And the Name of Messiah is....

On 29 January 2006, the man known as the “Senior Kabbalist Elder” of Judaism died in Jerusalem. Depending on which source you believe, Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri was anywhere between the ages of 103 and 130 when he died, and about a quarter of a million people thronged the streets of Jerusalem for his funeral, one of the largest ever to take place in the city. The charismatic mystic was reputed to have memorised the entire Hebrew Bible and Talmud as well as the writings of the influential medieval teacher Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki, better known by the acronym Rashi. Many of his followers regarded Rabbi Kaduri as a I, a righteous man or saint, who had the ability to perform miracles and prophesy the future
At the beginning of this year a fierce controversy was ignited after the contents of a note written shortly before the rabbi’s death were revealed. The rabbi had left instructions that the note, allegedly containing the name of the Messiah, be opened one year after his death. When the envelope was unsealed, an encoded message revealed the name Yehoshua, or Yeshua, the Hebrew name of Jesus.

The revelation received surprisingly little coverage in the Israeli media. Only the rabbi’s own Hebrew language website and News First Class mentioned the Messiah note, insisting it was authentic. The Hebrew daily Ma’ariv, however, called it a forgery.

Orthodox Jews have naturally been dismayed by the revelation, while some Christians have greeted the news with excitement. But before we get too carried away it should be borne in mind that Rabbi Kaduri’s Yeshua bears little resemblance to the Messiah followed by Christians. According to Kaduri, when the Messiah comes he will first reveal himself to a select group of Jews, not necessarily Torah scholars, but when he finally reveals himself to all Israel the Jewish people will be amazed because, “Many have known his name but have not believed that he is the Messiah”. Moreover, Kaduri is quoted as saying that the imminent arrival of the Mashiach will “save Jerusalem from Islam and Christianity”.

The negative reaction from religious Jews serves to underline their continuing antipathy to the name of Jesus and their resistance to the true Messiah. Though it is thirteen years since Rabbi Schneerson, the spiritual head of the Lubavitch Chabad movement, departed this life, Israeli billboards continue to hail him as Mashiach and urge Jews to hasten the “Era of Redemption”.

The Talmudic tractate Rosh Hashanah (29a) says the world will exist for six thousand years: the first 2,000 years were to be defined by chaos, the second 2,000 years would mark the years of Torah and the final 2,000 years would be the Messianic Age. On Thursday 13th September, we will enter the Jewish year 5768 and if rabbinic chronology is correct, the Messianic Age should have commenced a little under 2,000 years ago.

Nature and Judaism abhor a vacuum, and during the last nineteen hundred years there has been no shortage of pseudo-messiahs anxious to fill the gaping void left after the majority of Israel rejected Jesus. Chasing would-be Messiahs is no new phenomenon for the Jewish people and from Simon bar Kochba to Menachem Mendel Schneerson, in almost every generation there have been messianic pretenders.

All this highlights the judgement of Paul that there is a veil over the eyes of the Jewish people that keeps them from recognising the Messiah. Pray for us as we proclaim Yeshua to the Jewish people, the true Messiah who alone can open blind eyes.

Lord, put Thy law within their hearts,
And write it in their inward parts;
The veil of darkness rend in two,
Which hides Messiah from their view.

Mike Moore

This article first appeared in the September 2007 edition of the Herald

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