Upon Reading a Rant About “Messianic Jewishism”

The Rav (Abraham Kook), zt”l, spoke about Knesset Yisrael as being endowed with two covenants, the covenant of Avot, which relates to the land of Israel, and the covenant of Sinai, which relates to the people of Israel.

-Rabbi Simcha Krauss
National President, Religious Zionists of America
from the Introductory Greetings (p.ix) to
Rabbi Moshe Avigdor Amiel’s English translation of
Jews, Judaism & Genesis: Living in His Image According to the Torah

So far I’m having a blast reading Rav Amiel’s book on Genesis, but that’s not why I’m writing this missive.

I came across something on Facebook written by Rabbi Stuart Dauermann that strongly echoes (though perhaps I am actually the “echo” to Rabbi Dauermann’s “voice” in this case) a topic I’ve written on many times before: the unique role of the Jewish person in Judaism and particularly in Messianic Judaism, a role that cannot be assumed by someone who is not Jewish.

I am going to copy and paste the entire body of text authored by R. Dauermann here, since as far as I know, the only place is exists online is on Facebook and depending on the privacy settings involved, it’s possible not everyone would be able to follow a link to its source. My commentary will follow:

We pause for a rant about what I term “Messianic Jewishism.”

If we ignore Paul’s teaching in Galatians and elsewhere we can get the Bible to say what we want. But no one seems to give a damn about how the privileges God gave to Israel are just being grabbed by others on their own terms, without so much as an “Excuse me.” Paul says this for example, “They are Israelites, and to them **belong** the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them **belong** the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 9:3-5 ESV)

The religion we see developing in some corners of the MJ movement is NOT Messianic judaism because there is NO respect for the priority of the Jewish people in His covenantal purposes for Israel. What we have is a new religion which I call Messianic Jewishism. These are congregations that practice a kind of Judaism-lite, but by design, not really a Judaism, but a community with enough Jewish religious cultural flavoring for everyone in the fellowship to embrace it, enjoy it, practice it. It’s really Protestant Christianity with a tallis, and it is not Messianic JUDAISM but rather Messianic Jewishism. Messianic Judaism requires a deeper adherence to the communal boundaries and covenantal markers *given to* and *reserved for* the Jewish people. As I said, SOME people are grabbing whatever they can on their own terms using these things as they see fit, feeling absolutely entitled on the basis of their questionable interpretations of certain Bible verses, but with NO respect for the Jewish people who have given their blood for thousands of years to protect this patrimony given them by God.

If people wanted to convert, that would be something else. There is a responsible process whereby people can take on the covenantal calling of the Jewish people irrevocably and hook line and sinker. But this does NOT involve the kind of pirating of Jewish treasures which we see all around us, and the strange distortions of Jewish life, all done with a sense of entitlement because the people in question have a BIble verse that “entitles” them. And if you say “What do you think you are doing?” you will be accused of being a bigot and anti-gentile, neither of which is true. One can be pro-Jewish without being anti-gentile.

NO ONE IS SAYING that gentiles can’t touch, handle, taste Jewish things, But there is a conspicous failure to pay due respect to the fact that such are asking to handle Jewish treasures given to the JEWS by God.

I am NOT anti-gentile, but does ANYONE understand what I am saying?

Stuart Dauermann
Rabbi Stuart Dauermann

There were a large number of responses by the time I came across these words and I didn’t have the time to read through more than a smattering, but it seemed that the people commenting generally agreed with and were supportive of R. Dauermann’s statement.

I know that a number of my regular readers (and likely some of those who happen to “surf in”) will object to what Dauermann wrote and will object to my supporting what he wrote. Doubtless, many “proof texts” could be produced in an attempt to refute the idea that Gentiles attempting to observe the entire body of Torah mitzvot in the manner of the Jews are merely engaging in what has been called Evangelical Jewish Cosplay.

I know a number of you reading this are very sincere, devoted, and dedicated disciples of the Messiah and truly, honestly believe that how you observe your faith is exactly what God not only desires, but demands of you (and by inference, all believing Jews and Gentiles everywhere). I’m sorry, because I know what R. Dauermann wrote and what I’ve written here will doubtless cause you pain as well as result in you feeling insulted and even angry. Certainly you will attempt to defend your beliefs and practices, which I completely understand.

But what if you’re wrong?

A few months back, I wrote a two-part review (which you can read in Part 1 and Part 2 of my article “Acting Jewishly But Not Jewish”) of Mark Nanos’ forthcoming paper, ‘Paul’s Non-Jews Do Not Become “Jews,” But Do They Become “Jewish”?: Reading Romans 2:25-29 Within Judaism, Alongside Josephus.’ The paper suggests that although the First Century CE Gentiles entering the Jewish religious community of “the Way,” while not actually “converting” to Judaism, nevertheless “converted” to a way of life that resulted in them acting “Jewishly”.

I received a certain amount of pushback from some Messianic Jewish people who, like R. Dauermann, sought to shield and protect the unique role and identity of Jews in Messiah. This is obviously a tender subject for many in our little corner of the religious world.

It’s apparent to me by the way Dauermann’s words are crafted (and he even said so himself) that he was “ranting,” so to speak. That is, he was speaking from the heart and quite passionately. I can almost hear a raised voice in the words, “I am NOT anti-gentile, but does ANYONE understand what I am saying?” I think he’s frustrated. I don’t blame him.

But by the same token, what am I to say for those certain numbers of Gentiles out there who choose to believe that God commanded them (you) to don a tallit, lay tefillin, and daven in Hebrew from a siddur? What am I to write about those Gentiles who say they are obligated to observe the 613 commandments of the Torah of Moses, apart from the Rabbinic interpretations and totally committed Jewish lifestyle associated with said-commandments?

The question is, if you choose just how you are supposed to observe these mitzvot, diminishing or disregarding the Jewish praxis involved as interpreted by the Rabbinic Sages over the last two-thousand years or so, is what you’re doing really a “Judaism?”

Probably not, although I suppose that conclusion rests on how you define Judaism.

beth immanuel
Beth Immanuel Sabbath Fellowship

Even for those non-Jews who identify as Messianic Gentiles, who agree with the differentiation of roles between Jews and non-Jews in Messiah and who study and behave accordingly, it is arguable as to whether or not we are actually practicing a “Judaism,” even if we worship and fellowship alongside Messianic Jews in a Messianic Jewish synagogue (such as at Rabbi David Rudolph’s shul Tikvat Israel).

I’ve argued both sides of the issue (such as in Do Christians Practice Judaism? and Practicing Messianic What?) and the debate continues to rage.

In beginning to read Rabbi Moshe Avigdor Amiel’s book, from which I quoted above, I truly realize that he conceptualizes the Torah in general and Genesis (Beresheet) in particular, in a fundamentally different way than I do. Of course, he had the benefit of being born a Jew, being raised in a Jewish community, worshiping the God of his fathers as a Jew, being educated as a Jew, and speaking and writing fluent Hebrew (the book is actually two different versions between the covers, one in English and one in Hebrew) as a Jew.

This, and my many other explorations into various Jewish texts, show me that even though I can read them in English, they were written (at least the more scholarly ones) for Jewish people who conceptualize the Bible and associated interpretations in a very different manner than I do, and there are directions in which these texts travel that my thoughts are incapable of following. As I practice my faith, even though I study from a Messianic perspective, that hardly means I’m practicing any type of Judaism as such.

It stands to reason that I don’t consider myself Jewish or even practicing “Jewishly”.

There is, however, a necessity for me to “touch, handle, [and] taste Jewish things,” as R. Dauermann states, because of the intersection between my Messianic faith and Messianic Judaism as it exists within the overarching ekklesia of Messiah, but as I’ve said many, many times before, unity does not require uniformity. It doesn’t even always require being “separate but equal,” although I have also argued for the necessity of exclusive Messianic Jewish communities, at least for some MJ synagogues.

As Gentiles in Messiah who choose the path of studying the Bible and understanding the covenants from a Messianic point of view (and keeping in mind there probably isn’t any one single “Messianic point of view”), in my way of thinking, recognizing the covenant priority of the Jewish people in God’s redemptive plan for Israel is critical to how we not only see Jewish Messianics, but how we are to understand Gentile Messianics as well.

From a rant of my own written last February, I came down to saying don’t argue, though I realize that will always be taken as “let’s argue” by most humans, since we tend to be contrary by nature. But consider that in the long history of the Christian Church, any Jew who has come to faith in Jesus (Yeshua) as the long-awaited Messiah, has been without fail required to opt out of Yiddishkeit and effectively become a Gentile. Isn’t it understandable that Jews who enter the Messianic ekklesia would desire to rectify the insults and injuries of the past by preserving who they are as Jews?

I must admit that my own journey out of “One Law” was largely (but not exclusively) motivated by watching my Jewish wife’s involvement in Jewish community and my desire to cherish her Yiddisher Neshamah. Nothing quite teaches a Gentile about a Jew’s absolute need to be Jewish, to live Jewish, to be among Jewish community like being married to a Jewish spouse. Being married to the girl with the Jewish Soul has certain advantages that many others involved in “worshiping Jewishly” may lack in abundance.

Yesterday, I published a blog post that was highly critical of Christianity, accusing the early Church of virtually “kidnapping” the Jewish scriptures, particularly the Jewish Apostolic Scriptures, and I am sure I insulted many good Christian men and women in the process. I regret any pain I may have caused, but unfortunately, there was no other way to get my point across in the required manner.

But like it or not, the Church has committed many crimes against the Jewish people and their writings and we do so again by failing to acknowledge Jewish uniqueness in covenant connection with God, whether we call ourselves “Christian,” “Messianic,” or anything else.

I know I can’t cause even one single Gentile person to reconsider their commitment to the Torah as they see it, even as I at one time reconsidered my commitment and subsequently changed my direction. It’s possible that I’m totally unique in that regard, though the Gentiles involved in the educational ministry First Fruits of Zion must have faced a similar circumstance a number of years ago when they shifted their official position from One Law to a Differentiated model. And yet, I know it’s possible because I did it.

Orthodox Jewish manI inaugurated and celebrated that change almost three-and-a-half years ago when I wrote the first post for this blog called Abundant is Your Faithfulness.

Since that time, I’ve had many adventures, went back to church, left church…I’ve thought about giving up blogging and even “religion” a number of times, usually after encountering my own severe limitations as a human being or encountering the darker side of religious people.

We have just passed through the Days of Awe, exited Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and entered a new year. Erev Sukkot begins day after tomorrow at sundown and the year stretches out before us like a road paved in gemstones. Whatever our differences, we share one Messiah and one God. Would it really hurt we Gentiles to extend courtesy and honor to the Jewish people by recognizing that they are indeed unique and set apart by Hashem, their God and ours, as a people and a nation?

Oh, by the way, you won’t be able to engage Rabbi Dauermann by commenting on my blog since it’s quite likely he may not even read my “meditations” and certainly, he has never commented here. You can only “talk” to me.

One last thing. Although I don’t agree with everything Scot McKnight wrote in his article Does Personal Bible Reading Destroy the Church?, he does make a good point about everyone interpreting the Bible willy-nilly to come up with their own conclusions. We can’t all be right.

Addendum: Please keep in mind that there will always be rather negative influences who will read a blog post like this, draw the worst possible conclusions, and then post their opinions somewhere on the web, whether it be in my own comments section (no, not Cindy or Marleen) or on their own blog or website. I regret that I gave them more fuel to add to their “fire” but the only way I could possibly quench such “flaming” sentiments would be for me to cease to exist. Nevertheless, I apologize if my comments here have resulted in provoking anyone to slander (actually in writing, it’s libel) or otherwise making statements unbefitting a disciple of the Master and a child of God.

54 thoughts on “Upon Reading a Rant About “Messianic Jewishism””

  1. I have no problem understanding the unique relationship that God has with the Jewish people. However, I see no reason why a gentile cannot take on the Torah, if they so desire. The designation of Ger Toshav was once recognized and covered everything from the resident alien to the proselyte and in between. Rambam stated that there is no such designation until the Yovel is restored. I dare to say all are not Rambamists. Rabbi David Katz, for instance, has begun a movement to once again recognize the Gerim Toshavim. Gentiles do not have to live in a way separate from their Jewish brethren in order to recognize the Jewish people as special to God. What you create from your post above is a situation where there is a no man’s land for those coming along side Judaism. There is no place to go. In many MJ synagogues, the Gentile is looked at as second class. Gentiles are also not welcome in Jewish synagogues, if they believe Yeshua is Messiah. Exactly what else to you propose they do. No longer willing to to follow erroneous Christian views, they are also not wanted nor want to be in the church. This leaves them with exactly what has happened, the need to create their on places of worship.

    1. Hi Cindy.

      I don’t think things are quite that grim, although I imagine in some Messianic Jewish groups, it could seem that way.

      I’m not particularly advocating that all Messianic synagogues or groups be 100% Jewish and for the Messianic Gentiles to fend for themselves, so to speak.

      There are a number of Messianic congregations where Jews and Gentiles worship and fellowship together. The two that are in my awareness are Beth Immanuel Sabbath Fellowship and Tikvat Israel (as I write this, Tikvat Israel’s website is down, but I’m hoping it’ll come back up soon). Beth Immanuel is lead by D. Thomas Lancaster who is not Jewish and Tikvat Israel is lead by Rabbi David Rudolph who is. I suppose I should also mention Ahavat Zion and it’s Rabbi Joshua Brumbach, and this is just the “short list.” I’ve personally attended Beth Immanuel and experienced no “second class citizenship” as a non-Jew. While I haven’t visited the other two synagogues I mentioned, I’ve had a lot of online contact with Rabbi Rudolph and Rabbi Brumbach and at no time whatsoever, have I ever felt put off or treated as if I was less because I’m not Jewish. At different times, both of these gentlemen have been very supportive of me and I would worship in their synagogues if I had the opportunity.

      That said, I can’t say there aren’t Messianic synagogues that want and even need to be primarily or exclusively Jewish for reasons I outline in this blog post.

      When I wrote this blog post, I realized that it would likely prompt a reaction such as yours and I certainly understand where you’re coming from. Back in the day, I was also a One Law believer and held attitudes very similar to the ones you express. I’ve laced this blog post with links to other blogs I’ve written in an attempt to describe something of the process of how and why I shifted my viewpoint to one that recognizes a distinctiveness in the ekklesia of Messiah between Jewish and non-Jewish members.

      As far as the example of the Ger Toshav is concerned, although I know you’ll disagree (and certainly my friend Pete Rambo did on his blog), I consider any attempt to apply the role and function of the ancient Ger Toshav as we see him/her in the days of Moses as anachronistic. The Ger was always expected to assimilate fully into Israel through offspring in the third generation and never were his/her descendants expected to retain Gentile identity. In other words, the Ger, though bound to most of the Torah mitzvot as a Gentile, took an oath of fealty to the nation of Israel, to Israel’s God, and likely to a specific tribe in order to function within Israelite society, and even then, special care had to be taken of the Ger in the same manner as the widow or orphan, so they were hardly equal and in fact, second class citizens since they depended on the charity of others. Only their grandchildren would be fully assimilated into Israel, probably through intermarriage, and considered an Israelite. In One Law, there is no expectation that the One Law “Ger’s” grandchildren and beyond will be considered Jewish.

      By the way, I really appreciate you addressing this matter in a civil and calm manner. In times past, such a blog post would elicit a lot of “emotional response” including name calling and the like, so I’m glad you could approach this subject and comment honestly, from the heart, and also in a way that communicates your disagreement with me without personalizing that disagreement.

      Thank you.

      1. There has always been a way for the Gentile to enter into community with Israel. In the past, conversion was quite simple. A declaration of belief in God of Israel as the One true Elohim, Mikvah, and dwelling among Israel. Not so today and understandable given the history of Israel with Christianity and others. However, a belief in Yeshua negates everything for us. I live much like an Orthodox/Conservative Jew and would convert otherwise. But that is not possible today. I disagree that Gentiles coming into the faith necessarily remained Gentiles. I am of the opinion that Ephesians 2 and Acts 15 speak to this. I do not follow FFOZ due to this fact, though at one time I was a supporter. Frankly, I am trying to reconcile this whole thing. It makes no sense to me that the Torah would only be for Jews nor does it make sense that only the 7 laws of Noachide apply. Within Judaism, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and others are considered Noachides. Why would I settle for that when there is so much more in believing in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? I concede that Israel has more to do within the Kingdom than the rest of us, but am not convinced that means we do not follow Torah. Judah is the lawgiver and as such, we should be following what the Rabbonim teach.

      2. Cindy said:

        Frankly, I am trying to reconcile this whole thing. It makes no sense to me that the Torah would only be for Jews nor does it make sense that only the 7 laws of Noachide apply.

        I think we’re all trying to reconcile or come to some sort of understanding on how the Bible works and what it teaches us about who we are in Messiah.

        I’d have to disagree that FFOZ specifically or Messianic Judaism in general considers Gentiles in Messiah as Noahides. I certainly don’t think that’s what the Acts 15 legal decision was about. The whole non-Jewish world are considered obligated to the Noahide laws by default. However, Gentiles who are grafted in to the New Covenant blessings by coming to faith in Messiah become more and are held to higher standards.

        Just exactly what those standards are can be debated, but I think we can glean some of the Apostles original intent for Gentile disciples from the Didache (also see here and here).

        My opinion was that Gentile disciples back in Apostolic Days, looked and acted more “Jewishly” than what would be considered usual in a 21st century church setting, but that may have been a combination of how they saw their obligations relative to the New Covenant blessings and the necessity of keeping kosher and observing the Shabbat for the sake of communal fellowship with their Jewish mentors.

        As you say, 2,000 years of enmity between Jews and Christians has taken its toll. On top of that, Messianic Judaism is continually in the process of inventing and defining itself, gradually shifting more toward behaving like an observant Judaism and a “container” for Jews in Messiah who wish Jewish community complete with everything we might consider Judaism halachically. This obviously results in some strife in relation to Gentiles who feel they are being excluded or treated unfairly, but the point I’m trying to make is that from a Jewish point of view, a Messianic Jew may want to be considered more Jewish than Christian. R. Dauermann’s “rant” pretty much speaks to itself, although by definition, it was an emotional outburst and not an attempt to address the matter via scholarly discourse.

        All that said, we Gentile Messianics are not to be considered Noahides and in fact, the Torah does apply to the Gentile in Messiah. It just applies differently to us than to Jewish Messianics (or any other Jewish person).

        I know that we are going to disagree here and I don’t hope to convince you otherwise. My intent is just to give you a better idea of why I believe what I believe. By the way, if you didn’t pick it up in this blog post, my wife is Jewish though not a believer in Yeshua in any sense. It was watching my wife build a relationship in the local Jewish community that helped me to see the Jewish perspective of identity and relationship, and that allows me to grant her “space” as a Jew, as space where she can go but I can’t because I’m not Jewish. I don’t mean I can’t go to synagogue, but I can’t take on certain behaviors, at least as craved-in-stone obligations, that I believe are exclusively Jewish. What I do voluntarily, especially since I live with a Jewish family, is another matter.

  2. I hope you’re going to tell us more about Amiel’s “Jews, Judaism, and Genesis” — as it sounds very interesting.

  3. Please note that I have added an addendum statement to the end of this blog post in response to certain comments that have been recently made on the web relative to today’s “meditation.”

  4. I found your blog and attachment very interesting. I know of FFOZ and have taught their basic Hebrew classes in my home a few times. Loved every minute of it. Have also been to Israel and want to return. I have just acquired the documentary “Let the Lion Roar’. Very informative to say the least. Hosted by Derek Frank. It just came out mid-September. You might find it most interesting. Like reading your blog and have been following you for quite a while. I’m just an old (77) Gram who loves the Jewish peoples and feel blessed they have given me My Yeshua as my Saviour. Blessings to you, Alice

  5. **sigh**

    ‘one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all,’

    One faith.

    Dauermann’s anger looks decidedly like jealousy. Sorry.

    1. @Pete: It’s difficult for me to apply “jealousy” as one of the emotions R. Dauermann may have experienced while writing his “rant”, so I took the liberty of looking up the definition at

      1. jealous resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another’s success or advantage itself.
      2. mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc., as in love or aims.
      3. vigilance in maintaining or guarding something.
      4. a jealous feeling, disposition, state, or mood.

      I guess the way I see jealousy is in the following example.

      Fred is my next door neighbor (no, not really, this is just an example). Fred just bought a brand new car. It’s really expensive and I can’t afford something like it, but it’s the kind of car I’ve always wanted. Even though Fred worked really hard for years to save up so he could afford his car, I feel really jealous that he’s got such a cool car and I don’t. I want his car. I’m just as good a person as Fred. Why can’t I have a car like Fred’s?

      That’s how I see jealousy. To undeservedly desire something someone else rightfully possesses. How can this be made to apply to R. Dauermann since A) He’s Jewish and B) Being Jewish, all the Jewish “things” rightfully belong to him?

      One faith, yes but not one application.

      @Eli: Thanks for that. I don’t think a lot of non-Jews are going to “get it” because of a lack of perspective. Part of the problem is that, especially in western countries, we’re taught that everyone has to be equal in each and every aspect of life, and that it’s unfair, unjust, and bigoted for anyone to be different and especially different in an advantage, in any way whatsoever. When Jewish people (Messianic or otherwise) claim a distinct “chosenness” by God based on the Sinai Covenant and it’s conditions, even though God has every right to call out Israel from among the nations, including the people of the nations who are disciples of Messiah Yeshua, the “that’s not fair” response is triggered. As disciples, we still have a long way to go in learning submissiveness to the will of God and humility before the commandments of our Creator.

      1. But your explanation is not in keeping with how Paul uses the word in Romans 11. Instead of using the first definition, look at number 3. I think that is both Paul’s definition and the appropriate understanding of Dauermann.

        Dauermann wants to take his ‘toy’ and go home, however, Paul’s expectation is that as the gentiles come to faith in Messiah and begin to keep His commandments, the Jews, driven to jealousy will teach them, not turn them away.

        While Dauermann may not be doing this, there are many other Jews who are embracing this influx and I bless them for being the light they have been called to be.

      2. Pete said:

        But your explanation is not in keeping with how Paul uses the word in Romans 11. Instead of using the first definition, look at number 3. I think that is both Paul’s definition and the appropriate understanding of Dauermann.

        OK, let’s see definition number three of “jealousy”:

        vigilance in maintaining or guarding something.

        I guess I can go with that since God said:

        — for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God–

        Exodus 34:14

        for the LORD your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of the LORD your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth.

        Deuteronomy 6:15

        Now when you call Dauermann jealous, you apparently mean it as a pejorative or otherwise as a disparaging statement. However, if you’re correct about definition number three being the right one, then are we also talking about God in the negative sense since He is a jealous God? Given the context, God is exhibiting “vigilance in maintaining or guarding something,” which is His relationship with Israel as His people with His being their God.

        In this case, “jealousy” isn’t negative in the slightest and God has every right to guard a precious possession, the Jewish people. Going back to R. Dauermann (and let’s keep in mind, neither me nor thee have any idea what Dauermann was feeling when he wrote his rant…we’re just projecting our imaginations onto his words, but let’s go with that for now), if he is being jealous in this particular since, then we can’t say it’s a negative response anymore than God’s jealousness is negative, since both God and Dauermann are (apparently) guarding something precious and personal from being misused, the Jewish people in God’s case, and Jewish practices in Dauermann’s.

        Now how does one provoke that kind of jealously. By threatening to misuse what is being guarded or protected. Israel provoked God by worshiping idols. They threatened to destroy or at least damage the precious relationship they had with God. To extend this comparison, now would one provoke the kind of jealously you attribute to Dauermann in a Jewish person? By threatening to misuse uniquely Jewish practices and objects that specifically identify Jewish people as Jews. From Dauermann’s point of view (and remember, I’m still projecting my imagination, I can’t directly know what he’s thinking and feeling), one way to do this might be to have a bunch of non-Jews wearing tallitot or laying tefillin and saying they are equally obligated to perform these mitzvot as the Jewish people.

        Now having said all that, the whole “provoking jealousness” thing from Romans 11 has been terribly misused. Do you really think Paul wanted to cause any Jewish people discomfort or pain by provoking the sort of jealously we’ve been discussing? Was this Paul’s statement that he wanted the Gentiles to mimic Jewish appearance and behavior to trigger a protective response in them? That hardly seems likely.

        I do believe that we Gentiles are supposed to “provoke” a higher degree of Torah observance in Messianic (and other) Jewish people, but I don’t think we have to imitate Jewish behavior to accomplish that task. About nine months ago, I wrote a blog post (a review, actually) called Provoking Zealousness that I believe adequately explains my point of view here. There’s also this:

        You see, brother, how many (tens of) thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law… (emph. mine)

        Acts 21:20

        That’s the sort of jealousness/zealousness I believe we are supposed to be provoking, not in order to inflict pain upon the Jewish people, but to inspire them to draw nearer to God by cleaving to the mitzvot.

        I know you won’t accept this, but I don’t see how we are to draw nearer to our Jewish brothers and sisters in Messiah be deliberately aggravating them, all in the name of being provocative.

      3. @Pete — Allowing for the sake of a moment’s discussion your analogy of R.Dauermann wishing he could take his “toy” and go home, would you deny the fact that we are referring to a “toy” that actually *is* owned by Jews and not by gentiles, and that MJs do have the right to go home, thereby taking what belongs to them home with them? Paul’s efforts involved teaching gentiles to play nicely and to learn at least some of the more important rules of the game. He didn’t teach them that they could own the game or take it away from the Jews to whom it belongs. Certainly he didn’t envision a bi-millennial exile that would leave MJs longing to go home taking a long-mistreated Messiah home with them. Can you really be meaning to callously deny the feelings expressed in this “rant”? As was explained above, this was not a thoroughly developed theological policy; but rather it was a “Cri de Coeur”. Since you yourself have expressed interest in continuing to play this game just like the Jews do, and even together with Jews, can you not spare even a shred of sympathy for Jews who wish to practice at home with other Jews and perhaps to develop the state of the game to a higher level of art? If allowed to do so, they have already demonstrated their willingness to share even more tips on playing, some of them especially tailored to the non-native player.

      4. @ James and PL,

        I understand what you are saying, but think you fail to account for Abba’s direct commands to Israel to ‘go’ and ‘be a light,’ particularly as Isaiah relays the message. Taking the ‘toy’ and going home does not fulfill the purpose or calling of God upon Israel. It is the equivalent of ‘hiding it under a bushel.’

        In this context, Paul and the Jerusalem Council expected that the Gentiles would learn Moses in the synagogue on Shabbat, not be given a pat on the head and sent home.

        Jealousy that leads to isolation and seclusion is an improper use of the Gift. JMHO.

        The question Messianic Judaism has to answer is, ‘Who are they desiring to please? Abba, or Judaism?’ Strong, but that is the crux of the matter.

        I do love you guys! It is not my desire to be intentionally abrasive or antagonistic. Just calling it like I see it.

      5. Actually, Pete, I don’t think you’ll find any actual command for Israel to “go and be a light”. The notion is more of an observation about a purpose, or a consequence of what HaShem has done in choosing Israel in response to Avraham’s trust. One question that comes up here, then, is by what mechanisms should that occur, and does it vary at different times? OK, that’s two questions (for the price of one). I think you’re trying to over-constrain the methodology by which that will occur. Placing Jews and gentiles into the same community or the same synagogue might be one method of sharing knowledge. Consider, though, that there might be other methods, and better ones, depending on circumstances. Consider also whether some methods place the proverbial bushel-basket where critical light is hidden from Jews who are needing it more at a given time than are gentiles.

        Another question worth considering is what might we expect to see if gentiles actually succeed in “provoking Jews to jealousy”, especially if that “jealousy” actually means “zeal for Torah” as cited in Acts 21. Would we expect to see more or less assimilation of Jews into surrounding majority gentile cultures? Would we expect to see more or less intermixing of Jews and gentiles? In both these cases, I think greater zeal for Torah will result in less intermixing. So should it be surprising, if MJs have been provoked to greater zeal, that they should find themselves wishing to pursue a purer product and improve its quality? Will this not ultimately also enrich the gentiles who continue to seek to grab hold of Jewish tzitzit and plead to come along to where HaShem abides?

        If we consider an electrical analogy, as the voltage to be carried by a conductive material (such as a wire) is increased, so also the thickness of insulation around it must be increased in order to prevent unintended discharges and “short-circuits” or “ground-faults”. The higher voltage carries more power, and it is thus more dangerous and must be more isolated. That does not prevent power from being supplied wherever it is needed; it merely enforces safety in doing so. One would be ill-advised indeed to insist on stripping away the insulation. I think I can safely suggest that a higher-voltage, higher-powered MJ is needed now more than ever, to produce a much brighter light, and thus its carriers should be properly insulated.

  6. Hello James. Reading Rabbi Dauermann and your post. You are right, and really i wonder why no one hearing Rabbi Dauermann cry? All what happening with messianics of different kind is really highly disrespectful and regretful. But we need to come through all this, and I believe even missing on the way one or another it must come about. In the same time those people who understand, and you are one of few, need to give all possible and even more support to Jewish believers in Messianic Judaism. I’m of a view that as more we go (in time) all this messianics have nothing to do with us in Messianic Judaism. Time coming will show this very real and clear. So sifting process continue. Like Rabbi Dauerman, I’m extremely frustrating about this gross disrespect and insinuations many in messianic movement showing up, but nothing could be don so far but education and education. There always will be a real remnant – Gentile believers who will not be scare to be with us Jewish believers. In essence I pray for all kinds of blessings and enrichment on believers like you. As for others, may Hashem deal with them justly. So far and in the future we have our way to go.

  7. All-Jewish Messicanic congregations should happen, but there are not enough Jewish believers to even form a minyan in most places in the world. How would that congregation sustain itself? From the offerings of Gentiles? On a global scale, Christians outnumber Jews 150:1.

    1. That’s probably true in most places except Israel, Steve. On the other hand, should a group of Messianic Jews choose to form a synagogue designed for the exclusive use of Jewish believers who wish to observe the mitzvot, I for one won’t object in the slightest. Remember, in his rant, R. Dauermann said:

      NO ONE IS SAYING that gentiles can’t touch, handle, taste Jewish things, But there is a conspicous failure to pay due respect to the fact that such are asking to handle Jewish treasures given to the JEWS by God.

      In other words, he’s not drawing a steel curtain down between Gentiles as involvement in “Jewish things,” he’s just saying we should acknowledge and respect that they belong to the Jews. This can be accomplished in congregations that are considered Messianic and that include a mixed Jewish/Gentile population, which describes the vast majority if not absolutely all Messianic groups in the U.S. today.

  8. Re: Gentile believers provoking jealousy/zealousness in Israel, I was reminded of what Jewish theologian Michael Wysogrod wrote explaining his deep curiosity in Christianity. His perspective as a Jew – who experienced Kristallnacht and witnessed Nazi’s unrolling Torah scrolls in the street and charging a dime to walk across it – is illuminating, challenging, and convicting. Notice what he highlights, and more importantly, what he leaves out (Gentiles assuming Jew(ish) personas. Sorry for length, but necessary for context.

    “But if the Jewish theologian is therefore necessarily interested in the religious life of all peoples, how much more must he be interested in Christianity, which has mediated the vocabulary of Israel to all parts of the earth. At times, I find myself driving on a Sunday morning in some rural area of the United States….just about the only reception available consists of church services from this or that local church. And as one switches from station to station, what names does one hear? David, Solomon, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Jesus, Paul, and so on, Jews one and all. And what concepts does one hear? Sin and redemption, the Messiah, sacrifice, the Passover, Jerusalem, and so on, Jewish concepts one and all.

    And this Jewish vocabulary, this imagination, these Jewish hopes and expectations issue from gentile seed, from stock that is not of Abraham, from people whose forefathers had not been brought out of Egypt and for whom God did not split the Red Sea. How can a Jewish theologian not be interested in this? True, to the Jewish ear there are at times notes that are not fully harmonious with his consciousness….But it is not this that is the wonder. The wonder is that nations not of the stock of Abraham have come within the orbit of the faith of Israel, experiencing humankind and history with Jewish categories deeply rooted in Jewish experience and sensibility. How can a Jewish theologian not perceive that something wonderful is at work here, something that must in some way be connected with the love of the God of Israel for all his children, Isaac as well as Ishmael, Jacob as well as Esau?”

  9. James, I don’t often get over here to read your postings, but I really appreciate this one. Todah rabbah.

    You said in an above comment, “One faith, yes but not one application.”

    I appreciate the sentiment, but I can’t say I agree with this. I consider that “church-speak”. The first century record seems to indicate Yeshua expected his disciples to “Go and make many disciples”, just as we are told in Pirkei Avot. I believe the original intent was to grow the Jewish community through conversion of Gentiles. “One Lord, one faith, one mikveh” is meaningless if it doesn’t mean that there is one path to joining one community, in service to one King. That is the vision given to us by the prophets.

    BLE is nothing but a repackaging of traditional “Us versus Them” mentality, and I think its goal is diametrically opposed to what Yeshua and his followers set out to accomplish.

  10. Interesting quote, Sojourning. Reminds me of something I quoted from Rabbi Amiel’s book in today’s Morning Mediation:

    Israel orders the times for all nations and tongues. All our seasons, such as our “Festival of Freedom,” our “Festival of the Giving of the Torah,” are celebrated by all enlightened nations. In matters of time, we are emulated by all, even though sometimes the imitation is blemished by modifications — for example, the Sunday imitation of the Sabbath day — but it universally acknowledged that the original is ours.

    Timewise, we are the most powerful of nations, the deciding factor. “Go and let Israel determine the days and years by you.” The nations’ calendar is based upon the birth date of a certain Jew. (emph. mine)

    Yes, and while Wysogrod’s concerns did not include Gentiles assuming Jewish personas, that actually comes up repeatedly across history and I’m slowly discovering, though not quite in the same way as One Law is expressed today. From what I understand, periodically across the last two-thousand years, certain small groups of Christians have broken off from the formal church to gather together as Saturday Sabbath keepers and such, but not to demand entry into Jewish life nor claiming that they were the same as the Jews. They merely recognized that the early Church fathers had re-interpreted the Bible in a way that deleted the actual, original relationship of Gentile believers and Shabbos. The closest modern incarnation are Seventh-Day Adventists, who nevertheless, don’t go so far as to say that “all the Jewish things are ours.”

    I think that there have always been some non-Jewish believers who have seen through the Christian covering draped over the Bible and sought within themselves and without taking on a different persona. They recognized the Apostolic Scriptures were Jewish documents long with the rest of the Bible and they desired to observe the Bible as it was speaking to them. But some groups today have taken that drive way too far and ultimately have set themselves, if not directly against the Jewish people or Israel, against the ancient and modern practice of Judaism, claiming along with the Church, that the Jewish religion, as such, went extinct when Jesus died on the cross.

    More’s the pity.

    @Mishkan David: From what you are saying, it sounds like you believe the Matthew 28:18-20 mandate was for Yeshua’s disciples to convert all the Gentiles to Judaism, but I sincerely doubt you meant it that way. There was already a well-established process in place for routing Gentiles through the proselyte rites so that could become converts. It may be that the Apostles originally thought that’s what he meant, which is why it took Peter fifteen years, a vision from Heaven, and a Roman Centurion to finally figure it out (Acts 10).

    The New Covenant blessings in which the Gentiles are included by their Abrahamic faith and inaugurated by Messiah as the mediator of that covenant, allowed for us (we Gentiles that is) to reap the same benefits of that covenant as the Jews, which include atonement of sins, reconciliation to God, the resurrection, and live in the world to come. The beauty of it all is that there’s no requirement for the Gentiles to convert to Judaism and take on the same obligations of the Sinai and New Covenant, the mitzvot of the Torah of Moses.

    Just how this was to work out wasn’t formally established, though Paul as the emissary to the Gentiles was passionate about making it work, until the hearing before the Council of Apostles and Elders and the halachic decision rendered by James as head of the Council, limited the hard and fast obligations for Gentiles disciples to a short list of essentials (see Acts 15:15-21). Before you say it, I know verse 21 directs the Gentiles (apparently) to hear and learn the Torah in the synagogues each Shabbat, but that doesn’t equate to covenant obligation to all of the 613 commandments. It does mean, in my opinion, that Gentiles would have no clue what the teachings of Messiah meant and how they fit in to the overarching redemptive plan of God as recorded in the Bible, unless they studied Torah under the tutelage of Jewish mentors. I think that process originally existed as an oral commentary that accompanied the carriers of “the letter” and later set down in writing in the document we call the Didache (note that I have written a number of other commentaries besides the one that link points to exploring my supposition in detail).

    I find it interesting that you accuse me of “church speak” since Gentile Christians appropriating and re-labeling God’s covenant promises to Israel as belonging to the Church as long been the foundation of the Christian narrative.

    Perhaps it’s poor form on my part to mention it, but I don’t think it’s very helpful, as you did on another blog, to refer to a fellow Jewish believer as an “aging curmudgeon chasing children off his sacred lawn,” As I said in the Addendum to this very blog post, it is one thing to disagree with someone’s opinion, at least in a civil manner, but becomes behavior unbefitting a disciples of the Master and a child of God to personalize conflict as some other bloggers (well, one that I know of) have done. You should, I believe, also make allowances, as I and ProclaimLiberty have already mentioned, for the fact that I was quoting a “rant” and not an essay or more scholarly article. The person in question was admittedly and deliberately expressing themselves leading with his emotions for the sake of expressing his heart-felt concerns.

    Part of me regrets writing this blog post and quoting his words since I have exposed him to undeserved criticism and even ridicule. However, those people who have resorted to name calling (not necessarily you, David) have revealed more about their own character (or lack thereof) than they could ever say about the object of their disdain.

    I’ve continued my thoughts on this topic in a blog post I published today, and tomorrow’s “morning meditation” will round out the subject. I hope you’ll accept them in the vein in which they were written, and even if you disagree with my thoughts, which I believe you will, I hope you can see the concern and compassion of my intent in writing these missives.

  11. As a Messianic Gentile, I am pursuing Torah Observance in obedience to a call by the Ruach haKodesh, and the words of Yehoshua in the Apostolic Writings. If I lived around Messianic Jews, I might want to taste and sample and play with their special possession, if they allowed me to. Some might. I hope that I would ask permission to do so, and that I might even receive an invitation to draw close and admire what they have.

    But there are no such people anywhere near me, and so, I simply read the commandments as written, read all the commentary available on them, Jewish and Christian, and then keep those commandments in a simple manner…with no Jewish or Christian observances, although I am studying Hebrew, and am interested in Jewish culture. I might end up lighting candles one day on the Sabbaths, since I like candles, and it marks the beginning and ending of the Sabbath. I don’t see lighting them in the Jewish manner to be applicable to me.

    When I say the Sh’ma, I name my G-d, because I think circumlocutions in prayer are not for me, and that Talmudic orders dating from Babylon do not outweigh what G-d ordered in regard to saying His Name. I say the Name of G-d with reverence and delight, and love saying it, sometimes just over and over, because it is beautiful to me. Others may not want to risk saying it, so as to keep their lips from evil, but I prefer obeying G-d where a commandment is written.

    I have no desire to become Jewish, and pick up an obligation that is a very serious one, nor do I want to act Jewishly.

    I kept the feast day of Sukkot as a Sabbath, but I didn’t build a sukkot. Am I to build one, live in it for a week, by myself, remembering a heritage I do not have? I have no handed down memories of my ancient ancestors being shaded by the Cloud of Glory that protected the Israelites in the Wilderness, and thus no desire to make an idiot of myself by pretending to be what I am not. Certainly I can look forward to the Messianic Age that the Feast of Sukkot also envisions, but I can’t see how I am supposed to demonstrate that, so I don’t try to. I keep the Sabbath involved because it is a day separated to Abba, and to holiness by the order of G-d Himself, not because it is Jewish.

    Those that desire to adopt the culture of Judaism need to be adopted by an Orthodox practicing Messianic Synagogue, take up all of the halacha involved, and not play pretend.

    For those of us that remain outside the congregation of Judaism, we should be able to accept a little differentiation between the Messianic Believers in the Covenant, and the Messianic Believers outside of it without screaming “Dhimmitude!” Certainly I want to be recognized as a brother in Yehoshua by any Messianic Believer I run into, but I don’t expect to look or act like anyone of them, except in courtesy and loving-kindness.

  12. Questor, I don’t think there’s anything objectionable to what you are doing. Certainly, we are all listening to how the Bible speaks to us and what it says to our hearts and well as our minds. I know many non-Jewish Messianics who have built sukkot (plural of sukkah) for sukkot. In my case, because my wife and kids are Jewish, as head of household, it makes sense for me to build a sukkah in my back yard. On a personal note, I am not unmindful that there are, by tradition, seven very special Ushpizin guests who are invited to enter the sukkah, one per each day of the festival. It reminds me of the Words of Yeshua:

    “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven…”

    Matthew 8:11 (NASB)

    Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are the first three of the seven guests expected to share a Jew’s sukkah, but in this case, Yeshua is referring to Gentiles who have faith (read the full chapter in Matthew for context). I can’t prove that Yeshua is specifically referencing Sukkot in the statement above, but I do know from Zechariah 14:16-19 that Gentile representatives from the nations who attacked Jerusalem and failed (in Messianic Days) will be required to go up to the Holy City and observe the festival of Sukkot. There seems to be a specific connection between this festival and Gentiles, faithful and otherwise.

    And in Messianic Days, who is to say how many more of the traditions the faithful among the nations will observe:

    “Also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
    To minister to Him, and to love the name of the Lord,
    To be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath
    And holds fast My covenant;
    Even those I will bring to My holy mountain
    And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
    Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar;
    For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”
    The Lord God, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares,
    “Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered.”

    Isaiah 56:6-8

    Some interpret these verses as a “command” for Gentiles to “act Jewish” in the present age, but I believe it is a matter among the Gentiles who desire to elevate themselves spiritually to take on board some additional mitzvot, not because it is an obligation, but in anticipation of the resurrection and life under the Messianic King.

  13. So much disdain for gentiles who want to keep God’s commandments, the true colors are showing and its disturbing. But we can’t let divisive people get in the way.

  14. Zion, I believe I was trying to show, in this blog post and the two subsequent ones (this one and this one) that the door swings both ways. As a Gentile, you see yourself as the injured party, but can you not see that Jews in Messiah can also see themselves as injured. Is our response to continue to throw rocks or to stop and consider the consequences of our actions.

    I stopped to consider the consequences of my actions as they impacted my Jewish wife (though she’d never complain) and the alternative became obvious to me.

  15. James,

    I don’t consider myself injured and I don’t have disdain for Jews… so I don’t think your point works.

  16. I want to thank you for such a wonderful write up. I speak from the position of one who has been part of, and worked through, the most difficult trek of Christians trying to observe Torat Moshe.

    In my early journey out of Christianity I heard Stuart Dauermann speak, and quite frankly he was one of the people that really made me look at AM Israel with different eyes. I was definitely immersed in Messianic Jewishism and ignorant of what AM Israel has had to go through to give us our Torah. Without them we would even have know there was a Maschiach.I thought like so many today that all I had to do was what was written in our English Torah and I would be following the ways of HaShem.

    I understand now why it is necessary to live in a Jewish neighborhood,(I now live in Jerusalem) attend synagogue, study with AM Israel but most importantly, know the language. This in fact is the only way to know their G-d, His Torah and His plan for the world. I truly only knew what salvation, baptism, sacrifice, atonement, repentance, the feasts were, according to Helenistic thinking and implementation. I was trying to follow the ways of HaShem all the while never reading these words of the prophet Zechariyahu
    Adonai-Tzva’ot says, ‘When the time comes, ten men will take hold — speaking all the languages of the nations — and they will grab hold of the tzitzit of a Jew saying, “We want to go with you, because we have heard that G-d is with you.”’”
    Zechariyahu 8:23

    Perhaps the time is now!


  17. As a believer with a Messianic p.o.v., who is not necessarily a Torah-observant,believer, but a Torah-centric believer, I acknowledge the festivals and Shabbat in my home and teach my sons from a Messianic theological perspective. Am I a “Messianic Gentile?” The definition is going to be viewed differently from almost every individual perspective. I do not see myself as a “Christian” in the common sense of the term, although I believe very much in kind with Christianity’s tenets. I am a Gentile believer who operates from a Messianic Jewish theological perspective and who has thrown his hat in the ring with the Jewish people and Israel, come what may. Call it what you will. As has been said, I am what I am…

    One thing I hold to tenaciously as a former “guest-member” of a messianic synagogue (prior to moving back east) is this: I am a “sharer” in the promises and take that to heart; I am a wild branch grafted into the cultivated tree and I hold myself accountable to remember my “place” in HaShem’s divine design as I see it. I see the Messianic Jew – and to some extent, the non-Messianic Jew – as both being my elders and I respect them as such. Always. Without compromise. As I see it – and I stress, only as I see it – this is the way HaShem desires that I see His people from a grafted-in position.

    It is my position that “Messianic Gentiles” should always, willingly, rightfully, take the lower seat and patiently wait to be called to a seat of honor or respect. Not because we are somehow inferior or less or lacking, but because we are new to the scene:

    1) Like the hired workers, we came late to the field but are paid the same wage in terms of salvation… and yet… still have much to learn about the doing of the job from those who came before us and have been working in the field before us.

    2) We are the beneficiaries of the sap that flows from the roots. I hold myself accountable to remember that the root supports us and we do not support the root. I take this to mean something in terms of our demeanor as well as our theological perspective.

    3) We are indebted to our Jewish brothers and sisters for their suffering through the centuries to bring Messiah and the Torah to us. In my view, from a human perspective, perhaps, it is I, personally, that owe them a great deal of gratitude and that this should have bearing on my demeanor in real time.

    3) We have much to be repentive of given the centuries of heretical anti-Jewish teaching, especially Replacement Theology. I take this very seriously as I believe my Father takes this very seriously, first.

    As Moishe the Beadle says to Eliezer in “Night” :

    “Man raises himself toward God by the questions he asks Him… That is the true dialogue. Man questions God and God answers… You will find the true answers, Eliezer, only within yourself!”

    These are the answers to the questions I’ve had over the years stuck in the undefined space between “Christian” and “Messianic Jew.” Until I come upon an approach or demeanor or understanding that supersedes this one in truth, this is the position I choose to occupy, the view I embrace as the disclosed truth… for me. I do and do not do Torah, etc., in the way I am able and see fit to do and trust that my Father knows the love and intentionality of my heart whether I fulfill it in performance or not.

    1. Hey, Dan — Wanna label? You can call yourself a “Goy Mutzdak”, a “justified gentile”. Or, if you’d prefer a variation that emphasizes sojourning alongside Jews, you might try “Ger Mutzdak”, though that comes perilously close to the traditional term for a convert (“ger tzedek”) and it might be misunderstood. Another possibility that corresponds with Kefa’s sheet-vision, about gentiles cleansed by HaShem, would be “goy nitztaher”, “a foreign national becoming cleansed”, which also sounds like “goy mitzta-er”, a “sorrowing gentile” (which would fit your avocation to increase Holocaust awareness). While of course no one but a Hebrew speaker will immediately recognize the meaning of these terms (and even these might have difficulty depending upon your pronunciation), you’re probably already well-accustomed to having to explain yourself because you stand outside standard recognized categories. You merely needn’t feel “stuck” between the categories of “Christian” and “MJ”, though I suspect that your territory will remain somewhat undefined for a while longer, label notwithstanding.

  18. James,

    I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my comments. I am only slightly familiar with your own situation, and the family dynamics that push and pull you in the directions you have traveled.

    For myself, I can only speak from my own experience as a part of the Messianic Movement since 1981, and an elder at a Messianic shul from 1986 through 2007. I have never been tempted to go back to the church world I left when I was 19, and it has never occurred to me to stand apart from the Jewish community. I have spent decades trying to reconcile the need to follow Yeshua with being Torah observant according to the traditional Jewish perspective.

    From what you are saying, it sounds like you believe the Matthew 28:18-20 mandate was for Yeshua’s disciples to convert all the Gentiles to Judaism, but I sincerely doubt you meant it that way.

    That is, as a matter of fact, precisely what I meant to communicate. Is there any other way to take his meaning? MJ began as a Jewish sect. Yeshua came to claim the titles of “King” and “Rabbi” in the Jewish community. His followers were nothing more, nor less, than a sect within Judaism (yes, we give them credit for being the RIGHT sect). Welcoming Gentiles meant bringing those Gentiles into this Jewish sectarian movement. How else could we understand the instructions of the Master? Certainly, he had no desire to start a new religion for Gentiles?!?!?!

    There was already a well-established process in place for routing Gentiles through the proselyte rites so that could become converts. It may be that the Apostles originally thought that’s what he meant, which is why it took Peter fifteen years, a vision from Heaven, and a Roman Centurion to finally figure it out (Acts 10).

    A well established process for joining a religion, yes. But Yeshua is much more than JUST a rabbi, a teacher of morals and religion. He is the inheritor of the Davidic throne, the ruler of the grand and glorious planetary empire. As I wrote in my own recent blog piece, we seem to have in mind a role for Israel that is MUCH TOO SMALL–arguing over mere religious bragging rights.

    The beauty of it all is that there’s no requirement for the Gentiles to convert to Judaism and take on the same obligations of the Sinai and New Covenant, the mitzvot of the Torah of Moses.

    The beauty??? What you describe sounds completely schizophrenic. It makes a strange patchwork quilt of the Scriptures.

    Just how this was to work out wasn’t formally established, though Paul as the emissary to the Gentiles was passionate about making it work

    Of course this concept was never worked out. It isn’t found in Scripture, at all.

    the hearing before the Council of Apostles and Elders and the halachic decision rendered by James as head of the Council, limited the hard and fast obligations for Gentiles disciples to a short list of essentials (see Acts 15:15-21). Before you say it, I know verse 21 directs the Gentiles (apparently) to hear and learn the Torah in the synagogues each Shabbat, but that doesn’t equate to covenant obligation to all of the 613 commandments.

    I won’t presume to remind you of that which you know so well. I simply see that council meeting as discussing initial entrance requirements, rather than long-term goals. They all already knew the goal (conversion), and were only discussing how to meet the needs of the new candidate.

    It does mean, in my opinion, that Gentiles would have no clue what the teachings of Messiah meant and how they fit in to the overarching redemptive plan of God as recorded in the Bible, unless they studied Torah under the tutelage of Jewish mentors.

    Precisely so.

    I find it interesting that you accuse me of “church speak” since Gentile Christians appropriating and re-labeling God’s covenant promises to Israel as belonging to the Church as long been the foundation of the Christian narrative.

    My biggest mistake there was in not clarifying my intention. And I hope you will note my comment was directed towards the idea, not your person.

    What I meant to describe was the idea that there are two peoples who will never blend in a single group identified as the prophets said–a minyan of ten Gentiles joining with a Jewish teacher in order to grow Israel by recruiting from the nations. The historical church position has generally been that Jews are only valued insofar as they will cast off their Jewish identity and become known as “Christian”. Some 100 years ago, there arose a school of Christian thought taking the position that Jews were a parallel “people of God” WITH Christianity–two peoples, with one God. This is the school of thought now being brought to the fore by certain leaders in the MJ community.

    I am working towards restoring a perspective I feel is much more true to what is recorded in the Messianic Writings–welcoming Gentiles into a Jewish sectarian community that is fully Jewish in all ways–religious, social, and political.

    Perhaps it’s poor form on my part to mention it

    Probably. But it was your choice.

    I don’t think it’s very helpful, as you did on another blog, to refer to a fellow Jewish believer as an “aging curmudgeon chasing children off his sacred lawn,”

    Perhaps. It wasn’t my metaphor. I simply acknowledged that it well describes my own perception of the arguments coming from that quarter.

    You should, I believe, also make allowances, as I and ProclaimLiberty have already mentioned, for the fact that I was quoting a “rant” and not an essay or more scholarly article. The person in question was admittedly and deliberately expressing themselves leading with his emotions for the sake of expressing his heart-felt concerns.

    I am well familiar with that rant, and others. I follow the FB group where these ideas have been expressed. But I don’t believe the emotion should be separated from the scholarly statements. The emotion is more honest, I think. That gives us the impetus for the arguments.

    Part of me regrets writing this blog post and quoting his words since I have exposed him to undeserved criticism and even ridicule. However, those people who have resorted to name calling (not necessarily you, David) have revealed more about their own character (or lack thereof) than they could ever say about the object of their disdain.

    I have nothing personal against Stuart. I’ve only met him a handful of times. He has my respect for his foundational work with JFJ, and for his service over the decades. I just happen to think his current ideas are leading MJ in the direction of “complete failure” (his words, not mine).

    I’ve continued my thoughts on this topic in a blog post I published today, and tomorrow’s “morning meditation” will round out the subject.

    My friend, I wish I had half the time to write that you seem to. As you see, it took me a couple days just to get around to responding here. I look forward to seeing more of your thoughts.

    I hope you’ll accept them in the vein in which they were written, and even if you disagree with my thoughts, which I believe you will, I hope you can see the concern and compassion of my intent in writing these missives.

    I realize that I don’t always add all the qualifiers and flowery language often used to soften the impact. I am very aware that the ideas I express so bluntly may not always strike a positive chord. Rest assured, I assume the best of intentions from all parties.

    Even in our differences of opinion, I hope you will likewise recognize that I speak from deep concern and a desire for the betterment of humanity as we together seek the Truth of Mashiach and the community for which he sacrificed his life.

    We all speak from our own musings and experiences. We are all valued by Hashem, and I would gladly share a cup of coffee with you and your lovely family.

    1. @David — I appreciate that you did take the time to produce such a thoughtful reply here, and I’ve long been sympathetic to those who feel that the natural logical end result for “grafted-in branches” (to use Rav Shaul’s metaphor) is fully “cultivated” Jewish praxis and even identity, but I don’t think you’ve given sufficient credence to Rav Shaul’s rather adamant instruction to gentile messianists in Galatia (which may be applied to all such gentiles). To wit: they were not to convert to Judaism (period/full stop). They were not to take on the responsibility of full legal obligation to Torah observance implicit in circumcision. This letter was written at least a full decade before the issuance of the Acts 15 halakhah. That halakhah was issued, BTW, because of an error cited in Acts 15:1 which was also a logical derivation from Matt.28:19-20. But since Acts 10 shows us that even Kefa did not interpret this injunction as applying to gentiles in the nations in which these putative disciples should be made, we must consider that its intention when stated was to refer to Jews scattered throughout these nations. Kefa’s sheet-vision opened the door to interactions with “cleansed gentiles”, no doubt already G-d-fearers, but it did not imply that they should become Jews nor even fully Torah-observant. But it does elucidate why the Acts 15 deliberations were needed.

      But you could argue that Acts 15 and the Galatians letter were addressing only issues of neophyte gentiles entering into a walk with HaShem via allegiance to Rav Yeshua’s teachings and actions. They were not to be coerced by any circumstances or inconveniences resulting from Roman law that did not recognize the category of non-proselyte gentiles as exempt from the idolatrous imperial cult (a problem identified by Nanos), nor by the well-meaning desire emanating from the Jewish community to become fully-integrated into it and not merely an “almost-proselyte”. You could argue that the mature gentile disciple would ultimately and voluntarily align his or her praxis with the implications of Is.56 for “b’nei nechar” foreigners who nonetheless remain “foreigners”, not entering the national identity of Israel. Well and good — let HaShem be seen as G-d over all nations and not merely the one nation of Israel. The remaining issue that still remains to be clarified is how practically to maintain that distinction which is still critical for understanding HaShem’s plans outlined in scripture.

      In what behaviors, manners of dress, and social boundaries must gentiles not blur the distinction between Jews and non-Jews, just as clearly as we must maintain distinctions between men and women? (Thankfully we’ve more or less eliminated any remaining concerns about the bond vs. free distinction by applying freedom to all, except perhaps the wait-staff at cocktail parties. [:)]) And how shall we maintain these distinctions once we’ve identified and clarified them, particularly in the current modern environment that virtually enforces an egalitarianism which is inimical to Jewish distinctiveness? How shall Jews who have been pressed to assimilate because of anti-Semitism recover from it? The only workable solution demonstrated so far is the establishment of “refuge”. This has been demonstrated well in the modern state of Israel, and it is emulated in some degree in synagogue communities that by nature are exclusively Jewish communities. Non-Jewish participation is certainly permitted but carefully constrained so that Jews can clearly identify each other and propagate the Jewish community as such.
      P.S. — I have not here addressed issues of problem resolution where conversion may be permissible or even recommended, which Rav Shaul also dealt with obliquely in his Galatians letter. There were also new disciples at that time who were already proselytes or who had recently completed proselyte circumcision, and their situations also required consideration. Some modern issues arising out of historically forced circumstances may also be rectified by conversion. However, this is another topic entirely, not to muddy the waters of the current topic of how MJs may pursue a truly Jewish, non-assimilated, formulation of MJ.

  19. @Dan & David

    Torah observance is thus suggested by James the Just in Acts 15, but not mandated…or he would have said so.

    No one hints around like that, particularly not when issuing a formal decree. Fortunately, Yehoshua’s brother did not forbid the Gentiles from Torah Observance either, though I daresay he might have expected someone so committed to YHVH as to be Torah Observant to be circumcised as well, and officially welcomed into the Hebraic Family. For those not circumcised at birth, as most people are in the US, or on the Eighth Day, as it is for most Jews, circumcision was always the main hindrance for the Ger Toshav. It still is, to many, but to me it is the complete change of Identity that is required to really be adopted into Israel, as opposed to being grafted into her.

    Just as Messianic Jews and Rabbinical Jews deserve to have a little privacy in their own synagogues amongst their own people if that is what they wish, I deserve to have my identity as an Anglo-Saxon not be stomped on as if it was something unclean.

    I have never belonged to a church, nor to a pagan temple, nor worshiped anyone but YHVH, whether as Creator, Son or Holy Spirit (being all part of the same Person). I did learn the Greek word Christos before I learned the Hebrew word Mashiach, but that doesn’t make me obligated to pick up a covenant that has never been offered to me. The Ruach haKodesh has not yet asked me to do more than I do now, probably because I am still so bad at it that going deeper might just trip me up…carrying the heritage of my family is bad enough without adding 3500 years of someone else’s heritage to my personal burden.

    Besides, if no Gentiles cling to G-d as Gentiles, and yet are obedient to Torah to the extent that falls to their interest, capability, and opportunity, how can Israel ever be brought back to her former position with G-d? The Prophecies require that G-d loving Gentiles not only spur Jews to uniform Torah Observance, but assist Israel back into her appropriate place of spiritual and physical precedence with G-d and man as is deserved for holding the Oracles of G-d, AND still be Gentiles to be inherited by Yehoshua.

    I like being valuable enough to G-d to be considered an added bonus to be given to the Saviour of Israel for His painful efforts in redeeming her…and thus me.


    I wasn’t yelling at you, brother…I was just yelling. I have heard a great deal this last week or two about the feasts, and how to keep them, and why not to keep them, since I am a Gentile, that I barely kept myself from using capital letters!

    Passover, First Fruits and Shavuot are easy feasts to understand, and thus to keep. Rosh HaShannah? Easy…it’s just the first day of the sacred calendar and a Sabbath. Yom Kippur? Hard…very hard, since I do teshuvah as I sin, and being in Yehoshua, have no need of being re-written into the book of life for a year. I am written there-in permanently.
    Still, it’s a Sabbath, and so I kept it. I also fasted my favourite food, as a token of repentance…I can’t fast either food or water entirely, due to medication, or I probably would have. As it was, I thought of my favourite food all day anyway…strange the power of the Adversary.

    But Sukkot? I can keep a Sabbath by myself, and I’d love to chat with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the other notables that I am supposed to invite into my temporary residence, except that building and living in a a sukkah for a week leaves me sitting in a high, desert place by myself (mountains of Southern California)…hardly the purpose of Sukkot. And if I were seen talking to the Ushpizin guests that no one can see, I might get taken to be evaluated by a doctor. It is a good thing that no one is around to hear me verbally discoursing to Abba on a daily basis, but however insane it might look, I can always explain that I was praying…something you cannot say about talking to a man long dead and not resurrected yet in your temporary shelter, not to mention that with my high winds, I have to get a permit to build it at all, and so it couldn’t be temporary. (How I love the ways of the Socialist State of California.)

    1. OBTW, Questor — I’d like to clarify an issue that you mentioned in passing. You mentioned “no need of being re-written into the book of life for a year. I am written there-in permanently”. Many folks conflate the Lamb’s book of life, from Rev.13:8 & 21:27, with the book of life referenced at Rosh HaShanah and Yom haKippurim that addresses the coming year. They are not the same book. One, as you pointed out, references a reasonably permanent state associated with “eternal life”, though it is still possible to be blotted out from that book (viz: Rev.:5; or, perhaps, to blot one’s own self out, as in Heb.6:4-6). The other is a symbol of “keeping short accounts” with G-d, and maintaining an awareness of being accountable to Him year-in and year-out during our ordinary day-by-day sojourn on earth. It is a reminder that He is in control of the Universe and that He Himself determines our “fate”, and yet His determination is affected by our own behavior that He knows even before we do it. Hence it is also a reminder of His timelessness and omniscience. In some way, I imagine, these books are related, perhaps in a manner similar to the relationship between the earthly Levitical mikdash and the heavenly Melchitzedekian one that operate in parallel. One deals with temporal immediacy and the other deals with incorruptible eternality. Whether or not one is aware of either book, one’s name is on the registry of both.

  20. @David: I’m not going to attempt to address your point-by-point response to my prior statement because this could turn into a very confusing exchange.

    I realize you are sincere in your understanding of what the Bible says about Gentile inclusion into Jewish religious space, and this may be yet another situation where we must “agree to disagree” without any dislike or personalization of conflict being involved.

    ProclaimLiberty crafted a good response and I doubt I could improve upon it. I’m sure chatting over coffee and comparing notes would be an illuminating experience.

    @Questor: I know. It’s just in this text-only communications venue, the subtlies of our missives can easily become lost. No worries.

    Sometimes I think you worry too much about what to do with the various rituals and practices we find in Torah. In my opinion, you may do what you feel called and able to do. Even the Didache states that a Gentile will be perfect (perfected?) if he/she is able to perform all of the mitzvot, but if they can’t/don’t, what they can do is well and good. Since the Didache likely developed as the written form of an originally oral transmission from the Apostles or their disciples about how to train Gentile initiates into the discipleship of Messiah, it seems their advice can be applied to the modern Messianic Gentiles as well.

    The weightier matters of the Torah, kindness, charity, compassion, are what seem to be of more import than whether or not a Gentile should build a sukkah in their backyard. If you live a life of holiness and righteousness by practicing kindness to others, donating to your local food bank perhaps, or some other form of charity, then you will be doing well. Sometimes we fall into the same trap as some of the Pharisees when, as the Master said, “strain out a gnat but swallow a camel” (Matthew 23:24).

  21. It’s ironic that those who assume the believing gentile is to take on a Jewish identity and are mandated to Torah observance as Jews are, also (usually) think the Church is apostate/pagan and that “gentile” is a dirty word synonymous with “pagan”. Any mention of distinction automatically means to such a person that they are being likened to a filthy, unwashed, lump of unworthiness.

    But those assumptions, not intrinsic to a well-balanced biblical story arc, come straight out of the the Church via replacement theology, it’s simply the other side of the very same coin.

    Eliminating distinction between members of the nations IS appropriate for the Church (i.e., “all are equal, and equally welcome, at the foot of the cross”), however, refusal to recognize the biblical distinction between the nations and Jews is the huge downfall of the Church (forcing believing Jews to take on a gentile persona) and is indefensiblefrom the scriptures, where God constantly distinguishes them.

    Doesn’t God love all of His creation? Yet, He distinguishes! If Jews are better than non-Jews, which gender is “better”? If a gentile should pretend to be Jewish, are men to pretend to be women too? Should women pretend to be men? Is that how God is best honored, by eliminating the distinctions He (apparently) mistakenly made? Does He truly favor a homogenized blob of indistinguishable humanity? If so, it seems He really blew it.

    Does the act of lighting a havdalah candle render the other 6 days of the week a mistake, or repugnant? Isn’t it the opposite, since there would be no such thing as Shabbat without the other 6 days? Likewise, there is no such thing as a Jew or Gentile – without Jews and Gentiles!

    What gets swept under the rug is the harm this does to Jews. A Jewish friend of mine asks: “why do Gentiles think they can become Jews, as if by osmosis?” It’s strange and hurtful to her to see Gentiles acting like Jews. She loves gentiles, but isn’t comfortable inviting her family because of this.

    The Jews I know in the MJ movement long for time with fellow Jews where they can explore their identity and begin to un-pack the baggage they all carry, even though their baggage varies. Some don’t have a lived Jewish identity and only found out as adults about a some connection, but they still need room to learn and to wrestle with the implication of it. Others have always known their identity and carry the full weight of it. Descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have a 2,000 yr history of being treated shamefully by the nations, and that reality cannot be appropriated by a non-Jew.

    Paul insisted that we remain as we are when called, which proves this was a sore spot back then too, but even more understandable in that time and culture. He says it was God’s intention all along to include the nations, and to cleanse us and bring us into the commonwealth of Israel – as Gentiles. But that “becoming Jews” (which, back then would have been a necessary/desirable legal status bestowed by the Roman authorities) would go against God’s plan, that was laid down from the get go.

  22. Thank you for the distinction, Proclaim Liberty.

    I can see it would make great sense to have a Lamb’s Book of Life for all Believers in Mashiach, and one Book of Life overall, thus keeping Messianics, whether believing forward to or living after His death in a slightly distinguished category from all the people who would otherwise be within the general book.

    I have no doubt that Jews, Messianic or Rabinnic, if serious in their walking of the path do tesuvah as I do…every time I become aware of falling short…which is often.

    My difficulty with the Day of Atonement was not an idea of individual righteousness…which I can qualify for in Yehoshua, or anyone else that is within the promises given to Abraham…but that of the communal righteousness of Israel, which I think one needs to be a true part of to repent for Israel’s sins. I pray for Israel, but repenting for her seems impossible to figure out, unless we resort to the ‘Spiritual’ citizenship I have in Israel, through Yehoshua

    As for being able to walk away from Yehoshua…it is alas possible, but I will be the first to attest to Yehoshua’s firm grip on the nape of the neck of any rebellious idiot walking in the wrong direction.

    He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” and I believe Him.

    We can forsake G-d, if we really try hard enough, but at least in my case, after all four sowings, and firm chastisement in between them, I never did get very far away from Him…at least from His point of view. I thought I was lost.

    I wasn’t really aware at the time of just what I was doing, of course, for if I had been aware (as I am now), and still have done all that sin, I would be very wicked indeed, and Yehoshua would have been well rid of me.

    I know that that statement implies that I currently have some actual value to G-d, but then, He keeps telling me that He loves me, and if I take Him at His word, I must believe I have value to Him. Fortunately I know Abba gives a lot of what we don’t deserve to us, though how I became clay worth casting I have no idea.

  23. It’s the Word of G-d, not the Word of Jews.

    They are His Sabbaths and His Feasts, not Jewish Sabbaths and Jewish Feasts. I am His, and He is mine, ergo, they are my Sabbaths and Feasts as well, and I do not have to ask a Rabbi [a non-bibilcal entity] for permission.

    He said if I wear tzitzit, I would learn the Commandments. Mine are not wholly white, they don’t have “traditional” knotting, and, yes, gasp, they do have a thread of blue. If it seems ostentatious or usurping to you, take heart that I see them as the equivalent of a “STUDENT DRIVER” sign, when I learn them all, maybe I won’t need to wear them.

    He said don’t eat certain things, the Jews didn’t design the menu. Google why you shouldn’t eat the toilet brushes, you’ll figure it out, you may even vomit. So prescient, and thousands of years ago even.

    Yeshua said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish but to fulfill [plerosai, make full]. For truly, I say to you, UNTIL HEAVEN AND EARTH PASS AWAY [emphasis added, still future, see Revelation 21ff], not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” It just doesn’t get any more perspicuous than that, cherry pick and make slogans of Paul all you want.

    The Psalmist said, “The Torah of YHWH is perfect, restoring [same root for what is called “repentance”] the soul.” No Torah = No repentance, which is returning to Torah. 1 John 3:4. What? You didn’t know what sin was? Don’t be embarrassed about 2 billion “Christians” still don’t. Now you do, be responsible. Romans 7:7.

    If Dauermann or anybody else doesn’t like Messianic praxis, let them go on record correcting FROM SCRIPTURE, or better yet let them find a Cohen to do it, it’s his job description [who’s usurped whom here?].
    Just to be unmistakably clear, these are not “Jewish treasures” being “pirated”, these are HIS treasures gifted to His workmanship, which He “prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”. Amen.

    1. @Christopher — Just to be equally clear, that “Word of G-d” you cited was given by HaShem specifically only to Jews and not to any of the peoples of all the other nations; and one of its purposes was to distinguish the Jewish people from those of all the other nations. The “shoftim v’shotrim” who are designated within it as the authorities who must administer, interpret and apply it to this covenanted people in each generation were also Jews. Yeshua was identified as a rabbi, so you cannot deny that “rabbi” is a biblical notion (or “entity”), unless you wish to deny that the apostolic writings are “biblical”. Rabbis, like the Pharisees before them, “sit in Moshe’s seat”, just as did these Judges of Israel defined in Torah. Likewise, “His Sabbaths and His Feasts” were given solely by HaShem to the Jewish people for them (us) to guard and observe, as reflecting our particular covenant; they were not given to any others.

      If you are a non-Jew who truly is dedicated to serving the One-and-Only HaShem, Who established His Covenant with the Jewish people, and Whose “New Covenant” is also to be established solely with the Jewish people, then you must in all due humility accept that you do not own these feasts and observances and you never will own them. Since the gifts and calling of HaShem are irrevocable (viz: Rom.11:29), and these things were given by HaShem to the Jewish people as their (our) inheritance, then these treasures are, in actual fact, to be recognized as “Jewish treasures”. If you take them up in an unworthy manner, with wrong and high-handed attitudes, then you are indeed guilty of piracy. It is only due to the grace of Jews who have shared their treasures that HaShem has given, that non-Jews like yourself share in HaShem’s Grace.

      That having been said, you are quite correct that there is much to be learned from these Jewish treasures that can be applied to all of humanity (“student drivers” or anyone else). While you are exercising the privileges of your “learner’s permit”, take care that you do not, in your unbridled enthusiasm, run over your Jewish elder brethren.

    2. @Christopher: It seems one good rant deserves another since your comment “feels” like a rant. Nothing you’ve said nor the sources you’ve cited are a revelation to me. I used to be “One Law” back in the day before I started questioning all of the assumptions I initially adopted.

      I’ve blogged at length over the years as to the events and circumstances that have led me to view the Bible through eyes that are neither traditionally Christian nor traditionally Hebrew Roots/One Law. I’m not going to “re-invent the wheel” by trying to compress all that information into this comment. In any event, I realize nothing I can say or do will change your mind and that’s fine. I’m not here to change your mind, just to express my own perspective for whatever it’s worth.

      I will say that if you believe the only way to please God is to “act Jewishly” in some manner or fashion, then I think you’re missing the point. God didn’t say to wear tzitzit, lay tefillin, and keep kosher as the only means of repentance and for the atonement of sins. Messiah said repent (of your sins) for the Kingdom of God is at hand. We are commanded to love God and love others (Matthew 22:36-40), not to “strain out a gnat and swallow a camel” (Matthew 23:23-24). Remember the weightier matters of Torah, justice, mercy, and faithfulness.

      How are we to love and obey God? By loving others. How do we do that? By giving food to the poor, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned (Matthew 25:34-40). No one who loves God wants to merit the consequences of failing to love (Matthew 25:41-46).

      He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

      Micah 6:8

      My middah for the week says in part:

      Now, obedience to any commandment, even one coming from God himself, takes humility, but listening especially requires humility, for a couple of reasons. First, listening to someone else is not about me, but about them. It’s not about my need to express myself, to be understood, to explore my inner workings, but about the other. In this case, the other is Hashem, so it’s vital to humbly hear him. Second, listening requires me to set aside my preconceptions, my theoretical constructs, all the cool stuff I already know, to humble myself, and pay attention to what the other (God in this case) is actually going to say.

      This is how I’m choosing to approach my faith and my God. You are free to do as you will. Let God make His judgments.

  24. ProclaimLiberty: “given by HaShem specifically only to Jews and not to any of the peoples of all the other nations”

    A mixed multitude came out of Egypt. Sons of Judah were a minority among those present (12 tribes, actual numbers available). Solomon stated that fearing YHWH and keeping mitzvot was the obligation of all men. The God who forbids judging with differing scales does not keep a second set Himself.

    What should your servant, even your beast, be doing on Shabbat?

    B’rit Melah and the land promise were given to Abraham, who was to and has become a multitude of nations, as the dust that can’t be numbered, yet called “in” Isaac.

    Torah forbids a sojourner only thing, to eat Pesach while uncircumcised. National Israel entered the Land uncircumcised (Joshua 5). Caleb entered, but was not Hebrew. He inherited amongst Judah. The New Covenant is with the House of Israel and the House of Judah. It matters not that the House of Israel is assimilated into the multitude of nations, He will write his Torah upon their hearts, this will distinguish them, without Post-Babylonian embellishments.

    ProclaimLiberty: “shoftim v’shotrim”

    The discussion regarded teaching Torah, not calling others “Rabbi” (which Yeshua forbade, Matt 23:8-9, tyvm), nor adjudications at the gates (Deuteronomy 16:18-20 regards Deuteronomy 1:15-17). Btw, of these leaders of thousands, hundreds, etc., sons of Judah were distinct: a distinct minority. Yes, Yeshua was a Rabbi, but that regarded Hebrews 8 and 9. The sons of Aaron are given the commandment to teach Torah (Lev. 10:10-11), first mention, in context (cf Exodus 4:15-16).

    ProclaimLiberty: “Rabbis, like the Pharisees before them, ‘sit in Moshe’s seat'”

    You are a vending machine of shell games. No. “WHEN” (print that out and underline it three times), “WHEN” they sit in Moshe’s seat, do what they say, we both know that WHEN sitting in Moshe’s seat, they only read Moshe. THAT (what was read) was what Yeshua commanded to do (Matt 23:1-2). And it was what they WERE doing, not what they were called to do. It is a usurping, there is no getting around it. Honor the Cohanim.

    ProclaimLiberty: “to guard and observe”

    That never meant “keep everyone else at arms length”, it meant be zealous, preserve it, and practice it according to Torah, not hide and hoard it. Isaiah 2, Micah 2, Zechariah 14. cf Eccl 12:13-14.

    ProclaimLiberty: “unworthy manner, with wrong and high-handed attitudes”

    Y chromosome DNA haplotypes confirm preservation of the Cohanim with high fidelity. If you want to see the floodgates open, organize a 501 3(c) charity for them, and see who donates more, the House of Judah or the assimilated House of Israel dispersed amongst the nations. I AM saying I have inherited lies from my fathers, things in which there is no profit. I AM clinging to your tzitzit, saying I will go with you, I WILL tend your flocks and herds (odds are I have more sheep and cows than you), prune your vineyards (ditto) and rebuild your cities (learning) as in days of old and lick the dust of your feet while doing it. I WILL fight in your wars and I WILL come to Zion carrying your children in my arms, and I desire all of that because my Rabbi Yeshua taught me to practice Torah with a circumcised heart (love for YHWH and love for neighbor).

    James: “your comment “feels” like a rant”

    Yes, one does lead to another. I appreciate your time, even the provocation.

    Re: Acting “Jewishly”. Actually, I avoid, and usually denounce Messianic Jewish Congregations; most, especially those with acronyms, are thinly veiled Evangelical missions in Jewish drag. Jews should avoid them, too. So, no, this isn’t about dress up.

    Most people misunderstand Paul because they hear what they want (2 Peter 3), some even think “James” and Paul are/were opposed. James taught “Faith without works is dead faith”. Paul taught “Works without faith is dead works”. Living faith is suffused in love for YHWH and love for others. From these, the Greatest and The-Second-Is-Like-It commandments, one can generate the 10 Words and all of the commandments/statutes/judgments/etc., and there are way more than 613.

    Can you really love God and not do what he said was best, what was truth? Can you love your neighbor and not tell him what is in his best interest?

    Countries that don’t have, or don’t enforce adultery laws have MURDER rates 10 times higher. Who knew? He did. Oddly, no one seems to disagree about that one, or eight others of the Ten. But that Fourth Commandment, oh, well, given only to the Jews. Really? Is it okay to mow a Jewish person’s lawn on Shabbat? Would that be honoring them? Would they be being faithful to you?

    How’d you fare on Sukkot? Did you keep changing out those dead and droopy blackening willow branches, or did you stop to wonder what that water dependent, soon-to-die species was doing next to your pretty citron, haddasim and strange sword-like closed date palm frond (I’ll leave that part alone for now)? The imagery is there to ponder, given for your good. Choose life.

    Kosher food is not about repentance and atonement (unless korban). It’s safe to eat. It’s legitimate non-toxic FOOD (catfish=not food). Tanakh is a health manual (see also white hair-inside-sores). Have you ever been in an ER and seen someone having a reaction to shellfish and thought, “why the heck were they EATING that?!?” You do want to be healthy, right? I commend the book “Holy Cow! Does God Really Care About What You Eat?”, I do not commend, however, Protestant teat-sucking FFOZ’s knee-buckling “Divine Invitation”.

    Shavuah tov, all the same.

    1. BTW, James — I don’t think we need to perceive any hostility in Christopher’s comments, merely because they are vehement and a little inconsiderate of the bigger picture you’ve expressed. If he is as strongly motivated to serve HaShem as it would seem, then surely he will be open to learn how best he may do so while refraining from harming those whom HaShem has chosen irrevocably.
      Oh, my, Christopher — Where must I begin clarifications? The term “Jews” does not apply only to the descendants of the tribe of Judah. The application is somewhat anachronistic, because it derives from a later point in Jewish history. The “body politic” of the people of Israel became divided into the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah around 930 BCE. This is why Jeremiah addresses the “new covenant” to Israel and Judah. Around 720 BCE, the Assyrians decimated and destroyed the Kingdom of Israel, and the few survivors who remained covenantally connected to HaShem fled south into Judah. They did not become assimilated into any multitude of other nations; and most members of this particular “House of Israel” (as you called it) had already cut themselves off from HaShem’s covenant by idolatry. This is why HaShem permitted the Assyrian invasion in the first place. None of their descendants remained subject to the future new covenant heart circumcision, but only those who returned to Judah and covenantal affiliation. Around 600 BCE, the inhabitants of Judah were exiled to Babylon. When they returned to Judea or Judah after 538 BCE, they were all considered Judeans or “Jews”. Since that time, the covenanted people of Israel are all known as Jews, regardless of tribal affiliation, and even references to ancestors in earlier periods call them Jews. The earliest example, of course, refers to Avraham as the first Jew and the progenitor of the Jewish people. From this perspective, the number comprising the tribe of Judah at Mount Sinai is irrelevant to the statement that the Torah covenant was given only to Jews. The “mixed multitude” that left Egypt with the sons of Israel did not continue to exist as such. At least three possibilities exist to explain what became of them. Some undoubtedly continued their journey after leaving Egypt by departing for other lands rather than staying with the Israelites. Others assimilated into the Israelite people similarly to the example of Calev ben Yephunah the Kenizite. Calev was considered a prince of the tribe of Judah, so we must consider him fully integrated into the tribe, which suggests that it was his father who married into the tribe. However, the rabbis consider him an early example of a successful convert. When the numbers are counted for the various tribes of Israel, no mention is made of the mixed multitude, nor any additional members not associated with one of the clans and its genealogy. Either the remaining members of the mixed multitude were already intermarried and assimilated into one or another tribe of Israel, or they were not counted at all among the covenanted people because they remained outside the covenant as “hewers of wood and drawers of water” or essentially hired servants of one sort or another. These sojourners benefitted when Israel benefitted, and suffered likewise (as did the beasts), but they were not bound by the covenant though they were constrained by it because of their surrounding society that was so bound. Hence, no eating the Pesa’h sacrifice unless circumcised, which would be tantamount to conversion and joining into the Jewish people and its covenantal requirements. Similarly, certain crimes would be punished just as if committed by a Jew, for societal consistency.

      Rav Yeshua did not “forbid” calling others “Rabbi”; and he was himself called “Rabbi” (viz: Mk.9:5; Jn.1:38,49). What he was teaching in Mt.23:8-9 was not to seek prestige and honorific titles. In the same passage he spoke against calling someone “father”, but he was not forbidding a male parent to be addressed as such by his son or daughter. It is a mistake to neglect the intention of these statements by misreading them as literal legal stipulations.

      As for the relative roles of the judges of Israel and the Aharonic priests in teaching and applying Torah, note that both of them derive authority from Moshe and that Rav Yeshua made no mention of them in Mt.23 when outlining the locus of authority as among the Pharisees, regardless of whether they might also be Levites. And this was even while the Temple was still in operation! Further, the text does not contain any hint of your attempted qualification of “[When] they sit in Moshe’s seat…”. The text is unambiguous that they do so (i.e., that is their metaphorical position, even if at times also illustrated by sitting upon an actual piece of furniture), and it does not say what you suggested — that one only obeys them at certain times and at other times one reads Moshe directly. It is not a usurpation of Levitical teaching authority, but rather an application of it. Nowadays, with no Temple in operation, even the Levitical authority has been diminished and it is functionally overshadowed by the rabbinic authority as solidified during the past twenty centuries of continued application.

      No one here has suggested “keep[ing] everyone else at arms length”. I have, on the other hand, emphasized where resides the proper G-d-given responsibility and “ownership” implicit in “to guard and observe”.

      As I explained above, your notion of some “assimilated House of Israel dispersed among the nations” does not exist. What once were the separated houses of Israel and Judah were reunited long ago into one house that may be called by both names. In the second exile, it is one unified Jewish people who were dispersed among the nations (though one prevailing theory about why we were dispersed has to do with unwarranted factionalism and “sinat ‘hinam”). Nowadays, some of them are far too assimilated into non-Jewish cultures, but others are firmly dedicated and have returned to the land of Israel (nor should we neglect those who follow Rav Yeshua and keep Torah). Just as in the illustration of the four species that are bound together in the lulav of Sukkot, so there are various categories of Jews who nonetheless are still one people.

      I’m not clear about what floodgates you expect would open upon the establishment of a 501 3(c) charity for genetically-identifiable Cohanim, unless perhaps you are expecting this to be coupled with the restoration of Levitical service in a rebuilt Temple. I do, however, applaud your declaration of willingness to cling to Jewish tzitzit, tend to our agricultural resources, restore our cities as of old, fight in our wars, and carry our Jewish children back to us here in Israel. Thankfully, there have been a few other non-Jews who have demonstrated similar dedication and support. Licking dust from feet is not a requirement (and it would be rather embarrassing for all concerned, and terribly ticklish for the owners of the feet), but seeking to imprint the principles of HaShem’s Torah onto your heart as applicable to a non-Jewish ‘hasid of Rav Yeshua cannot help but improve your character. Seeking the kingdom of G-d and its righteousness is fulfilling and commendable (viz: Is.56; Mt.6:33; & Mt.5:19). Nonetheless, Jews and non-Jews continue to have differing responsibilities and obligations vis-a-vis Torah performance.

      1. It’s good that you are so generous, PL. This isn’t my first rodeo, so to speak, and I know it’s not a first for you, so I have a strong feeling where this is all headed. Nevertheless, I’ll allow it up to a certain point but when I think we’ve gotten as much as we can from the dialog, I’ll shut it down and we can all move on.

  25. Christopher, you completely ignored everything I said about the weightier matters of the Torah, love, justice, mercy, compassion, humility. You seem very much like those particular Pharisees Yeshua was criticizing when he said “you strain a gnat and swallow a camel.”

    You can express as much “righteous indignation” as you want, but I’ve heard all of those arguments before and they don’t hold water. I have neither the time nor the inclination to engage in yet another lengthy debate that will go exactly nowhere. Feel free to browse my blog posts to see what else I have to say on the matter. You can use the Search feature for that purpose. However, the policy I’ve applied to this blog is that I must approve every single comment made and I can edit or delete them at my discretion or close comments on any given blog post. If you continue to post aggressive and hostile comments, I certainly don’t have to approve them.

    Thank you.

  26. @James
    Yes, of course you could, but hegemony does not appear to be your goal. In fact, I gather that you know that is the root of the problem, and thoroughgoing personal discussion is the available solution.

    I did discuss love and its centrality to any substantive religious observance. I will avoid caps and “agressive” punctuation hereafter. HTML tag test.

    One area where we seem to disagree is that I infer (I do now, anyway) that you perceive the “weighty matters” as extrinsic to Torah, whereas I see them as immutable intrinsic and integral. (I am not trying to provoke or embarrass you, I will not counter response.)

    And speaking of immutable, is your perspective really fixed? (It’s just a question, I won’t counter).

    Actually, I picked up a few helpful things on this page already that I did not know. What I like about this thread is that there are knowledgeable non-Messianic Jews on this site who are willing to hold “Christians” accountable to their own texts and defend their faith. On the other hand, we are all too thin skinned, and have been for two thousand years..

    Despite having worn out my welcome, I offer you a suggestion. Text to speech software is now cheap. Construct macros out of your blog links (“I’ve discussed that here[clickable link]”), it will increase your traffic more than requesting someone to search your archive.

  27. @ProclaimLiberty
    I, too, hope the verse is metaphorical, either way, at least it doesn’t say ALL of the dust.

    I also hope that you realize that one could easily perceive you as having run roughshod over the Biblical narrative (e.g. Eziekiel36-39) and some Talmudic traditions regarding the House of Israel, in favor of secular reconstructions of history and more recent Jewish opinions. Also, Apostolic praxis seems at odds with what I understand to be your conclusion of 24/7 Rabbinic authority (“always in the seat” if it’s metaphorical. Looking to better understand your perspective.

    1. @Christopher — I think we would need to examine some specific examples of “Talmudic traditions regarding the House of Israel”, your sense of history vis-à-vis Ezek.36-39, and where you think apostolic praxis differs from Pharisaic authority (rabbinic inheritance of it comes a bit later). I’m virtually certain you won’t find any “Talmudic tradition” that identifies the “House of Israel” as non-Jews. There may also be some question to resolve about whether apostolic praxis was in all cases up to the standard of Rav Yeshua’s instructions.

      My perspective may be described as a practical expectation that modern Jewish Rav-Yeshua messianists are responsible to conduct themselves as modern halakhically-observant Jews, in conformity with Jewish authorities who have throughout history determined how the Jewish community is to obey the Torah, and with Rav Yeshua’s instructions and insights about its diligent observance to pursue “greatness” (spiritual maturity) relative to “malchut ha-shamayim” (i.e., “the kingdom of heaven”). Such messianists are not “minim” (factional separatists) eking out a separate existence in defiance of their Jewish brethren; they are rather an integral part of the Jewish community, enjoying also Rav Yeshua’s special insights into the deeper meanings of HaShem’s instructions to His chosen people Israel. Only from this position and knowledgeable condition can messianists add anything positive to others in the Jewish community without subtracting from them any of the G-d-given heritage they already possess. Only thus can any callousness (or “partial blindness”), that has been exacerbated by Christian anti-Jewish behavior throughout the past 18 centuries, be softened to enable proper consideration of Rav Yeshua’s messianic candidacy and the effectiveness of the “ben-Yosef” messianic role he has already enacted.

      Non-Jews who wish to benefit from Rav Yeshua;’s ministry to a Jewish audience are not responsible to do all of the above which applies distinctively to Jews in a state of Jewish covenantal community. Their responsibilities are instead an abstracted subset of Torah principles to be implemented trusting that HaShem will actualize the inherent blessings into their individual lives and into their societies.

      Contrary to the post-Nicene Christian perspective that the entire scriptural corpus was to be universalized and applied to all without any distinctions or selectivness, the Tenakh and the apostolic writings reflect Jewish particularism and distinctiveness vis-à-vis the rest of the nations constituting the human species. Most of this literature was written solely to address the Jewish people and their development. A process of analysis is required to abstract from it elements that can be applied more broadly and beneficially, without ignoring its specific original intent and application.

  28. @PL

    I always assumed that any Believer in Yeshua was to become a Disciple to Him, regardless of nationality. If we copy Him as good talmudim are supposed to do, Messianic Gentiles would eventually be Torah Observant in all ways, although dispensed from the obligatory nature of the Sinai Covenant by James, and presumably taking on Torah Observance only as quickly as it is learned and adapted to a Gentile life by hearing Moshe read every Shabbat.

    Matthew 28:19-20 (CJB)
    19 Therefore, go and make people from all nations into talmidim, immersing them into the reality of the Father, the Son and the Ruach HaKodesh,
    20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember! I will be with you always, yes, even until the end of the age.”

    1. The remaining question, “Q”, is how the disciplines of a non-Jewish disciple differ from those of a Jewish one. A non-Jew properly obeying the Torah is not doing everything a Jew must do in order to be considered observant. It is a particular aspect of non-Jewish obedience that they must respect and guard the differences between themselves and Jews, and thus there are some aspects of Torah that apply only to Jews from which a non-Jewish disciple will refrain deliberately from doing. Maintaining this distinction requires just as much depth of Torah understanding for the non-Jew as for the Jew, which highlights the importance of Acts 15:21. Therefore we must qualify your suggestion that “Messianic Gentiles would eventually be Torah Observant in all ways” by adding the qualifying phrase: “… in all ways that are appropriate and applicable to them”.

      I must challenge and adjust David Stern’s CJB rendition of Mt.28:19. The Greek text is not actually a command to go anywhere, and it would be better rendered as: “Therefore, as you travel through the nations, be making disciples/talmidim … (by teaching them to obey everything I taught to you)”. Remember that Rav Yeshua had stated quite clearly [viz: Mt.15:24] that he had been sent only to the lost sheep of the household of Israel (despite the exception extended to an ingenious faith-filled Syro-Phoenician Canaanite woman). Presumably these potential disciples would be Jews scattered throughout these nations, because we see from Kefa’s vision in Acts 10 that the notion of non-Jewish disciples had never entered his noggin. It wasn’t even a hint within his understanding of Rav Yeshua’s disciple-making injunction; and it wasn’t until he witnessed the cleansing outpouring of HaShem’s Spirit upon them that he could even begin to consider such a notion.

      Dr.Stern’s choice to translate “disciples” as “talmidim” was a good means to convey the Jewish nature of the goal, though its disadvantage was that ordinary English readers would tend to lose sight of the “disciplined obedience” that is expected of a “talmid”. Regrettably, the loss or rejection within Christian tradition of the perspective that recognizes Jewish particularism also makes such readers susceptible to think that non-Jewish disciples are also to obey everything that Rav Yeshua taught his Jewish disciples. This overgeneralization then leads to the error stated in Acts 15:1 that requires non-Jews to convert to Judaism in order to be “saved” (and likewise then to become eligible for the full instruction that Jewish disciples would be expected to absorb). It is a perfectly logical mistake; though Rav Shaul exerted great efforts, and not a little irony and shaming, to insist that non-Jews should not convert but rather should accept themselves as the redeemed non-Jews that HaShem had made them to be.

      Similar logical mistakes are common fare again in our times, as Jewish messianists re-assert their own distinctive identity and non-Jews face the age-old questions about how they fit into HaShem’s plans (which are, of course, more clearly-stated for Jews than for non-Jews). Re-visiting your suggestion, that I highlighted in the first paragraph of this response, about the end-goal for MGs: If they fail to make the appropriate distinctions, they become indistinguishable from Jews and effectively convert to Judaism, leaving HaShem unable to show that He is G-d over all nations because everyone has “climbed into the same basket” belonging to the one nation of Israel. There are important differences between learning the attitudes of the [Jewish notion of the] kingdom of heaven, taught by the Jewish Messiah, and copying Jewish behavior that is intended to foster such attitudes.

  29. @Christopher: Is my perspective fixed? Only to the degree that I find evidence to support it, but as you may have figured out, I’m always studying so I’m open to modification of my opinion if I believe it is justified. I will say that one very strong influence on my opinion is being intermarried to a Jewish wife. Watching her pursue her identity as a Jew and integrate into the local Jewish community has shown me the absolute necessity to guard and preserve Jewish identity markers (among other things) for Jewish people. Whether some folks (not necessarily you) want to acknowledge it or not, God really does have a unique relationship with the Jewish people and the nation of Israel that isn’t quite the same as His relationship to Gentile disciples of Messiah. I want my Jewish family to live as Jewish a life as possible and I’m not about to stand in their way in any manner, including muddying up the waters by donning a tallit and laying tefillin.

  30. @ PL

    I am coming to see that Gentiles that are taking on the New Covenant, to be a true disciple of their Master, must take on all the written commandments that are able to be done in the Diaspora as soon as they can be made aware of just what Yeshua wanted His disciples to be like. Yeshua did not declare His example to be taught to any particular people, though it is true He was speaking to Jews.

    Still, if Gentiles are allowed to partake of the Ruach haKodesh in Yeshua, then we too are part of the New Covenant, and should act appropriately in obedience to Yeshua when He says, “Thou shalt love the L-rd thy G-d with all thy heart, soul, mind and strength, and thy neighbor as thyself.” Yeshua was fully infilled by the Ruach when He said that, and He did not say, “But only Jews need to obey G-d.”

    However, I think Gentiles should do it in the simplest, plainest way, and not encroach on the Judaic expressions of Jews in their adherence to the Torah. I see a time and a place for One Law, One People, One Country, but it rests in the Messianic Age. Until then, Jew and Gentile Believers in Mashiach simply need to be careful not rub each other the wrong way. A little politeness would make a big difference, and those Hebraic Roots people need to be told that they are being presumptuous and impolite in their actions.

    Gentiles acting Jewishly in how they carry out the commandments need to get full training by an Orthodox Messianic Rabbi, so that they don’t continuously insult our Jewish Brothers in Mashiach by taking that Orthodox halacha lightly. A kippah in a Jewish Synagogue shows respect…wearing a tallit is somewhat presumptuous in my view, unless that Jewish Synagogue invites Gentiles to assume tallit, davening in an Orthodox manner, laying tefillen, and wearing tsitsit. If an Orthodox Messianic Synagogue does that, and is run by Jews, and has a Rabbi with a Shmicha, I would simply have to thank G-d for the profound welcome those Jews are offering their Gentile Brothers.

    1. I appreciate your sense of consideration, “Q”, and I don’t recall if we’ve already exchanged opinions on what I’m about to re-iterate from other responses to various of James’ essays in this blog, but I’ll take this opportunity to point out again that non-Jews do not “take on the new covenant” nor participate in it. Partaking of the Rua’h haKodesh is a covenantal benefit, but “cleansed” non-Jews do it outside of the covenantal framework. Similarly, conformity with the “v’ahavta”, which Rav Yeshua cited, is a covenantal requirement — but non-Jews do not need to be constrained by the covenant to do it. Obedience or non-obedience does not change the stipulations of the covenant, nor the demographic of its applicability nor its demands. Being metaphorically grafted into the community of faith is not being insinuated into the Jewish covenant that originally defined it. But conformity with the attitudes and behaviors that the covenant was given to inculcate brings similar blessings to those outside the bounds of the covenant as to those within it. Rav Yeshua’s contribution to the realization of the new covenant that is promised only to Jews does not prevent non-Jews from experiencing the benefits of his ministry to Jews as he himself defined his mission. All of this was a bit of a surprise to Kefa as he pondered his Acts 10 vision, though it should be well-understood by us now after so many centuries.

      Ordinarily I do not like the division of Torah into the categories of “moral” versus “ceremonial” commandments, primarily because those who invented this division did so in order to dismiss the validity of the so-called ceremonial aspects and Jewish Torah-observance along with them. However, there is a practical use for this sort of distinction with respect to what is expected for non-Jewish obedience toward HaShem that does *not* include all that is required of Jews. Perhaps we need to revisit this notion in order to relieve the pressure that a number of non-Jews seem to feel to copy Jewish ceremonial practices.

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