Torah and Tradition, Answering Criticism Pt. 1

Shalom, friends. In this post I will begin answering the comments made by Charles which you can read on the “About Derek Leman and His Blog” page here.

I think Charles’ comment is worthy of reply because it is a sincere expression of one Christian’s opinion about Jews, Torah, and the continuing role of Israel. I hope that my response can help Christian readers to begin questioning some cherished assumptions. I hope it can help those in the Messianic Jewish movement understand good reasoning for a Torah-based MJ.

Charles is a self-described Pentecostal Christian. He is bothered when he sees Messianic Jews living out the Torah and tradition of Israel. To Charles, and most other evangelical Christians, these are obsolete practices.

Charles begins with a simple question:

I would like to found a new movement called Judaic Christians. Does this already exist?

I think what Charles means is this: has someone started a movement of Jewish Christianity that is not about Torah and tradition but loosely about Jewish heritage and culture?

The answer, sadly, is yes. A lot of Messianic Judaism would fall within this camp. I call this bagels-and-lox-Messianic-Judaism. It is more about being Jewish and doing a few non-threatening Jewish things to make people feel at home. This is almost exclusively the province of Jewish mission agencies such as Jews for Jesus, who promote a very loose sense of Jewish identity while rendering Torah and tradition obsolete.

Charles then went on to say:

The only reason I say this is that unfortunately I have met those in the Messianic Judaism movement who are SO adamant about following the Torah, kosher diet, and observing everything Jewish while they are gentiles, that it makes me feel that the emphasis is on JUDAISM rather than on Jesus, the Jewish carpenter and teacher.

This is a very important comment and I am glad to have the opportunity to answer it. I think this argument, which comes up frequently, is misleading. First, let me say categorically, there is a kind of immature Messianic Judaism that makes an idol out of Jewish sancta and practices. There are immature groups who seem to worship their shofars and prayer shawls. This is pure silliness and has very little to do with Messianic Judaism proper.

Charles’ idea is that some people emphasize Judaism instead of Jesus. In a Messianic Jewish context, this is untrue if we properly understand what we mean by Judaism. If by “Judaism” we mean obeying God’s commandments and living a life dedicated to God, then it is impossible to pit Judaism against Jesus. Jesus was for Judaism in that sense of the word. Saying we emphasize Judaism instead of Jesus is like saying we emphasize righteousness instead of Jesus. Jesus is the Righteous One. Living a righteous life in the context of faith in Jesus is emphasizing Jesus.

You might as well say, “Evangelical Christians emphasize reading their Bible, witnessing, and worship instead of Jesus.” You might as well say, “Pentecostal Christians emphasize speaking in tongues, spirit-led worship, and reading their Bible instead of Jesus.”

Can you see how unfair and ridiculous that is?

Charles, you are not (yet) persuaded that God expects Jews to obey Torah. You are persuaded that Torah is obsolete. That is why you cannot see the simple fact: for a Messianic Jew, Judaism is THE way to follow Jesus.

Tomorrow we’ll get into Charles’ list of objections. He notes that the New Testament seems rather down on the Torah. He thinks Peter was told in a vision to start eating ham sandwiches (or . . . pigs in a blanket). He simply cannot understand what this Torah-based Messianic Judaism is all about. I hope I can help. I also hope that Charles will respond, and not only him, but others who feel as he does. I will try to respond with civility, but I do intend to argue my case.

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Christian, Dispensationalism, Judaism, Messianic Jewish, Replacement Theology, Supersessionism, Theology, Torah. Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Torah and Tradition, Answering Criticism Pt. 1

  1. Maya says:

    I have been enjoying your posts immensely. I’m sorry I have not had time to comment until now. I deeply appreciate your explanations which to me are quite well thought out.

    Being of Jewish heritage on both my mother’s and father’s side, I would not be considered Jewish by a rabbinic court, but I have always been drawn to the Jewish faith. For over ten years our family has observed Shabbat, Pesach, Rosh Hashsnah, etc. and it has certainly enriched our lives. Because the rest of my family is not Jewish and they were not raised as such, it is impossible for me right now to create a Kosher home, but it is something that definitely pulls on me. There are still some holidays that we have not been able to observe, but it is in my heart to begin doing so in the future. I wish to be observant as possible, but the reality of my life makes it extremely difficult. However, I applaud those who have devoted themselves to keeping Torah in its fullness.

    I think many years of a lack of cultural and biblical context have produced Christians who simply have not had the opportunity to really see Jesus (Yeshua) in his full context. His words are interpreted far more loosely than they should be.

    I will continue to visit your blog and I wish you well. May Hashem bless the work of your hands!

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  3. I am in wholehearted agreement with you, Derek. When I wrote “Beyond Salvation: Why Believers in Jesus Should Keep the Torah” (http://beyondsalvation.info), it was both of these perspectives I wanted to address and disabuse people of: anti-nomianism and what you call bagels-and-lox, or what I call “Yiddishkeit” Messianic Judaism (the notion that the Ashkenazic form was the be-all and end-all and was the way Yeshua lived). While the focus was on anti-nomianism, I wanted to get the other across as well. The book is directed to people like Charles, people who are questioning our practice, as much as to those who are questioning the practice of mainstream Churchianity.

    I think that in the Messianic community, there’s too much of an emphasis on “being Jewish” — which to most everyone in North America means the practices (not necessarily Torah-based) of a small swath of Eastern European shtetl-dwellers. I don’t mean to be disrespectful to those Jews — that’s where my family is from — but not only is that not all of Judaism, it’s not even a good representation of a Torah lifestyle, certainly not in the modern world. I have far more respect for people who come into the Messianic community (whether Jewish or non-Jewish) and keep their culture and traditions but adapt them to the Torah than those who come into the community and think learning a little Yiddish, men wearing kippot and tallit, women wearing tzitzit-less prayer shawls, and developing a taste for bagels-and-lox, chicken soup, and chopped liver brings them “closer to Jesus”. It may bring them closer to the Ashkenazim, but it doesn’t bring them closer to Messiah.

    If this seems like I’m going off-topic, let me explain where I’m going: until we start getting a coherent, sensical message of genuine, non-wannabe-Chassid Torah Observance out there as the majority voice of the Messianic community, we will continue to not get through to the Charleses out there, at least not without a lot of banging our heads against the wall.

  4. Adam:

    You said, ” I have far more respect for people who come into the Messianic community (whether Jewish or non-Jewish) and keep their culture and traditions but adapt them to the Torah than those who come into the community and think learning a little Yiddish, men wearing kippot and tallit, women wearing tzitzit-less prayer shawls, and developing a taste for bagels-and-lox, chicken soup, and chopped liver brings them “closer to Jesus”. It may bring them closer to the Ashkenazim, but it doesn’t bring them closer to Messiah.”

    I just want to clarify, I agree but, as you, not out of any prejudice against Ashkenazi culture.

    The problem, to be clear to readers, is when people emphasize cultural trappings (especially when they are not of that culture) instead of Torah and rabbinic tradition. Now, in a mixed community, where many grew up with bagels and lox, it is a good thing when the community shares in culture. Yet the bagels and lox are not Judaism. As it happens, I’m not too keen on chopped liver, gefilte fish, and lox, but I rejoice when those who do like them bring them to events. Meanwhile, I enjoy bringing my macaroni pie and mashed potatoes.

    Derek

  5. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Adam… Since you identify yourself as a Messianic Rabbi, I am curious – what’s your claim to being Jewish or of Jewish heritage?

    I have noticed that those who claim that Gentiles should follow the laws of Moses given to Israel the same way as Jews should, try greatly to deemphasize Israel as an ethnic nation and Jews as people chosen by G-d. Instead, they start viewing themselves as Israel, with all its benefits and obligations, and as they have not been accepted as such by most ethnic Jews, they start displaying outright animosity to Jewish Messianics, to Jewish culture and traditions. They are angry at those “exclusive” Jews.

    I noticed the following curious phrase in the statement of faith of the organization to which your congregation belongs, usa.ctomc.org (CTOMC):

    “Gentiles who place their faith in Israel’s Messiah Yeshua are also spiritually sons and daughters of Israel and thus also share in this rich and meaningful heritage.”

    I thought that Gentiles are spiritually children of Abraham (father of many nations) not of Jacob (Israel)? I don’t think it’s right for Gentiles to claim the heritage and birthright that rightfully belongs to Israel, do you? Gentiles are brought closer and are blessed with many spiritual blessings, but are not PART of Israel the nation and not children of Jacob, spiritual or otherwise.

    Gene

  6. Gene:

    I’m glad you’re asking Adam to clarify or defend some of his positions. I have come to respect Adam via his comments on the blog, but I also find some of his positions troubling.

    Adam:

    We love you, man, and would love to dialogue and possibly persuade you to see Israel’s unique calling.

    Derek

  7. Pati in WA says:

    Gene –

    You said, “Gentiles are brought closer and are blessed with many spiritual blessings, but are not PART of Israel the nation…”

    While I agree that gentiles do not “become Jewish” through faith in Messiah (“sons of Israel” is a dubious phrasing for gentiles, to be sure!), aren’t they brought into the Commonwealth of Israel through faith?

    Eph 2:11-13: Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands–remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

    Would it not be correct to say that gentiles in the faith ARE part of Israel?
    Shalom!

  8. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Shalom, Pati…

    I would argue from the text you quoted (Eph 2:11-13) that being brought near Israel is not the same thing as become Israel! I know that this verse in the NIV and some other modern version refer to Gentiles as being citizens of Israel). Is commonwealth the same as a country? That’s arguable.

    Once, Gentiles were far off from Israel, considered unclean. But now, brought near, they can, through Yeshua, have the hope of eternal life, be with God of Avram, Isaak, and Yakov and share in the blessed spiritual promises made to Abraham and his descendants. They can be united with Israel, but with distinct identities and roles (and even requirements) – similar to husband and wife, who are still man and woman – not just man and not just woman (or, G-d forbid, “it”).

    Nowhere does the scripture refers to Gentiles as being Israel. As much as replacement theologians try, they can’t find it. Look at the Millennial Reign of Meschiah – there’s Israel and there are STILL other nations around it and they are still called by their names.

    Also, look up verse Revelation 21:26 – talking about the eternal state, after the Millennium. Notice what it says about nations. Please notice that nations remain, but now in glorified state. It doesn’t say that all nations now blended together into one nation called Israel. But they will ALL share the blessings and glory!

    Be blessed,

    Gene

  9. Pati:

    Great question and a good verse to bring up. I think there is something to the rabbis’ delineation of two kinds of Sojourners/Converts (Ger Toshav and Ger Tzadik).

    There is a category in Torah of a Sojourner who is protected by the laws of Israel while not beholden to the full Torah. Check out Exodus 12:48 where there is a kind of Sojourner who may not be circumcised yet and Deuteronomy 14:21 where you can give unclean meat to a Sojourner. Since these Sojourners are not fully under Torah and yet thet are part of the nation of Israel, I would say they are “of the commonwealth of Israel.”

    In Yeshua, Gentiles in the diaspora, like the Ger Toshav in Israel, are included in the blessings God pours out on Israel and in the Abrahamic covenant.

    Derek

  10. Pati in WA says:

    Thank you Derek and Gene – I appreciate your thoughtful replies. I’m not of a replacement theology persuasion, so I wasn’t thinking in terms of that. However, “commonwealth of Israel” is a term I don’t really understand very well. Sort of in the nation of Israel but not really? I’d be nice if Sh’aul left us a dictionary :-) Gene, you bring up some great points about Revelation and what is seen there with the nations as still distinct nations.

    Has anyone made a list of the commandments in Torah where “ger” is mentioned along with “native-born”? That would be interesting.

    What would a Torah based lifestyle (here I’m thinking of Biblical based lifestyle that doesn’t blur jew/non-jew distinctives) for the gentile believer look like? Okay, so no kippah and tallit. Kosher optional (kind of needed for table fellowship). Sabbath? Hmmm… How about the holidays?

    Otherwise, gentiles are left with…churchianity…

  11. Pati:

    You asked two questions: (1) what is the relation of ger (sojourner/stranger) and native born? (2) what would MJ look like with Jew/Gentile distinctions?

    Regarding the first, the basic answer is that a Sojourner (ger) is not the same as a Native Born, though the laws of the land apply. However, a Sojourner is not bound by the identity markers of Israel (circumcision, Sabbath, dietary law). My key verses for this I have already shared: Exodus 12:48 and Deuteronomy 14:21.

    No one can say, using Torah as their basis, that all Christians must keep dietary law and Passover, since Exodus 12:48 and Deuteronomy 14:21 specifically say other wise.

    As for your second question, I consider that to be the $64,000 question. I am working on it. I have some provisional answers but I am not satisfied. For now, I am fine with kippahs in the worship service. Tallit is another matter and I’m weighing whether tallit in worship for a non-Jew is acceptable, especially if the non-Jew keeps Torah. I can see both sides. There are many other issues.

    I plan to keep giving this a ton of thought, working out issues in dialogue here on the blog, and idealistically hope to come to answers that satisfy me. My key source, other than Bible and tradition, would have to be the Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council, which you can find at http://www.ourrabbis.org/main/

    Derek

  12. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Pati…

    Thank you for your comments and for your open heart.

    Yes, I agree with you that many things in the Tanakh and scriptures are not clear (to us) at this time. A dictionary would be nice!

    One thing I know for sure – a Gentile believer who loves and worships the God of Israel will be blessed as much or more than a native-born Israelite. G-d is glorified when all peoples/nations turn to Him and His Meschiach. Indeed, Gentiles who trust in Him become his people (Romans 9:25).

    As far as “churchianity”, as you put it – sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if gentile believers didn’t become separated from their Jewish brethren in the first two centuries. It makes me wonder where would we be if Constantine didn’t become the ruler of the “church” and issued edicts against Jews, if the “church fathers” didn’t pass ruling and ruling condemning the Jews (both believing and not) for their feasts and law-keeping, if Catholic Church didn’t arise our of that environment (and we all know where that led), and then the rabid anti-semite Martin Luther didn’t spew his hatred in the name of G-d.

    But, HaShem is in total control and his plans will not be thwarted. Israel was meant to be blinded so that salvation would come to the Gentiles.

    As far as what Gentile believer’s lifestyle that’s honoring to God and Torah… hmm, that’s a tough question. I think that the requirments of the “Jerusalem Council” are quite clear – prohibitions against eating meat containing blood, or meat not properly slain. Prohibitions against “fornication” and idol worship. Nothing is said of Sabbath keeping or anything else. I think worshiping God with psalms, getting together (with Jewish and Gentile believers) and celebrating Passover (1 Corinthians 5:8 – see Peter telling Gentile believers about it), bringing the Good News to the lost – that’s the lifestyle of the Gentile believer. I think that Gentile believers are free to eat and not eat anything they want (as long as it doesn’t violate Jerusalem Council regulations). If they want to keep kosher – it’s their business, but it’s not required of them and it was never given for them keep. If they want to observe the Sabbath or any of the feast given to Israel – I believe it’s their business too, although G-d didn’t require them. (Col 2:16, referring to the Gentile believers: “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths.”) God simply didn’t require Gentiles to become Jews and to become observant of Jewish laws and customs as a requirement of their newly found faith – in fact, they are warned not to do that. Same for circumsion.

    Acts 15:24: “… we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, ‘You must be circumcised and keep the law’ – to whom we gave no such commandment …”

    At the same time, for Jewish believers, no such alarm needed to be raised. In fact, they were expected to continue living as Jews: when Sha’ul [Paul] was accused of teaching Jews not to observe circumcision and the Mosaic Law, he did everything to demonstrate that the accusation was false (Acts 21:20-27)

    It seems that there’s indeed a real danger of legalism in its true sense for Gentiles believers.

    In HaShem,

    Gene

  13. Juanita B says:

    Hello I’m glad to have found your blog. I hear so many sides of the debate, and I’m trying to understand what the truth of the matter is. If I understand correctly, I thought in looking at the Scriptures in the context of when they are written in the Old Testament. It states, paraphrase, that basically any foreigner, who was associated with the people of Israel had to follow the same rules in in the New Testament, Jesus says that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it so it would seem that a Gentile believer should indeed be following and observing all the aspects of Torah. I thought that the text from acts 15 is referring to man-made laws, and/or oral traditions rather than the Torah.

  14. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Juanita…

    You wrote:

    “any foreigner, who was associated with the people of Israel had to follow the same rules”…

    First, one comment on the above: what is a foreigner TODAY when it comes to being associated with the people of Israel? Many Gentiles who attend Messianic Congregations find them, for the most part, void of Jewish people, much less LIVE among Israel. Does merely calling oneself “messianic” place a person among people of Israel and to whom the same rules should apply?

    As far as all following the same rules, Derek wrote earlier, this is not the case, but rather it depends on while rule or law one is talking about. As far as lifestyle observances go, certain regulations applied ONLY to those aliens who LIVED in Israel AMONG Israelites. The key here is those who live among Israel in the Land. For example, NO ONE was allowed to violate the Sabbath in Israel – not even an animal in the Land was allowed to work on that day (Exodus 20).

    Also, in the verse Derek mentioned, Deuteronomy 14:21, it says the following:

    “Do not eat anything you find already dead. You may give it to an alien living in any of your towns, and he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner. But you are a people holy to the LORD your G-d.”

    Notice three things:

    1) Israelites are not to eat unclean food
    2) Alien, even though he lives in Israel, he MAY eat it (permitted!)
    3) Israelites, as a people, is holy (or dedicated) to the G-d.

    Also, it’s pretty obvious that apart from lifestyle observances that were and are suppose to keep Israel holy, there are laws that G-d established that would punish various sins such as murder, adultery, etc. Such would obviously apply to EVERYONE, Jew or Gentile – there would be no distinction, they would, to quote you, “follow the same rules”…

    Regarding the New Testament:

    Here’s the excerpt from the letter sent by the Jerusalem Council to the Gentile believers:

    “…(Acts 15:28-29) It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.”

    So, as you can see from the above, as far as observances for Gentiles, it’s pretty clear what is required of them by G-d Himself (as the letter states, the Holy Spirit).

    Be blessed,

    Gene

  15. "A Simple Jew" says:

    Gene and Derek:

    Adam… Since you identify yourself as a Messianic Rabbi, I am curious – what’s your claim to being Jewish or of Jewish heritage? <<<<

    I think I understand Gene’s point in asking this and am in sympathy. However I think there is another question which in my opinion is more important. I wonder where Adam received the training and credentialling to identify himself as a “Rabbi”. While I think he is free to call himself whatever he wants, I dont think it appropriate to expect others including myself or others viewing this blog to accept this designation for either him or other Messianic “Rabbis” without this being understood by all.

    Frankly, I think this is the biggest problem that MJ has to face. And one which the “RC” has yet to tackle. This discussion shows why it is not a trivial point. I don’t mean to single Adam out. His views are typical of many in the movement. I don’t see much significant difference between his views and what I have seen and heard for years from more well known Messianic leaders. From what I have observed these might also be rightly questioned about their Jewishness and their credentialling to make expert statements about Judaism.

    While it is possible that Adam has genuine Jewish training, the statements like the following raise questions. They sound similar to misleading statements I have seen and heard from such MJ leaders who have also been presenting themselves as authentic and authoritative thinkers about Jewish matters.

    The following statement could easily have been taken from the writings and the public statements of Dan Juster.

    << anti-nomianism and…what I call “Yiddishkeit”<<<

    <<<practices (not necessarily Torah-based) of a small swath of Eastern European shtetl-dwellers<<<

    Statements like this appear to reveal a lack of familiarity with the beliefs and practices of European Jewry. Adam is nto alone in this. When I read statements like this , I do wonder whether the reason that they are being overly impressionistic is the lack of familiarity with the subject matter. Exactly which practices are we talking about? What is the small swath he is referring to? ( The pale of settlement was after all a pretty large area in and of itself and prior to the holocaust there were a lot of people living there)

    How isolated is the tradition he is talking about? And what is the alternative? This is after all a tradition that leans heavily on Rashi ( from Southern France) Rabbeinu Tam and Tosfafot (France and Spain), Maimonides ( Spain and Egypt)Joseph Caro ( Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Palestine) Isaac Luria ( Safed in Palestine) . I would suspect that almost all Ashkenazi Jews would cite these as among the most important if not the definitive sources for Jewish practice. As would most of world Jewery. Would Adam, Dan Juster and others look to them as authoritative for MJ practice since they are not from this small swath? From what I read and hear from the latter, I dont think so.

    It is difficult to conceive of an approach that is not “antinomian”, and that is consistant with any branch of Jewish practice without an intimate knowledge of this strain of tradition. And yet this is what most MJ “rabbis” purport to be able to do.

    To move on to the Asheknazic world: The most established and “generic” authority for Ashkenazi Judaim is the “Chofetz Chaim” who authored the “Mishnah Beruah”. I have seen Derek make favorable references to him. And to R. Abraham Heschel. In what way then Derek can you find agreement with Adam in these matters?

    As Stuart Dauerman has pointed out, there is a tradition that is c/w the view of many Messianic “Rabbis”. It is the tradition of the “Kairites”. If that is what is being recommended then people ought to become knowledgeable about their practices and say this publically.

    <<<Chassid Torah Observance<<

    As a point of information,some Chassidic groups would take issue with having their pattern of observance equated with that of Ashkenazi practice. To make this sort of blanket equation again calls into question the degree of knowledge one has about Judaism and calls out for more learning before one takes on the title of “Rabbi”.

    Menachem

  16. "A Simple Jew" says:

    Patti:

    I think you make some important points:

    While I agree that gentiles do not “become Jewish” through faith in Messiah (”sons of Israel” is a dubious phrasing for gentiles, to be sure!), aren’t they brought into the Commonwealth of Israel through faith?<<>>

    Why “remember”?

    1)This is an act of Hashem which reveals something about his plan for the universe: (Eph 1:10) “to unify all things” in Moshiach, [both] things in heaven and things on the earth.

    2) This is amplified inEph 3: 4-10 this act is the “Mystery” of the Messiah, ( Eph 3:6 explicitly identifies this with the in joining of the gentiles)and Eph 3:10 implies that it is this makes known to the “principalities and powers in heavenly places” the “manifold wisdom” of G-d.

    What I see from this is that non Jews have a salvation history just as Jews do. And Ephesians lends this history dignity and importance. According to Paul, the whole hidden world of the spirit was watching this process unfold as a manifestion of Hashems plan.

    When I read Eph 1:10, what I see is a plan for a unification of diverse things. “things in heaven and things in earth”. This is not a plan for uniformity. Rather it is a plan for joining in love. Kind of like… marriage.

    (CS Lewis has written eloquently on this general subject in Screwtape Letters, “The Great Divorce” and probably elsewhere)

    If the Gentiles give up on their history how then can then can they be joined to the Jewish people in Ahavah?

    Furthermore, ( as an aside ) do we really want to denigrate and ignore the tremendous contributions of Non Jewish Chrisitiantity to the world? ( I think this was part of Charles point?). Where would we be without the tremendous move for social and spiritual change which this tradition represents? I for one think we would be the poorer without Charles Dickens and the morality tale of Ebineezer Scrooge that the Christian transformation of “Saturnalia” brought to us. And what of The “Christmas Oratorio”? Or Handels “Moshiach”? <grin

    On the contrary, as in any marriage, I think what is needed is patience and respect and love for each others traditions and forgiveness for each others foibles and sins through a sometimes painful but always truthful process that does not ignore our real histories as real people involved in a redemptive process.

    Whew. That took a lot. I would be interested in comments.

    Menachem

  17. "A Simple Jew" says:

    To Patti and others:

    My question “Why remember” may appear a bit confusing. This is because for some reason part of my post was inadvertantly deleted. I was referreing to Patti’s citation of Eph 2:11-13.

    Eph 2:11-13: Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands–remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

    What I also said, was that just as we Jews are called to “remember” certain things, Christians from non Jewish backgrounds are also called to “remember”.

    Hope that clarifies what I was attempting to say.

    Menachem

  18. Menachem:

    Just to clarify my point of agreement with Adam: I do not agree that there is something wrong with Ashkenazi culture. Not sure if Adam thinks that either. What I agree with is that MJ which elevates Eastern European cuisine but does not practice Judaism is too shallow to even call MJ. It is what I called bagels-and-lox MJ. Watching Fiddler on the Roof or a Woody Allen movie and eating matzo ball soup is not Judaism. Yet there are some “MJ” groups whose Judaism only goes that deep.

    Pretty sure you would agree with me, Menachem. Didn’t mean to imply any insult at all to the legacy of Ashkenazi Judaism.

    Derek

  19. A Simple Jew says:

    Derek

    Thanks for the clarification. I would have been surprised if you had meant otherwise given your association with the people I know.

    However while I am not quite sure what Adam thinks I suspect it is close to some of the ideas I have attributed to Dan Juster. The moral I suspect is that we should all be quite careful who and what we say we are in agreement with.

    I fail to see how one can talk meaningfuly about Torah practice or being Torah positive or not antinomian or what have you without Judaism as practiced by the Jewish people. Or perhaps one can talk but one certainly cannot practice Judaism without being very silly at best and quite offensive at worst.

    Examples available on request.

  20. Pati in WA says:

    Menachem-
    Thank you for your thoughtful words! What you describe is something I have been struggling with since learning of the “replacement theology” & some of the theological ramifications of removing that “pillar” from church doctrine. History shows both good and bad actions, good and bad people, etc associated with the “church”. And I LIKE celtic prayer & worship music! :-) Even Roman Catholicism has something to teach us about serving the poor.

    The “total” anti-nomianism of modern evangelical Christianity is more of a “newer” thing -“we’re free from the law!” – when historically Christians have deemed “ritual” laws done away with, moral laws still stand (although I can’t find such a separation in scripture, and is part of that “pillar” of replacement theology) and it seems to stem from misunderstanding of the removal of the curse of the law.

    However, most of christianity is still steeped in replacement theology – both in faith and practice. For non-jews who reject that, MJ is still virtually the only option. Which is why the movement needs to address what the “practice” of the faith looks like for non-jews as well as jews. And to keep from treating some members of a congregation as second-class (not accusing anyone here, of course, but it’s not an unknown difficulty). I see this being addressed, and I hope with time and maturity something wonderful and lasting will come out of it.

    Even the MJ’s “Torah is for Jews” is not such a sweeping statement as it looks at first blush – it’s doubtful anybody is saying that adultery is okay for non-jewish believers! It does seem to be a continuing “discussion” over certain distinctions – tallits, liturgy, lighting candles (Shabbat), kosher, bar/bat mitzvahs, etc. And, how can we not look to Judaism to shed light on what it means to live a Torah-positive life? When I study the Rabbinic commentaries I often find myself in tears over the beauty I see. Why be surprised when non-jews are inclined to weave Jewish traditions into their practice of the faith? [yes, yes, I’m aware of some of the questionable lengths this is taken to!]

    However, aren’t there some troubling aspects of historic christianity that could be jettisoned without blurring jewish/non-jewish distinctives? And a more Biblical approach, in light of the removal of the anti-semitic traditions of the church, for all believers? The Biblical Holidays, for example, are a beautiful expression of the continuity of the scriptures, the fullness of Messiah, the “prophetic-ness” of historical events, etc, etc.

    I appreciate the patience of you gentlemen in allowing me to ask some questions and work through some thoughts, and I apologize for “rambling” a bit :-) I wonderful to learn from you all who have probably spent more time thinking about these things than I have!! And many thanks to Derek for this blog!
    Shalom!

  21. A Simple Jew says:

    Patti:

    Thank you for your thoughtful words!<<<

    And thank you for your intelligent and pertinent comments.

    What you describe is something I have been struggling with since learning of the “replacement theology” & some of the theological ramifications of removing that “pillar” from church doctrine.<<<<

    I would like to hear and understand more about your struggle. It is increasingly clear to me that some of the mythology of the Messiniac movement is failing people from non Jewish as well as Jewish background.

    I personally have struggled for years with what I call “neo supercessionism” within the Messianic Jewish Movement. I think this is the mirror image of what you have been dealing with. I would be happy to elaborate if you like.

    History shows both good and bad actions, good and bad people, etc associated with the “church”.<<<<<<<<

    Correct. In Judaism we have the concept of the “righteous gentile”. It’s there for a reason.

    And I LIKE celtic prayer & worship music!<<<<<<<

    Likewise. And also african american. And aspects of Russian sprituality.

    <<Roman Catholicism has something to teach us about serving the poor.<<<<<

    I think they have a lot to say about this as well as about certain aspects of community life. Its called learning to love people. In Judasism we call it “Chesed”.

    The “total” anti-nomianism of modern evangelical Christianity is more of a “newer” thing -”we’re free from the law!”<<<<<<<

    While I understand and applaud some of the root reasons for this movement, this philosophy, especially in the USA has evolved into a commercialized “McReligion” that makes no demands upon anyone. And instituional Messianic Judaism has unfortunately been for the most part an offshoot of this “McReligion” without benefit of the roots from which it originally sprang. More on this later.

    when historically Christians have deemed “ritual” laws done away with, moral laws still stand (although I can’t find such a separation in scripture,<<<<<<<]

    There isn’t any grounds for this separation. Judaism makes no such distinction (except perhaps for purposes of organizing the Talmud arounds its orders. However even there when one examines the text one finds no separation along these lines)

    and is part of that “pillar” of replacement theology) and it seems to stem from misunderstanding of the removal of the curse of the law. <<<<

    Absolutely.

    However, most of christianity is still steeped in replacement theology – both in faith and practice. For non-jews who reject that, MJ is still virtually the only option.<<<<

    I would argue that MJ is steeped in it as well only more insidiuosly. I think once your consciousness is raised on this it may help you see some of your own issues more clearly.

    Which is why the movement needs to address what the “practice” of the faith looks like for non-jews as well as jews.<<<<<<<

    Agreed. Personally I think it should start by reflecting the issues you describe here. And the verse from Ephesians is in my opinion an excellent text to work from.

    And to keep from treating some members of a congregation as second-class (not accusing anyone here, of course, but it’s not an unknown difficulty).<<<<<<<<

    It may sound odd to you, but I would maintain that it is the Jews who are actually the second class citizens in Messianic congregations. I dont want to name names either ( except as it is pertinant to the discussion of ideas) but would be happy to discuss ideas and systematic problems.

    I see this being addressed, and I hope with time and maturity something wonderful and lasting will come out of it.<<<

    I think Derek’s blog and some of the verses we have been discussing here are a good place to start. How does the verse in Ephesians correlate with the NC as seen in Jer 31 and Deut 30 and how these relate to Jews? These are in my opinion nuts that need to be cracked before we can have a meaningful community life with Jews and Gentiles worshiping together.

    I have to go, will address the rest later, and look forward to your response as well as that of others.

    Menachem

  22. A Simple Jew says:

    Patti:

    I’m back.

    <<Even the MJ’s “Torah is for Jews” is not such a sweeping statement as it looks at first blush – it’s doubtful anybody is saying that adultery is okay for non-jewish believers! It does seem to be a continuing “discussion” over certain distinctions – tallits, liturgy, lighting candles (Shabbat), kosher, bar/bat mitzvahs, etc.<<<<<

    I am not sure exactly what you mean by this. What worries me most about this is that it is precisely that these distinctions have lost their Jewish meaning within MJ. And this is not in my opinion simply because of their use by non Jews. That is the least of the problems in my opinion. What concerns me is that these distinctions have been changed in insidious and serious ways and that these changes are often imposed upon Jews by people who are a)ignorant of what they mean and b) often not Jewish themselves. I hope you can see that this creates a double level of confusion when these distinctions are then applied back to non Jews. A secondary phenomenon in my opinion. And frankly one which we shouldnt have had to deal with if not for the first problem.

    And, how can we not look to Judaism to shed light on what it means to live a Torah-positive life?<<<<<<<<

    Who says you shouldn’t? Romans 3 says that to the Jews were given the oracles of G-d. My understanding is that this is an ongoing teaching role for the Jewish people. Also Zechariah speaks of 10 Gentiles grabbing hold of a Jew for “G-d is with you”. All laudable things. My only caveat is as folows: What I would suggest is that if you are going to look to “Judaism” that you look to genuine Jews and Jewish authorities. Do not seek to set yourself up as an authority on Judaism or look to self promoting leaders or peers who have no standing or understanding to speak about these matters.

    When I study the Rabbinic commentaries I often find myself in tears over the beauty I see. Why be surprised when non-jews are inclined to weave Jewish traditions into their practice of the faith? [yes, yes, I’m aware of some of the questionable lengths this is taken to!] <<<<<<

    I’m not surprised and I dont see it as a problem per ce as you can see from the above. Within the boundries of the scriptures and prinicples I have laid down, there might be some room for learning from each other. If the model is a “marriage” of Jews and Gentiles, then one should expect that we learn from and appreciate each other without attempting to mimic or take over the others roles. When Gentiles attempt to take on Jewish things especially when they “go the Jews one better” it is the subtlest form of replacement theology. Have you thought of that?

    However, aren’t there some troubling aspects of historic christianity that could be jettisoned without blurring jewish/non-jewish distinctives? <<<<<<<

    Absolutely.

    And a more Biblical approach, in light of the removal of the anti-semitic traditions of the church, for all believers?<<<<<

    Yes. Why is it that the Catholic church is better able to do this respecfully than the messianic movement???

    The Biblical Holidays, for example, are a beautiful expression of the continuity of the scriptures, the fullness of Messiah, the “prophetic-ness” of historical events, etc, etc. <<<<

    Agreed. And I think that they should be taught in all Christian Churches as such.

    I appreciate the patience of you gentlemen in allowing me to ask some questions and work through some thoughts, and I apologize for “rambling” a bit I wonderful to learn from you all who have probably spent more time thinking aboutAs these things than I have!! And many thanks to Derek for this blog!<<<<

    My thanks to Derek as well and as for you, there is no reason to apologize. What you have said here is to the point. So much of what I see elsewhere and even sometimes here is a bit “fringy” ( for back of a better term ) and somewhat irrelevant to what I see as central concerns.

    Look forward to your response and the response of others.

    Menachem

  23. "A Simple Jew" says:

    Patti:

    A follow up to our exchange:

    You or someone else might wonder about my remark that Jews are “second class” with MJ. I thought it you or someone were interested in continuing this dialogue to at least provide some documentation of what I think are some very bad ideas that have systematically been disseminated within the movement. This is the congregational movement BTW not “Missionary Hebrew Christianity” etc etc.

    The following is a reference to “Growing to Maturity” by Dr Dan Juster. which has long been used as an introductory manual for entry level into MJ congregations and in fact is used today in our locale. The irony of the possible reference to Ephesians 4:16 in light of our conversation does not escape me. Please also note that this link is from a Christian web site. The folks who run this site in all probability in good faith are accepting this as the straight truth without much knowledge of Jews or Judaism. Here is the quote and the link which I believe also provides appropriate citation:

    http://www.voiceofthelamb.org/luke/?p=102

    “The super-Jewish Jew is totally caught up in the fact that he is a Jew. There is a great pride in being a Jew to such an extent that real spiritual issues and dimensions are absent or overlooked. Such a person unthinkingly gravitates to support anything that has been or is Jewish. In some cases he is anti-Gentile and fights the world with Jewish self-assertion. Rather than gaining a primary identity in a deep love and trust relationship with the Lord, he has misunderstood involvement in Jewish forms as spirituality itself. This person does not root his Jewish identity primarily in the biblical dimension of the call to be Jewish, but rather in fostering orthopraxy. He may try to push the congregation into an orthodox worship form despite the objections of the congregants. He may adopt a rigid Rabbinic style. But there is often a great deal of inconsistency in this person’s life, even hypocrisy. For example, although he pushes orthopraxy, he will work on the Sabbath. There is a lack of a real faith dimension to his living, life is lived by self-striving after the flesh. This may issue in a new legalism… This person fears constantly that the Messianic congregation will lose its Jewishness. If a Jewish hymn or form is skipped one week or if a chorus is sung which is not specifically Jewish, he feels great consternation. What is the underlying problem? In all probability, this person is still conforming out of fear to domineering parents whose messages are still embedded in his mind. The fear of reprisals from Dad, Mom, or the Rabbi, still determine his thinking”

    This is a good example of what I call “Neo supercssionism”. A Jewish member of a MJ congregation who shows appropriate concern for the proper handling of Jewish beliefs, sacred objects and liturgy is carricatured and marginalized. The hypothetical persons motives are assumed to be known. They are unthinking, are motivated by pride and are unaware of the “real spiritual issues”. They lack a trust in Hashem and assume that Jewish forms are spirituality itself. An attempt to guard the integrity of the use of Jewish forms is dismissed as “Orthopraxy”. ( In point of fact, I have observed that most of those advocating traditional Judaism within MJ are pretty much settling for something a bit less than my parents conservative Judaism. As Mark Twain once wrote “how much the old folks have learned”!!). The fact that someone would confuse this with “orthopraxy” is a bit odd and shows a lack of understanding of the facts of Jewish observance.

    It is interesting that Dr Juster is concerned about the “objections of the congregants”. I am not sure specifically what he is talking about, but if we are talking about basic Jewish Halacha, and the congregants happen to not be Jews or are marginal Jews whose Jewishness is doubtful then I am not clear what the point is.

    “The fear of reprisals from Dad, Mom, or the Rabbi, still determine his thinking<< I am not clear where Dr Juster obtained his training in psychoanalysis but this is clearly a low blow.

    While I respect Rev Juster as a theologian and do not mean to cast aspersions, this passage reflects a total lack of understanding of Judaism or Jewish people. This is in part because Dan’s training is as a Christian theologian. His expertise to speak authoritatively about Judaisms is close to his expertise to practice amateur psychoanalysis on hypothetical Jewish individuals. If practiced systematically and insensitively such beliefs can be quite damaging. And yet this philosophy reflected in this book has been used as a manual of sorts for pastoral care widely throughout the movement. This kind of thinking is not helpful and in my opinion before we can move on to have a better understanding of the role of Gentiles within the movement we really need to examine how this type of thinking ( Dan is hardly alone among MJ “rabbis” in his views on these matters) has had an impact on the role of Jews within MJ congregations.

  24. Pati in WA says:

    Hi Menachem, I’m back! I think I finally have a few moments to continue our conversation. Thank you for clarifying what you meant by Jews being “second class” in MJ. I had thought much about that comment over the last couple of days. I am surprised at such a quote coming from Daniel Juster, and can see where your comments (on the insidious nature of neo-replacement) are coming from! The continuing belief that Judaism is “carnal” and Christianity is “spiritual” is surprising in messianic circles. Would that Platonism be removed from seminaries!

    >>When Gentiles attempt to take on Jewish things especially when they “go the Jews one better” it is the subtlest form of replacement theology. Have you thought of that?>>

    And here, especially, is something my husband and I have been uncomfortable with as gentiles. Yes, I have thought lots about it. And, no, even with my Torah-positive mindset for all believers can I be comfortable with the idea that “adopting” Judaica for gentiles is okay in all cases. I may be “grafted in”, even a “citizen” of the “commonwealth of Israel” (whatever Paul meant by that!), but none of that makes me a Jew. And I’m a long way from understanding all that these items mean.

    >>I am not sure exactly what you mean by this. What worries me most about this is that it is precisely that these distinctions have lost their Jewish meaning within MJ. And this is not in my opinion simply because of their use by non Jews. That is the least of the problems in my opinion. What concerns me is that these distinctions have been changed in insidious and serious ways and that these changes are often imposed upon Jews by people who are a)ignorant of what they mean and b) often not Jewish themselves. I hope you can see that this creates a double level of confusion when these distinctions are then applied back to non Jews. A secondary phenomenon in my opinion. And frankly one which we shouldnt have had to deal with if not for the first problem.>>

    What do you mean by “these distinctions have lost their Jewish meaning with MJ”? I thought that it was the use of these by non-Jews that loses the distinction, but you call that a secondary problem. So I guess neither of us are very clear on that :-)

    >>Do not seek to set yourself up as an authority on Judaism or look to self promoting leaders or peers who have no standing or understanding to speak about these matters.>>

    Not a problem :-) It’s one reason why I wanted to engage in this conversation. I’ve seen and heard alot of crazy things on this path, and I’m constantly learning & re-learning. I’m also becoming quite expectant of having some pre-suppositions that I didn’t even know I had illuminated and changed.

    Thank you again for your kind and challenging words!

  25. Menachem:

    The quote from Dan is troubling. How about this response?

    The super-Christian is totally caught up in the fact that he is a Protestant Evangelical. There is a great pride in being a the Contemprary Christian Music scene’s success to such an extent that real spiritual issues and dimensions are absent or overlooked. Such a person unthinkingly gravitates to support anything that has been or is culturally American Evangelical, like “Know Jesus, Know Peace” bumper stickers. In some cases he is anti-humanity, non-believing humanity that is, and damns the world as irrelevant. Rather than gaining a primary identity in a deep love and trust relationship with the Lord, he has misunderstood involvement in American Evangelical forms as spirituality itself.

    Derek

  26. "A Simple Jew" says:

    Derek:

    Menachem:

    The quote from Dan is troubling. How about this response?<<<<

    Its a good place to start. I dont think you are off base and its quite funny as well. I want to make something clear, lest someone think I am commiting Lashon Hara. I don’t know Dan well. Iwas basically a “peon” in this movement and never moved in rarified leadership circile.

    What I do know are his public utterances and writings. This quote is not isolated. I also know how see this philosophy extended at the pastoral level in the congregations I have had observed at length. And by the way, I am quite aware that the problem is just as bad in congregations not under his leadership. Unfortunately if you are asking me non rhetorically for an honest opinion, it is going to take more than this. The problem is institutional and deeply imbedded and it is going to take more than logic and humor and theology to address it. This is a case of arrogance and power being very well entrenched. Until someone institutionally raises some boundries and says “no mas” I dont think that the problem is even being properly assessed and if not properly assessed then nobody can move on to address the other issues that you and others are raising. This includes conversion and the role of Non Jews.

    I would be happy to share my observations in detail but will describe just one: I have a good friend who is a real Jew from a secular but educated background. He joined the local MJ congregation which is “in submission” to Dan. He told the local “rabbi” ( whose non Jewish wife has more interest in and knowledge of Judaism than he does) that he wanted to Daven quitely in the service and found the flag waving the shouting the interruptions in Jewish liturgy disturbing and distracting. He was “counselled” that his problem was that he didnt have enough “liberty in the spirit” that other members of the congregation did not find these things disturbing and that as he grew in the spirit he would also come around. Needless to say this person has left the congregation and now worships in a local orthodox setting.

    This by the way should be of concern to those of a mission mind in that the people that they are trying to “reach” cannot relate to the shallowness and triviality of what they see in these “worship “services. Dans stated public response to such concerns BTW is to dismiss them as attempting to be “seeker friendly”.

    If I understand how this term is used in modern American Church culture, it is doubly insulting to any Jew who thinks that attempting to grow close to Hashem through Judaism is anything but a “dumbing down” “shallow” American “McChrisitianity” that I think that term implies. This again has gone completely unchallenged by Dans peers in the movement. I’m not holding my breath.

    .

    The super-Christian is totally caught up in the fact that he is a Protestant Evangelical.<<<

    The fact is that if I wanted to play amateur psychologist this description might be applied to Dan. The fact is that I dont. That would be Lashon Hara and unethical and possibly not true. I say this to emphasize the unfairness in his pastoral methodology not to cast aspersions on his motives. Having said that, it is important to recognize the fact that he is a Protestant Evangelical and not a Jew, and while I respect his doctorate and his impressive credentials, he is not a rabbi nor even versed in rabbinics. Yet he repeatedly from the pulpit and from his we site makes all sorts of pronouncements about Judaism and rabbinics that are not accurate and go completely unchallanged. ( Reference the Tikkun web site for multiple examples)

    There is a great pride in being a the Contemprary Christian Music scene’s success to such an extent that real spiritual issues and dimensions are absent or overlooked. <<<<<<

    Its funny that you include this but its a good point. Does one have to be a “super Jew” to think it a bit insulting that the local “rabbi” truncates the Shema and eliminates the Silent Amidah ( which has after all a venerable tradition in Hannah’s murmered prayer at the Temple) in favor of “Paul Wilbur”?

    Such a person unthinkingly gravitates to support anything that has been or is culturally American Evangelical, <<<<<<

    This came home painfully to me during the “Mel Gibson” incident. I also wonder if anyone is noticing that many American Evangelicals are prepared to sacrifice Israel in the coming presidential election over their social agenda? It may come down to a choice over this. Which will it be?

    like “Know Jesus, Know Peace” bumper stickers. In some cases he is anti-humanity, non-believing humanity that is, and damns the world as irrelevant. Rather than gaining a primary identity in a deep love and trust relationship with the Lord, he has misunderstood involvement in American Evangelical forms as spirituality itself.<<<<

    well said. I want to point out BTW that the more deeply rooted evangelical forms of spirituality that represent something more permanant and substantial are areas that I have great respect for. It is precisely the seeker friendly “McReligion” of our current culture that I am referring to. I have no desire to denigrate the spirituality of American Protestantism for which I have great respect and as a Jew for which I am grateful for their support of Israel.

    Derek

  27. "A Simple Jew" says:

    Patti:

    The continuing belief that Judaism is “carnal” and Christianity is “spiritual” is surprising in messianic circles. Would that Platonism be removed from seminaries!<<<<

    I dont have a problem with someone having an opinion and Christian seminaries have a right to teach what they want.What we are talking about here is “truth in labelling”. The fact is that most Chrisitian seminaries are making an attempt to redress false images of Jews and Judaism. This is especially true in the training of Catholics. ( at least up until this pope ). What is disturbing is that under the umbrella of being “Jewish” people who are not Jews and ideas that are not Jewish are advancing ideas that in fact are not acceptable in much of intellectually respectable and civilized Christianity.

    What do you mean by “these distinctions have lost their Jewish meaning with MJ”? I thought that it was the use of these by non-Jews that loses the distinction,<<<<<<<<

    The problem is the appropriation of Jewish symbols and Jewishness itself by Christian leaders and ministries. These people to paraphrase Paul do not understand the things they are dealing with. They then set the tone for congregations. Jews who are knowledgeable and concerned are marginalized and stigmatized.

    Take the use of the Jewish liturgy in MJ. The Shema and the Amidah are ancient and essential parts of the services. The third part of the Shema for example “V’Yomer” includes the bilbical commandment for Jews to remember the departure from Egypt. In the local MJ congregations this third part of the Shema has been completely eliminated for no apparant reason. ( The “rabbi” cites the economy of time issue ). The first part of the Amidah has been turned into a “praise and worship” song ( to the lively melody written by our friend Stuart Dauerman who I think must be pained by the use to which his material is being put). There are additions to the first part of the Shema that make no sense to me and which are being encouraged from what I can see from above. ( citations on request ). The simple blessing “that brings forth bread from the earth” has been gratutiously and smugly supplemented with “and from heaven”. The traditional blessing over the Sabbath candle which my mother ( I hesitate to mention her lest it add fodder to Dr Justers psychoanalytic argument) learned from her mother has been eliminated because “G-d didnt command us to light Sabbath candles”.

    All of this is taught pastorally from the pulpit and carried out in the lives of the people through the teaching and supervision of the “elders” many of whom are not Jews. One finds onself adrift and lost in someone elses house. It isnt Judaism.

    Now frankly I could care less what the person next to me does. If they are a Gentile and choose to practice Judaism, what is that to me? On the other hand if that person puts on a Tallis calls themself a “rabbi” and starts to teach Jewish people false things about their tradition, then I have an issue. MJ’s were brought into this movement many by missions people who told them that “Yeshua will make you a better Jew”. Then they find that this actually means making one a closet Charismatic American Christian. Its a bait and switch.

    but you call that a secondary problem. So I guess neither of us are very clear on that<<<<>Do not seek to set yourself up as an authority on Judaism or look to self promoting leaders or peers who have no standing or understanding to speak about these matters.>>

    Not a problem It’s one reason why I wanted to engage in this conversation. I’ve seen and heard alot of crazy things on this path, and I’m constantly learning & re-learning. I’m also becoming quite expectant of having some pre-suppositions that I didn’t even know I had illuminated and changed.<<<<<

    Just keep an open heart and a skeptical mind. And check sources. And mistrust people who arent willing to be checked out. I dont claim to know it all either and would be happy to stand corrected for any inaccuracies. .

    Thank you again for your kind and challenging words!<<<

    You too

  28. A Simple Jew says:

    Patti:

    Pardon me if I am being too overinclusive. I just want to be as precise as possible.

    It does seem to be a continuing “discussion” over certain distinctions – tallits, liturgy, lighting candles (Shabbat), kosher, bar/bat mitzvahs, etc.<<<<<

    I am not sure exactly what you mean by this. What worries me most about this is that it is precisely that these distinctions have lost their Jewish meaning within MJ. And this is not in my opinion simply because of their use by non Jews.<<<

    Let’s use lighting Shabbat candles since thats an example you gave. Traditionally we light Shabbat candles because of the commandment to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. There is a traditional blessing which the entire Jewish world knows which most of the Jewish world uses. This includes the non orthodox Jewish world.

    In many MJ congregations, including the ones I referred to before, the traditional blessing and therefore the context of the blessing is eliminated. Instead there is a clumsy hebrew blessing thanking Hashem for “Jesus the light of the world”. To add insult to injury, it is affirmed that “G-d never told us to light Sabbath candles” and it is implied that this Christian blessing is somehow superior because it mentions the name of Jesus. What is of course lost in the silliness is that there is no command that I am aware of to light sabbath candles to represent Jesus the light of the world.

    In any event, what has happened here is that a Jewish symbol of great sanctity and significance has been “superceded” by a Christian one that looks similar and is worded in Hebrew. This takes “Chubris” ( Messianic Hubris ). I daresay that if a Catholic priest tried to do something like this he would be spanked by his bishop. And rightly so.

  29. A Simple Jew says:

    Patti:

    I hope you can see my concern about Gentiles “converting” to “Bibilical Judaism”. As the numbers of people who have either been wrongly taught or who choose to practice the above, what will happen to the Sabbath Candle ritual within MJ? And what will happen to the naive Jews who enter such congregations with such people as “elders and “rabbis”? Its bad enough now. What happens after they become “Jews”????

    George Orwell would have a field day with this. On second thought I suspect he would find it quite silly and beneath his notice. But again as I recall he was an agnostic and would not think issues of religious integrity of much import.

  30. Pati in WA says:

    <>

    I wonder if this has to do with so many coming into MJ from charismatic and evangelical circles where there is little or no appreciation for the sanctity of religious objects or traditions? Having grown up Anglican, then spending some time as an adult in an evangelical church, I felt very uncomfortable with certain aspects of worship and communion that felt a little too…too…”free” of such sanctity.

    Honestly, I don’t understand why anyone would light candles (being a very Jewish practice!) and change aspects of the ritual to suit your own theology. The practice and command to light candles comes from the Oral Torah, right? So if you’re going to one Oral tradition, you should logical do the other! Yeah, I get your point – it’s a form of replacement, and very disrespectful of the Jewish members of a congregation.

    <>

    It’s still a “young” movement, which doesn’t even have a coherent theology yet. People are all over the place in belief and practice, and I would be hesitant in calling it “Biblical Judaism” – or anything other than “Messy” :-) The “new perspective on Paul”, repudiation of replacement theology, remnant or promise theologies, new studies of the Judaisms of the second Temple times & early Jewish believers, etc, are still all swirling in the atmosphere and have yet to fall together into something that maybe someday called “Biblical Judaism” or “Apostolic Judaism” or something else.

    Or maybe it’s just my head that swirls :-)

    Shabbat Shalom, my friend!
    Pati

  31. Pati in WA says:

    I don’t know what happened to the quotes…here’s what I was trying to say:

    >>In any event, what has happened here is that a Jewish symbol of great sanctity and significance has been “superceded” by a Christian one that looks similar and is worded in Hebrew.

    I wonder if this has to do with so many coming into MJ from charismatic and evangelical circles where there is little or no appreciation for the sanctity of religious objects or traditions? Having grown up Anglican, then spending some time as an adult in an evangelical church, I felt very uncomfortable with certain aspects of worship and communion that felt a little too…too…”free” of such sanctity.

    Honestly, I don’t understand why anyone would light candles (being a very Jewish practice!) and change aspects of the ritual to suit your own theology. The practice and command to light candles comes from the Oral Torah, right? So if you’re going to one Oral tradition, you should logical do the other! Yeah, I get your point – it’s a form of replacement, and very disrespectful of the Jewish members of a congregation.

    >>I hope you can see my concern about Gentiles “converting” to “Bibilical Judaism”.

    It’s still a “young” movement, which doesn’t even have a coherent theology yet. People are all over the place in belief and practice, and I would be hesitant in calling it “Biblical Judaism” – or anything other than “Messy” :-) The “new perspective on Paul”, repudiation of replacement theology, remnant or promise theologies, new studies of the Judaisms of the second Temple times & early Jewish believers, etc, are still all swirling in the atmosphere and have yet to fall together into something that maybe someday called “Biblical Judaism” or “Apostolic Judaism” or something else.

    Or maybe it’s just my head that swirls :-)

    Shabbat Shalom, my friend!
    Pati

  32. "A Simple Jew" says:

    Patti:

    I wonder if this has to do with so many coming into MJ from charismatic and evangelical circles where there is little or no appreciation for the sanctity of religious objects or traditions? <<<<<<<

    I don’t want to badmouth those traditions. It probably has to do with the confluence of a number of factors. This may be one of them.

    I note that Dan Juster in his recent newsletter has addressed this issue in a positive way and wish to acknowledge this.

    http://www.tikkunministries.org/articles/dj-increase.htm

    However he needs to clarify his position in light of past statements. For instance, what is his position about the intergity of Jewish liturgy? In the past he has argued that emendations to the Shema as a “statement of faith” are obligatory for MJ. Does he still stand by this? It appears so from this statement “Messianic Jewish worship must be full of New Covenant content and must explicitly lift Yeshua up”. I disagree. If in fact Judaism “points to Yeshua” then why do we need to give it a helping hand? The scripture clearly teaches “give no offense to the Jew”.Why give offense gratuitously? It makes no sense.

    In practice what this has led to is a very silly and clumsy insertion about Yeshua into the middle of the Shema in Tikkun congregations and elsewhere. Is this somehow mandatory in order to “lift Yeshua up”? And why the additional line about “love your neighbor as yourself”? Its not in the Shema. Certainly this is a verse near and dear to the rabbis. Why didnt they include it? My view is that it is sheer Chubris ( Jewish Chutzpah + Hellenic Hubris = Chubris, a particular form of arrogance unique to MJ)

    This shows me that the issue is not about logic or theology alone and attempts to discuss and dialogue over these issues alone are not going to bear fruit. One would hope that Dan’s colleagues in the RC and elsewhere will push this issue for clarification and change. Unfortunately, from my experience I have observed mere cosmetics throughout MJ. Not just Tikkun.

    To return to Dan’s article cited above:

    <<<Rather the problem is a lack of familiarity and ease in usage. We too easily dismiss that which requires some effort and learning as unspiritual.<<<<

    Who is “we”? This of course is a trait common to humanity. Including me.However in the context of MJ and the issue we are talking about here, “we” is in large part MJ leadership. Dan is spot on. “Effort and learning” would go a long way. Leaders who dont put forth the minimal effort and learning associated with the title of “rabbi” in the entire rest of the Jewish world should not be prematurely given the title or the teaching authority that goes with it. There needs to be a complete institution wide investigation of the qualifications for leadership in MJ.
    And of course such individuals should also have the demonstrated commitment to Judaism that is expected of a rabbi and it wouldn’t hurt to expect them to be Jews. Then we can begin to talk about what to do about Non Jews.

    <Having grown up Anglican, then spending some time as an adult in an evangelical church, I felt very uncomfortable with certain aspects of worship and communion that felt a little too…too…”free” of such sanctity.<<<<<<

    This is what some of my Anglican and Catholic friends report as well. Can you imagine what would happen to a Catholic Charismatic group that took comparable liberties with the Mass to what Dan advocates for essential Jewish ritual?

    Honestly, I don’t understand why anyone would light candles (being a very Jewish practice!) and change aspects of the ritual to suit your own theology.<<<<<<

    I frankly can’t understand it either. I mean I know the arguments but they make no sense to me. I don’t understand it logically or theologically. Why bother to do it at all? This is one reason that I have more respect for JFJ and the other “Hebrew Christians”. I think them more intellectually honest.

    <<<<The practice and command to light candles comes from the Oral Torah, right? So if you’re going to one Oral tradition, you should logical do the other! <<<<<<<<

    I like your insight into this. And in Judaism there is another factor: The command to light candles is all of a piece with the blessing.

    Yeah, I get your point – it’s a form of replacement, and very disrespectful of the Jewish members of a congregation.<<<>I hope you can see my concern about Gentiles “converting” to “Bibilical Judaism”.

    It’s still a “young” movement, which doesn’t even have a coherent theology yet.<<<<<<<

    I don’t buy this. I have been hearing this for 30 years. If you read Mark Kinzers book you will find that there were MJ’s a long time back who knew something about Judaism and wanted to contribute their insights. One wonders what happened to them. Young movements grow old and tend to preserve their mistakes. They dont evolve and change just on their own.

    People are all over the place in belief and practiceand I would be hesitant in calling it “Biblical Judaism” – or anything other than “Messy”,<<<<<<

    People may be but the institutional leadership isnt. It is interesting to note the bizarre and “messy” heterogeneity within the movement includes just about everything except genuine Judaism. One finds a great deal of spirited discussion about all sorts of nutty ideas. What is out there?: First Fruiters, “Two Horn Covenenters” “Olive Oil Theology” Nevites and Ephraimites and Danites and Caananites <grin

    (Has anybody stood back and noticed how this movement resembles the Mormon Church????)

    In talking to you I am starting to see that non Jews have also been given a “bait and switch”. They may be drawn to MJ hoping for something real and with more substance than the McReligion around them and then they are given this nonsense and told that this was all there was.

    The “new perspective on Paul”, repudiation of replacement theology, remnant or promise theologies, new studies of the Judaisms of the second Temple times & early Jewish believers, etc, are still all swirling in the atmosphere and have yet to fall together into something that maybe someday called “Biblical Judaism” or “Apostolic Judaism” or something else.<<<<<

    These are all interesting and important develoopments. How much they have to do with what is actually happening in MJ remains to be seen.

    Or maybe it’s just my head that swirls<<<<

    No. My head spins whenever I think about this stuff too.

    Shabbat Shalom, my friend!
    Pati<<<<

    Thank you I had a peace Shabbat. Shavua Tov to You.

  33. "A Simple Jew" says:

    Patti:

    I realize that I neglected to provide appropriate references.

    Here are some of pronouncements that Dan has made. Below each I have included the links to his web site for purposes of citation as well as context.

    “When the Sh’ma is sung (“Here O Israel, the Lord our God the Lord is One”) we need to recognize that this is a basic confession of faith. We cannot be new covenantal unless we also add our confession of what we believe about Yeshua:

    http://www.tikkunministries.org/newsletters/dj-sep06.asp

    On being “seeker friendly”:

    http://www.tikkunministries.org/newsletters/dj-dec06.asp

    On rabbinic authority and rabbinic Judaism as a bigger lie than replacement theology Judaism:

    “Rabbinic Judaism is closer to the truth than any religion that does not embrace Yeshua. Judaism also speaks of the love of God and love for one another. However, there are two central lies. One is that the oral law of the rabbis was given by Moses. This gives the classical rabbis absolute authority equal to the Bible.This lie leads to the other lie, that Yeshua is not Messiah and Lord”

    http://www.tikkunministries.org/newsletters/dj-jun05.asp

  34. dishtvdeal says:

    SORRY I DID NOT MAKE MYSELF CLEAR, DEREK. NOT AT ALL BOTHERED by MESSIANIC JEWS LIVING HOW THEY SEE FIT.

    “Charles is a self-described Pentecostal Christian. He is bothered when he sees Messianic Jews living out the Torah and tradition of Israel. To Charles, and most other evangelical Christians, these are obsolete practices.”

    I AM BOTHERED BY BEING TOLD I AM A SECOND RATE CHRISTIAN BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO STUDY THE TORAH ENDLESSLY, MORE THAN I STUDY JESUS, AND THAT I SHOULD BE CHANGING THE DAYS I CELEBRATE SHABAT BECAUSE WE CELEBRATE IT ON THE WRONG DAY. AND IF I DON’T EAT KOSHER, I WILL GO TO THE WRONG SIDE OF THE TRACKS IN HEAVEN. I AM BOTHERED BY PEOPLE LIMITING GOD AND HAVING TO SAY 4TH DAY OF THE WEEK, INSTEAD OF WEDNESDAY BECAUSE WEDNESDAY CAME FROM THE VIKING GOD “WODEN”. GOD IS IN THE REDEMPTION BUSINESS. HE REDEEMS PEOPLE AND TIMES AND DAYS AND SEASONS AND ANYTHING HE HAS A DESIRE TO REDEEM!

    NO AGAIN, DEREK. “I would like to found a new movement called Judaic Christians. Does this already exist?”

    I mean that I have Messianic Judaism thrown at me from all sides. If you are one, praise the Lord and follow your conscience! However since all these things are being pushed on me, I would like to re-emphasize the Christ part and honour the Judaic heritage part.

    We are not talking about watering down the grape juice until it has no taste left!!!

    “there is a kind of immature Messianic Judaism that makes an idol out of Jewish sancta and practices. There are immature groups who seem to worship their shofars and prayer shawls. This is pure silliness and has very little to do with Messianic Judaism proper.”

    YOU GOT THAT ONE RIGHT, DEREK! But is it possible that some could also emphasize the TORAH more than the Lord who is the writer of the Torah?

    “You might as well say, “Evangelical Christians emphasize reading their Bible, witnessing, and worship instead of Jesus.” You might as well say, “Pentecostal Christians emphasize speaking in tongues, spirit-led worship, and reading their Bible instead of Jesus.”

    NOW YOU HAVE REALLY GOT IT DEREK! THEY DO! EVANGELICALS OFTEN DO EMPHASIZE THE WRONG THINGS ABOVE JESUS AND PENTECOSTALS HAVE EMPHASIZED THE GIFTS TOO MUCH INSTEAD OF THE GIVER AND PEOPLE WHO CALL THEMSELVES “MESSIANIC JEWS” EMPHASIZE THE TORAH OVER THE GIVER OF THE TORAH. IS THAT NOT POSSIBLE? BECAUSE IS SEE IT IS. I AM NOT SAYING ALL THE TIME, BUT IT CAN BE OUT OF BALANCE.

    “Charles, you are not (yet) persuaded that God expects Jews to obey Torah. You are persuaded that Torah is obsolete. That is why you cannot see the simple fact: for a Messianic Jew, Judaism is THE way to follow Jesus.”

    NO I DO EXPECT JEWS TO OBEY THE TORAH. And I have never said the Torah is obsolete. I AM SAYING IT CAN BE EMPHASIZED ABOVE THE MESSIAH WHO WAS THE WRITER OF THE TORAH.

    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.”
    (Joh 1:1-3 MKJV)

    And I will NEVER JUDGE you about whether you do or do not. That is NOT MY BUSINESS! That is the business between God and you! And I resent those that judge me as a second-rate Christian because I do not do all those things that to them have become so important.

    To me what is important is what was important to Jesus. He told us to love God with all our hearts and our neighbours as ourselves. He said that ALL THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS ARE HUNG on those two commandments.

    He said that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth. He said that it was VERY IMPORTANT for him to leave, so that the Holy Spirit could come. Why?

    Bless you non-judgmental brothers.

    And bless you judgemental brothers. I hope you learn to be more loving.

    Your misunderstood brother [I’m in good company, aren’t I?]
    Charles

  35. dishtvdeal says:

    Well. I am glad I started this discussion and some people are getting their questions answered.

    Excuse me for being argumentative again. However I think I can call myself Jewish the way Paul talks about it here.

    For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that outwardly in flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart; in spirit and not in letter; whose praise is not from men, but from God.
    (Rom 2:28-29 MKJV)

    I am one inwardly, so I AM JEWISH!!!

    Also, was Abraham a Jew?

    “So that the Law has become a trainer of us until Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But faith coming, we are no longer under a trainer. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many as were baptized into Christ, you put on Christ. There cannot be Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is no male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.”
    (Gal 3:24-29 MKJV)

    A forum is a very good spot to discuss points like here because it allows responses to an individual.

    I can see that I have been GROSSLY misunderstood by most and cannot possibly answer all the misunderstandings, unfortunately which make me into a negative, which I am not.

    Derek, you show some flashes of understanding as at least one other has in this blog. I hope if you read ALL my posts, you will see where I am coming from [and going to!]

    And if you don’t I needn’t worry. My God is in charge of my reputation, not me.

    Brother Charles

  36. A Simple Jew says:

    dishTvdeal/Charles:

    It occurs to me that we are all talking past each other. You have apparantly experienced something negative and it is not clear to me what and where. I think it might help if you would be more specific:

    I mean that I have Messianic Judaism thrown at me from all sides….. However since all these things are being pushed on me<<<

    If you don’t mind, could you share who (no names please) is pushing these things on you? I mean if you are not Jewish, why not just worship in a church where these things are not discussed? I don’t mean to offend you. I just don’t understand why Messianic Judaism is being thrown at you from all sides.

    I AM BOTHERED BY BEING TOLD I AM A SECOND RATE CHRISTIAN BECAUSE ……. I AM BOTHERED BY PEOPLE LIMITING GOD AND HAVING TO SAY 4TH DAY OF THE WEEK, INSTEAD OF WEDNESDAY BECAUSE WEDNESDAY CAME FROM THE VIKING GOD “WODEN”<<<<<<

    Again, I am not clear who told you you were a second rate Christian. This is silly.

    I am bothered by similar things. For instance I have heard that the Hebrew months currently in use are “pagan” and that therefore instead of saying “Tishrei” we must say the “seventh month”. Or that “Rosh Hashannah” isnt the New Year and we must correct the Jewish people on that. Or that Shavuot really should be celebrated on a different day than the day that all of Israel celebrates it. Or that it is wrong to ask G-d for forgiveness on Yom Kippur and one should instead “pray for our people”.

    These are all things I have been told in the congregations I describe. I feel for you. I would hope that there would be more liberty of conscience and practice.

    Be Well

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