Thursday, January 3, 2008

Gentile Lubavitcher refused conversion | Jerusalem Post

If you believe that a dead man is the messiah, does that disqualify you from converting to Judaism?

This raises an important set of questions.

  • Do those who are "born Jewish" who believe Schneerson was/is the messiah merit Jewish excommunication, known essentially as cherem?
    My POV: No. There are born Orthodox Jews who I've heard utter that Jesus may have been the messiah. The idea that the messiah may have come already and been passed by in error is a common fear much like thinking your soulmate might have been someone you got off on the wrong foot with and passed by years ago. What others view as an error in composition of theology in you is not something that makes relations between you and the community impossible. That is my standard for cherem by the way.

  • If so, why are they not?
    My POV: They are not because the Chabad Lubavitch movement is very large, very wealthy, extremely effective at getting donations for various good causes, and very attractive to baalei teshuva in a way many Charedi groups only wish they were. In other words, supposed integrity in defense of Jewish orthodoxy is readily thrown aside for the usual reason: scraps off the table of wealth and influence.

  • If not, why is this man who follows their ways in every respect considered unfit?
    My POV: Quite simply, it is a stunning lack of foresight as to the exposure of the above two points conflicting with simplistic reasoning and misplaced concern masquerading as integrity and defense of the faith and probably a little bit of the old suspicion toward the ger.

  • Is this like the "don't ask don't tell" of the US Army regarding homosexuality?
    My POV: This is the embodiment of agreeing that there is such a thing as a "noble lie", the idea that small children have that if they hide under a blanket and can't see you then you can't see them, and tacitly agreeing to disagree all in one. It's both a subtle and obvious admission of fatigue with the argument, and a willingness to let things go between us lest we argue and fight further. However, in the end, it's only because when it is told that we feel socially bound to fight not necessarily because we actually have to or should.

I think that it is highly unlikely his fellow Lubavitchers did not advise him to be careful what he said, and perhaps may even have gone past inference to pointedly telling him to deny it if they, the beit din, asked. The Lubavitch community is not unaware of how the rest of the Charedi and Chasidic worlds regard them on this subject especially. I would not blame them in the slightest for counseling this man to lie. He, the ger tzedek, answered honestly anyhow.

That honesty, of taking the rap to the spiritual knuckles shows an honesty that is sadly lacking in many religious quarters. Whether or not I agree that Schneerson, or Jesus, or whoever was the messiah is not the point. It's that what we each believe is ultimately squeezed out of our public lives, hidden under our clothes like a forbidden book, in favor of things we may not believe which unfortunately have become orthodoxy.

It is also an honesty lacking in the "don't ask don't tell" approach. We lie and pretend something isn't so until it is told and then we think we have to. We invent for ourselves the peer pressure. We think, "oh great, now I have to stand up against this because otherwise people will think less of me". THAT is why when it is openly told that you're gay or you believe Schneerson is the messiah that you get open resistance and oppression. It is because the other person fears for what society will think of them, not for what impact you will have.

I am of course not getting into a discussion of the righteousness or horrible anathema of messianic or sexual leanings. That's not for now. I just wanted to point out why this man was rejected: the beit din worried more what people would think than over what the actual damage to the Jewish community would be. They were worried that accepting his conversion would be seen as opening the gates to more messianic believers, not just those harking to Chabad Lubavitch's rebbe, but perhaps Jews for Jesus.

All of this also points out that it is almost impossible at this point for there to ever be the coming of moshiach as G-d's own choice of representative on Earth would be circumscribed by the judgment of a mortal human beit din. G-d is not constrained by us but if we don't heed Him, what does it matter? The outcome is the same. In the name of Him, we marginalize Him.

This is one more reason for my philosophy of uniting the opposites and floating in nothingness. Whatever will be will be...

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a Jewish believer in Jesus, I find this very interesting, and I can't disagree with much of what you say. I am specifically interested in your comment that "G-d is not constrained by us but if we don't heed Him, what does it matter? The outcome is the same." I agree with the first part, but disagree somewhat with the latter.
From a historical perspective, it may not matter whether we heed or not, but from a personal perspective, I think it matters very much. It is very disconcerting to me that so many of our Jewish people dismiss the claims of Jesus out of hand and based solely on the tradition of men. I think there is ample evidence from both the Tanakh and the B'rit Hadashah to testify to the Messiahship of Y'shua. But if people close there eyes to the possibility, how can they determine whether this is true or false? Knowledge by indoctrination (agreeing with a viewpoint that is passed down or passed on but not studied and which is the kind of knowledge most of our Jewish people possess,) is hardly certain knowledge.
The question is: if there can be shown ample reasons why belief in Y'shua is according to Jewish tradition, then where does that leave Jewish believers in the spectrum of what is Jewish and within the context of the question of Right of Return?

-suitepotato- said...

What I meant is that if we do not heed G-d, it doesn't matter what G-d does. We'll ascribe it to something else. If He sends a messiah, and we ignore that messiah, we cannot be saved. Our acceptance of salvation from G-d's chosen is important. I just think we've set ourselves a position where G-d could send a hundred and we'd never accept them for reasons of simple embarrassment, threat to our power, our world view, etc.

I believe Jesus existed, but am right now still rebuilding my estimation of him in light of the removal of the petty or personal issues of apostles and proselytizers as they affect the accounts and message. My picture so far is of a complex but devout and passionate Jewish man who loved his people and their potential and embraced his world and not that given by the much edited later writings as rejecting it.

I'll write more on my beliefs specific about Jesus in the near future. Personally, I guess you could call my views on salvation and messiahs transcendental.

Anonymous said...

SuitePotato, I must share this with you, and I have shared it with nobody else. I am an Orthodox Jew who is passionate about my relationship with Hashem. I amrried a beautiful Jewish woman who was convinced that Yeshua was/is the Mashiach. I surrendered to the idea that we would just have a 'mixed' marraige, and that as long as she never mentioned his name around me, we would be fine.

She ended up introducing me to a man named Dr. Michael Brown who is a brilliant Jewish scholar. He also believes that Yeshua is the Mashiach, but he offers irrefutable proof. He takes every argument from the anti-missionaries and proves they're wrong via scripture from the Tanakh, Talmud, Targums, etc.... If you do a search for him on YouTube, you can see him debating with some of the great Jewish minds of our time about the Messiahship of Yeshua, and they can't argue against him. This knowledge has absolutely changed my life,a dn I want you to know what I know. Please check him out.

I would identify myself publicly, but my wife and I are making preparations to make aliyah soon, and I don't want anything to stand in the way.

Blessings to you...

Yehudi01 said...

This is an interesting post...
I have also checked out Dr. Michael Brown, and am very impressed with his knowledge.
Shavua Tov!

-suitepotato- said...

I will check that out and thank you for it.

The biggest objection for me is that prophetic writings intentional or not (and those sound more like G-d was ghost-writing them behind the penman's back, don't they) are often so vague that they can be fulfilled by many people.

I also know that indeterminacy is the kind of thing that G-d seems to delight in. It harkens back to Douglas Adams' line “I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”

I'll write on Jesus as soon as I can nail down what I am thinking without sounding too totally goofy.

Ahron said...

In response to the commentators mentioned above who mentioned the scholarship of Dr. Michael Brown on the subject of J as the Jewish messiah, it is clear to anyone who is truly familiar with these sources that he has only a very superficial knowledge of some sources and twists most of them totally out of context to "prove" his points. Anyone who is interested in discussing a particular point should contact me.