Sunday, April 6, 2008

Riskin, the Rav and the Rebbe

Posted by Ellen W. Horowitz

Clarification (June 25, 2008) Since this posting I have had some very good, thoughtful, sincere, and reflective correspondence with Jeremy. We discussed at length the statements in question, his intentions and direction, as well as any misunderstandings I may have had. We agreed that these are awesome times and that drawing proper red lines in our alliances with Christian friends is indeed a very difficult test for the Jewish people. Not only did Jeremy clear things up with me, but he and Ari Abramovitz are on the air on their A7 Wednesday radio show and regularly lay down the law – the Jewish law - in no uncertain terms. They are now aware of, and continue to address the serious missionary threat to our people. We are sharing information and coordinating efforts on a regular basis. A clarification was also posted on this issue at:

In 1964 Rabbi Joseph.B. Soloveitchik’s published position opposing interfaith dialogue - on a theological level - became widely accepted and recognized halacha.

On May 18th 2006 the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) reaffirmed the need for continued adherance to Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik's guidelines regarding interfaith dialogue.

On June 25th 2007, the 9th of Tamuz , Rabbi Shlomo Riskin was the keynote speaker at a Chabad event commemorating The Rebbe, His life Teachings and Inspiration. He recounted the following:

"During my first encounter with the Rebbe in 1964 at 1 AM I felt the Rebbe's eyes scanning and reading me. The first thing he told me was that "you have a very special Rav, make sure to listen to what he says all the time."

1 month later, on Tisha b’Av (July 24, 2007), Rabbi Riskin’s opinion piece, In praise of Christian-Jewish interfaith dialogue, was published in the Jerusalem Post - he overturned the psak of his Rav.
(Excerpt ) :
As a rabbi who entered the rabbinate in June 1963 with a strong bias against any inter-faith dialogue and cooperation, and who is now so passionate about the importance of inter-religious communication and study that I have established an Institute for the furtherance of Jewish - Christian Understanding in Efrat … After all, Christianity emerged from the matrix of Judaism, and the founder of Christianity was a Jewish teacher who - it would certainly appear from the Gospels - lived a Jewish life-style, replete with the Sabbath, festivals and kashrut. Hence there is every logical, historical and religious reason for there to be a rapprochement between us.

The results:
The International Center for Biblical Zionism is a project of Ohr Torah Stone and Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the chief Rabbi of Efrat, and was founded by Jeremy Gimpel and Ari Abramowitz.

You can see and hear Jeremy Gimpel in a number of online lectures and interviews. I just looked at a few, and this is a sampling of the kind of stuff that really disturbs me:

Pastor Klein– a Jewish convert to Christianity – interviewed Jeremy on a “messianic” TV show last year. If you don’t have the time, patience, or stomach to watch the whole thing, then just view two minutes from 3.10-5.10. Jeremy mentions that he is training “missionaries” and “The Third Temple is not a Jewish Temple…”, and “Bible believing Jews and Bible believing Christians stand united in the word of G-d”
One problem, Jeremy… according to evangelicals, “a Bible-believing Jew” is a Jew who believes in Jesus, because according to Christians, “the Bible” is made up of the New as well as the Old Testament. No kidding. I checked with an ex-missionary on that one.
But the following is beyond the pale:

In a lecture at “messianic” Gates to Zion Ministries, Gimpel preaches the following:

We are now returning to His word and not to doctrine. I don’t want to just hear what the teachings of our father's are, because very possibly we have inherited lies.

A new people is being formed, and it’s not the Jewish people anymore, it’s a new people. Many nations will join themselves to Hashem on that day and they will become a people unto me. A new people is being born today and it doesn’t matter if you’re Jewish or non-Jewish, that’s what’s so exciting. Because all of these labels that we put on ourselves, all of them, they are all coming down.

It doesn’t matter anymore what we label our selves – are we an Ephramite or a noahite, are we a two house or a this house – the question is do you believe in the word of G-d?

I don’t know what Rabbi Riskin is promoting, but in my humble opinion, it sure doesn't sound like Torah Judaism. He should have listened to his Rav, and the Rebbe.


Avi said...

We need to distance ourselves completely from these people. As it is, relying on goyyim prevents the Geula. Only when we are entirely dependent on HaShem can we be redeemed. As such, there are absolutely no advantages in relying on Christians.

Anonymous said...

multi Millions of dollars in humanitarian aid, myriads of Christian Pilgrims supporting the economy, promises of continued political support, and 80 million Christians who "share common roots" and are "grafted" onto the Jewish tree. not to mention unlimited "blessings", "prayers", "love" and "comfort" being showered upon us...on one side of the scale.

On the other side, we have the Torah and and our unique obligation to remain an independent faith community which strives to keep Eretz Yisrael sovereign and holy.

Now which side do you think your average Israeli is gonna go for?

I don't think we Jews have ever faced a more difficult test.

Suzanne Pomeranz said...

Even Isaiah recognized that the Temple was not (and in the future is not to be) a "Jewish" Temple, as he said in Chapter 56, verses 3-8:

Do not let the son of the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD speak, saying, “The LORD has utterly separated me from His people”; nor let the eunuch say, “Here I am, a dry tree.” For thus says the LORD: “To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, and choose what pleases Me, and hold fast My covenant, even to them I will give in My house and within My walls a place and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants; everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant; even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet I will gather to him others besides those who are gathered to him.”

The key is, according to Isaiah - will the Christians join with us in keeping the Torah, or do they expect us to leave the Torah and join with them?

If the former, fine; if the latter, then we have a problem.

Anonymous said...

Hi Suzanne,
I'm not going to second guess the prophets. Nor am I as adept as my Christian friends with regards to knowing "G-d's plan for the Jewish people".

All I know is that in confusing times like these, we must be very careful of our presentation, and not send mixed messages to other faith communities.

Regardless of the changing times, we Jews are obligated to hold our ground and adhere to the following formula:

a) Keep the fences around the Torah intact
b) Remain fiercly loyal to One G-d
c) keep idolatry away from our people and the Land of Israel
d) Educate by bringing close with the right hand and pushing away with the left
e) respecting and suspecting our Gentile friends

Anonymous said...

Since I posted this, I have had conversations with Jeremy in which he clarified his stance and statements to my satisfaction.
In addition he made his positions quite clear in his radio show at

You can read my clarification at:

I am waiting to discuss issues with Rabbi Riskin

Anonymous said...

Where to start... Absolutely, the Jewish people should look only to HaShem for redemption and salvation from the enemies that seek the destruction of Israel -- too much trouble has come from doing anything else. If a Christian has any encouragement to give to the Jewish people, it should be just that: look to HaShem and do not put your hope anywhere else /period/

Christians, typically, need a little more Bible and a lot less Christian doctrine. The doctrine that all non-Christians are lost, for instance, is a doctrine that, in addition to being patently unscriptural, hinders free interaction between Jews and Christians.

All this being true, I value the relationship that has developed between the "Christian" community of which I am a part and people such as Jeremy Gimpel and communities such as Kedumim. I would be disappointed if I saw any of the people with whom I have interacted being anything less than strong in the faith of Moses, Joshua, David, Ezra, etc.