“Israeli Supreme Court anti-Jewish” – “Sanhedrin” spokesman

As noted on this blog a couple of months ago, members of the theocratic tendency in Israel have recently organised a “Sanhedrin”; a body that used to be the highest legal authority in Judaism, but which has been defunct since the fifth century CE. Members of this new “Sanhedrin” believe that their religious authority ought to supplant secular law in Israel, and that one of their members, Yosef Dayan, is a direct descendent of King David and is rightfully the monarch of the State of Israel (for other reasons, Dayan has threatened to take out Ariel Sharon by means of a death curse). Although the “Sanhedrin” is completely marginal within Israel and has ties to individuals who want to ethnically cleanse the West Bank and Gaza in the name of Greater Israel, it has enthusiastic support from Christian Zionists such as Hal Lindsey, who imagines a theocratic Israel to be a prelude to the return of Jesus.

“Sanhedrin” spokesman Rabbi Hillel Weiss spoke recently to the Jerusalem Post:

The increasingly anti-Jewish decisions handed down by the Supreme Court prove the need for an alternative legal system based on Jewish sources…More and more people, including Torah scholars, are beginning to understand this.

However, although most Jewish religious leaders in Israel are refusing to give support to the “Sanhedrin”, the group has just received a boost:

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz was elected the temporary president of a rabbinical body Monday that aspires to renew the Sanhedrin, Judaism’s highest-ranking legal-religious tribunal.

…In addition to the election of Steinsaltz, the rabbis present also chose a seven-man committee, headed by him, to campaign for the acceptance of the idea of a Sanhedrin.

Those chosen include Rabbi Nachman Kahane, brother of murdered JDL and Kach leader rabbi Meir Kahane. Kahane is the rabbi of the Young Israel of Jerusalem’s Old City and heads an organized study of Temple rituals and ceremonies, as well as cataloging all known kohanim (priests) in Israel.

Steinsaltz is a high-profile, albeit controversial, figure. According to a quote attributed to Newsweek:

Jewish lore is filled with tales of formidable rabbis. Probably none living today can compare in genius and influence to Adin Steinsaltz, whose extraordinary gifts as scholar, teacher, scientist, writer, mystic and social critic have attracted disciples from all factions of Israeli society.

There are numerous profiles available on-line. He has a degree in mathematics, has written around sixty books on religious thought and related subjects, and is a recipient of the Israel prize. He also been a resident scholar at Yale and Princeton. And most famously:

Rabbi Steinsaltz is best known for his interpretation, commentaries, and translations of the Babylonian Talmud, a monumental task which he began some 25 years ago. Thirty volumes of Rabbi Steinsaltz’s Hebrew edition of the Talmud have been published; two million books are in print. The Rabbi expects to complete the project over the next decade, with a total of 42 volumes in Hebrew. Fifteen volumes of the Rabbi’s Talmudic translation and commentaries have been translated into English and published by Random House, to great critical acclaim.

However, this “critical acclaim” was not universal: in 1998 Jacob Neusner responded to Steinsaltz’s work with How Adin Steinsaltz Misrepresents the Talmud. Four False Propositions from his “Reference Guide”. Ultra-Orthodox groups have also rejected his Talmud. Steinsaltz is also part of the Chabad movement, although many profiles curiously fail to mention this.

So will Steinsaltz’s presence bring gravitas to the “Sanhedrin”, or will the “Sanhedrin” merely tar Steinsaltz with the charges of political extremism and racism?

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Meanwhile, Arutz Sheva reports on another figure connected with the “Sanhedrin”:

Also present at the meeting on Monday, though not seated in the 71-seat semi-circular row of chairs, was famed archaeologist Dr. Vendyl Jones. He is working with the Sanhedrin to establish a system of courts for non-Jews adhering to the Seven Laws of Noah, which the Torah obligates all of humanity to follow. One of those laws is to establish courts of justice. A high court has been established by the Sanhedrin for such purposes, and a subsidiary of that court will soon be established in the United States as well.

Jones is self-styled archaeologist, who keeps appearing to be on the verge of discovering the Ark of the Covenant and who claims to have found various artefacts connected with the temple. I wrote about him just a couple of weeks ago, and it appears that Steinsaltz is a friend of his. Gerard Robins recalls:

It is of considerable interest to note that in 1995, when Jones was battling the IAA [Israel Antiquities Authority] for a permit to dig, they told him he needed the endorsement of a recognized learning institution. Hoping to save time, Jones went to his friend, Rabbi Adin Israel Steinsaltz, head of the Israel Institute for Talmudic Research and perhaps the world’s most renowned Talmudic scholar, who is writing a modern edition of the Talmud. Rabbi Steinsaltz wrote a glowing letter of endorsement for Jones’ work, calling it “Scientifically valid research which may result in important findings for the Jewish people and the world.” In spite of even this endorsement, the IAA turned down Jones’ request.

(Tipped from Bible and Interpretation and FailedMessiah.com)