Torah, Israel, and the Nations: Part 2

This is a series investigating the relationship of Torah to Israel and to non-Jews. I am defending the unpopular view of Judaism, that Torah was given to Israel and certain commands in Torah are Jewish identity markers, not for non-Jews to take over. I am also a proponent of non-Jews coming alongside or joining with Israel in worship. I advocate both distinction and inclusion in MJ.

I expect many to disagree. Growth in theology will never happen, however, if we do not think. Let my people think, I say. Have you held to a certain position for years? Are you convinced that non-Jews in Messiah become “spiritual Jews” and Torah is given now to you as well as to Israel? I want to persuade you otherwise.
……………………………………………………………….

Beginning our investigation of the Torah and non-Jews, we turn to God’s command to the father of all the nations, including Israel: Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless. R. Yokhanan said, “Noah was blameless only in his age.” In other words, Noah was only righteous by comparison with his wicked generation. Resh Lakish said, “He was righteous even in his age; how much more would he have been righteous in other ages.” In other words, in a wicked generation it is harder to be righteous, not easier. Ezekiel seemed to take Noah’s righteousness as fact (Ezek. 14:14).

The issue of Noah’s righteousness is important to what I am going to say. God told Noah something was permissible that many in MJ and various Hebrew Roots groups are saying is not permissible.

God said:

Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. (Genesis 9:3-4).

Consider the simple facts:
1. Noah is the father of the nations.
2. God told Noah it was permissible to eat any animal.
3. Any animal includes pigs, shrimp, lobsters, and hippopotamuses.

Later, God told Israel:

You shall not make yourselves detestable with any swarming thing that swarms, and you shall not defile yourselves with them, and become unclean through them. For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. (Leviticus 11:43-44).

Many people assume that:
1. God was changing what he had said in Genesis 9.
2. That pigs, once fine for a righteous man to eat, are now bad for a righteous man to eat.
3. The Torah is a standard of holiness that all followers of Yeshua should attain to, Jew and non-Jew.

Could we possibly consider the idea that God gave Torah to Israel and called for Israel to be unique and different? Could we assume from the context of Torah itself that pig is great for a non-Jew but forbidden for a Jew?

Here are some of the arguments I have heard against this interpretation and my responses:

ARGUMENT: God gave the dietary laws for health reasons.
REBUTTAL: This is the view of people who have not thought carefully. Beef is often unhealthy. Carp, which is kosher, is no cleaner an animal than catfish, which is not kosher. The view of Judaism is that the dietary laws are not primarily about health, but about a command for Israel to be different. I commend the study of Jewish sources on this.

ARGUMENT: Noah only had one pair of each unclean animal on the ark. If he ate them, that animal would be extinct. He must have understood God to mean he could only eat clean animals.
REBUTTAL: God was giving a principle for the future, not necessarily for right at that moment. “All moving things” cannot mean “all moving things except 95% of the animal world which is forbidden to you.”

ARGUMENT: Noah already knew the clean-unclean distinction, as evidenced in the text, so he understood God to mean he would only eat clean animals.
REBUTTAL: The clean-unclean distinction at that point had only to do with sacrificing, not with eating. Again, “all moving things” cannot mean “all moving things except 95% of the animal world which is forbidden to you.”

ARGUMENT: Some animals are inedible, therefore God could not have meant it is acceptable to eat all things.
REBUTTAL: Common sense should rule here. Pigs are edible.

ARGUMENT: Once Yeshua came, it became incumbent on the followers of Yeshua to imitate him in lifestyle. Thus, while pagans may be permitted to eat pig, Yeshua’s followers, Jewish or not, must follow him in abstaining.
REBUTTAL: This argument sounds good. It sounds just like the people who said, in Acts 15, that it is necessary for non-Jews to be circumcised and keep the Torah of Moses. The apostles pointed to Amos 9:12, which says God accepts Gentiles as Gentiles. They ruled that circumcision and Torah-observance (meaning the Jewish identity markers of Torah) are not required for non-Jews. We will dissect Acts 15 later in this series.

ARGUMENT: Eating animals like pigs may have been permissible but not for a person following God.
REBUTTAL: Noah was a righteous man, blameless. God had not problem with a righteous man eating pig or rattlesnake.

Genesis 9:3 is a strong challenge to the Torah-revival movement that would seek to turn non-Jews into Torah-keepers. It will not do to conveniently change phrases in the Bible in order to maintain a failing theology. “All moving things” cannot simply be read as “all moving things that are clean according to Leviticus 11.” There are many moving things but only a few permitted for Israel. The small number of species that are kosher cannot in any sense be deemed all moving things.

Noah, a righteous man, was told eating pig, shrimp, and oyster stew was fine. If some non-Jews want to worship alongside Israel or, like me, join with Israel through conversion, then keeping the dietary law is a fine choice. Let’s not keep it for the wrong reasons or look down on our brothers and sisters from the nations who, in righteousness, enjoy God’s full bounty from the earth.

About Derek Leman

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

37 Responses to Torah, Israel, and the Nations: Part 2

  1. Nathan says:

    Derek, This might be premature in your discussion, but you addressed it in the end of your last post. This might be the most controversial subject “but” I’m hoping you’ll address the relationship of the Gentile who chooses to worship along side, but not to convert to MJ and Torah.
    Would you say that it is right for a non-Jew to keep a law, by choice not obligation, which is specifically designed to make and hold a distinction between the Jew and non-Jew? It is a conundrum… because on the one hand, we have gentiles in the Torah who keep Torah, but do not (or perhaps cannot?) really convert….And how can one say “no?” … But on the other hand is not taking on something given by God as the quintessential identification of Israel, Identifying in an intimate and personal way with Israel and thus on par with conversion? Does not putting on a Tallit Katan say, “I am Israel?” Then does saying no to pork (for Torah reasons) say, “I am Israel?” So is it right then to say “I am Israel” without first making a covenant and binding yourself to her? (Conversion) Perhaps it is like Sex before marriage…doing married things before verbally and outwardly making a covenant of marriage with your partner….

    MJ and MG have to worship together and should, and at the same time maintain those two distinct bodies, so that it does not become a blur…Or worse become smothered in ambiguity… for our sake and for the sake of the Greater Jewish community… What do you think?
    Forgive me if you do not intend to go here in your discussion as of yet….
    With all Love in messiah,
    Nathan

  2. tookshire says:

    I agree with Nathan. As one who agrees with you that a Gentile is not a spiritual Jew and that not 100% of God’s Law demands or even includes them, I’m not one that agrees with the assumptions (as I think I see it?) that 0% of the Law is for a believing Gentile. While we can address and pick apart any given commandment, there is no starting off point other than your stand that Position A is wrong and Position B is right. My agreement with Nathan is that your comment caught my thoughts as needing a more clear definition about the relationship with the Gentile who chooses to worship along side, but not to convert to MJ and Torah. Another commentor asked briefly if believing Gentiles were a part of Israel. As I mentioned earlier, I do not believe this to be true…but I believe that even among those Gentiles who believe themselves to be Messianic, that this is a claim often heard. Your answer I think would more clearly help if expounded on. Even though I’m in disagreement with you over the dietary issue, I think that grasping your basic building blocks for the relationship would prove beneficial to me.

  3. tookshire says:

    edit: My phrasing 0% of the Law is, I understand, too grand or harsh a statement. I’m not being literal. Sorry about that.

  4. A Simple Jew says:

    Tookshire:
    I hope as well that I am not off topic here. However I am led from your question to remark that I find this interest on the part of non Jews in keeping the Torah without themselves becoming Jews somewhat perplexing. I can’t understand the motivation, given that I have a Jewish perspective on the Torah.

    You speak of people observing Torah commandments by choice and not by obligation. Jewish law understands this concept and allows for distinctions between people. For instance in non egalitarian traditions, women are freed from the obligation to do time dependent commandments but Jewish men are obligated. Does this mean that Judaism regards men as superior spiritually? Many traditional commentators argue no. . In fact it is frequently opined that this as a sign that women are superior spiritually.

    Having said that, Judaism does teach that obedience to a commandment that is required is more important than obedience to a commandment because it is pleasing or logical. ( See BT Avodah Zorah 3a)

    Therefore are you talking about non Jews taking on the obligation of absolute obedience to all the Torah? If so then how is that different from becoming Jewish
    Jewish Halacha is clear. Righteous Noachides are not required to keep kosher. If this is so, why would one want to take on a heavier burden? Is it possible that such people have not thought the consequences of their decision through?

    BTW I too am a Tokien fan. And would like to spend some time in the Shire perhaps hoisting a few “L’chaims”.

  5. Nathan says:

    Simple Jew, I think you are on to something. At the same time, there are many many gentiles who seem drawn in very profound ways to Israel (and thus to Israel’s Torah) The danger here is that one will assume that Israel’s Torah is in fact better spiritually then their own relationship to yeshua or, on the same plain of thought, required of non-Jews who believe in Yeshua. (Which Derek is doing a good job proving is not true)
    Both of these are another version of replacement theology, just in the reverse.
    Even so, their still remains many gentiles who, understanding this, still feel compelled to follow Israel’s Torah. Some are in fact more “Jewish” then many Jews I know. This has to be a possibility. In fact, so many Jews converted to Catholicism during times of persecution, or assimilated to gentile society over the past 1800 years or so that it is likely that we have millions of Jews in the church that don’t know they are Jewish. Also a gentile might be marrying into a Jewish home. Or just feel God calling him or her to identify with Israel.
    There has to be a place for gentiles who like to keep some Torah traditions but don’t fully identify with Israel. But the danger is that the messianic synagogue becomes a place where gentiles go so they can keep Torah for the wrong reasons—such as thinking it is just an early or historic kind of church. If not a church, then a synagogue which is more like the 1sst century. But in reality we are nothing like the first century and nor should we be. (It’s 2007, not 0001) We have 2000 years of tradition under our belts and a mission to identify with, live with and as and love Jews. The Jews of today.

    So if a gentile comes to MJ (for a home, not for a visit) should he not come because he feels a deep love and intimacy with Israel? And not only Messianic Israel but also all Jews? Should he not feel comfortable fellowshipping at a conservative Jewish oneg? And if he truly loves the Jews then wouldn’t he want to do everything he could to preserve the 12 million or so Jews left?
    It seems to me so hurtful and trivializing to all Jews especially messianics, to take the things that God deemed the essential elements of Jewish Identity and use them for anything short of taking on that identity. And what messages does it send to your brothers in the church? That they aren’t on your par because you walk around in a yamaka and abstain from the ham in your neighbors fellowship supper? And if you love the Jews and yet do not feel compelled to take on that yoke in full, then help the Jews to live as Jews, distinct from the nations and distinct from yourself. For He says the first will be last and the last will be first” That is the glory of God.

    To put on a tallis is to openly take on everything that Israel is. It’s taking on Israel’s rejection of Messiah. It’s taking on Israel’s burden of the Holocaust. Its like saying “I was there during the exodus.” “I was there at Sinai” “ I built the golden calf” “I stood with Moshe as he pleaded with God for my people.”
    “I was there when He washed our feet”
    “I was there yelling, ‘crucify him!”

    There is more that goes into this then just biblical exegesis. We are a live people in a living history. It isn’t only what these things meant in the bible. It is that AND all that they mean now. Putting some string on a four-cornered garment is ridiculous. Who care’s right? And yet it the word of God. What does it mean to remember anyway? Remember what? The commandments of God? To remember who you are. What you are.
    How can you remember if you aren’t?

    Please forgive the pointed tone of my post. It is general to be sure and meant in love in our beloved Messiach Yeshua. And Derek, please continue with the part 3 and on. You’ve got much ground to cover here…

  6. Menachem says:

    Nathan:

    I couldnt have said this better myself. I dont know why you are apologizing. I feel sympathy for the types of non Jews you describe. However should this really be the top priority for the MJ movement? I think not. I certainly respect Derek’s right to set the agenda for his blog. However I really dont “have a dog in this fight” and am a bit blase about the outcome of the discussion. There is an inordinate amount of space and time devoted to this subject elsewhere and I think it indicative of serious dysfunction in the movement that it takes up so much of our thinking.

    What about the JEWS? What should their role be? ( I say theirs rather than “ours” because I myself have dropped out of MJ and refuse to participate because there is no place within the movement that I can see that a Jew can fulfill their covenantal responsibilities.) As I have demonstrated, Jews who wish to live as Jews are probably the most marginalized group within MJ.

    . But in reality we are nothing like the first century and nor should we be. (It’s 2007, not 0001) We have 2000 years of tradition under our belts and a mission to identify with, live with and as and love Jews. The Jews of today.<<<<<

    Exactly. And what is our role if we are to be “ohev Yisrael”?

    So if a gentile comes to MJ (for a home, not for a visit) should he not come because he feels a deep love and intimacy with Israel? And not only Messianic Israel but also all Jews? Should he not feel comfortable fellowshipping at a conservative Jewish oneg? And if he truly loves the Jews then wouldn’t he want to do everything he could to preserve the 12 million or so Jews left?<<<<<<

    Yes to all of the above. However as I point out, why come to MJ for a home if he/she wants to do the above? MJ institutions are not prepared to provide for these things. I recommend to non Jews who want to express these things that they seek out Jewish institutions to affiliate with those to find this expression.

    It seems to me so hurtful and trivializing to all Jews especially messianics, to take the things that God deemed the essential elements of Jewish Identity and use them for anything short of taking on that identity.<<<<<<

    I agree. But I can’t blame the non Jew in the pew. I think they have been scapegoated. The responsibility for this rests squarely with MJ “leadership”.

    And what messages does it send to your brothers in the church? That they aren’t on your par because you walk around in a yamaka and abstain from the ham in your neighbors fellowship supper? And if you love the Jews and yet do not feel compelled to take on that yoke in full, then help the Jews to live as Jews, distinct from the nations and distinct from yourself. For He says the first will be last and the last will be first” That is the glory of God. <<<<<<

    What you are talking about here is “Christian Zionism”. It has an honorable pedigree. I think it should be encouraged. Unfortunately MJ leadership has had an interest in blurring this significance and pushing for their own acceptance in these circles. I am by concerned about what this might mean for a group of people who are now important for Jewish survival.

    To put on a tallis is to openly take on everything that Israel is. It’s taking on Israel’s rejection of Messiah. It’s taking on Israel’s burden of the Holocaust. Its like saying “I was there during the exodus.” “I was there at Sinai” “ I built the golden calf” “I stood with Moshe as he pleaded with God for my people.”
    “I was there when He washed our feet”
    “I was there yelling, ‘crucify him!” <<<<<<<<<

    Well said.

    There is more that goes into this then just biblical exegesis. We are a live people in a living history. It isn’t only what these things meant in the bible. It is that AND all that they mean now. Putting some string on a four-cornered garment is ridiculous. Who care’s right? And yet it the word of God. What does it mean to remember anyway? Remember what? The commandments of God? To remember who you are. What you are.
    How can you remember if you aren’t? <<<<

    Well said. The rememberance includes more than just “Biblical Judaism”. It includes full identification with all of our people and all of its history. Which means we need to be careful about who MJ defines as Jewish and who it allows to have the title of “rabbi”.

    When I read Derek describe his happy experiences with the Sukkah I am struck with the fact that with all due respect, he does not realize the enormous weight involved and the downside of normative Jewish life. I wouldnt trade it for the world but it is only those who are not Jewish who do not understand the tremendous sacrifice involved. I sense that he is looking for something authentic but I fear that until and unless the Jews in the movement first define themselves that this conversion process is going to be part of the bait and switch that I talked about before.

    Please forgive the pointed tone of my post. It is general to be sure and meant in love in our beloved Messiach Yeshua. And Derek, please continue with the part 3 and on. You’ve got much ground to cover here…

  7. A Simple Jew says:

    Nathan

    I apologize. I used my former “blog identity” to respond to your post. Under either name, I appreciate what you wrote and look forward to your response.

    Menachem

  8. A Simple Jew says:

    And yet it the word of God. What does it mean to remember anyway? Remember what? The commandments of God? To remember who you are. What you are.
    How can you remember if you aren’t?<<<<

    This says it all.

  9. Simple Jew:

    Iam a jewish believer that can totally relate to how you feel about the MJ movment.
    The jews will never be able to define MJ, so like you iam leaving the MJ movement.
    I would like to pick you brain on other issues as a believer but not on this blog , please send me your e-mail if you wish.

    Thank you

    Elisheva

  10. Well, if every Jew gives up in disgust and puts Messianic Judaism under the ban then it will be impossible to become a Jewish movement.

    I’m sorry that some cannot see the great thing MJ will become. It is inevitable. The remnant of Israel in the last days will not be perfect, but will be a Jewish remnant. Of that I am sure.

    I would want to be on board for what is coming.

    Derek

  11. "A Simple Jew" says:

    Elisheva:

    Iam a jewish believer that can totally relate to how you feel about the MJ movment.<<<

    Baruch Hashem.

    The jews will never be able to define MJ, so like you iam leaving the MJ movement.<<<<<<

    I think it important for Derek and others to define what we mean by this. At least for me the issue is not an ethnic one. I am not saying that because of the demographic and the presence of non Jews we should leave. That would be unfortunate. I certainly have nothing against non Jews.

    The problem is institutional. The movements leadership has an investment in and a relationship to the institutions of the Church ( not the ‘ecclesia’) that I think is intrinsically corrupting. The problem is wholesale and not amenable to the types of solutions I see being put forth. I certainly do not have a problem with people like Derek.

    I would like to pick you brain on other issues as a believer but not on this blog , please send me your e-mail if you wish.<<<<

    Be happy to. I assume that the above is your e mail address?

  12. "A Simple Jew" says:

    Derek:

    Well, if every Jew gives up in disgust<<<<<<<

    This is unlikely to happen. As someone once said you CAN fool some of the people ALL of the time. You just cant fool all of the people all of the time. However I do think that the types of Jews who will stay in MJ will not be the type of people that would move it in the direction you desire.

    Lets put the responsibility where it belongs: These Jews are being systematically selected for by MJ leadership.( See my post on “Growing to Maturity”) Jews who care about Judaism are not welcome Derek. Its not our fault that we read the “keep out” sign and after years of denial give these folks what they want.

    and puts Messianic Judaism under the ban then it will be impossible to become a Jewish movement.<<<<<<

    This is hardly our fault.We don’t run it, it isn’t our movement and we are unlikely to have much influence. That is what I am saying and I think what Elisheva is saying. Furthermore, at least speaking for myself I cant in good conscience participate. If Stuart Dauerman is right ( and I think he is) and if Jews have covenant responsibilities to Torah and Israel then they need to spend their time and efforts elsewhere. I find it ironic that Mike Brown was raising the concern that PMMJ would lead Jews down the slippery slope to leave MJ. On the contrary, if it were a reality it would be the only thing that would keep some of us in. Unfortunately it is a theory and an untested one at that.

    I’m sorry that some cannot see the great thing MJ will become. It is inevitable. <<<<<

    I think your heart is in the right place. Howver I have been around a bit more and I have my doubts. I see no signs that those in charge are any more willing to give ground than any other invested bureacracy.

    What is the evidence that you base your statement on? I havent observed any of these things. I’d like to be humble and even to be proven wrong. But I dont think I am.

    I would want to be on board for what is coming.<<<<

    I dont think its going to be possible to duck! The world is changing rapidly and we will be here. I am just not sure what role MJ institutions will play in any of this.

  13. Nathan says:

    Well-said Derek. Thank you Simple Jew for your praise. All of us agree here more then we disagree, but of course the nature of these things is to find out where we disagree:-)

    MJ is so new. It’s taken 30 years to get out of the church world and now it seems that a very small, but growing fraction of this movement is doing just what you are seeking. I say this with love. The most important thing to remember is that if you are a Jew and you believe in the messiah, then MJ is NOT here for you, but you are here FOR it. You ARE Messianic Judaism.
    We are on the cutting edge. Just what you were seeking Simple Jew is actually in the process of happening. The Messianic Jewish Rabbinical council is forming Helakhic standards for Messianic Jewish observance and life that I believe will cause quite a stir. We now have a rigorous conversion process and substantial rabbinical ordination procedure, that competes with mainstream Judaism. The ideas Stuart D and Mark Kinzer put forth are slowly becoming a reality in MJ.

    Gentiles are very important to the matter, I think, because the reason MJ flounders about in Jewish life is because of a lack of learning. It was founded by Jewish Christians who over time realized that they needed to come out of the church. They struggled with their identity for some time and the only knowledge of Jewish life they had was a Jewish star and a shofar. They didn’t even know when to blow it! (And some still don’t)
    Remember God’s works aren’t always the blink of an eye. It makes sense that this movement has to start slowly, gradually gaining further understanding.
    What seems to me essential for MJ is that it make its primary home Judaism and Jewish learning. It is essential that people start learning from a Jewish perspective, so that every future leader is not the fruit of a Christian seminary. Ideally this Jewish learning has to be possible within the movement. That’s why MJTI (Messianic Jewish Theological Institute) is so important. If you really want to help MJ go to school there. Its fantastic.
    Where do gentiles fit in? Well if gentiles come out of the church to connect to their Jewish roots, or to keep Torah and find MJ they will inevitably bring a Christian perspective with them, and thus try to impose that perspective on the congregation— Especially if the gentiles outweigh the Jews. Thus the future life and consistency of the Jews in MJ is dependent on their relationship to the gentiles. We can’t kick gentiles out, that’s not very loving or right. They are our brothers. But maybe the solution is to keep those boundaries very strictly. The only way to progress in the Jewishness of MJ is to find a way to fit the gentiles in (as wanted and welcome) without taking away from that focus and love.
    I believe MJ is so essential to God’s plan for the restoration of Israel to Messiah. We can’t just create a new one with a different name. It will have the same problems, if not others. I can see that it might seem tempting to say “I’m outa here,” but if some leaders do build a bridge or at least try to build one, as they are doing and no one steps up to walk across it the then it is all in vein. If you belong to Messiah and you belong to Israel then everything that you are is over that bridge. We need to walk it. Don’t think of it as an institution. It’s not. Think of it as your jewish brothers and sisters struggling to come together and figure out what God’s will is for us.

    Yeshua is right in the heart of Non-believing Judaism. I believe that. But to forsake MJ right now and in this time is, as much forsaking messiah as going into the church would be forsaking your Judaism.

    With Love in Him.
    Nathan

  14. elisheva says:

    simple jew:

    That is my old e-mail address.
    I would rather not put my e-mail address on this blog, if you send me your e-mail you will see what mine is when I write to you

    Thanks

    Elisheva

  15. A Simple Jew says:

    Nathan

    I share your sentients but not you analysis. Yes Stuart and Mark have done groudbreaking work. No the RC and MJTI have not done what is advertised. I think part of our problem is misreading our history. The leaders of the movement made a deliberate choice to prevent the separation from the church world that you desribe. On the contrary they strategized to link their leadership woth the church. They regard a move toward Judiasm as a step back. The leadership that has a strangleholdon MJ institutions has not changed their view nor their determination to see that only cosmetic changes are made. Read my citations of Dan Juster and take him at his word.. Ideas matter.

    As for the RC their Halacha as described at their site makes no distinction between Juster and Judaism. It is far from earthshaking and unlikely to challenge current MJ practice as written. It is also not clear on what they based important rulings that are unique to them. The smell of a smoked filled room that cannot stand public scrutiny is too close to other aspects of MJ life foe my comfort. Based on what I read there is no assurance that either RC or MJTI will not become hopelessly politicized to cater to the current MJ and church leadership. There is money and power at stake as well as careers. I see no sign that either of these institutions is functioning free of the orbit of the old guard. I therefore do not see how there is room for Jews within this framework and hardly see how we have a responsibility to it.

    Look forward to your thoughts.

  16. A Simple Jew says:

    Elisheva

    Hmmm. I dont want to post my address either as I value my privacy. I give Derek permission to pass my address on to you privately if he is so inclined to help. I have a junk mail filter so please put something in the subject line.

    Look forward to hearing from you.

  17. elisheva says:

    A simple Jew:

    Derek doesnt know me to give your e-mail to me privately. So I guess our conversation ends here.

    Elisheva

  18. "A Simple Jew" says:

    Nathan:

    nature of these things is to find out where we disagree<<<

    Of course. Dispute for the sake of heaven is a mitzvah in Judaism. If we all agreed we would be… at the Tikkun website. (sorry)

    MJ is so new. It’s taken 30 years to get out of the church world and now it seems that a very small, but growing fraction of this movement is doing just what you are seeking. I say this with love. The most important thing to remember is that if you are a Jew and you believe in the messiah, then MJ is NOT here for you, but you are here FOR it. .<<<<<<

    Is this a call to service? Ask not what your country can do for you etc etc? That only applies if there is an avenue for being constructive and productive. I dont see where it applies at least in my locale. Again, please reference my citations and address the difficulties raised previously. People with views like mine are simply not welcome. No matter how polite and deferential we are to the leadership.

    You ARE Messianic Judaism<<<<<

    At least in my locale I am far from being MJ. In point of fact the leadership often castigates people like me for wanting to be served rather than to serve. I am very sensitive to this charge and while one can always learn, I think it unfounded. If that were true then that attitude would carry over to Judaism where I am quite content to see what I can do to quitely worship in my minyan and build up my local community without challenging the rabbis authority.
    One also wonders why this is levelled against Jews and not against the masses of people who are misuing Judaism in the congregation. Is the question of “service” one to be determined by majority rule or fiat from “apostles”? Why should our devotion to Hashem be judged by our willingness to violate Jewish norms?

    Nathan, I am not upset with you. I am simply tired of seeing this rhetoric used for 30 years by people who have no right to say the things that they are saying. I have observed this movement for these thirty years and have yet to see this change. The small fraction you refer to ( as to whether growing I will withold judgement)tends to be in isolated and has little influence anywhere around here. Some of them I consider good friends. When I do talk to them about these issues they remind me repeatedly that they are small and with limited influence.

    We are on the cutting edge. Just what you were seeking Simple Jew is actually in the process of happening. The Messianic Jewish Rabbinical council is forming Helakhic standards for Messianic Jewish observance and life that I believe will cause quite a stir.<<<<<<<

    They may cause a stir due to the hype that is generated within this movement. In fact they are quite tame and will probably not be much of a challenge. (Tefillin once a WEEK??) It was my understanding originally that they were going to follow Conservative Jewish Halacha. In many key areas I fail to see that they have done this. One is left wondering why.

    We now have a rigorous conversion process and substantial rabbinical ordination procedure, that competes with mainstream Judaism. The ideas Stuart D and Mark Kinzer put forth are slowly becoming a reality in MJ. <<<<<

    As to whether the conversion process is rigorous I defer to you. I have my doubts based on what I have seen so far in other areas that I have pointed to. And as for the rabbinic ordination process, that should be publically observable. Where is it that one can reference that? Have you seen a table that compares it to that in any branch of mainstreat Judaism? Will they allow the current crop of “rabbis” to “grandfather” in? I predict that they will not be able to stand up to the pressure to do so.

    And what happens if and when the RC does begin to demonstrate some influence? I predict that those “rabbis” will pressure the RC to put them on the council. These “rabbis” will then be making “Halacha” along with Mark and Stuart. What happens if Dan Juster wants himself and his “apostolic stream” on the RC? Would anyone dare say no? (And how would any of us know if this has not happened already?)

    This is how organizations become “coopted”. It has happened to others before and it can happen again. Stuart is a charismatic leader and Mark is a brilliant scholar. However generations change and I cant see any institutional protections to see to it that their vision is preserved. Either in RC or MJTI or anywhere else in the movement.

    Gentiles are very important to the matter, I think, because the reason MJ flounders about in Jewish life is because of a lack of learning.<<<<<<<<<<

    I dont agree. MJ flounders because of a lack of direction backbone and integrity at the top. And a lack of interest in things Jewish.

    It was founded by Jewish Christians who over time realized that they needed to come out of the church.<<<<<<<<<

    As I pointed out above, I dont think this is quite accurate. Read Mark Kinzers book. There were MJs a long time ago who had the vision of a Jewish MJ. What happened to them? I dont know, but as I recall there was a power struggle a while back and the folks who advocated what you believe in lost.

    During the period I observed, the tendancy was to get into the church not out of it. Again, you need to read the statements of the leadership of that generation and take it seriously. I remember quite well in the 70’s and 80’s that there was quite a push on for leaders to get church training as a sign of “maturity”. Recent comments by several of these leaders express concern that issues that were regarded as “settled” by them years ago not be raised again for question.

    Furthermore it still is true that at least in the major ministries ( Jonathan Bernis, MJAA, Tikkun etc ) linkage with the institutional church helps to guide who is considered a leader and an authority.

    They struggled with their identity for some time and the only knowledge of Jewish life they had was a Jewish star and a shofar. They didn’t even know when to blow it! (And some still don’t)<<<<<<<

    (And really dont care! That is the essential point. Those that cared to find out differently did.)

    What seems to me essential for MJ is that it make its primary home Judaism and Jewish learning. …….Ideally this Jewish learning has to be possible within the movement. That’s why MJTI (Messianic Jewish Theological Institute) is so important.<<<<<<<<<<

    I understand that Carl Kinbar is taking a larger role at MJTI.That is a positive sign. However in order for someone to get into the “Rabbinic Track” at MJTI they have to be recommended by an EXISTING congregational leader. The local MJ congregation here is “in submission to” Tikkun. Do you really suppose that Tikkun congregationtional leaders will recommend the “super Jews” that Dan Juster takes to task in “Growing to Maturity”? (see the citation elsewhere on this blog and comment) I doubt it.

    If you really want to help MJ go to school there. Its fantastic.<<<<<<<<

    There are some good classes and I have audited a few. However as I pointed out, one has to be “approved” to be part of the program that makes a difference. And it is not a Yeshiva.

    Where do gentiles fit in? Well if gentiles come out of the church to connect to their Jewish roots, or to keep Torah and find MJ they will inevitably bring a Christian perspective with them, and thus try to impose that perspective on the congregation— Especially if the gentiles outweigh the Jews.<<<<<<<<<<

    As I pointed out it is the type of non Jews and the type of Jews involved. And who is encouraged to participate in the community decisions and who is marginalized. Again, you need to read and take seriously what current leadership says and does.

    Thus the future life and consistency of the Jews in MJ is dependent on their relationship to the gentiles. We can’t kick gentiles out, that’s not very loving or right.<<<<<<<<<

    I agree with you on this. Has anyone talked about kicking them out in this thread? I really dont have a problem with the non Jew in the pew.

    They are our brothers. But maybe the solution is to keep those boundaries very strictly. The only way to progress in the Jewishness of MJ is to find a way to fit the gentiles in (as wanted and welcome) without taking away from that focus and love.<<<<<<<<

    I actually think this is a simple matter once the leadership issue is addressed.

    I believe MJ is so essential to God’s plan for the restoration of Israel to Messiah. We can’t just create a new one with a different name. It will have the same problems, if not others.<<<<<<<<<<

    I am not sure what you mean by this. Hashem can do what he wants and doesnt need any particular organization. As to whether the same problems exist, I think that is a question of how it is structured. Obviously others will occur, but if an organization is built that has the proper boundries as to who is a Jew and who is a rabbi then obviously the same problems will not recur.

    Conservative Judaism has its own internal debates and problems. The traditional wing is battling the egalitarian wing for example. However the issues of speaking in tongues or the “five fold ministry” is not on their agenda. This is because they are not defined as Jewish problems and the movers and shakers in Conservative Judaism consider these as problems for others to address for themselves and not for Jews. They just are not interested (except perhaps as intellectual exercises) in these questions.

    Likewise, I can envision an organization in which the agenda of the “First Fruiters, “Two Horn theologists” “Olive oil housers” “Ephraemites, Nevites, Daanites, Caananites” etc are just not on the table because noone is interested. Why is there no similar organization for Jews within MJ? The answer is because MJ is not a Jewish movement.

    I can see that it might seem tempting to say “I’m outa here,” but if some leaders do build a bridge or at least try to build one, as they are doing and no one steps up to walk across it the then it is all in vein.<<<<<<<<

    You will pardon me if I hesitate to walk on a “virtual cyber bridge” and build my Jewish life on that. What happens to a Jew in MJ who G-d forbid needs a minyan to say Kaddish for a relative? Something one thinks about as one grows older and wiser.

    If you belong to Messiah and you belong to Israel then everything that you are is over that bridge. We need to walk it. Don’t think of it as an institution. It’s not.<<<<<<<<

    Of course its an institution. How can anyone deny this?

    Think of it as your jewish brothers and sisters struggling to come together and figure out what God’s will is for us<<<<

    If I saw people around me, of Jewish background struggling to find Hashems will I would of course join them as I dont claim to know it either. This isnt happening anywhere close to me and I just have to take your word that it is happening close to you. The people I know seem pretty confident that they know the will of Hashem. Again, please read what I have cited elsewhere. Its a matter of public record.

    Yeshua is right in the heart of Non-believing Judaism. I believe that. But to forsake MJ right now and in this time is, as much forsaking messiah as going into the church would be forsaking your Judaism<<<<<<<

    Frankly I think the person who goes into the church makes a decison with more integrity than the person who stays within MJ as it is currently consituted. You make it sound as if someone has a choice between “MJ, Judaism and the church”. I have argued that the choice doesnt exist. There is no “Judaism” in MJ. Its a false choice. I would be happy to be persuaded otherwise but so far I fail to see anyone address the points I raised that tell me otherwise.

  19. Nathan says:

    I wrote this before I read your last post, so forgive me for not addressing the topics you raised last. However, I can say that I believe you that it isn’t happening near you. But where I am, MJ is a Jewish movement for sure, and I seem to have found myself immersed in it from the beginning. Perhaps I have the benefit of not being in the movement as long as you have. It was surprising to me when I went to a MJAA/UMJC congregation for the first time that was not Jewish at all. It also angered me. But having a ring of support around me of Jews living and practicing what we are advocating with the identity of MJ as a given, has I supposed helped me to see the larger picture as a work in progress. Here’s my previous response:

    Simple Jew, I do think I understand where you are coming from. However I do not share your pessimism. We have to realize the leaps and bounds when they are there. The only way for this council to succeed is by having MJs who are willing to say yes to them. Otherwise we put our hand in their face and say “your not gonna be able to do that,” so don’t even bother….

    <<<>>>

    All things that are true always seem to be full of paradoxes. My wife and I are one, and yet we’re two… One and yet Two. I like the paradox in Exodus. The Israelites “walked on dry land in the sea.” Now that’s impossible. But it’s true. If MJ were to separate herself from her gentile brothers and sisters (the church) it would be a disaster. We would be cutting off one of our most intimate fruit barring limbs. And yet if MJ IS the church then she’s separated herself from her Jewish Brethren, which is equally as disastrous.

    It’s distinction for relationship, Not separation for divorce.

    It is a delicate balance that we have to navigate through. We are in one sense the link the church has to the Jews. On the other the link the Jews have to the church. And yet we are not in the middle. The only way for both of those two to happen is if we are home with the Jews, yet intimately connected to the church. Otherwise the church cannot connect to the Jews through us and the Jews cannot connect to the church through us. I think our leaders are being very wise to be cautious of injuring their relationship to the church— taking a slow mature course to achieve the above results without injuring loved ones on both sides.
    We can have a trajectory, which is not at all where we are, and it has to be OK. If we were to suddenly make jump ahead we’d alienate most of the people who aren’t there spiritually and theologically yet. And then imagine how the council will be described? Does “they want us all to be orthodox Jews,” sound familiar to another discussion that happened here? Extremes are never the long-term approach. But gentleness, patience and love.

    We as Jews need to sacrifice and be a part of who we are. I know it sounds like nationalism, but I’m trying to bring out the place outside of the institution. Jews who believe in the Messiah. Messiah Jews, hence Messianic Jews. If we come together it has to form an institution. It goes to the human level. It has to. And aren’t all human endeavors are inevitably corrupt. Has there ever been one that isn’t? If anyone says that theirs isn’t corrupt (individual, or corporate) then they are probably much more corrupt. Start a new movement and see if you get a week without corruption.
    The important thing is that we can have a net of accountability for our leaders. We need people like you to be watching and taking a part. The reason why it seems like a “smoky room” is because we don’t have enough Jews who are in fact trying.
    The leaders (however few) have paved the way for the next generation to come and make these things happen. Maybe they’ve made mistakes, but look at where they are coming out of! 1800 years or so of supercessionistic anti-Semitism. All the way to PMMJ!

    <<<>>>

    First off, these rulings are not stone tablets. What does the conservative, or Reform traditions base its rulings on? They have a bases because a large number of Jews follow them. Same with the Orthodox. If they try to set a new standard and no one follows it, then it is not a standard is it? The rulings will be based on those of us who take them seriously. In our culture we are so afraid of authority. Perhaps because of so much hurt. But that wasn’t yeshua’s take.

    Perhaps if our true Authority is God, then allowing ourselves to be under another authority for His sake can’t really hurt us.

    Something I saw in the last New England UMJC conference last spring was the integrity of our trajectory. At my wedding, Rabbi Nichol made a lasting impression on part of the Jewish community in Knoxville. One conservative Jew was amazed at how Honest he was in regard to his beliefs and the MJ movement.

    It is happening. We just have to have the eyes to see it, and the heart to explore it. I think Rabbi Derek’s congregation is a good example of this happening slowly and steadily from the inside out. That’s the only way it can happen. Ruach Israel in MA is in that direction also. There are Others are also but I haven’t visited.

    Remember: gentleness, patience and enduring love are what really work in the long run, not abrupt, unthought out extremes. We have to realize that there are Jews in the Movement now who will never be observant or care about it. And we cannot judge them. Yet at the same time work with ever increasing care to bring out what MJ should be, WITHOUT alienating those Jews who will never want to be Jewish. That’s the paradox we navigate through. Much davening about it is required.
    Yours in Messiah,
    Nathan

  20. Nathan says:

    It seems that the computer lost the phrases I was responding to in the <<>>>. So you’ll have to guess:-) Also the Italics were courtesy of my computer as well and have no meaning.
    –Nathan

  21. A Simple Jew says:

    Nathan:

    I will try to keep this brief per Dereks request:

    Otherwise we put our hand in their face and say “your not gonna be able to do that,” so don’t even bother<<<<

    Is that how your read what I said? I believe the opposite to be true. Do you want me to elaborate?

    If MJ were to separate herself from her gentile brothers and sisters (the church) it would be a disaster<<<<<

    I think that it is helpful if we could define what we mean by “the Church”. The church could mean non Jewish people or it could mean the institutions of the church. I think that for most protestants there is a difference?

    It’s distinction for relationship, Not separation for divorce.<<<<

    Right with you.

    yet intimately connected to the church. Otherwise the church cannot connect to the Jews through us and the Jews cannot connect to the church through us. <<<<<<

    MJ does a very poor job of representing the Jewish community to the church. The Mel Gibson fiasco is a case in point. Christian Zionists who support Israel are fully capable of talking to true Jewish leaders.

    Does “they want us all to be orthodox Jews,” sound familiar to another discussion that happened here?<<<<<<<<

    Yes. And I think it silly. Does you want to seriously discuss this point with me?

    Start a new movement and see if you get a week without corruption.<<<

    Agreed. However given that this is human nature, it hardly pays to build a structure that allows incentives for the type of corruption we are talking about. Remember, given the demographics MJ’s in a given area don’t have much choice. They are pretty much at the mercy of local leadership. This gives a lot of power to people who might not have it in other contexts. I mean one can always go to the next Baptist Church or Conservative Synagogue if the leadership in one place is out of line. This isn’t true in MJ. And if you are arguing that the default option for an MJ who wants to live according to the will of Hashem is participation in their local MJ congregation then……

    The important thing is that we can have a net of accountability for our leaders.<<<<<<

    Tikkun and the other apostolic networksa are supposed to BE accountability nets. They don’t work as advertised precisely because in the absence of a shared moral tradition there is nothing to be accountable to except people.

    And as you point out people are fallible.

    The reason why it seems like a “smoky room” is because we don’t have enough Jews who are in fact trying.<<<<<<

    I disagree. Our efforts are not welcome. Again, please reference my citations..

    What does the conservative, or Reform traditions base its rulings on?<<<<<<<<

    These traditions have public conclaves that discuss these issues in great detail before they come to a conclusion. Take the Conservative movements decision to ordain women. as an example. This occurred before the internet age and yet one can search online and find out a lot more about this than about what went into the RC’s deliberations I cant find anywhere where these key matters were opened for public viewing or discussion. How did they decide for example to make the criteria for Jewishness so broad? Do you know where to go to find the answer? I know I was never asked. Their web site doesn’t have a place where one can comment like we do here.

    In our culture we are so afraid of authority. <<<<<

    Many people would say that the best of the American tradition involved a suspicion of all man made authority. I believe that this is a biblical point of view. ( review your comments above about corruption being common to all human institutions)

    Perhaps if our true Authority is God, then allowing ourselves to be under another authority for His sake can’t really hurt us. <<<<<.

    Don’t you think he holds us accountable for who we choose to“submit” ourselves to?

  22. A Simple Jew says:

    Nathan:

    If we were to suddenly make jump ahead we’d alienate most of the people who aren’t there spiritually and theologically yet<<<<<

    I have news for you. There is no “yet”. Its on their agenda to be alienated because they dont want to listen. These people will distort what the RC is saying no matter how gently you frame it.

    What the RC should be worried about more is alienating Jewish people. Why do you suppose that this isnt given higher priority???

  23. A Simple Jew says:

    Nathan:

    We have to realize that there are Jews in the Movement now who will never be observant or care about it. And we cannot judge them.<<<<<

    As a matter of fact, Stuart would disagree with you on this . He has blogged on this frequently. There is a Jewish tradition of responsibility for our fellow Jews.

    Having said that, I dont consider myself in a position to judge any individual Jews or their level of observance.

    What I see from long observation is that it is the non observant who are doing the judging and who attempt to dictate to others how they should behave. Again, please reference my citations.

  24. Hanoch says:

    Shalom to all,

    I’ve browsed a number of topics you’ve discussed Derek, as well as subsequent discussions. Congratulations on your efforts to ensure that believers from the nations understand they do not supplant either Israel or the remnant of Israel.

    By your leave, I thought I’d post a link to an online book that reconsiders the initial Messianic proclamation of the Good News in a more Jewish light.

    http://www.benkeshet.com

    The conclusion reached is that “Christian baptism” is a gravely flawed concept that contributes in no small way to a replacement attitude. The Messianic water rite described in New Covenant scripture was never the initiation rite of the Church. Rather it was the promised purification of Israel from Ezekiel 36:25 in immediate anticipation of Israel’s Messianic Kingdom and applies to Jewish believers only. The book shows that typical modern teachings of “mikveh, immersion and proselyte baptism” cannot account for the enormous Messianic impact John had on Israel.

    The episode with Cornelius in Acts 10 is carefully reviewed in context, i.e. with Jewish believers dreading defilement. The water baptism performed there was not “Christian” initiation but Jewish purification. Acts 11:16 is the flash of revelation to Jewish believers that all defilements are now purified before God in a way far beyond the rituals of Israel, including the latest and greatest Messianic ritual announced by John.

    To sum up in a tiny nutshell, contrary to Christian belief Matthew 28:19 does not speak of water, does not establish a new universal Christian water baptism, nor does it supplant John’s rite to Israel. Rather it is Messiah’s command to Jewish apostles to “purify” idol-worshipping first-century gentiles by a true knowledge of the living God. On the other hand the promise of Ezekiel 36, initiated by John, is still part of the Good News for Jewish believers and ought to be recognized as such by all, Jew and Gentile.

    Best regards to all.

    Hanoch

  25. "A Simple Jew" says:

    Elisheva:

    I feel badly but apparantly we wont be able to talk. It sounds as if you need some support in your decision. I suggest writing to Stuart Dauerman who has always been of great help and support to me. If BTW I were to have to choose someone in MJ to unconditionally “submit to” he would be at the top of my list.

    Be Well

  26. elisheva says:

    A simple Jew:

    I would really like to talk with you, Iam going to take the chance and put my e-mail on this blog.

    lelisheva@yahoo.com

    Elisheva

  27. Nathan says:

    Simple Jew, I cannot address every point in your last letter. But so much to say that I am seeing the difficulty of a virtual conversation because we are both not fully understanding the other. Much is lost in the text and we’ve both miss-heard many comments. I’ll try to see if I can break it down.
    When I say the church I mean the entire body of gentile believers and all her denominations that have separated from Jewish identity, and are supported by a long tradition, which is distinct from the Jews. (I’m not making a distinction now between protestant and Catholic, etc.) I am thinking this includes those identifying as Hebrew Christians. (This could be problematic so please correct me if I’ve got these wrong)
    When I say Judaism I’m referring to all current and past denominations of Jews, home and in Diaspora, including Messianic Judaism.
    I see MJ as a denomination of Judaism. So all Jews who believe in Messiah are really Messianic Jews by nature. If however we allow Christians to convert to MJ then it seems that there also has to be room for some Jews to convert to Christianity, however wrong it may seem to us. (I haven’t thought this out fully)
    The problem I think we’re running up against in our discussion is that a good portion of those claiming to be MJ are in fact identifying with the church and not with the Jews.

    So if I’m hearing you correctly simple Jew, you’re arguing that MJ is really a Christian denomination rather then a Jewish one by majority rule. We agree on what they should be, but we are discussing what they actually are. ‘I think’ you are advocating a departure from MJ… Leaving it to the church and those Jews who are Yeshua Jews, let’s say, should either find small communities or just find an existing denomination of Judaism. Or at least begin from within Judaism from the beginning, rather then coming out of the Church. Please correct me if I’m missing you.

    I’m arguing that Yeshua Jews and MJ in concept are really synonymous. And even if the majority of MJ haven’t yet come to clarity on their identity (or think they have and it’s in all practicality the church) that there’s enough people identifying as MJ who are seeking its proper place in Judaism that we shouldn’t abandon them. I’d argue that I am a MJ. That is my identify by nature and I must seek to change the corporate understanding of Mjudaism in both the mainstream Jewish and Hebrew Christian and Christian circles.

    At the same time, I see a necessity of having different denominations within MJ, which will allow for a broader spectrum of observance and identity. This understanding our obligation as Jews to seek to bring all Jews deeper into Jewish life. I believe the two are compatible, and have to be.

    So I’m not saying you’re obligated to join your local MJ congregation that is basically a Hebrew Christian suppersessionist church. But I am suggesting finding one which is on its way in the right direction, and joining those who have a similar vision as you within MJ. At the least Identify with us. As our denomination grows and matures, if it is true then it will bring the others along with it. Still leaving room for differences and more or less observance in MJ. If we leave, MJ will become even more offensive to our people who will identify all Yeshua Jews as “Right wing fundamentalist, evangelical Christians” (Courtesy of my good father In law) just as most already view us as “Jews for Jesus.” Now thanks to our “denomination” My in-laws now recognize the Jewishness and the validity of MJ, and are frankly quite surprised. With that said much work is needed. We have to be able to hold opposites at the same time.
    Well, Rabbi Derek, it’s a bit long, but its only 668 words.:-)
    Love in Him,
    Nathan

  28. Nathan says:

    Thanks Hanoch, Interesting things to think about. Just last week My wife and I were at a Lutheran church wedding. When it came time to go up for their communion they said all “baptized Christians who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior are to partake.” It was pretty perplexing at the time because we have both been through mikveh into Yeshua, but we weren’t baptized into the Christian church! We decided to go anyhow, recognizing that it wasn’t even in their realm of thought that we might be there, nor that we even exist, so they hadn’t left room for Jews to be a part of the body. So to connect to my Christian Brothers and Sisters in the body we partook, Yamaka off,(only so as not to take the focus off the Bride and Groom) In this case I felt Love Trumped theology. But this is a very important issue. Especially when we start practically weaving through the delicate balance of Jew and Gentile.
    Nathan

  29. "A Simple Jew" says:

    Simple Jew, I cannot address every point in your last letter. <<<

    That’s ok. If you could just reply to the direct questions I asked it would help generate some discussion. Do you want me to just list them here? Otherwise I can drop it. I’ll leave it up to you.

    When I say the church I mean the entire body of gentile believers and all her denominations that have separated from Jewish identity, and are supported by a long tradition, which is distinct from the Jews.<<<<

    These are different thing to me. I think it useful for our discussion to distinguish between the entire body of non Jewish believers ( AKA “the ecclesia” or the “invisible church” ) and the various denominations and traditions. I will defer to Derek on this but it is my understanding that in low church Protestant traditions this is not as problematic as for High Church traditions. Obviously Anglicans the Orthodox and of course the Catholic traditions do not recognize this distinction as clearly. And this does create problems when we relate to them. When we talk about “unity” with non Jewish believers, which are we talking about? My understanding for example of the relevant scriptures in Ephesians ( which I think are foundational to MJ) is that we are talking about the “ecclesia” or what the Protestants refer to as the “invisible” church.

    The problem I think we’re running up against in our discussion is that a good portion of those claiming to be MJ are in fact identifying with the church and not with the Jews. <<<<<

    Where we are missing each in our discussion is the question of leadership. I really dont care what the “good portion” of those claiming to be with MJ identify with. Those in leadership in the movement 1) identify with the “visible” church and its institutions in a way that is incomptible with Judaism and 2) Impose that indentity on Jews as a condition of their being in MJ. Once again I request you and others refer to my citations of Dan Juster in other posts on this blog. (BTW I don’t mean to pick on Dan. It is just that I am most familiar with his “network” and he is also the most articulate and widely published spokesperson for this position.)

    So if I’m hearing you correctly simple Jew, you’re arguing that MJ is really a Christian denomination rather then a Jewish one by majority rule.<<<<<

    No. Not if you mean by a majority of participants in the pew. I argue that it is Christian by virtue of its leadership and their identity and values IF MJ leadership consisted of true and knowledgeable Jews committed to Judaism who by some miracle were real rabbis, then in my opinion MJ would institutionally be Jewish. Regardless of the composition of the congregation. This is why I think this whole conversion issue is misplaced.

  30. "A Simple Jew" says:

    Nathan:

    We agree on what they should be, but we are discussing what they actually are. ‘I think’ you are advocating a departure from MJ…. <<<<

    I am not advocating any of the above. I am saying that an intellectually honest Jew who takes the mandates of Sinai seriously ( re Stuart Dauerman on this) cannot remain in MJ institutions as they are currently constituted. Please refer to my “handle” I am a Simple Jew .I don’t claim to have all the answers. I am not a “rabbi”. I merely point out inconsistancies. There are several possibilities for action but we cant discuss them until we agree on what the problem is.

    At the same time, I see a necessity of having different denominations within MJ, which will allow for a broader spectrum of observance and identity<<<

    As of yet, I see no denomination within MJ that fits this description. If there were one, then we could discuss that.

  31. "A Simple Jew" says:

    Nathan (or anyone else who cares to respond)

    And then imagine how the council will be described? Does “they want us all to be orthodox Jews,” sound familiar<<<<

    Let’s start with this one. Do you know of ANYONE on the council ( or anywhere else in positions of leadership in MJ) who advocates for this?

    I assume your answer is “no” which would be correct. My second question is “given that this is an obvious answer, why should we care that the opponants of the RC are making this charge”?

  32. "A Simple Jew" says:

    Nathan
    (1)
    Many of the discussions here strike me as not relevant to Jews. ( I jokingly refer to them as discussions about “olive oil theology”) since they seem to be obscessed with “olive trees”. These are not Jewish questions. The composition of MJ congregations, whether or not non Jews should be allowed to “keep kosher” etc while of deep importance to some are not relevant to me. Nor I argue should they be of much interest to you. ( I assume from your writings that you are Jewish)

    If we get into this mindset, we are not thinking “Jewishly”. We need to be asking Jewish questions if we are contemplating a true MJ.
    (2)

    So “Simple Jew” I say to myself, can you think of examples of “Simple Jewish Questions” regarding the role of non Jews in MJ that would be relevant to Jews?

    I can think of two and these go to the heart of my point.
    Please note that these are “leadership” questions and not “congregational” questions. And these are questions that are not about “orthodoxy or orthopraxy” but are common to all known Judaisms.

    1)What constitutes a Minyan in MJ congregations? This has practical applications for saying certain prayers, for reading from the Torah and most importantly for Jews who need to say “kaddish”.

    2)Who gets called to read from the Torah?

    Obviously these two questions have implications not just for the “Jew”/Non Jew dichotonomy but also obviously for the role of women as well. Egalitarian Jewish congregations have had to struggle with them vis a vis traditional congregations. Therefore they ARE genuine Jewish questions.

    If you will allow me, I would pose a hypothetical which I have asked others as well:

    Lets say you have passed all your courses at MJTI and are now a “MJ rabbi”. You are officiating at a major MJ conclave. An influential MJ “rabbi” from another congregation, who you know is not Jewish approaches you and requests that both he and his son be allowed to have an Aliyah to read from the Torah. They plead with you that they have invited several prominent Christian leaders to the event and that they intend to proudly film their son chanting the Blessing so that it can be broadcast on TV.

    Would you let that “rabbi” and his son have the aliyah? What about the Christian leaders?

    (This is addressed to Nanthan but if anyone else feels inclined to answer this question please jump in)

  33. Dan Benzvi says:

    Here is the farce of Leheman’s position.
    Take a MJ congregation. What do you do at oneg? You have one table only for Gentiles with ham sandviches, and another tabel with latkas only for Jews? Should your Judaica store be open On Shabbat Only for Gentiles, Jews not allowed? Logisticaslly it is all falling apart. Most congregation are comprised from 80% Gentiles and 20% Jews, then why do you read from the Torah every Shabbat if you say the Torah is not for them?

    Blessings

    Dan

  34. A Simple Jew says:

    Dan

    What you say has some merit. In most MJ congregations I have been to they hawk their wares on Shabbat and while I have not seen pork served there is little attention to Kashrut. Why start now to respect the Judaism of the few Jews left over?

    And it isnt Dereks position by himself. This is the position of the Rabbinic Council. If you havent heard of them they are a group of MJ leaders who have discovered that they have a demographic problem in their congregations too. This is their solution.

  35. Nathan says:

    Simple Jew, Forgive me, but I’m finding I’m spending more time on this blog then I am able. I’ll have to sign off for today.
    Best,
    Nathan

  36. A Simple Jew says:

    Thats fine Nathan. I dont want either of us to turn into “blog junkies”. There is a “real world” out there.

    Have a good day.

  37. I started eating a somewhat kosher diet due to health reasons as a former vegetarian/vegan, I had a health crisis and eating a biblical diet based on whole food ideals, made sense to me. I have since realised that there is far more too it than that in symbolic value.

    I agree that there are differences within Torah itself for the Jew and the “ger.”

    However with regards to the command in Acts 15 (I see as Halachah as Peter was given the right to “bind and loose”), pigs today are either bludgeoned to death, electrocuted, or asphyxiated. In other words, they contain BLOOD. If this is a reference to the traditional interpretation of how Judaism says to blood let animals (which the “or strangled” seems to imply, as there is no clear, written biblical precedent), then this would imply eating clean meats only, at least in regard to land beasts.

    The idea of eating ham and bugs creeps me out.

    Thoughts?

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