This post is written by a member of the Messianic community in Israel or guest contributor. The opinions and views expressed are solely those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Kehila News Israel.

Who gave the rabbis authority to decide who is a Jew?

Editor’s note: On Dec. 16 the Jerusalem Post published an article about negative attitudes toward Jewish believers in Yeshua, Will Israel Ever Accept Messianic Jews? The following post is a response from a leader in Israel’s Messianic community.

The question “what is truly Jewish?” needs to be asked. Is rabbinical Judaism the true Judaism for the Jewish people? Has rabbinical Judaism given itself divine authority that God never gave rabbinical Judaism? Is the rejection of Messianic Jews the heart of the matter? Or is the absolute rejection of the person of Yeshua of Nazareth as being the true Messianic Heir to the throne of David the fundamental issue?

Rabbinical Judaism firmly took root in Israel after the destruction of the second temple and after the final conquest of Judea by the Roman emperor Hadrian. There needed to be a way to keep the Jewish people together in the dispersion since there was no longer a temple and the priesthood could no longer function and since the nation had been exiled from The Land of Israel and scattered among many many nations.

This tragic situation afforded the rabbis the space to replace the Judaism of the Bible with the new form of Judaism that had already begun to develop before the destruction of the temple and before the exile of the Jewish nation, but now it alone remained and it alone needed to develop in order to replace the biblical faith of Israel. It invented the story that when Moses was on Mount Sinai God gave two Torahs. The one Torah was the written Torah that we now call the five books of Moses and the other so-called Torah that is known as the “oral Torah” that was handed to Moses.

This in fact means that both Torahs have their origin in God and have been given by God. In this way the rabbis have claimed and given themselves divine authority which has enabled them to be universally accepted by the Jewish people as a whole, as having divine authority, the same authority or even greater authority, then the written Torah has.

This is what is called forgery. The person of Yeshua has been excommunicated and excluded from the house of Israel by the rabbis. They have put him under a curse, though he is the true Heir to the throne of David.

The Talmud, which is essentially a multitude of discussions and arguments between rabbis concerning certain legal questions about the law, has now been labeled “Torah.” Multitudes of other commentaries surround the rabbinical commentaries and have also been added and labeled “Torah.”

It can be argued that it was necessary to find a way to keep the dispersed Jewish nation from disappearing. It was, however, certainly unnecessary and even extremely dangerous and even heretical for the rabbis to claim divine authority. The greatest tragedy of all was and is the total exclusion of the true Messiah and Redeemer from the people of Israel.

The reason that Messianic Jews are not considered to be Jewish has to do with the fact that it is Yeshua who has been entirely rejected and disqualified by the rabbis. It is true that the church historically has been very hostile to the Jewish people and persecuted us in many different ways. This however in no way disqualifies the person of Yeshua. No matter what the church has done, Yeshua remains and always will be “the way, the truth, and the life,” the eternal and the unique Son of God.

Another big problem for the religious establishment is the inclusion of the Gentiles into the people of God without having to convert to rabbinical Judaism. The day will come and is not far away when Israel as a nation will acknowledge and fully receive Yeshua as Lord and Messiah. This is sure because he is the one he says that he is and this is irrevocable and irreversible.

God himself is always greater than all opposition to him, even Israel’s opposition to him since he is God and though Israel is his people we have once again gone astray. The battle will continue and more and more Jewish people will continue to come to the faith in Yeshua.

The prophetic destiny of Israel is entirely dependent upon our receiving the true king that God has sent to us. Many will be ashamed and will mourn when they see him and many will greatly rejoice when they see him coming in glory. As we continue to follow him let us remember, as the angels said to Abraham and Sarah, “Shall anything be impossible for God?”

Let’s endure in love and in long-suffering, in mercy and in forgiveness as the Lord has shown mercy and grace and his great love and forgiveness to each one of us.

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Benjamin Berger
Benjamin Berger leads the congregation “Kehilat ha’she al Har Zion” (The Congregation of the Lamb on Mt. Zion) along with his brother Reuven. The congregation meets at Christ Church Jerusalem, located at the Jaffa Gate in the Old City. Jews, Arabs and Gentile Christians worship together in Hebrew. Benjamin Berger is the son of Orthodox Jews who immigrated from Europe to New York after many other family members were lost at Auschwitz. Benjamin became an architect, practicing in the U.S. and later in Denmark. He left the practice of Orthodox Judaism, but he did not resolve his many questions about the meaning of life and the meaning of being a Jew. After a period of spiritual study and searching, he came to know the God of his fathers, and to recognize Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah of Israel. Benjamin’s brother Reuven also came to know Yeshua, and the two brothers moved to Israel in 1971.

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