When the Jewish People are One

Rabbi Mendel TeldonI am not Orthodox.

There. I said it.

Yes, I look like I am. I have a full beard, I am the rabbi of a traditional synagogue and don’t eat anything not kosher. But I am finally comfortable enough with myself and my Judaism to come out and say what has been lying underneath the surface for so many years.

I just can’t classify myself anymore as an Orthodox Jew.

Truth be told, as I look at the membership list of my congregation here in suburban Long Island I feel that none of my community is really Orthodox either.

Please allow me to describe to you my journey on how I reached this conclusion.

-Rabbi Mendel Teldon
“I Am Not Orthodox”
Opinion piece written for
The Jewish Week

And so begins the (you should pardon the expression) “unorthodox” commentary of Rabbi Teldon about Jewish identity from his particular perspective. I must admit, when I read this article, the first thing I thought of was Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann’s article in the most recent issue of Messiah Journal called “The Jewish People are Us – not Them” (read my review of the article for more details).

As his story progresses, Rabbi Teldon relates how, during one Erev Shabbat meal in his home, he asked his (Jewish) guests, “Do you consider yourself Conservative, Reform, Orthodox, None of the above or Other?”

The first guest thought for a few moments and said “I’m not sure. My parents were Conservative, we were married by an Orthodox rabbi, but our kids went to a Reform temple for nursery. I didn’t fast on this past Yom Kippur but my daughter’s upcoming Bat mitzvah is going to be done by an Orthodox rabbi.”

The next guy said he is Reform since currently he is not a member at any temple but he takes his family to a Reform temple in Westchester every year for the high holidays. Since his parents are on the board of directors they get a good price on tickets so it is worth the schlep. Also, while he hadn’t studied much lately, he feels that his beliefs are more in tune with the Reform movements ideas of Tikun Olam.

The third scratched his head and said, “My friends ask me this same question when they hear I am a member at an Orthodox congregation. My response is “Other” since I don’t fall into any of those categories.”

Not being Jewish, I have no real basis for evaluating the question much less the answer, except in relationship (perhaps) with Dr. Dauermann’s article. Dauermann also discusses the nature of Jewish identity and the vital necessity of Messianic Jews to relate first and foremost as Jews. That point dovetails quite nicely with what Rabbi Teldon says next:

That is when it suddenly hit me.

I am not Orthodox since there is no such thing as an Orthodox Jew. As there is no such thing as a Reform Jew or Conservative Jew.

These terms are artificial lines dividing Jews into classes and sub-classes ignoring the most important thing about us all. We share one and the same Torah given by the One and same God.

That is, from my point of view, the essence of what Rabbi Dauermann was communicating in his article. Jewish identity is more than just a label, it’s more than just whether or not you were Bar Mitzvahed by an Orthodox Rabbi, attend the High Holy Days in a Reform shul, and have your kids go to Hebrew school at a Conservative synagogue. Jewish identity is transcendent across all of these “labels.”

Of course, the Jewish people sharing affiliation across those different Jewish institutions or religious streams might have a problem with a Messianic Jew attempting to enter their spectrum of Jewish experience (and I just violated Rabbi Dauermann’s “Us, not them” emphasis).

I was also reminded of this:

We are on more solid ground if we attempt to define the term “Messianic Jew” – a Messianic Jew is simply a Jewish person who believes in Yeshua. Messianic Jews have all sorts of theological views, ranging from attending shul weekly and treasuring Yeshua in their hearts as a crypto-faith and living out a more Orthoprax Judaism, to attending a Pentecostal church every week, and simply maintaining an awareness of their Jewish identity.

“The shape of the Messianic Jewish movement”
rosh pina project

IntermarriageBut all this introduces a level of complexity into the equation of Jewish identity and Jewish community. When trying to explain these concepts to my Pastor a few weeks ago, he asked me if Messianic Jews had more in common with Judaism or Christianity. He was getting at the idea that in Christ, we are all “one new man” (Ephesians 2:15) and are saved through Jesus on the cross, while most streams of Judaism deny Christ as Messiah and as the Son of God.

I don’t think I can adequately answer such a question without being Jewish. I don’t have a lived Jewish experience and a unique identity as a part of Israel. In Christianity, we are taught to revere Jesus above all else and our culture and identity is defined by our beliefs.

Jewish identity and covenant relationship with God is established at birth (with the exception of those who convert to Judaism, “Jews by choice”) and, as Rabbi Teldon said, are defined by the Torah and by God. Any Gentile can enter or leave Christianity, but a Jew is born a Jew and even if they reject that heritage, they can never leave and become an “unJew”.

Historically, as Rabbi Dauermann brought out in his article, Jews have always been required to make a choice when coming to faith in Yeshua as Messiah. Either surrender all Jewish identity, practice, and culture, or forget about becoming a disciple of Jesus and lose (or never attain) your salvation.

I seriously doubt that any Christian past or present has any idea what they were asking of Jewish people who desired to have a relationship with the Jewish Messiah. How can you ask a Jew to leave his covenant people in order to honor the capstone of Jewish history, the Messiah, Son of David, who is utterly devoted to his covenant people Israel?

Then we come to a recent debate in the blogosphere on Jewish apostasy, and by that, I mean Jews who previously were believers within a Messianic Jewish context, denouncing Jesus and re-entering another Jewish religious community. General Christian and Hebrew Roots consensus says that any Messianic Jew who desires to live a completely Jewish lifestyle in honor of his fathers, in honor of the Torah, and in honor of Messiah significantly risks leaving Yeshua-faith because, somehow, living as a completely observant Jew among completely observant Jews and focusing on Messiah are mutually exclusive experiences.

Rabbi Teldon’s commentary may seem heartwarming when applied to any other Jewish population, but Christians consider having Messianic Jews making transitions across multiple corridors of (non-Messianic) Judaism as a severe threat which will result in those Jews leaving Yeshua-faith for “dead” Jewish worship. Even many Gentiles in the Hebrew Roots movement who believe as non-Jews, they are obligated to “observe” Torah, are at least hesitant about if not actively critical of Jews in Messiah who want to actually live as Jews and among Jews. Go figure.

I wrote a review a few days ago on one of John MacArthur’s presentations at his Strange Fire conference, and at the end of my review, I brought into question who Christians should be focusing upon, God the Father, Jesus the Son, or the Holy Spirit? Christianity, including Hebrew Roots, insists that the only valid focus of Christian faith must be Jesus Christ, but if that’s true, do we simply disregard the God of Genesis, the God of Abraham,  the God of Jacob, and the God of Moses? Even at the end of all things, the Bible specifically mentions only “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:3).

I don’t see how it can be reasonable to ask a Jew to stop being Jewish in order to worship the God of Israel and Messiah, Son of David, King of the Jews. What are Jewish families in Messiah supposed to do, shop at the mall on Saturday afternoon and serve shrimp at their daughter’s wedding?

Oh, not everyone thought Rabbi Teldon’s article was heartwarming. Here are a couple of comments from the blog post:

Dear Rabbi Mendel,

Will you daven in a shul that is not Orthodox? Will you sit next to a woman who is also davening, and consider yourself yotse? Will you pray in any shul, regardless of denomination? Do you recognize those with non-Orthodox smicha as rabbis? Do you count women in a minyan? Will you daven, in tefilla b’tzibur, if there are women forming the minyan of ten? Will you share a pulpit with a woman who is a Rabbi in doing a wedding, or leading a service? I imagine that you would say yes to all of the above, since you have publicly claimed you are not an Orthodox Rabbi. If you cannot say yes to all of the above, I encourage you to publish an apology and a detraction of your public statement about being not being an Orthodox Rabbi. If you cannot say yes to all of the above, to claim one is not Orthodox is both disingenuous and inaccurate.

Thank you.

And another comment…

What do you expect? He’s a Lubavitcher. For Lubavitchers, every other Jew from unaffiliated to Satmar is classified as either Lubavitcher or not-yet-Lubavitcher. Everyone is conversion fodder to them. If one regards O/C/R as affiliations, he’s not affiliated with any of the other Orthodox orgnaizations – Lubavitch institutionally does not join with other Jewish institutions.

Except that Orthodoxy, according to R’ Micha Berger, is not a movement, but an attribute a movement can have. OU, Agudah, Lubavitch organizations, they’re all Orthodox because of their adherence to certain ideas. IOW, this is a marketing move. Since R’ Teldon finds that his congregants eschew labels, he’ll eschew labels too. Doesn’t change what he believes.

judaismIn the Messianic Jewish and Hebrew Roots movements, the concept of Jewish identity is fiercely discussed, but it’s obviously a matter of concern among all of the other Judaisms as well.

I think Rabbi Teldon has the right idea. I think that the core of being Jewish must cut through all other distinctions. When the Nazis came for the Jews, it didn’t matter what the synagogue affiliation (if any) of their victims were. Jews were simply herded into cattle cars and taken away as slave labor or to the gas chambers.

While there may be some “bumps in the road” between different Jewish streams regarding who is or isn’t considered Jewish, no other form of Judaism attracts masses of non-Jews like Messianic Judaism. This has been a really BIG “bump in the road” for Jewish Messianics who desire a truly Jewish life and worship experience.

Derek Leman, who like many other congregation leaders in the Messianic movement, oversees a congregation of mostly non-Jews, and yet he also sees the need for “Jewish” Messianic Judaism, as he blogged recently. Naturally, his blog post generated a lot of discussion in the comments section, since many non-Jews associated with the movement and certainly most traditional Christians, are at least confused about why Judaism is such a big deal, to outright offended at the suggestion that Jews converting to Christianity is not God’s real plan for them.

Gentile involvement in Messianic Judaism, although well established historically, results in an interruption of Jewish community that Rabbi Teldon and those at his Shabbos table couldn’t possibly imagine. And yet, without Gentile Christian involvement and support, the vast majority of Messianic Jewish communities would not be able to exist. On top of that, most Jewish people I know in the Messianic movement originally came to faith within a Christian church context. It would seem that continued Christian Gentile involvement or crossover into Messianic Judaism is inevitable, regardless of the other problems this raises.

But God, one by one, calls back each of His Jewish children to stand before Him at Sinai and to recall the Torah of their fathers. God speaks to each Jewish person, reminding them of who He is and who they are in Him.

The apostle Paul probably understood this dilemma best. He was a Jew, a Pharisee, of the tribe of Benjamin, circumcised on the eighth day, zealous for the Torah, the Messiah, the Temple, and Hashem. And yet, he associated with many, many Gentiles. Yes, he always went to the synagogue first whenever he entered a town in the diaspora, and he told of the good news of Moshiach to the Jews first, and also to the Gentiles.

And yet, the Biblical record testifies that as Paul lived and eventually died among the Gentiles, he never compromised who he was as a Jew, nor was he required to make such a heinous compromise by Messiah in order to be an emissary to the Gentiles. If anything, Paul’s Jewish “credentials” underwent the most strenuous scrutiny and the apostle clung to who he was as a Jew with outstanding fidelity (see Acts 21 and subsequent chapters for multiple examples).

It was a difficult road to walk, and it is no wonder that Jews in the Messianic movement today struggle to find a path. If only it could be as Rabbi Teldon relates. If only the binding link between all Jews could be Hashem, and Torah, and the promise of Messiah, who is realized among Messianic Jews. A Messianic Jew living as a Jew among other observant Jews should never violate zealousness for Moshiach at all. It never once dimmed Paul, the Jewish emissary to the Gentile’s vision of the Messiah King.

I know both Christians and Jews will disagree with me in all that I’ve said. But when I read the Bible and factor in the historical, cultural, linguistic, and yes, Rabbinic (proto-Rabbinic) context of Paul’s world, that’s how I see him. I see Paul as a shining example that a Jew who is zealous for Torah does not have to compromise his observance or his Messianic faith in order to honor the King and to worship Hashem.

Messiah is the lynchpin, the capstone that holds all believers together, Jewish and Gentile alike, but there is a dimension possessed by Jews in Messiah that we non-Jewish disciples, by definition, cannot apprehend. God created at Sinai an identity and an experience of what it is to be Jewish in community with other Jews that is unique to the living descendants of Jacob. The Messiah means a great deal to Christians, and we would be hopelessly lost and separated from God without him. But he is even more than all that to the Jewish disciples.

Messiah is the culmination of the prophesies from the Tanakh which all speak of the personal, community, and national redemption of all Jews and of Israel. Messiah is the link that allows the people of the nations to come alongside Israel and share in the prophetic blessings. To demand that a Jew in Messiah stop being Jewish and stop participating in Judaism is to deny Biblical prophesy, deny God’s sovereign plan for Israel and the world, and frankly, when we are dumb enough to make such a silly demand, we Gentiles are shooting ourselves in the foot (remember, the Jews would offer sacrifices to God for the atonement of the nations of the Earth, and the Romans destroyed that atonement in 70 C.E.). Without Jewish Israel and Judaism, what links us to Messiah and to salvation at all?

Capstone archSomeday, Messiah will be the capstone, not only for the (mixed) body of Messiah, but for all Jews everywhere, as they flock to Jerusalem to celebrate the return of the King. We Gentile believers will also celebrate, but it is our job to help conduct the exiles back to their Torah and their Land in accordance to the will of our Master and the will of Hashem.

The party will be first and foremost for the Jewish people, the nation of Israel, the Holy people of God who He gathered to Himself at Sinai. We of the nations who are called by His Name are grafted in by a faith learned from Abraham and through the grace of Messiah and the providence of God.

Rabbi Teldon ended his article with these words:

When we are able to focus on the fact that while we have differences but a family truly remains connected eternally, it will reconfirm what we already knew: Am Yisroel Chai!

There must be a way for this to be accomplished also for Messianic Jews, because they too are part of the family, regardless of other differences. Paul is part of that family, as are James, Peter, John, and for that matter, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Messiah is part of that family, and he leads that family and that nation, for he is, first and foremost, the Jewish King.

How can Gentile believers in the Church not understand that being Jewish is a gift and demand that Jews return that gift to their Father in Heaven in exchange for Gentile Christianity? Someday what Rabbi Teldon describes will become an overwhelming reality in a way we cannot possibly imagine. Someday Messiah will bring all of his people, all of Israel home. And on that day, I and my other non-Jewish brothers and sisters will line the highway leading up to Jerusalem and loudly, jubilantly applaud the return of the lost remnant of Judaism, and cheer in joy and gratitude that the will of God has finally come to pass…

…and  we will bless God that we among the nations were allowed to humbly be a part of it all.


12 thoughts on “When the Jewish People are One”

  1. While I agree with R.Berger that Orthodoxy is an attribute, I must assert that it also has been a movement — one which arose in reaction against the spread of the Reform movement and its deliberate attempts to distance itself from traditional distinctive Jewish artifacts and practices. From that perspective R.Teldon seems to be reporting that many of his congregants do not hold orthodox viewpoints and attitudes, and that they are therefore lax or non-orthodox (not to say unorthodox) in their praxis. Note, please, the distinction between non-orthodox, that omits certain aspects of orthodoxy, and unorthodox, which suggests distortion or deviation of or from orthodox praxis or thought by means of some alternative praxis. Prior to the rise of Reform or Orthodox movements, there was merely a long chain of generally observed traditional belief and praxis. Hasidism, as well as false messianic movements such as Shabbtai Tzvi’s, represent movements within the Jewish framework that departed in one way or another from the general tradition. Hasidism sought piety and experiential feeling; false messianism sought justification for other departures from tradition. The rise of the Conservative movement was in part an attempt to restore a traditional balance somewhere between Reform deviation and rigid Orthodox over-reaction against it, while simultaneously attempting to accommodate social and technological change toward modernization. Its goal was to restore the dynamism of halakhic deliberation for the application of ancient tradition in current circumstances. There is a modern form of Orthodoxy in Israel that does similarly, though with a stronger emphasis on applying and maintaining existing and more ancient tradition, and greater resistance against mere modernity or change for its own sake. Of course, a broad spectrum of Jewish praxis exists also in Israel, though so far there exists a single dividing line between “Dati” (religious, meaning essentially and generally orthodox) and “Hiloni” (literally, “blasphemers”, though essentially meaning merely “secular” or irreligious). Among the “Dati-im”, there is some recognition of subgroups such as “mesorati-im” (meaning “traditional”) who maintain Torah observance traditions as defined by halakhah but not quite as rigidly as some forms of orthodoxy, as well as “Hasidim” (“pious ones” [in the 18th century sense]) or “Haredim” (“trembling ones” [Quakers?] that we might consider ultra-orthodox). Jewish messianists could fit into several of these contexts, though there is a certain natural characterization that would be essentially Hasidic in its dedication to the views of a particular rabbi or a dynasty of his disciples.

  2. You describe a level of complexity within Judaism that I also experience inside Christianity. I was trying to dovetail on Dauermann’s commentary on Jewish identity to establish the common thread that binds all Jewish people together. The only thing that links one Christian to another is faith in Messiah, but there’s more “connective history” in Judaism going back to Sinai and even further, to Abraham. In the age to come, I can only imagine that the barriers that stand between one Jew and another will be eliminated as Messiah teaches his people the way to walk. So too for the Gentiles who are called by His Name. Now we are contained within silos that tend to isolate us but one day, we will all know who we are supposed to be in relation to God and to each other.

  3. Ok, I know this is going to be a bit off the point. But I keep reading that John MacArthur …and now you… believe that in Christianity Jesus should be put “first”.

    I was never taught that. In Bible College, we were taught that the Trinity is equal. That you could pray equally to the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit. That you could worship each equally.

    Have you ever read ‘The Shack’? It is the absolute best representation of the Trinity, I have ever read.

    We generally pray to Jesus and feel closer to Him, because of any one of the members of the Trinity, we feel that He relates to us the best (which is wrong), but because He became man, we generally relate to Him best. However, if we are going to follow His example, He always lifted the Father up and prayed to the Father.

    In any case, I think that for MacArthur to say that because Pentecostals don’t focus solely on Jesus is evidence of heresy, is just wrong.

    Closer to the point of this article, it was when I realized in my early twenties, that I was Jewish enough to get thrown into a concentration camp; for me, that’s all the Jewish I ever needed to be. No one was ever going to care about my Irish ancestry, or my Scottish ancestry, but they would certainly care about my Jewish ancestry. So I figured I just better be one. I still attended a Christian Bible school (which really encouraged my Jewishness), and I attended Christian churches for many years, simply because I didn’t live anyplace where there were any Messianic congregations. In any case, I think the luxury of basking in our differences, disappears during times of persecution, both for Jews and Gentiles.

    And speaking of being Jewish. For some reason this year, I can’t wait for Hannukah!

    1. Shalom, Dree — I’ve heard several variations on your theme of “when I realized … that I was Jewish enough to get thrown into a concentration camp [I felt] … that’s all the Jewish I ever needed to be.” I recommend strongly against letting the Nazi definition of what is sufficient Jewishness for killing to become enough for any Jew to accept as an identity. That’s about as bad as those who think Jewishness is defined by what it rejects, particularly anything associated with Christianity. Both of these are very negative definitions, and neither of them reflect characteristics that truly define what it is to be Jewish, in thought, in outlook, in attitude, in praxis, and in a host of other aspects. The Nazis killed a lot of folks, and they were not all Jews; and some whom the Nazis deemed to be Jews had little if any connection with Jewishness. On the other hand, a view has been expressed by some rabbis that anyone who is willing to be persecuted as a Jew is probably Jewish in some degree (though halakhically, some of them might still require formal conversion for full and proper acceptance as part of the Jewish people).

      One notion that is very definitively characteristic of being Jewish is the absolute monotheism expressed in the “Shm’a”. HaShem is One and only One; there is no trinity of god-beings in Him. Trinity is a concept derived from mis-readings of certain scriptures apart from their proper contexts. Other aspects of “divinity” and numinous states of being need to be clarified elsewhere; there is not sufficient room in any blog post to deal with them (but look at Phil.2:5-11 for one example).

  4. The impression I get from the teachings of Jesus in the Gospel is that he taught his disciples to pray to God the Father (which they would have done anyway) in his name. Thus we pray to God and end such prayers with words like “…we pray these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.” I don’t necessarily think the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are interchangeable parts like spark plugs. Just my two cents.

  5. I first learned of the subject of “ahavat chinnam” as I researched my book on the Holocaust. In the longer, yet unpublished version of the book, I string together a number of verses of Scripture and quotes from Talmud and others on how this concept lies at the bottom of all division, everywhere, whether between Christians and Jews and Christians and Christians or Jews and Jews. The string starts out with an enormous statement singling out the cause of the destruction of the Second Temple:

    “The Talmud explains, ‘Why was the Second Temple destroyed? Because of sinat chinnam, senseless hatred of one Jew for another.’” (b. Yoma 9b)

    I then add: “If senseless hatred was a cause of such destruction, then ahavat chinnam, senseless love, of one Jew for another, must constitute a great part of the prescribed treatment for those proceeding in the wake of such destruction.”

    This I juxtapose with what Levertoff writes on the subject: “The whole messianic consciousness of Jesus is expressed in this expectation of love.”

    A quote from Paul thrown in for “balance” between “Old” and “New” Testaments and Talmud: “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11 ESV)

    I see Levertoff as providing an answer, if not THE answer, to the matter, in his “Love and the Messianic Age”: “‘God can only dwell in broken vessels.’ This is a frequently used phrase… The aim of all Creation is bittul hayesh (‘abnegation of being’); that is, ceasing from being something apart from God; to die, in order to be raised to life again. Every world fulfills its mission of dying to itself according it its own degree and in its own way.”

    This, a reflection of what Yeshua teaches: “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

    The subject of “ahavat chinnam,” comes out in fullest expression by Messiah as recorded by John in chapter 13: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (13:34-5)

    The same concept that Rabbi Teldon speaks of, and that Rabbi Dauerman affirms, is that the question is a question of spiritual identity and whom one should love if one is a part of God’s mishpacha, family. As for me, through the lens of the Shoah, I see the primary “us vs. them” problem between Christianity and the Jewish people a.k.a. Judaism, as having its roots in Christian theology via Replacement theology. As for what it means within Judaism, I agree with you that:

    “Rabbi Teldon has the right idea. I think that the core of being Jewish must cut through all other distinctions. When the Nazis came for the Jews, it didn’t matter what the synagogue affiliation (if any) of their victims were. Jews were simply herded into cattle cars and taken away as slave labor or to the gas chambers.”

    As a matter of fact, this “other” view of Judaism as a monolithic whole is terrifyingly emphasized with the rise of Reform Judaism in the late 1800’s in Europe: the Nazis paid no attention to liturgical or other practices in determining who would live and who would die as part of the Final Solution; assimilation made no difference. Deeply assimilated secular Western Jews in France were deported and exterminated with the same ferocity as spiritual Chasidic shtetl Jews in Poland.

    As it seems, Messiah’s call to “love one another” remains at the root of the problem in every expression of division inherent to Jews and Christians everywhere down through the ages: “ahavat chinnam” whether stressed by the rabbis or by Yeshua, remains the bottom line. It is significant, I think, and sad, that both traditional Judaism and mainstream Christianity both emphasize the same overarching ideal and yet, fall so short in bringing it to full expression.

    What a day it will be when Messiah returns to teach the Torah in full and with perfection. We will all be stunned at the waste of time and life determined by failure to emphasize this one central concept of “ahavat chinnam” in every direction.

  6. My “other” two cents: I see the emphasis upon Jesus in Christianity as a symptom of Replacement theology, not a truth of the Scriptures. Yeshua constantly seems to point others to the Father, not to Himself. He has made access to the Father possible. Christianity, it seems to me and in my humble opinion, has over-emphasized “Jesus” as being central as yet one more way to separate itself from Judaism. Just shootin’ from the hip here, but I can only “calls em as I sees em.” Open to any and all disagreement… shalom, over and out.

  7. That’s a lot of commentary for only two cents, Dan. 😀

    I agree that God calls us to love one another above all other considerations except our love of God. Messiah was the perfect expression of that love, he who was willing to give up his life, even for strangers, and even for those who hate him.

    God is One and His Name is One. Someday, we will understand that unity as we live it out in the community of Messiah in his Kingdom.

  8. A dime, at least. Maybe a quarter. 🙂 Your subject matter helps me think. When I think, I’m alive. Your blog, therein, most often makes me feel alive. Feel free to just let the longer comments “stand alone” … I’ll understand … we’re not operating within the span of eternity yet (although I sometimes comment as if we are) and we all have to need to budget our time 😉

  9. Good thoughts everyone. As I have mentioned before, some of my relatives are Sephardic. They do not have the divisions that Ashkenazi Jews possess, as there was no reason for these to develop, and certainly it was a matter of survival that the small number of Jews living in hostile Muslim countries could not afford to form opposing factions. Certainly there exists differing levels of observance, but my sister-in-law views the picayune divisiveness among American Jews as silly, and rightly so.

  10. I find that scripture portrays God as being One in relationship (Father, Son, Spirit) not one in singularity. Jesus always spoke of the Father as someone separate from Himself, someone to whom He submitted, speaking only His words and doing only the Father’s works – and yet scripture is also clear on the fact that Jesus Himself is God, being given names and titles that are unambiguously titles of Divinity, belonging to God alone.

    Christians have tried to explain this by defining God as “Trinity” a concept that works to the satisfaction of many but probably misses the truth by a mile. I wonder whether the Divine relationship between Father, Son and Spirit is one that man is capable of REALLY understanding because it is far above and beyond our own experience. Mankind seems far more familiar with division than unity, defining ourselves by man-determined differences.

    1. It is my view that Rav Shaul offered to the Philippians (Phil.2:5-11) an incidental description of Rav Yeshua’s neshamah, and his relationship with the Father, that explains how he has been assigned a special role that allows him to stand-in as HaShem’s divine regent who thus bears those titles on His behalf.

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