We have received a lot of inquiries in recent weeks regarding “reports” that the Orthodox Jewish community in Israel has anointed the Messiah, which for Christians would mean a false messiah.
We say “reports” in quotation marks because this story appears nowhere in the Israeli media, not even in Orthodox Jewish news outlets that are almost as eager as their Christian counterparts to address this topic. Kind of strange if indeed a consensus had been reached in the Orthodox community regarding the identity of the Messiah.
Still, dedicated as we are to getting to the bottom of the story, we reached out to Orthodox Jewish contacts here in Jerusalem to ask what they knew. Not only had none of them heard about a messianic anointing, most were entirely unfamiliar with the young rabbi at the center of the claims, Shlomo Yehudah Be’eri.
Keen to identify the anti-Christ in order to confirm that we are in the very last of last days, the fact is that far more Christians than Jews seek to crown this man as “messiah.”
So what’s the deal?
Last month, some Spanish-language Christian channels on YouTube began circulating a video clip of young Rabbi Shlomo Yehudah arriving at the Western Wall, where he was greeted with great reverence by more senior rabbis and a throng of Orthodox Jews.
Why Spanish-speaking Christians? Well, the clip of the young rabbi would likely have never been known to the Christian world without first being referenced by a Spanish-language Orthodox Jewish channel that’s apparently being monitored by Christians.
The “Punto Breslev” channel had posted a video suggesting that the Corona crisis could be leading to the revelation of the Messiah. To illustrate the religious fervor gripping much of Israel these days, the host of “Punto Breslev” showed the clip of Rabbi Shlomo Yehudah arriving at the Western Wall.
The topic of the segment, together with the images of Shlomo Yehudah being so honored by senior rabbis, led some Christian viewers to conclude that he was being anointed as Messiah.
The “Punto Breslev” segment went on to talk about Orthodox Judaism’s reverence for King Hezekiah, Son of David (Hizkiyahu Ben David in Hebrew) as the prototype for any messianic candidate. Some Christian viewers again got their wires crossed and attached the name to Shlomo Yehudah. As the story spread among the broader Christian world, the Spanish transliteration of that name stuck, and numerous videos and articles were posted referring to the young rabbi as “Jizkiyahu Ben David.”
What’s really going on?
First of all, this young rabbi’s name is not Jizkiyahu Ben David or Jiziahu or any other spelling being used out there. Nor is anyone in Israel calling him that.
What’s with the title “Yanuka”? Rabbi Shlomo Yehudah Be’eri does appear to be a genuine prodigy with the ability to recite the Torah and other religious Jewish texts by heart. He’s been doing this since he was a child, making him highly esteemed in certain Orthodox circles. This is where he got the label “Yanuka” that’s also appearing in all the Christian videos and articles. In this context the term is analogous to “child prodigy,” though it’s a little outdated since Shlomo Yehudah is no longer a child.
Being a prodigy can lead to great popularity and fame, affording “rock star” status, if you will, but it doesn’t make someone a messiah. And, as we noted earlier, Shlomo Yehudah’s popularity and fame doesn’t seem to extend beyond the particular stream of Orthodox Judaism to which he belongs.
And the crowds that greeted him? As for the clip of him at the Western Wall, this occurred at the annual event that begins the Counting of the Omer during the week of Passover. That’s why the holy site was so crowded. It was not a special event to honor Rabbi Shlomo Yehudah.
Why did senior rabbis fawn over him? Well, he’s a famous rabbi (again, in some circles) and a recognized prodigy. It is not at all uncommon for Orthodox Jews, even senior rabbis, to kiss the hand of and give deference to a teacher or fellow rabbi whom they respect. And among those who appeared in the above video clip, Shlomo Yehudah is greatly respected.
The host of “Punto Breslev” later released an English-language video (which we won’t link to since he also spent a great deal of time slandering Yeshua) in which he explained the misunderstanding and stressed that neither he nor any other rabbi was declaring Shlomo Yehudah Be’eri to be the Messiah. And we can confirm this to be the case, as no one in Israel (at least no one with any authority) has announced the beginning of the Messianic Age.