Analysis: A pointless resolution
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The RCA demands that members must affirm that “there is not and never has been a place in Judaism for the belief that Mashiach ben David will begin his Messianic mission only to experience death, burial and resurrection before completing it”.
The joke is on them, for even the group of Chabad messianics can sign on to this in good conscience.
There are a number of Chabad Chasidism who have an unfounded and non-verifiable belief that the Lubavitcher Rebbe is undoubtedly the long-awaited Messiah who will eventually redeem the people of Israel.
But none of their oral or printed arguments claim anywhere that the Rebbe actually started the redemptive process in his lifetime.
Even Chabad messianics can sign on to this in good conscience
After all, the halachic criteria for the true Messiah and redemption are, first of all, the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and then the ingathering of the dispersed of Israel. Obviously none of this has happened.
Then there is a fringe-group among these “messianists” who believe that the Rebbe has not really passed on from this world. Even these disturbed individuals can easily affirm the RCA resolution.
All that this resolution achieves is to sow confusion and divisiveness. People read it as a principled rejection of the idea of the Messiah being someone who will be resurrected before the redemption for being contrary to the Jewish faith. This, of course, is blatantly false, as many sources, starting with the Talmud, propose this as a legitimate possibility.
The truly disturbing and sad part of this aberration is that the RCA turns a totally inconsequential matter into the most important criterion for Jewishness and a rabbi’s credentials.
Allegiance to the “Thirteen Principles of the Faith” does not matter, and all the serious problems afflicting Jews and Judaism are not of primary concern.
They are not as important, and will not provide the headlines, as inventing and prosecuting alleged heresies.
This is certainly an intriguing agenda for a rabbinical organisation.
Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet is rabbi of Mill Hill Synagogue and chairman of the Rabbinical Council of the United Synagogue