Messianic Judaism is a Cult?

The chief rabbi of Ashdod (Israel) claims that we are worse than Hitler, another rabbi called us “The Cult of the Messianic Jews”. Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak, who also calls us a cult adds: “The missionaries ‘buy’ everyone with money, they pay money to needy families and send them free tickets to France”. How easy and convenient it is to define anyone whose views you are in disagreement with and whose message you are threatened by as a “cult”! But what is the actual definition of a cult? What tactics do cult leaders use to keep their members loyal, and to whom does this description really apply? Let’s consider what the Israeli Center for Victims of Cults has to say…

As Messianic Jews here in the land of Israel, we are just like everyone else – like the majority of other Israelis, we pay taxes, serve in the Israeli Defense Forces, we love our country, volunteer in different organizations, we come from different ethnicities and countries, live in the cities, towns and other settlements in Israel. We live with and among our fellow Israeli citizens – attending regular schools and universities, and are active in a wide variety of groups and social circles. When you look at us on the street, you will notice that we are no different from you in any way. Moreover, just like you, we are also imperfect human beings. But now we want to challenge you with the following question: Who fits the definition of a “cult”?

The Eben Shushan Dictionary defines cult in the following way:

“A group, function, or group of people who have split or broken away from the majority of the public due to differences and conflicts in its views on issues of religion, society, etc. A cult, in the way we understand it today, is for the most part, a closed group whose leader or leaders use a known technique called “Mind Control”; mental, emotional and spiritual captivity, using fraud and brainwashing, to enslave its members and take advantage of their resources. The exploitation could be financial, emotional, and even sexual.”

The Israeli Center for Victims of Cults provides the following definition:

“A cult is a manipulative group, which takes advantage of its members and could cause them psychological, financial and even physical damage. The group totally dictates the ways of behavior, thinking and feelings of its members. Various manipulation techniques are used, in order to turn a new recruit into a loyal, obedient and submissive cult member. Groups with a cult-like nature claim the existence of a special status for their movement or for their leader. This special status places them in contradiction to the conventional social norms and notions, as well as to the family model and its values. Cults tend to hide their true nature and goals from future members, by using deceptive and misleading activity which aims to tempt new recruits.”

Let’s get back to the definition: “The group totally dictates the ways or behavior, thinking and feelings of its members.”

Enter an Orthodox neighborhood or Yeshiva (academy); Is the dress code, the way of living and thinking, affected and dictated by the rabbi who leads it? For example, matters concerning how to pray, how to cut their hair, how to dress, what to eat and what not to eat… and how to eat. How and where one can sit in the bus, or where to walk on the sidewalk… Who they can marry, or go out with, who not to touch, and what language to speak… Below is a quote summarizing the tenants’ regulations in a well-known Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem. Does it fit the definition of a cult?

“A. The tenant and his family should dress in modest clothing. Those who are married should wear long sleeves, long dresses and long socks.

  1. Men and boys will not grow forelocks.
  2. Women will cut the hair of their heads.
  3. Boys and girls will be educated only in Orthodox schools and also in your homes, they will be educated in the same way.
  4. The tenant should prevent the sound of singing women to be heard outside of their home, even during a celebration in their home.
  5. It is forbidden to keep a TV or a radio in the house.
  6. It is forbidden to play records of heretics or women singing.
  7. Sons/daughters of the tenant will not bring to their home friends who are not receiving Orthodox education, and they will not associate with them.”

By the way, you will not find any of these regulations in the Law of Moses. It’s all a part of that law invented by the rabbis; the “Oral Law”.

Let’s move on to the next definition: “A special status for their movement framework or for their leader.”

Allow us to quote for you straight out of the Talmud: “The sayings of the elders have more weight than those of the prophets” (Berakoth 1:7) The rabbis place themselves above Old Testament prophets. Rabbi Akiva took it a step further: “You shall fear the Lord your God, but even more, the students of wise men.” According to Rabbi Akiva, students of orthodox academies, wise men, receive the status of God. “Who are the kings? The Elders.” (Babylonian Talmud) The rabbis see themselves as kings. A student of an Orthodox Academy is ordered to “Honor his rabbi more than his father” (Moshe Aberbech). If anyone breaks a rabbi’s commandment he is sentenced to death: “Whosoever disobeys the scribes deserves death” (Tractate Giting) “and whoever mocks the saying of the Sages is punished by being boiled in hot excrement.” (Tractate Erubin). As you can see, the Talmud grants the rabbis, who are the leaders of the Orthodox Cult a god-like status.

Let’s move to the next definition: “Its leaders use a known technique called “Mind Control”, a mental, emotional and spiritual captivity, with fraud and brainwashing, to enslave its members and take advantage of their resources.” (The Israeli Center for Victims of Cults)

The rabbis were not satisfied in glorifying their names; their propaganda turned into the use of threats and systematic intimidation in order to establish their status in the minds of their followers. They proclaimed that, “everything an older student teaches under the auspices of his Rabbi has already been given to Moses on Sinai” (Tractate Pe’ah 2:4).

The rabbis enslave and take advantage of the resources of those who follow them, as it is said in the Talmud: “Anyone who provides merchandise for students of elders, merits to sit in the Heavenly Yeshiva [academy]”. The rabbis sell “salvation”, blessings for the life to come, prayers at the Western Wall, and good luck charms… and by the way, the idea that a certain object has magical powers is idolatry! They sell decorated Torah scrolls, dollar bills which were touched by various rabbis, and many more things for a lot of money, to anyone who follows them blindly.

In your opinion, what does God think about the business the rabbi makes on His account? There is no doubt that the Orthodox society fits the definition of a cult exactly. And it’s interesting to pay attention to the contrast in the New Testament, which speaks against the idea that God can be bought with money.

In the New Testament there is a story of a man named Simon, who asks to buy spirituality with money, just like the rabbis do today: “Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:18-19). Note the strong response by one of Jesus’ apostles to Simon’s request: “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God” (Acts 8:20-21). Undoubtedly, receiving a monetary payment for spiritual things was considered an abomination by Jesus and his disciples. The Apostle Paul strongly reinforced this position when he said: “For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 2:17).

Do you see the contrast? Even in Jesus’ time, there was the same business mentality within the religious circles, just like today. People tried to buy and sell God with money, but Jesus and his apostles spoke out against that. Jesus said to his disciples: “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” (Mt. 10:7-8)

And this is one of the reasons why the rabbis rejected them then and today, because if they accept Jesus as Messiah, they will lose the honor, the power and the control that they love so much, and of course, their source of income. For 2,000 years already, the rabbis have done everything possible in order to hide Jesus from the People of Israel and to prevent them from reading of the New Testament.

So which of us is really the cult?

This article originally appeared on One for Israel and reposted with permission.