Sukkot Wrap-Up

Well, I certainly meant to journal more than twice this Sukkot. A period of 48 hours of straight rain and the demands of life together with about 15 other families thwarted my plans. Sometimes vacation can be a lot of work! But it was also a lot of joy.

As a wrap-up, I want to cover two things: what Sukkot was like for us and a little about “Anonymous” and his diatribe against Jewish devotion to Yeshua (Jesus).

Wow, were there ever a lot of stars visible from the mountains of North Georgia! One night was sat around the campfire and used the Smartphone app that makes interactive star charts. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. You point it in a direction and it shows the names of key stars and constellations in that direction. So you can look up from the phone and match the screen image to what you see. You can even point it down and see what stars are under the earth.

Not only did we confirm that the huge object we saw in the sky was Jupiter, but we also learned how to find Vega and Polaris (give us a break, we’re city folk).

But the wonder of sitting that night under the stars in front of our Sukkah was a symbol of the whole event. The religion that God promotes in Torah is a community of sharing, rejoicing, and unity. It’s not hard to be religious the way God teaches religion.

Electric moments for me included Friday night, as we packed the picnic pavilion with people and sang to the angels (“Shalom Aleichem”) and chanted our Sabbath prayers to God. Havdallah was equally charged with holiness as my daughter led us in a contemporary melody for the ceremony. Bringing the prayers to the wilderness is oddly fitting, that the Creator should be praised in a place so obviously his creation and not man’s.

The week definitely fit with the theme of Deuteronomy 16:15, nothing but joy (You shall hold a festival for the Lord your God seven days, in the place that the Lord will choose; for the Lord your God will bless all your crops and all your undertakings, and you shall have nothing but joy).

While I’ve been strangely separated from internet access, Anonymous has been using my blog as his media outlet. I apologize for the wearying comments from him that have colored Messianic Jewish Musings with negativity instead of joy.

While Sukkot has a theme of unity and togetherness (see Zechariah 14, and especially vss. 9 and 16-17), Anonymous is busy thinking that only his little crowd of a few million people fall under the Oneness of God (i.e., only Orthodox Judaism). His arguments are simple and boil down to two:

(1) Orthodox Judaism is the only valid form of Judaism.
(2) Messianic Judaism is not Orthodox.
(3) Messianic Judaism is not a valid Judaism.

And this one . . .

(1) Judaism rejects all forms of idolatry.
(2) Belief in Jesus (Yeshua) is a form of idolatry.
(3) Messianic Judaism must be rejected as a Judaism.

It’s a lonely faith that believes in this way. Judaism is about justice, faith in God, and redemption. I can only say that Anonymous has only got a little bit of Judaism which he emphasizes to the neglect of the rest of Judaism. I am reminded of words about straining out gnats and swallowing camels, or about neglecting the weightier issues of Torah: love, justice, and mercy.

I hope Anonymous reads my words and that a glimmer of heavenly love pierces the veil. Beyond his self-imposed shell of negativity, the God of love and redemption is waiting.


About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
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14 Responses to Sukkot Wrap-Up

  1. sheepra says:

    Amein, Brother!

  2. Anonymous says:


    Your characterizations of my “arguments” are obviously intended to disparage me, my comments, and traditional Jewish religious beliefs.

    Yet you are correct that I, the Jewish Bible, and substantially all of world Jewry agree that belief in Jesus is idolatry and incompatible with the tradition from Sinai. The rabbis and laymen alike of every generation have espoused this view, in each Jewish “stream”. It is rare indeed to find a topic that rivals this profound extent of Jewish unanimity.

    On an almost as universal a level is Jewish agreement that an unrepentant gentile Christian missionary could never qualify as a convert to Judaism, much less as a rabbi.

    Finally, I want to again attempt to blunt your defensiveness about being identified accurately as a non-Jew. You seem to cringe at that exposure, and I do not know why. G-d created you. He loves you. He made you in His image. And He didn’t make you Jewish. Jews are not alone in being loved by G-d, at least not according to Judaism (which is based on the Jewish Bible). Both in your penchant to misrepresent yourself as a Jew, and in your attacks on those who actually are Jewish, you reveal a self-consciousness and a sensitivity that isn’t warranted, and a gap in your self-esteem that ought not to be. I understand that you’ve accomplished great things in academia as a scholar of religion, and being, as G-d lovingly created you, a gentile, is no mark of disgrace! In fact, you ought to be proud of who and what you are. It’s no sin to be a gentile, nor is it a good deed to be born Jewish (although, it is a good deed for a born Jew to follow the commandments in the Jewish Bible). I hope you will correct your thinking on this topic so that your conduct will reflect a comfort with the reality that being a gentile is not a strike against you. Many great, great people have your background in common with you. Being a non-Jew is not a sin. Being a liar is a sin.

    • sheepra says:

      Derek is not a liar. He is not claiming to be Jewish, as I understand what he has said. He is claiming to be grafted in, a concept that has great veracity coming from the lips of YHVH in His flesh form, though you don’t realize this. And that’s ok since not all Jews are going to. But many, in fact an unprecedented number in our time today, have and are coming to this realization. This will continue per prophecy in the Tenakh until His Return. We are your brothers whether you recognise us or not. You don’t have to. You have free will. But name calling is also sinful and unkind. We are no longer gentiles because we are no longer heathen nonbelievers, which is the essential definition of ‘gentile’. We are Israel. And many of us may even be genetically your brothers as part of the scattered 10 Tribes who have spread their seed far and wide by now according to His Promise to Avraham. Perhaps someday soon we will no. But no matter as just like Rahab & Ruth we are now Israel spiritually. We love our Father YHVH just as passionately as you do and are striving to please Him and follow His Torah. I pray you will soon be given eyes to see and ears to hear your Messiah has come and died for you to be saved once and for all! I know we are all praying for this in Yahusha’s Name Above All Names, so get ready because the Set-Apart Spirit is even now working to soften your heart! HalleluYah!
      Blessings with love,
      Shalom Shick

  3. Anonymous:

    How big of you to say that gentiles are people too! And then to say I am a liar . . .

    You are a piece of work.

    What is your purpose in your self-declared crusade to get noticed by commenting viciously on the blogs of other people who actually have readers?

    • Anonymous says:


      I wasn’t using the term “liar” to insult you, but to cajole you not to lie about your status as a gentile. To the extent it came off as an insult, and I can see now how you would have interpreted it that way, I would like to retract it and apologize for it and restate it thusly: you sin only when you lie, or otherwise break any of the 7 laws obligatory on all of Noah’s children.

      But it is a fact that you have been lying about your identity. As an advanced degree holder in secular university religion studies, you have no excuse for not knowing well that the Jewish religion has its own definitions for Jewish identity. When you identify yourself to Jews and others as a Jew, knowing that you do not satisfy the Jewish requirements for that identity, you lie. This is not meant to be an insult, it is a recitation of a plain fact. I urge you not to lie. I know you are capable of better, and I hope you’ll reach for your potential. Not only for your own betterment, but for the benefit of others, some of whom are vulnerable to mistakenly evaluate your Christian teachings as validly Jewish in light of your intentionally deceptive self-misidentification.

      On the other hand, there has been some gratuitous insulting going on here, but the direction has been unilaterally toward me (from you). In your last note you actually wrote “How big of you to say that gentiles are people too!…You are a piece of work.” There is no redeeming value to such trash talk, although I have no doubt it gave you the pleasant sensation that motivates all improper speech. I’m continuing to make an effort to avoid language that would hurt your feelings, while engaging in an honest and open discussion about your preaching Christianity to Jews while pretending to be a member of the clergy of another religion.

  4. Sheepra:

    I do thank you for your readiness to come to my defense. Meaning well, though, I think you’ve assumed something about me without knowing me well enough and perhaps not having read this blog long enough. I am Jewish (it’s Anonymous’s problem if he doesn’t think so — only God’s opinion counts).

    I do not share the theology that being grafted in makes one bound to the Torah. I believe that in Messiah, Jews continue in Torah and gentiles have a different relationship to Torah (not bound my identity markers such as Sabbath, dietary law, circumcision). You can see more on the left margin where I feature articles such as “Acts 15” and “Beliefs.”

    • sheepra says:

      Well, that just makes Anonymous’ statements even more incredible! I couldn’t imagine that he was accusing you of not even being Jewish just for recognizing Yeshua’s Messiahship!?!
      Blessedly, your theology about the ‘grafted in’ concept and mine are not ‘backbone/salvation’ issues. I will simply state that it seems to me that nothing in Scripture indicates that He will return for 2 Brides, but only for one, and that seems like compelling evidence to me that those not born Jewish need to be united in faith with those who are concerning Torah. But your arguments are interesting.
      You may find my testimony videos interesting at just to get a bit of background on the path I traveled to end up where I am now philosophically.
      I am still praying for our Anonymous friend!
      Blessings with love,

      • Anonymous says:


        It seems I’m danged if I do and danged if I don’t with you. I’m danged for criticizing Derek for being a gentile Christian missionary calling himself a Jewish rabbi if he’s really a Jewish rabbi, and if he’s really not a Jewish rabbi. Unfortunately, there appears to be no way for me to meet with your standards for truthfulness, other than to adopt your Christian outlook (which doesn’t comport with my standards for truthfulness).

        Having said that, I must ask because I find your handle intriguing: what is your story?

  5. sheepra says:

    You may find my story at There are 2 videos and an audio that help to give some insight to my path. It has all led me to this place where I am in deep love with the Father, His spitting image Son, and Torah!
    Blessings with love,

    • Anonymous says:

      I see the history of involvement with “witchcraft”, as well as the Christian husband. But where does the whole “Shalom” bit come into play from?

  6. sheepra says:

    It is explained in the video piece 700 Club did if you watch it all the way to the end. I always had coveted the peace of Yah that passes understanding and in keeping with my ‘new creature’ status (particularly since my given name had major pagan connotations) had my name legally changed. Strangely enough, only a few years later I found myself led to attend a Messianic Congregation where the Rabbi had great fun greeting me with, ‘Shalom, Shalom!’ I was pleasantly surprised by the Father’s sense of humor in all this as I didn’t realize the potential the name had when I chose it.
    I feel like my life has been something of a microcosm of Ephraim’s whoring after other gods but having Yah’s Promise to bring him back to Him.
    Blessings with love,

  7. Sheepra:

    You’ve been nothing but kind to me, so I’ve no desire to embarrass you. But I have to make a few disclaimers.

    People reading your comments may assume that we share a theological unity. And we do about the most important things. But I’m afraid you assumed I was part of the One Law and Two House world from which you have, it seems, been learning about Torah.

    I am a Messianic Jew. We do not spell out or pronounce God’s name. We do not use the name Yahshuah, which is an erroneous name based on mistaken Hebrew, invented by the Sacred Name movement. The original name of Jesus is Yeshua.

    I hope you’ll keep reading here and that the Messianic Jewish perspective will be one from which you find valuable insight. We are friendly to Christianity and Judaism, we love rabbinic tradition and follow it in our own way (not as Orthodox, but more as Conservative Judaism does). We do not see any reason to denigrate the rabbis, who are great teachers, any more than we denigrate the church fathers. We deny that Torah can be followed apart from the rabbis (and we can easily prove it).

    I hope you won’t take my disclaimers as an offense. I simply have to make sure readers know my position and where I stand. The broader movement using the label Messianic Judaism is filled with harmful teachings and cultic ideas that we do not espouse.

    Derek Leman

  8. sheepra says:

    I understand.
    Blessings with love,

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