“You ask how can you be bound (m’kushar) to me when I do not know you personally…”
“…The true bond is created by studying Torah. When you study my maamarim, read the sichot and associate with those dear to me – the chassidic community and the tmimim – in their studies and farbrengens, and you fulfill my request regarding saying Tehillim[*]and observing Torah-study times – in this is the bond.”
-from “Today’s Day” for
Sunday, Sivan 24, 5703
Compiled by the Lubavitcher Rebbe; Translated by Yitschak Meir Kagan
This sort of relates to the rather lengthy discussion taking place in the comments section of my What am I, Chopped Liver blog post. It speaks of one person being bound to another, even if they don’t personally know each other and even if they are separated by great distances (and maybe even by time).
In this case, it’s the bond between a Chassid and his (or her) Rebbe, and it’s established and maintained by the Chassid studying the informal and formal teachings of their Rebbe, as well as associating with current and former students of the Rebbe.
Yes, this is discussing a very specific relationship in the Lubavitcher community, however, I think I can adapt it for a somewhat different but related connection.
We’ve been discussing the status and halachah of non-Jews who are in some manner associated with the Messianic Jewish community, if only through how and what we study.
For instance, in reading, studying, and reviewing the Nanos and Zetterholm volume Paul within Judaism: Restoring the First-Century Context to the Apostle, I’m attempting to gain a greater understanding of the Jewish Apostle Paul as applied to both the ancient and modern community of Jews and Gentiles in Messiah. In this, it can be said that I’m associated or connected to the Messianic Jewish community by my choice of study materials and how I’m allowing the essays in the aforementioned volume to modify and shape my understanding of the Apostolic Scriptures.
In other words, I’m a Gentile Christian who studies Messianic Judaism in order to stand on the Jewish foundation of the Bible.
Actually, it’s not just the foundation of the Bible that’s Jewish but the entire collection of books.
So what am I doing?
Adapting the quote above, I’m studying the teachings of my Rebbe (and all of the related teachings) in order to bind myself to my Master, even though he and I are separated by culture, nationality, history, and even death. Not that he’s dead of course, but I must go through death and resurrection one day as his disciple.
According to the second requirement, I must also associate with his students. That’s a tough one. Who do I associate with? The most obvious answer would be other Messianic Gentiles, but I only regularly see one in my little corner of Idaho and we don’t always speak to each other on matters of faith.
Can there be association via the Internet? If the answer is “yes,” then I regularly associate with Messianic Gentiles and a few Messianic Jews via conversations on this blog spot.
Again, this is a rather loose adaptation of a very specific process among the Chassidim.
Why do I bring this up?
Because it gives us a loose set of guidelines as to how we are to relate to Yeshua and to each other. Chances are, just about everyone reading these words, or at least my regular readers, are already doing these things. We are already reading the Bible, including the Torah and the Prophets, studying the teachings of Yeshua in the Gospels, and of his disciples and apostles in the Epistles and Apocrypha. We also study related commentaries that offer additional insight into Jewish thought, not with the idea that we are obligated to take up all of the mitzvot, but to attain greater closeness to our own “Rebbe”.
In all likelihood, we are all, in some way, associating with other students of our Master, in the face-to-face or virtual worlds or both. Technically, we could go to a traditional church and associate with the Master’s students, but their understanding of his teachings are sometimes radically different from our own, so much so, that it seems as if we are speaking different languages to one another.
So I’m using some snippet of information from the Jewish world, applied very specifically to Chassidic Jews and adapting it for potential (or actual) use by Messianic Gentiles.
While periodically our bond with Messianic Jews, some of them anyway, can seem rather tenuous, based on the needs of the Messianic Jewish community, the bond between any disciples and their Rebbe, whether Jew or Gentile, should never come into question. It definitely should not come into question because we are “just” Gentiles.
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
–Galatians 3:26-29 (NASB)
Of course Paul is not obliterating the covenant distinctions between Jews and Gentiles anymore than he is destroying gender distinctions between men and women, but he is saying that we all have equal standing in the ekklesia of Yeshua. We are all “clothed in Messiah,” as it were, so that regardless of our social roles in the Messianic community, we can all consider ourselves as belonging to Messiah and descendants of Abraham’s based on God’s promise to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations.
Gentiles are not heirs of the Sinai covenant, as are the Jews, but we are all Abraham’s children spiritually, though the Jews are also physical descendants through Isaac, and then Jacob, and then all of Jacob’s offspring.
Even if you don’t always feel close to the Jews in the Messianic Jewish community, or for that matter, some of the non-Jews, the words of Paul attest that we can and are close to our Master, the mediator of the New Covenant promises, he who through God’s mercy and the Master’s faithfulness, brings those of us who were once far off to be close to our Master for the glory of Hashem.
I just wanted you to know that.
1. The bond between Chassid and Rebbe is termed hitkashrut (see Elul 10).
2. Informal talks, as distinct from maamarim which are formal dissertations of chassidic philosophy.
3. Present as well as former students in the Lubavitcher yeshivot are known as “Tmimim.
*. “At the time this letter was written, it had not yet become widely known about the establishment of the practice to study Chumash with Rashi daily, and to study Tanya as apportioned for every day of the year.” Footnote 4, Page 328, Sefer Hamaamarim Basi Legani.