israel specifically for the wine served at the great wedding feast in Jerusalem …..we feel it is important for us to do anything and everything we can to help. (Is 25:6-10, Rev 19:7-9, Mt 26:29)

These wedding preparation vineyards have, over the last 5 years, expanded exponentially in Samaria and Judea. It certainly looks like Abba is expecting a large gathering!

I’ve consulted a kashrut authority who is currently investigating.

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Donniel Hartman Is So…Yesterday!

BY · JUNE 30, 2016

hartman

In a new twist on the old “Jews to the back of the bus” routine, Donniel Hartman, president of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, wants the Jewish G-d to take a back seat as well. In an extensive interview in the Times of Israel, Hartman explains the thesis of his new book, Putting G-d Second. The purpose of religion ought to be the creation of the ethical personality.

I think God wants to be second… God didn’t come into this world for self-aggrandizement. It was in order to create a different type of human being, in order to elevate this world. But unfortunately, through God intoxication and God manipulation, the idea of God becomes a catalyst for evil. God intoxication is where our devotion to God is so all consuming that we no longer hear or see the needs of others….The more we put ethics first, the more I am a religious person [and the less that God is] a destructive force in our lives.

Hartman sees this preoccupation with G-d as blinding us to the plight of Palestinians and migrants seeking entry to Israel. He notes that in all of Israel’s wars, it was religious MKs who pushed for pushing on in battle while their more secular colleagues wanted to call it quits.

Religion gets in the way of what should be our real focus: inculcating ethical values in our personalities, and democratic processes in our societies.

He does not want to do away with religion as we know it. He wishes for G-d to be number two, not to disappear, or even show up as number twenty. Two can’t be so bad, he says. Religion is a “powerful vehicle” for making ethics central to our lives. And while the violation of the ethical renders all other attempts at spirituality meaningless, there are spiritual dimensions that are valuable if the ethical is there, front and center. Religion can transmit them. Moreover, religion helps create community, which banishes loneliness. So we ought not to discard or minimize religious practice – as long as it does not interfere with the primary goal of ethical development. (He therefore mocks the notion of an Orthodox woman at Bar Ilan not singing at a Holocaust commemoration, in deference to the halachah of kol ishah, which interferes with our ethical sense of egalitarianism. And he tells baalei teshuvah that if they refuse to eat at their non-observant parents’ home, they can stop calling themselves his students.) To the contrary, Hartman wishes that Israel firmly embrace a Judaism whose first passion is the ethical, and bringing its values to the rest of the world.

None of this is particularly new. It is rather old and tired. The derogation of the ritual and ceremonial in favor of the ethical has a storied past, all of it ending the same way. More religious denominations than we can easily keep track of – Jewish and otherwise – hoped to revitalize interest by accentuating good character, or (more recently) good deeds. Think, in modern times, of Felix Adler’s (said to having been inspired by a Berlin lecture by Rav Yisroel Salanter) Ethical Culture, and what is left of it. Consider the attempts by the mainline Protestant denominations move towards social justice as their primary concerns. Or the elevation of so-called tikun olam as the only principle of faith of the Jewish heterodox movements. What they all share is younger people stampeding out the door, fossilizing those who remain behind. Without coupling character and social action with responsibility to a personal Creator, too many give up on the entire enterprise of religion. We have very little reason to believe that all those who have fled from religion are better people, or have succeeded in making ours a better world. Meanwhile, the only group within Judaism that is growing is Orthodoxy, with its insistence on G-d centeredness. And in the Christian world, the fastest growing group are Pentacostals, who distinguish themselves for seeking an immediate, strong connection with G-d.

Hartman is also so….incredibly wrong on the intellectual level. The words that stood and stand before the baal tefilah for centuries – שויתי ה לנגדי תמיד (Tehillim 16:8) cannot possibly be rendered, “I have set Hashem before me some of the time.” Hartman would certainly cheer Rambam (Shemonah Perakim), who insisted that the development of an ethical character should optimally become a natural part of one’s personality, rather than a response to Divine command. The same Rambam, however, wrote (Hilchos Teshuvah 10:3)

What is the proper love of Hashem? It is that a person should love Hashem with an extraordinarily great, strong love, so that his soul is connected to Him through love, to the point that he is preoccupied with Him at all times…

Hardly a second-place finish.

Is ethical development really the summa bonum of Yiddishkeit? When the Khazar king argues something similar to thechaver (pointing to the same lines from the prophet that Hartman does, expressing Hashem’s preference for proper character over a surfeit of Temple offerings), the latter explains that Judaism has two chief goals. The first, earlier goal that must be achieved is the creation of the ethical individual. Having attained that goal, the Jew is then positioned to achieve the next goal: becoming more G-d-like, through the performance of myriad mitzvos.

For good measure, we’ll throw in the Ibn Ezra to Tehillim 84:6, “Praiseworthy …[are] those with paths in their hearts,” who explains that those paths focus on a single goal – getting close to Hashem.

Hartman’s new/old religion will never produce the kind of connection to Hashem evinced by the Klausinberger Rebbe, zt”l:

When we reached the extermination camps…we stood there, naked and with nothing, without clothing and without coverings for our heads, and with the wicked ones beating incessantly with the batons in their hands; the situation was terrible. I turned to those standing around me and I shouted, “Fellow Jews – know that the holy God is waiting for us there, inside the camp…and let us not forget that God is with us.” Throughout that entire year I worked on this – strengthening myself and not forgetting that God was with us, and that the entire world is filled with His glory – even in Auschwitz and Dachau, and that no place is devoid of Him…( Shefa Chayim, Chanukah)

Hartman’s error is more serious because in other regards he is so…right! The goals (and achievements) of the Shalom Hartman Institute are, in other regards, spot in. It has had success in showing all sorts of Israelis the need to keep Judaism within the Jewish State, and the interconnection (and interdependence) of democracy and Judaism. It has made a case for a common platform of belief that all parts of the Israeli spectrum can agree upon. It has introduced respect for Judaism to groups of Christian and Muslim visitors. Regrettably, Hartman fails to realize how the views he sets forth in this book will set back the progress of his other, noble goals. They will turn off many of those he is trying to bring into the conversation.

Hartman thinks big:

We’re going to “buy” a day a week with top students for two years — 45 hours a month for two years. Top students in law, business, sciences, arts, be they Orthodox, secular, Haredi, right-wing, left-wing, Jew, non-Jew. …The curriculum is: what is a Jewish democracy, what is a modern Judaism, what is religious pluralism, what ought to be the relationship between Israel and world Jewry? How do we develop the ideas that will sustain this tradition for the next generation?

We had a group of Haredim come to us and asking…How do I remain a faithful Haredi and be a part of modern Israel? A person committed to halacha and a Haredi way of life, and still live in the world.

Hartman has just made a great case for the opposite, for demonstrating just how stunted and twisted one’s Yiddishkeit can become. I suspect that it will not just be haredim who greet his remix of Judaism with revulsion.

This is a shame, because his vision for the Israeli future is in large part positive and achievable. But it may take the participation of those who are not ready, chas v’shalom, to turn G-d into an also-ran, and to ride roughshod over the Jewish neshamah’s yearning for devekus. It is upon us to demonstrate how and way fealty to halachah and halachic detail can and should enhance – not hinder – the ethical imperative. It is upon us to show that without yir’as shomayim, involvement in the ethical too often becomes self-serving or recreational, but not serious business. And it is upon us to show our fellow Jews that the sweetness of closeness to Hashem yields more smiles than frowns, on our brows, and on those who observe us.

____________
Some context as to how Orthodox Donniel Hartman is:
____

Orthodox Leaders to Join Conservative, Reform Worshippers at Western Wall Protest
An egalitarian prayer service is scheduled to protest the government’s capitulation to ultra-Orthodox demands to back out of an agreement to build a prayer space for non-Orthodox movements.

Ultra-Orthodox protesters seek to disrupt egalitarian prayers held by Reform and Conservative worshipers at the Western Wall on June 16, 2016.Emil Salman

Judy Maltz Jul 03, 2016 7:00 PM

Ultra-Orthodox protest at Reform, Conservative egalitarian Western Wall prayers
Mixed messages at the Western Wall: What’s happening with the Kotel compromise?

Orthodox representatives of a prominent institute of Jewish education will join Reform and Conservative Jews in a special egalitarian prayer service at the Western Wall on Monday afternoon.

It will be the first of two prayers services scheduled to be held at the Jewish holy site this week, in protest at the government’s apparent capitulation to ultra-Orthodox demands that it back out of an agreement to build a special prayer space for the non-Orthodox movements at the Western Wall.

Joining Reform and Conservative Jews at Monday’s afternoon Mincha service will be Rabbi Donniel Hartman, president of the Jerusalem-based Shalom Hartman Institute, and Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer, president of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. The two Orthodox leaders decided to join the egalitarian service as a sign of support for the non-Orthodox movements in their ongoing struggle to gain recognition from the Israeli government.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, who is in Israel this week, will also be attending the service, which will be held in the upper Western Wall platform, in clear sight of the gender-segregated prayer areas. So, too, will Anat Hoffman, chairwoman of Women of the Wall, even though the feminist prayer group will not be hosting the event. Two weeks ago, the Reform and Conservative movement held a similar service at the upper plaza, which was disrupted by ultra-Orthodox protesters. The area is usually designated for pedestrians and sightseers.
Monday’s prayer service will be held at 16:00.

On Thursday, following the monthly Women of the Wall morning Shaharit service in the women’s section, the Conservative and Reform movements will hold their own egalitarian prayer service in the upper plaza at 8:30.

Reform and Conservative leaders have at this point all but given up hope that the government will follow through with its commitment to built a special prayer space for them at the southern expanse of the Western Wall near the archaeological excavations known as Robinson’s Arch. The plan was approved by a majority vote in the cabinet in January.

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with ultra-Orthodox leaders who threatened to leave his coalition government if the plan was executed. The ultra-Orthodox parties oppose the plan because it provides formal recognition to the non-Orthodox movements.

The Reform and Conservative movements have threatened that if the government reneges on its commitment, they will appeal the Supreme Court and demand that existing prayer areas adjacent to the Western Wall be redivided into three equal sections: one for men, one for women, and one for mixed-prayer services.

The War for Halachic Judaism

Disclaimer: I don’t like labels as it pertains to Torah identity. I don’t love the term “orthodox Jew”, modern-orthodox, etc. Personally, I would prefer the term halachic Jew, but some of the most aggressive religious innovators insist that they are acting in a halachic manner. On the other hand, I have zero patience for those who nit-pick with ridiculous semantics. In this article I use the term orthodox Jew, because sometimes terms become deep-rooted in a communal identity, and the desire to shake the root free is both wasteful, unnecessary, and sometimes counter-productive. I use the term when referring to religious rabbis who believe in the absolute Divine nature of Torah, and the mass revelation at Sinai.


Once upon a time, there were giants who walked amongst us-giants of Torah. Men with wisdom to combat the modern idols of secularization. Men who defended the integrity of the Jewish synagogue and the Jewish family from goyish modernization. Men who spoke with deep wisdom in defense of the deepest truths. Men who understood that modern definitions of feminism, woman’s rights, and similar minded ideologies spoke more of the faulty psychology of their respective advocates, than of any new-age modern revelation designed to liberate women from being women. Once upon a time, great men of Torah fought for yahadut.

Today, there are few if any prominent vocal voices. And so, whenever the new radical voices in the Torah community (who speak in the name of Torah) speak violence to the system, there is deafening silence. On issues that should transcend all labels and factions, and appeal to everyone concerned with protecting Halachah, one feels the void.

Cardoza Says: We must free the Western Wall of all denominations and abolish all synagogue services at the site, including bar and bat mitzva celebrations. We must remove all Torah scrolls, tefillin and tallitot and restore the Wall to its former state: a place where all are welcome and where not even the most lenient halacha can be violated; a place where there are no mehitzot (partitions) and other sources of ideological or physical conflict; a place used solely for individual prayer and meditation, just as our ancestors treated it throughout our long history.

Ironically, some of the most blatant outrages occur in Israel, where unbridled Jewish messianic fervor renders many Jews vulnerable to aberrant belief systems. Consider the spectacle of orthodox rabbis giving a kosher seal to evangelicals and missionaries in Israel because of a distorted notion of achalta de’geula (a pivotal point in time auguring moshiach). Consider how one prominent Rabbi in the heartland of liberated Samaria opened up his community to evangelicals in order to benefit from their free labor. Today, these evangelicals have transitioned from living in tents to dwelling in cottages.

Consider that Tommy Waller, the leader of these evangelicals from the volunteer group “Hayovel”, once infamously admitted in a promotional video that such opportunities will give him a chance to missionize (video):

“As we’re working with these people, we’ll be able to share with them this…this Jesus that we know.” 


Further on in the video, a family member elaborated:

“Our family has begun a ministry called Hayovel. The vision of Hayovel is to develop a network of individual, families, and congregations who are ready to labor side by side with the people of Israel. To bless them, to stand with them, to share with them a passion for the soon coming jubilee in yeshua messiah. We extend the invitation to you, to join us.”


Interfaith-Dialogue

And what of the growing number of religious rabbis who swim in the dangerous waters of interfaith dialogue? Perhaps most outrageous of all is that easily the most prominent individual involved in this lunacy repeatedly treads upon his deceased Rabbi’s famous stringent halachic ruling which prohibited such actions. (See Rav Soloveitchik’s famous essay “Confrontation” and follow-up Addendum.)

On a more general level, how is orthodoxy supposed to cope with the following?

  • Rabbis with kipot and beards who reflect on a morality independent of Halacha? Rabbis whose readings of Torah verse and Talmud require a torturous misreading of the written and articulated meanings?
  • Rabbis whose usage and defense (if only for application regarding what they believe to be “antiquated” injunctions, and not every day Halacha) of this tactic remind me of the perverse attempts of “Jewish Renewal”.
  • Religious Rabbis whose interpretations of of Divine injunctions mirror the tactics of maskilim new and old. Rabbis who see metaphor in the biblical injunction to destroy Amalek and the 7 Nations of Canaan.
  • Rabbis who believe in a “new Halacha.” Rabbis who opine that Rambam and others spoke for their age alone.
  • Religious Rabbis who advocate for homosexual marriage.
  • Rabbis for Hillary Clinton and her leftist anti-Torah positions.
  • Rabbis who engage in biblical criticism.
  • Rabbis who wish to free Spinoza from his well-earned excommunication.
  • Rabbis for “open-orthodoxy” and the ordination of women.
  • Rabbis whose well-intended but misguided notions will surely lead the next generations on the path to a new reform movement.

I worry about the future of Judaism. Not for its ultimate survival, since our tradition is stronger than any threat we face. But the war will come at a cost. The cost of souls lost to heresies new and old. Once upon a time, giants of Torah fought for truth against the ‘reformation’ of Torah. Today the Torah community is as weak as ever. Not in terms of over-all Torah study. In that context, there is more Torah study today than ever before. But with the rise of social media, and the new movements pandering to all sorts of foolishness, Torah Jewry is intellectually susceptible. We lack sophisticated courageous Torah leadership to stand up for unpopular truth.  Even the RCA has shown an inability to reign in radical thought. How long did it take for them to take a stand against the growing clamor of the new “orthodox” to ordain woman?

Totally out of wack

The great men are gone. The classic men of past generations who fought critical battles for the preservation of Torah are gone. Today’s religious rabbis shirk their duty to protect their flocks. Worse yet, many lead their flocks astray.

Factionalism render’s certain camps relatively insulated from some of these heretical voices. For the time, at least. One attraction of these new voices which will appeal to the disaffected of every community, is that some of these new prophets raise valid points about institutionalized rabbinical abuses which represent a chillul Hashem. These real issues act a springboard to hoist radical ideas. The fact that a stopped clock tells accurate time twice a day does nothing to change its general status as a broken instrument.

Yet the willingness to admit abuse speaks of a candor which people find impressive. The answers are usually less impressive, and are usually more grounded in feelings than Jewish law. But one cannot ignore the real issues, and the attraction of those who address them. One must find better solutions reflecting Torah positions. “Orthodoxy” doesn’t need to change, despite the popular insistence that it must. Corruption is by definition contrary to Torah. If it is corrupt, then it cannot be orthodox despite the identification as such by the corrupt. We need to aggressively return to the truths of Torah.

Where are the giants who fought for halachic integrity? These great men are gone. Today we have silent men. Fearful men. People afraid to confront those who seek to ordain female rabbis in the name of orthodoxy, and those who would rather create a new Halacha to free chained women, rather than call for Jewish men to break open the heads of recalcitrant men. Today, we have Rabbis who in the name of compassion, will create leniency where none can be found, and in turn, will create mamzerim. The greatest and most sensitive poskim of the past, were sometimes hamstrung by halachic reality. They understood that non-halachic compassion will destroy the Jewish people.

In the name of political correctness, some may opine that the Rambam’s words were for his age alone, and that the Nesher could never have imagined a Jewish state in a modern age. My understanding of the Rambam is that he foresaw much more than his modern day detractors ever could. Unlike others, he wrote about biblical wars precisely because he understood that the process of redemption will occur, and war will be necessary.

In the name of religious tolerance, many distort the Meiri in a way that he could never have imagined, as a source for all sorts of prohibited activities. The Meiri never could have fathomed a prominent religious America rabbi in America entering a national church for Obama’s initial swearing in ceremony. No one puts a gun or a sword to a Rabbi’s head in America, and yet he entered a forbidden place of his own volition.

Political correctness has infiltrated orthodoxy making orthodoxy increasingly susceptible to liberal sensibilities. Now is a time for intellectual zealousness for Hashem. Men of Torah need to face the new heresies and radical innovations, and intellectually combat the religious proponents of these foreign notions.

An orthodox Judaism which fails to heed today’s call, will suffer in the coming years. The impact will affect even the most insulated communities. One day, the orthodox will awaken from their slumber and cry out for action. What will they do? They will create conferences to deal with the new “crises”. But by then, the bleeding will be copious.

Donny Fuchs

About the Author: Donny Fuchs made aliyah in 2006 from Long Island to the Negev, where he resides with his family. He has a keen passion for the flora and fauna of Israel and enjoys hiking the Negev desert. His religious perspective is deeply grounded in the Rambam’s rational approach to Judaism.

When Saudi Arabia Was a Jewish Kingdom

Before Islam: The discovery of the oldest-known pre-Islamic Arabic writing in Saudi Arabia, from ca. 470 CE, evidently caused some consternation, given its Christian and Jewish context.

Ariel David Mar 15, 2016 4:23 PM

Image result for Najran Fort

The Najran Fort today, Saudi Arabia: Early Christians in the city of Najran were persecuted by the Himyarites, leading some to speculate that the Himyarites couldn’t have been true Jews. 

In 2014, researchers from a French-Saudi expedition studying rock inscriptions in southern Saudi Arabia announced they had discovered what could be the oldest texts written in the Arabic alphabet. But they did so very quietly, perhaps because the context of the texts is something of an embarrassment to some.

The dozen or so engravings had been carved into the soft sandstone of the mountain passes around Bir Hima – a site about 100 kilometers north of the city of Najran, which over millennia has been plastered with thousands of inscriptions by passing travelers and officials. Conveniently, at least two of the early Arabic petroglyphs that were discovered cited dates in an ancient calendar, and expert epigraphists quickly calculated that the oldest one corresponded to the year 469 or 470 CE.

The discovery was sensational: the earliest ancient inscriptions using this pre-Islamic stage of Arabic script had been dated at least half a century later, and had all been found in Syria, which had suggested that the alphabet used to write the Koran had been developed far from the birthplace of Islam and its prophet.

Yet the announcement of the discovery was subdued. A few outlets in the French and Arab media tersely summarized the news, hailing the text as the “missing link” between Arabic and the earlier alphabets used previously in the region, such as Nabatean. Most of the articles were accompanied by stock photos of archaeological sites or other ancient inscriptions: it is almost impossible to find a picture of the inscription online or a reference to the actual content of the text.

Thawban son of Malik, the Christian

Only by delving into the 100-page-long report of that archaeological season published in December by France’s Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres – which supports the study – is it possible to see the find and learn more about it.

According to the report, the Arabic text, scrawled on a large rectangular stone, is simply of a name,  “Thawban (son of) Malik,” followed by the date.

Underwhelming? Well, there is the matter of the large, unmistakably Christian cross that decorates the head of this inscription. The same cross systematically appears on the other similar stelae dating more or less to the same period.

Ancient engravings carved into the soft sandstone of the mountain passes around Bir HimaScreengrab from YouTube

Behind the low-key announcement of the find, one can almost sense the mixed feelings of Saudi officials faced with an important discovery for their heritage, which, however, seems to connect the origins of the alphabet used to pen their sacred book to a Christian context, some 150 years before the rise of Islam.

Further consternation may have arisen when realizing that these texts are not only the legacy of a once-numerous Christian community, but are also linked to the story of an ancient Jewish kingdom that once ruled over much of what is today Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Jews vs. Christians in the desert

While the Koran and later Muslim tradition make no bones about the presence of Jewish and Christian communities across the peninsula in Mohammed’s day, the general picture that is painted of pre-Islamic Arabia is one of chaos and anarchy. The region is described as being dominated by jahilliyah – ignorance – lawlessness, illiteracy and barbaric pagan cults.

The decades immediately before the start of the Islamic calendar (marked by Mohammed’s “hijra” – migration – from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE) were marked by a weakening of societies and centralized states in Europe and the Middle East, partly due to a plague pandemic and the incessant  warfare between the Byzantine and Persian empires.

The bleak representation of pre-Islamic Arabia was less an accurate description, it seems, than a literary metaphor to emphasize the unifying and enlightening power of Mohammed’s message.

Reexamination of works by Muslim and Christian chroniclers in recent years, as well as finds like the one in Saudi Arabia, are producing a much more elaborate picture, leading scholars to rediscover the rich and complex history of the region before the rise of Islam.
One of the key, but often forgotten, players in Arabia at the time was the kingdom of Himyar.

Established around the 2nd century CE, by the 4th century it had become a regional power. Headquartered in what is today Yemen, Himyar had conquered neighboring states, including the ancient kingdom of Sheba (whose legendary queen features in a biblical meeting with Solomon).

Petroglyphs in Wadi Rum, JordanEtan J. Tal, Wikimedia Commons
In a recent article titled “What kind of Judaism in Arabia?” Christian Robin, a French epigraphist and historian who also leads the expedition at Bir Hima, says most scholars now agree that, around 380 CE, the elites of the kingdom of Himyar converted to some form of Judaism.
United in Judaism

The Himyarite rulers may have seen in Judaism a potential unifying force for their new, culturally diverse empire, and an identity to rally resistance against creeping encroachment by the Byzantine and Ethiopian Christians, as well as the Zoroastrian empire of Persia.

It is unclear how much of the population converted, but what is sure is that in the Himyarite capital of Zafar (south of Sana’a), references to pagan gods largely disappear from royal inscriptions and texts on public buildings, and are replaced by writings that refer to a single deity.

Using mostly the local Sabean language (and in some rare cases Hebrew), this god is alternatively described as Rahmanan – the Merciful – the “Lord of the Heavens and Earth,” the “God of Israel” and “Lord of the Jews.” Prayers invoke his blessings on the “people of Israel” and those invocations often end with shalom and amen.

For the next century and a half, the Himyarite kingdom expanded its influence into central Arabia, the Persian Gulf area and the Hijaz (the region of Mecca and Medina), as attested by royal inscriptions of its kings that have been found not only at Bir Hima, just north of Yemen, but also near what is today the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

Returning to the early Arabic texts discovered at Bir Hima, the French-Saudi team notes that the name of Thawban son of Malik appears on eight inscriptions, along with the names of other Christians in what was probably a form of commemoration.

According to Christian chroniclers, around 470 (the date of the Thawban inscription), the Christians of the nearby city of Najran suffered a wave of persecution by the Himyarites. The French experts suspect that Thawban and his fellow Christians may have been martyred. The choice of the early Arabic script to commemorate them would have been, in itself, a powerful symbol of defiance.

This pre-Islamic alphabet is also called Nabatean Arabic, because it evolved from the script used by the Nabateans, the once-powerful nation that built Petra and dominated the trade routes in the southern Levant and northern Arabia before being annexed by the Romans in the early 2nd century. Used at the gates of Yemen, this northern alphabet would have stood in sharp contrast to the inscriptions left by Himyarite rulers in their native Sabaean.

“The adoption of a new writing signaled a distancing from Himyar and a reconciliation with the rest of the Arabs,” the French researchers write in their report. “The inscriptions of Hima reveal a strong movement of cultural unification of the Arabs, from the Euphrates to Najran, which manifested itself by the use of the same writing.”
Joseph the rebel

The growing outside pressures ultimately took their toll on Himyar. Sometime around the year 500, it fell to Christian invaders from the Ethiopian kingdom of Aksum.

In a last bid for independence, in 522, a Jewish Himyarite leader, Yusuf As’ar Yath’ar, rebelled against the puppet ruler enthroned by the negus and put the Aksumite garrison to the sword. He then besieged Najran, which had refused to provide him with troops, and massacred part of its Christian population – a martyrdom that sparked outrage amongst Yusuf’s enemies and hastened retribution from Ethiopia.

In 2014, the French-Saudi expedition at Bir Hima discovered an inscription recording Yusuf’s passage there after the Najran massacre as he marched north with 12,000 men into the Arabian desert to reclaim the rest of his kingdom. After that, we lose track of him, but Christian chroniclers recorded that around 525 the Ethiopians caught up with the rebel leader and defeated him.

According to different traditions, the last Jewish king of Arabia was either killed in battle, or committed suicide by riding with his horse into the Red Sea.

For the next century, Himyar was a Christian kingdom that continued to dominate Arabia. In the middle of the sixth century, one of its rulers, Abraha, marched through Bir Hima, leaving on the stones a depiction of the African elephant that led his mighty army. A later inscription, dated 552 and found in central Arabia, records the many locations he conquered, including Yathrib, the desert oasis that just 70 years later would become known as Madinat al-Nabi (the City of the Prophet) – or, more simply, Medina.
Were they ‘real’ Jews?

One big question that remains about the Jews of Himyar is what kind of Judaism they practiced. Did they observe the Sabbath? Or the rules of kashrut?
Some scholars, like the 19th century Jewish-French orientalist Joseph Halevy, refused to believe that a Jewish king could persecute and massacre his Christian subjects, and dismissed the Himyarites as belonging to one of the many sects in which Christianity was divided in its early days.

Robin, the French epigraphist, writes in his article that the official religion of Himyar may be described as “Judeo-monotheism” – “a minimalist variety of Judaism” that followed some of the religion’s basic principles.

The fact is that the few inscriptions found so far, along with the writings of later chroniclers, who may have been biased against the Himyarites, do not allow scholars to form a clear picture of the kingdom’s spirituality.

But there is another way to look at the question.

Through Christian and Muslim rule, Jews continued to be a strong presence in the Arabian Peninsula. This is clear not only from Mohammed’s (often conflictual) dealings with them, but also from the influence that Judaism had on the new religion’s rituals and prohibitions (daily prayers, circumcision, ritual purity, pilgrimage, charity, ban on images and eating pork).

In Yemen, the heartland of the Himyarites, the Jewish community endured through centuries of persecution, until 1949-1950, when almost all its remaining members – around 50,000 – were airlifted to Israel in Operation Magic Carpet. And while they maintain some unique rituals and traditions, which set them apart from Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews, no one would doubt that they are indeed, the last, very much Jewish descendants of the lost kingdom of Himyar.

‘Watch Out for Your Mothers’ as missionaries become more bold

Bentzi Gopstein relates how he stopped missionaries from converting 50 Jews over Shabbat

By Eliran Aharon
First Published: 6/21/2016, 8:33 AM

Bentzi Gopstein, the head of the anti-assimilation organization Lehava, successfully stopped Christian missionaries from holding a conversion ceremony in Rishon Leziyon on Saturday.

Bentzi Gopstein

“My family and I, together with 50 Lehava activists from across the country, spent Shabbat in Rishon Leziyon. We walked about 40 minutes to the cultural center where one of the worst missionary cults was holding its ceremony,” he told Arutz Sheva.

“We set up for prayers at 8:30 a.m. with all of the city’s official rabbis and Yad L’achim. More than a thousand people were there. But we didn’t settle for prayers alone — that is to say, if we hadn’t come there would have been prayers on one side and the missionaries on the other. We came to ensure that the event would not take place.

“We entered the hall, the police kicked us out, and we entered again. At the same time, we closed off all the entrances so that no one could get in. In response, the district police commander decided to close the event. That’s how the ceremony was canceled.”

According to Gopstein, “The interesting, sad and dangerous thing is that during the activities we met six women who came with their Filipino caretakers in order to convert to Christianity. One caretaker promised her charge medicine in exchange, one elderly woman was told that it was an event with Tzipi Livni. This needs to be investigated. How can these caretakers take Jewish women for Christian baptisms?”

So what can be done? Gopstein says that people need to think carefully. “There are missionaries with lots of money and tools that they may be providing for the caretakers. My wife wrote a post on Facebook called “Watch Out for Your Mothers.” Up till now, we thought that we only need to watch out for our daughters – now you need to be careful about who is treating your mother, to make sure that she doesn’t do anything except provide medical care.”

Lehava disrupts Christian conversion ceremony

Activists, including leader Bentzi Gopstein, disrupt baptisms in Rishon Leziyon, saving six Jews.

By Arutz Sheva Staff

First Published: 6/18/2016, 10:42 PM
Bentzi GopsteinHundreds of people came out to protest a Christian conversion ceremony in Rishon Leziyon on Saturday morning.

Activists from Lehava, including its head Bentzi Gosptein, broke into the cultural center where the event was taking place and blocked the entrances.

Police at the location were unable to control the activists, who entered the hall again and again. As a result, the district commander decided to close the event and stopped further missionaries from arriving.

During the course of the protest, Lehava activists managed to rescue six Jews who were expected to undergo a baptism and conversion. Two of the six were Holocaust survivors who had been brought by their carers, the group says. During the struggle, three Lehava members were arrested, though they were later released.

Gopstein says that “Dozens of activists who were with us in difficult conditions in Rishon Leziyon over Shabbat fought bravely and managed to prevent the Christian baptism. We hope that the local authorities will draw the appropriate conclusions and will no longer permit such ceremonies in the future. In any case, we will go anywhere there is an attempt to convert Jews. Rishon Leziyon residents deserve praise for their mobilization in defense of mitzvot.”

Context of the ongoing battle

Original link: Police question Lehava head following pressure from Vatican

from Jerusalem Post By DANIEL K. EISENBUD

08/11/2015 12:57

B’Tselem slams approval of administrative detention for Israelis
Vatican calls on A-G to indict extremist Jewish leader following endorsement of burning churches

Rabbi Bentzi GopsteinBentzi Gopstein to yeshiva students: Idol worship must be destroyed.

Police detained the leader of the far-right Lehava organization, Bentzi Gopstein, for questioning on Tuesday.

The arrest came two days after the Vatican asked Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein to indict Gopstein for incitement after the radical leader praised the June the arson attack at the Church of the Loaves and Fishes in the Galilee.

Gopstein was detained in the West Bank following the incendiary comments he made last week during a videotaped panel discussion with yeshiva students in Jerusalem.

Commenting after being released following the questioning, Gopstein said, “I feel like there is a witch hunt against me and that I’m some kind of enemy of the state “I was investigated today on the instructions of the pope.

The police has to understand that this is a democratic country.

It’s unthinkable that on a closed panel in which I bring quotes from Maimonides I am investigated like this.”

Gopstein added that denying freedom of speech on religious matters causes “price tag” incidents of Jewish violence and vandalism.

“I call on the minister of justice to act on this matter.

If you don’t want ‘price tag attacks,’ let us speak,” he said.

Speaking at a panel debate in a Jerusalem yeshiva regarding Jewish religious law concerning idolatry, Gopstein was asked if he was in favor of burning churches, as certain opinions in Jewish law hold Christianity to be akin to idol worship.

“For sure,” he replied, adding “Did Maimonides rule that you need to destroy or not? Idolatry needs to be destroyed.”

When the panel’s moderator cautioned Gopstein that the debate was being filmed and could result in his arrest, Gopstein replied, “That’s the last thing that concerns me.

If this is truth, I’m prepared to sit in jail 50 years for it.”

After learning of Gopstein’s comments, the Vatican’s Custodian of the Holy Land – an institution of the Franciscan Order responsible for overseeing Christian holy sites in Israel – promptly issued a statement demanding that Weinstein charge Gopstein with incitement.

In response to the statement, Gopstein posted a note on Facebook criticizing the Vatican for “censorship.”

“It’s time to remind the Vatican that the time when they censored Jewish books is gone,” he wrote. “Keep your hands away from Torat Yisrael [the Torah of the Jewish people].”

Tuesday’s detention is Gopstein’s second brush with the law for incitement since December, when he and 16 other members of Lehava were arrested following the November arson attack at the joint Jewish-Arab Max Rayne Hand in Hand School in Jerusalem.

Last month, two brothers associated with Lehava were sentenced to two and two-and-a-half years, the respectively, in prison by the Jerusalem District Court for vandalizing and setting a preschool classroom on fire at the school. The brothers also spray-painted Hebrew graffiti on the property’s interior walls stating “Kahane was right,” “You can’t coexist with a cancer,” “Enough with assimilation” and “Death to Arabs.”

Lehava propagates the ideology of the Jewish Defense League founder Meir Kahane, who was assassinated in New York City in 1990 after his Kach Party was outlawed in Israel for inciting racism.

Members of the group also protested against the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade last month during which six people were stabbed by Yishai Schlissel, resulting in the death of 16-year-old Shira Banki.

Gopstein’s attorney responded on Tuesday by stating that police are “bowing to pressure from the Vatican.”

Mystery Babylon

The Roman Catholic (RC) Church according to some ‘extreme’ Protestant groups like the Seventh-day Adventists, view the Papacy and the RC Church as a woman that rides the beast as described in the new testament (NT). Historicist interpreters of the NT commonly used the phrase “Whore of Babylon” to refer to the woman as the Roman Catholic Church. Reformation writers from Martin Luther (1483–1546) (who wrote On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church), John Calvin (1509–1564), and John Knox (1510–1572) taught this association.

Ellen G. White’s book ‘The Great Controversy’ states that “Spiritual Babylon” would have worldwide influence, affecting “all nations”, that Imperial Roman Empire could not meet the criteria for prophetic fulfillment, as she wrote that it only had influence in the Old World. Like many reformation-era Protestant leaders, her writings also describe the Catholic Church as a fallen church, and it plays a nefarious eschatological role as the antagonist against God’s true church and that the pope is the Antichrist.

All of the above is just part of the heady cocktail of ideas and interpretations which have flooded the Christian theological world for centuries. One only has to be an observer over a period of time to take stock of the many ‘curved balls’ that current events have thrown which see amazing theological gymnastics performed on previously established end time doctrines being re-jigged. Like the fashion industry if one waits long enough you may witness the ‘resurrection’ of  previously established end time doctrines coming back into vogue!

The waters are indeed muddy especially if one notes that Martin Luther in his branding of the RC church as ‘anti-christ’ still promotes burning of Jews in their synagogues and other horrible things included in his tract “The Jews and their lies”. All the more amazing when we see to today the so called messianic Jewish movement getting all friendly with Rome:

Messianic Jewish Theological Institute   MJTI

Messianic ‘Rabbi’ Dr. Mark Kinzer has engaged in ‘unsanctioned’ talks with the Roman Catholics!! A book has been written by Mark which has glowing approbations by Mark’s newly found chums in the RC church. Unsanctioned? Yeah right……. and we were all born yesterday!!

The Bigger Picture

Nostra aetate (Latin: In our Time) is the Declaration on the Relation of the RC Church with Non-Christian Religions of the Second Vatican Council. The efforts of Nostra aetate no doubt include a unique program which occurred on May 4-7 2015 at Domus Galilaeae, the Catholic center for study and prayer in the Galilee. The program included rabbis, cardinals, bishops and priests who met together, prayed together, discussed theology together, sang, danced and feasted together, and recited 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.

Library Domus Galilaeae Official Site

The Goals of Domus Galilaeae in their own words are:

The center “Domus Galilaeae” is a place where Christians, and above all, seminarians and presbyters, will be able to have a direct contact with the living tradition of Israel, following the footsteps of, Origen[1], and St. Jerome as well as many other Fathers of Church who returned to their Hebrew roots to understand the meaning of prayer, of feasts, and Hebrew liturgies, which were the daily food of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

In stark contrast let me quote some of these Church Fathers:

Justin Martyr – Dialogue with Trypho (Between 138A.D. and 161 A.D.)

We too, would observe your circumcision of the flesh, your Sabbath days, and in a word, all you festivals, if we were not aware of the reason why they were imposed upon you, namely, because of your sins and the hardness of heart.

The custom of circumcising the flesh, handed down from Abraham, was given to you as a distinguishing mark, to set you off from other nations and from us Christians. The purpose of this was that you and only you might suffer the afflictions that are now justly yours; that only your land be desolated, and you cities ruined by fire, that the fruits of you land be eaten by strangers before your very eyes; that not one of you be permitted to enter your city of Jerusalem. Your circumcision of the flesh is the only mark by which you can certainly be distinguished from other men…as I stated before it was by reason of your sins and the sins of your fathers that, among other precepts, God imposed upon you the observence of the sabbath as a mark.

Origen of Alexandria (185-254 A.D.) – An ecclesiastical writer and teacher who contributed to the early formation of Christian doctrines.

We may thus assert in utter confidence that the Jews will not return to their earlier situation, for they have committed the most abominable of crimes, in forming this conspiracy against the Savior of the human race…hence the city where Jesus suffered was necessarily destroyed, the Jewish nation was driven from its country, and another people was called by God to the blessed election.

St. Augustine (c. 354-430 A.D.), Confessions, 12.14

How hateful to me are the enemies of your Scripture! How I wish that you would slay them (the Jews) with your two-edged sword, so that there should be none to oppose your word! Gladly would I have them die to themselves and live to you!

The presence in Israel of many of the best scriptures scholars and prestigious biblical schools, allows “Domus Galilaeae” to be the ideal place to promote a recovery of scriptural studies as the witness of the living presence of God.

The ex Catholic priest Martin Luther (1543) in the tractate titled “On The Jews and Their Lies”

“their synagogues should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it. And this ought to be done for the honor of God and of Christianity in order that God may see that we are Christians, and that we have not wittingly tolerated or approved of such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of His Son and His Christians.”

From the above we can firmly see that the Church fathers vehemently hated the Jewish people and clearly believed at the very best the Church was a replacement of the “Israel” of God [the Jews] and at the worst, as history bears witness, also includes the attempts of the Jews’ wholesale annihilation which is both physical and spiritual.

Under the rubric of many agendas merging into an effort to be politically correct and gain popular appeal we have a classical example of how the waters are getting more muddy:

No, Rabbi Riskin: Reform and Conservative Movements are a danger

The Reform and Conservative movements are not allies, but pose a clear danger to Jewish continuity.
 

By Rabbi Avraham Gordimer

First Publish: 6/15/2016, 1:05 PM
Original Post click here

Rabbi Gordimer is a member of the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America, and a member of the New York Bar. His writings on Jewish topics are published widely.

It is sometimes hard to believe what we are reading, as things are turned upside down in an effort to be politically correct and gain popular appeal. Orthodox Judaism has never sought to be politically correct – on the contrary, it has stood its guns no matter what direction the winds are blowing. Unfortunately, with the case of Modern Orthodox rabbis who have crossed the line into Open Orthodoxy, it has become almost commonplace to read the unbelievable, things that would never have been expressed were Rabbi Soloveitchik zt”l, the Torah luminary of American Modern Orthodoxy, still with us. Sometimes, shocking ideas are articulated in direct contravention of his views, with the excuse that “times have changed.” Since when has that well worn excuse been used in Orthodoxy?

This, much as it hurts to write it, seems to be the case when it comes to rabbinic superstar, Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin, who seems to be on a much publicized collision course with tradition. There was the “Rabbi Jesus Video” (which Rabbi Riskin later said did not represent his views, due to the video’s poor editing), his promoting the chanting of Megillath Ruth by a woman at the main minyan of a synagogue under his jurisdiction, and other ideas that fly in the face of Orthodox tradition. A once modern rabbinic icon who did much to bring people closer to Torah, Rabbi Riskin has in his later years adopted positions that fly in the face of normative Torah understanding. (Please also see the later portion of this linked article regarding Rabbi Riskin’s involvement with Christian ministries.)

Although one could have otherwise, perhaps favorably interpreted Rabbi Riskin’s hair-raising idea in his recent public pronouncement on Arutz Sheva that the Reform and Conservative movements are partners in Jewish outreach to have been intended to express the demarcation between acceptance of Reform and Conservative Jews themselves and unequivocal opposition to their leaders and their interpretations of Judaism, a view held by respected rabbinic authorities, that is clearly not what Rabbi Riskin said.  Rather, Rabbi Riskin stated:  “They’re not tearing Jews away but bringing them closer… That may have been true at the beginning of the Reform Movement, but it’s very different now – they’re trying to bring Jews closer. Not to the wholeness, the fullness of Orthodox Judaism that I love and that I know, but nevertheless they’re trying to bring Jews closer.” In other words, it is the leadership of the Reform and Conservative movements whom Rabbi Riskin praises!

This leadership is bringing Jews closer to what? Intermarriage?  Christmas trees and menorahs in the living room? A total departure from normative halakhic Judaism?

Let us look at that greatest danger to the continuity of the Jewish people, not the just as important continuity of its halakhic framework. On a factual level, not only are most Reform Jews (and non-Orthodox Jews in general) intermarried today, and not only does the head of the Reform movement extol intermarriage, but there has been serious discussion within the Reform movement to permit its rabbis to themselves be intermarried. The Reconstructionist movement has gone further, formally allowing its rabbis to be intermarried, and a large plurality of rabbis in the Conservative movement favor the performance of intermarriages. In fact, the Conservative movement’s USY youth group now permits its leadership to interdate

To endorse these movements as positive and as forces for bringing Jews closer to Judaism is downright wrong and even farcical. Although these groups may espouse some type of Jewish identity, they embody and encourage assimilation and the abandonment of Jewish tradition and commitment. And it is happening before our eyes.

Theologically, the Reform and Conservative (as well as the Reconstructionist) movements reject the Singular Divine Authorship of the Torah and the other Cardinal Principles of Faith, and they have disavowed the binding nature of halakha.

It is therefore not only incorrect to refer to these groups as partners in bringing Jews closer to Judaism, but it is dangerous, as such a statement empowers and validates groups which threaten the very integrity and future of authentic Judaism in every manner.

There is no need for elaboration, as the issue is not subtle or nuanced; endorsing the heterodox movements is tantamount to endorsing the dismantling and destruction of traditional Judaism.

Many of my friends were immensely impacted by Rabbi Riskin in a most positive way during his early tenure in the United States, as he energetically established Torah institutions of the highest caliber. My friends miss the old Rabbi Riskin. We all wish that he would return.

The views expressed in this article are solely the author’s opinion and do not represent any organizations.

_______________

Epilogue

 The mystery of Babylon for me as an Orthodox Jew is how we can join with so many falsehoods under one umbrella of political correctness gone wild. I watch in amazement that so many Orthodox Jews including our leaders are intoxicated with Babylon and the ‘wine of her adulteries’. The intoxication sees our leaders accepting financial incentives from missionary organizations which exposes our people to the falsehoods of many different forms of idolatry and perversions. How on earth did we decide to allow the erection of such a monstrous idol as Domus Galilaeae in our land? How and why do we tolerate missionaries in our land who have the sole intention of converting us to Jesus/ Yeshua under the devious guise of ‘loving and blessing Israel’? The intoxication sees our leaders embarrassingly running towards idolatry and perversion to openly embrace those who would destroy us both physically and spiritually. G-d help us!