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Whose Moshiach is it anyway?

This is a guest post by Yeze of the Rosh Pina Project

Howard Bass’ Nachlat Yeshua congregation is currently suing the Chief Rabbi of Beer Sheva Yehuda Deri and the Yad L’Achim anti-missionary organisation for causing a riot in their congregation in 2005.

Watch for yourself what happens:

Yad L’Achim leader Alex Artovsky is accused of playing a key role in organising and infiltrating the service – a charge which he denies. Artovsky is described by Haaretz as Yad L’Achim’s “chief of operations”, and by the Jerusalem Post as Yad L’Achim’s “chief field operative”. Artovsky, a former Russian policeman, has also boasted of spying on Messianic Jews who believe in Yeshua, demanded their sacking regardless of their profession, and accused Messianic Jews of setting up discothèques to lure Israeli youth. You can read an interview with Artovsky here.

Given that Artovsky is ideologically opposed to messianic missionaries spreading the gospel of the messiah’s arrival to Jews, perhaps he’d have something to say about the missionary R. Rotenbord. Here is Rotenbord explaining his missionary tactics to Nosson Avrohom in the Chabad journal Beis Moshiach:  (page 21 of PDF)

R’ Rotenbord sees no problem with spreading the B’suras HaGeula [“Gospel of the Redemption”]. “People think that the topic of Moshiach is one of faith and not logic. Maybe it used to be that way but once the Rebbe taught his chiddushim, the topic is rationally understood too. If I see a Jew only accepts logical explanations, I get him to believe in Moshiach through logic. “At our shul there are all kinds of people, including Mizrachi and every one of them knows who Moshiach is and how to sing Yechi. They hear it from me in shiurim and at farbrengens and understand that it’s something true and ‘alive.’

Yet R.Rotenbord, as you may have worked out, is not a Jews for Jesus worker or a Baptist missionary, but a Chabad missionary. Rotenbord works for Lapid – a messianic Chabad group based in Russia.

Lapid clearly believe that Menachem Schneerson possesses elements of divinity and eternity; omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence; as Avrohom reports that Lapidencourage their followers to write to the Rebbe and receive answers to prayers (page 21 of PDF).

Avrohom also features Rabbi Ravina Aharonov (page 22 of the same PDF):

I spoke to Rabbi Ravina Aharonov, an activist who works for Lapid. He does tremendous work with kafkazim, immigrants from the Caucasus. There are no other shluchim in Eretz Yisroel who work with this population, whose members prefer to live in their own communities even after years of living in Eretz Yisroel. R’ Aharonov came to Chabad after attending the shiurim of Yad L’Achim activist, R’ Alex Artovsky. […] “In 5752 I emigrated to Eretz Yisroel and I wanted to continue my studies. I took Alex Artovsky’s classes and thanks to him, I was hosted many times by the Chabad community in Netanya and I learned there too. In my city of Chadera I connected with the shliach, Rabbi Klonymous Kupchik from whom I learned a lot.”

So Alex Artovsky, so opposed to Jews who believe that Jesus is the divine Jewish Messiah, is also an inspiration to Chabad missionaries who imply that Menachem Schneerson is the divine Jewish Messiah!

The idea of Schneerson being divine crops up fairly often in Chabad circles. In the Beis Moshiach journal you can read various articles speaking of the Rebbe’s atzmus elokus (divine essence).

In another issue of Beis Moshiach (page 8 of PDF) we read :

even if we agree that 770 [the house number of the Rebbe’s previous residence in Crown Heights, New York] is comparable to the Beis HaMikdash [the Temple in Jerusalem], that was true until Gimmel Tammuz [the day the Rebbe died] when we openly saw Elokus [divinity] in the Rebbe, but now that we don’t see the Rebbe or the revelation of Elokus [divinity], there’s no reason to go to 770, certainly not often.

Elsewhere in Beis Moshiach (page 10 of PDF), a panel of Chabad rabbis talk about the messianic age, and that the Rebbe will soon come to redeem the world.

Until then one must:

accustom ourselves to viewing the world as illusory, with only Elokus on our minds. It will soon be this way in Yemos HaMoshiach. The preparation for this is our avoda today, in the merit of which we will see the Rebbe come to redeem us and revealed Elokus in all of creation.

Prominent Chabad Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin has recently claimed that the Rebbe will:

“take us out of golus now [and everyone] will understand and see it’s the Rebbe who runs this world.”

The Campaign for Moshiach Consciousness’ Moshiach blog speaks about “a new theology for a new Torah” brought by the Rebbe, sounding suspiciously similar to the writer of Hebrews.

Only today, we find on ChabadInfo:

Being that Christianity was created by Jews – and to recruit Jews – it should not be shocking that they have adopted some of our basic beliefs. For one to discount an idea as a “Christian-non Jewish concept” without checking Jewish sources, is like giving credit to a new company, without seeing if they stole patents from an older company.

Alex Artovsky, who recently delivered a lecture at the Chabad of Rega Park, joins Shmuel Arkush and Bentzion Kravitz in the category of proselytising Jewish messianists who believe in a divine Messiah who oppose other proselytising Messianic Jews who believe in a divine Messiah.

The other major category of anti-missionaries are ex-Christian converts to Judaism likeGavriel SandersYY Rubenstein and Binyamin Klugger, who actively oppose Jewish converts to Christianity.

Fascinatingly, the anti-missionaries in both categories have far more in common with Jewish Christians than they may care to realise. And, in disagreement about who’s really the Messiah, there’s no need for violence or intimidation of any sort.