RCA Bans ‘Messianic Rabbis’


rcaA rabbinical Modern Orthodox umbrella group in the U.S. is banning Chabad rabbis with messianic beliefs from membership. The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), one of the world’s largest organizations of Orthodox rabbis, includes an “affirmation regarding messianic belief” clause to its membership application.

The clause states: “By checking this box and with my signature below, I affirm that the following resolution, adopted at the RCA’s 1996 Annual Convention, reflects my beliefs:

“In light of disturbing developments which have recently arisen in the Jewish community… declares that there is not and never has been a place in Judaism for the belief that Mashiach ben David will begin his Messianic mission only to experience death, burial and resurrection before completing it.”

This is seen as a direct rebuff to a group within the Chabad-Lubavitch movement who believes that the Lubavitcher Rebbe can still be Moshiach.

While the Rebbe passed away on the third of Tammuz 5754, the group cites what Rav Nachman says in Gemara Sanhedrin implying the Moshiach could also come from the dead.

The RCA, associated with Yeshiva University, which employs critic of Chabad messianism Dr. David Berger, dates back to 1923 and its key member was Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik.

His brother, Rav Ahron Soloveichik, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Brisk in Chicago, wrote in 2000: “We should not label subscribers to these beliefs as heretics.”

Among its members are Rav Gedalia Dov Schwartz, Av Beit Din of the Chicago Rabbinical Council, and Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of the Israeli city of Efrat – both friends of Chabad.

 {COLlive.com/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. What about those who say that he never experienced death? If you believe that he never died and is only ne’elam, then you should be able to keep your RCA membership.

  2. You can be a friend of Chabad without being a Meshichist.
    As for R’ Ahron’s statement, that’s fine. It’s a machlokes, as I’ve heard differently from many Rabbonim.

  3. The author of this article made a misleading citation of a Talmudic reference. First off, the statement is in the name of Rav, not Rav Nachman. The Talmud states, “That if the messiah is among the living, the paradigm (Kagone) would be Rabbeinu Hakadosh (Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi). If from among the dead, the paradigm (Kagone)would be Daniel.” Rashi states two interpretations; the first and least authoritative, dismisses the usage of (Kagone) “paradigm” and poses a literal interpretation. However, that being said, it is impossible to deduce from this Chazal that the late Lubavicher Rebbe could be Moshiach because Daniel himself would be resurrected!

    As a side note: Rav (and Rav Nachman who weighs in differently in that same Gemora) were Amoraim. The greatest of all Tanaim, Rebbe Akiva, gives us a different paradigm of the Moshiach that is cited by the Rambam as actual Halacha… Bar Kochba. Indeed, he was a failed Messiah, but nevertheless according to Rebbe Akiva, he was the correct paradigm of Moshiach, a Tzadik, Talmid Chochom and primarily, a great warrior. The novel, Aleph Shin by Sender Zeyv expresses this theme (read Sender Zeyv’s Endnote to Aleph Shin).

    you dont see woman in the picture?
    thats because matzav.com croped the picture so you dont see them, go to collive.com to see the complete picture. and now that you see the complete picture tell me whats a bigger issur woman amongst the men, or believing what the gemorah says that moshiach can come from those that already died?(look it up yourself & if you need an artscroll its there also sanhehrin daf 98 amud beis 6 lines from the bottom last 4 words on line amar rav. …dont be scarded to look it up and see rashi while you are there also)
    i’ll choose the gemorah over the rca any day.
    granted if you dont want to believe that its going to be the lubavitcher rebbe thats your choice, but to say that mosiach cant be from the dead, thats something that should be banned
    or perhaps they banned that gemorah also!!!!

  5. We begin our inquiry into the topic with the most legitimate part of Torah Judaism one offer: the Talmud. In the following fascinating Aggadic piece, several great sages present their opinions as to whom the Moshiach would be, were he to arrive in their time. We now quote the great sage Rav, whose opinion is most relevant to our discussion.

    Rav states:

    “If Moshiach will come from the living, it will be Rabeinu HaKadosh (i.e.Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi), if he comes from the dead, it will be Daniel (the Prophet)…”

    Sanhedrin 98:B

    Shocking as it may be for many, Rav seems to include those who have already died (such as Daniel the prophet), as legitimate Messianic candidates. Even more shockingly, no other sage in the Talmud seems to even take issue with it.

    Rashi’s first interpretation (NOTE: It is well known that Rashi’s first interpretation is his favored interpretation) of this quote provides further clarification of this point. Rashi restates Rav’s position as follows:

    “This means, that if Moshiach were to come from those who are living now, it will be Rabeinu HaKadosh…but if (Moshiach) is to come from those who have died already, it will be ‘Daniel Ish Chamudos’…”

    Rashi-“Ee Min Chaya, Hu Kegon-Rabainu HaKadosh” 98:B

    Considering the current climate among today’s Jewry towards the notion of a ‘Resurrected Redeemer’, one might expect to find a plethora of Talmudic commentaries questioning and analyzing how such an ‘untraditional’ suggestion could be made. Yet, we find no such uproar. In fact, the opposite is the case; not even a hint of disapproval or surprise can be found from amongst the (at least twenty) major commentaries that discuss this page of Talmud.

    The silence of these commentaries speaks volumes. The absence of any objection made to Rav’s statement or Rashi’s interpretation of it, means that among the true Torah sages of the Talmud, the notion that Moshiach could come from the dead was always accepted and uncontested. This concept was far from the source of indignation and imprecation it has become in our recent history.

    If one source is not enough, other explicit references to the legitimacy of a ‘Resurrected Redeemer’ are not difficult to come by. In his work entitled, “Yeshuas Meshicho,” Torah giant Rav Don Issac Abarbanel writes as follows:

    “Do not be amazed by the fact that that Moshiach can be one of those who will rise in Techiya (resurrection), because this possibility was already considered by our sages in Gemara Sanhedrin.” (Iyun Sheni, Perek Alef)

    In the encyclopedic work of the Sedei Chemed, entitled “Pe’as Sadeh” we find a similar theme. This highly authoritative work contains the following quote:

    “There are two ways the redemption may materialize…if the Jews posses great merit, the advent of Moshiach will be of the miraculous and spiritual order, as it is written in Daniel- ‘Moshiach will arrive atop a heavenly cloud’…concerning this possible manner of Moshiach’s coming the Gemara states ‘if he comes from the dead it will be Daniel Ish Chamudos.'”

    Peas Sadeh-Maareches Alef, Os Ayin

    Further support for this concept can be found in the Rambam. This is notable, because the Rambam is one of the few Torah sages who compiled comprehensive halachic qualifications Moshiach must fulfill. He, therefore, is a distinctive authority to be used in determining what disqualifies a messianic candidate. He writes as follows:

    “And if he (the potential Moshiach) has not succeeded until this point (compelling all the Jewish people to follow Torah ways, and fighting the wars of Hashem) or is killed, it is assured that this is not the one (Moshiach) about whom the Torah has promised…”

    Mishna Torah-Hilchos Melachim/Laws of Kings 11:4

    We now turn our focus to the Rambam’s choice of words “…or is killed…”. The Rambam is well known for his precise wording in the Mishne Torah. Many decisions, which drastically affect lives, are made, based on a word or even a letter of the Rambam. Why is this important to us? Because if it is true, as many critics claim, that Moshiach can only come from the ranks of the living, the wording of this Rambam is inexplicable. Allow me to explain.

    If simply dying, in any way, disqualifies a potential Moshiach, then why didn’t the Rambam simply say: “If Moshiach dies”-then he cannot be Moshiach? This would have disqualified all Messianic candidates regardless of how they died. Apparently, to the Rambam things are not quite so simple.

    In spite of the fact that the vast majority of Jewish history’s righteous sages died natural deaths, the Rambam chooses a highly limiting word-“killed” as the invalidating criterion”. The clear implication here is that only if a potential Moshiach is killed (such as Bar Kochba who lost his life in combat) is he disqualified, but should such an individual die a natural death-he remains a valid Messianic candidate. There is no other coherent way to understand this Rambam.(NOTE: Obviously, all the other criteria of the Rambam must be fulfilled as well in order to remain a Messianic candidate. )

  6. Look for the truth…
    And you WILL find it.

    Learn a bit more about Moshiach.
    Learn what the Talmud has to say about it.
    Learn what the Reshonim say about it.
    Learn what the Acharonim say about it.

    Hashem yevarech et amo bashalom,

  7. “His brother, Rav Ahron Soloveichik, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Brisk in Chicago, wrote in 2000: “We should not label subscribers to these beliefs as heretics.””
    It has gotten much worse since Reb Ahron zt”l was alive. Especially in Reb Ahron’s hometown of Chicago.

    RCA is doing the right thing. Others should follow their lead!!

  8. Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, ZT’L (of YU), was very close to the last Lubavithcer Rebbe, ZT’L. When he would come to the Lubavithcer Rebbe’s Farbreingens and enter the Beis HaMedrosh, the Rebbe and thus all the assembled people would stand up for him.

    A little after the Rebbe was Nifter, I saw — yes, I am pretty sure it was in a Lubavtcher publication — statements from different people about the Rebbe. One of these was from Rav Aharon Soloveitchik, ZT’L, who highly commended the Rebbe and stated that he was someone who certainly could have been Moshiach.

  9. Kudos to RCA.

    Therefore, it is appropriate to expose
    such idiocy. After all, the RCA purports to be an enlightened, mainstream organization representing Orthodox Jewry.

    As a matter of principle, clergymen
    espousing the ridiculous views about a dead messiah should be denied membership. It’s about time action was taken.

  10. What is wrong with all of you? This is not news; it’s been RCA policy for years, following their piskei halacha. And they don’t admit women rabbis; REBBETZINS are welcome at the conventions, under the crazy assumption that rabbis’ wives have something to do with their husbands’ leadership of their congregations.

    MATZAV: Would you kindly keep to reporting news and not sensationalist drivel?

  11. #7: What are you talking about? Are those women being recognized as Rabbis? I don’t think so. So they’re having a discussion with some men. So what? It’s not yichud – there are many men, and more than one woman. So what’s the problem? Sometimes a man has to speak to a woman.

  12. I find it very hypocritical for chareidim and litvaks who disagree hashkafically with YU and RCA all of a sudden change gears to support this MO organization. The RCA can’t even come close to the tremendous acts of mesirus nefesh of Chabad for Jews all over the world. IMO, RCA is jealous of Chabad, and they are more concerned with spreading macklokes than spreading Ahavas Ysroel.

  13. 15: A woman does have responsibilities to help her husband run a kehilla. She needs to be able to reach out to the women and girls in the kehillah. If they have people over for Shabbos, are there things she needs to know, about how to act or things to say? Of course!

  14. Re: #19

    Stop it! Nobody takes your messianic mania
    seriously. RCA and all other sane and serious people should continue to alert the public in the superstition of a dead messiah.

    This is an old legend—the most notorious being the episode involving the infamous Shatzai Tzvi who also pretended to be moshiakh.

    From a theological perspective Jews For Yoshkeh and others belong in the same disreputable category of fringe groups that do not accurately represent Torah-true Judaism.

  15. 19, they’re not attacking Chabad as a whole. They have nothing against Lubavitch, only against the element that still believes the Rebbe will be Mashiach. Any other Chabad Rabbi will be welcomed with open arms.

  16. To Dr. Berger

    NO YOU STOP IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Did you read #10s response? Or are you trying to keep your head in the sand and ignore the truth.

    BTW, I am not Lubavitch nor a meshichist.

  17. i dont understand . people who hardley learn and know a blatt gemoro . pasken and know who and what is moshiach /min hachayim or min hameisim . they give out a PSAK to the ribono shel olem what to do /like the ribono shel olem is there chaver .

  18. No 10.
    Unfortunately, I feel you guys have convoluted the words of the Rambam to fit your agenda. First of all the reason why the Rambam says killed, not dies, is because Melech Hamoshiach is fighting Milchemes Hashem like his his grandfather Dovid. Now unless I am out of my mind, I don’t recall the Rebbe Z”L walking around with amunition on any occation. Bar Kochba was killed in war. The Rebbe certainly was not fighting a war, at least not the kind of Dovid Hamelech (which is a prerequisit to being Moshiach). The Rambam goes on to say that if this Moshiach is not successful then he is like the rest of the Kings of Malchus Bais Dovid. Unless the Rebbe was the king of Brooklyn, he doesn’t get the status of King. He also did not “force” the jewish people to go in the way of Hashem. He may have done tremendous Kiruv, but he didn’t command Mitzvah observance on this level. The irony of the above is that we all know Chabad in their efforts accept jews as they are, their policy is never to “force” people to do Mitzvos.

    Each individual who has to grapple with this new Emuna that never was before in Klal Yisroel, has to ask him self a question. Is this new Emuna worth destroying the foundation of my forefathers? Not believing it is definately saffer.

  19. After all sources in comment 10, not one can come close to the authoritative work of maimonedes who rules how one can be identified with certainty to be mashiach! To declare with certainty that one is mashiach when it does not fit the criteria set by maimonedes is wrong.

    Furthermore: Maimonedes does rule,that someone who was presumed to be mashiach but “loy hitzliach” and departed the world before bringing redemption is DEFINITELY NOT the mashiach.

  20. Someone noted that RCA converted Ivanka Trump. It is not clear that RCA did the conversion. But in any event, chabad rabbis pushed for Jamie aguiar to be converted. She is just as good as Ivanka.

  21. Re: MG’s Messianic Fanaticism #19

    MG does not understand why so many reputable and diverse groups are outraged over
    the ridiculous belief in a dead person’s false messiaship.

    One reason is that such ideas run contrary to normal Judaism. (You guys
    can believe in anything you want but don’t expect everyone else to follow suit.)

    Dr. Berger is right on target about messianic superstitions.

    People should be aware that there is a cult that promotes the weird and false doctrine that a dead person is Moshiakh. (Many of them still believe he is alive.)
    RCA has acted responsibly by banning cult leaders.

    The group must repudiate their erroneous belief in the messiaship of their deceased leader. Such scandalous notions are reminiscent of the notorious Shabtsai Zvi who also pretended to be the messiah.

    Beware of infiltration into your organizations.

    I have yet to meet any member willing to renounce the aforementioned misguided ideas.

  22. Re: #10 Response

    #10 response is typical messianic
    propaganda which is untrue and unorthodox.

    #10 and MG both believe that the late Rabbi is still alive and is Moshiakh. (They can believe in Caspar the friendly ghost as far as I’m concerned. That’s their right; but those guys do not represent the normative views of Judaism.)

  23. Well I don’t know if a rabbi was/is mosiach and frankly, I don’t care. I do believe that one day Hashem will send him, I do hope that today is the day but who cares who it will be just come and lets finish the golus ones and for all!! besides this, I believe every ‘grown-up’ will agree that, nothing else is important.

  24. Stop the childish prattle. Such silliness is not even acceptable for elementary school.

    You don’t know if a dead rabbi is “Moshiakh.” Come on. Use your mind which HaShem has given you.

    Some clergy don’t know either; yet they have the audacity to continue preaching
    the dumb idea that their dead rabbi is the messiah. (The messiah is supposed to build the Temple in Jerusalem and usher in world peace.
    Nobody has yet to accomplish the aforecited objectives. It is thus ridiculous to grant messianic status to the deceased person – a false messianic idea.)

    Mitzvah performance and Avodat HaShem does NOT revolve around messianic obsessions.

    The foregoing statement about “nothing else being important” reflects the unorthodox and nutty superstition of some people.

    Matzav should be commended for publicizing the ban under discussion.

    I have nothing personal against these individuals just a I have nothing against Quakers or Red Cross volunteers. (They
    often do good things for society.) However, just because such individuals perform good deeds should not lead anyone to embrace their
    religious doctrines.

    The same common sense applies here. They should continue helping people.
    But that doesn’t mean that we should seriously
    consider an absurd superstition about a dead
    Dr. Arnold Berger

  25. 31 & 33 but at least you agree that the rca is not better then chabad. The least you can do is stay under the cover. So why are they coming out against their partner in crime
    The rebbe was very against the shluchim doing conversions. but the rca what are they doing converting people like trump and by the way the one that did the conversion for Aguiar was Rabbi Bomzer which is part of the rca

  26. Re: 38 Anonymous

    #38 comments are typical of the childishness of the cult.

    In addition to teaching the superstition about the dead moshiakh, they also preach the ridiculous notion that the aforementioned notion is the only thing Jews should be interested in.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. Judaism does not revolve around messianic theories.

    The Torah prescribes Mitsvah performance as the proper way to serve HaShem.
    As Rambam rules in Mishneh Torah Hilchos Melachim, last chapter, that it is wrong to spend a lot of time on this subject. Rambam holds that such speculation is a waste of time which does not serve any rational purpose.

  27. TO 39

    FYI while Bomzer and Lookstein might techincallybelongto RCA their conversions are not so well accepted by the majority of the organization.

    While Bomzer made the conversion of Jamie he was directed to her by chabad (who sends him many conversions and he makes them the same way he made aguiar’s). You can see the chabad rabbi with guma aguiar in many pictures While chabad does not try to minimize their problems with conversions the RCa took serious steps to fix their problems and established the GPS system in accordance with the CR of Israel and have raised the standardsof conversion together with Rabbanim and leaders like Rav HershelShechter.

  28. I might have to aplogize to the Chabad friends, for while the other statements I made about Aguiar is true; however their criticism about RCA’s conversion of Ivanka Trump is true! They made this conversion (with the top of their Rabbis: Rabbi REabeck, Rav shechter etc.). This while Trump ate at a trefe restaurant (Nobu) right around after her conversion (September); she tweetered on SEcond day of Sukkot (chillu yom tov) and all this befarhessya. Is this the conversion of a Giyoret Tzedek, right after her conversion? (when she did it to marry a jewish boy who was not observant)?