Monday, January 28, 2008

Israel Rabbinate rejects messianic convert

"Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v'Rabbeinu Melech haMoshiach l'olam vo'ed! (Long [shall]) Live our Master, our Teacher, and our Rabbi, the King Messiah, for ever and ever."

One of the most intense controversies within Judaism is the question of whether or not it is permissible to believe that the late Chabad Rebbe, Menachem Schneerson, was the true moshiach (anointed messiah), and is himself divine despite his (alleged) death in 1994. If this belief is not permissible, is it full blown heresy or perhaps just a misguided belief that falls short of being a true avera (sin)?

Now, for the record, I consider the belief that the Rebbe is/was the king moshiach to be pure bunk. He failed to build, or herald the building of, the Third Temple in Jerusalem; he did not lead all of world Jewry to Eretz Israel; and, most tellingly, he really is dead (though a substantial number within the Lubavitch movement don't believe he died at all and instead insist his presence is being "divinely concealed").

Look, he certainly was a brilliant scholar, and made a huge impact upon the Jewish people as a whole with his incredibly successful mission of outreach (sending out an army of Rabbis to bring secular Jews back to Torah). But, to believe he is actually divine? God forbid we should endorse the idea that an omnipotent "mangod" lived who will soon be resurrected to lead us into the true messianic age. Such beliefs are essentially Christian in concept, and entirely antithetical to Judaism.

Anyway, I want to add that I was brought from secular Judaism to observant Judaism in large part because of the kindness and warmth of the outreach from the Chabad movement. While I don't accept the "Rebbe HaMelech Moshiach" concept whatsoever, I do believe the movement has done incredible good for am Yisrael, and have nothing but affection and love in my heart for the Chabad rabbis I have encountered over the years. They do so much good, I only pray that they don't destroy themselves by following their false Messiah off the edge of the cliff.

Your thoughts? Do you feel that the Israeli Rabbinate was in the right to reject a messianic conversion? Did they over-react to a harmless error in judgment from a convert who otherwise observes the mitzvos? Is this a decision that was long overdo, and a needed message to the "Yechi" movement? I want to know what you think.

I tend to agree with the Israeli Rabbinate.



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