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Comment: The tragedy of death when detached from Klal Yisrael

July 14, 2010

I was officiating at a funeral today, and standing at the shura afterwards, waiting for the mourners, greeting them with the traditional greeting, I started thinking of the implications of those simple words and how they reflect so much of the central themes of Judaism, how relevant they are to this time of year- and how, even if we allowed it, they would be completely inappropriate for a family mourning a loved one that had converted to the “messianic jewish” Christian sect.

So, what are these words? Ones I would hope that everyone knows and has used when visiting a bereaved family: “Hamakon yenachem etchem btoch sha’ar avelei Tzion v’Yerushalayim” ‘May G-d console you amongst the mourners of Tzion and Jerusalem.” A simple formulae, but hinting at so much more.

Lets add another custom from the funeral into the mix: as we recite the prayers for the deceased, we stop, and call on the men present to come forward and place earth into the grave. Not because the grave diggers and those who have to fill it afterwards are lazy, but as a sign of respect for deceased, as a way for those present to show their respect towards him. But its more- its an acknowledgement that the mourning of those closest to him is felt by all of Bnei Yisrael. They are amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem, not alone, not on the side, but part of the overall nation.

I have mentioned it often before, and I will use it here yet again- “Kol Yosrael arazim zeh la zeh”- “All of Israel is responsible one for another”. The question”Am I my brother’s keeper?” has a simple answer in Judaism: “Yes, you are. No Jew is alone, no Jew is apart from the nation- the mourners are amongst the mourners of Tzion and Yerusahalyim, not amongst the mourners of their family, their community, their city or even their community- but amongst the entire klal Yisrael! All of us, every single Jew, is connected.

Perhaps this is the greatest tragedy of those lost to the “messianic jews”. No Jew will ever recite those words in their memory- they separated themselves from Klal Yisrael, destroyed the bond between them and other Jews. Their families cannot be comforted in their deaths in the thought that the entire Klal Yisrael shares in their grief, that the entire Klal Yisrael mourns and feels the death of any of its members. Instead, the person was lost to us a long time before- when they chose to separate themselves and cut themselves off from the rest of Klal Yisrael.

I stood there today, greeting the mourners of a man who in many ways exemplified the special trait of binding Jews together, who had been involved in the early days of El Al, had participated in Operation Iron Eagle, had brought tens of thousands of Jews to Israel. I looked at his family; children, grandchildren (the great grandchildren not there since they are still too young), at the community lined up behind me, and I thought what this picture meant for Jewish continuity. We are a community, we care for one another- and when one dies, the rest of us feel it. I felt the tragedy that is represented by the need for a blog like this one- that it is necessary to try and prevent Jews from falling for the lies and deceptions of the missionaries in “messianic judaism”. Perhaps more so then, that at any other time, I felt the bitterness of the loss of even one Jewish soul to the missionaries, the pain of the failure of Klal Yisrael to protect and look after one of our own. I thought of the pain and additional sorrow the family of such lost ones must feel, when after their funeral they cannot be greeted by family and friends coming to them, standing before them and reciting the words that are not just a meaningless phrase, but draw a person into the greater community to know that they are part of a greater whole.

May the memory of Elion Yerucham ben Yehuda be for the merit of us all. May hashem comfort his family amongst the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim.

From → Comment

  1. “No Jew will ever recite those words in their memory- they separated themselves from Klal Yisrael, destroyed the bond between them and other Jews.”

    Hardly. Orthodox Jews who are disciples of Jesus recite those words, because the departed did in fact keep their bond with Israel – because they did not engage in avodah zarah, or else they repented of it!

    • Nope- members of any form of “messianic judaism” are no longer members of the Jewish community. No chevra Kadisha will bury them, no Jewish cemetery will inter them. they have to go to a Christian cemetery, either one run by the “messianic jewish” Christian missionary cult itself, or one that serve their Christian brethren in general. Heh, and they have tried to resort to the courts: and all the court cases to try and force their way onto Jewish cemeteries have resulted in one thing- judges agreeing that it is the JEWISH community that decides who is Jewish and thus who gets buried in Jewish cemeteries. Not Christian, or Christian missionaries trying to masquerade as Jews

      So while the Christians in ‘messianic judaism” may recite the words- they are meaningless and like a parrot repeating a phrase it cannot understand or identify with. They have separated themselves from klal Yisrael, they are not part of the community thus they are NOT amongst the mourners of Tzion v’Yerushalyim- just outsiders who do not partake of the Jewish community in any way or form!

  2. “Nope- members of any form of “messianic judaism” are no longer members of the Jewish community.”

    One can’t separate Judaism from “messianic.”

    The courts rulings deal against with those who engage in avodah zarah, and with those who have intentionally separated themselves from the community by joining “another” religion.

    Yet as discussed in previous posts, the “religion” I hold to is Judaism, and there is nothing that you can offer as specific proof from Torah that denies this outright.

    • Yes- we know you try to pretend that “messianic judaism” is not another religion. However, every Jewish denomination agrees that it IS a different religion. Sadly for you, your case is analogous to Mexicans insisting that they are citizens of the USA- they can insist and protest as much as they like they still don’t meet the criteria and are nor citizens of the USA.

      Bottom line- JEWS determine who is Jewish- and JEWS have determined that “messianic jews” are NOT Jewish and rejected them completely. Cry and scream as much as you like- nothing will change the facts, including the fact that the Jewish authorities have determined for the last 2000 years that believing in Jesus as the messiah is NOT part of Judaism.

    • Dovid permalink

      Every Jew believes in the coming of the mashiach in the future. Every Christian believes in the past appearance of Yoske and his future re-appearance. Every person who calls themselves a “messianic jew” and believes in the past appearance of Yoske and his future return is a Christian. “As has been stated by the author of this blog- Jews define Judaism.” So Christian missionaries with a mission to destroy Judaism and Jews by converting Judaism into just another sect of Christianity and Jews into Christians are NOT the definers of Judaism- but they are the enemies of Jews, and the best way to counter this enemy: education and kiruv, bringing the unaffiliated and uneducated back into genuine Judaism and innoculating them against the poison spouted by Christian missionaries

      • Dovid, I know your sentiments and I appreciate how you feel. However, maybe tone id down a notch or two. Maybe the sole aim a of “messianic judaism” a generation back was to try and convert Jews and redefine Judaism- nowadays there are second and third generation “messianic jews” who are genuine in their beliefs. Running around accusing them of wanting to destroy Judaism is counter-productive; not many of them have any connection to Judaism, but a few have and i would rather have them read this blog and wonder why people in their movement resort to such tactics, why Jews in genuine Jewish movements reject them and pity them (as in this post)0 and start researching what Judaism is actually about.

        Yes, I sometimes use harsh rhetoric- but aimed at specific individuals or tactics. However, I have tried to steer away form the accusations of genocide. It is counter-productive and demonstrably untrue for the majority of “messianic jews”. I won’t stop you from making such statements- after all, its a view that is held by some in the jewish community, but I do ask you to think about it before you do.

  3. R`, hopefully this law will STAY in place.
    As Israel is getting less “Jewish state’ish”, we hope to keep these laws.

  4. Joseph permalink

    I thought you support the death penalty against Messianic Jews?

    Why would you then shed tears?

    • Really? And I stated that where?

      IF the Sanhedrin were around, and IF all the necessary criterion for the death penalty were fulfilled; then I would support a duly constituted court of 23 Judges passing the necessary verdict. However, in the modern era no such court exists- plus we have the ruling of HaRav Moshe Feinstein zs”l that in the modern era converts away from Judaism should be treated as “tinok she’lo b’nishma”- a baby without understanding, a child captured in war, brought up without any Jewish education who is not held liable for their actions! Taking that into account, we need to mourn each time a Jew is lost to us, we have to mourn every Jewish soul lost to kares because the person failed to repent before they died. Perhaps in times gone by the person would have been sentenced to death by the courts- but the Talmud in masechta Sanhedrin points out that such a sentence, when carried out, if the person repents at the same time works to provide Teshuvah shleimah, complete repentance, to the the person and actually is a leniency and a way to atone which is no longer available to us. In the modern era, we can only mourn those lost- those who damage themselves and their families by slipping away, cutting themselves off from the community in this world and the next. Yes, we mourn- and hope to stop this destruction of Jewish souls!

  5. Joseph permalink

    Here you write:

    “On top of all this the Torah explicitly states how we deal with the meizid, the one who entices Jews to other religions. It is the only time that a death penalty is applied to a person who is not warned beforehand! In fact, the necessary witnesses can even be hidden and the meizid brought to the place where they can see him and he cannot see them in order that he repeat his enticement to the person, and thus incriminate himself!”

    Have I misunderstood you?

    • To an extent- the statement there states that it is the only time that they are not warned before hand and the witnesses are hidden (this is all specificied in the Talmud in masechta Sanhedrin)- however, this is all within the framework of the person being able to be brought in front of a Jewish court when the Sanhedrin has the power to pass the death sentence. Yes, the law is stricter with the meizid than with anyone else. However, no one can be sentenced to death in Judaism without a full court case and having been found guilty. As such, in the modern era where no Jewish court has the power to pass a death sentence, what I stated in my previous comment applies and we look to bring people back b’teshuvah and mourn when we fail and see a Jewish soul destined to suffer from kares

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