Aside from the vast numbers of Jews murdered during the Holocaust, the scars that the experience left on survivors was unimaginable. One of the champions of the survivors was the Beis Yisrael of Gur, zt”l. He himself had plenty to cry about—he could remember his one hundred thousand chassidim in Europe before the war, virtually all of them murdered, including many of his close relatives—yet he was a beacon of hope to survivors. He always found exactly the right approach to pull downtrodden survivors out of their despair and give them new hope.
“In Arachin 29 we find that a Jew may not be sold as a slave during times when there is no Yovel. This teaches a powerful concept. An eved ivri cannot be sold into slavery unless there is a clearly defined end to his indenture. We see that a Jew is not forced to endure a load of tests that are harder than he can bear. Even when his hardships are decreed, they must have a set end, a clear-cut time when he will be delivered from the adversity. This is the meaning of the principle that God creates the medicine before allowing the blow to fall. There is always a way for every Jew to emerge from despair and begin again, to learn how to live a positive life despite the horrors and trauma he may have experienced. Every exile must have an end!”
Daf Yomi Digest
Stories Off the Daf
“Every Exile Must Have an End”
The hardships and loss suffered by the Jewish people across the long span of history is just appalling. One can hardly think of this topic and not immediately have images of the horrors of the Holocaust spring forth in our memories. The past 2,000 years of the chronicles of Judaism particularly read like a tragedy worthy of the greatest classical poets and playwrights. And yet that suffering is real. The loss of life, property, and dignity are terribly real. But because of God’s promises to the Jewish people and His graciousness and mercy, the Jews yet survive, against all odds, as a people and a faith, and continue to honor the God who created both the tormented and the tormentors.
Christianity has been hard at work taking from the Jews what does not belong to us.
To be perfectly blunt, I must say the Christians have robbed the Jews! And perhaps what is worse is that this thievery has been encouraged by theologians, pastors, and even Sunday School teachers, where small children are taught to sing the song, “Every promise in the book is mine, every chapter, every verse, every line.”
Every promise in Scripture in some way benefits Christians, but it is not all promised to Christians. Sometimes the thievery has been inadvertent and unintentional. It’s like thinking that the raincoat hanging in the office closet is yours for wearing home because of unexpected showers. Hopefully, you will discover the raincoat belongs to a fellow worker and you will restore it. It is not as if Christians do not have the greatest promise of God, which is I John 2:25: “And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life.”
from the Foreward to Pastor Barry Horner’s book
Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged
The irony is that we Christians have not only robbed the Jews, we have robbed ourselves. What was the Christianity taught by Paul, Peter, and the rest of the Jewish Apostles to the non-Jewish disciples of the Jewish Jesus? We don’t really know. We don’t have access to the unedited and unfiltered teachings that underlie the New Testament text we read in our Bibles today. It’s not just the words in the Bible, but what almost 2,000 years of Christian theology and doctrine has taught us what that text is supposed to mean. We take it as a foregone conclusion that “every promise in the book is mine” but we don’t really know. We are taught to believe, so that whenever our assumptions and our standard Christian traditions are challenged, we really think that what we believe is actually fact instead of interpretation.
If circumstances had been different and there hadn’t been a savage separation between Jewish Messianism and Gentile Christianity in the early, formative centuries of the church, what would things be like today? Would there be a thriving Messianic Judaism that stands alongside Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Judaism? Would Gentile Christianity still seek to find its truth from within a Jewish interpretive context? Would we all still cease our toil on Shabbat, and would Christians along with religious Jews, pray at set times to the Maker of Heaven and Earth?
There’s no way to know, of course, and I’m forced to believe that the Christian/Jewish schism is all part of God’s plan and that the “time of the Gentiles” has to become “full” before the Jews are able to recognize the face and identity of the Moshiach. Paul lamented the suffering of his own people in Romans 11 and registered deep regret that some Jews would be temporarily separated from the Messiah for the sake of we Gentiles. I have to believe this “disconnect” was somehow necessary, and yet like so many other parts of God’s plan for humanity, I must confess a gross lack of understanding for almost everything that is going on around me in my world of faith.
And yet faith and trust are the only tools I have to sustain me and without them, I am lost, along with a disbelieving world. Where is God? Why is there such suffering? Why hasn’t Jesus returned yet? Where is the Moshiach? What is he waiting for? If not now, when?
Today is Sunday as I write these words and Christians in churches all over the world smile and sing and pat themselves on the back that they are saved by Grace and not from works. They congratulate each other over being inheritors of all of the promises in the Bible and it never occurs to them that they have missed so much.
At this point, I must stop in my “rant” and recognize the enormous good that has been done in the name of Christ throughout the world and across church history. Many have been fed and clothed. Many have heard the “good news” of salvation for the sake of Christ and the unsaved. Many churches have been built, many homes have been built, many children have received medical care, many grieving hearts have been comforted. There have always been those in the church who have learned the core lessons of the Master and performed them with unswerving love and devotion. There have always been those who have labored and suffered in anonymity, without titles, recognition, or receiving any honors, who give glory to God and not to themselves. For all of the faults in the church, there are many who, though they do not recognize the “Jewishness” of Jesus, carry on the mitzvot he commanded to always do good to others, to pick up their burdens, and to follow Christ where ever he leads them. Praise be to God for their faithfulness and trust.
And yet, the early “church fathers” took it upon themselves to reinvent history and the Bible in the image of the nations, removing any and every trace of Judaism. In spite of their efforts, the faithful in Christ have continued to work as the Master taught in the Gospels. But sadly, we have toiled under many a false teaching as we struggle to live a life, not by man’s doctrine, but in obedience to Jesus. By God’s miracles, many Christians were not blinded by the man-made theology of supersessionism. But we still see the Bible through “Christian-tinted glasses” and absolutely don’t realize that we’re wearing them, imagining instead that our vision is crystal clear and not “through a glass darkly.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) And yet, as long as a single Christian feeds even one hungry mother and heals the wounds of one injured child, there is hope.
The irony for many, is that when Jesus returns, he will not be here to inaugurate an age of Christian domination over the earth, but to restore Israel to her rightful place before the nations and before God. Only then will we all, Israel and the disciples of the nations alike, be able to have the peace that has been prophesied.
…but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken. –Micah 4:4
Only then will we all, Jew and Gentile alike, sit with each other in peace at the table of the patriarchs.
I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven… –Matthew 8:11
May Jesus the Messiah come soon and in our day, and may we truly be prepared to welcome him, not as we imagine him to be, but as he truly is: Yeshua HaMoshiach, the King of the Jews. Then the “exile” of both the Jew and the Gentile from the presence of our Master will come to an end.