Sunday, September 6, 2009

Treading Dangerous Waters, Rabbi Riskin

I write this post very sadly...

Last night, just before I loggedout of my email and blogs, I got an alert from Jewish Israel about Rabbi Riskin's Friday Jerusalem Post article.  I must admit that I hadn't read it.  "Stevie Wonder" has long lost his luster.  Ellen Horowitz has blogged about his "decline" here on Shiloh Musings before the Jewish Israel site began and frequently cross-posts on topics suited to both sites/blogs.

I was curious and quickly checked out what my former role model, as BT (Ba'al Tshuva,) before the terms were used, had written.
But sometime in the second century CE - perhaps because in our pride we forgot that it was the Torah's superiority, and not our own, which had brought us such success - we became unable, or unworthy, of sustaining the momentum. We stopped "hearing" God's voice, were forced to leave history, and virtually forgot the mission of the third covenant.

Remarkably, the Christians in many ways continued* where we left off. Maimonides, in the unexpurgated versions of the Mishneh Torah, records: "God's ways are too wondrous to comprehend. All those matters relating to Jesus of Nazareth and the Ishmaelite who came after him are only serving to clear the way for King Messiah, to prepare the whole world ' worship God with one accord' (Zephaniah 3:9). Thus the messianic hope, the Torah and the commandments have become familiar topics... among the inhabitants of the far-flung islands at the ends of the globe..."
This was not a calm, feel-good "bedtime story."  The popular, charismatic rabbi, raised in Fresh Meadows, just west of my childhood home of Bayside, NY, is mistaken.  Christianity, like Islam, is a highjacking, a perversion of Judaism.  By using the term "*continued," he gives their theology a sacrilegious, anti-Jewish legitimacy. 


Anonymous said...

Is the Rabbanut employing Riskin in any capacity? They should wash their hands of him already.

Efrat residents should ride him out of town on a rail.

I'm sure he can find a new shtellar in one of the many messy-annic communities Israel lets thrive.

Keli Ata said...

I've never heard of R'Riskin before but he sounds a little cuckoo cuckoo. Islam and Christianity have both distorted and hijacked Judaism, giving millions and billions of people a very warped impression of the nature of Hashem, His absolute oneness, His mercy, His compasion and His laws.

The more I learn about Judaism the more I recognize how remote Christinity is from it.

Lady-Light said...

I haven't been following Rabbi Riskin's endeavors, so to me, this is quite a shocker.
I never thought he was into "ecumenism" and I am totally dismayed by his exalting Christianity, which I truly believe is a 'fantasy' religion based on shtuyot.

That false religion still hasn't admitted to its terrible past of the Crusaders massacring the Jews in the Holy Land between 1095-1291.

goyisherebbe said...

Rabbi Riskin refers to the Rambam. The Rambam unequivocally considers Christianity to be avodah zarah, idolatry. But the Rambam considers the development of Christianity and Islam as part of the process which leads to the redemption. Rabbi Riskin is not validating Christian theology. The commenter who said that Christianity never repented its actions during the Crusades, pogroms and Shoah is wrong. In general it has. I certainly know plenty of Christians whose Christianity has evolved far from where Christians were in the Middle Ages or even half a century ago. Do you know these people? You speak as if you don't. Some of them have problems with still wanting to convert Jews, and some are beyond that. We need to educate them. They feel compassion for G-d's people being without G-d. So so we. That's what Jewish outreach is about. OTOH, there are those Christians who have not evolved, and we know who they are. There are also the entrenched interests of churches which are supporting our enemies. But then again there are some "rabbis" and so-called Jewish organizations which are doing the same. It is perfectly legitimate for Rabbi Riskin to praise some Christians for what they do right without in any way denying that which they do wrong. He is a nice guy, and that is one of his strengths. Sometimes he overdoes it. But I don't think he deserves incendiary rhetoric because of it.

Batya said...

shy, keli, ll, I agree that this is bad news, very dangerous.
goyish, Riskin spoke in general of christianity, not of individuals. That's the big problem.

Keli Ata said...

I listened to Chabad audio lesson I downloaded a while back and the rabbi giving the lesson--don't remember his name--believes that Christians and Muslims would be more receptive to the true Moshiach when he comes because they already have, though grossly distorted, a concept of a messiah and afterlife.

I disgree. When Moshiach comes Christians will outright reject him and Muslims will either try to convert or kill him.

Both Christianity and Islam have their own beliefs about a messiah and they're in direct conflict with what Judaism teaches.

By this rabbi saying that Christianity and Islam are paths to redemption is just plain wrong. He should present the truth because Christians in particular will twist his words around and use him as a source to legitmize thei false religion.

To lighten things up a bit:) I clicked on a xtian TV station and saw a little blurb about how anyone who rejects JC is an anti-Christ.

I'm an anti-Christ and proud of it LOL.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Keli, I'm not just an anti-christ.

I'm an infidel kaffir, too!


Keli Ata said...

Me too! An anti-Christ and an infidel kaffir and proud of it:)

ellen said...

The article is not some fluke. Rabbi Riskin is not known for his consistency and has been known to waiver on a number of issues (including the Oslo Accords and the Gaza Disengagement ) - but not on this issue. When it comes to interfaith theological matters, he has a real juke in his head. For at least two years now he has been clinging to the idea of a Jewish-Christian theological alliance. But now he has gone so far as to say that Jews and Christians need to “join hands” in a “sacred” religious union. And he seems absolutely taken-in by the Christian theological concept of grafting.

I understand that a number of prominent rabbis are getting rather nervous over the issue.

To try and understand the Chief Rabbi of Efrat and this particular pathway to Hell, you can go to and do a search on Rabbi Riskin in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

Batya said...

I'm just curious. Do the people of Efrat look into their rabbi's new theology-Jewish-Christian theological alliance?

Anonymous said...

Batya, do you think the average Efrati is theologically well-versed enough to make a decision?

I think what's needed is a review by the Rabbanut of Riskin's qualifications as Rav of Efrat and to make a decision as to whether he should be allowed to continue in that capacity or not.

Whatever the decision may be, after such a review, Efrat residents should be invited to a shiur explaining in laymen's terms the justification of the review's conclusions and lessons learned.

Unknown said...

I have not followed Rabbi Riskin's career for some time, so I cannot really comment on the matter (even though I "knew him when he was Steve"). However, the impression given in the mention of the Rambam seems to be the idea that the original pagans could not have understood the concept of a noncorporeal deity. The Rambam's explanation of how avodas zara (idol worship) came about shows that the development of human thought is a gradual process. In order to move human beings towards a basic understanding (even totally warped as we see today), there had to be something that was close enough to the original idolatry for its followers to be able to move without realizing it.

When we see how Xianity has changed over the centuries, I think that we can see how the goyim have changed from the original idea of a god (small g deliberate) which was that of a tribe of super magicians (like the Greek pantheon) to the concept of a "son" of a deity like Hercules or y'shu (initial letters of a phrase used deliberately - yud shin vav) to the liberal concepts of unitarianism (a sect that approaches monotheism).

Similarly, the development of Islam from a tribe of pagan nomads with the full character of Yishmael (pereh adam), to the point that some of them are actually approaching human status will eventually lead them to repeat the actions of their forebear at the funeral of Avraham. He did not do teshuvah until it was too late to influence his children, but the potential is there.

As a result of the development of these two false paths, the rest of the world will be able to understand and have less of a journey to undertake once the mashiach comes.

Until that time, we have to make sure that we are not twisted from the path by their influence. However, we should recognize that the fact that so much of the world no longer understands what paganism and idolatry are is progress.

Batya said...

I'm sure that as sad as I was to write the post, my friends in Efrat refuse to really think about what he does when he's not presiding over their kids' weddings, bar mitzvahs etc.

He's like a chassidic rebbe to many, and they trust him.

And I have a feeling that the Chief Rabbinate may not fully understand what he says, especially if those statements are mostly in English. Does he say/write the same in Hebrew?

Batya said...

Sabba Hillel, it's too dangerous with the undercurrent of missionary work to be so close. Most Jews can't differentiate.