Torah, Israel, and the Nations: Part 1

I frequently find myself losing popularity rapidly whenever I broach the subject of non-Jews and their relation to Torah. I will not try to delineate here or summarize the many pseudo-Messianic movements out there that love Torah but think Israel is nothing special. I just know that many people, who are not Jews, come into Messianic Judaism assuming that all of Torah is a requirement for them.

When I tell them this is not true, I am a bad guy, a wet blanket, a loser.

I am starting this series of blog articles to deal with the issues. I will try to be thorough enough not to leave holes. I invite dialogue and debate, BUT I set these conditions:

1. Do not write comments that are too long. Say it in 700 words or less (use a word processor to write and count your words before commenting).
2. Do not try to discuss the entire issue all at once. If we are talking about Genesis 9, non-Jews, and Torah, don’t send me your exegesis of Acts 15.

So, let’s get this thing started.
………………………………………………………………

What role does Torah have in the life of non-Jews in Messianic Judaism today? Are all followers of Jesus obligated to keep the Torah in its entirety? What does God have to say about this?

I begin with the idea that Torah is God’s gift to Israel. Paul said as much: “the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God” (Rom. 3:2).

God is doing something remarkable through Israel that is very obvious at this stage of history. The Great Commission to the nations is winding down. Let me use a term I learned from Rabbi Stuart Dauermann: the Greater Commission to Israel is coming into play more than ever before.

Why does Rabbi Dauermann call it the Greater Commission? Because Paul says in Romans 11:12 that the fulness of Israel is greater. That is, when Israel did not believe, the good news went to the nations. When Israel does believe, the dead will live (Rom. 11:15). The good news to the nations is good news, but the good news to Israel is better news.

Many non-Jews have been attracted to Torah. Some have been attracted to Jewish customs (or even Fiddler on the Roof).

This attraction in many cases is due to a poor reading of the Bible. It is an assumption that God’s commands are the same for everyone: for Israel and non-Israel, for male and female, priest and non-priest, leader and member, etc.

I, as a non-Jew involved in Messianic Judaism, do not want to discourage non-Jews from being part of Messianic Judaism. I want to encourage you to be involved for the right reasons and with the right roles. Be in MJ because you want to join in what God is doing with Israel in these last days. Partner with Israel. Worship alongside the Jewish people, or if you feel called, join with Israel. Do not, however, usurp Israel’s place. A non-Jew’s place in MJ is alongside the Jewish people, not in some sort of becoming or replacing Israel.

In this series, I will try to persuade of the Jewish view of Torah: it is God’s covenant with Israel. Much in the Torah applies universally, but not all. Some of Torah commands are Jewish identity markers, God’s signs of Israel’s unique place. The Torah itself teaches this.

If you are a non-Jew and you claim to keep Torah, do you keep the parts of Torah that distinguish the nations from Israel?

In this series I will consider the following (and perhaps more as well):

1. Genesis 9 says that the nations may eat all moving things (yes, even bacon!).
2. Exodus 12:48 says that circumcision is optional for even a Sojourner living in Israel (much less a non-Jew living in Roswell).
3. Exodus 31:13 says the Sabbath is a sign between Israel and God (not a universal command).
4. Deuteronomy 14:21 says that a Jew may sell unclean meat to a Sojourner living in Israel. Thus, the dietary law is not God’s requirement for non-Jews.
5. The one law for native and sojourner cannot mean the same relationship to Torah because Torah specifically says it does not.
6. In the Age to Come non-Jews will keep Torah with Israel (cf. Isa. 56), but that is not yet a requirement.
7. Acts 15 declares that non-Jews do not need to live as Jews. It specifically says circumcision and Torah-observance are not laid on the nations.
8. Acts 15:21 does not overturn the message of the rest of the chapter.
9. Romans 14 distinguishes between Jews and non-Jews, warning non-Jews not to belittle Jews for keeping God’s commands.
10. Galatians severely rebukes anyone who tries to compel non-Jews to live as Jews.

About Derek Leman

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

30 Responses to Torah, Israel, and the Nations: Part 1

  1. tookshire says:

    I rarely comment on anyone’s blog (I’m just like that). How I found your blog, I don’t recall…but I’ve been reading for a little under a month via bloglines. I look forward to reading your series. I am a non-Jew and while I’ve been encouraged to take on some of the Jewish customs not necessarily from scripture itself, the idea of doing so leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Personally, and this is just me personally, I see that akin (some, not all) to playing dress-up and wonder if that just promotes the negatives of any non-Jew who takes on Torah. There may be more of a value to it than is to me apparent. Yet, I will say that one of the big things that I think is off with some of it is that it, in my opinion, only serves the non-Jewish believer to being accused of attempting to dupe the Jewish non-believer. Does that make sense?

    I will admit that while I have tried to follow and incorporate what I would come to know as a Messianic lifestyle, I was without the benefit of a like-minded community…and so have fumbled along through studies in scripture and prayer. I get stronger and wiser as I continue to study and continue to apply, though I will not say that I have cornered the market on knowledge. I don’t know if I’ll participate in your future discussions, as likely I’ll be too elementery compared to what you are used to; however and again, I’ll look forward to reading.

    The very basic, first for me was my diet, so I’ll only approach your #1. The reason I do think that those things designated as food (or kosher) are for both, is because the knowledge of what was kosher and what was not was given pre-Noah (or at least pre-flood). While I understand Gen 9 has “every moving thing” as a precursor for food, I always understood it to mean with the understanding of the Gen 7 and Gen 8 depiction that there are fit animals and unfit (not for consumption)…basically, the thought for me in not dividing 7 & 8 from 9 was just because one can consume something doesn’t mean that it is food, so perhaps 9 was given in respect to the context of 7 & 8?

  2. Tookshire:

    Could it be? A fellow Tolkien fan? Read LOTR six times long before the movie came out. Would very much like to live in the Shire.

    Your argument about Gen 7 and 8 being integrated with Gen 9 is one that came up just this Shabbat in our Torah School. One of our members said, “When God told Noah all moving things were permitted as food, he meant only clean foods. The unclean things were not even considered food.”

    I have also heard that argument from Seventh Day Adventists.

    That interpretation fails every test of meaning. Noah just got off an ark with every moving thing on board. Then God says it is ALL permitted as food. There is no way to reasonably respect the conext and say, “Actually God did not mean every moving thing, but every moving thing that also happens to be clean.”

    As for the clean/unclean distinction being known to Noah, it is true. The text does not tell us how Noah knew. I would assume God taught it to him. The purpose of the distinction at that point was for offering sacrifices. Noah sacrificed only clean animals but he was told he could eat any he liked. Even bacon.

    Later, God told Israel not to eat any animals except a short list of clean ones. As I will argue in this series, that was a command to Israel to be different from the nations. It is not a universal law.

    Derek

  3. tookshire says:

    Derek,
    Hmmm. I’ll have to think upon that, because that obviously was what mentally the “other side of the argument” long ago in my mind. At some point I settled to the practice that I follow however and since I no longer have qualms, I’m not sure if there was something that cinched it for me. I think the -what would the proper word be- concept of one of the nations following after God (purposely, specifically)…would that, in your understanding, change things? I do agree that there are things that are kept specifically for Israel, but I think that there are some basics that the non-Jewish individual were supposed to follow, and then as they “grew” underneath the teaching, for lack of a better term, some (not all) of these things would be taken upon them as well. I think this is where you briefly asked us to refrain from Acts, if I understand. Or am I misunderstanding?

    Just for clarification when reading you further in this series, when you use the term “universal law” you are addressing “universe” to encompass believers and non-believers no matter their genetic or spiritual heritage? As I would agree with that definition, then about eating. If you mean “universe” to only address believers, no matter their genetic or spiritual heritage, I’d like to know. Not because it supports my own understanding, but simply would like to follow your reasoning more clearly. When I’m speaking of dietary laws/purpose, I’m only addressing believers in God (with or without Messiah), btw, and only those laws detailed within scripture. (And, I don’t know how to work this into the conversation, but I do not believe that, and feel it important to confess it, a gentile who believes in Messiah is a “spiritual Jew” – so I don’t think that upon belief that they can claim all things Israel.

    Yes! I am a fellow Tolkien fan, and have a particular fondness for the history of the Took clan. I must confess, the lure of a shire life is an endearing call.

    Peace.

  4. tookshire says:

    Ach! I meant to add/ask something else, but forgot. I’m not truly buying into the Noah-was-a-vegetarian thing, and I don’t think that that is a vital part of any conversation dealing with this except to address the point of ALL green herbs also being given as food. Now, wouldn’t that, the context being food, naturally negate then those things which are green herbs but toxic…in other words, things not defined as food and therefore understood by Noah (post-flood) just as the argument of meat (kosher vs. not fit)? I know you feel that you’ve knocked this out already, and therefore this might seem a little elementary to you…but I had to ask.
    Thanks again.

  5. dishtvdeal says:

    Derek

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You have given me extra meat [kosher that is (:-)>] to understand what is required of a non-Jew. That is the conclusion I came to myself after reading only what the Bible has to say about the torah. My Jewish Roots group is at http://groups.google.com/group/jewish-roots?hl=en if anyone is interested in joining. I am NOT an expert but after 64 years, about 42 of which I have been a born-again believer, 2 years of formal Bible school training and LOTS OF BIBLE READING and reading about the Bible in general. The biggest problem seems to come when people read somebody’s else’s ideas and then look up the scriptures and lo and behold, the guy is “right” sets in without reading the New Testament or Old Testament as a whole. Forget the books, forget the tapes, just read the Bible! And when I do I have come to the same conclusions, so far, as you have. Makes me feel good all over!

    I love Israel and when my wife and I went there in November 2006, I felt like this was ‘home’. I felt that if I we did not have aging parents who needed our help from time to time and even yes, grown-up kids who also need our help, that I could just stay there and do what I could to resemble Jesus to the Jews.

    -Charles

  6. dishtvdeal says:

    Please excuse my sentence fragments above. I meant to say after all that time and study, even tho not an expert, I have learned a few things. And I am looking forward to learning more from you Derek.

    AND LORD OF THE RINGS IS MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIE! [and my wife’s also] I love the line “Some things are worth dying for!” At least something like that. The first time I heard that was when there was a couple of rape-murders of teenage girls in the Niagara Peninsula, Canada where we live. The rapist-murderer, Paul Bernardo, video-taped his victims being asked to do sexually perverted things for his pleasure. On the video, Kristen French, a 15-year old beautiful young schoolgirl was being asked to do these perverted things and threatened with death. Her answer, “SOME THINGS ARE WORTH DYING FOR”.

    I hope it never comes to that but if our society gets to the place we are asked to renounce our faith or die, I am praying that my answer would be the same, “SOME THINGS ARE WORTH DYING FOR”

    I guess that is Messianic since I work for a Jewish carpenter, Jesus!
    -Charles

  7. Nathan says:

    Perhaps we can make a distinction between the cleanliness of certain things for certain purposes. For example a poisonous mushroom is unclean to eat because it may kill you, but it is not necessarily unclean to look at or touch. Poison Ivy on the other hand is unclean to touch, depending on your body’s defense mechanism. But some people can in fact touch it and not react. Of course when God said that all green herbs are given us for food, we inevitably found that certain herbs were better then others. We make those distinctions because they taste bad, or cause us to get sick. Similarly when all meat is given to Noach as food, he might fashion to some rather then others. There are many grubs and critters and sea creatures that will kill you and make you very sick if you eat them just like the herbs. But interestingly enough billions of people love bacon. In fact I’ve seen in Central America along with beans and corn pork makes up the majority if not in some places all of their protein based diet.
    Perhaps the cleanliness Noach knows is of a different nature entirely. Not one inherent in the animal itself, which one would think would make the animal poisonous, but one imputed to it by a commandment of God for reasons that may be beyond our understanding. At this time this commandments were, as far as the text reveals, distinctions in sacrificial practice. It makes sense then that those regulations ordained by God in the sacrificial realm would become interwoven into the most intimate fleshy-ness of the Israeli (his diet) As God separated him out from the rest of the people’s, making them a nation of priests…
    (However the Rabbis I think tend to impose a full knowledge of Torah to the patriarchs. That they studied it and followed all the holidays etc., before it was given.)
    Also.. I’m thinking that if their was a universal cleanliness then that would mean that people were made unclean by what they ate and thus that they could become clean by what they ate or didn’t eat. But we know that this is not true. If a bilateral ecclesiology is in fact true, then God would have to choose things to make the distinction in the body, which are not inherent or universal, lest we say the two are not equal in God’ eyes and then seek to unite the two bodies. Perhaps, so that neither of us Covent, God allows the Gentile to eat and enjoy bacon for His sake, and He allows me to abstain from bacon for His sake. Otherwise we can no longer have Jew and gentile, but gentile and gentile or Jew and Jew….
    Only this made possible by the overwhelming grace and love in our Father as made known to us through Messiah.
    Thanks for this topic Derek. I’ll be very interested to see how it plays out.
    In messiah,
    Nathan

  8. Pati in WA says:

    So gentile believers are not of Israel?

  9. Pati:

    That is correct. The idea that Christians are Israel is the definition of replacement theology.

    In Romans 11, non-Jews are grafted onto the olive tree of Israel as wild branches. There is a distinction between wild and natural branches. I have an apple tree in my yard with some branches that produce red and some green apples. The green branch will never become red and vice-versa.

    People have spread so much confusion about what it means for a non-Jew to be a child of Abraham or grafted in or included in the commonwealth of Israel. These terms do not mean the distinction is erased.

    Derek

  10. Kara says:

    I found it interesting that God told Noah to bring 7 pairs of every clean thing on board and only one female and male of the unclean things. So when God told Noah to eat any living thing, Noah would know to only eat the clean animals or else he would be killing off a whole speices. Just a thought. Also I was wondering if all Gentiles in the early days, like in Abraham’s time, were considered the people who did not believe in God. Are there accounts in the Bible, pre-Jesus, in which a person did believe in God and not convert so to say, to Judism?

  11. Kara:

    You asked if there are accounts in the Bible in which non-Jews came to the God of Israel without converting.

    Yes, I immediately think of Naaman the Syrian. Elijah had a widow friend in Zarephath. Yeshua mentioned her as another example when he said, “In truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:25-27).

    Derek

  12. A Simple Jew says:

    Derek

    Yes, I immediately think of Naaman the Syrian<<<<

    Interesting that you mention this especially in light of the NC citation. I wasnt sure how the Christian world viewed this issue.

    I recall a good friend of mine and of the Jewish people who was a gentile of the mission mind set who has since gone to be with Hashem who differently. When I used to say to him that I thought it a bit unfair for Hashem to single out the Jews of the last 2000 years to have to betray their people and their covenant in order to escape eternal fire he argued that in the prior dispensation a similar state existed for non Jews.

    Naamean did not have to betray his people in order to be accepted by Hashem in this instance. Is it the Christian view that Naaman the Syrian was an “OT Saint” however? Do they regard him as potentially “saved”? I have never heard this before and would be interested to know.

  13. Karen Eoriatti says:

    Keep talking. I am learning so much….
    Praise HIS name

  14. David Niles says:

    Derek, Shalom to you in Jesus our Messiah. I have explored your blog and find you are very knowledgable in Torah, Jewish Roots, ete,ete. You know your stuff, for sure. I have to disagree with the role of Torah /Law within a beleiver’s life. The Torah was a “tutor” to bring us to Messiah (Gal 3:25-27). We are justified by faith.(Hebrews 11:5-6) The word used in Greek for tutor is “pedigogus”, which means a “schoolmaster”. The role of a schoolmaster during Shau’l'(Paul) time was to take a child to school, and that was it. That is how we are with Y”shua, he is our Teacher/Rabbi now, not the Torah. Should we study the Torah, YES,YES,and YES. But, we are not justified by quote “keeping the Torah”. I know that most Messianics will disagree with me, and I understand. I don’t regard them as any less brothers or sisters in the Lord for it, and I hope the likewise.
    Blessings
    David. 2Cor 5:17

  15. No one here is claiming we are justified by Torah. Justification (salvation) is by faith. But, there is stuff to do beyond salvation. There is sanctification — being made ready for use by God. This happens via a willingness to learn God’s Torah (teaching) and start to live by it.

    Yeshua is a teacher, yes. But what does He teach? A close examination of what He taught as recorded in the Gospels shows He taught TORAH, and why and how to keep it. This is not surprising, since He is Who gave us the Torah to begin with!

  16. Gene Shlomovich says:

    David Niles… you said:

    “But, we are not justified by quote “keeping the Torah”.”

    David, please read this blog more carefully, and you’ll see that all Messianic believe that they are justified by faith in Yeshua and His sacrifice, not by keeping of Torah. If we believed that Torah justified us and not Yeshua ONLY, than you can’t and shouldn’t regard as brothers because that would mean that WE, Messianic Jews, try to get into “Heaven” by our own works – like every other un-Godly religion out there. Fortunately, we believe that we are justified by Yeshua’s sacrifice alone. The Law for us Messianic Jews is a matter of obedience. The closest example for you would be when you got baptized or when you practice Communion – you don’t do this to be “saved”, but out of obedience to Yeshua’s command, correct? So, the same is with us Messianic Jews.

    I hope that helps.

    Shalom,

    Gene

  17. Shalom Bayit says:

    Gene:

    Good point. For Jews,the outward manifestation of the regeneration that produces inward righteousness should look like…

    …. Judaism.

    And MJ should be getting about the business of making this easier instesd of all these side issues which are not in “Jewish Space” at all.

  18. Shalom Bayit says:

    Gene:

    Good point. For Jews,the outward manifestation of the regeneration that produces inward righteousness should look

    like…

    …. Judaism.

    And MJ should be getting about the business of making this easier instesd of all these side issues which are not in “Jewish Space” at all

  19. Shalom Bayit:

    Let’s back up a minute here. Your indignation that someone in MJ (namely me) devoted a series of six posts to Gentiles and their place in MJ is overstated.

    What are you so offended about?

    Hey, Gentiles are people too. And many Gentiles are in MJ. So excuse us if we spend a little time trying to decide how to handle a matter involving real human beings with real needs and real issues.

    You want a pure, Jewish MJ? Go start a new movement. Meanwhile the shepherds of the current movement need to deal with issues of identity that exist, not dream of some purist utopia.

    I’m sure you noticed I’m trying to turn a big ship around. Cut me a little slack, would ya?

    Derek

  20. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Derek…

    Personally, I have enjoyed the fact that you have decided to take on the Gentiles in the MJ issue head on. I don’t view this as a time wasted thing. We need to educate both the Gentiles and (as I found out by conversing with people such as Adam and Dan) the Jews regarding this sore point. We HAVE TO talk about this at length.

    Shalom Bayit – even if there opens another MJ organization that will address the issues that you have a problem with in the current system, the Gentiles (especially the Two-House and the One-Law ones) will stream into your new found movement ALSO, just like they’ve done in the MJAA and UMJC places. They will claim to be Israelites with the same rights as yours, and will accuse you for being an anti-gentile if you make an issue.

    When that happens then, how are you going to handle them in your organization? You know that this same thing will happen in your ideal MJ congregation also – that’s why we need to discuss this.

    I give Derek a lot of credit for no shying away from this. He’s looking out for us Jews – and that’s more than I can say for a lot of native-born Jews here. Yes, Gentiles are people too and they are our brothers in Yeshua. The One-Law and the Two-House ones are deceived or misinformed. We need to educate people regarding what’s acceptable and profitable for them and us.

    Shalom all,

    Gene

  21. Shalom Bayit says:

    Derek

    Its your blog. I want referring to this thread or this blog when I referred to MJ.

    Gene

    As I wrote to Derek its not about an ideal movement. Its about the reality of Jews brought into MJ by the missions outreach who are the prime responsibility of MJ as a whole. As for the scenario you describe I personally think it less likely to happen in a group of Jews living out their covenental responsibilities in a strong Jewish environment. Have you considered that it may be the anti Jewish bias of MJ leadership which left the vacuum for the non Jews to behave in the manner you describe?

    I think looking at the question you asked me earlier is moe likely to get us where we need to go.

    Just my observation.

  22. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Shalom Bayit

    You said: “Its about the reality of Jews brought into MJ by the missions outreach who are the prime responsibility of MJ as a whole.”

    It’s not perfect, but isn’t it great that our Jewish brothers and sisters are being presented with the Good News of Yeshua? Think how far we’ve come from the HCAA days when Torah observance even for Jews was unthinkable! Who knows how MJAA and UCMJ will look years from now. We have to believe that G-d is the one working to bring about changes in the Jewish part of the Body these days. I know that He has been working in me personally, totally changing my thinking in the last few years.

    Speaking of Jewish obligations and traditions of our fathers – what’s your take on the fact that most of the Messianic Jewish congregations in Israel are so non-traditional, with many (but not all, of course) having what could be more aptly described as evangelical church services than traditional schul services. Most don’t even have a Torah scroll. However, many of them, do keep kosher, circumcise their sons, celebrate the Jewish feasts, have mezuzah on their door posts, don’t refer to themselves as Christians but only as Messianic Jews, and raise their children as Jews.

    You said: “As for the scenario you describe I personally think it less likely to happen in a group of Jews living out their covenental responsibilities in a strong Jewish environment.”

    But what if does happen (which I am pretty sure it will)? What are you going to do? Let say there’s One-Law gentile comes in with full Jewish regalia into your synagogue and demands to be accepted as a Jew, what action will you take? (not a rhetorical question).

    “Have you considered that it may be the anti Jewish bias of MJ leadership which left the vacuum for the non Jews to behave in the manner you describe?”

    Yes, I agree that many of the MJ leadership comes from church background, with Bible College Master of Divinity degrees, and years as pastors of churches. I do believe that they are partly responsible for allowing these things to occur unchecked in the MJ. However, I hope that with a new generation of Messianic Jews who didn’t group up in a church environment, this issue would be not be so frequent.

    I also believe that the Two-House and the One-Law movements will die out or will be as marginalized as the British Israelism is now (from hence they came.)

    Shalom…

    Gene

  23. elisheva says:

    Derek:

    I dont have a problem with you showing gentiles there roles in MJ.
    I have a real problem with gentiles that are in MJ that use some of these roles to be wannabe Jews.
    You will probally never really understand it, but the almighty made a difference between jew and gentile for a reason. Unfortunately most gentiles in the MJ movement just wont accept this and want more.
    Iam wondering if when you have finished your conversion process if you will be thinking differently about Jews in the MJ movement.
    You know Observant Jewish believers dont have alot of places to go worship but gentile wannabes do.
    So Iam not so sad that gentiles are having real needs and real issues fitting into the MJ world. What about us jews, who are not accepted into the jewish community with our faith in Yeshua. We as jewish beleivers have a real needs and issues.

  24. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Elisheva… I agree with you… it’s hard to feel sad and sorry for a majority that has plenty of options. It’s even harder to feel sorry for a majority that wants to claim full rights to MJ congregations, to Judaism, to our traditions and even our very identity, while accusing us of second-class treatment and even outright “anti-gentilism” to boot (small tip: look up the word “anti-gentilism” on google and see what kind of sites will pop-up!).

    Perhaps Derek will soon start writing on our “Jews in MJ” issues, now that he has already written extensively about the Gentiles issues in the past month (and we all participated in dissecting and discussing these issues to the fullest, at least I have).

    Shalom…

    Gene

  25. Hanoch says:

    Gene commented about congregations in Israel:

    “… most of the Messianic Jewish congregations in Israel are so non-traditional, with many (but not all, of course) having what could be more aptly described as evangelical church services than traditional schul services. Most don’t even have a Torah scroll. However, many of them, do keep kosher, circumcise their sons, celebrate the Jewish feasts, have mezuzah on their door posts, don’t refer to themselves as Christians but only as Messianic Jews, and raise their children as Jews.”
    ———

    I will offer comments as someone who’s been in Israel for nearly 20 years. Please weigh it as one person’s view.

    At an individual level lots of things are much easier to observe living in Israel: kashrut, haggim, mezuzot, brit for children, public transportation ceases on Shabbat and haggim, there are many mikva’ot all over so women can purify every month, etc., etc.

    Congregational participation is different. Most everyone in the Jewish population in Israel knows that if you are religiously observant then you don’t travel on Shabbat, much less in vehicles. Read the Torah were tzit-tzit were commanded to Israel immediately after someone was put to death for breaking Shabbat. So in Israel if you do travel in a car on Shabbat you are considered “lo dati” (not observant) by the Jewish population, and if you drive through a haredi neighborhood you will be stoned.

    From what I know most believers in Yeshua do not live close to a neighborhood congregation. So, by traveling on Shabbat, they are outside the prevailing norm of Jewish religious observance. To travel on Shabbat wearing a kippah would be ridiculous. To travel on Shabbat in order to go to a service with a Torah scroll would also be a major contradiction to normative Jewish observance here in Israel, though there are those who do.

    There are tiny Reform and Conservative movements in Israel. But the typical Israeli, even if he calls himself “hil’o’nee” (secular), will go to an Orthodox beit kenesset, or the Rabbinute, for brit, marriage, and burial, not to a Reform or Conservative congregation, much less a congregation of what they call “Yeshu’eem.”

    Believers in Israel know mohelim who will perform a brit and officially register the child as Jewish. Believers who want to marry either go to the Rabbinute, or find a rabbi who will marry them, or go out of the country. A ceremony in a congregation is not recognized by the government. Some believers have two marriages, one in their congregation before heaven, and another at the Rabbinute before the authorities to be registered as a Jewish couple.

    So, because of the difficulties arising from faith-related ostracism, I get the impression that having a Torah scroll (and hence congregational observance) compounds the difficulty of congregational life. Plus a Torah scroll is not cheap, nor is proper care easy.

    Then too, many of Israelis who come to faith in Israel are not from “dati” backgrounds (though some are) and thus are not so familiar with congregational life. Plus their dramatic change in life by faith in Messiah Yeshua was not the result of “works of righteousness” (including synagogue life) but by hearing the Good News. So for some people congregational life is not important at all.

    There are also some congregations that seek to be as far different from “rabbinical” Judaism as possible. Indeed a prominent leader of one of the larger congregations published a book a few years ago with the oxymoronic title, “Judaism is Not Jewish.” It raised something of a stir among believers in Israel. You can read a review at Amazon by Michael Tuval, with whom I’m acquainted, who refuted it.

    http://www.amazon.ca/Judaism-Not-Jewish-Baruch-Maoz/dp/1857927877

    Hanoch

  26. Shalom Bayit says:

    Gene:

    Who knows how MJAA and UCMJ will look years from now.<<<

    This is what they told me 30 years ago.Guess what ? They pretty much look the same when one considers the aggregate. My central theme here is that things do not usually evolve on their own for the better.

    what’s your take on the fact that most of the Messianic Jewish congregations in Israel are so non-traditional<<<

    This is a question deserving of much discussion. Obviously the simplest answer is a difference in culture. I know you are familiar with the political and cultural implications of being observant in Israel that are not applicable in the diaspora. I suspect that this well known fact has been seized upon by the missions groups who think that they understand this very complex phenomenon and have decided to exploit it.

    You said: “As for the scenario you describe I personally think it less likely to happen in a group of Jews living out their covenental responsibilities in a strong Jewish environment.”

    But what if does happen (which I am pretty sure it will)? <<<<

    What if it does? If there is a congregation of the sort I describe they will not be capable of doing much damage. The problem now is that Jewish identity in MJ has been so eviscerated by the Dan Justers and the MJAA and the like that as I said it created a vacuum where this kind of narishkeit can flourish. MJ leaders dialogue endlessly with these “olive oil” “four law” salesmen but have no patience for Jews who wish to be Jewish .These have been marginalized and marked out as troublemakers from the start. Please see my references.

    What are you going to do?<<<<

    Let say there’s One-Law gentile comes in with full Jewish regalia into your synagogue and demands to be accepted as a Jew, what action will you take? (not a rhetorical question).<<<<

    First of all this is unrealistic. MJ leadership is unlikely to allow someone like myself to attain to ordination. Secondly my first question is what this individual wants to do and what harm it might do to the community. And if that harm might not be far outweighed by having a community which is actively encouraging MJ’s to have a positive view of their tradition and their people. Who knows? Perhaps these non Jews will have a positive impact on the Jews. Will they be wanting to observe normative Jewish practice or will they want to set up their own Halacha and dictate practice to Jews? It makes a big difference. Frankly I think that the Justers are a lot more harmful.

    “Have you considered that it may be the anti Jewish bias of MJ leadership which left the vacuum for the non Jews to behave in the manner you describe?”

    Yes, I agree that many of the MJ leadership comes from church background, with Bible College Master of Divinity degrees, and years as pastors of churches. I do believe that they are partly responsible for allowing these things to occur unchecked in the MJ.<<<<<

    You make it sound like this was a passive phenomenon. IDEAS MATTER. Read what these people believe. If you set up a system of “rabbis” who present themself as superior to the Jewish community in interpreting Jewish practice simply on the grounds that they are “spiritual authorities” in Christianity, why shouldnt the non Jews follow suit? Furthermore Jews who knew something about Judiasm were precisely the people “leadership” selected against.

    Read Dan and others carefully. They made a decision a long time ago to distance themselves from Jewish tradition and regard what the RC and others are doing as retrograde.

    However, I hope that with a new generation of Messianic Jews who didn’t group up in a church environment, this issue would be not be so frequent.<<<<<

    Why should you expect that this should be true? Do you think that the older generation is not trying to replicate itself? You come from the former Soviet Union! Does your knowledge of history tell you that powerful people sit back and allow their ideas and their power to slip away just because a new generation comes along?What historical precedent is there for THAT? What does the phrase the “withering away of the state” connote to you?

    These things ONLY happen when there is deliberation and institutionalization of change. And this requires a careful and honest analysis of how the problem came to be. Not a rosy prediction about how the future is just going to arrive.
    I also believe that the Two-House and the One-Law movements will die out or will be as marginalized as the British Israelism is now (from hence they<<<<

    I think so too. So if they are going to die out, why not just let them?

  27. Shalom Bayit says:

    Elisheva:

    What about us jews, who are not accepted into the jewish community with our faith in Yeshua.<<<

    This is the Shanda. Jews were brought into this movement with the promise that they would be able to be “completed” or “better” Jews in a “Torah Positive” environment. There has been a bait and switch. Current MJ leadership including many promiment members of the RC were part of this process and cannot abdicate their responsibility for this population simply because of demographics.

  28. Shalom Bayit says:

    Elisheva, Derek, Gene:

    addendum:

    Jews were brought into this movement with the promise that they would be able to be “completed” or “better” Jews in a “Torah Positive” environment. <<<

    And I might add that many answered this call taking serious risks and causing great pain to their families of origin.

    The RC rabbis including “Rabbi Rich” and yes even my friend Stuart were among those who were part and parcel of the process that was responsible for this. \\\

    “Ooops” is not an option. The needs of those targets of previous efforts for evangelism mandate that they take priority. If people want to start to change the nature and the demographic of the movement fine. Let them be honest about it and be clear that it isnt Jewish. And let the Jews off the hook to return to their communities and their families.

  29. Shalom Bayit says:

    Correction:

    The needs of those targets of previous efforts for evangelism mandate that they take priority.<<<

    Sorry. I meant to say that the fact that the Jews were the targets of the previous efforts of evangelism mandates that their needs take priority.

  30. Pingback: Rereading on Torah and Gentiles « Messianic Jewish Musings

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