I’ve had a lot of people contact me in the last few days about how a Christian missionary infiltrated a community in Israel and seemingly fooled everyone. After speaking to a few of them myself and listening to their stories, it seems that almost fooled had good intentions and were showing loving kindness to a family that seemed to be in need — and put aside their questions and doubts to help a family.
The issue isn’t if they were Christian — there’s no issue with people following their own faith. The issue is that they purposely and admittedly were “soldiers” that “infiltrated” the Jewish community, by their own missionary words. They wanted to destroy our space, our country where we are supposed to be free of these intrusions.
How did they do it?
On even a simple examination, not a lot of his story made sense. His Hebrew was often off, his translations of words seemed to be tinged with Christianity. Videos of him talking about Jesus are on the internet, and anyone who really wanted to do a detailed investigation of him would have noticed it.
1) The “rabbi” attended a “litvish yeshiva” online that had no association whatsoever with the movement that he claimed to be from. The “yeshiva” has no association with any mainstream movement, and seems to be exclusively made to print out certificates for anyone to claim to be a “Rabbi.” Orthodox Rabbis have rejected the “online yeshiva” training because it lacks personal contact and knowledge of the people involved.
This is a perfect example of the idiocy of such a program.
A video of him at his son’s bris, shows that he didn’t even know basic Hebrew.
2) He claimed to be a student of a famous Israeli Mizrahi Rabbi that died in 2006, before he even moved to Israel, where he learned the “mysteries” of Kabbalah. Of course, this doesn’t make a lot of sense that he embraced Mizrahi Judaism, and then immediately went to a “Litvish Yeshiva online.” There’s also no proof whatsoever that he even knew this Rabbi in any shape or form, or had any association whatsoever.
3) He was a teacher at a Messianic BJJ School that raises money to illegally proselytize to children. Their page says they entrap Jewish kids who attend their martial arts program by “teaching them Biblical principles and building connections between their students and the Messianic community.” This is illegal in Israel — and seems like borderline kidnapping.
4) He never attended a local synagogue in the area, claiming he was a member of Kabbalistic shul that no one knew about. This kept him from being “exposed” by other rabbis who might question his scattered knowledge of Torah. He would do various “rabbinical” things, but then always explain his lack of knowledge as some “weird” kabbalistic practice that other rabbis didn’t agree with. He used this “outsider” claim to almost make himself look like a victim.
5) Perhaps the hardest part to talk about: he almost universally targeted Jews who were not born religious, or themselves were recent immigrants to Israel. Many of them accepted his stories, and his “strange” traditions because they didn’t have anything else to base it on. He seemingly avoided “frum from birth” Jews who would have immediately questioned his stories about his life. It’s sad, but he really did target “unaffiliated” jews that were on the border of Orthodoxy, and didn’t “know better.”
It should be noted that the “Kabbalah” movement is highly disregarded by most of Orthodox Judaism as being fraudulent and a scam that usually is run by less than legitimate people.
Kabbalah has become a “celebrity cause” in the last few decades, driving large revenue to Kabbalah centers around the world with fake Rabbis who use cult-like methods to get donations, and give “magical pendants” to their followers for often tens of thousands of dollars. Most of the followers aren’t Jewish, most of the Rabbis aren’t either.
I’ve yet to see a single website or blog about Kabbalah that is written by a trained Rabbi from a legitimate Orthodox Jewish institution of higher education.
Orthodox Rabbis both in the USA and Israel do not take this seriously, but the scams are everywhere making people rich.
How do we prevent this?
Like everything in life, be on the lookout for scams.
When something doesn’t “seem right,” and your radar goes off, there’s a reason for that.
We’ve all developed “radars” that keep us safe and help us know who is trying to hurt us.
If a Mizrahi Kabbalistic Rabbi with a questionable background, lack of understanding basic halacha, starts trying to sell you stuff, maybe listen to your “radar” that tells you something is off.