Saturday, October 6, 2012

The MJRC is Essentially Reform Judaism (but with a New Testament)

You can tell a lot about a branch of Judaism based on how it settles the question of whether women may be ordained as rabbis.  Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein said:

"The novel (and controversial) question of whether or not women may be ordained as rabbis is instructive in shedding light on the process by which the various Jewish denominations arrive at their legal decisions today.  Orthodox rabbinic authorities, finding not only no precedent in Jewish law allowing such a practice, but finding sources expressly prohibiting it, have categorically denied women the right to become rabbis.  Indeed, the issue is still so remote sociologically and halachically (i.e., legally), that it is rarely ever raised, let alone debated, in Orthodoxy.  [new paragraph]  Reform Judaism, on the other hand, approaches the issue from a more historical and sociological perspective, with a decidedly liberal approach to the sources or with a flat rejection of their binding authority, and permits the ordination of women.  Indeed, there are many female Reform rabbis today.  Finally, the Conservative movement, which takes seriously into account the views of Conservative Jews at large and employs a more liberal approach to the traditional written and oral sources than would Orthodoxy, remains divided on the issue, with liberal Conservatives opposing it.  Only recently, in 1983, has the Conservative movement decided to ordain women,"  pg. 47 of "What You Should KNow About Jews and Judaism" by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.

Eckstein didn't cite sources for the Orthodox view but here's a few:

"A woman is invalid to serve as a judge" Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat--C.M.) 7:4

"We may not appoint a woman as king. When describing the monarchy, the Torah employs the male form of the word king and not the female.This principle also applies to all other positions of authority within Israel. Only men should be appointed to fill them," Mishneh Torah (Hilchot Melachim uMilchamot, Chapter 1, Halacha 5)

This is the approach of Paul the Apostle in Scripture:

"11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety," (1 Timothy 2:11-15)

But the MJRC (which includes Rabbis and other officials from the UMJC), encourages women to become rabbis:

"1.2.1 A Messianic Jewish Rabbi is a Jewish follower of Yeshua qualified by a supervised course of study, authorized by his or her ordaining authority, and empowered by the Spirit through the rite of ordination to expound and apply Torah as fulfilled in and mediated through the person, teaching, and work of Yeshua."

This illustrates their approach to halacha.  They don't see Scripture such as 2 Timothy 2:11-15 as an inspired teaching for the modern times.  And they reject the Talmudic approach.  

Like Eckstein said, how a Jewish organization approaches this issue tells you a lot about their halachic decision-making process.  How MJRC approaches this issue tells you that they are very similar to Reform Judaism.  

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