Outreach and overreach, American political Messianism

The rewards and perils of religious, political, diplomatic Messianism in American policies. Op-ed.

Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin ,

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah
Flash 90
We all live in our own worlds. I live in an observant Jewish world with the religious ideals of Orthodox Judaism directing me to "reach out" to as many Jews as possible by any and all means, be it in person or by technology, the spoken word, deeds, or in writing. I have had my successes and failures, my hopes fulfilled and disappointments to face. Like the rest of humanity, we all have our ups and downs, our highs and our lows. But that is not the outreach ths article explores.

I have access to various online data bases of different types of Jews and different types of congregations. I can report that after quickly reviewing hundreds of websites of Reconstructionist, Reform, Conservative congregations all over North America, that they too have been and remain on an outreach mission. They call it "keruv" with an "e" and it is the word used for reaching out to mixed faith couples as well as to all sorts of sexually non-conformist persons of all stripes. They are on a mission to "grow" the Jewish People by trying to entice the gentile spouses and non-Jewish children of their members or anyone like that who wishes to join them. That's another form of "outreach" going on out there in the world.

Then there is political outreach, with politicians trying to reach out and recruit new followers and acolytes to increase their voter support. Anyone interested in building broad political alliances and coalitions should look at how Joe Biden and the Democrats managed to do this leading up to their victory in the 2020 USA presidential elections. Once elected Biden is now enacting executive orders meant to redress inequalities in American society and thereby continuing to reach out to every last minority sector in America.

Similarly on the diplomatic front the Biden team is now "reaching out" to the world's top pariah nation Iran whose leaders constantly, openly, and brazenly vow to eradicate the Jewish state of Israel from the face of the Earth.

There is also "outreach" now to the leadership of the PLO with enticements of diplomatic recognition and loads of money to come flowing from America - that is known as greasing the wheels.

What do these types of "outreach" have in common? What you have is one group of "good guys" (obviously from the perspective of Jews and America) reaching out to the "other guys" and trying hard not to call them out for being the real "bad guys."

Orthodox Jews want to reach out to non-Orthodox Jews in the hope of making them Baalei Teshuva, returnees to a Torah-observant lifestyle.

The Reconstructionists, Reform and Conservatives want to welcome outright non-Jews, who may be practicing Christians or atheists singly or as part of interfaith couples. Many of the clergy of these groups will gladly perform interfaith religious ceremonies co-officiating with Christian clergy that proves that the couples getting married intend to stick together with at least one remaining a practicing Christian or some sort of non-Jewish believer.

Politically, Democrats truly believe they can reach out to haters and bigots who supported them in the American community and somehow redress all their grievances, when in fact many of these radicals want nothing less than the disbandonment of the USA as a European and Western-founded nation and also reparations for 400 years of discrimination. The grievance-mongers are not interested in measly "stimulus payments" they want everything, lock, stock, and barrel.

And diplomatically, the Biden people think that if you just speak nicely and act reasonably with terrorists and terrorist regimes you can bring them around to your way of thinking, or at least engage them enough so that they will agree to the diplomatic equivalent of an interfaith mixed marriage, one that for others would just be a horrible marriage made in hell.

Digging deeper, there is a notion in modern political philosophy called "messianic politics" which is a kind of secular and civil version of the Judeo-Christian religious belief and faith in a Messianic saving figure and movement. For Torah observant Jews this means waiting for the true Jerwish Mashiach to arrive or for a process making him come closer. It is one of Maimonides' Thirteen Principles of Faith that "I Believe In Perfect Faith in the Coming of the Messiah...and I will wait for him expectantly each day that he will come."

This idea has been applied to the domain of world politics to define leaders and movements which are "messianic" like because they promise "messianic" or Utopian ideals and ends. Sadly, political scientists point to both Nazism and Communism as modern day messianic political movements. But alas for them and tragically for the world while they were in power, they were unmasked as false. Hitler and Stalin were false "messiahs" that led their followers astary with vain promises of victory.

We, however, are supposed to be living in the times of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, the clarion calls of the secular French Revolution that overthrew the French monarchy, nobility and church. But Liberalism and Socialism are today's false messiahs promising false hope for a better world. The Reform and Conservative movements have adopted, changed and taught the world at large their interpretation (the source is Jewish prayer where it means to correct the world to recognize G-d's kingdom) of the notion of "Tikkun Olam" - "Fixing the World" - fixing everything from here to eternity. The planet, carbon emissions, global warming, equity, to name but a few concerns of the messianic globalists.

It is a human failing to overreach. Since the Holocaust, Orthodoxy has tried mightily to bring back the lost members of the tribe under the wings of the Shechina, but the fact remains that the vast majority of Jews, in America particularly, have instead assimmilated even more and intermarried with even more speed. The Reform and Conservative movements instead of admitting their failure to hold on to their followers, have mounted a rear-guard movement in vain, trying to snatch defeat from the insatiable jaws of the intemarriage monster by hoisting the flag of okaying cognitive dissonance, claiming that you can have your Judaism and eat it with Christianity too. A vain and false merssianic vainglory if ever there was one.

Politically, the assimilated and intermarried Jews of America head up the Biden administration and lead the way in trying the same sort of failed false messianism by reaching out to groups and nations that hate America, hate the West, and hate Israel as a Jewish state. How can a reasonable government reach out to an unreasonable trio such as Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah as long as these groups are dedicated to one goal, the annihilation of Israel as a Jewish state (and America next)? It is dreaming the impossible dream.

As Jewish History has taught, beware of false messiahs and of false messianic movements and keep your eye on the ball for the true footsteps of Messiah.

Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin is president and founder of the Jewish Professionals Institute. An alumnus of Yeshiva Chaim Berlin and Teachers College, Columbia University, he has dedicated his life to Jewish outreach and education, served for 7 years as full-time director of Sinai Heritage Centers in Manhattan and 3 as an AJOP trustee, .among many oher endeavors.



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