An Unusual Introduction

Professor Didier Pollefeyt of The Catholic University of Leuven (the oldest continual Catholic University in the world) stated his view at the Cathedral Notre Dame on October 1996 as follows:

‘The way Jesus will come as the Christ and the Redeemer of the world will depend on the way Christians re-present Him in the present. When Christians are not able to bring His redemption to the world today, especially in relationship with the Jewish people, I’m afraid that at the end of times, they will not meet a triumphalising Messiah, but what I would like to call a `’weeping Messiah’, a Messiah weeping for the injuries and the unredeemedness Christians caused, especially to His own people. Then it could end with the fact that indeed not Christians, with their triumphalistic Messianic perceptions, but the Jews will be able to recognize as the first one’s the Messiah as the Savior of the World.’

At a pre Christmas service in 2001, Father Dr. Reimund Beiringer, also of the Catholic University of Leuven, began his sermon with the following opening remarks: ‘when Jesus comes back he will be circumcised, he will not be able to eat at my home because it is not kosher and will look at this church and ask the Rabbi where can he find a synagogue’. The above remarkable statements confirm that Jesus the Jew continues to accept the symbol of Jewishness – the circumcision – by eating kosher he continues to observe Jewish ritual law and by attending a synagogue he continues his Jewish persona. This embodies the total antithesis of Rejection theology. Father Reimund personally asked me to attend this church service and pointed me out as the person Jesus would ask for a synagogue and at whose home he could eat.

-Rabbi Moshe Reiss
from the Introduction to
Christianity: A Jewish Perspective

I don’t know where I got this link. I tend to collect them in my email account and “save them for later.” Most of the links and resources I save never get read or written about. I just don’t have the time. But for some reason, I went back and revisited this one and read through the Introduction. As far as I can tell, this book is only available online and has ten chapters, including the introduction, conclusions, and bibliography. The landing page for the book is at moshereiss.org.

I have no idea who Rabbi Moshe Reiss is and I can’t find anything reliable about him on the web, at least as the result of a quick Google search. For all I know, his opinions and experiences are “stuffed full of muffins,” to put it politely, but I got this link from somewhere, which means someone probably recommended it.

I must admit to being intrigued by an Orthodox Rabbi to who doesn’t dismiss Christianity out of hand and who is willing to engage it to the degree that he even writes a book about it.

OK, there is also Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and his book Kosher Jesus, which I reviewed reviewed last February, but that almost doesn’t count because Rabbi Boteach is always writing about controversy. He also didn’t really “engage” Christianity so much as he tried to explain it away.

I don’t think I expected an Orthodox Jew to write something like this:

As a graduate student at Oxford University in 1970 I decided to visit the Anglican Church on Christian Eve. I was amazed how the services seemed Jewish-like to me. I discovered a class on the Talmud at Oxford. I naively assumed that the teacher would be a Rabbi; in fact he was an Anglican Minister. Not only was I amazed – having grown up in a Jewish ghetto I assumed only Jews learnt the Talmud – I was also angry. Why was this Gentile cleric reading our books? In 1984, after visiting Auschwitz I entered an Orthodox Church in Bucharest and was once again I was struck by the resemblance to a service in a Jewish Synagogue. At the time my knowledge of Christianity was virtually nil. The following year I found an ex-Jesuit Priest from Yale University who agreed to teach me the Christian Bible.

Maybe the reason the only place I can find out anything about Rabbi Reiss is on his own rather cheesy looking, 1990-ish website, is because of how the larger Orthodox community has perceived statements such as the one I just quoted. What Jew would admit on the Internet that he asked an “ex-Jesuit Priest from Yale University’ to teach him the New Testament?

Frankly, I’m also amazed at the quote from Father Dr. Reimund Beiringer saying, “when Jesus comes back he will be circumcised, he will not be able to eat at my home because it is not kosher and will look at this church and ask the Rabbi where can he find a synagogue.” I think that definitely demands an official response of, “Wow!”

So, despite the fact that I can’t really discover anything about Rabbi Reiss, I am quite intrigued to find out what else he has to say about Christianity. I’m also very interested to see if he’s encountered any other Christians who believe the Messiah will return as a circumcised Jew who keeps kosher. Imagine listening to a conversation between two guys like Rabbi Reiss and Father Beiringer over coffee.

I suppose I should say at this point that the Rabbi does have an email address on his site, so I could just send him a message and ask him about himself. I think I’ll wait though. I’ll let his book speak for him right now. Later I may have more questions I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, if anyone out there has any insights or information about Rabbi Reiss, please let me know. Thanks.

11 thoughts on “An Unusual Introduction”

  1. Relative to the outcome of all things that we see in the Bible Gene, I’d have to answer “yes.” But based on how I understand humanity, I ask that question as well.

  2. I am in the process of reading what the Rabbi wrote. It is most interesting and will take some days (due to schedules) to read completely. I would suggest that many Jews are open to a civilized ‘talk’ about Christianity but find it next to impossible to find Christians who are knowledgeable on Torah etc. Ofcourse this lack of knowledge goes in both directions, Our Seder attendees will be Jews who would be classified as ‘non-believers’ in Jesus BUT who have great faith in G-d. It remains difficult convincing Jews that the arrival of Yeshua in to the world was good news as described. It is encouraging though to see the Newer Stand that the Catholic Church is taking.

  3. “It remains difficult convincing Jews that the arrival of Yeshua in to the world was good news as described. ”

    On some level it’s like asking Jews to imagine that the bad news (all the evil things that happen to them since Yeshua’s coming and in the name of Yeshua by those who professed to be his followers never happened) is actual good.

  4. I’ve only gotten through the Introduction of the book, so I have no idea what’s coming next. I’ll have to get back to the other chapters as I can and then, of course, I’ll blog my impressions.

  5. “On some level it’s like asking Jews to imagine that the bad news (all the evil things that happen to them since Yeshua’s coming and in the name of Yeshua by those who professed to be his followers never happened) is actual good.”

    Mr. Shlomovich: Just had a Born Again person (neighbor) drop by and with the approach of Easter ‘the discussion’ began. I read to her portions of what Rabbi Reiss wrote…there is no expression of ‘sorrow or sadness’, only the words such as: ‘when Jesus speaks to me”, “when the Holy Spirit speaks to my heart”… I feel defeated.
    “And what about G-d?
    If G-d is infinite, we cannot explain
    the sadness of the world
    without drowning Him.” Yehoshua November

  6. I just stumbled across some exegesis Rabbi Reiss did concerning Samuel and Saul while poking around the internet and found it really intriguing. In trying to find him out I realized I was on his admittedly cheesy 90’s website, and that led me here. Did he ever show up elsewhere? I’d like to know more about him.

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