There is a dire need within two ancient communities, one easily recognised and the other not so, to come together in open dialogue, not necessarily to convince the other of an argument, but show each their true identity. This chapter, entitled, In Defence of Chabad is a bold step forward to this end. Before I embark on this endeavour, the identity of this author, in regard to his religious affiliation should be thoroughly laid upon the table to be scrutinised, lest he be accused of treason by his own brethren.
The Realignment of a Religious Identity
In the better part of the last two decades an ancient sect of believers has begun to re-emerge across the globe. They observe Torah, but are not Jews, they follow the Messiah of the New Testament, but are not Christians, and though they come from many different nationalities and cultures, they no longer consider themselves Gentiles, but Israelites; More specifically, Nazarene Israelites who see themselves as grafted in members of the Commonwealth of Israel. Who are these people and where are they found in the Bible?
Nazarenes or as they were known in Hebrew, “Netzarim” were a unique sect of Jews who believed that Yochannan HaMatbil (John the Immerser [Baptist] was the messenger sent to prepare the way for Moshiach according to “‘See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his Temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,’ says יהוה Almighty” (Malachi 3:1).
The name “Nazarene” or Netzari (נוצרי) (singular), means “Offshoot Branch Watchman.” Specifically, the name refers to those who follow the one who sprang forth from “the root of Jesse.” “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit” (Isaiah 11:1).
“In that day the Branch of יהוה will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel” (Isaiah 4:2).
Nazarene’s believed that Yahshua ben Yoseph HaNatzeret (whom the world calls J-sus) was the Moshiach foretold by the prophets, but they do not subscribe to Christianity’s interpretation of his persona, teaching or mission for reasons that will come to light in the course of this work.
“Nazareth, Can Anything Good Come out of There?”(John 1:46)
Moshiach was also called a Nazarene according to Matthew 2:23; “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.” Nazarene is a reference to Isaiah 11:1; “…a branch (netzer) shall grow out of its roots (lit. shall be an off-shoot)…” Nazareth can also mean, ‘town of the watchman,’ because netzar (shooting sprout) is from the same Hebrew root as natsar, which means, “watchman.” This small Galilean township received its name because it was believed by some that a descendant of Jesse would emerge from there and become Moshiach. Apart from this belief the town was of little notoriety, with one of Yahshua’s future talmidim, Natan’el, even commenting after he heard about Yahshua in John 1:46; “Nazareth, can anything good come out of there?” Yahshua’s parents returned there after having fled to Egypt to escape Herod’s evil decree. There they remained in a town so unimportant town that fails to be mentioned before the commencement of their residency in any non-canonical ancient record until 200CE. The Book of Luke carries two direct references to the town by this name prior to Yahshua’s birth and even describes Yoseph (Joseph) and Miriam’s (Mary’s) prior residency there (Luke 1:26 & 2:4).
The name “Nazarene Israelite” carries the declaration of a believer’s membership within the Commonwealth of Israel and his acknowledgement of Rebbe Yahshua ben Yoseph as Moshiach. This name gives an immediate frame of reference by instantly identifying this type of believer in accordance with Scriptural terminology.
The Netzarim had arisen in the time of Gamaliel the Elder. Gamaliel was a leading authority in the Sanhedrin and publicly spoke about this sect. The group gained notoriety through a devoted group of talmidim (disciples) who followed Yahshua ben Yoseph, who was viewed as a controversial rabbi, performing many miraculous healings. Surprisingly, this activity was not something exclusive to Yahshua’s ministry, notwithstanding the extent and volume of healings. Orthodox Judaism has a long tradition of miracle working rabbis, particularly within the Chabad movement. Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa, to name one, is perhaps the most well known “wonder working” rabbi in Judaism.
Yahshua had taught at a Galilean yeshiva and synagogue that was chiefly financed by Kepha’s (Peter’s) family owned fishing and pickle business, which was located nearby. A visit to the actual site in Galilee to view the ruins of these buildings supports that the initial conception of Yahshua's ministry was no minor or haphazardly formed affair. It was certainly no casual stroll down the shore of Galilee picking a handful of fishermen he’d never met before.
Eventually Yahshua was captured and executed by the local Roman Garrison in Jerusalem on the Jewish charge of blasphemy and on the Roman charge of sedition. After his death it was alleged that he had resurrected and ascended to the heavens. Yahshua’s brother, Yakov (aka James) HaTzaddik, becomes the official leader of the movement after his departure.
The Netzarim had been receiving a lot of converts, particularly from Gentile communities, which was causing quite a stir in Jerusalem. To add to the controversy a leading opponent of the sect, Rabbi Sha’ul of Tarsus (aka the Apostle Paul) would later become one of the most influential members of the movement. In Acts 23, Sha’ul declared publicly that he was still a Pharisee before the political arm of the Sanhedrin, which was made up of Sadducees and some Pharisees who had succumbed to the rulings of the illegally appointed High Priest of the day. Sha’ul was not brought before the Pharisaic Sanhedrin! This is why he says, “…concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead, I am being judged” (Acts 23:6). He addressed the resurrection because the Sadducees denied it.
Sha’ul was educated at the feet of Gamaliel and even after his appointment to the sect, spoke highly of him in Acts 22:3; “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for Elohim as any of you are today.”
How the Jews Viewed the Early Netzarim
The Netzarim were not unanimously condemned as a heretical sect by all prominent Jews in Biblical times. Surprisingly, Gamaliel was not threatened by them, which is subtly evident in his carefully worded address to his fellow Jews as they protested Netzarim teaching.
“Then stood there up one in the council, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, high in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space and he said to them: ‘Take heed of yourselves what you intend to do as touching these men. For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves; he was slain, and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered and brought to nought. After this rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him; he also perished, and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say to you, refrain from these men, and let them alone, for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: but if it be of Elohim, you cannot overthrow it, unless you are found even to fight against Elohim’” (Acts 5:34-39).
In addition to Gamaliel’s reserved nature toward the sect, some Pharisees secretly recognised Yahshua’s authority and by default the legitimacy of the Netzarim as a movement.
Rav Nicodemon (Nicodemus), a Pharisee and a respected teacher of Israel privately confessed not only his, but his colleagues support for the Netzarim when he came to Yahshua by night to receive clarification on a certain teaching. “Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council He came to Yahshua at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from Elohim. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if Elohim were not with him’” (John 3:1-2). Later, after Yahshua’s execution, Rav Nicodemon appeared again, this time, with another supporter of Yahshua, a councilor of the Sanhedrin by the name of Yoseph HaHarimathea (Joseph of Arimathea) to prepare Yahshua’s corpse for burial in John 19:39; “He (Yoseph HaHarimathea) was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Yahshua at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.”
Early Christian View of the Netzarim
Early Church writings concerned with the Netzarim clearly show their complete objection to the movement. Amid the writings of Epiphanius of Salamis, a prominent early church father, is perhaps the most accurate account of the general Christian perception of the movement. Though this account has a negative tone toward the faith it nonetheless perfectly captures their identity. So for this reason I think it only befitting to add their sentiments (Also note the blatant reference to the Book of Matthew’s original Hebrew written origin.):
But these sectarians... did not call themselves Christians--but "Nazarenes," ...however they are simply complete Jews. They use not only the New Testament but the Old Testament as well, as the Jews do... they have no different ideas, but confess everything exactly as the law proclaims it and in the Jewish fashion-- except for their belief in messiah, if you PLEASE! For they acknowledge both the resurrection of the dead and the divine creation of all things, and declare that G-d is one, and that his son is Y'shua the Messiah. They are trained to a nicety in Hebrew. For among them the entire Law, the Prophets, and the... Writings... are read in Hebrew, as they surely are by the Jews. They are different from the Jews, and different from Christians, only in the following. They disagree with Jews because they have come to faith in Messiah; but since they are still fettered by the Law--circumcision, the Sabbath, and the rest-- they are not in accord with Christians.... they are nothing but Jews.... They have the Goodnews according to Matthew in its entirety in Hebrew. For it is clear that they still preserve this, in the Hebrew alphabet, as it was originally written. (Epiphanius; Panarion 29)
Netzarim and Non-Netzarim Jews Co-Existed
Netzarim adhered to the observance of Torah as it was taught by the Scribes and the Pharisees, but they held the belief that Yahshua benYoseph HarNazaret (Joshua [Jes-s] the son of Joseph of Nazareth) was the Moshiach spoken about by the prophets of the TaNaK (Old Testament). Later, Rabbi Sha’ul HaShliach was accused of being a ringleader of this Nazarene sect in Acts 24:5; “For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of Nazarenes.” By the Book of Acts thousands of Jews and Gentiles were being added to the Ekklesia (“called out congregations”) daily (Acts 2:41-47; 4:4, 6:7; 9:31). Such was the impact of Yahshua’s teachings and actions that not long after his death and ascension, his own brother, Rav Yakov HaTzaddik (James the Just) was appointed as head over the Sanhedrin and a significant portion of Priests who served in the Temple also became associated with the sect. “…and the number of Talmidim multiplied greatly in Jerusalem and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). This passage exhibits very solid evidence in The Katuvim HaNetzarim (New Testament) that the faith of Moshiach and the Shlichim (Apostles) was not that far removed from Pharisaic Judaism. If it were, no priests would have in any way been involved with the movement. Unfortunately the fraudulent addition of the word “church” (Kirke/Circe), which denotes a particular Greco-Roman version of the faith included in most Bible translations has robbed many readers of seeing a clear picture of what was really going on at the time. Reading The Book of Acts with Christian eyes will usually fail to see the Netzarim co-existing alongside mainline Judaism of the day, even if it was only for a comparatively short time. When a Christian reads the fraudulently added word “church” in his Bible this shifts him from seeing the emergences of a sect and instead he sees the formation of a new religion.
A Nazarene Israelite is not a Gentile. To stay a Gentile, puts one in a state of “having no hope” according to Ephesians 2:11-12; “Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcised by what is called the circumcised made in the flesh by hands that at that time you were without Moshiach, being aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without Elohim in the world.”
To embrace the Greco-Roman version of the faith is to directly renounce the three core pillars of the faith outlined in Isaiah 56:6; “And foreigners who bind themselves to יהוה serve him, to love the Name of יהוה, and to worship Him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to My covenant.” Christian theology replaces the names “Yahshua” and “יהוה” with “Jes-s” and “G-d,” rejects the Sabbath, and teaches that the old covenant was replaced by a new one. In actual fact there are many covenants in Scriptures that absorb one another and build from one to the next. At no time does one covenant cancel, replace or even supersede a former covenant.
A Nazarene Israelite is someone who observes Torah with the knowledge of its realised identity in Yahshua HaMoshiach. He does this with the understanding that no piece of the Torah has been abolished, marginalised or altered. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Torah until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Torah, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-20).
Confirmation of Moshiach’s devotion to Torah in accordance with its observance in Spirit and preceded by the fear of Elohim is confirmed in Isaiah 11:2-5; “The Spirit of יהוה will rest on him--the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of יהוה – and he will delight in the fear of יהוה. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.”
It is of the utmost importance to establish that Moshiach and Torah are not two different things, nor do they represent a transition of one thing into another. They are both one in their origin, journey and destination. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Elohim, and the Word was Elohim. He was with Elohim in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4) Moshiach did take on a temporal flesh bound state so that he could share in our trials and win a decisive battle by covert action according to John 1:14; “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of unmerited power and truth.” But this flesh state was not the origin of Moshiach; he was from the very beginning. John 1:10; "He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him."
Moshiach’s credentials and some specifics events in his ministry, including his trials and rejection, are well documented in the TaNaK. “When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom” (2 Samuel 7:12).
“‘The days are coming,’ declares יהוה, ‘when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land’” (Jeremiah 23:5).
“He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him” (Isaiah 53:3).
Rebbe Yahshua who the majority of the world call Jes-s is the most lied about man in human history. Not until a significant Hebraic shift occurs in the presentation of this man’s identity and teaching can the Jewish world enter into an honest investigation into his candidacy as Moshiach. It would be heresy for the Jews to accept Yahshua as their Moshiach if it was in the current persona currently portrayed by the Church.
A Nazarene Israelite’s Biggest Theological Challenge
Today, the majority of Nazarene Israelites are being birthed from Christian circles. As such many are being challenged with the process of joining Moshiach to the Torah. Merging the two is probably one of the biggest hurdles facing someone who has come out of a “Torah has been done away with” religious system. For example there are issues regarding flesh circumcision, the death penalty, eating kosher foods, the value of learning the Hebrew language, animal sacrifice and even issues regarding family purity laws. There is so much for leaders in this movement to contend with that there is almost no end to the challenges they face. This is compounded by the fact that many leaders are untrained themselves and have far less knowledge than the average 10 year old Jewish child. I have also observed the character trait of pride have its fatal effect on leaders which has added to this already difficult climate.
Part of a Nazarene Israelite’s walk should consist of shedding those things that made him feel different from a Jew, both in his theology and conduct, and embracing a service that incorporates worship in both spirit and truth. For the Jew, the concept of embracing Yahshua is more a question of recognising identities rather than a theological shift or lifestyle change. If an Orthodox Jew was to investigate Yahshua’s credentials from a purely Hebraic perspective (checking his conduct and teaching constantly against the backdrop of TaNaK), his candidacy as Moshiach would be overwhelmingly strong to say the least. But the greatest shock would likely stem from the realisation that very little of an observant Jew’s Torah lifestyle would have to change. After all, this is most certainly not a case of finding out that the Greco-Roman Jes-s is Moshiach. Rather, it’s the revelation that comes from sifting out a true identity that is the antithesis of what is believed by the majority of the people on the planet.
On the other hand, if a Christian accepts that Yahshua did not abolish the Torah, something akin to brain surgery has to take place. Praise be to HaShem, that through the Spirit this is easily achievable to the believer who exudes a bondless energy and unwavering enthusiasm for the truth. To those who are just casually poking around or have an entourage of hang-ups, they don’t last long. These types either go back to the Church with glorious thoughts of reforming it never to be seen again or they get carried away by every wind of false doctrine imaginable. The later fate is the end of those who crave intrigue over truth and don’t even know of the fear of HaShem.
Who is Really to Blame for the Jew’s Rejection of Messiah?
The author of this article is a Nazarene Israelite, and Yah willing, will be so until he is called home, and therefore he (and anyone else who claim this title) will be viewed by the majority of the Orthodox Jewish community, in particular, the Lubavitch movement, as somewhat of an oddity at best and a threatening heretic at worst. Why then would such a person, set about writing an article entitled, “In Defence of Chabad?”
The answer to this question will hopefully become clear as we explore certain characteristics within this community, that while they do not except our Moshiach would have me brought up on charges if a fully Torah observant nation (with a Temple and Sanhedrin) were established today. Interestingly, it is worth pondering where the fault truly lies in this non-acceptance of Yahshua ben Yoseph as Moshiach in light of his ‘Greco-Roman Torah-breaking’ persona that has been carefully cultivated by a false religious institution. Unfortunately, this institution still receives patronage by some who call themselves Nazarene Israelites. This climate indirectly thwarts a genuine re-examination of Yahshua by the Jewish community because it misleadingly portrays us as having an association with the Church. Nazarene Israelites who continue to spend some time in the midst of their former religious environment hamper and undermine the valuable work of precious men and women in our faith who work tirelessly to teach new believers the enormous distinctions that separate us from Christianity. But this is another issue. For now, the anti-rabbinical outlook that pervades the Nazarene Israelite movement, which is personified in some vicious verbal criticisms on the beliefs and practices of Chabad, must be addressed!
There are many attacks that have gone on against Chabad from the Nazarene Israelite camp, which by the way is still very much in its formative stage and in no position to cast dispersion, masked as criticism, at any Torah observant Jewish community, let alone an Orthodox one. I have heard unsubstantiated criticism over and over again, almost to the point that if I was not sure of the love in the hearts of the ones speaking it, that I would construe it as anti-Semitism! These pot shots (and that’s all they are) disturb me all the more in light of the accused having survived centuries of vicious persecution and existing today as an example of Torah observance to the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel. For without their continued existence, mankind would have been lost, having no living examples of Torah observance to learn from. Instead of criticising Chabad, there should be a respectful desire to learn about it and find ways of opening up lines of communication.
The teachings of Chabad are, for the most part, shrouded in mystery and regarded with a level of suspicion beyond that of mainline Orthodox Judaism by the majority of Nazarene centered Torah observers. The majority of this demographic are made up of nearly 99% ex-Christians who like anyone coming from a different religious background have their fare share of old doctrinal baggage to contend with. This doesn’t help, when making judgments on Jewish practices, because the accuser is usually not well acquainted enough with his relatively new religious environment to point the finger at what is or isn’t permissible. The main difficulty the ex-Christian new born Nazarene Israelite has is readjusting to a lifestyle that while it still uses the same Bible, promotes a walk that has no line of religious demarcation making, every act of a person’s daily life an opportunity to serve HaShem. A newly born again believer who has grafted himself into the Commonwealth of Israel shouldn’t have time to be complaining or criticising another group because the amount of catching up he has to do with the Torah, the covenants, the festivals and the Hebrew language, should keep him pretty busy.
What is ChaBaD?
Today Chabad is the largest Chasidic movement that exists within Orthodox Judaism. A “Chasid” (singular) means “piety” and “Chasidism” (plural) means “pious ones.” The word “piety” comes from the Latin “pietas,” which means “devout” or “good.” The Hebrew rendering, “Chasid,” particularly refers to religious devotion acted upon through the character traits of virtue and humility. Another definition of the word “Chasidic” is “Ultra-Orthodox,” though this term is not favoured by its members because it promotes them to be viewed as extremists. King David refers to himself as a Chasid in Psalm 4:4(5) were it says, “Be aware that יהוה has set aside the devout one for Himself – so יהוה will listen when I call to Him.” In this verse the words “devout one” have been translated from the Hebrew word ‘chasid,’ as it reads, “Ud-u ki hiflo יהוה chosid lo…”
The name Chabad is an acronym for the Hebrew words, Chocmah (Wisdom), Binah (Understanding) and Da’at (Knowledge). These three principles are the core pillars that underpin this movement’s approach to the service of HaShem. In other words, it is the service of HaShem governed by one’s intellect, whilst at the same time subduing the wayward and sweeping movements of the heart. It is the function by which the mind is elevated over emotion, which allows the heart to conform to the will of the mind, which alone grasps and comprehends the greatness of HaShem and His will. It is with the mind that one can contemplate the enormity of HaShem and allow the fear of heaven to be evoked, which in turn leads to the beginning of Divine wisdom. “The fear of יהוה is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise” (Psalms 111:10).
“The fear of יהוה is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Set-Apart One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
“He (Yahshua) answered: ‘Love יהוה your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’” (Luke 10:27). (Here Yahshua is quoting Deuteronomy 6:5)
Chabad teach that only by contemplating the greatness of HaShem with the mind can one truly allow the heart to be fixated in like manner. By utilising the mind to deeply contemplate HaShem’s enormity, the thoughts of the mind and the meditations of the heart cease to work contrary to one another but unify in their intention to give two-fold support to every physical action. The concept that HaShem only sees and judges the heart, when an action falls short dissolves in the face of this principle, which aligns perfectly with Torah and Scripture in general. HaShem does not judge an individual by the righteous meditation of his heart if he performs deliberately contrary actions. Indeed the entire history of Israel would be completely absent of stories in which men and women refused to bow down to idols in the face of torture and death if this were the case. Mordechai would have bowed down to Haman in the story of Esther if he knew that HaShem placed greater concern over an individual’s heart. Indeed, because of his choice to refrain from the physical act of bending forward reverently to a mere human, he endangered the entire community of Israel, yet his action was never criticised among the Sages. Similarly, Moshiach would have certainly side-stepped his beatings and execution if one’s conduct and action was not of supreme importance to HaShem.
“‘I יהוה have spoken. The time has come for me to act. I will not hold back; I will not have pity, nor will I relent. You will be judged according to your conduct and your actions, declares the Sovereign יהוה’” (Ezekiel 24:24).
“‘Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct,’ declares יהוה Elohim. ‘Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you’” (Ezekiel 18:30).
“Also I scattered them among the nations and they were dispersed throughout the lands. According to their ways and their deeds I judged them” (Ezekiel 36:19).
“Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear” (1 Peter 1:17).
“Elohim will give to each person according to what he has done” (Romans 2:6). So we see that the principle teaching within Chabad (exhibited in its very name) is completely compliant with not only the Torah and the Prophets, but the teachings in The Katuvim HaNetzarim (The New Testament) as well.
Chabad is also interchangeably referred to as the “Lubavitch Movement” named so after the name of the Russian town of Lyubavichi, where one of the first Chabad Yeshivas (Houses of Study) was established. The movement was founded in the late 18th century by Shnneur Zalman of Liadi (aka the Alter Rebbe) in Belarus in Eastern Europe, then part of Imperial Russia under the Tsars.
The Attacks Defended – The False Alligation of Praying to the Dead
Sincere believers frequently thrust themselves into the position of the accusing Pharisees in Yahshua’s day when they criticise some practices of the Chabad movement without first embarking on significant research concerning their activities. One such criticism is the act of necromancy (i.e., praying to the dead).
While it is customary to pray within the vicinity of the remains of a deceased Tzaddik (righteous one), unless a Nazarite vow is in progress, it is not permissible to direct one’s prayers directly to them or any other deceased person! ChaBaD.org states the following concerning such a tradition: “The rabbis were apprehensive that frequent visiting to the cemetery might become a pattern of living thus preventing the bereaved from placing their dead in proper perspective. They wanted to prevent making the grave a sort of totem, at which the mourner would pray to the dead rather than to (Elohim), and thereby be violating one of the cardinal principles of Judaism: that (Elohim) is One and that there are no intermediaries between a man and his (Elohim).”
Furthermore, regarding one’s conduct for prayer at a gravesite the following is written from the same official website: “Much care must be taken to direct one's personal prayers at graveside to (Elohim). To pray to the deceased, or to speak directly to him in the form of prayer, borders on blasphemy. It is sheer necromancy, outlawed by the Bible (Deuteronomy 18, 11) along with sorcerers, soothsayers and enchanters.”
Necromancy, more specifically, is the act of consulting with the dead. This practice, usually engaged in by most Gentiles who have lost loved ones is not endorsed within Rabbinic Judaism or within the Ultra Orthodox ChaBaD movement by any means. When a mourner stands at a gravesite and innocently asks, “Why did you leave me?” familiar spirits (literally “family spirits”) are able to latch onto unsuspecting victims by impersonating the deceased loved one with a response that commences a lifetime of comforting deception. One of the reasons Yahshua HaMoshiach encountered the possessed demonomaniac in a cemetery in Mark 5:1-20 was because such places contain massive numbers of disembodied spirits who hope to attach to confused mourners. For the believer going to the gravesite of a Tzaddik to pray in his or her vicinity there is no chance of inviting impostors into their lives (no matter what number of spirits are in residence there). However, it must be stated that lingering any longer than necessary in a cemetery is not recommended.
Those who wish to level accusations at the Chabad for praying at the gravesites of Tzaddiks might want to review a core reason why Miriam (Mary Magdalene) and four other women went to Yahshua’s tomb…Yes, they went to see if he had risen and to anoint his body with oil, but their visit would have been customarily accompanied with prayers and blessings. When an Orthodox Jew goes to visit the tomb of a Tzaddik, he or she is also taught to go there with the expectation that the Tzaddik’s body may have been lifted up. Would anyone accuse Ezekiel of talking to the dead or practicing Necromancy when he prophesied to dry bones? No of course not!! Accusers of Necromancy by Chabad speak with planks in their eyes and inadvertently sound like the very same Pharisees that Yahshua rebuked.
Orthodox Jews have a genuine belief that Tzaddiks will one day raise from their graves like they did on mass in Matthew 27:51-5 and to be present with a loved one when this happens would be overwhelmingly joyful. Yes, at this time the Chabad movement reject what we are saying and doing, but this is because the majority of us are still sounding like Christians.
The False Accusation of the Schneerson Messiah Claim Defended
We are severely handicapping any hope of provoking Judah to jealousy if we keep firing doctrinal pot-shots from affair and hunting for faults in this set-apart community, instead of seeing similarities with it and the congregations in The Katuvim HaNetzarim. These same congregations had some who mistook Yochanan HaMatbil (John the Baptist) as Moshiach just like some in the Lubarvitch community who mistook Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, as being Moshiach in recent times.
The most publicised criticism of Chabad is that the group’s last leader, the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, portrayed himself or at least played up to assumptions within his sphere of influence, that he was Moshiach. This allegation has many variations and to those who cast dispersions on Chabad so frequently that it appears like a pastime, it is used as the ever faithful closing courtroom statement right before the words, “I rest my case.”
Firstly, Scripture teaches that there is “a spark of Moshiach” in every believer, whether he’s a charismatic leader, a warrior or a lowly bookkeeper. In many ways Rebbe Schneerson faithfully followed the instructions of the Pharisee, Rabbi Sha’ul HaShiliach (who most of the world call the Apostle Paul) who taught believers to imitate him as he imitated Moshiach. “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Moshiach” (1 Corinthians 11:1)
Rebbe Yahshua ben Yoseph also assured believers, “I tell you the truth. The person that believes in me will do the same things I have done. Yes! He will do even greater things than I have done…” (John 14:12).
The Rebbe’s followers believing him to be Moshiach is positive news because such a belief, as pointed out earlier, also immerged in our movement during the ministry of Yochanan HaMatbil (John the Baptist) when his followers thought he was Moshiach. “The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be Moshiach. John answered them all, "I immerse you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will immerse you with the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and with fire” (Luke 3:15-16). Yochanan swiftly rejected this suggestion as did the Rebbe on several occasions.
The development of the idea that the Rebbe was Moshiach started in the Fifties. The earliest proclamation was circulated by Rabbi Avraham Parizh. In 1952 Parizh printed a poster proclaiming him as the Moshiach. When word reached the United States that the poster had been seen around Tel Aviv, Schneerson forbade its distribution!
Then in 1984 some Chasidim started chanting a song that referred to the Rebbe as “our righteous Moshiach” who will “come and redeem us.” On hearing this, the Rebbe abruptly called for the song to cease. In 1991 another song began to circulate proclaiming "Long live our master, our teacher and our rabbi, King Messiah for ever and ever". After his debilitating stroke in 1992 this song was routinely sung in his presence. Articles that mention this fail to also say that the song, “We want Moshiach now,” was also routinely sung in his presence. Just because a church might have a custom of singing “Jes-s lives” in the presence of their pastor doesn’t automatically mean that their pastor is the Messiah.
The Coronation Incident
In 1992 a senior Chabad rabbi and youth movement director Shmuel Butman organised a major rally in Crown Heights that was billed as the coronation ceremony for Rebbe Schneerson as ‘King Moshiach.” Before the rally Butman assured the press that a coronation of Moshiach was going to take place. The rally was attended by 8,000 people in New York and countless others via satellite link-ups around the world. Schneerson forced Butman to backtrack during the event, having him announce that his appearance did not represent his acceptance of the role of Moshiach. He then told all the assembled followers (plus many more around the world watching via satellite) that the event “is not to be interpreted as a coronation.”
The Rebbe Preached Moshiach’s Coming, Not That He Was Moshiach!
It has been alleged that during the later years of his life the Rebbe’s teachings were interpreted by many to mean that he was claiming to be Moshiach. With the majority of his followers this is complete nonsense because as anyone who is familiar with his teachings toward the end of his life would tell you, he constantly spoke about ways to bring Moshiach. His teachings were frequently punctuated with an urgency for his followers to increase in Torah learning and good deeds to hasten Moshiach’s coming. Why would he regularly say this if he thought he was Moshiach?
In 1972 a student of Brooklyn College by the name of Mrs. Chana Sharfstein wrote a term paper for her sociology class called A Minority within a Minority – a Study of Lubavitcher Hassidim. The paper, which received an “A,” happened to be proofread by the Rebbe himself and one correction is particularly noteworthy. Amongst the two pages of corrections, the following section revealed the Rebbe’s reservation toward being associated with Moshiach. In the original manuscript Mrs. Sharfstein wrote:
“The present day leader of the Lubavitcher movement is Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh generation of the original founder, Rabbi Shneur Zalman. The last Rebbe had no sons, but this Rebbe is his son-in-law. He is a highly revered spiritual leader of tens of thousands of Jews throughout the world. The chief difference between Lubavitch and other Chassidic groups is that others are concerned only with their own disciples, whereas the Lubavitcher Rebbe regards himself as the spiritual shepherd of all Israel in his generation. He feels responsible for the spiritual and physical welfare of all Jews regardless of where they live or the extent of their religious belief.”
Interestingly, the Rebbe wanted the following passage removed entirely:
“…Rebbe regards himself as the spiritual shepherd of all Israel in his generation.”
In its place he requested the following:
“The Rebbe’s interests and activities encompass the spiritual and physical welfare of all Jews.”
This change in the text not only exhibited the Rebbe’s deep humility but also how highly he regarded the role of chief shepherd - a common Scriptural term for Moshiach. Certainly if the Rebbe was interesting in assuming this role, he would have allowed such a description to remain.
The belief that Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson was Moshiach was never accepted by the majority of His followers nor was it accepted in wider Haredi or Modern Orthodox leadership circles. Furthermore, he never proclaimed that he was Moshiach and wherever possible he always rejected such a suggestion.
An Appearance of Moshiach Foretold
One has to wonder how such rumours of the Rebbe portraying himself as Moshiach stick in light of the fact that he prophesied to another very pious Jew that he would one day meet and find out the name of Moshiach.
The late Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri, one of Israel’s most respected Torah scholars passed away in 2006, but not before leaving a legacy that may usher in a gradual acceptance of Yahshua as Moshiach among many Jews. Sixteen years before his passing “Israel's leading known Kabbalistic Elder” was told by the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of blessed memory, that he would one day meet and learn the name of Moshiach. According to the revered teacher’s closest students such an encounter did eventuate in the month of November 2004. Rabbi Kaduri subsequently wrote a short note with instructions not to open until one year after his death. The note was penned in Hebrew and signed in the rabbi's name. It read, “Concerning the Reishei-Tivot (letter abbreviation) of the Moshiach’s name, he will lift the people and prove that his word and Torah is valid. This I have signed in Elul (the month of mercy).” The first letter of each Hebrew word in the note spelt out the name Yahshua (aka Jes-s). One Jewish commentator pleaded “no comment” in response to the note, but aptly quoted Mark Twain, “A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes.”
Now if the Rebbe was Moshiach what was he doing telling another revered fellow rabbi that he will meet and find out the name of Moshiach?
The Purgatory Accusation Defended
Nazarene Israelites almost unanimously reject Catholicism and as such virtually all teachings it endorses are subsequently rejected. To many of them the concept of purgatory is only familiar from a purely Catholic interpretation so it should come as no surprise that the mere mention of the word in relation to what Chabad teaches can have them doing back flips and summersaults away from not only this, but any other movement that carry this belief. I’ve personally always found this a contradictory notion in light of the Gospel account that relate the physical bodies of the righteous dead emerging from their graves and ascending to the Holy city after the execution of Moshiach. “The tombs broke open and the bodies of many set-apart people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Yahshua’s resurrection they went into the set-apart city and appeared to many people” (Matthew 27:52-53). I always like to ask those who reject the concept of an interim locality for the dead, ‘where did the righteous dead ascend from in Matthew 27? They usually stare back at me with a blank face unable to answer. Chabad do indeed teach such a doctrine, but as we see in The Katuvim HaNetzarim, this teaching aligns with Scripture.
An in-depth study of Gehenna (aka hell) shows that it was originally meant to punish and confine fallen rebel angels and that it was not initially intended for human souls. Humans can also be sent there, but according to an almost unanimous rabbinic understanding, the longest most souls are there is approximately 12 months. It is perhaps a common misconception that an eternal punishment awaits wicked mortals who live temporal lives. The Hebrew view of Abaddon is likened to a spiritual forge where all imperfections in the soul are purged so that it may pass onto Gan Eden (place of delight), which can be either Pardes or the Golden Altar. Exceptionally wicked mortals may suffer in Abaddon for a longer period of time or even become completely destroyed. This destruction is so powerful that it burns away the very memory of them.
The accusation that Chabad teach purgatory, which is supposedly unscriptural, is a knee-jerk attack that if studied closely aligns perfectly with Scripture.
The Kabbalah Attack Defended
Another favourite attack on Chabad by our movement is that it teaches Kabbalah, as if Kabbalah is something bad. There are so many misconceptions about Kabbalah that exist not only within the Netzarim community, but the wider population in general that it would take several volumes of works to address everything. In recent times Kabbalah has been subject to some heavy distortion due to the “trend religion” phenomenon, which was sparked and fuelled by celebrity interest. Of course many prominent occultists have used aspects of Kabbalah in their rituals and practices for many centuries, but this should be no reason to reject it. To do so, would mean that many Christian rituals, which are also adopted by Freemasons, would have to be abandoned. Not only that, but any practice that is subsequently borrowed by pagans would have to be abandoned. If this were the case the enemy would simply practice the one true faith and call it occultism and then everyone would abandon it.
The word Kabbalah means “to receive.” It is the name for a supremely intimate or in-depth understanding of the workings and nature of HaShem. The term itself first came into usage as early as the 10th century, though the practice has far earlier origins. Kabbalistic literature has gradually evolved from writings that come from a group of books known collectedly as The Zohar. These books were first published in Spain around the 13th century by Moshe ben Shem-Tov (Moshe De Leon). He based his writings on the work of his contemporaries, who in turn drew their writings from the teachings of Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai from a time preceding the destruction of the Second Temple (aka the Mishnaic period). The essence of The Zohar is that it is Torah-based commentaries and teachings on a mystical level that date back to Abraham that were passed on in a continuous chain from teacher to student until they reached the 13 hundreds.
Many of Kabbalah’s critics have mistakenly cited that Scripture specifically speaks out against magic and mysticism. While the Torah certainly speaks against magic, it does not speak anywhere against the true concept of mysticism, that is teachings that deal with the inner aspects of the Torah. Furthermore, many see Kabbalah as its own religion or as an offshoot of Judaism. This view is absolutely incorrect. Kabbalah is integral to the study of Torah period.
Chabad handles Kabbalah very uniquely by acquainting students with it as a by-product of the normal studying the Torah. This is the most practical, simplistic, natural and most of all Torah compliant way of learning it. In plain terminology, Kabbalah is simply the “high-end” study of Torah.
Today, the practice of Kabbalah has been fragmented into three major disciplines. The first is called theoretical Kabbalah, which consists of study and in-depth contemplative analysis of the Torah and scholars who were familiar with the Torah’s implications on a metaphysical level. The second is called meditative Kabbalah, which focuses on adopting physical techniques to achieve higher spiritual states. And the last is practical Kabbalah, which predominantly takes the form of extracting aspects of Kabbalah to affect the physical and spiritual world in a completely autonomous way. This form of Kabbalah is blatant occultism and condemned according to Torah (Leviticus 19:31; 20 & 20:27). Not surprisingly, practical Kabbalah overlapped with some principles of the meditative path, is the most popular among the mainstream.
Ideally, theoretical Kabbalah should be the only method pursued by a student, because it has its basis in study, albeit on a mystical level, of the Creator’s eternal Word. From this foundation, aspects of practical and meditative Kabbalah might spring forth or manifest at the Father’s discretion. A servant should not work to gain access to the engine room of creation with a motive to apply any working part to suit his own end.
A true Kabbalist, as opposed to someone who dabbles or practices a perverted form of Kabbalah, is a human being who has attained a constant spiritual awareness of the Creator. This same level of awareness is usually only experienced as a fleeting climax of a particularly intense prayer or rare encounter by most believers.
Yes, Chabad teach Kabbalah and so they should, for to refrain from doing so denies one the full riches that are inherent in the Creator’s Sacred Writings. Rebbe Yahshua’s teachings were very Kabbalistic in nature, comprising simple discourses that ministered on a multitude of levels. This technique has been used by the Chasidic Masters throughout Chabad’s entire history.
The Tanya Defended
Perhaps one of the biggest insults to the Creator is to relegate the Tanya, a core Chasidic work, to the occult pile by assuming that His Sacred Text cannot be investigated intellectually and philosophically without impeding with surface level meaning, of which the exhaustive analysis contained within the Tanya is the result.
Tanya is an Aramaic word, which means “it was taught.” It is the name for a series of books, written by the founder of Chabad, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi.
It is formally known as Likkutei Amarim in Hebrew, meaning “collection of statements” and was first published in 1797. Interestingly, it was first published because some rival Orthodox Jewish communities had circulated corrupt copies of some of its teachings to discredit the early Chasidic movement.
The Tanya is described as “…an incense to counter all the spiritual plagues besetting the generations just before the arrival of Moshiach.” R. Zusya said, “With the Tanya the Jewish people will go out to greet the righteous Moshiach.”
The work itself teaches Torah based spirituality and psychology from a Chasidic perspective. Its style actually acquaints the reader with Kabbalistic principles but in a way that does not step outside the boundaries of Torah. As a result it is one of the few works that correctly and safely teaches practical Kabbalah, but in a simplistic daily devotional way.
The Accusation that Judaism Rejects Miraculous Works Defended
It has often been cited that Orthodox Judaism rejects miracles as a validation of a ministry. This is interesting in light of one of the most respected Pharisees in Yahshua’s time making the comment, “For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if Elohim were not with him” (John 3:2).
Rebbe Schneerson, of righteous memory, was once asked by a high school student: "I have heard it said that the Rebbe has the power to work miracles. Is this true? Do you perform supernatural feats?"
The Rebbe replied: "The ability to work miracles is not confined to a select group of individuals, but is within reach of each and every one of us. We each possess a soul that is a spark of G-dliness. So we each have the power to transcend the limitations imposed upon us by our physical natures, no matter how formidable they may seem.
This response is completely in line with Yahshua’s own words. “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12).
What Judaism stresses, is that miraculous works alone should not be sole validation of a ministry without the truth of the Torah accompanying it. This is good advice because without this view validation might be garnered from even the likes of mediums and sorcerers. Rabbi Sha’ul puts it this way, “And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Moshiach. And no wonder, for HaSatan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:12-14).
It is interesting to note that the majority of miracles that Judaism is concerned about in its literature are those that enable Torah to be observed. For example, keeping the sun stationary to allow a rabbi time to get home before the commencement of Shabbat or breaking the axel of one’s captor’s wagon to stop it travelling during Shabbat.
The Murky Quagmire of Karaism
One of the oldest opponents of not only Chasidic Jewry, but Orthodox Jewry in general is the Karaite movement. This group began as a break-away sect of fundamentalist Sadducees in around 120BC. Many scholars believe that Karaism started in the 8th century, but many Karaites themselves believe that their movement commenced in the Second Temple period. The latter is certainly more probable as the sect of Sadducees, a primary source of many of the Karaite's beliefs disappeared along with much of its writings not long after the destruction of the Second Temple
This group is characterised by fierce rejection of the Talmudic tradition of the Pharisees. However, before we delve into this group it is important to briefly examine the Sadducees.
The Sadducees Exposed
The Sadducees were a sect within Judaism who were closely affiliated with the Temple. Little, if anything, has survived of their writings. Anything that can be gleaned from them is sourced primarily from the writings of their opponents. For anyone desperate to find something, a leading Karaite called Ya’akov al-Qirqisani has some surviving quotes from the Sefer Zadok, which can be found in a publication by Zvi Cahn called, The Rise of the Karaite sect.
Zadok is where the Hebrew name for the Sadducees (Tzedukim) allegedly originated. Zadok was the high priest who remained faithful to King David and anointed King Solomon. However, this origin is unlikely as the Sadducees do not appear as an official group until the Hasmonaean period, sometime after the Maccabean Revolt in 165BCE. The word Sadducee is more likely a Hebraisation of the Greek word, “sündikoi” (‘syndics’), which is where we get the word “syndicate.” The term has also been associated with the Hebrew word, “righteous.”
The Sadducees rejected the Pharisee’s interpretation of the Torah and created new ones based on a literal understanding of isolated verses. For example the Sadducees believed that a physical eye should be removed from a person who took the eye of another, rather than the Pharisaic and overall Hebraic understanding that the monetary value of an eye be restored. The Sadducees, like their offspring, the Karaites, rejected rabbinic law despite rabbinic tradition stemming directly from the Sanhedrin’s formation under the direction of Moshe the prophet (See the appointment of 70 Elders in Numbers 11:16). The Sadducees are classically known for their rejection of angels, denial of the soul, and disbelief in full bodily resurrection. Fortunately they, like their writings, all but ceased to exist after the destruction of the second Temple in 70CE by the Romans. They were an apostate political regime who left a dark legacy that is still evident today in the rippling out effect of the Karaite movement that has made some inroads into the Nazarene Israelite sect.
The Apostate Flow-on Effect
Nazarene Israelites, like Orthodox Jews, should completely reject Karaism, though sadly there are some in our movement who do not.
The term “Karaism” comes from the Hebrew word, Qara’im, which literally means “Readers of the Hebrew Scriptures” and denotes a group who profess to only follow Scripture and at the same time reject all the commentaries and gleanings of the Sages. Essentially, Karaism is a heretical branch of Judaism that claims to reject rabbinical tradition, the Oral Torah and openly teaches that the Scriptures are open to private interpretation. This is despite Scripture teaching to the contrary in “Kepha (Peter) said, ‘This then you must understand first of all, that no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation’” (2 Peter 1:20).
One of the official websites of Karaism, Karaite-Korner.org states the following in on its homepage:
“Karaite Judaism rejects later additions to the TaNaK (Jewish Bible) such as the Rabbinic Oral Law and places the ultimate responsibility of interpreting the Bible on each individual.”
Though Karaites profess to follow Scripture at the exclusion of rabbinical tradition and laws, on closer scrutiny they do in fact adopt many aspects of rabbinical Judaism in their halacha (walk). This is done either out-rightly or in a modified form and at the same time borrows from earlier and later sects, such as the Sadducees, Essenes, 'Isawites, Yudghanites and Mohammedans (Yes, Islam!). Some examples of the movement’s retainment of rabbinical customs include the wearing of the traditional tallit, kippah, reading of the weekly Torah portion, many Shabbat customs such as lighting of candles. Furthermore, Karaites also observe their own traditions (i.e., practices not specifically instructed in Scripture) and call them, “the yoke of inheritance.” These truths in the face of the movement’s introductory claims, is blatant hypocrisy.
The endorsement of individual interpretation of Scripture is one of the core handicaps that hamper the progress of the Karaite movement. This is because it leaves basic Scriptural interpretation to the mercy of a given individual’s level of intellect and depth of knowledge on a subject with no emphasis on a teacher to direct him. As a consequence disunity and differing opinion are hallmarks of most Karaite circles. The directive in Isaiah 28:10 cannot be thoroughly explored without some sort of tutelage by a seasoned scholar. This is because a scholar can enable a student to understand the various teachings within a passage that are derived from all the available supporting Biblical texts. “For precept must be on precept, precept on precept; line on line, line on line; here a little, and there a little” (ibid). Karaism is a faith of confusion and even confesses such:
“Karaism is not a…faith in which every believer agrees on every detail of understanding of Scripture. Because the burden of interpretation rests on the individual and not a central authority it is inevitable that there will be differences of interpretation and understanding. However this diversity is a strength rather than a weakness and prevents Karaites from getting bogged down with a given interpretation despite the obviousness of its error. This diversity requires the individual Karaite to take personal responsibility for interpreting Scripture, basing his understanding on the merits and logic of a given interpretation.” (Karaite-Korner.org)
2 Peter goes on to describe the dangers of personal interpretation. “...in these epistles there are certain things difficult to understand, which the unlearned and unstable distort, just as they do the rest of the scriptures also, to their own destruction. You therefore, brethren, since you know this beforehand, be on your guard lest, carried away by the error of the foolish, you fall away from your steadfastness” (2 Peter 3:16-17).
Here is an example of the benefit of a physical instructor in Acts 8:27-40, “…the eunuch was trying to read Isaiah when Philip asked him, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ But he said, "Why, how can I, unless someone shows me?”
Yahshua ben Yoseph was a Rabbi
Rebbe Yahshua ben Yoseph HaNazarete was not a Karait nor did he follow any variant of teaching that was or later became known as Karaism. He was a Rabbi, a title traditionally rejected by Karaites. Yahshua confirmed this title in John 13:13; “You call me ‘Rabbi’ and ‘Master,’ and you are right, because I am.” Furthermore, when Yahshua was betrayed he did not rebuke Yahuda for addressing him as “rabbi” “Going at once to Yahshua, Yahuda (Judas) said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him” (Matthew 26:49). In actual fact Yahuda Iscariot (correctly rendered “Yahudah the Kariate man” [Yahudah ish’cariot]) was a former Karaite and is found addressing Yahshua as rabbi sarcastically.
The “Call No Man Rabbi” Fiasco
Yahshua did not impose a ban on the use of the titles, “rabbi,” ‘teacher,” and “father.” “But as for you do not desire to be called Rabbi: For one is your Rabbi, even the Moshiach; and all you are Israelite brothers. And call no man father upon the earth: for one is your father, who is in the heavens. Neither be called teachers: for one is your Teacher, even the Moshiach. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:8-11). The teaching of this doctrine is almost exclusively driven by the prohibition of the title rabbi with at best the rejection of the titles teacher and father dragging along behind it with barely a mention.
Sighting the title rabbi as forbidden espoused from Yahshua ben Yoseph’s discourse is a blatant manifestation of anti-Semitism that masquerades itself as doctrine. This is because the same person who corrects one using the title rabbi fails to correct others or even himself with the same vigilance in the use of the titles father or teacher. The prevalence of the titles father and teacher far exceed the prevalence of the title rabbi and yet the objection to the title rabbi is the only one you will ever consistently hear.
Throughout The Katuvim HaNetzarim, The titles “rabbi,” “teacher,” and “father” are constantly retained. Even Rabbi Sha’ul refers to himself as the father of the congregations
Rebbe Yahshua actually endorses the teachings of the Scribes and the Pharisees in Matthew 23:2-3a; “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moshe; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe…” He also goes on to point out that these same Scribes and Pharisees aren’t living up to the commendable standards inherent in their own teachings. “But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach” (Matthew 23:3b).
Read how the Karaites just breeze over some of the heretical doctrine of the Sadducees in this additional excerpt from their website:
“We often hear in ancient literature that the Sadducees denied the doctrines of the immortality of the soul and reward and punishment in the hereafter. Whether this is accurate or not is of little consequence since they arrived at these beliefs based on an honest interpretation of the Bible (even if most Karaites disagree with them on these doctrines).” - History of Karaism (Karaite.Korner.org)
Firstly, this ancient literature that records the Sadducees denying elements of core doctrine just so happens to be the Bible itself! “That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question” (Matthew 22:23).
“For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all” (Acts 23:8).
Secondly, it is absolutely amazing to read how this movement brush aside immortality of the soul and regard it as “…of little consequence…”?
Thirdly, notice the sentence goes onto say “….since they arrived at these beliefs based on honest interpretation of the Bible.” The use of the words “honest interpretation” means that they used personal interpretation, which often causes Scripture that might be ill sounding to be rationalised away as metaphorical.
The Karaite Korner website has enough information to hang the philosophies of Karaisim with its own rope, if one reads through it carefully. Here is the closing statement regarding what is Karaism according to Karaite-Korner.org:
“Karaism is not a ‘monolithic’ faith in which every believer agrees on every detail of understanding of Scripture. Because the burden of interpretation rests on the individual and not a central authority it is inevitable that there will be differences of interpretation and understanding. However this diversity is a strength rather than a weakness and prevents Karaites from getting bogged down with a given interpretation despite the obviousness of its error. This diversity requires the individual Karaite to take personal responsibility for interpreting Scripture, basing his understanding on the merits and logic of a given interpretation.”
The penetration of Karaism’s philosophy into the Nazarene Israelite camp has been one of the chief driving forces that have kept this movement disunited and contemptible of Rabbinical Judaism.
In Defence of Rabbi Akiva
Rabbi Akiva was a very influential Sage who lived at the turn of the 1st and 2nd century. He is considered as a leading authority in Judaism and was one of the essential contributors to the Mishnah. The Talmud refers to him as "Rosh la-Chachomim" (Head of all the Sages).
Unfortunately, within the Netzarim movement there exist reservations regarding studying anything specifically attributed to him because of his later endorsement of Bar Kokba as Moshiach. This decision led to the fatal Bar Kokba revolt in which ensued a massive annihilation of thousands of Jews and his own eventual martyrdom at the hands of the Romans. Rarely studied by the Netzarim is Rabbi Akiva’s very swift retraction of his support for Bar Kokba after a dispute over allying with the Samaritans. It is also recorded that just before Bar Kokba’s death, he himself regretted not stepping down from his lofty position at Akiva’s beckoning.
To avoid Rabbi Akiva’s valuable contribution to the faith is as foolish as avoiding the works of King Solomon in light of his own shortcomings, of which he repented to some degree.
On the contrary, the life of Rabbi Akiva is very beneficial to study for a Nazarene Israelite, because he was a convert and didn’t commence studying Torah until the age of forty. This is quite significant because his learning style and schedule is a perfect model for the Netzarim to mimic since many of them today are coming into the faith in their latter years.
The Argument that Jews Curse Netzarim in Daily Prayer Defended
The twelfth blessing of the daily Amidah (Standing) prayer contains a blessing to swiftly remove and eradicate the heretic within the faith. The inclusion of this blessing is completely permissible within this order of service, because it is indeed an area in which divine assistance should be sought as heretics do pose a constant threat to a believer. The blessing was originally included to curse the Netzarim for rejecting an offer to fight with the Jews against the Romans with the proviso that they accept Bar Kochba meaning, ‘son of the star’ as Moshiach. From this point on Netzarim were labelled ‘meshumedim’ (traitors). Even after Bar Kochba’s revolt had failed and his name changed to Bar Kozeba meaning ‘son of disappointment,’ resentment toward the Netzarim for refusing to follow him continued. Despite this, I firmly believe that Netzarim should not omit this twelfth stanza of the Amidah.
Throughout history other forms of heresy have risen up and this prayer counters all such negative influences. Just because the initial composition of this blessing happened to be directed toward the Netzarim shouldn’t mean that Netzarim refuse to recite it, because it is not a question of what man considers heresy, but what HaShem considers heresy.
Today the blessing is structured in a non-specific way and is therefore not only permissible, but beneficial to be included in a Nazarene Israelite’s daily service of the heart.
At present, due to so many debilitating factors that hamper our efforts such as our continued failure to form a solid unified community and our almost non-existent plan to reach the Jew as much as the Gentile, the best we can hope for is to be left alone as the Sage Gamaliel first instructed in Acts 5:33-40.
As of this time I encourage all Nazarene Israelites to cease circulating various types of untruthful and damaging rumours about the Chabad Movement. In turn I plead that everyone of us strive to atone for these actions by studying their history, becoming acquainted with their great leaders and move to entering into open dialogue, not with a view of preaching, but discussing our similarities and how their walk already adheres very faithfully to the instructions of Moshiach, Yahshua benYoseph HaNazarete.
“What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of Elohim” (Romans 3:1). (Words of Rabbi Sha’ul of Tarsus who the world calls “St Paul” [which means “St. Midget”])
“You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). (Words of Yahshua ben Yoseph HaNazarete who the world calls “Jes-s” [meaning “the horse.”])
 Rejecting the term “Gentile” may come as a surprise to most Christian readers who are earnestly investigating the credentials of this movement, but the Scriptures plainly describe the fate of a Gentile as a person who is a foreigner and stranger to the covenants of promise and without Messiah in Ephesians 2:11-12; “Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision,’ which is performed in the flesh by human hands-- remember that at that time you were separate from Messiah, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without Elohim in the world.” At the time when the Moabite Ruth told Naomi that, “Your Elohim shall be my Elohim…” she ceased being a Moabite and became an Israelite.
 The Nazarene Israelite movement has often been accused of being a sect. Those who have rejected such accusations, prepare for a shock. This faith is indeed a sect. A person’s ignorance of the word’s true definition gives this argument life. On the contrary, no one should make any apology for use of appropriate terminology. If anyone is weathering this accusation, take comfort in the knowledge that Rabbi Sha'ul was also accused as being “a ringleader of this (same) Nazarene sect...” (Acts 24:5) Consider the choice of language used in the following two verses (as they appear in most Bible translations): “But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a heretical sect, I do serve the Elohim of our fathers, believing everything that is written in the Law and the Prophets.” (Acts 24:14) “But we desire to hear from you what your views are. For concerning this heretical sect, it’s known to us that it is spoken against everywhere” (Acts 28:22). “Notice the use of the description “heretical sect” by translators. A sect by definition is not sacrilegious unless it's branded as a “heretical sect.” If this were not true the term “heretical sect” would be a grammatical tautology (i.e. a useless repetition of words that have the same meaning). The definition of sect is, “a separatist group characterised by loyalty to a certain school of thought and practice,” a “sect, party, school.” This is an accurate way of describing those who have followed “the way” for many generations. The Scriptures more affectionately refer to them as “the Remnant.” There are three locations where the single term “sect” appears (on its own) in The Book of Acts (as it appears in most common English Bible translations). “But the High Priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy.” (Acts 5:17) “But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.’” (Acts 15:5) “…since they have known about me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion” (Acts 26:5).
 He can also be referred to as “a voice” according to Isaiah 40:3; “A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for יהוה in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our Elohim.’”
 The “Tree of Jesse” mentioned in the Book of Isaiah refers to Moshiach who must have descended from Jesse of Beit Lechem, (Bethlehem) through his son David.
 The correct full earthly name of J-sus is “Joshua the son of Joseph the Nazarene.” “Philip found Natan’el and told him, ‘We’ve found the one that Moshe wrote about in the Torah, also the prophets – It’s Yahshua ben Yoseph from Natzeret!”(John 1:45)
 At one time Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yishmael traveled all over Jerusalem healing the sick. “Wherever they arrived, people would come running to them for help. They treated external injuries as well as internal diseases, prescribing medication that proved to be very successful. One of the villages they came to was Bartota. Their reputation had already reached there, and all the sick people came streaming in to see the great teachers and healers of Israel. While they were distributing medication to those in need, a…” gardener accused them of interfering with HaShem’s will by healing people that He made sick. Akiva responded by saying, “who gave you permission to interfere with Elohim’s will? Elohim created the earth and gave it the form he wanted – and you are mangling it with your shovel?” (Akiva – The Story of Rabbi Akiva and His Times by Meir (Marcus) Lehmann)
 In chapter five of a controversial book called the Archko Volume or as it is lesser known, The Archeological Writings of the Sanhedrim and Talmuds of the Jews, one can read Gamaliel’s findings after an interview with Yahshua’s parents, Yoseph (Joseph) and Miriam (Mary). According to this work, his conclusions corroborate not only his later “wait and see” attitude toward the Netzarim in Acts 5, but his feelings toward their son’s eligibility to be Moshiach.
Though the authenticity of this publication is disputed among scholars, the majority if it which consists of letters, testimonies, and reports by the likes of Caiaphas, Herod, and Pontius Pilate are compellingly accurate in there language, procedural detail and historic context. The existence of this work (initially available only in a Latin transcript) was made known by H.C. Whydaman and was obtained as a copied document by Father Freelinhusen, a chief guardian of the Vatican in 1858. It was then translated in English the following year. Some readers, who refute the authenticity of the Archko Volume may wish to disregard this citation as support.
The introduction to Gamliel’s interview consists of the following:
“The hagiographa of holy writings, found in St. Sophia Mosque at Constantinople, made by Gamaliel, in the Talmuds of the Jews, 27 B. It seems Gamaliel was sent by the Sanhedrim to interrogate Joseph and Mary in regard to this child (Yahshua)…”
The details of his findings based on specific citations by the prophets are interesting, if not controversial, but the inclusion of the following excerpt is meant only as supporting material in regard to his attitude toward the Netzarim in Acts 5.
"Now, Masters of Israel, after having investigated this matter; after tracing (Yahshua) from his conception to the present time; after obtaining all the information that is to be had on this important subject, getting it from those who are more likely to tell the truth from the fact they are disinterested persons; and then taking a prophetical as well as a historical view of the subject, I have come to the conclusion that this is the (Messiah) that we are looking for. And as a reason for my conclusion, I will call your attention to the following facts: First to the prophecy of Isaiah, section 7: And he said, Hear now, saith the Lord. Oh, house of David, is it a small thing for you? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name G-d with men. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil and choose the good; for before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good the land that G-d abhorrest shall be forsaken of her king.' Section 8: Bind the testimony; seal the law among his disciples; the Lord will hide his face from the house of Jacob, and he will look for him.' Here is a literal fulfilment of this word of the Most High G-d, so clear and plain that none may mistake. Jeremiah, 31st section: Turn, oh virgin, to thy people, for the hand of the Lord is upon thee; for the Lord shall create a new thing in the earth; a woman shall compass a man.' Here again are set forth the same things that Isaiah speaks of, and the same things that I have learned from (Miriam). Micah, section 5: Thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, thou art little among the thousands of Judah; out of thee shall come forth unto me him that shall rule my people. He is from everlasting; and I will give them up until the time she travailed to bring forth my first born, that he may rule all people/ Here we have the city, the virgin, the office, his manner of life, the seeking him by the Sanhedrim. All these things are under our eyes as full and complete as I now write them, who have all this testimony given in this letter. How can we as a people dispute these things? In the 49th section of Genesis, making reference to the history, that is now upon us, the writer says : 'A captive shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawmaker from him, until Shiloh come, and gather his people between his feet, and keep them forever,'"
 The name “Tanakh” is a Hebrew acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Old Testaments three traditional subdivisions: The Torah ("Teaching", also known as the Five Books of Moses), Nevi'im ("Prophets") and Ketuvim ("Writings")—hence TaNaKh.
 In classical Greek “ekklesia” meant “an assembly of citizens summoned by the crier, the legislative assembly.” By illegally superimposing the word “church” over the word “ekklesia” a lay reader assumes that a completely new religious movement was beginning in exclusion of the existing faith (Judaism). Early English translator of the Bible, William Tyndale, uniformly translated "ekklesia" as "congregation" and in fact used the word "church" to denote heathen temples in Acts 19:37. The only religious movement that existed in Biblical times that bears any resemblance to today's modern church is the Temple cult of Circe. Dictionaries give the origin of the word "church" as the Anglo-Saxon root, “circe,” which comes from the name of the goddess Circe, daughter of Helios, the Sun-deity.
If these congregations were called churches, then they were still meeting in synagogues on Sabbath, keeping Torah and observing Jewish festivals, all practices that were outlawed the founders of Christianity and still largely avoided by practitioners of its many fragmented protestant denominations today.
 The Scriptures show that יהוה always builds or re-establishes His perfect Covenant with men as each generation progresses or transgresses His Torah. This is evident with His Adamic Covenant (Genesis 3:14-23), Noahide Covenant (Genesis 9:1-17), Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 17:1-27), Sinai Covenant (Exodus 19:1-31:18), Mosaic Covenant at Moab (Deuteronomy 29-30 & Leviticus 26), Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:5-19 & 1 Chronicles 17:4-15) and the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34 & 32:40-44) and also hinted at in (Deuteronomy 10:16). None of these Covenants cancel out or replace each other. They all form a complete picture, which hang on a single act (Yahshua’s death and resurrection). Their fulfillment is to be completely motivated by love and a longing to gain closer intimacy with the Father. Loving your neighbour as yourself is the blueprint for this action.
 Lubavitch - Named after the Russian town in which this particular sect emerged.
 Reishei-Tivot is the name for a common Kabbalistic letter code.
 Pardes is predominantly being refilled with Torah observant believers who do not recognise Yahshua as Messiah (Note the use of the word recognise as opposed to the word “reject”). Yahshua proclaimed his victory before the spirits in prison (another compartment of Sheol) after Pardes emptied (1 Peter 3:18-22).