The book by Carl Gallups, The Rabbi Who Found Messiah, poses the claim that the ultra-Orthodox rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri might have found the true Messiah. This is an astonishing claim. I started this book wanting to believe that Rabbi Kaduri had actually found the true Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ—God manifest in flesh. But I was profoundly disappointed. Nowhere in the book, or anywhere else for that matter, can we find evidence that he was converted late in life. He never once gave a clear testimony of the Messiah’s identification, i.e. that he was Jesus of Nazareth. He never forsook his kabbalah, including contacting demons to bless his amulets, but practiced it until the end of his life. He opposed Christianity. These facts make the odds of the rabbi’s conversion look bleak indeed.
What are the facts that would incline some to believe that Rabbi Kaduri actually had met the Messiah?
1) In November of 2003 he claimed that he had met the Messiah in a vision and that the Messiah had revealed his name to him (pp. 16, 19, 70).
2) In September 2005 he claimed, “The Messiah is already [here] in Israel.”
3) In September 2005 he wrote a note identifying the Messiah and sealed it, and left his followers instructions that it was not supposed to be opened until one year after his death (pp. 16-17).
4) On Thursday, October 13, 2005, the holy day of Yom Kippur, while gathered with his associates and students for Mincham, Rabbi Kaduri spent forty-five minutes in a trance-like state. His students feared that he was sick or under demonic attack. Finally he raised his head and spoke, “I have met the Messiah…He has appeared to me in a vision. He has attached his soul to a particular person in Israel. I will spend this day teaching you how to recognize the Messiah, for He shall appear soon. You must be ready for his coming. Many events of awe will take place before his coming…but they will happen quickly…I must tell you something disturbing…The Messiah has revealed to me that He will not present Himself until after the death of our prime minister, Ariel Sharon” (pp. 12-14).
5) On January 28, 2006 Rabbi Kaduri died from pneumonia at well over a hundred years of age.
6) Somewhere between January and April 2007 his followers gathered and opened the mysterious note (p.18), which said, translated into English, “Concerning the letter abbreviation of the Messiah’s name, He will lift his people and prove that his word and law are valid” (p. 63). The first letters of each word after the phrase “concerning the letter abbreviation of the Messiah’s name” spell Yehoshua. This was understood to be a kabbalistic and cryptic revelation of the name of the Messiah (p. 40).
The opening of the note led to a huge controversy.
Everyone knew that people would be inclined to think that Yehoshua was a reference to Jesus of Nazareth. Rabbi Kaduri’s followers and others in the ultra-Orthodox quickly rose to the occasion and claimed that the note was a forgery. They also pointed out that the note said Yehoshua, not Yeshua. Many Christians and Messianic Jews claimed on the contrary that Rabbi Kaduri had actually found the Messiah. This controversy is still raging today.
So how do we untangle what actually happened? Here are several observations that help to unravel the mess.
1) The “official” interpretation of the ultra-Orthodox who followed, and still honor, Rabbi Kaduri cannot possibly be true. Prior to the opening of the note they believed that he had left them a genuine note and waited with earnest expectation for it to be opened. It was dishonest to reject it with a knee-jerk reaction and fabricate a denial after the name it revealed turned out to be a hot potato.
2) The ultra-Orthodox argument that the note says Yehoshua rather than Yeshua and therefore can’t refer to the Yeshua of the Messianic faith is grasping after straws. The names are alternative forms and mean the same thing. Yeshua is the short form and appears dozens of times in the OT. Yehoshua is the long form and appears over 200 times in the OT.
3) Contrary to the wishful thinking of some Christians, Rabbi Kaduri didn’t actually meet the Messiah in a vision. Real visions lead to real conversions—public conversions. His experience was the polar opposite to Paul’s Damascus Road experience which turned the apostle from darkness to light in a moment. Rabbi Kaduri’s experience didn’t turn him from the practice of Kabbalah (p. 34), including the use of amulets for blessings and healings (p. 38) which work through the power of demons (p.41). Rabbi Kaduri talked with demons and asked them to associate their power with his amulets (pp. 40-41). Nor did his experience turn him from false prophecy. Several years after his vision he prophesied that the Messiah would be revealed in 5772 (2012 AD) (p. 103, 104), which, obviously, didn’t happen.
4) Contrary to the wishful thinking of many Christians, Rabbi Kaduri’s messiah isn’t the Messiah prophesied in the Bible. His messiah will save Judaism from Christianity as well as Islam (p.17), will not hold any office (p. 17), will need men to work and strive so he can be revealed (p. 57), will live and work in a world where many do not believe on him (pp. 62-63), will confirm his position as Messiah without knowing himself that he is the Messiah (pp. 62-63), will receive his messianic power by wearing a star of David amulet hidden in his garments (p. 138), was already living in Israel and beginning to exert his influence while Rabbi Kaduri was still alive (pp. 20, 138-139), and was a being in the spiritual realm who attached his soul to a mere man who would then become a candidate for Messiah in the physical realm (p. 22).
So what actually happened?
1) Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri had the kind of vision that deceives mystics in many of the world’s religions and in several corners of Christendom—a communication with a fallen angel masquerading as the Messiah.
2) This Spirit revealed the name Yehoshua. This could have been an intentional reference to the true Christ in heaven, revealed in such circumstances as to discredit the truth in the eyes of the Jews. But it was more likely a reference to one of the false Christs that shall abound in the last days, deceiving the Jews.
3) I doubt that this is a reference to the antichrist, for the antichrist is not a Jew who lives in Israel, but a Gentile (or an Hellenistic Jew) who heads the restored Roman empire of the last days.
4) Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri was nervous about this name, figuring it probably wasn’t a reference to the historical Jesus, but also figuring that many would take it as a reference to the historical Jesus. Ultimately, his fears did come to pass. The ultra-Orthodox were terrified by the name. Many evangelicals, on the other hand, leapt at the name.
5) The devil, as is often the case, over-extended himself in this delusion, which led to some men being genuinely converted to Jesus. These conversions aren’t a vindication of Rabbi Kaduri’s vision. They are simply one more illustration that the devil’s efforts to undo and harm the work of God are never entirely successful.
Overall impression of the book
Despite the fact that I cannot agree with the “found the Messiah” conclusion which the title of this book implies and the body suggests, this book was a fascinating read, offering insight into the life of Rabbi Kaduri, Kabbalah, Haredi or ultra-Orthodox Judaism, and Israeli politics and history. It was also a fascinating window into human psychology—both man’s gullibility and man’s reaction to threatening information. Man has the uncanny ability to believe whatever he wants to believe, even in the face of fatal facts.
“Eyes wide open, brain engaged, heart on fire.”
Lee W. Brainard