Ironically, Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi is perhaps one of the most liked and one of the most disliked rabbis currently today. His videos on YouTube have garnered millions of views, as well as garnering thousands and thousands of comments. Some positive, some negative. The rabbi has made controversial statements such as
“Homosexuals should be in two closets, so if they come out of one, they will still be another one.”
As well as saying people who are born with a physical illness in this lifetime are paying for sins they committed in a previous life.
Do I agree with all of Rabbi Mizrachi’s statements? No. Do I appreciate that the rabbi speaks his mind. Yes I do.
We live in a very fake world and I don’t mean just the superficial culture which is shown to us in movie theaters and on television. We see fakeness in shuls, at work and in social circles.
Currently the front runner in the GOP is first time business man Donald Trump. The Donald has also made his fair share of controversial statements such as “Mexico sends us their rapists.” Nevertheless, the first-time politician is soundly beating many life-long politicians in polls and has done so for the past 5 months.
Trump and Mizrachi have something in common. They say what they think. Even those who dislike Rabbi Mizrachi would not call him fake. Just like there is fakeness in politics, there is fakeness in the Kiruv world. Don’t get me wrong, my friends as well as myself have greatly benefited from the Kiruv movement. But at the same time, I always had this feeling like I was being lied to. I prefer things to be honest and blunt rather than fake and nice. If a person says something which I don’t agree with, but he is honest, we can actually have a conversation.
If a person is being fake, it’s difficult to decide what direction is needed to continue the conversation.
Rabbi Mizrachi is in Israel this week, giving many speeches in Hebrew but having a Shabbaton in English. The Shabbaton is sponsored by KOTU and Yibnoeh, as Rabbi Mizrachi will be speaking at the Kol Rina Synagogue in Nachlaot. The Facebook group “The rise of the Messiach” has had its fair share of comments. Again, many positive, as well as many negative. One of the negative comments came from Rabbi Mottle Wolfe, who referred to Mizrachi as “vile.”
I first met Rabbi Wolfe on a kiruv trip 7 and half years ago. I liked him then and like him now and think he’s a good guy. However, this man is a bit controversial as well, coming out as an atheist on his radio show. The Mottle Wolfe Show ran up until July of this year on Voice of Israel, until the station went out of business. Although many people had a problem with what he said on his show, I was actually more troubled an atheist had been working for such a reputable Kiruv organization. One could say he wasn’t an atheist at that particular time, but still, there is certainly a problem somewhere if a rabbi from a Kiruv organization ends up pronouncing in front of his listeners that the Torah is not a divine document.
Can the Torah be a tough pill to swallow for some? Of course. It’s a book that states lightning a fire on the Sabbath is a death penalty sin. But rather than be fake or lie about what the Torah says, I think it’s healthier to have an honest conversation. Ironically, Mottle did that on his coming out show. Mottle may not like this, but he is somewhat the Rabbi Mizrachi of the atheist world. He said his opinion in a pretty blunt way “I don’t believe in a book which stones girls who are not virgins.” After coming out as an atheist on his program, Mottle then asked a religious man who worked at the station to come into the studio as they engaged in a debate. Wolfe asked.” Is the Torah moral?” In which the man responded with a long stutter.
Ironically, I think this type of dialogue is good. We should not follow the Torah in a blind way and not ask questions. Asking questions for a Jew is about as fundamental as keeping Shabbat. But these questions can’t truly be brought up unless the truth is being told. Yes Judaism does say breaking Shabbat is a death penalty sin, but it also says complete Teshuva can wash away any sin. We also say every Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur that repentance, prayer and charity cancel the evil decree. If one letter is missing from a Torah scroll it is considered incomplete. I wish the man in the studio would have responded that the Torah in its COMPLETENESS is of course moral, it’s the word of G-D.
Although most of my experience as a broadcaster is in the sports world, a few years ago I started a show called the “Messiah Hour” on Arutz Sheva before bringing the show to IsraelSportsandNewsRadio.com. The show asks if current world events are fulfilling prophecies written about thousands of years ago in the Tanach. I started this show due in part to the starnge events occurring in the world. Yes, it is true many years ago, member of the tribe Bill Joel said “The world has been burning since the world has been turning.” However, things seem to be a lot different now in our time. Israel seems to be more and more hated everyday and more of Israel’s enemies seem to arm themselves with nuclear weapons. One of the prophecies regarding the end of days is that things will be so bad for Israel, its only hope will be to turn to G-D. Not too long ago it seemed as if Israel had friends plus G-D. Now, it looks like we just have G-D. Baruch Hashem, Hashem is enough. Perhaps this is the reason why Rabbi Mizrachi is being so blunt after all.
I recently sat down with Rabbi Mizrachi on my show the “Messiah Hour” on IsraelSportsandNewsRadio. To hear the interview in its entirety, please visit the website. http://www.israelsportsandnewsradio.com