Statement from Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and Reaction by Rabbi Sholom Gold

BREAKING NEWS : A response by Rabbi Riskin now on YouTube

Earlier today Jewish Israel received an email from Elie Klein of the public relations agency Ruder Finn Israel.

The email entitled: STATEMENT FROM RABBI SHLOMO RISKIN REGARDING YOUTUBE VIDEO - DECEMBER 30, 2009 can be read here.

Ruder Finn Israel is “the leading full-service strategic marketing consultancy and public relations agency in Israel” and their current and past clients include leading government agencies, Hi-Tech companies, and such organizations and institutions as Yeshiva University, Nefesh B’Nefesh, the International Christian Embassy (ICEJ), the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews(IFCJ), and Global Evangelism Television (Pastor John Hagee).

Jewish Israel’s Rabbinic Advisor viewed the YouTube video and read Rabbi Riskin’s statement. Rabbi Gold had this to say:

“While recent clarification from Rabbi Riskin is welcome on this matter, I remain concerned. Rabbi Riskin’s consistently radical statements and ambiguous positions on interfaith dialogue and endeavors can be misinterpreted by both Jews and Christians and manipulated and twisted to fit the agendas of those who are trying to undermine the foundations of the Jewish faith and wreak confusion among our people.

Furthermore, it would be advisable for Rabbi Riskin to steer clear of mixing politics, history and Christian theological issues together with what is clearly a halachic matter. I imagine Rabbi Riskin’s revered teacher Rav Yoseph B. Soloveitchik, z”l would have been greatly distressed over the crossing of theological lines between faith communities which is currently taking place under the pretense of an Israel-evangelical alliance.”
----Rabbi Dr. Sholom Gold

Jewish Israel will continue to keep our readership posted on this issue.

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Comment by Sharbano on January 1, 2010 at 4:35pm
Well, I watched the video and my conclusion is the Rabbi is rather naive, in both the teaching of the Xtian text and the ultimate purpose and preference of the Xtian individual. Penina gives a good explanation on the teaching. I believe its in Galatians that Paul uses a parable to further the idea, with even greater clarity, of replacement theology. The Rabbi seemed to imply that 'replacement theology' is no longer the doctrine of the evangelical. (It's interesting that if the text doesn't agree with the contemporary thinking it is merely overlooked.) It may be what is said but the underlying belief is Still there. Those Jews who will not accept this "saviour" are still bound for hell. Some do believe that it is given that all Jews will accept their god, but most don't agree with this, as those who are the branches which are broken off.

It may be the Rabbi is unaware of the duplicitous nature of some. I've had many 'disputations' with these Xtians and one method is to find any type of opening where there doctrines can have legitimacy. At times they will be vague to deflect the inevitable conclusions. When a person gives up or becomes frustrated it furthers their sense of legitimacy. This is why, at times, I can be relentless in defending Judaism, and have been called a 'vigorous defender' by one individual. Typically, these people will first profess a great love for Israel but when they find it is impossible to convince a person and every argument is countered, this "love" soon deteriorates and a glimpse of anti-semitism arises, because what they have been told is easily shattered. I'm reminded of a blog post I read where some missionaries were in a public park area, doing their "job" and this person went there to merely pose some questions to them. Their response was to called the police on the person.

What the Rabbi is missing is the goal of these groups. The recent video of the WBZ tells their goals for Israel and surely the Rabbi cannot condone this endeavor. As the person says, he wants to make the country an "evangelical Zionist" state. These people aren't content with having America as a Xtian nation but as Edom/Rome, they are intent on trampling the world to have All bow to their god. The most dangerous seem to be the Ephraimite/Messianic movements as they fit this Edom/Rome scenario.
Comment by ellen on December 31, 2009 at 8:43pm
Thanks for your two cents on this, Penina. You tried. I remember the folder of references you personally handed to Rabbi Riskin when we met with him. and your very clear explanations.
Comment by Jewish Israel on December 31, 2009 at 8:39pm
Thanks for that, Batya.
These are complex topics and Jewish Israel regularly consults with rabbaim on these issues.
Comment by Penina Tal Ohr (Taylor) on December 31, 2009 at 5:10pm
What is most disconcerting about this video - more than the fact that Rabbi Riskin is easily misinterpreted, more than the fact that he is "mixing politics, history and Christian theological issues together with what is clearly a halachic matter' - is that he is quoting the New Testament as though it is authoritative.

In addition, in the quote Rabbi Riskin uses the same methods as missionaries - he quotes part of the passage, ignoring the other part which has very serious ramifications. Rabbi Riskin quotes Romans 11, as though the christian concept of "being grafted in" is a sign of brotherhood while ignoring that Romans 11 clearly states that some of the branches (interpreted by christians as being unbelieving (in Jesus) Jews) are CUT OFF.

In addition, he says that we are the root and they are the branches - a nice idea, but if you read the entirety of the New Testament, you see that Jesus is the root, and the Jews are the branches, some of which are cut off to make room for the wild branches (christians) which are grafted on. He's changing what the New Testament says to fit his own agenda, and he's walking a very dangerous line.
Comment by Batya Medad on December 31, 2009 at 4:10pm
I consider it very significant that while Jewish Israel has consulted with a rabbi, Rabbi Gold, Rabbi Riskin is being helped by a PR firm. Rabbi Riskin was once very revered by me and my friends, was our role model. Apparently, he never truly left his 1960's Liberal roots. I'm greatly saddened by this.

I've been involved with Hasbara (Information campaign) too long to accept excuses about being taken out of context.

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