Rabbi Daniel Tzion – Another Orthodox Rabbi
Who Accepted Yeshua as Messiah
James Scott Trimm
Rabbi Daniel Tzion was no only an Orthodox Rabbi, but he was the Chief Rabbi of Bulgaria. One fateful morning in the 1930’s Rabbi Tzion was doing his morning prayers, he saw the vision of a man standing in the sunrise. Not understanding the vision, he consulted some of the other Rabbis, but they had no answers for him. Upon the third recurrence of this vision during his morning prayers, he spoke to the man, who then identified himself as Yeshua. At this point Rabbi Tzion recalled the words of Rambam “Accept the truth from whatever source it comes.” (Maimonides; Introduction to the Shemonah Peraqim).
At this point Rabbi Tzion went to the patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox Church in Sofia and visited the Archimandrite Stephen. They had an honest and open discussion on several subjects including Yeshua and early Christianity. Rabbi Tzion decided that he should concentrate on Yeshua as the Jewish Messiah of Judaism, and not convert to Christianity.
Rabbi Daniel gathered a very select group of fellow Jews to study the teachings of Yeshua and his Emissaries in his personal residence each Sabbath after morning services. Among these Jews were some of the leading members of the Jewish community in Sofia.
Rabbi Tzion’s faith in Yeshua as the Messiah became a sort of open secret in the Jewish community of Bulgaria. He was so well restected that none of the Jewish functionaries in Sofia challenged him.
When Bugaria surrendered to the Nazis, Rabbi Daniel Zion was the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community and thus became the object of persecution and ridicule. He was even taken and publicly flogged in front of the Great Synagogue of Sofia.
Eventually the Nazis wanted the Bulgarian Jews shipped to Germany, Rabbi Tzion and his secretary A. A. Anski wrote a letter to the King of Bulgaria. In this letter RabbiTzion urged the King in the name of Yeshua not the allow the Jews to be taken out of Bulgaria. Rabbi Tzion wrote in this letter that in a vision that he had seen Yeshua told him to warn the King from delivering the Jews to the Nazis. On the next day the King was going to Germany for a meeting with the Nazi Government and Hitler himself. King Boris of Bulgaria stood his ground and did not submit to the Nazi pressure to deliver the Jews from Bulgaria to the death camps of Poland and Germany.
That Sabbath, Rabbi Tzion declared to his synagogue:
Fear not my dear brothers and sisters! Put your faith in the Holy Rock of our Salvation. . . Yesterday, I have been informed that the Metropolite Stephen has agreed to see me immediately and discuss about his conversation with the King of Bulgaria. When I went to see the Metropolite Stephen, he told me, ‘Tell your people that the King has promised that the Bulgarian Jews will not leave outside the boarders of Bulgaria’. . . I explained to the Metropolite that thousands of Jews are waiting for me in the Synagogue to hear this good news. When I returned to the Synagogue there was full silence in the large crowed that was gathered waiting to hear the results of my meeting with Stephen. As I walked in my announcement was, “Yes my brothers God has heard our prayers”. .
However on the 9th of September 1944, the Government of Bulgaria fell to the Communists, under the patronage of Russia. Rabbi Daniel Zion remained the chief rabbi of Bulgaria until 1949, when he, with most of the Bulgarian Jewish community, emigrated to Israel.
In Israel Rabbi Daniel was immediately accepted as the Rabbi of the Bulgarian Jews. When in 1954 Rabbi Samuel Toledano became the chief Rabbi of Israel, he invited Rabbi Tzion to join the Jerusalem Beit Din as a judge. But rumors started to fly that Rabbi Tzion believed in Yeshua. Rabbi Toledano invited Rabbi Tzion to his office and asked him personally about these rumors. Rabbi Tzion explained to Toledano that he accepts Yeshua as the Messiah but that he did not accept Christianity as a true expression of the teaching of Yeshua and his Emissaries. Rabbi Toledano told Rabbi Tzion that he could accept this position as long as Rabbi Tzion was keep his belief in Yeshua a secret. When Rabbi Tzion said that he did not think that such a message can be kept a secret, Toledano took Rabbi Tzion to the Beit Din, to decide what should be done about him.
In the court after evidence of Rabbi Tzion’s faith in Yeshua as the Messiah was presented in the form of four books he had written in Bulgarian about Yeshua. The right to speak was given to Rabbi Tzion. Here are the words which Rabbi Daniel Zion spoke in his own defense:
I am poor and feeble, persecuted and vulnerable, Yeshua conquered me, and with the New Man he honored me, He delivered me from the poverty-stricken self with his great love, he cherish me.
Every day the canny devil aspires to grab my faith, I hold on to my encourager, and chase the devil away. I stand here alone in my faith, the whole world is against me. I give up all the earthly honor for the sake of the Messiah my mate.
The Beit Din striped Rabbi Daniel from his Rabbinical Title, but the Bulgarian Jews continued to honor Rabbi Daniel as their Rabbi. A Russian Jew who was one of the early Zionist settlers in Rishon LeZion, and had become a “believer”, had given Rabbi Daniel Zion a building on Yeffet St. in the heart of Jaffa for a Synagogue. In that Synagogue Rabbi Daniel officiated until the 6th of October 1973. In this Synagogue Rabbi Daniel Zion did not often speak of Yeshua openly, but many times he brought stories and parables from Yeshua and the Emissaries. However, each Sabbath after the Synagogue Rabbi Daniel would bring home a group of his fellow worshipers from the Synagogue and they would study about Yeshua and from the Ketuvim Netzarim all the Sabbath afternoon until they would go back to the Synagogue to say the evening prayers.
In the following years, Rabbi Tzion refused many offers from Christian organizations, to become a paid Christian missionary. He insisted on remaining Jewish and teaching Yeshua as the Jewish Messiah of Judaism. Rabbi Tzion taught in his synagogue on Yeffet Street in the heart of Jaffa until October 6, 1973.
In 1979 Rabbi Daniel Tzion passed away at the ripe old age of 96. The Bulgarian Jewish community of Israel gave him full military, and state honors. He was buried at the Holon cemetery as the Chief Rabbi of Bulgarian Jews who saved them from the Nazi holocaust.
He never left his Jewish identity and never became a Christian. He always insisted that Yeshua was simply the Jewish Messiah of Judaism.
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