The Ger Toshav at Worship

Yom Kippur prayersHere’s a brief but significant addendum to my first blog post on the Journey of the Ger Toshav. I’ve been surfing the Ask Noah forums which are specifically for Noahides to ask questions regarding their status relative to Judaism. I found the following in the thread Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur as posted by one of the Rabbis moderating the forums:

As a Noahide, here are some guidelines for the Jewish Biblical festivals:

  1. In general, do not specifically intend to be observing any of the Jewish restrictions on activities during the festivals. You can continue your normal types of activities that would be forbidden for Jews (using electricity, driving, writing, etc.)
  2. Do not say a benediction of sanctifying the festival day (i.e. saying “kiddush” at a meal).
  3. Do not actively perform any of the special Jewish festival commandments with the intention that you are observing a Divine commandment (e.g. blowing a ram’s horn on Rosh HaShanah, fasting on Yom Kippur).
  4. In the synagogue, do not get called up to the Torah scroll during the public reading.
  5. A Gentile can’t be counted in the minimum of 10 Jewish men who are needed for a communal prayer-service quorum (a minyan).
  6. You can follow along in the Orthodox Jewish prayer book during the services, but don’t recite those parts that apply exclusively to Jews. Gentiles may bow down to the floor in prayer while the congregation does so during the Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur services.
  7. Don’t forget to turn off your cell phone or pager during the synagogue prayer services.
  8. If attending a synagogue service, a Gentile women should dress modestly. And for respect of the congregation, a man should wear a hat or a yarmulke (Jewish skull cap).

It makes perfect sense for a Noahide and a Christian attending a synagogue service to comply with all of these restrictions, but in the Messianic Jewish (MJ) world, it becomes a little confusing. As I mentioned in the previous blog post of this series, how One Law (OL) proponents in MJ and those that support Bilateral Ecclesiology (BE) see this issue is the difference between day and night. BE, of course, would be in complete agreement with the Ask Noah forums perspective, which is the traditional Jewish point of view, and OL would state that Gentile “Messianics” should have every right to participate in the same activities as the Jewish attendees in the synagogue.

Frankly, I can’t see myself as a Christian married to a Jewish wife trying to put on a tallit and expecting an Aliyah, nor would I attempt to join a minyan during the High Holidays or at any other time. In a traditional synagogue, a Gentile performing these behaviors would be considered deeply offensive.

The reason I’m bringing this up is that this series of blogs is an attempt to see if Christians can define their roles in relation to Jews (including Jews in the Messianic community) through how Jews view the status of Noahides. I know that a Noahide would be considered equivalent to the God-fearers in the day of Peter and Paul (see the example of Cornelius in Acts 10) and this group of Gentiles did not have a covenant status with God that allowed them equal access to the Most High. Confessing Jesus as Lord and Messiah and accepting the Messianic covenant does give Gentiles this access, but I still don’t see how it makes a Christian different from a Noahide (can you be a Noahide and a Christian from a traditional Jewish viewpoint?) as far as the eight points I quoted above are concerned.

Obviously, I’m aiming this blog post at the MJ community and all of its factions for a response. So far, my wee investigation does seem to indicate that Christians can learn from the Ger Toshav, at least a little.

Next and possibly last in this series: Failed Connection.

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