Why Orthodox Jews Should Believe in Yeshua, 1

I want to say at the beginning, and I will be accused of contradicting this principle, I am sure, that I mean no disrespect to people who belong to Orthodox synagogues.

Recently I had online “opponents” from OJ (Anonymous and Meir) comment on the blog and one even saw me while shopping at the local kosher Kroger. I welcome their part in this discussion (my caveat is that they don’t write 500 word plus rebuttals or get nasty — I define what nasty is, by the way, on my blog).

This experience got me thinking: there are plenty of reasons why Orthodox Jews (OJ’s) should consider Yeshua. And I mean this to be a positive approach to the discussion, not a free-for-all-let’s-insult-OJ type of post. I think the discussion may grow and this may be a multipart series (hence the number 1 in the title).

Separatist Christians and Jews have a lot in common. By separatist I mean those Christian and Jewish groups who form exclusive communities with narrowly defined membership requirements. Some Orthodox (like Anonymous and Meir) belong, perhaps, to the separatist category. But let me assert again, that their insecurities are not indicative of the entire OJ spectrum.

But the first thing I should like to say about Yeshua and OJ is that the separatist variety cannot honestly evaluate the identity and claims of Yeshua. There is a wall a mile thick keeping this kind of OJ from truly considering him. A separatist’s entire self-identity is wrapped up in maintaining the Club Rules. Even a slight divergence will put one at risk for eviction from the Club.

Christians understand this. If you say at church that you think God’s love might reach down and save people out of hell, you may be asked to leave (or at least not to teach the kids’ Sunday School anymore).

Jews understand this. If you try writing with a pen or pencil on the Sabbath, you will be warned and maybe asked to leave the synagogue (a real case recently blogged about on a popular Reform blogger’s site).

OJ’s of the separatist variety have a lot to live up to. To think that an OJ in this kind of community could admit something like, “The Christian doctrine of the Trinity really has a lot in common with kabbalistic notions of the emanations” is a real stretch.

It is this “stay-in-the-Club” mentality that may from the outset make this series of posts an unheard voice in the blogosphere wilderness or a lightning rod for Clubbers seeking to enhance their status with knee-jerk reactions.

But, darnit, the Christian conception of Yeshua’s identity is all over the pages of the Hebrew Bible. And the comments of sages and medieval commentators often remind us MJ’s (Messianic Jews) of our own beliefs (not to mention some of the ideas of the kabbalists and mystics).

That brings me to reason #1 why Orthodox Jews should believe in Yeshua. Of course, I do not mean this principle to be in and of itself a proof, but I do wish to suggest that it is a principle consistent with OJ: The Holy One desires to and does walk with us and it is totally believable that he did walk with us for a time 2,000 years ago and that his Presence remains with us in a concentrated form after that time of deep revelation.

For this first posting, I will simply clarify what I mean and leave other principles for future posts:

(1) The Eternal did not create directly but through his Word (“and God said”) which has a long tradition in Jewish literature, including the Targumim, of being recognized as an emanation of Divine Being.

(2) The Spirit of God hovered over the deep at that time, indicating the great desire of the Infinite One to give life to and love his creation and his creatures.

(3) The Ineffable One was able to place his image in people, suggesting that humanity and the Divine Nature are compatible.

(4) God’s Wisdom was here at the beginning too and all creation is endued with it.

(5) The Living God walked in the Garden and this could be explained a number of ways, but one of them is that a person radiating from the Ein Sof walked bodily.

(6) The same Holy One walked with Enoch, Noah, and Abraham, and even wrestled with Jacob. Don’t refute me here by pointing to some isolated comment by one commentator either. Consider the variety of interpretations and be open minded, please.

(7) Hopefully these examples are enough to refute the ridiculous notion that Yeshua must be rejected because humanity and Divinity are incompatible and the idea of Incarnation is Jewishly impossible. And hopefully these examples will either force you, my OJ friend, to recognize that you are not a rationalist like Maimonides and you do not limit the Shechinah to a symbol or a mere analogy. God dwells.

What we are saying, and we have evidence to back up our claim, is that God dwelt in Yeshua and this was not something which came about after Yeshua was born, but that from eternity past Yeshua was the Radiance of the Holy One’s Being, a person who shares the nature of Ein Sof (the Unending One) while not being the Ein Sof (the Son is not the Father).

Well, we’ll see if this is met with a resounding silence or with anger or with dialogue. MJ’s and Christians, feel free to comment as well. Mainstream Jews who are not OJ, I welcome your discussion as well. Who knows, maybe someday I would consider a series, “Why Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist Jews Should Believe in Yeshua.”

About Derek Leman

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

53 Responses to Why Orthodox Jews Should Believe in Yeshua, 1

  1. benicho says:

    What is the concept of the Messiah to Orthodox Jews? Will he simply be a man, not divine at all, just sent to deliver the Jewish people?

  2. benicho:

    There is more than one idea. The traditions of the past few thousand years contain many ideas about Messiah. I recommend Abraham Cohen’s Everyman’s Talmud which has a chapter on Messiah. Even that does not come close to capturing all of the repository of ideas. And, BTW, I am no expert on Messiah traditions in rabbinic and later Jewish literature. My area of confidence is Bible and I know a lot about later literature, but not enough to give the most definitive answers.

    Derek Leman

  3. Rey says:

    Shalom Derek,

    Good post!! The Subject of Moshiach in Jewish tradition is complicated. I know one of the beliefs is that He(Moshiach) will be just a man a Tzadik but a man non the less…

    It’s hard for me to understand how can Moshiach can just a man, how can a finite man bring everlasting peace?

  4. Pingback: Is the messiah meant to die for your sins? « Messiah: Anonymous

  5. Seth says:

    Great post Derek. It should be noted that Jewish attitudes toward the tri-unity of Hashem have shifted even in recent history. The declaration of the controversial Dabru Emet no longer considers the doctrine of the Trinity or the Incarnation to be idolatrous for Christians to believe. Of course, many OJ’s could care less about that document, but it is still representative of sentiments within the larger Jewish community.

    And just a quick word on the previous ping- back, to say Christians and MJ’s believe God died oversimplifies an immensely complex theological issue. In short, orthodox trinitarianism does not believe God (the Father) died, nor even the divine nature of the Son. Those who assert this are flatly misrepresenting Christian doctrine.

  6. I encourage those interested to see Anonymous’s reply to my post about eyewitnesses to the life of Yeshua. I’m not sure he is a worthy opponent to joust with.

    http://yb4jesus.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/logic-vs-the-leap/

    Derek

  7. Well, if I have to argue with someone, why not with people like Anonymous? Better than arguing with you and Benzvi! :-)

  8. Ovadia says:

    “Jews understand this. If you try writing with a pen or pencil on the Sabbath, you will be warned and maybe asked to leave the synagogue (a real case recently blogged about on a popular Reform blogger’s site).”

    For the record, David was at a minyan (not a synagogue, although this one blurs the line) that is not Orthodox, and his point was that the community is ostensibly pluralistic.

  9. shabbosqueen says:

    I’ll keep this short and sweet. The bottom line is that no matter how you re-package Christianity, orthodox Jews are never going to buy it. The reason? We have the emes (the truth), and when anyone tries to sell us a new bill of goods (as you are) we know it is sheker (false) because it contradicts the Torah we were given at Sinai.

  10. shabbosqueen:

    Let me translate your comment: “Derek, you’re wrong. I have no reason to believe you are wrong. I simply decided before ever considering what you are saying that Jesus is wrong. I offer no evidence. I’m confident that my unexamined assumptions are correct and please don’t confuse me with evidence.”

    Not helpful, ShabbosQueen. What are you afraid of? Offer an argument.

    Derek Leman

  11. Note the parashah this week. Who were the three visitors? Two angels and Hashem himself. Hashem walking on earth with Abraham? I guess it is possible for the Shechinah to walk in human form.

  12. shabbosqueen says:

    Derek,

    I’m surprised. Well, not really. I met you in Kroger, and you walked away. I emailed you serious questions, and you never replied. Now you want a public debate.

    First, we “OJs” as you disparagingly call us, have no problem with the historical Jewish teacher, Yeshua of Nazareth. Our problem is with the mytical “Jesus Christ,” the godman of Greco-Roman Christendon. When you ask us to consider Yeshua, do you mean the Pharisee Yeshua or the Christos of Christian paganism?

    Yeshua’s teachings, at least what I know of them from the Christian Bible which I studied faithfully for many, many years as a devout Christian, do not contradict Torah and Rabbinic Judaism. Also, believing that he is the Messiah is not really problematic or heretical from a halachic standpoint. It’s a little silly to believe that he is the Messiah when he hasn’t completed the full work of Messiah, as silly as Lubavitch Chassidim believing that Rabbi Menachem Schnerson z’tl was the Messiah, but this belief not heretical.

    However, I assume that you hold the tenets of the Church as true doctrines, and, if so, you don’t believe Yeshua is simply the Messiah or a teacher of Jewish wisdom. You see him as the Christos who is Deity in the flesh and whose death brings you salvation. You probably also believe that without “believing” in his salvific work, one has no salvation or right standing with the Holy One of Israel. From a Jewish perspective, this principle of Christian dogma is total and complete heresy. Judaism stands firm on the Biblical principle of Hashem’s Oneness and on the Biblical principle that right standing with Hashem comes only as a result of sincere teshuva (repentence). Simply put, we trust in the Al-mighty alone as the source of our salvation. He alone is our G-d, our Rock, our Redeemer, and our Savior.

    Shavua Tov,
    Meir

    • cybrsage says:

      “First, we “OJs” as you disparagingly call us,”

      I do not think he is being disparaging. He uses MJs to shorten Messianic Jews. OJs is simply short for Orthodox Jews.

      I was confused at first, until I saw both used in a sentence which included enough infor for me to decifer it. :)

  13. shabbosqueen says:

    BTW, ShabbosQueen is my wife, so I was logged in as her.

  14. shabbosqueen says:

    All three of Avraham’s visitors were angels, messengers of Hashem. The whole universe cannot hold the fullness of the Shechinah, much less a human body.

    • cybrsage says:

      AFAIK, when G-d gave the commands to Moses on the mountain, He was there in “person”. It was so amazing that Moses actually glowed afterwards!

      Granted, I am moving from a Constantine Christianity to Messianic Judaism (which means I am actually learning what the Torah says, etc – pretty wonderful I must say!) so I could be misunderstanding things. I am as a newborn Jew…worse, I am also in the process of unlearning.

      • cybrsage says:

        To head off the comment, I do know these two events are different times. I was just speaking to G-d actually showing up on Earth personally.

        To my uneducated view, G-d is both WAYYY too much for our puny universe to contain and both so VERY powerful that, if He wanted it to be so, that same universe could easily contain Him. To me, for Him to be omnipotent there cannot be a limitation on what He can do.

        :)

  15. First, about Abraham’s visitors, Maimonides (Hilchot Yesodei Hatorah 6:9) says he addressed them with the Divine Name. Ramban says he as merely calling them by their master’s name. But in 18:10, Hashem speaks and in vs. 14. And in 18:33 – 19:1 it becomes clear that two were angels and one was the Presence.

    Your argument that the Shechinah cannot appear in space makes no Torah sense. The Word created. The Spirit hovered over the deep. The image or Divine Soul is in every person (not just Jews as some Hasidim horrifically assert). The Kavod was in the Beit HaMikdash (Temple). The Name is on Zion.

    Derek Leman

    • meir613 says:

      Derek,

      You speak of a Mesorah of Rabbinic tradition. I speak of a Mesorah that descends through the ages from Moshe Rabbeinu to Yehoshua, from Yehoshua to the Navi’im, from the Navi’im to the Anshei K’neses HaGedolah, and from the Men of the Great Assembly to Chazal, the Sages and Rabbonim of the Mishnah and Gemara. It’s not just tradition. It’s a divinely received tradition — the only true key to unlocking the Scriptures. This Tradition is the Oral Torah of Hashem, not simply a man-made tradition.

      Concerning your Christology, your version of “Jesus” as the “Radiance of the Father” is a mythical one. Judaism teaches that we all share divinity as we all have a divine spark within us. And no, Chassidim do not believe that only Jews have this Divine spark. It is true that Jews have a different “spiritual DNA” than Goyim, but both Jews and Gentiles are created b’tzelem Elokim. Yeshua is no more worthy of worship than you or I as we all have a Divine essence called the neshama. Yeshua’s neshama was no different than your neshama or mine. In fact, the true Moshiach’s neshama will be no different than yours or mine either. Yes, Moshiach will be a Tzaddik who has purified his neshama by conquering his Yetzer Hara, but perfecting or purifying the neshama does not make one G-d, chas v’shalom. The Midrash speaks about great individuals becoming “chariots of the Shechinah,” but these individuals are not regarded as Deity. For example, Bereishis Rabbah 82:6 claims that Hashem’s visit to Avraham Avinu in this week’s sidra is an example of Avraham becoming “a chariot of the Shechinah,” but as you know, we do not worship Avraham. Interestingly, you admit that Jesus is not “all G-d.” Then I say to you, “If he is not ‘all G-d,’ he is certainly not worthy of worship.” Hashem says through Yeshayahu HaNavi, “I am HASHEM! That is My Name! I will not give My glory to another” (42:8a).

      I see you know a few Kabbalistic terms. Messianics are notorious for using Kabbalistic literature to prove their claims that Jesus is G-d and therefore worthy of worship. However, Chazal warn Jews not to study Kabbalah until we are fully and completely knowledgeable and steeped in Tanakh, Mishnah, Gemara, and Halacha. Why? One should not study Kabbalah until then because doing so is dangerous. The Kabbalah is the “fiery” understanding of the deepest secrets of the Torah. In fact, just as a fire can bring warmth and light to a home when it is placed in a well-built furnace or stove, Kabbalah can bring spiritual illumination within the context of a life that believes and practices the simple p’shat understanding of the Written and Oral Torah. However, when one has only a partial or flawed understanding of the Tanakh, Mishnah, and Gemara and isn’t following Halacha (as you don’t follow Halacha, Derek), Kabbalah has no vessel to receive its illuminating message and therefore becomes a destructive fire that only gives fuel to idolatry and other heresy. I’m not a student of Kabbalah, so from now on, please don’t bring Kabbalah as your proof for Jesus’s Deity. Just speak on the p’shat level, a level appropriate for people on our spiritual plane.

      Now, let’s proceed on to the visitors who came to Avraham in this week’s sidra. Let’s examine the p’shat here through the lens of our glorious Mesorah. The Midrash and Rashi explain that these sh’losha anashim (three men) were malachim (angels): Michael, who informed Avraham that Sarah would give birth; Gavriel, who overturned Sodom and Amora; and Rafael, who healed Avraham from his bris and saved Lot. The sidra begins by saying the Hashem appeared to Avraham. The word “appear” comes from the shoresh re’eh, which means “to see” or “to perceive.” Hashem doesn’t have a physical body, so Avraham perceived Hashem via navua, i.e., prophecy. Rambam never asserts that Avraham calls the malachim by the Divine Name Ado-noi. Most meforshim (commentators) say that the Aleph-Dalet-Nun-Yud of pasuk gimel is a Divine Name, which means that Avraham is speaking to Hashem in pasuk gimel and to the malachim in pasuk dalet. Now, the scene becomes clear. In the mist of Divine revelation (i.e., prophecy), three malachim, messengers of Hashem, appear to Avraham as human beings—Michael, Gavriel, and Rafael. Amazing, Avraham leaves Hashem’s Presence to tend to these guests, and in verse three, he asks Hashem not to leave him as he performs this important mitzvah of hanachas orachim, showing hospitality to guests. In fact, the Gemara brings down in Shevuos 35b and Shabbos 127a from this episode that “hospitality to wayfarers is greater than receiving the Divine Presence.” Now, Michael, as the Malach or Emissary of Hashem, speaks on behalf of Hashem in pasukim yud and yud-dalet. After the episode with the three malachim, Avraham begins to intercede on behalf of Sodom and Amora. This conversation was again via navua with the Shechinah. The malachim had already left. Since Michael’s purpose of reporting that Sarah would conceive was fulfilled, he ascended back to the spiritual world, and the other two malachim, Gavriel and Rafael, descended to Sodom.

      Hashem can and does speak through malachim, especially when the malach is called the Malach of Hashem. This is usually Michael. Hashem speaking through malachim in no way proves that the Shechinah became flesh in Jesus Christ. We Jews have heard these arguments for millennia, and we have nevertheless clung to our belief that the Al-mighty is not man that He should lie. He has not appeared in flesh, and He has not and will not share His glory with another.

      His servant,
      Meir

  16. About your longer comment. I mean Yeshua as both, the Galilean Jew (I don’t think he was a Pharisee, but not because I think badly of the Pharisees) and Yeshua as the Memra/Shechinah/Logos/Word of God. He is both.

    I am glad you admit that Yeshua as a Teacher says nothing contradictory to the Mesorah (though after Yeshua the Mesorah/rabbinic tradition) accumulated anti-Yeshua teachings in the face of Christian persecution of the Jewish community.

    I wonder if in your past time in Christianity you truly understood the relationship of Father and Son. Many Christians, even pastors, do not know doctrine. The Son is not the Father, which is the reason the apostles avoided saying out and out, “Jesus is God.” Jesus is not Ein Sof (the Unending One) but his Radiance (the sum of the sefirot). The Son is not the Father. Jesus is not all of God. But Jesus shares the being and nature of God and is One with Ein Sof. As Hebrews 1:3 says, “He is the Radiance of his glory.”

    Derek Leman

  17. Pingback: Comments Rolling Now on Why OJ’s Should Believe « Messianic Jewish Musings

  18. meir613 says:

    Derek,

    One last comment. Orthodox Judaism comes in many, many flavors and is not a cult where everyone has to believe the same thing. It may surprise you to know that I have a neighbor who is an “OJ,” yet he believes that Yeshua is the Messiah. He doesn’t believe in the Trinity, and he doesn’t worship Yeshua, so, while I think his belief is foolish, I don’t bother him about it. Being a Halachic Jew has less to do with what you believe and more to do with how you live. We live Torah-observant lifestyles. No, no one would be thrown out of shul for using a pen or pencil on Shabbos, but we would all know that such a person is not Shabbos observance. Halacha clearly states that writing is melacha and is forbidden on Shabbos Kodesh.

    Torah Judaism is the most open-minded and accepting faith of which I know. Derek, you should come visit us sometime. In fact, I publicly invite you and your entire family to my home as our Shabbos guests. Let me know when you would like to come.

    Kol Tuv,
    Meir

  19. Meir:

    Regarding your denial that Hasidim widely believe non-Jews are born with inferior animal-like souls as compared to Jews, I will ask one of my more learned friends to provide me the reference. When I do provide the reference (my memory my fail me, but I think Tanya is one of the places), will you admit you are wrong about this one point? We’ll see.

    Regarding the “infallible” received tradition linking you, Meir, unerringly with Moses, bologna. The earth is round. Orthodox teachers disagree even about fundamental matters. Asserting your superiority and “direct line” to God is a pointless self-glorification and few are those that believe it in the form you state it.

    Regarding the statement that we MJ’s are “notorious” for using kabbalistic terms, well one way to shut down a conversation is to imply “we Orthodox have superior knowledge and you lesser mortals should not talk to us about the received tradition since you are incapable of understanding it.” Really, think about the absurdity of your claim. I, for one, think a Hindu might be just as intelligent as an atheist or a Jew or a Catholic or a Lutheran. And, I do not believe God’s revelatory words are limited to a little community of a million Orthodox Jews worldwide. A billion people read Genesis, my friend.

    Regarding your statement that “the sages” explain the three visitors as angels, not all of them. Anyone who reads the medieval commentators often knows that there is no agreement on many points. In fact, there is agreement n few points. The rich diversity of the biblical expositors is their glory. And no one can appeal to “the sages” to prove a point of biblical interpretation. I referenced Maimonides’ Hilchot Yesodei Hatorah 6:9 regarding Abraham’s use of Adonai in Genesis 18 as an example of a sage interpreting the visitors as divine.

    Blessings and may you learn to use evidence and arguments and not self-glorification of the allegedly superior Orthodox mind as the basis for discussions. That tactic is no better than Christian evangelists saying, “You don’t understand because you don’t have the Holy Spirit.” Religious bullying is religious bullying, no matter its source.

    Derek Leman

  20. meir613 says:

    Derek,

    Yes, we have two very different worldviews. I don’t understand your logic. Perhaps I’m not as intelligent as you, but I just don’t get where you’re coming from.

    You seem very cruel.

    Yes, I’m a fundamentalistic. I don’t make any qualms about that. I believe that Hashem’s word is true and that the Oral Torah has been faithfully transmitted through the ages. What’s illogical about this belief?

    Yes, Hashem chose one people, the Jewish people, and, yes, it is through the Revelation that Hashem gave us that the world will be brought to perfection, believing in Hashem’s Oneness.

    I look forward to the day when I can give you a big hug and welcome you into a community of Torah-true Judaism. Teshuva is a prerequisite for this transformation. Perhaps you should spend less time reading Gilgamesh and more time studying traditional Jewish sources.

    Kol Tuv,
    Meir

  21. cybrsage says:

    I read the Torah. When the oral law contradicts the Torah, I ignore the oral law…in its totality.

    If the oral law and the Torah conflict in even one location, then that means the oral law is not perfect (unlike the Torah). Thus, if it is not perfect, I must discount the entire thing, for who knows if the part I am reading is also wrong (when it says something the Torah does not address)? I must not purposefully say something is given by G-d when it is known to not be perfect.

    So I only use the Torah and the Haftarah, etc., when I say “G-d said this”.

    Maybe I am being too black and white about it. I am new to things of Judaism, so at least for now I must only use what is 100% known to be from G-d and 100% always true.

  22. You said: “you seem very cruel.”

    Okay, then I guess part of what we have going on here is a need to find some common ground and a better way to discuss things.

    What bothers me in your comments is statements asserting religious superiority, things like “Messianics are notorious for” or “your version of Jesus as the Radiance of the Father is a mythical one” or “when one has only a partial or flawed knowledge of Tanakh.” Really, these are not respectful and it’s quite possible that a non-Orthodox Jew might be incredibly fluent in Chumash (or a non-Jew).

    Probably what bothers you in my comments is that I am not gentle when people make statements like that. I actually would vastly prefer a dialogue seeking mutual understanding. But you, in person and in your web comments, give put-downs to Christianity and MJ and self-glorification to Orthodox Judaism.

    In the future, I’d love to have respectful discussion with you. As for coming over for Shabbat, thank you for the invitation. I may accept, but my family and I have such a wonderful Shabbat time together, it is difficult to give that up. Still, I will consider it. My email is derek4messiah at gmail.

    Here’s to a nicer, more polite discussion in the future.

    Derek Leman

    • meir613 says:

      Derek,

      You misunderstand me. This discussion or debate isn’t about me or you. It’s about Hashem and His honor.

      I need to get a better understanding of your theological background. I know you trained in liberal universities and have earned a degree in theology.

      Is this correct?
      What did they teach you about the Oral Torah?
      Do you believe that there is an Oral Torah?
      Do the Sages have authority to make binding halachic decisions?
      Do you believe in the Trinity?
      Do you pray to or worship Jesus?
      Why don’t you wear a kippah? Shouldn’t a Jew, espcially a “rabbi,” wear a kippah?
      Do you observe Shabbos by refraining from all 39 categories of melacha?

      Just curious. I really don’t understand where you’re coming from.

      Thanks,
      Meir

  23. Cybrsage:

    Yes, your comment strikes me as the comment of someone who is still fairly new in learning. I know it seems, at the beginning, as if rabbinic literature (what you are calling Oral Law) can contradict Chumash (written Torah). But this is misunderstanding the nature of rabbinic literature. The interpretations handed down come in debates about matters of practice (Talmud) or playful and creative theologically motivated readings of texts (midrash) or speculative and non-authoritative commentary (medieval commentators).

    No one is obligated to accept as infallible the interpretation of any of the individual sayings of Talmud, midrash, or commentary. They disagree internally frequently. Oral Torah is a discussion with generally accepted parameters but much room for variation.

    Therefore, while some individual writing or opinion may be contrary to a reliable principle of theology or a straightforward interpretation of the Bible text, this does not mean Oral Torah has contradicted Written Torah. It means one reading is problematic, but the larger tradition has plenty more readings.

    Derek Leman

    • cybrsage says:

      Very new, as in about 6 months new. Recently found out my family had a secret, and that we are Jewish. This secret was passed down from generation to generation, starting with the group who arrived from Germany during the US Civil War – no one would hire a Jew but everyone wanted to hire Germans.

      Anyway, until I understand more, I refrain from doing the things I cannot understand.

      For example, I read in the Torah not to combine wool and cotton. I do not understand why, but I know the command was given by G-d so it is enough for me. I also read that (at least according to some – therein is part of my problem) the blue thread is to be only made of wool – but the others can be made of cotton. There is an exception made to the rule of not to mix fibers in this regard. I do not see this in the Torah – and if G-d wanted this exception to the rule He would have said so.

      Granted, it could be somewhere else and I have not yet seen it…but as it now stands that appears to contradict what G-d said.

      As my Rabbi says, the more I learn the more I realize how little I know…both a blessing and a curse.

  24. meir613 says:

    Derek,

    Other questions . . .

    Do you acknowledge that Orthodox Judaism was the only expression of Judaism until the Enlightenment?
    Do you think Reform Judaism is a legitimate expression of Judaism?
    Do you think Conservative Judaism is a legitimate expression of Judaism?
    Do you think “Orthodox” Judaism is a legitimate expression of Judaism?
    Why do you trust Orthodox Jews for matters of kashrus (i.e., if you really keep kosher), the nikudim (vowel points) of the Torah, etc.?

    I’m still very confused. It’s almost as if your comments border on anti-Semitism.

    Thanks,
    Meir

    • PraetorDrew says:

      Meir, name-calling is not going to help anyone. If you have questions, please ask them respectfully.

      I can attest from living for a year as a frummy black hatter that what we call Orthodox Judaism is not really the religion of the Bible, but of the Talmud and Rabbinic tradition.

      One day when I was in kollel reading Telushkin’s book on Biblical Literacy, the Rosh Kollel told me I probably should not be reading that book deals only with the plain meaning of the text. The problem with that is it leads to situations such as Solomon’s wives and concubines. Solomon is considered by Rabbinic tradition to be more righteous than the Chofetz Chaim, so how can he have idolatrous wives? You need Rabbinic tradition to explain that away.

      So I asked if this is why the Bar Mitzvah age kids have little if any knowledge of the prophets. He said that is the reason.

      In my experience, Rabbinic tradition has treated the Tanakh in the way that activist Justices treat the Constitution: like a ball of wax that can be shaped to their whims.

      • cybrsage says:

        “Meir, name-calling is not going to help anyone.”

        Personally, I do not think he was doing any name calling.

        I had to look up frummy…at first blush it appeared you were doing exactly that which you told him not to do…but luckily I always research words I do not know. :)

        I will never understand why Jews so happily use a version of the language of the people who tried to exterminate them a few decades ago…but that is a topic for another thread, I am sure. :)

  25. Here is the passage in the first chapter of the Tanya about the inferior souls of gentiles:

    The souls of the nations of the world, however, emanate from the other, unclean kelipot which contain no good whatever,

    כמו שכתוב בע׳ חיים שער מ״ט פרק ג׳: וכל טיבו דעבדין האומות לגרמייהו עבדין

    as is written in Etz Chayim, Portal 49, ch. 3, that all the good that the nations do, is done out of selfish motives.

  26. Meir:

    You asked about my theological leanings. That is what this whole blog is about. If you read for a while, you will see a great deal about my theological leanings.

    Like everyone who believes God has revealed himself through Moses and the prophets (in my case, Yeshua and the apostles as well), I try to learn from the sacred texts (Bible) and traditional texts (rabbis, Christian creeds) and communal texts (later commentary, theologians, etc.).

    You might not think Orthodox Judaism picks and chooses. It might seem to you as if there is one path and all the sages agree. But it is not so. We all pick and choose, we all look for best evidence and the best theology.

    You, for example, disagree with the principle in Tanya that gentiles are inferior. Good for you.

    An informed belief makes use of many sources, centered in the biblical text, to learn who God is, how to serve him, and how to live.

    Yes, I do believe Torah changes and adapts. The truth is, Orthodox do also (the prosbul is a famous example).

    My problems with Orthodoxy, and the reasons I don’t accept it, include: (1) a false sense of certainty about the interpretation and practice of Judaism as if Israel has always had only one way and (2) the ever-stricter interpretation of Torah such as the very rigid Shulchan Aruch and the ever-lengthening prayer service which is often interpreted legalistically.

  27. meir613 says:

    Derek,

    Thank you for the lively discussion. After much prayer and consideration, I will cease from posting further on this blog. I also kindly withdraw my invitation to Shabbos dinner.

    Simply as a point of clarification, I do not disagree with the writer of the Tanya. Who am I to disagree with such a Tzaddik as the Baal HaTanya? One must be humble in order to learn and accept the Derech Hashem.

    Gentiles should meditate on this passage from Yeremiyahu HaNavi: “To You the Gentiles will come from the ends of the earth and say, ‘Our fathers have inherited nothing but *falsehood*, *futility* and *things of no profit*” (Jeremiah 16:19).

    May each of us live to the see the day when the prophecy of Zecharya HaNavi is fulfilled: “HASHEM will be King over all the earth; in that day HASHEM will be the only one, and His name the only one” (Zechariah 14:9).

    His humble servant,
    Meir

  28. truthceeker says:

    Derek,
    Once again thank you for your continued presentation of Messianic Judaism. As I read some of the comments reworking the same old arguments agaisnt Yeshua as Messiah I was struck by the continual campain against a God/Man. This is after all the very heart of the OJ’s rejection of Yeshua, but I think it denies them an experience with the Lord on a human level. If God can never be a man or appear as a man then He never touches us through the Fathers. He never really wrestles with Jacob or appears to Abraham.

    Recently I’ve realized this more and see Messaih refected in the very nature of man. Adam (and Eve) were a shadow of the creator Himself. This was the Spirit of King Messiah who hovered over the waters in the beginning and all things heavenly are to eventually come to earth.

    Peace and blessings continue to be with you and yours,
    TruthCeeker (Scott)

  29. Everyone:

    What am I to think about Meir and his comments? Now he has publicly declined his former public invitation for my family to join him for Shabbat dinner. Curious.

    And now, he says he must agree that the Tanya teaches the inferiority of the gentile mind, a xenophobic, Torah-contradicting, and godless view if I have ever heard one. And Meir must accept this view as true to remain faithful to his conviction that any and every Orthodox authority is right about everything (even if they contradict). Oy.

    Are there any Orthodox out there who can speak to these matters? I do not consider Meir to be the sole or best representative of Orthodoxy and I do not impugn all Orthodox because of the views of some.

    • cybrsage says:

      We all know that Adam was not a Jew. We all know Abraham was not a Jew. To be a Jew, one must be a decendant of Israel, and neither Adam nor Abraham are decendants of Israel (obviously).

      This means that if OJ says non-Jews are inferior to Jews they are also saying both Adam and Abraham are inferior to Jews.

      AFAIK, you are using Gentile to mean non-Jew, correct? It really meant Pagan in the old days – but the modern use has been altered to simply mean non-Jew. I prefer to say non-Jew (or Goyim, but I am told it is a derogatory term – odd to me since it was used in the Bible in a non-derogatory way…but a few thousand years changes things, eh?).

      • cybrsage says:

        Er…correction on my last, I did not mean to type Abraham – for he was the first Hebrew, which is what Jew means these days.

        I meant to type Noah. Noah must be of inferior mind and stock since he was not a Jew, according to OJ (if what Meir claimed is true).

    • PraetorDrew says:

      It’s a letdown that he withdrew his Shabbat invitation. Staying with an Orthodox family is quite a good time.

      It wasn’t just the Tanya that portrays non-Jews as inferior. Digging through my kollel notes, I spotted an entry on Nachmanides. Apparently, he said that the soul of the gentile is vastly inferior to that of a Jew, the way that the nefesh of a tulip is superior to that of a rock. In fact, the soul of a gentile is elevated from having encountered a Jew. The soul of the Gentile before encountering a Jew is no greater than that of the donkey he rides upon.

      So apparently your Messianic synagogue is doing a greater service for the non-Jews who visit than you thought!

  30. cybrsage:

    The idea that “gentile” means pagan and is derogatory is another myth of the Hebraic roots movement.

  31. jgj84la says:

    It seems like many in OJ assume that MJ replaces or equates worship of God with worship of Yeshua. Does MJ worship Yeshua as God or do they honor him as the King of Israel? Can someone clarify this position for me?

  32. We do worship Yeshua (see Revelation and the worship the Lamb theme). We worship him as Messiah/King, but also as the Radiance of the Holy One (he is not all of God, not the Father, not God in his totality, but God the Son, the Presence). The apostles were reticent to simply say “Yeshua is God” for that reason. He is God if you understand this does not mean he is the Ein Sof (the Unending One, the Father).

  33. cybrsage says:

    To me, the three parts of G-d all being fully G-d yet each part only being part of G-d reminds me of the tesseract.

    A tesseract is a 3 dimensional shadow of a theoretical 4 dimensional object (must like a traditional shadow is a 2 dimensional shadow of a 3 dimensional object). Very basically, the way it operates defies how we (as 3 dimensional beings) think objects should work and act. Much like a shadow would seem bizarre to a 2 dimensional being, the tesseract seems bizarre to us.

    So G-d, being much more than us mere humans, operates on a different level than we do. We simply cannot comprehend it fully and (to many) it seems bizarre.

  34. badgertale says:

    I am a Christian, a follower of The Way, etc… Very interesting comments and I enjoyed reading all of them but the concept of Trinity seems to be a hang up for some…even Christians.

    First off, the Trinity is purely human. That is to say, totally something that represents what to many is pretty obvious throughout the Bible as a whole (OT/NT). As one reads one can clearly get a sense of G-d’s personality. No different from the personality a father to a son and visa versa. There aren’t three gods at all and as a Christian I find it very difficult to understand why this is a big thing in Christiandome.

    Anyway, apparently there are three strong personality traits which form the Trinity. I think it’s really stupid and in error since, in my experience, G-d has may discernible personality traits…doh, all of them, I would say.

    Anyhow, I’m sure I’ve created more questions than answers but I thought I would chime in.

    *(I uses a “-” you know where out of respect. I know it can be deeply offensive.)

  35. True Jewish people worship only THE Holy ONE THE CREATOR AND SUSTAINER OF THE UNIVERSE but Christians worship the creature not the CREATOR that is the big difference

  36. truthceeker says:

    Christians do not worship the creature of Jesus but the Divinity of the Word of the Creator. For it was by His Word that the Creator made all things and sustains the universe. This is the same Word which appears as The Malach Adonai, the Messenger of The LORD. For no man can see the Glory of the LORD and live and so the Creator in His wisdom speaks and acts through His Messenger, His Word. The Messenger was with the Creator in the beginning when He said, “Let us make man in our image,” and so we know that the Word is in the image of the Creator just as man is in the image of the Creator. The only difference between Christians and the Jewish People is in the minds of some people.

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