Apr 30, 2008

Bible Quiz participation

There is a discussion going on over at The Muqata about the Messianic girl who has qualified to participate in the annual Bible Quiz that takes place on Yom Ha'atzmaut (end of next week).

Yad L'Achim has protested her participation because of her Messianic beliefs. They are threatening to call for a ban on the Chidon, if she is allowed to continue as a contestant.

It seems like a no brainer. This is a quiz for religious kids, with a seat saved for a secular candidate (as they generally fail to qualify on knowledge, a seat is saved for them so they can be part of it). She is Messianic, and is a danger, and is part of a dangerous community, that try to use their knowledge to missionize among the Jews, and she should be thrown off the contest.

The problem is that the rules seem to have only one criteria mentioned for qualification in the chidon. That is that the contestant be Jewish. While many Messianics are not Jewish (some have converted but would not be considered Jewish by law or halacha), it just so happens to be that this girl trying to compete is Jewish. Her family just happens to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, even though they are really Jewish. So how do you disqualify her if she qualifies under the one rule for participation?

Yad L'Achim arranging a ban, while understandable on the face of it because of their great work against missionaries in Israel, is a questionable step. I see it as being problematic for 2 reasons:
  1. The Haredim generally completely ignore the Chidon Tanach. It is a Zionistic venture, in honor of Yom Ha'Atzmaut (a holiday most Haredim ignore). The Haredim generally ignore the whole thing. They do not send kids to participate in the contest, they do not report who won or anything about it. Heck, the Haredi press did not even write today about this whole issue that has arisen! So banning it, seems like it will be pretty ineffective. It will just give this organization (the Messianics) a lot of interviews and press time, with no real gain for Yad L'achim, even if they do successfully get her knocked off the contest.
  2. Disqualifying her from participating is problematic, since she qualifies under the rules. If we start saying that some Jews cannot participate because of their beliefs, that opens a whole can of worms. People will start appealing other candidates participation, based on what they claim to be (whether they are or are not would always be debatable) beliefs that are beyond the pale.
    If a Reform student wished to participate, would he be banned? If a Chabad Meshichist student wished to participate, would he be protested? I am not comparing beliefs and saying some people are better than others, who is within the pale and who is beyond the pale, but if we come along and start saying that about this one girl, who is to stop anyone from coming in the future and protesting other candidates, that might be more acceptable, but still questionable.
I can foresee, if this protest takes on legs and becomes a real fight, this destroying the whole chidon.
1. differentiating between beliefs
2. haredim ignore the chidon tanach anyway, and do not care if this brings down the whole thing.


  1. The Israeli supreme court has already ruled (in the case of the Right of Return for Brother Daniel) that messianic Jews are not considered Jews for the purpose of the law.

    This was Barak's (cultural) opinion, disagreeing with the halakhic opinion of Menachem Elon, who wanted to grant him citizenship.

  2. Forget the fact the Chareidim ignore the Chidon Hatanach --- THEY DONT EVEN *LEARN* TANACH.

  3. Anon,

    For all that they don't "learn", the participants know Tanach much better than your average Joe (I don't mean you, Rafi). Also, it places Tanach in a position of some prestige to the average Israeli.

    I think the best thing would be to let her on, but somehow make sure she loses, and loses big. Or ask her question, the answers to which call the whole Tanach-based Messianism into question.

  4. why not me? I don't know tanach all that well...

    if you rig the questions for her, that calls the whole contest into question and will harm the integrity of the chidon...

  5. First of all, nice to see/read you Rafi, been a long time. And this certainly is a nice forum (though your brother's posts home from the army are also entertaining!).
    I think in this case, not only should they let her participate, they should treat her as any other participant and let the chips fall where they may. Either she'll win or lose. No harm done in either case really.
    If she loses, ok, she loses...next!
    If she wins, great. A great headline from the New York Post, um, I mean Ha'aretz, and so what....
    A meshichista/missionary knows more tanach than the general public does - wouldn't be the first time.
    And wouldn't this be the perfect spark to promote a better emphasis and understanding of tanach in our communities anyway? Come on, think of it - You're gonna let some meshichista girl beat you at TANACH???? Believe me, every kid in day school is gonna have tanach shoved at them so fast, their (collective) heads will spin.

  6. The problem I see, is if she wins there will be many interviews which she and her family will use to missionize the audience.

    Same would happen if she is rejected outright from the competition.

    The ultimate would be if she loses big. Then there will be no interviews and she will fade.

  7. Girls learn (Ta)Na"Ch, boys don't!

  8. "This is a quiz for religious kids, with a seat saved for a secular candidate"

    i'm not sure if this is true. i think at one time there was a much larger non-dati representation

  9. Jerry,
    The israel supreme court also ruled that you cant discriminate against gays, arabs or women but you can discriminate against settlers.

    My father is what you would call a meshichist, though he does not wear a yechi yarmilka or any of that junk. But on the count of the rebbe being nasi hador, rosh bnei yisrael, mi'zerah david.. he holds b'vadai mashiach.

    Now, before all you twits with minimal jewish knowledge jump in. I will have you know that my father is fluent in all of rambam back and forth inside out and very well versed in shulach aruch and most poskim...

    Anyways, it is true that most messianic j4j know tanach very well.

  10. To Jerry:
    the laws have changed as of two weeks ago....

    Israeli Supreme Court rules in favor of Messianic Jews

    In a landmark decision this week, the Supreme Court of Israel ratified a settlement between twelve Messianic Jewish believers and the State of Israel, which states that being a Messianic Jew does not prevent one from receiving citizenship in Israel under the Law of Return or the Law of Citizenship, if one is a descendent of Jews on one's father's side (and thus not Jewish according to halacha).

  11. mlevin,

    Of course, the charei public can threaten to boycott TV if she is granted any interviews.


  12. BTW, according to NRG/Maariv, a couple of DL rabbonim, including Rav Aviner, have signed on to the cherem of the chidon as well...


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