beach and sea

The Consequences of Being Chosen: The Laws of Tumah

Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: Any man who will have a discharge from his flesh, his discharge is contaminated.

Vayikra (Leviticus) 15:2

It is learned from this verse that only the Children of Israel are subject to the laws of tumah; people of other nations do not become tamei with the onset of any of the symptoms described in these laws. The severity with which the Jewish people are treated with regard to tumah is reflected in the term “speak to,” a term that implies a severe or stringent communication (see Rashi to Shemos 6:2).

A Torah Thought for the Day, p.215
Thursday’s commentary on Parashas Metzora
A Daily Dose of Torah

heal meAccording to this commentary, only the Jewish people are susceptible to what one person has called “spiritual skin disease,” not the people of the nations. We don’t have this disorder with us today to test that belief even though we know that these conditions did exist in the time of Jesus (Yeshua):

While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.”

Luke 17:11-19 (NASB)

Well, wait a minute. A Samaritan was among those men of Israel who were healed of tzara’at? How can this be if the commentary above states only the Children of Israel suffer from this affliction?

And this isn’t the only incident:

Now Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and highly respected, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was also a valiant warrior, but he was a leper. Now the Arameans had gone out in bands and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.”

It happened when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent word to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.” But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’ Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean.

2 Kings 5:1-4, 8-14

the leperA non-Jew, Captain of a foreign army, and a pagan was afflicted with this disease and cured by the Prophet Elisha. How can this be? Especially given the following from the same “Torah Thought for the Day:”

However the verse immediately adds [Hebrew phrase]. The root of [Hebrew word] can carry the connotation of “distinguished.” Klal Yisrael is thus told that their being subject to more tumah than others is a sign, not that they are on a lower level, but that they are being held to a higher standard. For when there is no tumah, there can be no exalted level of purity either.

As I mentioned, this condition doesn’t exist among the Jews or anyone else in the modern era, probably because the proscribed cure involved submitting one’s self to the Levitical priests, which as an organized body, are not currently present.

I can see the line of reasoning regarding only Israel being vulnerable to becoming tamei due to their special chosen status and, being given the Torah, having a much higher obligation to Hashem than the people of the nations.

But in Messianic times, upon the Temple being rebuilt and the priesthood being restored, will the laws of tumah also be re-established?

This might be the only way to test whether or not Gentile believers, disciples of the Master, Rav Yeshua, will endure such a visible indicator of their/our sins.

Of course, in the resurrection and under the New Covenant, people will possess an unparalleled apprehension of the Holy Spirit and it will become natural for them to not sin, so perhaps the whole point is moot.

The curing of Naaman by Elisha led the foreign Captain to the worship of the One true God of Israel, so his becoming tamei was ultimately for his benefit.

The Samarian who was unclean was also healed for the glory of the Almighty.

I can believe that the Jewish people are expected to exhibit a higher level of spirituality, and the consequences of failing that results in a greater level of discipline from their God than for the rest of us. However, when a Gentile comes to faith in God through the faithfulness of the Jewish Messiah, we are grafted into the blessings of the New Covenant (indwelling of the Spirit, promise of the resurrection), so who is to say that more isn’t expected of us as well, not necessarily in the manner of the Jews, but more nonetheless?

whisperIf Hashem were to reinstate this class of afflictions tomorrow, would Gentile believers be as vulnerable to them as the Jewish people and for the same reasons? Perhaps we are fortunate in never knowing for sure.

Sorry it’s taking so long to submit my next review from the Nanos and Zetterholm volume Paul within Judaism: Restoring the First-Century Context to the Apostle. I’m currently in the middle of an essay written by Mark Nanos and it’s rather verbose. Hopefully, I’ll have the article read and a review written by early next week.

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40 thoughts on “The Consequences of Being Chosen: The Laws of Tumah”

  1. The healing of Naaman is one of my favorite stories. First Elisha dealt with his pride by not coming out to meet him, but sending a servant instead. But there is something else in that story I have come to ponder. Elisha refused Naaman’s gifts. His answer to Gehazi is this; “Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards and vineyards, and sheep and oxen, and menservants and maidservants?” Think on that, ‘is it a time..’ I heard a Rav teaching, or exposing, depending on how you look at it, HaYovel ( http://www.hayovel.com/ ) He said he would not judge them unfavorably, ( I am thankful for that) but that geulah is a process. Other words, he is saying, ‘is it a time..’Hmmmm As a gentile, what do I do? How do I help with geulah?

  2. Cynthia, your comments remind me of the Messianic age. When will it be time for Israel to receive money, garments, and other gifts from the nations? After the wars the nations will wage against Israel and lose. Then we will pay homage to the place where God placed His Name and to Israel and her King.

  3. Sorry that this is a bit lengthy James, but I thought you’d be interested as it sheds some light on your post:

    According to what I was just reading this morning, this issue is about ritual vs moral impurity, not the ability to contract skin disease.

    Biblically, Gentiles are not capable of ritually impurity, only those God Covenanted with, i.e., descendants of Jacob, are.

    “All tannaitic and amoraic texts are in agreement on this point: Biblical law excludes Gentiles from the system of ritual purity and impurity set out in Lev 12-15.” *

    Included in this part of scripture (Lev 15) is the menstruant woman, and even re this issue, onlyIsraelite and Samaratian women are ritually impure due to menstrual flow, not Gentile women:

    “The menstrual blood of a Gentile woman is agreed by all to be pure according to Torah law in m. Niddah 4:3 (or m. Ed 5:1; cf. t. Nid 5:5)….Mishnah Nid 7:3 asserts that the menstrual bloodstains of a Gentile woman are pure”. (which also includes “converts”)

    Re the scale disease you write about today, here’s what I was just reading:

    “The Gentile’s insusceptibility to scale disease impurity extends to his clothing and house:

    “All garments may contract the impurity of scale-disease except those of Gentiles. If garments [with scale-disease signs] are bought from Gentiles they must be inspected as if the signs had then first appeared. (m. Neg 11:1)

    All houses may contract scale-disease impurity except those of Gentiles.’-‘ If one bought houses from Gentiles, any scale-disease signs in them must he inspected as if they had then first appeared.I (m. Neg 12:1)

    The defilement of clothing and houses by scale disease (a mold condition described in Lev 14:47ff and 14:34ff) is specific to Israel. If a Gentile’s garments or house pass into the possession of an Israelite, they are subject to the laws of impurity through scale disease. If examination reveals that the garments or house contain diseased eruptions at the time of the transfer of possession, the eruptions communicate defilement-but only from the time of transfer forward. In short, articles of clothing and houses are not susceptible to defilement by scale disease unless and until they belong to an Israelite. Thus, the scale disease in Gentile clothing or houses (m. Neg 11:1, 12:1) differs from the scale disease in a Gentile himself (m. Neg 7:1). In the former case, the eruption always had the power to defile, but the clothing or house was not susceptible to defilement until it passed into Israelite ownerownership; in the latter case, the eruption never had the power to defile because it was a part of the body of a Gentile, and the scale disease eruption of a Gentile’s body does not, under any circumstances, defile.”

    * ‘Gentile Impurities and Jewish Identities: Intermarriage and Conversion from the Bible to the Talmud’ by Christine E. Hayes

  4. OK. I think you’re right. Upon re-reading everything, I apparently misunderstood what was being said. This does beg the question of whether or not Gentiles can offer sacrifices in the Temple if in a condition that would render them impure if they were a Jew. We know that in the past, Gentiles could offer korban and I think the same will be true in the future Temple to be built in Messianic times. It’s probably an important question to answer in anticipation of Messiah’s return.

  5. “It’s probably an important question to answer in anticipation of Messiah’s return.

    I’m confident this will be perfectly clear when the time actually comes. 🙂
    I forgot to mention the other point about the above quoted text, which is that the flow of a Samaritan was impure and could pass on defilement like the Israelite, and unlike the Gentile.

    Most of what I’m reading says that the religion of the Samaritan are considered to be another branch in the varied Israelite religions i.e., “Judaisms” of the 2nd Temple era.

  6. I believe we can see some of the fulfillment now, as gentiles and gentile nations have financially assisted Israel, sent volunteers to work in Kibbutzim and some current organizations are doing this. I suspect this is just a trickle.

  7. The mold matter (to speak of one of the specifics) might be about Jews and ritual purity. However, I had a problem with a builder some years ago who couldn’t figure out that it mattered not to neglect clean, newly-bought wood for a house. He just threw it on the ground and subsequently built it into the walls with mold on it. He had shown me a book with environmental concerns, mold being one of them, for homes prior to the start of the project. So I didn’t think there would be a problem. I told him to take the moldy wood out. During the course of the building, it started to become common across the country (the U.S.) that it is the law that wood is to be handled properly to keep it clean. People can be so unnecessarily lazy and/or “carefree” — this person, building a house, said he figured people should just go outside and get some fresh air instead of having any concern about mold inside. But he did take the bad wood out; the provider of the wood even came to the site and told him what be should do about keeping new wood off the dirt (and covered after hours). Molds can be very problematic to health.

    I think at least one reason the attitude is that gentile possessions aren’t ritually unclean is that Jews aren’t to control the whole world, but are rather told to do these things themselves. This is harmonious with — I guess it was Paul — the admonition that believers should mind their own behavior and not judge outsiders in the same way (or they, the believers, wouldn’t be able to live in the world). Another reason may have to do with being in a state of exile. I wonder if the gentiles would be more likely to be considered unclean in a situation where Israel is truly pure. I really think purity has a lot to do with location and circumstance.

  8. “Sojourning with Jews”,

    RE: “Biblically, Gentiles are not capable of ritually impurity, only those God Covenanted with, i.e., descendants of Jacob, are.”

    This is patently false. It is written that the Torah shall apply both to the native Israelite and also the ger (sojourner). It does NOT say “one law shall apply to the native and also to the sojourner–provided that the sojourner is a physical descendant of Jacob.”

    The “Children of Israel” (i.e. the family of G-d) includes more than just the physical descendants. It includes the non-physically-descended gerim as well. G-d tells faithful gerim that they are imputed kin who may consider Avraham as their father. And, lest you say that kinship may only be imputed to the circumcised, it is written: “…And he [Avraham] received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised…” (Romans 4:11).

    Avraham is the father of the nation of Israel because it says “Ve’e’escha legoy” (Gen. 12:2). It literally says that G-d will make Avraham a “nation.” Here we see that a “nation” is a “family”. In the case of the nation of Israel, the family consists of all those who may rightly call Avraham their father.

  9. Peter, I believe you’re oversimplifying the “one law for all” statement and taking it out of context. I’ve already responded to that line of thinking here.

  10. James,

    Actually, that post doesn’t respond to any of the points I raised. Furthermore, your linked post introduces Lancaster’s belief that Gentiles may take a pair of scissors to the Torah and cut out any laws that they deem “ceremonial.” Problem is, Torah doesn’t give anyone permission to commit that type of sacrilege. Nor does it divide into moral and immoral commands as Lancaster’s borrowed language supposes (he wasn’t the first to propose that Torah divides in moral, ceremonial, and civil commands). In fact, all evidence indicates that the Torah is an indivisible and interdependent legal SYSTEM (http://orthodoxmessianic.blogspot.com/2015/03/cut-here-why-torah-cannot-be-divided.html).

  11. Peter, I was addressing the broad application of “one size fits all” you apply to Jews and Gentiles as if there’s no difference between them relative to covenant. As you well know, I disagree that Gentile believers are simply Jews without a bris. That said, to the degree that we will one day be offering Korban in the Temple built by Messiah, the question to be asked is if we will be determined to be clean/unclean in the manner of a Jewish person?

  12. Also, Peter (adding to James’ response above), HaShem granted to Avraham to become a father of many nations, but they were not all to be counted as the children of the covenant promise. Of many children that Avraham fathered, including Ishmael, only through Isaac was the promise carried. And even thus, only one of Isaac’s fraternal-twin sons, Jacob who became Israel, was granted to be the carrier of the heritage promise. Even the metaphorical sons of Avraham cited by Rav Shaul in Gal.3 are not deemed sons of Isaac or of Jacob/Israel. The uncircumcised sons of Avraham are not of Israel, and there are even, as I just noted above, a number of circumcised ones who, like Ishmael, are not children of the promises nor of the covenant(s) that were made only with Israel. There are some aspects of Torah that apply to the sojourner, and even to other foreigners farther off, as well as to the native born of Israel; and there are other aspects that apply only to Israel — and this distinction that is defined in Torah remains valid as long as the present heavens and earth continue to endure, per Mt.5:18. The amazingly good news, however, is that those who are excluded from the covenants of promise have been brought near to the focus of those promises by means of faithful trusting in the symbols of sacrifice and restoration represented in the martyrdom of Rav Yeshua as messiah ben-Yosef. Hence their faith grants them equal-access to HaShem and to a host of blessings that otherwise would be available only to Jews under the covenant. Likewise the symbolic fatherhood of Avraham extends over those who emulate the quality of his faith, alongside those who are sons by covenant. Such a shared faith does not erase the distinctions between faithful Avraham before he was circumcised and faithful Avraham after he was circumcised, between Ishmael and Isaac, between Esav and Jacob/Israel, or between the Jewish nation and all the other nations of the earth. As Rav Yeshua observed (viz:Jn.3:6): “That which is flesh is flesh (i.e., physical); that which is spirit is spirit (i.e., symbolic or metaphorical)”. Any failure to recognize the indicated distinctions is a guarantee of confusion and misunderstanding; and throughout history it has brought death to millions of Jews.

    Now, having clarified all that, if non-Jews who are not responsible to maintain the ritual purity required for Jews to participate in Temple rituals, wish nonetheless to pursue purity and cleanliness with respect to skin diseases or mold on building materials, they may benefit from better health — especially by avoiding the deleterious effects noted in modern times that result from breathing mold spores carried in the air of contaminated buildings and ventilation systems. They will also offer benefit to Jews who might enter such buildings, or might purchase them and become liable to purify them in accordance with their Torah responsibilities. If so, everyone could benefit.

  13. James,

    Re: “…the question to be asked is if we will [Gentiles] be determined to be clean/unclean in the manner of a Jewish person?”

    If there’s only one law for the community (“hakahal chukah achat”, Num. 15:15) then you have your answer.

  14. Proclaim Liberty,

    Because Gentile Believers are under the same law, they must recognize that the Torah specifies the Land is inherited according to tribal allotment and the tribal identification of one’s immediate father. This is not evidence of being excluded from the covenant. This is merely evidence that there exists in Israel both tribally-affiliated, landed-natives and non-tribally-affiliated, land-less gerim. Both are Israelites; Both belong to the covenant.

    Your mistake is to claim that because one is excluded from tribal land that it must follow that one is also excluded from covenant. The reality: one may be a covenanted member of Israel despite having no claim to the Land.

  15. I don’t really find it necessary to respond to each and every one of your claims. We’ve had this conversation many times before and you already know what I believe and why. We are always going to disagree on a fundamental level.

  16. @Peter — Your reference to tribal land allotments or tribal affiliation is entirely irrelevant and anachronistic. We Jews have maintained HaShem’s Torah covenant for about three-and-a-half millennia, now, and we know very well how it is to be applied in the varying circumstances that have affected it and us throughout that entire period, and to whom it does and does not apply (despite any of its claims about our own flaws and shortcomings). Clearly, you do not understand the nature and application of this covenant, nor even that of its renewal and internalization as described by Jeremiah. And, after all, why should you? It doesn’t apply to you. I already described above what does apply to you, so I won’t restate it again. The Jerusalem Council of Emissaries also clarified absolutely and unambiguously in Acts 15 that gentile believers are *not* under obligation to the whole Torah, so you err to say that they are “under the same law” if you think that law is the whole of Torah. This Jewish Council was not neglecting nor denying any of the passages of Torah that you reference regarding gerim — they simply understood them better than you seem to do. Among the finer details of ” ‘hukah a’hat” in Num.15:15 that they undoubtedly understood is its context and connection with the fire-offerings mentioned in the preceding verse 14. It is not a generalization regarding all the ‘hukim in Torah, nor to the mishpatim that interpret them, nor to the entirety of Torah nor of the mitzvoth within it, nor to the “brit” (covenant) that it defines. You are not entitled to consider yourself a participant in the covenant of Israel nor the peoplehood of Israel, any more than I would be entitled to serve as the Cohen haGadol (since I am neither a Cohen nor even a Levi). Only faith entitles you to the blessings allotted to those of faith, including participation in the kingdom of heaven.

  17. Regarding ritual laws, it seems it was not the covenant per se at Sinai that obligated the Israelite to maintain the minutia of ritual law, it was more so their PHYSICAL PROXIMITY to the Shekinah (God’s Presence literally residing in the camp). God’s holy Presence in the Camp necessitated strict rules in order for His Presence to remain (as well as to protect the worshipers drawing close.

    The way I see it, ritual purity or impurity is ONLY applicable if a functioning Temple is in place. So in our current age this is not an issue. However when Messiah returns and the Millennal Age is established these laws (though slightly changed) as per Ezekiel 40-48 will be reinstated.

    One can then ask, well what about the laws that CAN be observed without a functioning temple such as Kashrut, Sabbath, Circumcision, etc. Are they binding upon all believers in Messiah (including gentiles) or on Jewish individuals only, or on none of us at the present time?

    My own personal view us that they are not binding on any of us at the present time. In the Millennial Age there will be laws that are differentially binding on Jews and gentiles respectively, but not currently.

    The only obligation that I believe needs to be maintained at the present time is the identity and uniqueness of the Jewish people as a DISTINCTethnic group. Because God Himself promises to preserve us, we need only, on our part, to join Him in displaying this unique identity. It’s the “HOW” of this that is up for friendly discourse. 🙂

    One thing however that I DO agree with ( especially amongst those in the Bilateral Ecclesiology camp) is that it is WRONG for gentiles to usurp Jewish identity markers. As per Jeremiah 33: 17-22, etc, this distinction is to REMAIN as long as day and night exist.

  18. @ Peter:
    “This is patently false. It is written that the Torah shall apply both to the native Israelite and also the ger (sojourner). It does NOT say “one law shall apply to the native and also to the sojourner–provided that the sojourner is a physical descendant of Jacob.”

    I was quoting/referencing scholars (Hayes/Klawans) who bring up the biblical distinction between ritual and moral impurity, and the historic, across-the-board, neglect in scholarship to distinguish between the two, which, according to them, has led to great misunderstanding.

    Since God repeatedly distinguishes between the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and those who are not their descendants (i.e., the nations), and only one of Abraham’s sons was set apart in covenant with God, your position is “patently false”. Of course, there are many biblical texts that could be cited to further prove the error of your position, but I know that you’ve built up an immunity to them. Suffice to say, If you were correct, at best there is no point to the Covenant People, (oh, where have I heard that before?) and at worst, there is no reliability to the Scripture which defines them, sets them apart, and constantly distinguishes them from the non-desendants. Understanding the difference between ritual and moral purity actually helps this become clearer.

    The so-called “One Law” position you have is not persuasive since God is all about distinction. You undoubtedly relate gentile/non-Jewish identity as inferior to Jewish identity, I assure you that I do not view it that way.

  19. Re my above post about what is binding or not binding upon Jewish individuals, I am sort of in a state of flux. I can see more biblically conclusive evidence for maintaining circumcision and Sabbath as binding. As for the others (kasrut, Tzitzit, Niddah, etc) in our present age, I’m not convinced one way or the other.

  20. The way Merrill sees it: In the Millennial Age there will be laws that are differentially binding on Jews and gentiles respectively [beyond some basic, unnamed and frequently debated, differentiation], but not currently.

    I do think legal expectations aren’t the same now as they will be — there will probably be more differentiation in that time (across the planet at least). I also think, at the same time, that there will be more expected of gentiles (than now) when they are IN Israel proper.

    And the specification, as stated by PL (and pretty much agreed with by Merrill it seems) to…
    ….maintain the ritual purity required for Jews to participate in Temple rituals….

    …is an important clarity.

    Anyone spending time in Israel (just some time, or living there) will want to be considerate and, more than that, follow the rules that don’t make things hard on people in this regard (aka don’t demonstrate lack of dedication).

  21. Isa 56:6 Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;
    Isa 56:7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.
    Isa 56:8 The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.

  22. Yes, Marleen, that is how I see it. And I believe that “across the planet” God will appoint unique roles for each gentile nation (as well as each resurrected gentile individual) beyond what we can now even “ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). Our faithfulness now will determine our roles in the future.(Matthew 35:14-23). It will be an exciting time!

  23. @Pete Rambo — Despite my long-time familiarity with the Is.56 passage, the context of the current discussion brings an emphasis on distinctions that highlights a word that I have previously glossed over in some degree. That word becomes the English phrase you quoted in the passage above as “from polluting it” (m’hall-lo; lit. causing it to be “common”). The contrast that struck me is its parallel to the contrasting requirement for Israel to “hallow” or “sanctify” the Shabbat. Have we here a distinction between gentile and Jewish requirements or approaches to the Shabbat; between merely keeping it from being just another common weekday and actually sanctifying it? I believe previous discussions have considered the distinction possibly implicit in the subsequent phrase, between “taking hold” of HaShem’s covenant and actually being held responsible for it as one of the contracting parties.

    These musings are not to take anything away from the joy and acceptance of “b’nei nechar” sacrifices in the “house of prayer for all peoples” cited in verse 7. I’m merely noting implications in Isaiah’s choice of phrasing.

    @Merrill — I find your “state of flux” refreshingly similar to the thinking that has occurred within the Reform movement since the 1960s. They have rethought some classical Reform doctrines and re-adopted some traditional Jewish distinctive symbols, at least in limited degree, in order to stanch the wounds of assimilation. They are, regrettably, still rather a long way from the minima of distinctive Jewish civilization in pursuit of the mitzvot of keeping Shabbat, Kashrut, and Taharat haMishpachah, even if not according with the strict procedures of orthodoxy.

    Nonetheless, even conformity with these practices only serves as a “placeholder”, a reminder of the real procedures for maintaining the purity that was required and will be required for participation in Temple rituals. Before that can occur, all Jews will require the rite of the red heifer ashes to produce the symbolic purification water of sprinkling, to remove the long-standing and currently universal blight of “tumat met” (the contamination of death), contracted by all Jews during the two-millennial exile that is drawing to its close. Efforts are currently under weigh to identify a suitably-qualified red heifer, as a starting point for the purification of cohanim and the already-constructed utensils of sacrifice. Beyond that, we shall have to resolve the political impediments to rebuilding the Temple in its proper location. Meanwhile we must all contribute toward resolving the moral and spiritual impediments that were responsible for the second Temple’s destruction, not the least of which was the infamous “sinat ‘hinam”. Part of that resolution must include the removal of resentments against the rabbis who determined the appropriate praxis of Jewish civilization and against those who try to maintain it accurately.

  24. PL: My personal view is that while a temple (or tabernacle) may be errected prior to Messiah’s return, it will not be the Millennial Temple that Ezekiel describes in Ez 40-48 (which will be directly administered by Messiah as will the entire world).
    As for meriting the building of the Ezekiel temple and the return of the Shekineh (i.e. the return of Messiah) I think this has a lot more to do with God’s timing than with anything Jews are required to do “help” things along by adhering to a uniform praxis.
    Regarding the necessity to repent from “baseless hatred” in my mind the greatest of these is the rejection of Yeshua 2000 yrs ago by our leaders and the subsequent delay this has caused in bringing forth the Millennial Age.The Millennial Age (along with the Ezekiel Temple and accompanying Shekineh) won’t come until the events of Matthew 23:29 and Zechariah 12:10 have transpired.
    Anyway, this is how I see it. I know you see things differently and that’s okay. Clarity for me in these discussions is more important than agreement.

  25. PS: @ PL: “Place holder” is a good way to describe the way we (the Jewish people) in diaspora have maintained our identity as a unique and distinct people group. I believe, in particular, the “sign” mandated practices of circumcision and Sabbath have been the main contributors to this (as well as a low intermarriage rate in past centuries). But the primary “contributor” to our continued existence is of course the Author Himself!

  26. I recall elsewhere, Merrill, that you have (in another thread or at another site, not sure) said even people who might not now know that they are Jewish (by blood) will be differentiated at that time. So do you see the main reason* for differentiation in some (however many and however visible or major) practices/behaviors — now — to be that we don’t want to make more room for the mistaken (or more than mistaken) theology that “Christians” or believers specifically in Yeshua are Jews (or “true Jews”) based on their supposed spiritual entry as such (as misconstrued or mis-taught from Paul in twisted form)?

    Resolving political impediments, PL, seems to me to be impossible until the return of the Messiah. And I’m not sure creating purification water with ashes of the perfect or a qualified red heffer will move anyone forward until this political situation is solved. Meanwhile, I am appreciating your clarifying look at all of this and agree that we should all remove resentment of the place-holding praxis which has been the best that could be done and importantly done over nearly two millennia. I wonder whether also those who are more attached to the place holders will need to stop resenting real procedures.

    Not everyone is expecting or hoping that worship in a reestablished temple will resume or be taken up. I have both met and read of and from Jews who actually speak derisively of temple practices (and I’m not referring to “Messianics” or even seculars, nor Reformed Jews, nor any sort of Christian, while of course most Christians fit this too). I don’t mean they have contempt for corrupt practices; I mean they don’t identify with practices delineated in the Hebrew Bible. They prefer replacements. I hold off on judging them (Jews who feel this way). There will be so much to sort out.

    {* I’m guessing this is correct. I remember you saying something like “We are here.” So Jewish people are real and exist (contrary to possible devolution into the theoretical by Christian [and other] teachers and philosophers).}

  27. @PL and Sojourning: I don’t know that Peter is continuing to follow this discussion or, if he is, if he plans to comment here again. He’s done a copy and paste of portions of this dialog into his own blog for examination by his own blog’s followers. They are participating in a separate discussion as to our theological and logical shortcomings. Peter seems unwilling to accept the fact that, because of our widely differing hashkafah, we simply aren’t going to see eye to eye.

  28. @Marleen…not sure I am understanding your question…or maybe I’m not explaining my view well.
    In short, I believe there is a reason why God originally made the 70 different nations. They have been somewhat mixed over the centuries, but I believe they will ( to some degree) be restored in the Millennial Age. Each nation will have a unique “glory” of its own. Right now we only see “dimmly” of what the future might look like and how God will restore the earth, the Jews, and the nations.
    Regarding Jewish identity, the bottom line for me is that we remain a visibly distinct entity so that the world will WITNESS that God KEEPS His covenantal promises. The “how” or”ways” on the part of the Jewish people on how this is to “look” is up for discussion. It may be that something as simple keeping cultural identity is enough. (My own family for at least the three previous generations kept their identity as Jews without adhering to orthodox praxis). The important thing is that the distinction REMAIN. (My feelng is that when gentile believers assume Jewish “markers” they are essentially blurring the lines of distinction. This creates a new sort of “replacement theology”. If the distinction between Jew and gentile is lost, then so is the WITNESS to the world that God is a keeper of His promises. )

    (I don’t know if this answers your question re my poit of view. But I hope it helps somewhat 😉 )

  29. @Marleen — Since what is impossible for humans is not difficult for HaShem, I have a certain degree of optimism that when humans begin to take seriously the task of purification that begins with the symbolic ritual ashes of the red heifer, HaShem will be free to respond in ways that are currently inappropriate because humans are not yet ready for them. Righteous human actions can encourage a change of heart, and they can demonstrate such change — and HaShem is very sensitive to changing hearts. Moreover, political situations are almost entirely the result of conditions in human hearts.

    Regarding Merrill’s reference to HaShem’s timing as more significant than Jewish praxis, I would point to Daniel who recognized that the time was right for the first exile to end and therefore set himself to the task of diligent thrice-daily prayer (characteristic of traditional Jewish praxis). Was this a requirement of sorts before HaShem would act? Certainly it sensitizes the humans involved to be alert to subtle cues from HaShem regarding their participation in and contribution toward redemptive events. It is almost never the case that humans sit idly on the sidelines while HaShem does everything by Himself. In the events that have characterized the closure of the second exile, we have seen already numerous interactions between the hand of HaShem and the efforts of humans both Jew and gentile. Since that exile is still not completely ended, I think it only reasonable to expect more of the same. Thus I encourage greater diligence in Jewish praxis, just as did Daniel, which I expect to prepare us for HaShem’s further actions, and our own, that will bring about the remaining events that include rebuilding the Temple and reinstituting Levitical operations, along with other prophesied events.

  30. I think the applicable phrase is, “sojourn among us.” For the most part, gentiles don’t sojourn among us, they sojourn by themselves, and they don’t learn from us, Zech 8:23, they don’t walk/go with us. I also believe that one community doesn’t have a right to determine how others outside their community behave unless they intersect in some manner.

    I think to view current Jewish practices as, “placeholders,” is about the Christian practice of denying the central role of the Jewish people, and instead viewing us as only playing a part in their theological/eschatological drama.

    I also suspect that in the Messianic Age, nature will be restored and nothing will be tamei (ritually unclean) as all will be tahor (pure, clean) and nothin will be chol (common) but all will be kadosh (holy.) This fits with the idea of the pots and utensils of common people being holy unto God.

  31. @ PL: You said: “Thus I encourage greater diligence in Jewish praxis, just as did Daniel.”

    The only “Jewish praxis” that we know definitively that Daniel participated in was a vegetarian diet (to stay as true as he could to kashrut), prayer three times a day, refusal to bow to the statue of Nebuchadnezzar, and general repentance for himself and our people. No other specifics are given (that I can think of off hand). We also know that many Jewish men returning from exile had married non-Jewish wives. They WERE required to divorce them upon returning to the Land, but they were NOT disqualified from participating in the promise to return or “cut off” from Israel. It seems then that their “praxis” or lack of it did not cause any “delay” in the return of the exiles. The return occurred exactly within the 70 years as prophesied through Jeremiah. This just goes to show that God can, and certainly will, accomplish His purposes whether or not we have what some might deem “correct praxis”. If God says its going to happen, its going to happen. Period. I believe that It is up to each Jewish individual to decide their particular responsibility in remaining faithful to HaShem. I don’t believe this is up to any human religious governing body to be decided for us. We, as individual Jewish believers, have the Spirit of God within, we also have the testimony of the Scriptures. To each personal conviction of conscience and interpretation of Scripture is what must be acted upon and that which constitutes (for me at least) “correct praxis”. My praxis may “look” different than your praxis, but as far as I am concerned we are both still “faithful Jews” surrendered to God and trying to reach the “high goal” in Messiah.

    “To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.” Romans 14:4,12

  32. @ Chaya, You said:

    ” I also suspect that in the Messianic Age, nature will be restored and nothing will be tamei (ritually unclean) as all will be tahor (pure, clean) and nothin will be chol (common) but all will be kadosh (holy.)”

    Actually, if you read through the entirety of Ezekiel 40-48 (Ez 44:23- 26, for example) you will see that “impurities” will indeed still exist.The “impurities” aren’t going to go away, at least not completely in the Millennial Age. It will only be during the final consummation of the Ages (the “New Heaven and New Earth” Rev. 21:1) that all “uncleanness” will be no more.

  33. PL, certainly, many things can be done. And it really does make sense to be looking for a proper red heffer or a line (of red heffers) to be maintained for the future. Also, of course, there is a lot of sense in what you are saying about hearts.

    Chaya, no one (here) is saying any Jewish person or group is a place holder. Absolutely not. It is understood in Judaism that many current traditions take the place of tradition or practice from Bible times and scripture.

    Merrill, I apologize; more than once in this thread’s comments section, my addressing you has been before I’ve seen your most recent post before my comment. Maybe I will need to not only address people but state the time of the post I’m looking at (as sometimes the sequence of timing doesn’t reflect that a chunk of comments got all posted at pretty much the same time despite the time connected for when the poster typed it in). I will look more closely tomorrow.

  34. @Merrill — I think you should be very careful about avoiding a conflict between Rom.14 that cautions against being overly critical of other parties, and, say, Judges 17:6 that criticizes the conditions under which everyone does what is right in his own eyes. While we certainly lack detailed descriptions of Daniel’s halakhah, what little we do see shows us his greater diligence in pursuing it. We do not know what amount of delay might have occurred if Daniel, whose entreaties to HaShem are a focal point in his story, had not done so. The fact that not everyone was so diligent or knowledgeable is not an excuse to remain so. If we can attribute to human response, or to the lack of it, toward Rav Yeshua’s message of the impending kingdom, the fact that that kingdom was not already upon us during that first generation and is still not upon us two millennia later, then we can similarly expect human failure to respond to his call for Torah observance to delay it further. Or, conversely, we may expect that a response like Daniel’s, toward greater diligence in Jewish praxis, just might hasten it. At the very least, it will prepare us better to meet it. It might even enable us to begin to experience its benefits in advance of its full realization.

    In fact, if “righteousness” greater than that of the scribes and Pharisees is necessary to enter into the kingdom of heaven, as Rav Yeshua observed in Mt.5:20, and if greatness within it depends on performing and teaching Torah, as noted in the preceding v.19, and if this kingdom is immediately “at hand” or available to those with eyes to see it and hearts prepared to enter into its hashkafah, then certainly this individual experience may precede the physical establishment of the millennial kingdom over all the earth, given these conditions. Imagine, then, the effect if this individual experience is entered into by an entire growing community of individuals who share in such praxis and viewpoint, expanding like yeast in meal. We may not be able to “bring Messiah now!”, in advance of some predetermined time known only to “the Father” (Acts 1:6-7; Mt.24:36), but we may pursue greatness in his kingdom immediately and until that time arrives. In doing so we would effectively “bring Messiah now” to all who see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven (cif:Mt.5:16).

    @Chaya — My use of the term “placeholders” was not intended to refer to all Jewish praxis, but was limited to the symbolic purifications of persons observed in the absence of a functioning Temple. The kashering of pots and utensils by “common folk” is not dependent on that Temple, and already represents making them kadosh, holy, and set-apart for the purposes established by HaShem for our people. The Messianic Age ought to see universal observance of kashrut in “all the land” of Israel (though not necessarily in “all the earth”), fulfilling this notion.

  35. BTW, Merrill — Have you perchance seen the article by Lancaster on p.16 of the latest FFOZ Messiah Journal issue 119? I don’t necessarily agree with his scenario, but I do agree that it makes interesting, thought-provoking fiction. He envisions what might have occurred if Rav Yeshua had been heeded, including some ingenious alternative fulfillments of a number of familiar prophetic passages that would still need to occur in order to maintain the validity and reliability of scripture. Nonetheless, I found it an interesting musing about the effects of human responses one way or another to HaShem’s initiatives.

  36. Ez. 43:7 is also interesting. 7He said: “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet. This is where I will live among the Israelites forever. The people of Israel will never again defile my holy name—neither they nor their kings—by their prostitution and the funeral offeringsb for their kings at their death

  37. @ PL: We’ve had this discussion before to one degree or another.The use of Judges 17 is not a good proof text against Romans 14 because it is an unequal comparison.

    I don’t have a problem at all with those, such as yourself, who wish to keep orthodox praxis. I simply do not have the conviction to do this myself. It is not an “excuse” on my part. It is a Holy Spirit led decision.

    ( I don’t receive FFOZs materials, but I am familiar with their views and I have read some of their publications.)

  38. @ Marleen,
    No need to apologize. Blogging isn’t ever streamlined so it doesn’t hurt to repeat/clarify. 🙂

  39. I reviewed, Merrill, but am not thinking we’d necessarily advance the conversation by repeating or revisiting (not there there would likely be a negative outcome either). I simply like what I quoted from Chaya as a sort of bottom line of this thread. Likewise is PL’s statement about his not claiming to the responsibilities of a Levite or Cohen.

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