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Rabbanite Issues

Updated on February 22, 2010

A short diversion from the "To My Brother Yeshua" series was in in order when a few of my readers raised some questions regarding Karaite attitudes towards Rabbanites, or more specifically, my feelings towards them. And what they may have perceived as condemnation bordering on hatred they felt unfair that I would tar the rabbanite followers with the same brush that should be reserved for the rabbis alone. As I explained, what they may have interpreted as hatred was in fact despair. The same despair I spoke of in my article A despair brought about by the overwhelming feeling that so many choose to follow blindly without question. A despair that in the pursuit of power and authority these rabbis have failed to comprehend the tragedy they have brought about on our people. I may be Karaite, but ultimately I am a Jew. My heart beats and bleeds for all my brethren, whether Karaite or Rabbanite. The suffering we have shared over the centuries was not isolated to only one sect. We have all shared in it. There was never a case of one escaping the persecutions suffered by the other, merely all paying the price for the folly of blind and selfish men.

And therein lies my condemnation, for I truly believe when the blame is finally laid at the feet of those that brought it about, then the followers of these misguided, self-appointed, paragons of self-deluding righteousness will no longer behave as sheep and will go out and seek God on their own terms much in the way that Karaites have done for the past 1250 years. What do I mean by laying the blame where it belongs? What if I was to suggest the roots of anti-Semitism were nourished by these same religious leaders that so many follow without question. To ignore what they have done to bring us all to point of despair of which I speak only invites us to fall prey over and over again to those that know their iniquity. You see, it was said a long time ago, by men far holier, far more knowledgeable than me, that the evil you seek to do against someone will be repaid in retribution against you a thousand times over. In 940 AD such was the case when Nehemiah-Natronai Kahana had to lead his people into exile to the far shores of the Black Sea. The Rabbis know of what I speak. But more importantly is the suffering that we have experienced because of their folly almost a thousand years before that time.

The Nineteen Benedictions

Many Rabbanites will say that we know about the 18 Benedictions but this 19th one is a mystery to them. Some will raise its existence as a question to their Rabbis and they will be told, "Yes, there was a nineteenth but it made little sense and therefore was discarded." Some Rabbis will even recite it and superficialy it will appear to have little bearing but those Rabbis also know that they have only receited a grossly edited version of the original which they have intentionally concealed. Fortunately, we have the actual original version preserved when the Geniza in the Cairo syanagogue was uncovered. Here's the actual wording of that blessing:

"May apsostates have no hope and may their kingdom of impertinence be uprooted in our day. May the Nozrim and Minim disappear in the twinkling of an eye. May they be removed from the book of the living and not be inscribed amongst the just. Bless you Lord, who cast down the proud."

For those that are unfamiliar with the terms Nozrim (Nazoreans) and Minim, they are the early Judeo-Christian communities. This wasn't actually a blessing but a curse that prayed that they would all be struck down, removed from the land of the living. At the time this was a nothing more than a small community of peaceful adherants who followed the teachings of the Proud One, Yeshua and the Rabbis praised God for his being killed. Obviously, you can see where I'll be heading with this discussion. Here was one of the original roots of anti-Semitism and these wise (not) Rabbis brought it about through their own arrogance. They were the 'Proud Ones'.

Jamnia's Curse

Of course I need to look no further than the Talmud to cast the blame where it belongs. In the tractate Berakoth 28b and 29a we can witness for ourselves what Rabbi Levi had to say and it puts beyond dispute my accusations even if today's rabbis still attempt to deny it. He said, "The benediction agaisnt the Minim was established at Jamni. Our teachers have taught, Simon the Peqali formulated the eighteen benedictions at Jamnia in the traditional order in the presence of Rabban Gamaliel. Rabban Gamaliel said to the sages, "Is there someone capable of formulating a benediciton against the Minim?" Then Samuel the Small got up and did it. The following year, he forgot the benediction and had to meditate two or three hours without being asked to come up. How could it be that they did not let him come up? Did not Rav Judah ben Ezechiel say in the name of Rabbi Abba Areka, "The one who has made a mistake in any of the other benedictions is not asked to come up but if it is the benediction against the Minim one asks him to come up because it is feared tht he did it on purpose being a 'Min' himself? The case of Samuel the Small was different for it was he who had decreed the benediction. But one might have feared that he retracted."

From their own lips we hear the Rabbis rejoicing in the fact that they have cursed an entire sect of what still were Jews at that time. But in their fear that they were being infiltrated, they used this 19th benediction in the form of a swearing of the oath. If you were willing to curse these Minim then you could not be one yourself. If you refused to curse them, then you either were one or a sympathizer. Some may recognize that the same tactic was used by every group that rose up against the Jews subsequently. Swear Jesus was the son of God, otherwise you were a heretic or a Jew and either way you'd be burned. But now you can witness for yourself where this harsh practice originated. Of course, having it all sanctioned by Rabban Gamaliel, this false prince descended from Hillel and a family that actually had the audacity to covet and wear the 'fly' insignia of the Davidic royal family only meant that it would be an official decree to be followed by everyone. Even if there was a rabbi to object to the harshness of the benediction and refuse to curse a harmless people, they could not avoid the scrutiny of this oppressive religious legislative body. To do so meant they in turn would be outcast and fall under an unofficial edict that called for their death.

Truth Or Consequenes

The consequence of wishing harm upon anyone, unless it is in self-defence is that you will reap what you sew but it will be magnified many times over. We are constantly reminded of that in the Torah. Just as Pharaoh wished harm upon the Hebrews, God delivered each one of his curses upon the Egyptians to the nth degree. So why in the world, these Rabbis of Jamnia would place all of us into the firing line simply because of their egos still mystifies me much as it has always mystified my ancestors for two thousand years. Not only was it unnecessary as the Nazoreans and Minims would have been better controlled as part of the system than against it, but as history has proven to us, it was also the most dangerous doctrine these rabbis could have devised as ultimately it threatened our very existence.

What do we know of this 19th Benediction? As a result, the early Christians suffered for it. Not only were they expulsed from the synagogues which was tantamount to excommunication but what it actually did was give official approval of what was done to Jakob (James) the brother of Yeshua when he was murdered in 62 AD. Any chance of repairing the rift between these communities with mainstream Judaism was now impossible and in fact, the decision at Jamnia forced the Christians to abandon the Torah and rely almost wholly on their own Gospels. As I explained in the "To My Brother Yeshua" series right at the beginning, without the Rabbis there would have been no Christianity as we know it. As a consequence, that which the Rabbis tried to exclude and exterminate instead grew to a point where it did exactly that to us. We were visited with the outcome of these Rabbi's foolishness over and over again. What had been arrogance and pride upon the part of these men, or as Rabbi Levi refers to them as sages though I seriously doubt you could have found a single wise man amongst them, resulted in God doing exactly what He swore He would do. He would visit upon those that wished evil a punishment far greater than they could ever had imagined. Unfortunately because these Rabbis were able to convince the mainstream population to follow them blindly, they also brought down the curse upon the people as well. Hence my feeling of great despair for through blindness we have been led to the slaughter house. Not as the anti-Semites of the past have claimed as punishment for denying Yeshua as the Messiah, but because we dared to wish evil upon an innocent people. Had the Rabbis taken a different path, perhaps a Karaite path, much as I am doing today pointing out through the Hazuk Emunah how Yeshua was perhaps a great teacher but nothing more, the last two thousand years may have been entirely different. There would have been only one monotheistic religion, that being a tolerant Judaism that embraced many sects but was built upon the same fundamental beliefs. Therein lies my anguish, my despair and my resentment. Not hatred as some have thought. And I do appreciate their concern and their asking because as as result it has motivated me to write what I have had to say now.

Avrom Aryeh-Zuk Kahana


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