free bird

If you love something…

If you want something very, very badly, let it go free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours forever. If it doesn’t, it was never yours to begin with.

attributed to Jess Lair (1969)

I can identify with the sense of need for a coherent and authoritative model, especially in these times when so much controversy surrounds these issues. If I were in your shoes, I would be looking for a model, too. Or a congregation that is healthy and embodies the practices and values I believe in so strongly.(Good luck with that – I haven’t found one in my area, either.)

(BTW, over the years I”ve spoken to far to many Messianic Jews who feel disenfranchised in their own formerly Jewish congregations.So both Jew and Gentile are suffering.)

I don’t see any way around the truth that a Jewish community must be built and sustained by Jews.. (This is not an ideological statement: I’d say that same for any other type of community.space.) The catch-22 is that if that community welcomes Gentiles who are looking for Jewish space, it will end up experiencing the same loss of Jewish identity seen elsewhere in the Messianic movement.What do you have then? A community made up mostly of Gentiles who wanted to live in Jewish space.

I don’t see any bad people in this scenario, just some Jews and Gentiles who come face to face with demographic reality: most Jewish believers are in the Church and all it take is a minuscule percentage of Gentile believers to dramatically change the make-up of a Messianic Jewish congregation.

So at this point in time, I don’t see any viable way to build clearly Jewish Messianic communities (which I believe are essential to God’s purposes) that maintain an open door policy for all comers.

-Rabbi Dr. Carl Kinbar
from a blog comment on Morning Meditations

Especially given the dialogs happening on Part 1 and Part 2 of my review of J.K. McKee’s book One Law for All: From the Mosaic Texts to the Work of the Holy Spirit, Rabbi Kinbar’s comments re-opened a lot of old issues for me that I thought I’d settled.

I’ve gone on record advocating for the absolute necessity of Messianic Jewish community created by Jews and for Jews. But while such communities do exist in Israel, they are rare or even non-existent in the U.S. and other western nations. Even the most “Messianic Jewish” synagogue in the United States is still populated mostly by non-Jews.

I suspect that Dr. Mark Nanos would consider those Gentiles to be acting jewishly but not Jewish, however that is small consolation to people like R. Kinbar who greatly desires to daven in a minyan with other Jews like him in a setting that is both wholly Jewish and wholly Messianic.

Whenever I advocate for that position, someone usually “pushes back” and tells me that other streams of Judaism aren’t nearly so “threatened” by the presence of Gentiles, even self-professed “Messianics”. But in those other synagogues, no one ever questions whether or not it is a Jewish community. Identity issues are secure. For Messianic Jews, the long shadow of Jewish conversion to Christianity (voluntary and otherwise) and being ostracized from Jewish community and family life always looms like the spectre of death. The very presence of a majority (or perhaps even a minority) Gentile population in supposed Messianic Jewish space renders it, if not tumah, then at least much closer to Christian and that much farther away from anything truly Jewish.

I know a lot of (Gentile) people are going to complain because they see such a desire on the part of Messianic Jews as being “exclusive,” “cliquish,” and “exclusionary,” but then again, these critics are viewing the situation based on their own personal and corporate needs and wants rather than the needs of the Jews in community with Messiah.

I’ve always considered the song Me and Jesus to be kind of self-centered, but we Gentiles have been brought up in Christianity (at least in America) to think of our own needs first, rather than what we’d sacrifice for the sake of someone else, especially the needs of the Jewish people. It’s all about “me and Jesus.”

lost-in-the-fogOK, that was pretty unkind, but try for a few minutes to look at things from Carl’s point of view.

All that said, I admit that the first thing I felt in reading Carl’s words was a sense of loss and even a tinge of rejection, though that certainly wasn’t his intent. What anchors me in my church attendance and participation is my ability to communicate with the other side of the aisle, so to speak, to be able to access and consume Jewish and Messianic Jewish resources including relationships with Messianic Jewish (and Gentile) people. But that becomes more difficult if one of your personal ideals is not to interfere with Messianic Jewish community.

My response to Carl was this:

Well, in my particular case, I’m attending a small Baptist church and even if there were an appropriate (Messianic) Jewish congregation in my area that welcomed non-Jews, I would choose not to attend for personal (marital) reasons. Given my current situation, if for some reason, my relationships at church should fall apart, rather than going through the grisly task of “church shopping” all over again, I’d probably just bag it and do my own thing. The religious blogosphere is enough of a minefield without having to experience “live fire” from face-to-face interactions as well. God was gracious in directing me to a church that at least tolerates my “oddness” but I always feel like I’m on the edge of falling out of favor, even though I restrict my personal opinions most of the time.

I guess that means I don’t know how to build Messianic Jewish communities except to stay out of the way.

But staying out of the way sounds particularly lonely and even pathetic.

It also sounds like this query supposedly directed at J.K. McKee and recorded at Frequently Asked Questions: 1 Corinthians 7:17-24 (link courtesy of Kineti L’Tziyon):

I am a non-Jewish Messianic Believer, and have been told that my calling as a “Messianic Gentile” is to go back to a church, and not become Torah observant. I am told that I must follow “Paul’s rule,” and that seeking to live more like Yeshua and His Apostles would violate both it and my distinct “calling,” and likely nullify God’s special calling on the Jewish people. I should instead simply help Christians in church, not too interested in their Hebrew Roots, be more favorable to Israel and Jewish issues. Can you please help me?

This is the lead-in for a twenty page paper authored by McKee analyzing the 1 Corinthians 7:17-24 passage in a manner that differs from how it is apparently used by other theologians.

But if you look at R. Kinbar’s comments, my own angst when I feel the loss of relationships with the congregation of Jews in Messiah (or that little portion with whom I’m acquainted), and the cry for help from the supposed questioner at the top of McKee’s paper, there is a common theme: community.

Actually the theme is more “the community I want and need.”

I can’t speak for Carl and I can’t speak for the person posing the question in McKee’s paper, but I can speak for me. I couldn’t sleep the other night and allowed myself to turn the whole issue of community this way and that, upside down and inside out, and for me, the answer is so simple. Worse, it’s an answer I already know, so why was I complaining?

“One who romanticizes over Judaism and loses focus of the kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a carpenter who is infatuated with the hammer, rather than the house it was meant to build.”

-Troy Mitchell

“Don’t seek Christianity and don’t seek Judaism. Seek an encounter with God.”

-Tom

I found Pastor Jeff Weddle’s blog through one of The Onesimus Files blog posts.

Pastor Weddle opened his blog post with:

If a Holy Spirit indwelt person were stranded on a desert island with nothing but the Bible for ten years, would he come off that island with sound doctrine?

I believe he would.

Church tradition, although a helpful thing at times, is not necessary for sound doctrine.

waitThe gist of his message is all you need for sound doctrine and a relationship with God is the Holy Spirit and your Bible. I imagined myself on the stereotypical deserted tropical island you see in so many comic strips. It’s just a small piece of sand in the middle of a vast ocean. There’s only a single tree in the middle, but somehow I’ve got sufficient food and water and amazingly, a laptop and satellite link to the Internet.

Oh, I’ve also got the Holy Spirit and a Bible.

What would it be like to smash the laptop into a thousand pieces and to completely destroy the satellite link hardware, making it impossible for me to have contact with the rest of the world? It really would be me, the Holy Spirit, and the Bible.

That’s how I felt when Carl suggested effectively making sure Gentiles did not enter Messianic Jewish community space in order to preserve Messianic Jewish community space as Jewish. I felt cut off. I felt isolated. And in spite of what Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann wrote recently, I really did feel “second class”.

It’s funny what your emotions can do to you in spite of your best efforts to maintain an internal balance.

If one of my highly esteemed ideals is to preserve Messianic Jewish community and my presence in said-community inhibits achieving that ideal, then logically my recourse is to remove myself from that community and have nothing to do with it. That doesn’t mean I can’t study on my own, and I suppose (hopefully) it doesn’t mean I can’t have Messianic Jewish friends (although I can understand when some Messianic Jews don’t want to have close association with me), but it does mean there are communities that I must not intrude upon for the sake of Hashem’s plan for His people Israel…

…even if that doesn’t make sense to you.

Some of us are so enamored with Judaism that we violate the principle spoken in the above quoted phrase uttered by Troy. And I’ve been guilty of violating Tom’s maxim:

“Don’t seek Christianity and don’t seek Judaism. Seek an encounter with God.”

What is my goal? To seek a type of faith community that serves my every need? Did God say this journey of faith was about serving my every need? Did He say it was about serving any of my needs at all?

Look at the life of the Apostle Paul. Did God first and foremost serve Paul’s needs and then Paul got around to serving God and his fellow human beings? Heck no! Paul almost died on numerous occasions and I don’t think anyone would characterize his life after becoming an emissary of Messiah as comfortable. If it were up to Paul, I imagine he’d have stayed in the synagogue studying with the other learned men, praying at the Temple with the other disciples, discussing matters of halachah with the sages, and living the life of an intelligent, contemplative Jew.

But God had other plans for Paul, none of which served Paul’s wants, needs, and desires.

So where do I come off whining that God isn’t serving my needs? God owes me nothing at all and my friends, He owes you nothing as well.

This isn’t to say that God is not gracious and compassionate. This isn’t to say that God does not meet our needs and even our wants. It is to say that He doesn’t have to, and even when He does, He doesn’t have to meet us on our own terms.

“When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 14:8-11 (NASB)

It’s funny when people like me start complaining about our wants, our needs, and even our rights, we don’t quote from this passage of scripture. I wonder how Mr. McKee would analyze it in light of the person who was questioning him about where he should or wants to have community.

Where do we encounter God, only in places where we feel comfortable? Do we only encounter God when our needs are met? Does God only meet with us when we are allowed to worship whenever we want, wherever we want, and however we want? Does that sound even remotely Biblical or even sane?

encounterWithout a computer and an Internet connection on my mythical deserted island, I would still have food, water, my Bible, and God. Nothing prevents my encounter with God at all and in fact sometimes it’s the Internet that I let get in the way.

Because that’s the goal…to encounter God. He is our greatest need and He should be our greatest want, regardless of our circumstances. Sure, it’s good when we have community with others like us and people we can learn from, and I think community is important, but God places us where He wills. Even Jesus facing the hideous death on the cross in just a few hours, after begging God to take that cup from him said, “Not my will but by yours,” (Luke 22:42).

Who am I to fail to follow my Master’s voice? Not by my will, but yours be done, Father.

If you want something very, very badly, let it go free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours forever. If it doesn’t, it was never yours to begin with.

Thanks Carl for reminding me of something I should already know so well. May God open His hand and satisfy your every desire as He does all living things.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13 (NASB)

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:14 (NASB)

Addendum: This commentary continues in What Brings Us Near to the Kingdom of God.

Advertisements

48 thoughts on “If you love something…”

  1. I was intrigued by your comment, citing other folks who try to tell you that “other streams of Judaism aren’t nearly so ‘threatened’ by the presence of Gentiles …”. You offered an explanation: “But in those other synagogues, no one ever questions whether or not it is a Jewish community. Identity issues are secure.” I would take that a bit farther to point out that other synagogues are rarely if ever threatened with inundation by gentile wannabees. If they were, I am certain that defensive walls would soon be in place to protect the threatened Jewish space. I would see that response as very much akin to how Nanos describes the response of first century Jews to the rapid increase in the population of G-d fearing gentiles claiming to have been “cleansed” by means of their devotion to Rav Yeshua and by the spirit of HaShem — a growing demographic wishing to attend synagogue to learn Torah (per the advice of Acts 15:21?).

    So is there any practical response to R.Kinbar’s question, that might meet the needs of both segments of the ecclesia? I can envision one possibility, though I can picture already protests expressing a degree of dissatisfaction with it. Nonetheless I’ll offer it for discussion: MJ synagogue communities should be in every respect like other traditional synagogues, for their prayer services and procedures and the popular versions of siddurim and humashim and machzorim that they use, and their standards of community observance for kashrut, Shabbat, and taharat ha-mishpachah, and for their limudei Torah in general to support mitzvot and minhagim, regalim v’yamim-tovim. Attendance by non-Jews, including supportive disciples of Rav Yeshua, should be constrained by the physical boundaries of a mehitzah around a set-aside area in the sanctuary (in addition to the mehitzah for the women’s section) as well as by procedural limitations regarding their participation in worship services. Those non-Jews who attend regularly would not become regular members but possibly “associates”. They would, however, take away from their experience some lessons learned that they could apply in a separate venue for non-Jewish communal gatherings. Perhaps they might renew the venerable custom of mid-week prayer meetings; and perhaps they would meet on motzei-shabbat or even (heaven help us!) on Sunday (gasp!). Within such a bifurcated community structure, common gatherings and teaching sessions would become possible in celebration of portions of festivals such as Pesa’h, Shavuot, and Sukkot, though each of these also has distinctive celebrations and perspectives for each community. Since the entire body of “associates” could never fit all at one time within the confines of the “court of the gentiles” mechitzah, attendance should probably be administered on a rotating basis, to enable subgroups (mishmerot or ma’amadim) of the “associates” to share their synagogue experience one portion at time. Such a system would allow non-Jews to pursue the educational advice of Acts 15:21, while protecting the Jewish communal space from becoming overwhelmed. Somewhere within such a system, of course, there would need to exist training about how the structure is to work, and who does what and when and where (not to neglect the important topics of “Why?”). It would also likely benefit from the presence of “mashgichim” (designated Jewishly-knowledgeable observers) at the gentile meetings, who could collect and analyze their observations to identify where the non-Jewish meetings or members might benefit from additional training or guidance of some sort. This would also provide a spiritual growth path for non-Jewish disciples to be certified as sufficiently knowledgeable to serve their communities as mashgichim. This is not solely a “pastoral” function, though it might require classification as an “elder”.

  2. I could see it working that way, assuming there would be an appropriate Jewish synagogue within reach. Another way to address the issue would be for the Gentiles to form “Messianic” communities for regular gatherings and worship and visit the local Messianic synagogue for weekday Torah studies and the like. I’m sure in the first century diaspora there were Messianic communities that were made up of mostly or exclusively Gentile members who based their worship and prayers on the teachings of Paul. This model would be helpful for modern day Gentiles who didn’t live near an appropriate Messianic Jewish community or Gentiles who wanted to respect Jewish space, particularly on Shabbat. This wouldn’t preclude socializing between Jews and Gentiles, attending certain social functions, having dinner at each other’s homes (assuming the Gentiles maintained a level of kosher sufficient for Jewish requirements), and so forth.

    You’ve mentioned the idea of a mehitzah for Gentiles in Messianic Jewish synagogues before and the description is reminiscent of the court of women and the court of the Gentiles in Herod’s temple (I’m unclear if these divisions existed in Solomon’s temple). Of course, as you mentioned, this suggestion likely will draw strong criticism from the “inclusive” and “egalitarian” folks out there who believe distinctiveness equals discrimination and even bigotry. Frankly, I don’t have a problem with it since if I chose to attend a Jewish synagogue that would have me, I would be obligated to abide by their customs and rules.

  3. Update: I belong to a closed group on Facebook called “Messianic Judaism and I posted a link to today’s blog as well as links to my reviews of McKee’s book in that group. Steven Bernstein wrote a response to this “morning meditation” that I thought worth sharing here:

    “He’s right and he’s right, how can they both be right? Tevya – “you know, you’re also right!” The concern about Jews and Gentiles in MJ, I think, must be mitigated by the Scriptural prophetic imperative that Gentiles will come to the Jewish people to learn the ways of HaShem. So it seems counterproductive to discourage Gentiles from learning and participating in MJ. At the same time, MJ should continue to grow into Halachic soundness and validity. Again, I believe these are the birth pangs of the return of Mashiach.

  4. I’m trying to figure out what this modern term “Jewish space” is or where it comes from. If someone said a congregation or a Jewish congregation, I could see where it comes from. Although it may sound similar, I don’t think it is the same. When I think of “Jewish space,” I think of it as defined by Messianic Jews that desire a synagogue where there is 95 to 100 percent Jewish attendance. When I think of a congregation or Jewish congregation, I think of it defined by the tanach and other rabbinical writings as being a place where there is at least 10 Jewish men present. That’s just some of my thoughts as I have been reading your stuff and other social media these days.

  5. “Jewish space” may be a poor choice of words on my part, Troy. I tend to think of Jewish community as more than just synagogue attendance. It’s an entire communal interaction between Jewish people which can include any number of formal and informal events. The question is, just how much of Jewish community must include only Jews in order to be considered Jewish? It’s part of what Mark Nanos was addressing in the paper of his I reviewed recently and is also at the heart of Carl Kinbar’s comment which inspired today’s blog post. ProclaimLiberty made some suggestions and I responded to them above but they may not be palatable to many Gentiles and even to some Messianic Jews. I posted a quote from Steven Bernstein above that he made on Facebook that presents a somewhat different perspective.

  6. No, I don’t think it’s a poor choice of words on your part. Everyone has been using it lately. When others use that phrase, it usually refers to a synagogue setting. Some examples… Is there a 95 to 100 percent Jewish attendance? how traditional are the services? will non-believing Jews feel comfortable there? etc. If the answers to those questions are no. The blame is usually thrown upon the gentiles in attendance, justly or unjustly.

  7. I think if people like Carl Kinbar, who want to isolate themselves, have every right to do so… I think if they desire so badly to have ‘only’ Jewish fellowship, the best case scenario should be exclusive synagogues for Messianic Jews.

    Concerning PL’s argument for some form of unification, I don’t see that working, just keep it for Jews, and while every now and then a gentile may visit, there should not even be allowed association, as it just muddies the water for that specific objective.

    As for the rest of us gentiles and Jews who desire to worship together in community, those will be available as well.

    Then you have a place for everyone… 😀

  8. @PL That sounds like a great vision for the Western recovering Messianic Jews [recovering from christianity] and like the non-messianic jews, these communities will be supported by only Jews.

    But I doubt in our modern era that would take off, unless the Messianic Jewish leaders of the alphabet soup acronym groups cut any and all ties with major christian or gentile contributors on a monetary aspect [at least temporarily until those communities are like there orthodox and conservative counterparts].

    You’ll weed out the wannabes who desire to be Jews and you’ll be able to attract the orthodox Jews into the fray (which if a remember a letter loooooooong ago in 2005 was the purpose originally for Messianic Judaism, was/is to be a avenue to reach Orthodox Jews for Yeshua).

    but…..I love Mr.Bernsteins comment about such a practice would be counter productive.

    Who’s to blame for the influx of Gentile’s wanting to join [not replace] but join with the believing jewish communities? Is G-d to blame? Christianity? The thin microcosm of Messianic Judaism?

    Who’s putting it in the heart of Gentiles to want to observe the Feast of the L-rd and do it the way there Master did it [or assuming He might have did it this or that way]? Who’s putting it in those who do hearts? G-d? Christianity? Messianic Judaism? Some brand new Book?

    Who should really be sought out for this amongst those leaders in the alphabet soup acronym groups/organizations? Who should those leaders really thank?

    But if Messianic Judaism is trying to appease and win the hearts of the Judaism that consider MJ a laughing joke then I can see why, people can feel they need space etc…

    Just a thought 🙂

  9. BTW. I also liked Steven’s quote. I have expressed my frustration rhetorically this way once, “When will the Goyim realize they need the Yehudim, and when will the Yehudim realize they need the Goyim?”

  10. @Troy

    Do I hear a new song brewing? “When will they realize they need each other, to proclaim the message of God amongst others” lol 🙂 but I know, I know you just gave birth to 13 tracks *ahem I mean kids. And I want to especially thank you for kid #13 cause every shabbat I mix that on with the classic version and just await till Shabbat comes! 🙂

  11. @Zion: I think your comment about R. Kinbar wanting to “isolate himself” is poor form on your part. Maybe he’d just like to have Jewish community within the Messianic space Neither me nor thee can really appreciate what it must be like to join a minyan to daven the Shacharit and I would hardly begrudge a Jewish person, Messianic or otherwise, that privilege.

    As for the rest, I think there should be and indeed there will be a place for everyone “under his vine and under his fig tree with none to make them afraid.” (Micah 4:4)

    @Bruce: I in no way would presume to speak for R. Kinbar and comment only about my own usage of that phrase.

  12. @Bruce, No, I am afraid not. 
    To who it may concern, I can understand the desire for Jews to want to be around Jews. I can also understand the desire of gentiles that want to be around Jews. Gentiles generally don’t understand what it’s like to be a Jew and Jews generally don’t understand what it’s like to be a gentile. I hope my statements come across as against MJs or gentiles because they are not. They are mostly reflections of thoughts that have been swimming in my head for quite a while.

  13. Without a comprehensive literature search I can’t tell you when or where the term Jewish space began to be used, but it is not an invention of MJ or R.Kinbar. It is a sociological term to describe a cultural environment that is not limited merely to synagogue venues. I disagree abojut it being a poor choice of words, because it is a very accurate sociological term.

    Further, MJ was not invented to appease anyone, least of all the Orthodox Jewish establishment, nor was it ever intended as a missionizing tool (at least, not by those who developed the paradigm while exploring their own Jewishness and that of the apostolic writings). That never prevented them, however, from wishing to share and promulgate the exciting insights they were discovering.

    Moreover, no one in the Jewish establishment (so to speak) considers MJ a laughing matter. Some consider it dangerous; some consider it deceitful; some consider it misguided; and some take a more thoughtful long-term view that recognizes the messiness of any social movement as well as the core desire within it for Jews to return to Jewish origins. Yes, ridicule is directed against its shortcomings and to combat its obvious popular appeal, particularly in its attraction for non-Jews who do not contribute positively toward Jewish restoration.

    I have previously described in some detail how MJ originated, what impelled it, what has inhibited its development, and how it correlated with a more general spiritual ferment among Jesus-Movement non-Jews who were seeking radical authenticity in the sources of Christianity and also discovering the inescapable Jewish character that had to be accommodated somehow. Four decades later, these motivations are still intertwined and confusion is still prevalent; but some are trying to express the distinctions with clarity in order to reduce the confusion. One aspect of this is the plea to let Jews be Jews (and that applies just as much to Jewish messianists) and stop pursuing a one-religion-fits-all scenario that presses MJs into a Christian mold and gentiles into a pseudo-Jewish one.

  14. I hope my statements don’t come across as against MJs or gentiles… Is what I really meant. 🙂 Ooops!

  15. Maybe the Temple model is the appropriate one. There certainly was Gentile space and Jewish space there. But Jewish space was a higher level of holines (Court of Israel.) Higher still was the court of the priests etc…etc…

    But it would have been a gathering on the Lord’s appointed days.

  16. PL said:

    One aspect of this is the plea to let Jews be Jews (and that applies just as much to Jewish messianists) and stop pursuing a one-religion-fits-all scenario that presses MJs into a Christian mold and gentiles into a pseudo-Jewish one.

    Agreed.

    @Troy: No worries. 😉

  17. I think your comment about R. Kinbar wanting to “isolate himself” is poor form on your part. Maybe he’d just like to have Jewish community within the Messianic space Neither me nor thee can really appreciate what it must be like to join a minyan to daven the Shacharit and I would hardly begrudge a Jewish person, Messianic or otherwise, that privilege.

    James, maybe I misunderstood what he was saying, what I took away was that he wanted Jewish ‘only’ community… but I also consider that to be fine, even though its a form of isolation, regardless of how you swing it…

  18. @James but whats not being said is the obvious argument of “money” I just saw Mr.Kinbar associate with UMJC so if UMJC and other acronym organizations want to be exclusive Jewish Only (which is okay for them if they really feel that will help them) then how will they (the organizations and synagogues) stay afloat financially?

    The Lord has put it in the heart of the gentile people they want to distance themselves from to provide for their institutions finacially and I bet you a book or sandwich of your choice 🙂 that those business/religious organizations won’t kiss that away and say stop allowing gentiles to give them money.

    But if they desire to be associated/gain the recognition in the eyes of men/orthodox judaism and the alike then they may have to really cut all ties with christians/ non jews temporarily since some orthodox organization *ahem Yad l’Achim think the Messianic Jews (some) are fronts to convert Orthodox jews to Jesus/Yeshua.

    And Zion I think was only using the word “isolated” because of the “free space term in Mr.Kinbars quote”. When people say they want space thats an english idiom meaning be alone, isolated, by themselves etc.. (which your familiar with).

    But when you read the quote again Mr.Kinbar even realizes that despite his desire for exclusively jewish communities the reality is Yeshua’s work nullified this whole 100% jew believing communities without gentiles involvement. Its one thing for such a vision in Israel but outside of Israel ..Ha!… your dreaming because outside of Israel its predominately gentiles who Love Yeshua whether in christianity or Messianic Judaism, or those who affiliate with none of the mentioned.

  19. @PL the term laughing stock was used to indicate how the MJ come across at time by some outside of the MJ movement…The arm of the brethren comment was brought up because they sound just like some organizations in the west that view MJ units as fronts for conversion.

    If this argument is only in regards to shabbat synagogue meetings then it sounds like a somewhat valid approach but it sounds like this is more then just one day but from a community (i.e.neighborhood function/living together).

    Why can’t gentiles just play the role of supporting the jewish people to be more observant in Torah through Messiah, edifying them to stick with there heritage, and making sure they spread the good news to the nations as they were/are called to do?

  20. @Zion: There’s a difference between being isolated and belonging. A person can feel isolated when they are outside of their community, even if they are surrounded by a lot of other people in a different community.

    @Bruce: I can’t speak for R. Kinbar, but my interpretation of his statement was that it was personal. It was the desire for an ideal. I don’t think the idea of Gentiles funding a Jewish synagogue that’s only for Jews entered the conversation. That said, don’t we give to charitable and other worthy causes without necessarily partaking in those causes. I may, for example, donate to Magen David Adom without ever receiving services from them. I may choose to donate to them because of the emergency medical services they provide Jews in Israel.

    I’m beginning to regret posting R. Kinbar’s quote because it seems to have brought him “under fire,” which certainly was not my intent. If in future comments, anyone needs to criticize someone, then criticize me. After all, it is my blog.

  21. No one is criticizing anyone, its called a discussion and it takes variables of heat to cold at times. 🙂

    I will say this last thing Why should we choose between Gentile and Jewish ekklesias? Messianic Jews are part of the remnant of Israel as we read in Romans 11, and part of the one body of Christ as we read in Colossians 3. 🙂

    It is up to individual Messianic Jews what type of Messianic Jew they want to be, and we’re all on different spiritual journeys both jew and gentile. As we travel towards the truth, we can all do without some Messianic Jews or gentiles denying other Messianic Jews or gentiles the right to self-identity.

    If you think someone’s idea is bad or even heretical, you should say so, but expressing a bad or controversial idea doesn’t stop someone from being Jewish or Gentiles.

    Jewish identity is not defined by orthodox theology or halachic observance. If God created you Jewish, you will always be Jewish. This position is in line with Talmudic law itself (see Rashi’s position on ‘apostate’ Jews who marry). Same with Gentile.

    For believers in Yeshua, our religious identity is primarily defined by our relationship with Yeshua, and not by any external factors.

    If you were born Jewish and you’re proud to identify as Jewish as a believer in Yeshua, then you’re a Messianic Jew. The same things go for Messianic Gentiles.

    I wish you all A Shabbat Shalom

  22. Bruce, if you’ll look at some of the replies, there are a variety of opinions regarding how Jews and Gentiles are to interact in the overall ekklesia. By the way, I don’t define “synagogue” or “church” as being equal to the ekklesia of Messiah, they are contained therein just as (here we go again) Israel and the believers of the nations are contained in the body of the ekklesia of Messiah.

    As far as criticism, I’m feeling sensitive to how Carl might interpret all of this and I don’t want to inadvertently place him in “harm’s way” in these comments. That’s why I’d prefer to be the sole object of any criticism that may be expressed here.

  23. Also, I think getting all of the gentiles out won’t solve the problems for those who desire a strictly Jewish environment. I have heard several stories from Jewish believers who feel isolated, even though they are surrounded by Jews, whether it’s from being kicked out, feeling like they are stuck in a closet or strangers forced to live a secret life.
    Just to reinforce what you said and as I alluded to before, I was not coming against R. Kinbar. He is a sweet soul and a mench. I too can understand his desire to pray with a Jewish minyan. I do also, although I am not Jewish.

  24. Good grief. I know you guys have been in this a lot longer than me, and I still have a lot to learn, but what I take from all of this boils down to this: Why don’t we just put the middle wall of partition back up? Oh, wait, looks like we did… Sorry, I’m not trying to be insulting to anyone. That’s just how it seems from where I sit. So much for “one new man” in Messiah… How discouraging…

  25. @Troy: That’s a good point. Just about every Jewish person I know in the Messianic movement has come from a church experience. There are two Jewish people at the church I attend. I know one of them has ties with the local Jewish community but both of them are pretty “Christianized”. They might feel pretty lost in a Messianic Jewish synagogue.

    @Linda: Yes, it can be frustrating, which is why I wrote this blog post. But it’s also complicated. I’m not sure it’s something non-Jews can really relate to unless you’re somehow involved in the Jewish community and hang out with Jewish people a lot. In my case, my wife is Jewish and I can see this issue through her eyes, so to speak, so hopefully that gives me a leg up on empathizing and seeing the wider issues.

    I’m continually reminded of the advice my friend Tom once gave me (it’s also in the body of this blog post):

    “Don’t seek Christianity and don’t seek Judaism. Seek an encounter with God.”

    Ultimately, it’s not about getting what we think we want or need in our lives, it’s about drawing nearer to God for in doing so, what else is there?

  26. A major problem here, I believe, is the attempt to pigeonhole people, rather than take them where they are. Judaism of old acknowledged the curiosity of the gentile, and, in fact, welcomed it. Is Messianic Judaism willing to accept people where they are? The rabbis would say to the prosylite, do what you can. Is one a Jew by birth, or by practice?

  27. The parsha from this week actually states it, that God LOVES the stranger…the gentile, and welcomes the stranger…should Messianic Judaism do less?

  28. @Ed:

    Isaiah 49: 22-23 (Stone Edition Chumash) says:

    “For thus said my Lord, Hashem/Elohim: Behold! I will raise My hand toward the nations, and to the peoples will I hoist my banner, and they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on [their] shoulder. Kings will be your nurturers and their princesses your nurses; with faces to the ground they will prostrate themselves to you; the dust of your feet will they lick; and you shall know that I am Hashem, that those who hope to Me shall not be ashamed.”

    Yes, God loves all human beings, not just Jewish human beings, but there’s obviously a hierarchy involved. Isaiah speaks of a future time when the Gentiles, even our “Kings” and “Princesses,” will be responsible for returning the Jewish exiles to their Land, that is, national Israel. He says that the Gentiles will “prostrate [ourselves] to [them; Israel; Jewish people] and the dust of [their] feet will [we Gentiles] lick.”

    That may not be literal, but it does indicate that even the Gentile “Kings” and “Princesses” will be totally subservient, not just to the nation of Israel and her King, but to the citizens of Israel, the Jewish people, I suppose as a consequence for the long history of how badly Gentiles (including Christian Gentiles) have treated Jews. So much for J.K. McKee’s idea of “mutual submissiveness”.

    And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse.

    Genesis 12:3 (NASB)

    I can see a connection.

    In an email I just sent off, in part, I said the following:

    This speaks of people from the (non-Jewish) nations physically returning the exiles to their Land, that is, Israel, but what if Gentiles also have a responsibility to do whatever it takes to make that happen including the august advent of the return of the King? What if part of that is (frankly) getting out of the way of what Jewish Messianics need to do to fulfill God’s will? That’s what I’ve been trying to write about.

    I also said:

    In my studies this morning on Torah Portion Ekev, in a commentary written by Ismar Schorsch, he said “According to the terms of this covenant, collective repentance alone might hasten the coming of Messiah.”

    I know that’s a rather alien concept from a Christian point of view, the idea that people could somehow affect the timing of Messiah’s coming (return from our point of view), but the idea is that it matters what a Jewish person does or doesn’t do in their life on not just an earthly but on a cosmic scale. I know Romans 11 speaks of the Gentiles “provoking jealousy” among the Jews, which has never made sense to me, but I’ve discovered that “jealousy” or “jealousness” can also be translated as “zealousness,” and I’ve read and written something about this.

    In Acts 21:20, James tells Paul, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law.” The Greek actually says “tens of thousands.” Tens of Thousands of Jesus-believing Jews in Jerusalem in the days of the Apostle of Paul, all Zealous for the Torah.

    I believe two things in relation to our discussion. I believe that it is in God’s plan to have more and more Jews turn to Jesus as Messiah and King but that these Jews will also see the vital importance of living as Jews in every sense of the word as part of that calling, repenting, not just of sins, but of turning their backs (in most cases unintentionally) on the heritage of their forefathers and forsaking the mitzvoth which are an eternal sign of the covenant between Israel and God. I also believe that it is the calling of Gentiles in Messiah to assist and support Jewish return to Messiah and to the Torah of Moses.

    I never said God didn’t love the stranger, the resident alien living among Israel, Ed. I just said that 3,500 years or so after the time of Moses, it has come down to what we Gentiles and what Jewish people each have to do to be part of the plan of God to bring about the redemption of national Israel and the Jewish people and through them, all of Creation.

  29. Attempting to draw near to G-d is supposed to be a daily activity…even an all day activity when possible, and is presumably easier to accomplish if the people that surround us are engaged in the same daily attempt. It certainly would be less lonely to have people around that are all engaged in the same manner of learning about G-d.

    Being shoved away from the teaching that is necessary to draw closer to G-d is what is happening, and those Gentiles that wish to seek G-d in a First Century style need the input and acceptance of Jews practicing Judaism that believe in Yehoshua. If a Gentile wishes to become a Messianic Jew, let them convert by becoming a proselyte to Messianic Judaism.

    But for those of us that do not seek a new way of life and a new identity, where is the Messianic Congregation that is run by Believing Jews in a Jewish manner for the benefit of the Believing Gentiles? Where is the welcome from the Messianic Jews to the Believing Gentiles? Where is the daily teaching and discussion that one could find with the Apostles in the outer court of the Temple? Teaching the nations is commanded of Messianic Jews as well as Gentiles.

    Matthew 5:13-16 (CJB)
    13 “You are salt for the Land. But if salt becomes tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except being thrown out for people to trample on.
    14 “You are light for the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
    15 Likewise, when people light a lamp, they don’t cover it with a bowl but put it on a lampstand, so that it shines for everyone in the house.
    16 In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they may see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.

    I do not think that the partition will come down until after Yehoshua returns…but I am waiting for the Messianic Jews to reach out to the Believing Gentiles and non-Believers alike…not for them to share their tribal heritage with us, but to share in the seeking of G-d.

  30. @James, I’ve only read your post and a few comments up to the accusation that Jews like me wish to “isolate themselves.”

    James, your comments about me reflect my thoughts precisely. I’ll only mention that are are a small number of MJ congregations that are majority Jewish.

    I value God’s unique calling on the Jewish people far more than my own comfort or need for community. But the truth is that there are 10,000 or more believing Gentiles for every Messianic Jews, and creating congregations that are open to both groups (and not only inter-married Gentiles), whether fully or in a ‘court of the Gentiles’ is a sure prescription for the eradication of Jewish identity in short order. Or suppose its just 1,000 to 1 or 100 to 1 or even 10 to one. The result will be the same.

    I am thoroughly mystified how someone who does not know me can level the charge that Jews like me wish to “isolate themselves.” Really? I wish to “isolate myself” in Jewish community in the same way I wish to isolate myself with my wife, adult children, and grandchildren. I wouldn’t take too kindly to my neighbors’ insistence that they have a right to be part of our family gatherings.

    Meanwhile, this is the way I isolate myself: I participate regularly in a Christian Bible study and visit churches from time to time. I also visit synagogues and my study partner is a Reconstructionist rabbi. In other words, I make every effort NOT to isolate myself, not only from Christians but from the wider Jewish community.

    That said, I would prefer that Jewish community were context in which I live. It isn’t. I stand in a long line of believers who didn’t get what they wished. More important to me is the need for clearly Jewish Messianic communities, even if they’re all in other places, because it is the only way that Messianic Jews will survive over the generations and hopefully fulfill our calling.

  31. Thank you for your very thoughtful and forthright reply, Carl.

    The Internet is a very judgmental place where often the rules of civil social discourse do not apply. People are accused of all sorts of things on little or no evidence. When terms like “Bilateral Ecclesiology” start getting thrown around, people don’t see complex individuals, they just see “types”. To be fair, we make “types” out of people behind labels such as “One Law” and a lot of other names as well. Even though we are bound to disagree with each other on a number of issues in the religious blogosphere, if we tried to recognize each other as not only real people but as fellow disciples of Messiah, maybe we’d treat each other a little better. What would it be like if instead of dialoguing via the Internet, we suddenly all found ourselves in a coffee shop somewhere having this discussion over cups of hot java? I suspect the conversation would be different.

    As far as Jewish community goes or just plain being Jewish, I think it’s one of those things you have to experience. If you’re intermarried like I am, I think it helps, but nothing will give me the entire lived experience of being born a Jew, being raised in a Jewish household, and living my life as a Jew. Without that experiential context, the rest of us won’t always understand the issues involved and will mistake the need for “Jewish space” as arrogant, exclusion, being “cliquish” (to borrow one of the adjectives J.K. McKee used in his book), or even racist. Those are completely inaccurate descriptions, but it’s one way someone outside of the Jewish context misunderstands what they are seeing when they try to look in.

    It’s interesting getting a “peek” at your relationships, Carl. I go to a small Baptist church almost every Sunday and every other Sunday afternoon, I meet with a good friend of mine, a non-Jew who also has a “Messianic” perspective, but who has been a believer for over forty years. We don’t study anything specifically, but the dialogue gives us (me especially) the opportunity to have a face-to-face discussion about issues very few people (if any) at church would understand. In the past, he’s been where I am now and his insights are invaluable.

    The Internet puts me in contact with people I’d otherwise never have access to and is a wonderful resource for information and communication, but it is severely limited and will never replace actual human community. In a pinch though, it will have to do.

  32. Dr. Kinbar: If all those Gentiles converted to Messianic Judaism (whatever that would entail) would they still be welcome in Messianic Jewish space? How would the problem of Gentile dominance of Messianic congregations be any different than the status quo?

    Must Gentiles form their own version of Messianic Judaism? Would that be acceptable to our Jewish brethren? What would their observances and praxis look like?

  33. Let’s see, now … Linda is concerned about re-erecting a “middle wall of partition”, Bruce is invoking halakhic definitions of Jewish identity that cannot be invalidated by apostasy, and Questor asked “… where is the Messianic Congregation that is run by Believing Jews in a Jewish manner for the benefit of the Believing Gentiles?”.

    It seems to me that a few explanations might be helpful here, though they have been mentioned before. One is that eliminating the “middle wall of partition” has nothing to do with eliminating Jewish distinctiveness. It has rather to do with allowing non-Jews access to venues of fellowship and learning with Jews who can provide enrichment that is not otherwise available. However, it is rather selfish for gentiles to think that Jewish messianists should be expected operate a Jewish religious establishment for the benefit of gentiles rather than for their own benefit. For the past four decades of the modern Messianic Jewish social movement, MJs have placed no limitations on the participation of gentiles in their gatherings. One result has been that MJs have been inhibited from developing as Jews, instead being held within the grip of Christian theological and cultural influence. They may not have been deprived of their technical halakhic Jewish identity, but they have been subjected to greatly increased social pressures to intermarry with gentiles, such that they do not produce Jewish children — and even those children who technically are Jewish have often been deprived of any truly Jewish cultural environment. Thus they become disenfranchised attenuated shadows of what Jews should be. A secondary consequence is that the gentiles who might have benefitted from Jewish knowledge, derived from the Torah covenant lifestyle, also have been shortchanged by this attenuated pseudo-Jewish environment. In short, the failure to provide a protected Jewishly-nurturing environment has deprived both segments of the ecclesia, as well as having damaged the Jewish people as a whole by removing “salt and light” from their midst and reducing their functional numbers.

    We are way overdue to halt and reverse that damage. Doing so requires that gentiles back away sufficiently to let MJs develop and recover their distinctiveness and return to their cultural depths after two thousand years of exile. Is this a kind of partial isolation? Perhaps it is. But it is a therapeutic necessity in order to strengthen the Jewish community as a whole and MJs in particular. To use R.Kinbar’s analogy, a family that is constantly inundated with guests — even those who are invited — does not have the kind of quality time together as a family that is needed to function and grow as a family. Thus I understand his hesitation to sanction even a carefully constrained “court of the gentiles” as a common feature in MJ shuls. It is one thing for such a space to exist in the one central sanctuary; it is a greater burden to place such a demand on every shul. So it might be more appropriate for special gatherings, such as conferences and special presentations, to be convened for educational interaction between gentiles and MJs — rather than incorporating any fixed regular gentile presence into MJ congregational environments. As James presented the notion in his topical title above: “If you [gentiles] love something [i.e., the genuine Jewish foundational characteristics of Rav-Yeshua faith], … you will not squeeze it to death by holding onto it too tightly, but rather you will let go and allow the Jews upon whom it depends to breathe and grow and develop as HaShem intended by setting them apart in the first place.

  34. @Steve: I can’t speak for Rabbi Carl, but I can take a stab at answering your question. I suppose that Gentiles converting to Messianic Judaism would make them Jewish assuming the conversion was administered by authorities recognized by the Messianic community (and since there are multiple Messianic Jewish oversight organizations, I can see this getting complicated fast). However, Gentiles don’t need to convert to any form of Judaism in order to be justified before God and Paul highly discouraged Gentile conversion in his letter to the Ephesians.

    Your question seems to come from a place that asks, “What about the needs of Gentiles?” My point of view is different. I believe that Gentiles disciples of the Master have a specific responsibility to promote repentance in the Jewish people and a return to obedience to God through the conditions of the Sinai and New Covenants, which is to say, Torah observance. How can we do that? One way is to assist in the creation of and support exclusively Jewish community spaces, that is, synagogues. This doesn’t mean “rebuilding the partition,” so to speak. PL addressed that issue quite well in his latest comment. Ensuring Jewish communal space doesn’t mean that Messianic Jews and Gentiles are forbidden to study together, to gather on various occasions, or to be friends. It just means that it takes ten Jews to make a minyan and you probably won’t find a minyan if the majority of people in the synagogue aren’t Jewish.

    I wrote this blog post specifically to address being self-sacrificing for the greater good of Israel and the Jewish people. Yeshua gave his Jewish disciples a new commandment to love one another, and this commandment is interpreted as a self-sacrificing love, just as Yeshua loved his ekklesia and in fact the whole world enough to suffer and die.

    I think this is one commandment that can be applied to all disciples, Jewish and Gentile, and one way for Gentiles to fulfill this mitzvah is to support Jewish community rather than oppose it.

    There are many reasons I don’t have face-to-face relationships with Jewish community where I live, not the least of which is that it doesn’t exist. There are not authentic Messianic Jewish synagogues anywhere near me (and as I said, there are other reasons I would not avail myself to such community even if it were nearby).

    We have community where God places us, not necessarily where we want or think we should be.

  35. I saw the following quote on the Beth Immanuel Sabbath Fellowship’s Facebook page and thought it relevant to the current conversation:

    Messianic Gentiles are Christians who do not have a Jewish background but have chosen to worship alongside Messianic Jews and participate with them in the practice of Messianic Judaism.

    I think Troy said something about Beth Immanuel being a Messianic Community rather than a synagogue dedicated exclusively to Messianic Jewish space, so it is a congregation of Gentiles who are “Messianically-minded” (for lack of a better term) in their learning, worship, and lifestyle who want to express that in community with the Messianic Jewish people present.

    I don’t know if we have to create an either/or situation but rather acknowledge that some Messianic communities are Jewish and others are not.

  36. So on the one hand we have Jewish people who want to expel Gentile believers in the Messiah of Israel from their fellowships. (That certainly looks to me like erecting a wall to separate, for whatever the reason.) How can Gentile believers “come alongside Israel” if they don’t want them alongside?

    On the other hand, at our Bible study yesterday on Shabbat, we had a Messianic Jewish Rabbi who wanted to come to the study to meet with our Hebraic Roots teacher (and in this case, this term does not mean “one law”). Our teacher is a scholar who has studied Hebraic Roots since he was very young and is in his late sixties now. We are privileged to learn from him once a month. He has an international ministry and has been on a Bible translation board in the past. The Rabbi, whom we had never met, contacted our teacher (who is a former pastor in the area) to meet with him about the possibility of perhaps starting a Messianic congregation in our area.

    We had a wonderful study by our teacher, and the Rabbi introduced himself and told us of his background. During lunch they had a meeting in which another pastor was included, who is willing to provide the place (his church) on Saturdays for this new congregation. The outcome, since this Rabbi lives in NC, and we are in SC, was this. He and our teacher will take turns teaching twice a month in this other pastor’s church, probably starting in January.

    This Rabbi was blessed by our group and the hunger to learn Hebraic Roots (not meaning one-law, again). He said he couldn’t resist teaching people who wanted to learn. (And we didn’t invite him to do this, but it was his initiative.) He invited us to a conference he is having in NC. As I was leaving, he personally thanked me for loving the Jewish people.

    Wow. The difference in attitudes is night and day. On the one hand, stay in your own churches lest you corrupt our identity. (Did I get that wrong? It doesn’t sound like I did…) On the other hand, an eagerness to be salt and light and reach those of the nations. Which attitude sounds more like what our Messiah would approve?

    All who belong to Adonai have to make sacrifices, but I just can’t equate the root of this with self-sacrifice. I’m not “invading” Jewish space to begin with, but how are we to be one body in Messiah if we’re supposed to “stay in our churches” and let them “stay in their synagogues”? That doesn’t sound like what I read in the Scriptures.

    Anywhere there is a group of people coming together you have issues. Where there is no ox, the stall is clean, but where there are people there are messes to clean up. If we love one another, however, a multitude of sins can be covered as we practice what it means to have one faith, one LORD, one baptism. Seeking to understand each other better, to love one another and to extend grace to each other is the essence of community. How can we be one olive tree if the tree wants to break off our branches from itself to maintain its distinction???

    I don’t think what I’m saying is a manifestation of opposing the Jewish community. But what I’ve read here sounds more like the Jewish community (some, I should say) opposing the non-Jewish believers in Messiah.

    How different is this than the Book of Acts? The issue they were in an uproar over was the Gentiles coming into their faith.

    The family of God is one family. Our boundaries divide us, but we should be able to worship the one LORD who has provided redemption (for whosoever will) as one body, one family. I suppose, though, as has been said, this won’t happen until the Messiah returns again, although we are supposed to be a fitted together “building”… that is built together into His dwelling.

    Ephesians 2:19-22 (NASB)
    So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

  37. @Linda — You don’t seem to be getting that concept of the harm that gentiles have done and continue doing to the Jewish people in so many different ways, sometimes even without awareness that they are doing so. And when we Jews suggest that we might need to do something differently in order to defend ourselves, you get huffy and invent all sorts of excuses to deny our right and our responsibility to do so — even going so far as to mis-apply our own apostolic writings against us. I say mis-apply because you are taking passages written 19 centuries ago to address a very different social context out of their context and neglecting the needs of the current social context. Moreover, the issue back then was not Jewish resentment against gentiles coming into the Jewish faith, but rather a whole host of questions about dangers to maintaining sufficient purity to be able to participate in HaShem’s Temple services, and dangers of Roman persecution because of the presence of perceived illegal worshippers in a new non-authorized religion. You echo the phrase “come alongside Israel”, but you seem to be demanding a right to “come inside” instead of coming alongside.

    Let’s try another analogy: You live on a houseboat that comfortably accommodates your family of four, say two adults and two children. Another vessel approaches with a much larger number of people. Let’s say you can see at least 40 on the deck, and you have reason to believe the number on board is more like 400. They’re very friendly and they want to party with you all day and all night. If they stay on their vessel alongside yours, you might be able to tolerate the situation for awhile. You might show them some healthy and enjoyable ways to celebrate the joys of seafaring life. You might even convince them to tone down the noise at night to let your family sleep. But if you agree to give them all free access to board your tiny vessel and try to live there, how long will it be before their excessive mass sinks you? The only workable modus vivendi is for each group to remain on its own vessel except for occasional visits of a few individuals back and forth. MJs are a small family suffering from this problem of a small boat endangered by a much larger population “alongside” in a larger vessel but insisting that they should be onboard the same vessel as the Jews. Is it any wonder if we experience a “sinking feeling” under such circumstances?

    HaShem does not look at redeemed humanity as all being one family. He singled out Israel from all the families of the earth, even when punishing us as cited in Amos 3:2. And in Zech.14:17, in the messianic kingdom when the families of the earth are to come up to Jerusalem to worship the king (or suffer drought in their lands), it is not all as a single family or a single nation, but a plurality of families distinct from the family and nation of Israel.

  38. I do not think it selfish to desire that Messianic Jews be our teachers, and teach in a Jewish manner a large congregation of seekers into Yehoshua. Those that teach need not do so on Shabbat; they could easily train deacons to help one or two teachers that are Messianic Jews do the actual service in our separated place, our outer court!

    It is not like we would be asking for them to do this without them being commanded of YHVH to be our light, which they are, and we are as well, unto others. They hold the oracles of YHVH…are they supposed to keep the information to themselves? They need not do more than lead…but they must do that. Otherwise we are looking at the Scriptures, each of us alone, and not making near the progress we might if they helped us.

    We do not need their Jewishness, nor to be in their synagogues, unless we are also asking to convert to Messianic Judiasm, and then a proselyte would need to go to their synogogue and be adopted into their tribe. We have our own tribes, and our own way of life…we merely want to live it in obedience to the Written Torah…or at least, I do, and be able to share the struggle of that journey with others on the same quest.

    As for the Messianic Jews needing support, I tithe already to a Messianic Synagogue I have never set foot in…surely they and others like them can send a few missionaries down the street! I am saved in Yehoshua, as they are…am I not their brother? And are they not supposed to help me in my hour of need?

  39. @Questor — Your request sounds perfectly reasonable when posed as you have just done. I borrowed a phrase from your previous wording which seemed less so, in order to illustrate a more common failing which is apparently not yours.

    The problem of which I wished to increase awareness is that there exists a crisis of sorts within what has become of the MJ movement during the past four decades since its modern inception. It could be viewed as a realization that the quality of its overall product has not improved as might have been hoped, due to various pressures impinging upon its relatively few workers as well as the intrusion into the market of unqualified workers claiming to offer a product of the same name but not according to the same specifications. Part of the problem is that the demand does appear to exceed the supply capabilities, encouraging others to attempt to fill it.

    Pardon the somewhat facetious business model description, but there is a precedent for it in Rav Yeshua’s agribusiness harvest analogy of Mt.9:37-38 in which he advised requesting that the manager (metaphorically referring to HaShem) provide more workers to help accomplish it. Indeed, the modern problem is not so different from the ancient one, when political events and other hindrances limited the availability of good Jewish teaching from reaching the wider gentile audience, such that by the end of the first century there were already voices complaining against having to rely on the Jewish enterprise that could not be expected to field craftsmen of Rav Shaul’s caliber throughout the entire Roman Empire.

    While modern technologies do offer some solutions to the difficulty of disseminating good teaching, there does remain the challenge of quality assurance to evaluate and qualify the best examples of it — especially as MJ seems to be still in something of a developmental stage. On the other hand, at present there seems to be a greater effort than ever before toward evaluating such quality and defining clear standards for it. Nonetheless, the workers need training and the opportunities to pursue it without too much distraction. Meanwhile, we’ll all just have to muddle along as best we can.

  40. @PL, My apologies if I offended you or anyone else. I am aware of the anti-Semitism of the early “church fathers” that separated us from our roots and know that there has been horrible offenses committed against beloved Israel.

    I considered finding this blog a great blessing, as I get to learn things I wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn otherwise. But I am also being exposed to ideals to which I have never been exposed before, some of which I find difficult.

    In my area, the Jewish people that I know haven’t (knowingly) had the attitude of wanting their “own space” (synagogues) separate from Gentiles. We have studied together on different occasions, worshipped together, eaten meals together, laughed together, prayed together, and I felt no wall of division.

    So it seems I don’t know understand how we’ve become “one new man” in Messiah in light of this conversation. Again, my apologies if I have offended anyone.

  41. Questor said: I do not think it selfish to desire that Messianic Jews be our teachers, and teach in a Jewish manner a large congregation of seekers into Yehoshua.

    I don’t think Gentiles having Messianic Jewish teachers is out of the question, but the circumstances and venue where such teaching takes place would have to be considered. Also, there are plenty of resources for us that have already been produced by both Messianic Jewish and Gentiles such as what I find at First Fruits of Zion. Also the book Introduction to Messianic Judaism edited by Rudolph and Willitts contains a number of articles contributed by both Jewish and (Gentile) Christian writers and scholars. Our teachers are out there.

  42. No offense taken, Linda, I merely wanted to clarify a present need. And yet another meaningful clarification is that the phrase rendered as “one new man” does not mean that all differences between Jews and gentiles (or between men and women, for that matter) are to be ignored merely because fellowship is possible. The goal expressed by the phrase is for a unified and renewed humanity, not that there are no distinct subgroups within it.

    While anti-Semitism was one historical danger to Jewish existence, and it still rears its ugly head in our own times, an equally great danger exists in modern times from assimilation into ostensibly friendly environments whose only apparent drawback is that they are unable to support and foster distinctive Jewish characteristics and society. Either way, the end result is that Jews cease to exist as Jews — if not in the immediate generation, then in the next — and HaShem’s stated promises in scripture become null and void. Since this is not a desirable result to anyone who values the scriptures, and the promises therein, who would have a serious problem if its promises were to be invalidated, then such folks have a vested interest in maintaining Jewish distinctiveness and well-being.

    Not all MJs who identify themselves as such have yet realized the severity of the danger, so they do not all consider the “Jewish space” issue.

  43. @James

    We need a few Messianic Teachers that are Jewish Rabbi’s, hired to teach at local assemblies set in a non-church environment to begin with, like a community hall, and their Messianic Gentile supporters to meet seekers from all local churches…providing a uniform teaching of what we cannot get from Christianity…the teaching of Torah, and how to adapt our Gentilish life to the Torah in ways that will one day be carved on our hearts.

    I already listen to the Teachings of David Lancaster at Beth Immanuel, and am studying with First Fruits of Zion. They are well suited to an internet congregation, but the teaching allows no questions and answers that Messianic Gentiles I know so greatly desire. Without regular teaching, followed by discussion, I learn, but so slowly. I have the time to invest to learn slowly, though I would prefer to sit at the feet of a good teacher, for the discussion alone.

    Most people striving to obtain teaching alongside their ordinary lives need a place to go, and companions in their search for understanding, to help hold each other up when they fall. G-d is good to those of us in our aloneness that struggle onwards without much help, and does give us the ability to find the information we need, and how to apply it to our lives, but the task is very much harder than it should be. The seekers that have not yet lost their milk teeth, however, and wish to grow into eating meat need more available to them, and it shows in the masses of Gentiles who want more than they are getting at their local church.

    Messianic Gentiles may feel oppressed by the demands of Gentiles, and wish to keep their covenantal seperateness truly separated unto them…I don’t blame them. Even so, I want to see Messianic Jewish Rabbis regularly reaching out to the Messianic Gentiles that need their help in their community. I know it can be done, and has been done, but the various Messianic Jewish Groups spend so much time on honing their differences that they do not seem to want the simplest unified teaching of Scriptural Torah mass produced to teach those who could, after a period of time, be so zealous for Yehoshua and the Torah that the Rabbinical Jews are at last made jealous by the Gentiles.

  44. Part of the problem is geography. I suppose if I lived in Hudson, Missouri, I’d drop in on Daniel Lancaster’s classes, particularly the ones that aren’t available online, and then I’d have the ability to ask questions which, as you point out Questor, can’t be done reading a book or listening to a CD. Messianic Jewish (or Gentile) teachers aren’t in every city and town, so sometimes we have to teach ourselves and create our own classes, such as FFOZ’s HaYesod is designed for.

    There actually isn’t a suitable learning venue where I live that teaches a doctrine completely in-line with my beliefs. I get some good things at church, and I have a personal friend I meet with whose perspectives are more or less like mine, but there will never be a one to one match. This isn’t a failing of Messianic Judaism, it’s a matter of general availability. There are Jewish people who live in places without much or even any Jewish presence. The Chabad is usually their only avenue for Jewish learning and worship since it’s Chabad’s mission to take Jewish community everywhere. Christianity of course does something similar, but Messianic Judaism currently does not have the population base to spread out that wide a net.

    We do the best we can and try to remember that God is our teacher and He will never leave us alone.

  45. @James — Questor posed an interesting request, to which you responded with an eminently practical answer regarding the limitations of the small number of MJ rabbis suited to the task. FFOZ seems to have been trying to perform exactly such an educational role, though perhaps it needs to be expanded to include presentations from a larger selection of teachers. His request for live interaction would be harder to accomplish, for the reasons of geography that you cited, but there does exist technology that might offer a partial solution, at much less expense than convening an entire conference that requires arrangements for travel, lodging, meals, and many other expenses that are sometimes an excessive drain on each participant. This alternative is the “webinar” (i.e., a web-based seminar), which does allow interaction with a presenter via typed chat, and sometimes even via spoken input.

    MJTI in Israel has previously recorded some of its presentations, and made them available via the “Ustream” application, but it has not attempted to make them interactive. However, time-zone differences do offer a challenge to participants in the USA vis-à-vis live interaction. One might wonder how much response there might be to convening a “virtual conference” during a week or a long weekend, offering an entire curriculum of presentations comparable to what has been offered at times during physical conference gatherings.

  46. Actually, that’s a great idea, PL. I know that a few months ago, Boaz Michael and a team from FFOZ traveled to China for some public conferences, but traveling great distances isn’t always necessary. Live webinars (that are also recorded for later consumption) are commonly used in business and could be readily adapted for Messianic education. Now all we have to do is convince the right teachers to offer such resources and make participation affordable (there’d have to be a cost attached to offset the expense of putting all this together) for the average person.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s