One More Word on the Ralph Messer Fiasco

Ralph Messer is the self-designated “rabbi” who scandalized multitudes with his recent cavalier mishandling of the holiest of Jewish objects, the Torah scroll. If you don’t know anything about this, visit some of the recent postings on this blog and get filled in.

Today I visited his Facebook site and was dismayed to find that many uninformed and gullible people were commending him for what knowledgeable people and certainly all Jews regard as either tasteless or outrageous.

He had taken it upon himself to bless and exalt an Atlanta area pastor, Eddie Long, who has been in the newspapers recently, using the Torah as a prop in a way that Torahs are just not used. This inspired a firestorm of protest, including my own.

The first picture here is of Mr Messer “blessing” Eddie Long. . .

. . . and the second is of him doing the same with Pastor Evangelist Paula White.






So, here is the letter I wanted his supporters to see. I hoped they might persuade him to cease and desist from his ill-advised behavior. However, since he didn’t want the post there I am posting it here. I hope you find it worth the bother!  I hope the letter seems respectful–I didn’t want it to be nasty, but I did want to make a point.

Did I?  See for yourself!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

When a person uses the term “rabbi” for himself, he is obliged to adhere to the standards that rabbis follow. You may be impressed with Ralph Messer’s personality, teachings, or charisma, but that in no way refutes that when he uses the term rabbi of himself, he must adhere to certain norms. The way he used/abused the Torah is one which rabbis of all stripes find repugnant. This should matter to him and to you.

He may be the nicest, and most Spirit filled man you know. That is besides the point. The problem is two-fold: First he claims the title Rabbi when he is not a Jew nor has any reputable body given him the title. Is is like me claiming to be the Pope. Second, in ministering under that title, he tramples underfoot the norms to which all rabbis adhere. This is not a small thing and should be acknowledged by him and by all people of a sincere, respectful, and aware faith.

The problem is one of a sense of entitlement. No matter how filled with the Spirit some person might suppose themselves to be, they are not thereby entitled to do as they choose with things deemed holy to others. If someone came into your house speaking in tongues and pulled your/your wife’s wedding gown out of the closet to clean their car, would you say “Hallelujah?” or would you rather say “What do you think you are doing?”

Mr Messer just cleaned his car with the Jewish people’s wedding gown. We protest.

Thank you for reading.

Rabbi Stuart Dauermann
Jewish, and ordained under the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations





About Stuart Dauermann

The blog of Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann, teacher, mentor, radio talk show host, denizen of Los Angeles, and a visionary with a long career in Messianic Jewish activism. You can hear Rabbi Dauermann as he hosts Shalom Talk, a weekly radio show, and even listen online at Rabbi Dauermann spends time traveling nationally and internationally, and throughout the year is in Israel as a Scholar in Residence at the MJTI Jerusalem Center. He has plenty to say about Jewish-Christian relations, the need for shalom in the world, and the agenda of Messiah, the Son of David.
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9 Responses to One More Word on the Ralph Messer Fiasco

  1. Dan Benzvi says:

    “First he claims the title Rabbi ”

    Not for nothing they call his brand of religion ” name it and claim it.”

  2. Claire says:

    You mentioned Messer wasn’t Jewish. Do you have evidence of this? No one seems to know. Surely there is someone who can report on his background.

    • One source I consulted says he went through an ad hoc but unauthorized conversion of sorts in Colorado. However, this source is not unbiased, so I am not sure. At any rate, to my knowledge, Messer is not claiming to be a Jew.

  3. Dwight Newman says:

    You did. Your tongue speaks with the unaffected innocence of a child; and your lips speak no falsehood. The Jewish soul is well acquainted with insults of the most grievous kind. But your Yiddishe Neshama has been humble before “ALL” (to quote your usage of the word in the final paragraph of your preceding post) in the midst of this horrid affair. Than you, Rabbi, for your unyielding resolve to show us (and me) a better way.

  4. Seems to me to be a well-worded, thoughtful approach. My only question: was this sent to Mr. Messer in a private message on facebook, or posted publicly on his wall?

    As I’ve written on other another postm, the reason I ask is in regards to Matthew 18:15-17.

    If on his wall, I would hope that it was preceded by previous attempts to reach him privately regarding this current fiasco. Unless, of course, the current fiasco can rightfully be lumped together with prior examples of Messer’s behavior in which he was repproached according to the Matt. 18 protocol.

  5. Ron Smith says:

    Bishop Long Rabbi Messer Video

    Why does Messer or Long have to apologize to anyone?
    Did they commit some horrendous crime that actually hurt the complaining parties?

    What about all the good both these men and their congregations have done down through years – the Lord knows.
    Jesus said, “ I have other sheep which are not of this fold.” Messer and Long does not have be of “OUR” fold to do something in the Name of Jesus.
    We have no right to judge another Man’s servant. Jesus is that Other Man!

    Does not Messer and Long and their respective congregations have the same freedom of speech and freedom to practice their Religion as they see fit?
    What evil acts did they commit in that service where Messer simply tried to build up and encourage Bishop Long and his congregation after all the scandal that they had been through.
    His rituals were not bizarre as some have complained, however they were a creative and a prophetic approach used to encourage and to lift up Pastor Long and the New Birth congregation.
    Rabbi Messer has freedom of speech and religion and he has the right to be as creative as anyone else.

    Since each Pastor and each Congregation are accountable to Jesus Christ for their own actions individually, why did all these Christian and Jewish Organizations who plainly stated they have no ties with Messer or Long feel they have the right to rebuke them? Are all these organizations and individuals who want to punish Long or Messer so self-righteous as to think that they have no sin in their lives and churches that the Lord could not also expose and condemn them for?

    In the story of the woman who was caught in the very act of adultery, Jesus who had every right to scandalize her, rebuke her, shame her, condemn her and punish her DID NOT. He instead built her up and encouraged to go and sin no more. Jesus was not too proud to identify with this woman even though she had already been scandalized.

    Have we become so self-righteously proud, that we can no long reach out to those who have sinned? If we are truly righteous and spiritual, are we not called to restore brothers, sisters, sinners, Churches, Bishops or whoever that have been overtaken in a fault (Galatians Chapter 6)?

    If what I say is true, then perhaps it is us who need to apologize to them. We need to apologize to Rabbi Messer for trying to be a Restorer and we need to apologize to Bishop Long when Jesus has already picked him up and told him to go and sin no more. None of us are as good and perfect as we think we are, we need to reach out to these Ministers of God’s word with love mercy and compassion. We have the ministry of Reconciliation, not alienation. We should be the ones who lead the way in Restoration and Reconciliation, not Condemantion.

    • Dear Mr Smith,

      Thank you for your well thought out and impassioned letter. Much respected.

      You have given me something to think about, and in return I want to give you something to think about.

      In the incident of the woman caught in adultery it is important to note that although Yeshua does not condemn her, he DOES judge her: he says to her “Go and sin no more.” This distinction is crucial. While I will agree with you that we ought to be very careful not to go around condemning people, by the same token, we should make judgments: otherwise things get very morally sloppy and relativistic. Although you have a point that we should avoid being condematory toward Rev Long an Ralph Messer, I disagree strongly that we should therefore make no judgments.

      When Yeshua says “judge not lest you be judged” he is really saying that we should not condemn. There is a judgment that is necessary and proper, a discerning and naming of what is proper and improper. Otherwise everything descends into subjectivism. Jesus says in Luke 12:57, “Why do not judge for yourselves what is right?” And Paul says in 1 Co 5:12-13, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” We are specifically commanded to judge, but we should avoid condemning people. That is a key distinction you seem to ignore, Sir.

      Secondly, I must disagree on your characterization of Mr Messer’s conduct as being “a creative and a prophetic approach,” and therefore something we should tolerate and not pass judgment on. Let me explain why this cannot be. Suppose you went to a funeral and at some point you and your friends went and took the open casket, stood it on its end so the deceased was “standing,” and then said, “Thus says the Lord! Sister Bailey shall rise again, stand upright and walk again upon the earth, even as our Lord Jesus did after the resurrection. Because He lives, she shall live also. Amen!” Would that be correct because you were making a dramatic and valid point? No it would not, because that corpse is not there for you to make such a point, and there is a decorum appropriate to the handling of the deceased which no one should breech in the name of being “creative and prophetic.” Similarly, the Torah is a very special object, holy to the Jewish people, an it is not there for anyone to make their “creative and prophetic point.” Such people are out of line, ignorant, or high handed. And yes, the comparison is apt.

      Thank you for your letter and thank you for your time. God bless you.

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