Dec 30, 2009

Rabbi Riskin responds to the storm

The Jewish Internet is agog with the recent video of Rabbi Riskin seemingly praising Jesus and Christianity, and comparing Christianity to Religious Judaism.

From the video it looked to me like Rabbi Riskin had lost his mind. Obviously he was talking to Christians and his message was designed for them and not for us, but his comparisons were way out of bounds.

After the storm had been unleashed with criticism flying from practically every blog and jewish content website on the internet (except mine - I had written a post and then canned it), Rabbi Riskin has offered his response to the criticism.

In an interview to the Kipa website, Rabbi Riskin says that his words were taken out of context.
Rabbi Riskin says as an Orthodox Rabbi who believes in dialogue between Jews and Christians, out of mutual respect, while being careful to stay faithful to the Jewish outlook, and faithful to the beliefs and concepts that have been the guiding principals of the Jewish nation and the Torah throughout all of history.

Rabbi Riskin claims to not have praised Jesus - he says, "I never praised the character or the personality of the person in whose name Jews were slaughtered throughout history. If that is how my words were understood, I am disturbed by that understanding and state that that was not my intention at all. I apologize if my words were taken improperly. I related to the historical persona of Jesus, who was not a Christian, did not hate Jews, but was a Jewish and religious person. unfortunately, his faith and his way caused much suffering to the Jewish people.

Out of concern for the political future of the Jewish nation, I think that dialogue between jews and Christians strengthens our positions with the fundamentalist world that is taking hold in the world. But of course any dialogue must be done from a Torah viewpoint that is grounded in the heritage of old.

I see a failure to explain his position. He gives some background and context to his words. but just because he believes in dialogue does not mean what he said is acceptable. His words still compared Judaism and Christianity in unacceptable ways. he did not explain the true meaning and intention, which he says what taken out of context, of his words.


  1. I haven't had a chance to read/see the interview but it just seems to me that Rabbi Riskin just keeps getting deeper and deeper into this whole Judeo-Christian dialog is important at the expense of Judaism.

    I could understand his response if one or two or even half a dozen people misunderstood him/his intentions but it seems like it was across the board 'what the heck is he talking about'....

  2. INN has a more detailed response than the Kipa article

  3. If one sees the video, one can tell it was spliced. Rabbi Riskin is trying to clarify his position. For a person who has done so much for Israel and the Jewish people, I think we should give him the benefit of the doubt. He is an advocate of Jewish-Christian relations, a very unpopular stance within the orthodox world, but 30 years ago it was unpopular to have women learn gemora. Times and situations change and Judaism needs to be proactive. There are sincere Christians who support Israel and the Jewish people for the right reasons. Dialogue is necessary. Pioneers in this work will always be scrutinized by majority and find situations to be taken out of context. Rabbi Riskin should be admired not treated as some person off the street.

  4. I am a Christian, and all of this is making me very sad. I didn't even know of this Rabbi until now, and I appreciate his gesture. I don't think he's trying to get people to believe in Jesus or be fuel for missionaries or anything like that. I appreciate that he cares about people who are not of his belief, and I appreciate his willingness to talk to us. Why is what he said so horrible? He obviously doesn't believe Jesus is the Messiah, so I don't understand why so many Jewish people are so mad and mean to him. Can't people just disagree with him and yet show him some respect? Anyways, most Christians do not know very much about Jewish Orthodox beliefs, and when Jewish Orthodox people treat people of other beliefs with courtesy and meaningful communication, it helps us respect and admire the Jewish Orthodox people. Peace and God bless


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