But what is even more astounding is the volume of rabbinic comment the organized church began its persecution of the Jews, which (in spite of their official rejection of Him) continued to paint Yeshua's portrait.
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A quick glance at our table of contents will explain why: Many of the conclusions attributed to honored sages describe a Messiah embarrassingly similar to the life and claims of Yeshua of Nazareth, known to the Christians as Jesus Christ.
In some rabbinic circles, the entire Tanach is considered a mine field for this reason - and all the more dangerous for those who know Hebrew well enough to study it on their own.
A revered Israeli rabbi (now deceased) who once saw a yeshiva student quietly reading the Tanach, sternly warned him that if he persisted in this activity without relying on (rabbinic interpretation), he would - "chas ve'shalom - end up a Christian." (This was related to us by the yeshiva student himself - whose Tanach study did eventually confirm Yeshua as Messiah, but also reinforced his obligation to remain a Torah-faithful Jew.) And despite all these precautions, even Talmudic statements and later Midrashim become unavoidably "dangerous" in their implications, as we will show.
This fact has resulted in many modern rabbinic authorities deliberately downplaying the importance of the Messiah in Jewish faith, denying the centrality accorded Him in the earlier commentaries.
But Messianic expectations return periodically, embodied today in movements such as Chabad (who in the early 1990s hailed their rabbi, Menachem Mendel Shneerson, as King Messiah) and the Breslov Hasidim (whose rebbe, Nathan/Nachman of Breslov, claimed to have the same powers as Messiah).
The trump card in any argument over Messianic Scriptures is the superior knowledge of Biblical Hebrew possessed by the rabbinic establishment.But from our experience, those same teachers tend to discourage questions about Biblical passages that are difficult to steer away from Yeshua precisely what the Hebrew implies.Often these "Messiah" courses focus more on debunking Christian interpretations of Tanach, claiming that they fail to deal adequately with the Hebrew of the passages.In this way, they "prove" that the Messiah has not yet come; or that when He does come, He will not be the "Son of G-d" or any of the other things proclaimed in the New Testament.These keep the issue of the Messiah alive in the minds of many Jews, and result in inevitable requests for rabbinic lessons on the subject.Because of the difficulties involved in "protecting" Jewish students from reaching the "wrong" conclusions, the rabbis largely limit their teachings on the Messiah to a relatively few prophecies considered safe because they are not yet fulfilled.