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Messianic Judaism

Qa•bâl•âh ? Kha•sid•im ? Or Christian?

by Pâ•qid Yirmәyâhu, Pâ•qid 16, the Nәtzâr•im, © 2011

1st Century Netzarim Beit K'nesset
Remains of 1st Century C.E. Nәtzâr•im Beit ha-kәnësët on Har Tzi•yon in Yәru•shâ•layim.

This article assumes the reader has, at minimum, studied The Messianic Idea in Judaism (Gershom Scholem z"l, Prof. Emeritus of Jewish Mysticism at the Hebrew University, Yәru•shâ•layim, New York: Schocken Books, 1978).

Prof. Scholem begins his book with a solid premise: "Judaism, in all of its forms and manifestations, has always maintained a concept of redemption as an event which takes place publicly, on the stage of history and within the community. It is an occurrence which takes place in the visible world…" But then he abruptly steps off the logical cliff, continuing with a non sequitur: "and which cannot be conceived apart from such a visible appearance." While the Dead Sea Scrolls hadn't been published when his book came out, there was, even then, an abundance of writings in the Pseudepigrapha that goes beyond the scope of this paper demonstrating the distinct but complementary nature of redemption in the physical universe with that of the non-physical—spiritual—realm. Much of his thinking depends on, and errs over, this logical fallacy of mutual exclusiveness that he wrongly assumes stands between these two domains. He fell into this logical fallacy as a result of deciding that his restorative element (i.e., return to pristineness) of the Messianic mission should be mutually exclusive of his utopian-reform element of the Messianic mission. This decision led him to the illogical conclusion regarding what he thought should be a parallel mutual exclusion relative to what he regarded as parallels in the physical and spiritual domains (restorative in the physical world mutually exclusive from utopian-reform in the spiritual realm). Since he then sees the former as Judaic and the latter as Christian, he remains the objective scientific and psychological spectator oblivious to any restorative or Judaic Messianic relevance beyond the physical universe. In other words, his view was that the Judaic view of Messianic redemption was totally blind to the non-physical Realm of --. Interesting, but simplistic.

Principal Messianic Principles Comprise 2 Parallel Aspects

Historical Distortions, Both Jewish & Christian

"… the distortion of historical circumstances, equally popular among both Jewish and Christian scholars, which lies [great pun] in denying the continuation of the apocalyptic tradition in rabbinic Judaism. This distortion of intellectual history is quite understandable in terms of the anti-Jewish interests of Christian scholars, as well as the anti-Christian interests of Jewish ones… Historical truth was the price paid for the prejudices of both camps." (Scholem, p. 8f)

Thus, "Messianic Judaism" has been distorted and perverted among both camps and is in dire need of restoration to a documented and stable historical base, a reality check, to which both camps, and every individual in each, can either relate or continue denying reality from a better informed position.

This World //

"[The eschatology of Ho•sheia], [•mos] or [Yәsha•yâhu]… is of a national kind: it speaks of the re-establishment of [Beit-Dâ•wid], now in ruins, and of the future glory of [Yi•sә•râ•eil] returned to [--]; also of everlasting peace and the turning of all nations toward the [One Ël•oh•im] of [Yi•sә•râ•eil] and away from heathen cults and images. In contrast, apocalypticism produced the doctrine of the two aeons which follow one another and stand in antithetical relationship: this world and the world to come, the reign of darkness and the reign of light." (Scholem, p. 6)

The Hebrew phrase insinuates an unfortunate misconception. While this realm appears future (to come) to mortals, in the more absolute sense it is a timeless, non-physical realm that is, that antedated the universe, and that will post-date the universe. Thus, the notion that "this world" is now and mutually exclusive from is simplistic and logically flawed. Before this world there was " ." There is now " ." After this life there will be (sans quotation marks). Thus, throughout the existence of the universe, while the physical and non-physical remain mutually exclusive, the two realms coexist and interact together. The question becomes how our nëphësh that bridges the two realms (e.g., thought, while translating into physical neurons in this world, is itself not physical and, thus, exists in the non-physical realm) can learn to perceive and commune with the non-physical Realm of --. Entrance of our nëphësh (as contrasted with only temporal thoughts and ideas) to the non-physical realm requires adherence to the specifications set down in Tor•âh. While mysticism and apocalypticism generate illusions suspended in imagination, rationalism directs one back to the Prime Cause of the universe, first principles, the fundamental meaning of life and the fulcrum of life, which is the "Life's User's Manual" communicated through His servant, Mosh•ëh, and His Nәviy•imTor•âh.

As a consequence of muddling these two distinct but parallel realms, Scripture that is entirely speculative and unlikely in this world more likely, a priori, applies to the other realm; e.g., Tәhil•im 95.7, which is popularly misattributed to argue that Israel's repentance would immediately bring the Mâ•shiakh in this world when, in fact, it is simple to see that the individual, personal, application of this pâ•suq in the spiritual world is straightforward. "But in fact there can be no preparation for the Mâ•shiakh. He comes suddenly, unannounced, and precisely when he is least expected or when hope has long been abandoned." (Scholem, p. 11)

Mâ•shiakh Bën-Yo•seiph // Mâ•shiakh Bën-Dâ•wid

Part of what Prof. Scholem misses in assuming the mutual exclusion between the physical universe (this world) and the non-physical realm is how straightforwardly the Mâ•shiakh Bën-Yo•seiph maps to this world while the Mâ•shiakh Bën-Dâ•wid–who rules eternally and, therefore, cannot be mortal–maps to the non-physical, viz., spiritual. Seen thusly, it becomes clear that, contrary to Prof. Scholem's need to deny it at all costs and contradicting himself (see Scholem, p. 97), the Mâ•shiakh Bën-Yo•seiph is conspicuously the suffering servant of Yәsha•yâhu 53. (What Prof. Scholem, along with all Christians, also missed is that the 2nd-4th century Yesh"u of Christianity is explicitly disqualified by Dәvâr•im 13.1-6 and, therefore, cannot be the Mâ•shiakh Bën-Yo•seiph of Tor•âh!)

It is equally conspicuous that the Mâ•shiakh of the non-physical, spiritual, realm will of course overcome all things in the physical universe.

What is left, then, is to understand the descriptions of the Mâ•shiakh (which?) by the Nәviy•im within these perspectives–something they probably did not see clearly themselves but a vision that the progress of time eventually crystallizes.

The Product: Today's Views of Messianic Judaism

It is the writings of Tor•âh and the Nәviy•im, subsequently confused by the imagined illusions, generated largely in medieval times, by charismatic charlatan irrationalists—apocalypticists and mystics, both Jewish and Christian—that constitutes the framework within which today's myriad views of Messianic concepts–Messianic Judaism–developed.

12th Century C.E. –

Messianic Judaism, as understood in 12th century C.E. Europe (Spain), was described, inter alia, by Ram•ba"m in his 13 Principles of Faith (originally written in Arabic while living in Muslim Egypt, after having fled Muslim persecution in Spain; Yael Ben-David has translated it into English from two, slightly differing, Hebrew translations of the original Arabic):

"And the 12th Principle – The Days of the Mâ•shiakh: and [this principle] is to believe that he will come and not be late. "If he lingers wait for him" (Khava•quq 2.3). No time limit may be placed on him. Nor may the Scriptures be interpreted to calculate the time of his coming from them. The Kha•khâm•im say (Ma•sëkët Sunedrion 97): "May the ruakh of those who calculate the end-times be exhaled." To believe in his greatness and in his love and the prayer for his coming in accordance with what was spoken about him by every nâ•vi, from Mosh•ëh (upon him be the peace) to Malâkh•i (upon him be the peace). So whoever doubts him, or belittles his import denies the Tor•âh, which designated him specifically in the pâ•râsh•âh of Bil•âm (bƏ-Mi•dƏbar 24.17) and "At•ëm Ni•tzâv•im" (Dәvâr•im 29.9). From this principle, a priori, Yi•sә•râ•eil has no king except from Dâ•wid, and from the seed of ShƏlom•oh ha-•Mëlëkh especially; and whoever disagrees on the import of this family commits heresy against -- and His nәviy•im."

Quoted from Who Are the Netzarim? Live-Link (eWAN):

"And if there arise a [scion] from Beit-wid who meditates on the Torâh and practices its mitzwot like his ancestor wid [in contrast to medieval or modern traditions], in accordance with the Written and Oral Law, prevails upon Israel to walk in the Ways of the Torâh and to repair its breaches , and fights the battles of the Lord [Ribi Yehoshua – "I came to complete the Torâh"], then one may properly assume that he is the shiakh."

"The shiakh will arise and restore the kingdom of wid to its former might. He will rebuild the sanctuary [the nephâshot of Israel] and gather the dispersed of Israel. All the laws will be reinstituted in his days as of old [Ribi Yehoshua – "I came to complete the Torâh"]. Sacrifices will be offered and the Sabbatical and Jubilee years will be observed exactly in accordance with the mitzwot of the Torâh. But whoever does not believe in him or does not await his coming denies not only the rest of the Neviyim, but also the Torâh and our teacher Moshëh" [emphasis added]. (Return to restorative section)

"Do not think that the shiakh needs to perform signs and miracles, bring about a new state of things in the world, revive the dead, and the like. It is not so… Rather it is the case in these matters that the statutes of our Torâh are valid forever and eternally. Nothing can be added to them or taken away." – See last two passages of his code of laws, in the eleventh and twelfth paragraphs of the 'Laws Concerning the Installation of Kings,' (Gershom Scholem, "The Messianic Idea in Judaism," Schocken, 1971, p. 28). (Return to Khasidim section)

"Ram•ba"m thus rules that whoever does not believe in and whoever does not await (eagerly looking forward to) – the coming of Mâ•shiakh, in effect denies the whole Tor•âh, and all the nәviy•im beginning with Mosh•ëh." (http://jewishroots.net/library/miscellaneous/maimonides.html, accessed 2011.07.13).

13th Century C.E. –
The Emergence and Effect of Qa•bâl•âh on Messianic Judaism

Aside from the Christian arrogation of the phrase, the modern perception looking back at historical Messianic Judaism is blocked by the emergence, in 13th century Spain through the 16th century development by in , of Qa•bâl•âh, compounded by the consequent monumental straying in the 17th century after the false Mâ•shiakh, . Despite being one of the fundamental principles of Orthodox Judaism, the backlash after converted to Islam caused the Messianic element thereafter to be shunned by Orthodox Jews almost to the point of rejection. This near abandonment of Messianic Judaism by Orthodox Jews is what enabled subsequent Christians to claim "Messianic Judaism" virtually unopposed.

Our present view of Messianic Judaism is filtered by the mysticism of Qa•bâl•âh; how Messianic Judaism and kha•sid•im were perceived by Medieval Jewish mystics. Messianic Judaism and kha•sid•im prior to the 13th century C.E. can now only be reconstructed by recognizing elements that are compatible with Tor•âh from Har Sin•ai to the 13th century.

Qa•bâl•âh vs Kha•sid•im

Viewing these phenomena from the perspective that scientific analysis requires an objective outside spectator, Prof. Scholem seems to see the contrast between Qa•bâl•âh and Kha•sid•im as a contrast between collective orientation and redemption of in Qa•bâl•âh versus individual orientation and redemption, characteristic of Kha•sid•im (Scholem, p. 190-91). However, I view these phenomena from the perspective that scientific analysis works far more effectively when one can also apply insider perspective and knowledge as an unabashed servant of -- and lover of His Tor•âh. Prof. Scholem seems to write from outside of Qa•bâl•âh describing what he sees within: externally-interpreted impression. I write from the inside of the spiritual Realm (perspective) of the ancient Kha•sid•im trying to describe what I perceive: experience.

  1. Prof. Scholem's association of as a Messianic mission is an erroneous assumption, as association that Prof. Scholem himself acknowledged was confined to Qa•bâl•âh (p. 13), apart from which was not a distinctively Messianic mission.

  2. The primary two attributes of Kha•sid•im in the time of Dâ•wid ha-Mëlëkh were (click glossary entry): [1] they were manifestly inspired by love for -- and [2] they focused primarily on tәphil•ot, including Tәhil•im, from the heart (see glossary entry and click on "further info" file). It is clear in the Tәhil•im that Dâ•wid ha-Mëlëkh exhibited the exuberance of Kha•sid•im. It seems no less clear that modern Kha•sid•im are but a mere shadow of the ancient Kha•sid•im.

  3. the pre-Qa•bâl•âh definition of Kha•sid•im traces back with complete consistency through the 1st century teachings of Ribi Yәho•shua and on back to Dâ•wid ha-Mëlëkh. Interestingly, whereas modern Kha•sid•im rabbis are addressed as ha-Tza•diq ("the Just"), so was Pâ•qid Ya•a•qov "ha-Tza•diq"!


Who is a khâ•sid? He who is inspired by love for, and trust of, -- that is translated into learning and practicing Tor•âh–for example, as demonstrated by doing tzәdâq•âh–and engaging in tәphil•ot and Tәhil•im—becoming a Mërkâv•âh of Tor•âh and --.

The lens of Qa•bâl•âh has colored Kha•sid•im through its own mystical tradition of a "Messianic redemption as a non-restorative state of the world" (Scholem, p. 34). That is, the Qabalist view that "the arrival of the Mâ•shiakh himself is tied to the impossible… the Mâ•shiakh will not come until the tears of Ei•sau will be exhausted" (from the Zo•har, Scholem, p. 34). The Qa•bâl•âh view of redemption was that of a reform-renewal utopia so drastically upside-down–a bizarro-world–from what had ever gone before that it is the primary cause of the straying after .

However, we must temper our modern view, which is filtered through a Qa•bâl•âh lens, with, inter alia, the contradictory opinion of Ram•ba"m stated earlier, which is consistent from 12th century C.E. Tor•âh (i.e., Rabbinic Judaism) all the way back to the 1st century Pәrush•i teaching of Ribi Yәho•shua:

"Yet, as it was in the days of Noakh,24.37.1 so shall it be in the Shәkhin•âh 24.27.2 of the bën-â•dâm.24.27.3 For so they were in the days which were before the Ma•bul —eating and drinking, being fruitful and multiplying,24.38.1 until the day Noakh went into the box. They did not know until the Ma•bul came and picked them all up. Thus shall the Shәkhin•âh 24.27.2 of the bën-â•dâm8.20.2 also be.24.27.3 (The Netzarim Reconstruction of Hebrew Matityahu (NHM) 24.37-39).

The restorative motif, in contrast to the reform-renewal utopian motif of Qa•bâl•âh, is also consistent from the teachings of Ram•ba"m back to the 1st century Pәrush•i teaching of Ribi Yәho•shua:

Dont think that I came to uproot5.17.1 the Tor•âh or the Nәviy•im,5.17.2 but rather I came to reconcile5.17.3 them with the Oral Law5.17.4 of ë•mët.5.17.5 Should the heavens3.2.2 and -ârëtz2.20.0 exchange places,5.18.1 still, not even one ‭ ‬ 5.18.2 nor one Ozeil, Qadma (Ashkenazi)5.18.3 of the Oral Law5.18.4 of Mosh•ëh shall so much as exchange places; until it shall become that it is all being fully ratified and performed non-selectively.5.18.4 For whoever deletes5.19.1 one Oral Law5.17.4 from the Tor•âh,5.19.2 or shall teach others8.20.1 such, by those in the Realm4.17.1 of the heavens3.2.2 he shall be called "deleted." 5.19.3 Both he who preserves5.19.4 and he who teaches5.19.5 them shall be called Ribi23.7.1 in the Realm4.17.1 of the heavens.3.2.2 For I tell you that unless your tzәdâq•âh1.19.1 is over and above that of the So•phƏr•im,5.20.1 and of the [probably 'Herodian'22.16.1] Rabbinic-Pәrush•im,3.7.1 there is no way you will enter into the Realm of the heavens! 5.20.2 (The Netzarim Reconstruction of Hebrew Matityahu (NHM) 5.17-20).

(Dәvâr•im 11.22)

Prof. Scholem lists 3 traits of in the Qa•bâl•âh literature, all three of which contain clear and intrinsic logical fallacies.

  1. "[] is a value without eschatological connotations, i.e., it can be realized in this life, in a direct and personal way, by every individual…" (Scholem, p. 204) So far, so good. But then he appends the non sequitur: "and has no Messianic meaning." (loc. cit.) Yet again, he depends upon the false premise of a mutual exclusivity between this life and the spiritual realm. His reasoning that since it can be realized in this life it has no parallel in the spiritual world is fallacious. Similarly, his reasoning that since it can be realized in this life it is unconnected to "Messianic meaning" is fallacious. He fails to grasp the connection between individuals comprising a collective and the significance of a min•yân and a critical social mass.

  2. "Furthermore, such , although attained with the framework of this world, is, for the most part, realized only by the paradoxical means of abnegation and denial of the values of this world." (Scholem, p. 204) This is the same logical fallacy (non sequitur of mutual exclusion), with strong Hellenist origins echoing the teachings of Paul the Apostate (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. III.xxvii.4), built on an overstatement. Only when the values of Tor•âh conflict with the desires and pressures of this world must the worldly considerations be overcome and denied. Denial solely for the sake of denial is an exercise in insanity that isn't even embraced in the fast days or Yom ha-Ki•pur•im.

  3. "The old commentaries are divided on the question of whether this cleaving, which is , is to be understood as a promise held out to the faithful, or as a commandment binding upon everyone." (Scholem, p. 204-5) The answer is, "Yes!" The professor repeatedly repeats the same mistake of creating an artificial dilemma based on a false premise of mutual exclusion. This promise is for every homo sapiens in the history of the world! To be party to the promise, however, requires being a party to the bәrit. To be party to the bәrit requires doing one's utmost to keep Tor•âh. Those who do their utmost to keep Tor•âh are the "faithful" and, hence, recipients of the promise. There is no dilemma between a "promise to the faithful" and "binding upon everyone."

"The [18th century C.E.] Ba•al Sheim [Master of the Name] formulated it in the words of the [Shәm•a] (Dәvâr•im 11.16), "[, ]," meaning, 'once a man turns aside from and the fixation of his thought on [Ël•oh•im], he is considered as one who serves [ ] and there is no mediating path.' " (Scholem, p. 209)

"It is the communion with [] through that makes [] an intimate friend of man, instead of a forbidding and remote stranger." (Scholem, p. 210). What Prof. Scholem, and Qabalists conveniently, and plagiaristically, don't mention is that this theme was first introduced as a personal call to tәshuv•âh in the 1st century C.E. by Ribi Yәho•shua, and was the thesis that most contributed to making him the most famous Ribi and Yәhud•i in all of history of mankind.

From that time, Ribi Yәho•shua began to call out12.41.1 and to say " ,3.2.1 for the Realm4.17.1 of the heavens3.2.2 [namely the spiritual realm] has converged." 10.7.1 [in your hearts, on a personal level] (The Netzarim Reconstruction of Hebrew Matityahu (NHM) 4.17).

Virtually every one of his teachings and parables calls individuals to develop that personal communion and relationship through . He recognized that Yi•sә•râ•eil can only make one nëphësh at a time. Redemption comes through achieving a critical mass of . We, and the Mâ•shiakh Bën-Dâ•wid, still await reaching critical mass.

…he who keeps the Tor•âh in externals only, without , is an arch-heretic in the sense of [Qa•bâl•âh]: instead of binding and uniting things to [], he separates and isolates them from Him. This, of course, is a radical and essentially spiritual thesis. It is interesting to observe how early [Medieval] Kha•sid•im authors strove to discover a Qa•bâl•âh authority for it. (Scholem, p. 213).

And here is the historical authority: "keep[ing] the Tor•âh in externals only, without " is the ultimate hypocrisy. Who, in the 1st century C.E. became the most famous Ribi and Yәhud•i in all of history by railing against exactly this hypocrisy?

In contrast with the pristine–and Biblical–Tei•mân•i concept of , ‭ ‬ 13th century Qa•bâl•âh, employing a play on similar words, recast a different concept, , for the first time delimiting it as an individual (as contrasted with collective) "Messianic mission" of each individual Jew (Scholem, p. 191). This new concept of personal individual duty contrasted against the leadership and collective work of the Mâ•shiakh, as if these were contradictory, too, is a product of Lurianic Qa•bâl•âh (Scholem, p. 13). That was always considered an integral part of the "Messianic mission" by the Sages prior to the 13th century C.E. invention of Qa•bâl•âh is also clear from the same quotations of Ram•ba"m and Ribi Yәho•shua above.

While the collective aspect of the Messianic mission is demonstrated in the two earlier quotations of Ram•ba"m and Ribi Yәho•shua, the individual aspect is unavoidably demonstrated as well. The Mâ•shiakh cannot prevail upon Yi•sә•râ•eil to walk in the Ways of Tor•âh without prevailing upon individuals to do so. Nor can the Mâ•shiakh teach that tzәdâq•âh is essential without requiring tzәdâq•âh of individuals. The collective and individual elements of the Messianic gestalt are neither contradictory nor mutually exclusive.

Every morning, every Orthodox Jew is to pray (according to No•sakh Tei•mân•i) "and in the chants of Dâ•wid Bën-Yi•shai Your servant, Your Mâ•shiakh, we will praise You" and, later in the A•mid•âh, reciting the (Qәdush•âh), "and may our eyes see Your Strength in Your Kingdom according to the speaking that was said in the chants of Your Holiness according to Dâ•wid Your servant, Your Mâ•shiakh tzëdëq." After every meal that includes bread, the Orthodox Jew gives thanks including "… and the kingdom of Beit Dâ•wid Your Mâ•shiakh may You return to its place in our days."

Thus, contrary to the widespread misconception of many Jews, every Orthodox Jew is necessarily a Messianic Jew. Accordingly, Messianic Judaism describes all Orthodox Jews while, contrary to the widespread misconception of many Christians, Messianic Judaism includes no Christians. Jews don't claim to be Christians in order to deceive Christians into converting to Judaism. Christians must stand up and condemn fellow Christians who claim to practice Judaism or keep Tor•âh (impossible without subordinating to an Orthodox Beit Din, none of whom anywhere in the world accept a Christian), confusing and deceiving both Jews and Christians. (For further reading and documentation, see my books, Who Are the Netzarim? Live-Link (eWAN) and Atonement In the Biblical 'New Covenant' Live-Link (ABNC Live-Link)).)

Christianity versus Messianic Judaism

Christians' claim of being "Messianic" is based entirely on the Hellenist (Greek) Διαθηκη Καινη term, Χριστιανὀς, in Acts 11.26. That much of their claim is authentic.

However, anyone who has read Oxford historian James Parkes (The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue) realizes that the Hellenist (Greek) notion of Χριστιανὀς does not equate to the Hebrew and Judaic term (Mâ•shiakh) anymore than translating the Russian word город (gorod; city) to English "city" makes it a city in the U.S. This logical fallacy of equating the Hellenist (antinomian / anti-Tor•âh) Χριστιανὀς to, lә-hav•dil, the Judaic of Tor•âh is a glaring distortion of the well-documented historical record, the product of 2nd-4th century Christian redactions, that has, since 135 C.E., misled Christians no less than Jews.

Most claims made by "Messianic Jews" are contradicted from the outset by the historical record. All traces of the original Jews who followed the 1st century Ribi Yәhud•i Pәrush•i were lost soon after their 15th and last leader, Pâ•qid Yәhud•âh ha-Tza•diq, was forcibly ousted and displaced by Roman gentiles in 135 C.E. (Eusebius, Eccl.Hist. IV.v.3). Beginning in the 1960s, "Messianic Jews" emerged out of, and were supported by, evangelical Christian Churches—reflecting 4th century C.E. Christianity (not 1st century Pәrush•i Judaic Nәtzâr•im)—specifically to "witness" Christianity to Jews. "Messianic Jews" are a marketing brand of Christians that didn't exist before the 1960s.

The associated phrase, "Messianic Judaism," is based solely on the claim that antinomian (anti-Tor•âh) Hellenist Christianity, when practiced by Christians having racist (and often specious) claims of Jewish ethnicity, is transformed into, lә-hav•dil, Tor•âh Judaism. By this reasoning, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and all idolatry, when practiced by idolaters claiming Jewish ethnicity, is transformed into lә-hav•dil, Tor•âh Judaism.

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