This is the decree of the Torah, which Hashem has commanded, saying…
Rashi explains that the unusual introduction of “this is the decree of the Torah” (rather than an introduction specific to the subject of parah adumah), is a response to Satan and the nations, who tauntingly ask, “What is the purpose of this commandment?,” to which the Torah answers that it is a decree from Hashem, and it is not for anyone to question it.
-from “A Torah Thought for the Day,” p.62
Sunday’s commentary on Parashas Chukas
A Daily Dose of Torah
I’m continuing to write on the general theme of the role of non-Jews in Messianic Jewish community, a study started in this blog post and most recently addressed in yesterday’s morning meditation.
Chana Sara in her blog post from a few years back asks Where Do I Fit? It’s certainly a question I keep asking myself, both in relation to my decision to study the Bible through the lens of Judaism and particularly Messianic Judaism, and the larger existential question of where do I fit in my relationship to God.
Once you accept that any sort of connection to God must go through Israel, the Jewish people, and especially through the exceedingly Jewish Messianic King, then you must come to the realization that in order to relate to God you must enter into a completely alien world, that is, alien for the non-Jew. You must enter a Jewish world or at least a worldview.
Even many secular Jews feel, when attempting to observe a mitzvah or when attending a synagogue prayer service, that they are also “strangers in a strange land.” True, they are Jews in the midst of Jewish community, but the traditions, the customs, the halachah, the Hebrew, if you haven’t been raised in an observant home nor had the benefit of a traditional Jewish education, can seem even to the ethnic Jew, like a trip down the rabbit hole to “wonderland.”
And most people become uncomfortable when faced with the unfamiliar and the unknown. People become defensive and even hostile when thrown abruptly into an alien environment. We prefer what we’re used to.
Chana Sara wrote in the aforementioned blog post:
As a ba’alat teshuva, I have a lot of questions when it comes to where I “fit” within Judaism. I was born into a conservative Judaism family, meaning that my mother can’t part from the egalitarian idea of the conservative movement, but keeps conservative standards of kosher and Shabbat.
As soon as I had my bat mitzvah I don’t remember going back to shul for any reason. Possibly the high holidays, but possibly not even then.
This is a commentary on a Jewish journey into Yiddishkeit, which is also a journey my wife embarked upon a number of years ago. I remember the struggles she faced in her first attempts to connect to Jewish community and Jewish observant praxis. How much more difficult is it for the non-Jew, with no direct connection to Jewish community and lifestyle, to face the challenge of entering the Jewish world in order to comprehend and obey the Jewish Messiah?
I understand that God is not just the God of Israel but also the God of the nations, but every shred of Biblical content that we have with us today was produced by Jews, and, for the most part, for Jews. Only certain sections of the Bible directly address the nations, and not all of those references relate to us kindly. Amalek comes to mind.
The commentary I quoted from at the top of the page, specifies those commandments in the Torah that have no discernible reason or purpose, but nevertheless must be followed because they are God’s will for the Jewish people. Rashi’s interpretation of the above-quoted verse from Numbers supposes that HaSatan, the adversary, and the Goyim, the Gentiles, would criticize the Israelites for observing such commands or would actually bring into question the Torah as the Word of God based on what appears to be a collection of meaningless decrees.
And therein lies the root of my question, “Why Do Christians Hate Judaism?” I know “hate” is a strong word and I use it in part for dramatic emphasis as opposed to literal meaning. Most Christians don’t actually hate the Jewish religion or form of worship, but they do believe that it is merely a religion of works which exists in opposition to Christ and the Christian doctrine of salvation by grace.
I also don’t mean to indicate that Christians hate the Jewish people or the state of Israel. Many Evangelical churches say they love the Jewish people, and no doubt, they are sincere. Of course, that love for Jews and national Israel is predicated on a very Christian understanding of the eschatological meaning of the existence of Jews and Israel relative to the second coming of Christ.
This brings us back to those Christians who have come to realize that what they’ve learned from the pulpit or in Sunday school isn’t, strictly speaking, the exact Gospel message Messiah and his apostles taught in the late Second Temple period. Once we have learned that the Church’s current theology and doctrine is all based on a two-thousand year old mistake and is the result of a violent divorce between the early Jewish and Gentile Yeshua disciples, then we’re faced with a horrible reality.
In an ekklesia that is wholly Jewish and that can be only understood and communicated with through a wholly Jewish process, a process alien to anything we were formerly taught as Christians in our churches, who are we, what do we do, and where do we go to pursue our faith given this totally Jewish contextual reality?
Do you see where this might cause some anxiety or even a crisis of faith among the devout Gentiles when facing a life within Jewish community and educational space?
Do you see why Christianity was invented in the first place, as an alternative to this crisis, as a means to take control over worship of God and devotion to Christ by redefining it as Gentile and not Jewish?
Although my father’s recent illness is the primary reason I chose to abandon plans to be in Israel right now, another reason was the idea that, as a Gentile (and a flawed, imperfect human being) who is oriented toward but can never be a part of Israel, who am I to set foot in the Holy Land?
However, there are other responses to this crisis. There are some Christians who have walked away from the Church but who still do not feel comfortable surrendering their identity to Jewish interpretation. They have invented a world of their own which states that while they are not ethnically Jewish, nevertheless, they are Israel as much as the Jewish people are, and thus they are as obligated to the Torah of Moses as any observant Jew.
But there’s a caveat.
They still reject Judaism, or at least Judaism as it has evolved over the past nearly twenty centuries. They reject, for the most part, that entity we know as Rabbinic Judaism, the “traditions of the elders,” the so-called “made up” laws that add on to or perhaps even defy the plain meaning of the written Torah.
Now here’s the trick.
If we Messianic Gentiles accept Messianic Judaism as a Judaism, and accept the validity of the teachings of the Jewish Sages, teachings which, for the most part, have nothing to do with us, then what does that mean for us? For understandable reasons, as much as Christianity has rejected Judaism, Judaism has rejected Christianity. They aren’t on speaking terms and can barely stand being in the same room with each other.
Once we Gentile believers come to a Messianic Jewish understanding of the Bible, the Messiah, and God, once we see how much God loves Israel, how special Israel is to God, and how we people of the nations are only saved through Israel and not because the nations have any sort of direct covenant connection with God, what is our most likely initial response?
The Torah states, “And Korach, the son of Yitzhor, the son of Kehas, the son of Levy, took …” Why does the Torah take the time to tell us his lineage?
Rashi, the great French commentator, explains that the key reason for Korach’s rebellion was his envy of his cousin, Elizaphan the son of Uziel, who was appointed prince of the tribe of Levy. Moshe’s father was the first of four brothers and his sons were the leader of the Jewish people and the High Priest; Korach figured that since he himself was the firstborn of the second son, that he should have been appointed the Prince of the Tribe of Levy.
Envy is destructive. It prevents a person from enjoying life. If ones focus is on other’s success and possessions, it will cause pain and lead to highly counterproductive behavior. No wonder that Pirkei Avos, Ethics of the Fathers 4:28, lists envy as one of three things which destroy a person (the other two are lust and desire for honor).
To overcome envy, focus on what you have and what you can accomplish in this world. The ultimate that anyone can have in this world is happiness. The secret to happiness is focusing on what you have. And if you are happy, you won’t envy others!
-Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
based on his commentary on Parashas Korach in
Growth Through Torah
as found at Aish.com
Especially in our modern western egalitarian culture, the idea that any one group might be special and especially privileged is abhorrent to most of us. When encountering certain Biblical realities, we attempt to refactor them by applying our modern worldview, thus reinterpreting the Bible beyond all reasonable credibility. We make statements to the Jewish people in Messiah that are the moral equivalent of the politically correct comment to check your privilege:
“Check Your Privilege” is an online expression used mainly by social justice bloggers to remind others that the body and life they are born into comes with specific privileges that do not apply to all arguments or situations. The phrase also suggests that when considering another person’s plight, one must acknowledge one’s own inherent privileges and put them aside in order to gain a better understanding of his or her situation.
While the concept of “check your privilege” is, in my opinion, somewhat questionable, or at least has the potential to be grossly misused, applying it to the relationship between Messianic Gentiles and Messianic Jews (or any group of Jews) is Biblically unsustainable.
So where does that leave us?
I don’t have an answer, at least not a whole one. I do have a clue, also written by Chana Sara in her recent blog post My Experience with the Rebbe:
But he was more than just a rebel. He was a person with a fervor for life, for Yiddishkeit and for people. Everyone was important, Jew or non-Jew, male or female, child or adult. Every person was important and he wanted to do good for all mankind. The U.S. has dedicated Education and Sharing Day as a tribute to the Rebbe and steps he took toward the betterment of education for all U.S. children. He stressed the importance of the Noahide laws. He wanted to make sure that all of mankind was healthy and well and ready to take on the world in the way Hashem desires them to. He was really into everyone being the best that they can be and being able to help them realize their potential. The world isn’t finished being built, and the Rebbe wanted to make sure we were aware of that and are putting on our best faces to be able to finish making this world a dira b’tachtonim, a dwelling place for Hashem.
While there are voices within Messianic Judaism who advocate for a strict bilateral relationship between Jews and Gentiles, it is also part of the process of tikkun olam for Jewish and non-Jewish scholars and teachers within Messianic Judaism to make their lessons available to the Messianic Goyim so that we may learn and understand the teachings of the Master within his own context and turn our praxis and our devotion to God accordingly.
While there are plenty of resources available including those authored by Christian Pastors writing from within a Messianic context, as far as my experience goes, there are still no real answers.
If we acknowledge that Christian tradition does not adequately or accurately reflect the Jewish context of the Bible, and if we admit that Jewish praxis is not Gentile praxis in any form, including one that adopts the appearance of Judaism while rejecting the last eighteen hundred years or so of Jewish teaching and writing, what do we have left?
A mystery and no answers.
In previous comments on other blog posts I’ve written on this topic, it has been suggested that Gentile identity within Jewish space will have to evolve over a long period of time, decades if not centuries (barring the timing of King Messiah’s return, of course).
But courageous Jewish leaders such as the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of righteous memory, indeed, had a heart not just for the Jewish people but for all people. Although his special mission and devotion was for Yiddishkeit, he understood that Messiah’s coming would herald the redemption of all of humanity in an unparalleled era of peace.
That’s the heritage of not just Israel but of all mankind, of you and me, all of us.
The twenty-first yahrzeit of the Rebbe has just passed and perhaps, if I may be so bold, in his merit, we can remind ourselves that somewhere, somehow, the people of the nations have a place in God’s redemptive plan, too. However, that plan and how we figure into it, isn’t very clear when viewed through a Jewish lens, since that lens was designed to reveal God’s relationship with the Jewish people and with Israel.
But it is the only lens we have that most accurately reveals the true reality of God’s message to the world, one that doesn’t diminish or destroy Jewish people, the nation of Israel, or the traditions, writings, and praxis of Judaism.
However uncomfortable or disorienting it may be to live life as a Gentile poised on the edge of our understanding of the God of Israel, the Jewish Messiah, and the Jewish scriptures, our best response should never be envy, supersessionism, or disdain. Instead, let us don the garments of humility, wonder, and awe, and then begin walking our path, one that is uncharted and unknown, toward the undiscovered country of who we are, which isn’t really defined by Judaism or even Christianity but rather by God.
I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.
-Revelation 21:22-22:5 (NASB)
Notice that it’s not just Israel who exists in the presence of God and of the Lamb. The nations are there…we are there, too, and we will be healed.
The tzadik is one with G-d.
We recognize him because within each of us is also a tzadik who is one with G-d.
Inside each of us is a spark of Moses.
-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
From the wisdom of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory
Within each of us is a spark of the Messiah. Have faith and courage.
185 thoughts on “Why Do Christians Hate Judaism?”
It occurs to me that you have touched on another facet of money as God/god in current life. Christians have a tendency and even a rabid drive to defend difference with respect to wealth. But difference as to the reality of being a Jew? No, you better get a life. Understand too: there is no right or wrong or functional love expected — in a person’s life anymore (a Christian person) as opposed to making appearances in his politics — he with money or means has clout and voice.
It looks like freedom but it feels like death,
It’s something in between, I guess.
“As a Gentile or Jew, you should really be a part of a community. You need to be ‘fed.’ You have to ensure that you can go somewhere that’s healthy and positively reinforces you.”
“Ok. Who am I in relation to G-d?”
“Don’t think that. Think about what YOU can do to help OTHERS. It’s not about you. Never was.”
Or there is this little switcheroo:
“Eternal life begins today! The Messianic Age is now!”
“Great. Who am I to G-d?”
“Wait until you die, like everything else in Christianity.”
It’s something I’ve noticed in these discussions. I’ve said them too. They are some of the common swerves we tend to take, saying a lot without saying much at all. I wanted to point it out.
You always leave me with something to think about, James.
Myself? I’ve long been fascinated by Judaism. I don’t have a problem understanding Jesus as Jewish, coming within a Jewish context. It doesn’t bother me to know that I’m “grafted in.” I don’t have a sense of offense in knowing that Israel knew and related to God as a people centuries before my British ancestors did. I’ve been drawn to the Old Testament lately; I love digging in to the Torah, the Prophets, the history, etc. My copy of “Essential Judaism” is well-worn.
I guess I just don’t understand why Judaism is an issue for anyone. Yes, I believe that some of the people Jesus encountered had taken the Law and turned it into a burden, but legalism runs just as strongly within Christianity. We Gentile believers aren’t immune to taking the commands of God, commands meant to give us true freedom, and turning them into stumbling blocks and weights.
I’m getting a little rambly now, so I’ll close. Like I said, I just don’t really see why there’s an issue. There shouldn’t be.
@Drake: Not sure what among all that you may be attributing to me. You certainly have a flair for dramatic writing.
All I’m saying is that discovering who we are in Messiah is a life-long journey, not something you pick up in thirty minutes like your weekly groceries at the store. In the meantime, the Messianic Age starts now and we can start helping repair the world and prepare the path for Messiah’s return now. Pick a mitzvah. There are plenty to choose from.
@Marie: I think you’d enjoy a book called Yeshua Matters written by a Pastor named Jacob Fronczak. Jacob chronicles his journey of discovering just how Jewish Jesus (Yeshua) really is and what it means when we put him and his teachings back in their original context.
This also redefines who we are in ways that most Christians don’t particularly anticipate, hence today’s “morning meditation”.
I’ve met Jacob a couple of times and have heard him speak at conferences. He’s young, intelligent, inquisitive, and rocks a bow tie and suspenders like “the Doctor” (Doctor Who).
To answer your question though, many Christians are taught to think that it’s all about us. It’s only about the Jewish people if any Jews convert to Christianity. Messianic Judaism is based on the radical idea that for a Jew to become a disciple of Messiah, they don’t have to stop being Jewish and in fact, observing the commandments is an essential part of being a Messianic Jew. There are numerous times in the Bible when God praises Israel for cleaving to His commandments and when they don’t He chastises them with plagues, war, exile, and worse.
If God is presenting a linear, internally consistent plan for the redemption of the world, and God has always used Israel as the centerpiece of that plan, it makes no sense at all for Him to change horses in mid-stream (somewhere around Acts 2 to 15) and reduce or eliminate Israel’s role.
That’s why I think some Christians become upset when Messianic Judaism suggests it’s all about Israel and not about the nations. The nations are redeemed out of God’s mercy and grace, not because we’re specifically named as direct participants in covenant (that can be a lot to swallow for most believers).
And trust me, Marie. No one is more “rambly” than me.
“@Drake: Not sure what among all that you may be attributing to me. You certainly have a flair for dramatic writing.”
No, not you in particular. Rather those aforementioned statement come off as deflection in guise of pollyannishness.
As for the drama, yes. I can be a queen.
“If we acknowledge that Christian tradition does not adequately or accurately reflect the Jewish context of the Bible, and if we admit that Jewish praxis is not Gentile praxis in any form, including one that adopts the appearance of Judaism while rejecting the last eighteen hundred years or so of Jewish teaching and writing, what do we have left?
A mystery and no answers.”
It doesn’t have to be this way. First of all, maybe the Christian tradition wasn’t intended to reflect the Jewish context of the Bible, but to create a new tradition for a non-Jewish people who had attached themselves to the G-d of Israel. Now clearly there were some big, tragic mistakes made along the way, mostly in the way the younger sibling tried to usurp the role of the firstborn, either pretending to BE the firstborn, or else trying to eradicate the firstborn from the face of the earth. That error needs to be corrected, clearly, and the first order of business is hammering out the identity issue.
We are all adopted into the family of G-d. Israel is the firstborn. The rest are younger siblings added to the family at various times. Different positions in the family come with varying responsibilities and privileges (the same is true in our little human micro-families), but with the same access to relationship with the Father and the same love. Different roles, different ways of being and relating, but all precious, just like children in any (good, healthy and loving) family.
If each sibling joyfully embraced their role in the family, and helped one another embrace the roles that belong to them, you would have true shalom bayis. That is what repairing this schism is aimed at, no?
This process doesn’t necessitate the younger sibling(s) changing their core personality or their own unique family traditions. It just means they need to see themselves for who they are and stop trying to usurp a role not meant for them. Their position in the family is secure. Their new traditions are fine. It’s the headspace that needs to change so they will stop stirring up dissention and strife and start acting like mature, supportive members of one family. Then everyone in the family can do what they were meant to do. Shalom bayis. Too Pollyanna-ish?
That books looks interesting. I’ll have to check it out.
And may I just say that I hugely appreciate your reference to The Doctor? Though I will forever be a David Tennant fan, I appreciate the Matt Smith Era. Bowties and fez’s are cool.
@James: Are you aware that the title of this post is “Why Do Christians Hate Judaism?” and then you go ahead and then mention that a great Jewish sage placed “both” Satan & the nations at the same level in a sentence? What were you thinking? 🙂
@Marie – Ten all the way!
I love messianic Jewish theology. It provides answers to questions I’ve had for almost three decades of marriage to a Jew, that neither Christianity nor Judaism would/could answer, because both are entrenched with “traditions” that exclude the legitimacy of the “other”, which began a very long time ago. I can’t begin to describe my gratitude for the courageous Jewish and Christian people who have stood up for the truth of scripture, and the Jewishness of Jesus and the scriptures, which I believe all people benefit from being exposed to. Anyway, it has greatly helped me with understanding my Jewish husband and relatives. Reading my daughter’s translations of nineteenth century rabbi’s, who came to believe in Yeshua, and then attempted to “bridge the gap” between Jews and Christians is thrilling.
Yet, I don’t believe our paradigms are sufficiently ironed out yet that we can see either Judaism or Christianity clearly, which in my experience, leads to problems, not fixes.
Many still use the “parent-child” (or Mother-daughter) paradigm, thinking that Christianity descended from “Judaism”, which isn’t the case. More and more scholars are adopting the “sibling” paradigm that recognizes that neither tradition was present in the early century’s of this era, and instead grew in tension with (against) the other.
Because of this, I don’t think most Gentiles are well served in the MJ congregations. Anyway, there is little fruit.
I appreciate both Marie and Kari who gave gracious and balanced perspectives about our identities, and what needs to be fixed.
“It just means they need to see themselves for who they are and stop trying to usurp a role not meant for them.”
I don’t think it’s “too pollyannaish,” but just not germane to what’s being discussed. Nobody on here is One Law or supports supersessionism really. So I don’t think you’re arguing with anyone here on that point. You’re saying what gentiles should not steal from Jews (which I get), but James’ series is more directed to gentiles themselves and where they stand in relation to G-d, etc. Not over whether or not it’s right if they steal Jewish identity.
“First of all, maybe the Christian tradition wasn’t intended to reflect the Jewish context of the Bible, but to create a new tradition for a non-Jewish people who had attached themselves to the G-d of Israel.”
It’s a nice sentiment, and warmly received. But just the fact that you have to preface the fate and destiny of all nations with “maybe” is a pretty good indicator of a dearth of information. There is not really a “role” at all for gentiles. “What is gentile identity? It certainly cannot be Jewish! We know that much! Maybe it should be diverse somehow…”
If I were to compare this to a family, I would tell of a father who had a son he raised himself. He built many memories with him, reproved him, guided him and taught him. They have photo albums together, sports trophies, and stories with the neighbors.
A younger son is born, at which point the father leaves for a distant land and the boys stay with family. The older son revisits his albums, memories, trophies and lessons with his father, nostalgic of the time they were together and sustaining hope of his return. Then one year the father sends a trusted friend to visit his son. And only his oldest son. The guy walks right past the younger son. He tells the oldest boy about his father’s doings and then departs.
Then when the younger son is old enough to actually start feeling down about this arrangement, a guy named Paul who knew the father’s messenger mails the younger son a note. It reads:
“Don’t be sad. Just figure it all out by yourself. Don’t be like the neighbor kids. I’m sure whatever you’re doing is fine. Don’t break into your brother’s room, and don’t interrupt his studies. Bye.”
That doesn’t read like a “role” at all.
The younger son would likely become disillusioned and feel a sense of alienation from both his father and his brother. When the younger son gets older, what will he teach his own son about his family? About his “role?”
Heschel wrote that mitzvot are the thoughts of G-d. To guard the thoughts of G-d makes one holy. To act out the thoughts of G-d is formative to the soul. In Judaism, the traditions are built around real events in history, and around the thoughts of G-d.
In Christianity, traditions are built out of thin air because there is no events or mitzvah to anchor them to gentiles. Are they they will of G-d? Or the flights of fancy of some church fathers? Do they reflect the cosmic? What is my relation to them? Do they transform my soul? How can I take the Blood of the New Covenant at mass if only Israel is party to the New Covenant? Why should I observe traditions if I’m not technically bound to them? What value do gentile traditions retain to a G-d-seeker when he realizes those traditions all stem from the younger son in the anecdote; who confabulated tradition with no direct communication from his father on the issue?
Angst, alienation, distance, sorrow, silence. For this stark reality, Replacement Theology is a warm and soothing salve for this identity crisis, and as James puts it, why Christianity was invented. “Yes you have the New Covenant! Yes, you are spiritual Israel! Yes you have to attend mass – it is binding on you because G-d cares if you show up! Tithing is a commandment! These stories are about you! See? G-d gave you these things as a sign of how much He thinks about your life!”
“It just means they need to see themselves for who they are…”
Which is what, exactly? Something prefaced with a “maybe?”
“…and stop trying to usurp a role not meant for them.”
Again, nobody on this blog has disputed Jewish identity.
A friend once told me that Japan was killed not by the atom bomb, but when they were told that their emperor was not divine, their myths were a lie, and that their society was built on them. It crushed their spirit and they never really adopted modernity in a well-adjusted way. Today, men and women in Japan seldom date, they have a looming demographic crisis, no religion, and their corporate culture is obsessed with anthems, quad marches, and extreme team-building geared toward ratcheting up morale.
After denuding them of their past, faith, and ethos, the Allies handed Japan an instant democracy and told them to “figure it out for themselves.”
I appreciate your sentiments.
I accidentally wrote: “There is not really a “role” at all for gentiles.”
That might be an overreach. Maybe I just don’t perceive a role, as the Bible does not really speak about it very clearly.
*there ARE no events
Thank you for your very thoughtful reply. I wanted to (hopefully) clear up a few things for my part, since I think you misunderstood a few points I was and was not making.
Nobody on here is One Law or supports supersessionism really. So I don’t think you’re arguing with anyone here on that point. You’re saying what gentiles should not steal from Jews (which I get), but James’ series is more directed to gentiles themselves and where they stand in relation to G-d, etc.
My statements about “not usurping a role” were not directed at anyone on this thread. I am well aware of where you all stand theologically. It was simply my succinct summary of the historical (and most common) identity crisis of the Christian Church. If I had to summarize the identity crisis I see being fleshed out here, I’d say it’s “I have no role at all.” Also a mistake, according to my understanding of the Scriptures, but since it’s not the most common one, I mentioned the one that most needs to be hammered out. Sorry for the confusion.
It’s a nice sentiment, and warmly received. But just the fact that you have to preface the fate and destiny of all nations with “maybe” is a pretty good indicator of a dearth of information. There is not really a “role” at all for gentiles.
First of all, I appreciate close reading as much as the next person, but this may be a little too close. Ha! My “maybe” was a rhetorical device aimed at communicating that I don’t see myself as some authority who can come on a thread and proclaim “Thus saith Kari Miller.” It was not intended to indicate that I believe the “fate and destiny of all nations” hinges on a maybe. A bit dramatic, there, buddy. 😉 By the way, I was under the impression we were talking about Gentile Christian tradition and practice, not fate and destiny?
More coming . . .
In Judaism, the traditions are built around real events in history, and around the thoughts of G-d. In Christianity, traditions are built out of thin air because there is no events or mitzvah to anchor them to gentiles. Are they they will of G-d? Or the flights of fancy of some church fathers?
I honestly don’t agree with this. Yes, in Judaism many traditions are built around real events in history. The same is true of the Christian Church. I believe you’ve mentioned that your Christian background in Evangelical? This may be partly why you believe there is no historical grounding for the practices in Christianity. In the Catholic and Orthodox churches, they have many more holidays on their calendar, and they are all grounded in events that happened in Scripture and/or Christian history. Simply because the dates were “hand-picked” doesn’t mean the events weren’t real. I realize there is a difference between a community deciding for itself to commemorate an event outside of Divine decree, and being specifically commanded to do so, but there is a Biblical and historical precedent for the former. Purim. Chanukah. Israel Independence Day. Yom HaShoah. G-d did not command the Jews to commemorate those events. They decided to do it because they were significant enough to be remembered, and they decided as a community that it would be beneficial. I see the same process at work in the calendar of the Church. They wanted to commemorate the birth of the Messiah, the events directly preceding His passion, His death, His resurrection, the giving of the Holy Spirit. They looked at the example set for them by the Jewish calendar, and they forged a new set of traditions. They may not have had “Thus saith the L-RD,” but they did have 1. an historical event 2. an historical precedent 3. communal and inter-generational agreement. Why is that not valid?
I don’t quite know how to tackle your counter analogy. It saddens me deeply, to be honest. I simply do not see the Gentile ecclesia as the neglected son, but I also realize that the emotion behind your analogy will ring true for many people in a similar position to your own. There IS much written in the New Testament to the Gentile ecclesia about their identity, and it is not a picture that leaves anyone groundless or purposeless. No, there is not a lot written about specific traditions and practices. That was being hammered out for the first time when those letters were written, but there is a lot in there about the starting point: the identity. In my view of life and faith, that is the stuff that matters the most. Not every tradition needs a Divine decree to be valid (in my non-Sola Scriptura perspective). But we DO need Divine decree to understand who we are. I think there is plenty of that, for Jews and non-Jews, all throughout Scripture, but especially in the NT (for Gentiles).
You said (after my quote):
“It just means they need to see themselves for who they are…”
Which is what, exactly? Something prefaced with a “maybe?”
No. Adopted sons. Precious, dear and wholly loved. Also set apart to bring the knowledge of G-d into a very broken world. Co-heirs with Messiah. Nothing “maybe” about that.
Again, nobody on this blog has disputed Jewish identity.
And no one claimed they did. My point, once again, was to address the historical and most common Christian Identity Crisis. Hammering out the identity is, in my opinion, the first and most vital step in correcting the relational schism.
As for your Japan comparison, I really do understand your point. It is disorienting – to say the least – to be raised believing you have a Divine commandment to do what you do, and then to realize that your foundation is quite a bit shakier than you previously believed. I do not believe it is comparable to the situation in Japan, though. After all, the Deity Christians cling to is not a myth, but a real, Living G-d. The events they celebrate are not (in my belief and experience) myths, either. They are celebrating a real, historical person and real, historical (and miraculous) events. Yes, they chose dates rather than having them Divinely appointed. Yes, they created traditions by which to commemorate those events. But that’s not the same as learning your ENTIRE religion and worldview were fabricated. That’s an overstatement when it comes to the Christian tradition. And the relationship between Gentile Christians and G-d is not fabricated, either. It is cemented in Messiah.
I have found this thread to be extremely engaging and insightful. I enjoy reading your perspectives, and seeing how your (obviously brilliant) mind works. Hopefully we can keep fleshing this out.
By the way, do you happen to write fiction at all? It strikes me that you’d be really good at it . . .
James wrote: “All I’m saying is that discovering who we are in Messiah is a life-long journey, not something you pick up in thirty minutes like your weekly groceries at the store.”
It’s been 2,000 years of change, revolution, schisms, reforms, and Gentiles are no closer to any answers on these questions whatsoever than when they first began with Paul. Maybe less, according to scholarship. It’s frustrating. Think about it: silence for a balance of time as long as the Cross back to Mt. Moriah. Just how many “life-long journeys” began under Paul all the way to an era of modern scholarship in which most of their alleged self-discoveries have been debunked?
Was that Tikkun Olam? What was it all for?
These questions as of late have colored my reading of the Bible with a guarded skepticism, something I was hoping I had left behind. I understand G-d operates over large figures, but two eons of radio silence on the issue is not a beer run.
Lisa wrote: “By the way, do you happen to write fiction at all? It strikes me that you’d be really good at it . . .”
Funny you should ask…
And just to clarify, since you don’t know me from Eve, my question about whether you write fiction was most definitely not any kind of passive-aggressive barb. I am a lover of literature and writing (it’s why I majored in English in college), and I like to flatter myself that I can pick out other writers when I encounter them. You strike me that way. 🙂
No, Lisa did not write that. Kari Miller did. 🙂
Sorry. The girl behind me at work is a Lisa.
@Kari: Unfortunately, large portions of Christian tradition, especially the traditions surrounding how the Bible is interpreted are anti-Jewish, anti-Judaism, and distorts God’s continuing plan for the Jewish people and the centrality of Israel.
I agree that we have traditions that are more appropriate for non-Jews than Jews, such as not being bound to certain covenant sign commandments that only apply to Jews, but I still think we need to re-examine our praxis to determine how it differs from the contextually-adjusted message the Bible is really telling us.
@Marie: I’m not a Doctor Who fan myself, but two out of my three children are, so that’s given me enough familiarity to make the “bow tie and suspenders” statement.
@Alfredo: I didn’t compare the nations and Satan, the midrash I quoted did. My intent was to describe how some and even many Christians misjudge the Judaism people and the practice of Judaism based on their misunderstanding of the Torah mitzvot. Citing Genesis 12:3, I’m sure you recognize that when anyone curses Israel in any form, they bring a curse upon themselves.
@Sojourning: I also (and I’m sure you realize this) recognize that the Messianic Jewish perspective on the Bible provides answers that no other paradigm seems to offer. That said, with the focus being so much on the Jewish people in Messiah, we non-Jewish disciples have to radically re-examine and redefine who we are and what we’re doing, given we are non-Jews attempting (however tangentially in my case) to operate in Jewish space.
In a very real sense, I don’t see myself fitting into either Christianity or Judaism, particularly because of the “bilateral” emphasis in certain corners of MJ. While I support exclusively Jewish space for Messianic Jews, the only place I can “fit” in terms of MJ is to study within that framework, gain information, knowledge, and maybe even a little wisdom, if I’m capable of it, but ultimately, as a non-Jew, that begins and ends with me.
I used to believe there were bridges that could be built between the Jews and non-Jews in the Messianic ekklesia, but if Judaism within MJ needs to be exclusive in order to support Jews in Messiah, perhaps I was mistaken.
I realize that the people in this conversation aren’t One Law advocates, but I’m writing to a wider audience and who know how many folks are reading this and remaining silent.
Also, I’m trying to emphasize how REALLY different non-Jewish and Jewish culture and identity are. If you were to, for example, read the daily lessons in Artscroll’s A Daily Dose of Torah, and particularly the sections on Mishnah and Gemara, they describe a world that, at least for me, is very difficult to grasp.
I sometimes imagine myself in a classroom setting as I read, interacting with Orthodox Jewish students and the Rabbi teaching the course. In attempting to discuss what I’m studying, I wouldn’t even know where to begin.
If Messianic Judaism needs a social, religious, and educational environment that is completely and totally Jewish in all respects, one such as the “environment” offered within “Daily Dose of Torah” or any such similar study, how well would most Messianic Gentiles fit in?
That’s what I’m attempting to communicate. It’s not enough to give mental assent to the fact that Yeshua is Jewish. Once we decide to approach our faith in a Messianic Jewish context, and recognize it as a Judaism and not a Gentile Christian religion, all the rules change.
Most MJ congregations have adapted to accomodate Gentile participants and the Jews who were not raised within an observant family nor educated in Jewish/Hebrew schools (which are probably the majority of Jewish in MJ in America). However, imagine an MJ synagogue which was all but indistinguishable from an Orthodox synagogue. What would that sort of culture shock be like for the rest of us?
Certainly Christianity isn’t neglected within its own context. Far from it. Christianity is well and truly self-contained and self-perpetuating when left within its own context.
However, take Christians out of that context and expose them to a truly alien culture as I described above to Drake, and what happens?
So why would I want to remove Christians from the Church culture? Actually, I don’t. If people find meaning and purpose in the Church, that’s a good thing. The Church does much good in the world, such as feeding the hungry, building homes and hospitals in impoverish lands, visiting the sick and homebound, and many other things.
But there are those of us who have found we are not “at home” in our local churches. I had a very interesting two year sojourn in a small Baptist church where I live. I might as well have been a fish trying to live in a community of sparrows. I didn’t even begin to fit in.
But while in an educational/knowledge/study sense, I am a better fit in Messianic Judaism, given that it is a Judaism (my perspective), I have come to realize that I don’t have a place there either. That’s not true for a lot of non-Jews, since the majority of attendees/members of MJ congregations in America are non-Jewish. Nevertheless, if one of the goals of MJ is to create truly Jewish community by Jews and for Jews in Messiah, then it goes back to a question I asked some weeks ago: What am I, Chopped Liver?
The answer is “of course, not.” But then what am I? For me personally, the jury is still out. All I know for certain is that we have a relationship with God, albeit through the Jewish Messiah, and that’s the only “definition” we can hold onto.
Exactly! With the advent of modern Messianic Judaism, and particularly at this current point of development, we have an opportunity to realize just what we’re attempting to integrate: non-Jewish disciples who have come to certain conclusions about the goyishe church and who are now trying to find a place within a Jewish context. No, not an easy thing to do at all. And yet, it took us nearly 2,000 years of evolution and change to create the right conditions for this realization to occur.
Tikkun Olam? Now we non-Jewish believers are in a position to understand what that means. In part, it means repenting of those 2,000 years of the Church being anti-Judaism, do an about face, and this time actually encourage Jewish devotion to Torah and the mitzvot as a mechanism by which we prepare the world to be occupied by the King.
Unfortunately, large portions of Christian tradition, especially the traditions surrounding how the Bible is interpreted are anti-Jewish, anti-Judaism, and distorts God’s continuing plan for the Jewish people and the centrality of Israel.
Maybe we’re using “tradition” differently? I see what you’re saying in terms of the theological framework. Much would need to change in order to bring Christianity within the BE framework. But with regard to actual practice, do you see any concrete examples of things that would need to be abandoned in order to remove the anti-Jewish bent the Church has adopted the past 2,000 years? Honestly, I think a revised liturgy in some churches, updated hymnals in others, and most of what exists would not be problematic. Am I missing something? Or many things? Lol
Kari, we probably are using the word “tradition” differently. I believe that now Christians, from theologians, to pastors, to the laity interpret the Bible is based less on objective examination of the text within their original contexts and more on a tradition of interpretation based, ultimately, on how the church fathers refactored Christianity to eliminate its Jewish origins and influence in the first few centuries of what we now call “Christianity”.
As far as traditions such as Sunday worship, Christmas, and such, no, they aren’t particularly anti-Jewish, although historically Easter has been a problem since after every Passion Play there was usually a pogrom. Today, that isn’t the case since I don’t see many Christians referring to Jewish as “Christ killers,” but back in the day, it was a different story.
All that said, when I was referencing tradition, I meant the process upon which Evangelical exegesis is built.
Yes, I see your point. The “tradition” of Biblical interpretation would need to change drastically. That’s what I was referring to as the Identity Crisis.
Ruth – I want to be like you when I grow up! I read through much of “The Thread That Would Not End” and your most recent post, and I could read what you have to write all day long! Though hanging in person is MUCH better by far! I so wish we lived closer.
“If Messianic Judaism needs a social, religious, and educational environment that is completely and totally Jewish in all respects,”
From everything I’ve witnessed and the discussions I’ve had, the reason for wanting to limit Gentiles within MJ is because they are typically not there to build up the Jewish people, or the messianic Jewish movement. Rather, they are there to meet their own needs. Since they are largely unaware of the issues Jews have dealt with over the last two millennia, and predictable insecurities bloom when exposed to Jewish ways, problems abound.
“However, imagine an MJ synagogue which was all but indistinguishable from an Orthodox synagogue. What would that sort of culture shock be like for the rest of us?”
It is primarily Gentiles who are fixated on and trying to emulate Orthodox Judaism; most Jews have little interest in the excesses of orthodoxy and aren’t keen on going that route.
So what would an exclusively Jewish MJ synagogue look like?
Lol, that depends on who you ask.
I am involved to build up and strengthen this movement because it has been the desire of my heart (to heal old wounds and build bridges) for 30 years. As a “worker bee” I don’t believe it’s my place to determine what the congregation ought to be/look like, but rather help create space to nurture Jews, and Orthodoxy usually is a repellent, not a draw.
However, until we (as in, the “chosen” Jews and the “chosen” Gentiles) accept ourselves—and the limitations and boundaries God decreed—and likewise accept the “other” and their boundaries, I doubt we will make much meaningful progress.
James, I’ve only heard people discuss “predominantly Jewish” congregations, not “exclusively Jewish.” Ruth?
I’ve heard some, in exasperation, discuss exclusively Jewish congregations with the exception of gentile spouses/kids.
From my experience, Gentiles who are intimately involved with Jewish family tend to be more sensitive to and aware of their struggles and that there are clear differences between Jewish family and life experiences and that of non-Jewish Christians, hence a more balanced individual less apt to attempt a “Jew-ish”identity.
Kari (not Lisa, the gal behind me at work. I meant no disrespect):
I’m at work so I cannot really respond like I want to. I understand your points about Purim and Yom HaShoah. I’m not Sola Scriptura either. I’m not that naive (Although Purim is technically codified in the Tanakh in Esther 9). I like Joseph Campbell and mono-myth too much to think like a Protestant.
What I’m saying is that ALL of Christian praxis was handpicked, or co-opted from Judaism. It expresses no covenant at all. The New Covenant is with Israel, whom Jesus came to save. And NONE of it is mandatory for Gentiles. Even the Eucharist is for Jews; I cannot take the “cup of the New Covenant.” Israel alone was the party to it. That would be appropriation of someone else’s ritual meal. No? I’m not saying all gentile expression should be rooted in divine decree; I’m saying that beyond prayer and head-belief – none of it is. And that’s a pill.
Tradition around the edges of a vast history, covenants, explicit mitzvot to shape life, temple cult, prophets, theophanies, a kingdom, and daring rescues…yeah. Tradition is a nice garnish to all that. But your entire life being handpicked, borrowed – and queerly enough not even required of you by your own G-d – is positively kindergarten. I’m sorry. No comparison. Tibetan sand wheels; intricate layers, no center object, blows away in the wind. Maybe it’s behind why Christianity is collapsing.
My inner source critic thinks of an Iron Age agro-religion under the “E source” that had little heed to the inner world or daily lives of its foreign tributaries. It morphed into an ethical religion when crime and lending became an issue in the “D source.” Then when the temple was in danger from Babylonian oppression, it morphed again into an Axis Mundi to unite the world in peace with the “P” source and Proto-Isaiah. The dark Occamist inside me proffers that Gentile inclusion themes represented a new geopolitical posture adopted in scribal turns of phrase; they wanted to reconcile with surrounding nations by making them feel as though they had a share in Torah without actually saying it outright. I wonder if the writers knew at the time that billions would pin their hopes on it ages later. That’s what cynical Drake thinks, and all the dissonance this generates that shows no sign of abating for the rest of my life, I still hold hope that someone is at the wheel.
Do I still come off as Sola Scriptura, Kari?
Whatever you believe or end up believing, all this is a hard shot. Gentiles have belief in G-d, Messiah, and Kindness. That’s it. The rest is high-fructose. Be happy I’m being remade in Messiah? I don’t feel remade! *snark* Great! So I’m being remade! But what does that even mean anymore if it doesn’t actually look like anything in this world? Isn’t that the very point of Moshaich?
And yes. Yes I do write fiction. And it appears that MGs are endeavoring to do the same by building an identity and plotting a cartography for it ex nihilo. What a godlike faculty! Ya know, whenever I do write, I write based on things that happened to me or the people I care about, and then I scriven them into a fiction at a Panera. Writers do it all the time. Then I put the book down and rest in the fuzzy assurance that none of it was real. It would be the funniest thing if people fished my notes out of a vault and built their lives on it. I’m two-bit chump change in my own profession, but I don’t think *any* writer deserves that kind of aplomb.
Who among us here in this bold, new identity endeavor for millions to coming us can claim Inspiration with a straight face?
Cue Waylon Jennings drawling, “Welp! It’s gonna take a Joseph Smith to get our goy boys outta this jamb! Hyuk Hyuk!”… and then the General Lee jumps over the Torah.
I gotta get lunch.
* millions coming after us.
That’s putting it in stark terms, to compare it to Japan. Anthony Bordain recently did an episode of “No Reservation” based in I think it was Japan. (One of their traditions, while they are team building, is to consider a person they are honoring to be the older brother.) He did an episode in an earlier year (unless it was when his show was something else, like “Parts Unknown” or some other name) in Tokyo. One of his responses there was, “That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.”
I seem to be seeing here reflections of the gentile lament described in Jer.16:19, as they come to HaShem from the ends of the earth saying: “Our forefathers have inherited nothing but falsity, futility, and worthlessness”. Drake seems to be almost whining: “So what do we do now?” But I don’t think that these are the sentiments of those Christians who have inherited a hatred of Judaism. That antipathy seems to me much more to reflect ancient Roman arrogance toward Jews who wouldn’t submit to gentile hegemony and the values and the gods that inspired it. Nonetheless, when this sentiment was passed along to Roman Imperial Christianity, it didn’t have far to look in adapting Rav Yeshua’s criticisms of specific shortcomings among some Jews to turn them against all Jews for all time. For Christianity in particular, this accursed gentile sentiment has wrought all manner of the “falsity, futility, and worthlessness” cited in the above passage.
But what of gentiles today who turn to Yeshua? How many still inherit these ancient teachings of disdain? Or, if they challenge those teachings, will the feelings of resentment still linger, now fueled by insecurity and uncertainty? Will they be exacerbated by encountering Jews who still cite defensive polemics developed in earlier periods, or Jews who themselves have inherited an internalized disdain or insecurity about traditional Judaism? Will it continue to taint newly developing praxis? The prophecy cited above is followed by a question about whether humans can make (or, perhaps, define) gods for themselves, along with the observation that these are not actually gods, and a declaration by HaShem that: “This time I will make them experience My Power and My Might, and they shall know that My name is HaShem.” That prophecy will require some “unpacking”.
What might it mean for non-Jews to begin to discover the “purposes” implicit in the “name” of HaShem? It seems to me that James and others here represented have rightly described some of the societally-redeeming praxis of those who seek to aid the impoverished, the needy, the ill, the insufficiently educated, the under-employed or jobless, the homeless, and the disadvantaged, in venues both foreign and domestic. Emulating the Jewish mitzvah of Tikkun Ha’Olam is unquestionably a valid means for non-Jews to express the principles of Torah that apply to all of humanity. They can even do this together with Jews on the same teams in the same venues without much concern about “stepping on Jewish toes” (so to speak). They can likewise emulate Torah values of sexual clarity and distinction, and values of justice and integrity, as they pursue such efforts of redemption. They can likewise gather in a variety of meeting structures and timings to discuss such values and to learn how they are derived from Torah. They can explore the meaning of HaShem’s nature as an eternally reliable promise-keeper, both to Jews and to non-Jews who are devoted to Rav Yeshua. They can compose and perform cultural expressions that express these principles (e.g., books, films, plays, dances, music, even congregational singing and prayers). In expressing these principles, they also will undoubtedly reflect other Jewish mitzvot, not because they are trying specifically to do so but because of the Torah values they are enacting. In doing so, they will also undoubtedly experience HaShem’s Power and Might, as cited in the above prophecy. If their priority and focus is on enacting HaShem’s principles rather than on emulating Jewish praxis per se, they will likely come inadvertently to resemble Jewish praxis in some ways, but not as copycats or dissimulators, and perhaps as those who have benefitted from someone else’s (i.e., Jewish) experience and knowledge. Those who act in this way are unlikely to suffer from insecurity or uncertainty due to not being Jewish or to not having an equivalent covenant or to learning that their predecessors developed and disseminated falsity, futility, and worthlessness. They will not continue prior habits of antipathy toward Jews discussed in the above essay and its title, but rather they will pursue whatever learning they require in order to do and to think things that are much better for everyone, and to enjoy the benefits of trusting HaShem.
Now, those who are more intimately involved with Jews per se have additional challenges. They must confront not only their own non-Jewish identity, but also the formulation of the identity of a Jewish partner and of corresponding Jewish communal relationships. They must address the reflections of historical antipathy toward Judaism that have become embedded in Jewish fears and even in self-loathing evidenced in more extreme cases. We might consider the effects of a kind of Stockholm Syndrome, in which victims absorb the views of their victimizers in an irrational hope of becoming less visibly a target for their persecutors. I view this as the source of Jewish antipathy toward orthodox expressions of Judaism. An alternative challenge for some non-Jews (like James, perhaps) is to cope with Jews who have thrown off the yoke of what I described as akin to a Jewish Stockholm Syndrome and have adopted a militant orthodoxy in its place. Transitions within a Jewish framework can be just as unsettling as those among non-Jews who have learned about prior “falsity, futility, and worthlessness”. However, these challenges may be a bit beyond those addressed by James’ original essay above about Christian antipathy toward Judaism.
Sorry to step in to your comment, but:
“I believe that now Christians, from theologians, to pastors, to the laity interpret the Bible is based less on objective examination of the text within their original contexts and more on a tradition of interpretation based, ultimately, on how the church fathers refactored Christianity to eliminate its Jewish origins and influence in the first few centuries of what we now call “Christianity”.
Obviously you’re right James, but I am so encouraged by those courageous souls who fight “the good fight” and stand for truth within their own “tradition”, often at a high personal cost.
R. Kendall Soulen, Creig Blazing, and many others come to mind who are fighting to educate the Christian world and right the past wrongs and I think it is a far better model than abandoning Christianity, because the beauty and light that it’s brought into the world is inescapable. It is by far more right than it is wrong and that is why the horrible sins of RT must be eradicated. Gentiles are far better served, as are communities and congregations, with a strong Christian church, I can only imagine if they begin to learn of the past, and then repent of it, not of Christianity.
“historically Easter has been a problem since after every Passion Play there was usually a pogrom. Today, that isn’t the case since I don’t see many Christians referring to Jewish as “Christ killers,” but back in the day, it was a different story.”
My daughter has been called a “Christ-killer” as a young teenager. Granted, only by Catholics. (She’s also been called an “‘f-ing’ Jew” with an “big ‘f-ing’ Jewish nose”, by a stranger. Not sure of the religious orientation of that one though. 😉 )
However, I also know devoted “cradle” Catholics—including our neighbors and some of my clients—who are very loving and respectful
of Jews (even bringing Hanukkah gifts over) and who say the most astonishingly unbelievable things, as in, they “get it” that Jews are their elder brother, were and remain God’s chosen people, etc.
I just saw your comment and thank you for your kind words. I agree, in person with you is better! I thought of you last week in LA. I was hoping you’d be there!
@James, I should have closed my italics (that you taught me how to do) and the name is “Craig Blazing” not “Creig”. If I could actually see this print on the iPad mini I’d be in better shape. 🙂
SWJ, that last post makes sense. (I don’t think it’s exclusively family members who can understand and be balanced, but still.)
Responding to your previous post, I’ll say the rabbi of my Messianic congregation had great respect for Orthodox Judaism and conveyed this (but also respected others). (I think he would have liked to be an Orthodox rebbi, but, raised Conservative — yet with Orthodox tradition — he was realistic about his own qualifications.)
Oops, you’ve added three more posts (SWJ) since I looked and responded. Hopefully, it will be discernable which ones I referred to…
let’s see… 9:40 and 11:15
Which kind of goes to the heart of this blog post, the needs of non-Jews being imposed on Messianic Judaism and sometimes on Judaism and Jewish people in general.
As far as the optimal MJ synagogue, I guess if we’re talking about a Jewish-only environment, then the Jews creating and operating said shul should make that determination.
@Kari: This might help: The Necessity of Messianic Jewish Community.
@PL: I assume this is the Gentile lament you have in mind (NASB translation):
According to this, God will repay us (we, non-Jews) for our iniquity and sin for polluting the Land with idols. Does this really address non-Jewish disciples of Rav Yeshua?
As you say, it doesn’t seem likely except for the part of inheriting falsehood, futility, and things of no profit.
Anyone can help repair the world. You don’t have to be Jewish to do that and in fact, I think we’re pretty necessary in repairing the world, particularly repairing some of the historic damage the Church has done to Judaism and Jewish people.
The other part, as you say, is that we don’t have to be Jewish in order to seek God. The Bible is replete with non-Jews who turned to God but not necessarily to Judaism. That is our path.
Such as me and thee, for example.
You also said:
Unfortunately, at least in my experience, that doesn’t filter down to most local churches.
“Such as me and thee, for example.”
And Kati makes three!
“the rabbi of my Messianic congregation had great respect for Orthodox Judaism and conveyed this (but also respected others).”
Most Jewish people have turned away from Orthodox Judaism and it isn’t a draw for them. At the same time, all forms of Judaism today must respond to rabbinic Judaism, on some level.
Well, James, you’ve gone and done it again. 🙂 Sure glad you did.
Rather than pop in for this wonderful discussion going on, I would like to comment on a short note you had in your post:
Although my father’s recent illness is the primary reason I chose to abandon plans to be in Israel right now, another reason was the idea that, as a Gentile (and a flawed, imperfect human being) who is oriented toward but can never be a part of Israel, who am I to set foot in the Holy Land?
First, I’m sorry about your dad and pray for his good health.
Who are you to set foot in the Holy Land?
To answer that, I need to point out how much the workers in Israel depend on tourism. Living in south Florida, the daughter of a retired waitress/restaurant manager, former waitress myself, and a mother of three men who work in the restaurant business, I know how much we depend on tourism to support our families. When a hurricane comes (or even a scare) we cringe, not because of the storm, but the aftermath it brings, even if we escape unscathed by the winds.
Last year when I had to cancel a tour I was leading due to the participants’ fear of the Gaza situation, my heart broke for those trying to support their families in tourism.
So to answer your question who are you to set foot in the Holy Land? You are a Gentile believer in Messiah looking to bless those who live in the land, not with charity, but with dignity as they earn their living.
Thanks, Ro. Dad’s having a “procedure” tomorrow, so we’ll see how that goes. It’s not supposed to be serious but it’s an all day thing and, after all, he’s over 80.
For years, I’ve wanted to see Israel, to pray at the kotel, to take the pilgrimage, so to speak, that most disciples of the Master desire to take.
However, the emphasis of Jews for Messianic Judaism and Jews (including Messianic Jews) for Israel, made me rethink that desire. I was coming pretty close to going and would actually have been there right now, but then the thing with my Dad came up at more or less that same time as my self-doubts, so they dovetailed into each other.
I don’t want to be thousands of miles away if my parents need me. During one of my Dad’s previous procedures, I had to fly to Salt Lake City on short notice to drive them back to their home in Southwestern Utah. I wouldn’t want to be half a world away if they needed my help again.
I can’t say that seeking a new level of humility doesn’t come at a cost. There’s a fine line between humility and humiliation and there are times when it’s difficult to tell the difference. Although I seem to share every shred of personal information about myself on this blog, in reality, there’s plenty I don’t share. Maybe God really is telling me to cool my jets, stay put, and not to get ambitious about what I think I want or need.
I understand, completely, James. When I lost my dad, I was downstairs in the hospital parking lot on a conference call for a brand new job. So close, yet so far away.
Obviously, James, if your wife decides she wants to go there with you or move there with you, I hope you won’t and doubt you would hesitate.
Kari wrote: “No. Adopted sons. Precious, dear and wholly loved. Also set apart to bring the knowledge of G-d into a very broken world. Co-heirs with Messiah. Nothing “maybe” about that.”
Set apart? As in, “asher kiddeshanu bimitzvotav?”
After 2,000 years, the vast majority of these vaunted lightbringers were completely wrong about so many things; pogroms, replacement theology, heaven over life beginning here, appropriations, transubstantiation, ignoring niddah law while hating gays, botching atonement, G-d’s nature, Israel, culture wars, science battles, Jesus himself, easy-believism, Torah, fake tradition, Mariology, Calvin, revivalism, killing native peoples, priestly celibacy, child rape, hellfire and brimstone, reading themselves into the Bible, Liberation Theology, etc. It’s blinkered beyond recognition.
And the landscape today? After 2,000 years, faith is in shambles in the US, and Europe is crumbling. This is because gentiles had to invent a religion for billions in order to hide the shame of G-d’s silence regarding them. Every century this faith insecurity rears its head in the form of bellicose pep-rallies (Heh. Maybe Christians have more in common with the zealous Mohammedans than I thought). But now the jig is up and everyone of my generation knows it, as millennials trend toward faith abandonment and secularism. Today, a small minority of MGs kinda, sorta, maybe “get” the message, although realizing they don’t really fit into it in any clear way. But hey: we can concoct a better holy way for ourselves this time around!
“Set apart to bring the knowledge of G-d into a broken world?”
Kari: knowledge is what broke the world.
Swing and a miss.
SWJ, I will remember the beauty that respect for all of these put in his soul and into congregational community conversation.
Okay, so I wasn’t going to jump into this conversation, but…
Here’s something I find so odd. I am putting together an itinerary for a trip to Israel in Oct for a friend and myself. We want to worship with Messianics while in the Land. I wrote to two different congregations in Jerusalem, asking if we could join them for a Shabbat service. One I’ve not heard from and the other discouraged our attendance.
Now I understand they might not want to be inundated with tourists, but I made it a point to let them know I was a member of a Messianic synagogue in south Florida, one that has had dealings with them.
In all this, I also wrote to the Ministry of Tourism to see if there was someplace not quite as expensive as hotels for Shabbat dinner. (My friend and I are staying in hostels and trying to keep costs down.)
Here’s the first part of the email:
Friday evening, the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath, is marked by synagogues services (anybody can attend), followed by a multi-course family dinner that begins with the blessings over the wine and bread.
There it is – in Judaism, the synagogue service is open to anyone. Of course, it is a given that a visitor would abide by their customs and practices. But in Messianic Judaism, I am discouraged from attending? I just find that sad.
Perhaps if our brothers would develop their own praxis, or walk in the praxis of Judaism, we could abide by it.
I think James made a perfect observation when he said,
“Most MJ congregations have adapted to accommodate Gentile participants and the Jews who were not raised within an observant family nor educated in Jewish/Hebrew schools (which are probably the majority of Jewish in MJ in America).”
Is it that the congregations have adapted to accommodate Gentiles? Or are they simply beginning the return back to Judaism, learning one thing at a time, and incorporating it into the life of the congregation?
Perhaps this is an irritant to those who were raised in an Orthodox family, but what of those raised in secularism? Or Conservativism? Or Reformism? OR Christianity? There’s a lot that has to be unlearned and learned.
I believe these congregations are the very bridge that is needed. For instance, the synagogue where I attend does things that I am sure are not done in an Orthodox synagogue (much like in Reform and Conservative synagogues). But they also do things that are not done in a church. It is a bridge pointing back to Judaism, even and especially for the Jewish believers.
Drake, you’re killing me! I’ve got four little kids at home. I cannot possibly keep up with your posts. Are your fingertips burning yet? Lol
Here’s the thing. We always have a choice in life. Do we want to see only the dark and terrible, or do we want to see the light and goodness, too?
I don’t believe G-d has been silent with regard to the Church. Yes, LOTS of ugliness has ensued (time and brevity prevent me from saying more, but I am aware of the atrocities throughout the last 2,000 years).. G-d’s plan has always been about a remnant, among Israel and among the nations. Again, for brevity’s sake, I will simply point out that Yeshua warned us about tares among the wheat and violent men trying to take the Kingdom by force. That is not a reflection of those who were set apart. If you look around, you’ll also find ample examples of people showing compassion, lifting the burdens of those in poverty, caring for orphans, healing the broken. There are non-Jews involved in Tikkun Olam because they love Messiah. Your cynicism must contend with those things. It is there, too, if you want to see it, but the choice is before each one of us. The world is a terribly broken place right now, but there is light breaking through, too. People like you see the problems (and we need to see the problems). People like me see the hope (and we need to see the hope so we don’t get swallowed by the problems).
I didn’t swing and miss, Drake. I dared to see the good through the fog of the bad.
And they’re all dressed like Batman. 😀
Since my series of recent blog posts has been a stressor on at least some of our self-esteems, I thought I’d counter that with this blues chart by Keb’ Mo’ called “I’m Amazing”.
YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgzJ3RhxByE
Well of course they are, James! 🙂 Biggest Pea gets to go on a road trip with daddy to Comic Con in a few weeks! Mommy is greener than the Hulk, but at almost 8 months pregnant, I really can’t see SDCC being any fun with four kids in tow. She doesn’t know yet where this road trip is headed, but I can predict the level of excitement will be nuclear when she finds out! 😀
Drake – I failed to add after “and we need to see the problems . . . so we can work to repair them.” I was in a hurry, but I hope I made my point clearly that we need both perspectives.
James, did my response to the Batman comment disappear?
@SWJ, I was practically dying of curiosity (and some jealousy, to be honest) reading your post about the special teaching. So happy to know you were up for the road trip!
We’ll be down for a quick weekend in July, but I don’t think we’ll make it to AZS. I’d love to know next time you’re planning to go. Maybe we can coordinate!
@James — What’s this hesitancy about tourism to Israel? I can understand uncertainty about the present timing when your father is facing medical procedures, but, hey, you know eventually you’ll have an excuse for yearly trips at Sukkot. Nothing says you can’t start practicing now, in anticipation of the messianic era.
Further, as Marleen hinted, you might end up accompanying your wife on aliyah, and a little advance scouting is to be recommended. Have you asked your wife recently if she might like a nice vacation in a sunny Mediterranean clime?
@Ro — You’re writing to make an appointment to attend services at an MJ shul in Jerusalem? This seems to me a bit above and beyond, since I doubt you’d feel you had to do so for any traditional shul. Or maybe I should ask how many additional tourists you were thinking to bring to shul with you? Mine has been a bit pressed for space until we were able to move back into our just-renovated building a couple of weeks ago. Space is still not unlimited — after all, we’re not in a huge building like the “Great Synagogue” on King George street — and our offices have been pre-occupied with the moving process, so if ours was the one that didn’t reply, perhaps that is the reason.
@Drake — You’re right that gentile disciples may not have justification to say: “asher kidd’shanu b’mitzvotav”, but that doesn’t prevent them from praying something like: “asher kidd’shanu b’damo shel moshia’h ben-Yosef”, even adding: “v’hakrivenu l’amo”. (Let me know if the translation gives you any difficulty, but your previous missives suggest that you’ll manage.)
@ PL – not writing to make an appointment but addresses and service times not posted on their website ( which I can understand given tourism).
Regarding a”bridge” would you prefer the term “funnel”?
OBTW, Ro — At one time it was somewhat popular to envision MJ as a sort of bridge between two worlds (Christian and Jewish). That seemed like an idealistic notion. But then some began to analyze its implications. For example, what is the purpose of a bridge but to enable travel and commerce between its terminals? While Jewish believers were, in fact, in need of a means to transition from the Christian-dominated world in which they often found themselves to a more Jewish environment, they did not need a return ticket. Gentile believers did not need to make this trip, though they did need to obtain information and materials, hence what they needed was more of a marketplace than a bridge. I believe, in the history of the London bridge, it did serve as a marketplace between two districts. And, certainly, a bridge can facilitate tourism, though it is hardly a place to call home. So, really, MJ cannot be the bridge itself if it is actually intended to represent a destination, and MJ shuls should not serve as an in-between marketplace, though they might host conferences for such a purpose and send representatives to other marketplace venues (perhaps “MG” shuls?). For Jewish would-be disciples to deepen their Jewishness from secular, Reform, or even Conservative backgrounds, they might need still to engage in some tourism and marketplace activities in order to support their transition, so bridges are still needed — but it must be realized that the bridges are not MJ but only a means to get there. A model may be drawn from the modern return to Israel from exile. It has been certainly a transitional process, but the transition is unidirectional and redemptive. It has a settled goal in view, and it is not merely an entertaining journey undertaken for the joys of traveling.
Forgot to mention PL, there are only 2 of us and I let them know.
Not to be too coy about this info, Ro, but you and your friend may visit me at RY on “N” street at the corner of “U”. I begin davening Psukei d’Zimra of Shabbat shaharit ~ 8:45am, with the family & Torah services beginning for the majority of the congregation ~ 10am.
I think I’ll pass on both bridge and funnel analogies, particularly since the transition I mentioned tends to be an uphill struggle in any case, and passing through a funnel is painstaking enough even when gravity is working for you. Upward through a funnel would thus seem to require more than a miracle. [:)]
I would love to visit you PL! Can you email the information? firstname.lastname@example.org
We are coming in October.
@Kari: Almost 8 months pregnant? Nope. Not going to SDCC. Have Daddy take the kids so you can get a break. 😉
I can see your “Batman” response. Can’t you?
@PL: I suppose it’s irrational, but as I continue to delve into all these issues I write about, I also continue to delve into my personality and my short comings and frankly, I don’t feel in the right “place” spiritually to be in Israel right now. Since you invoke annual visits to Jerusalem for Sukkot (my financies better be able to bear up under all of that international travel), I’m aware that one has to be cleansed before offering sacrifices. I’m not there yet.
As far as aliyah, my wife mentioned it a couple of times in passing, mostly when expressing her frustration over the anti-Israel policies of our current U.S. President, but she hasn’t said any more about it. I doubt it’s a serious thought in her mind. Of course, if she should make that decision, I’d move with her, but that’s a different kettle of fish, so to speak.
@James – I’m jealous enough that the two of them are going! Seriously, though, it takes the two of us working together to keep track of everyone when it’s not particularly crowded! We have two toddlers in the family. Far too much potential for running off at a place like that! It’ll be great daddy/daughter bonding time.
As soon as I posted the question about my Batman reply, it popped up. My husband affectionately refers to me as a cylon. He says my “advanced” tech is incompatible with this primitive earthly tech. I’m beginning to wonder. 😉
Well, James, maybe in the messianic era, with so many travelers, the airfares may become more reasonable. As for cleansing in a mikvah of repentance, a la Yohanan the immerser, we’ve got this nifty river called the Jordan that’s very popular. [:)] Now, I haven’t been there recently, but rumor has it that in some seasons the river can be chilly and cold, (Hallelujah!). And I can’t suggest any local restaurants, but if there isn’t at least one entrepreneur who has named a café after Michael’s rowboat onshore, I’d have to say that an advertising opportunity has been missed. On the other hand, we’ve got some nice beaches near Ashkelon (north of Gaza) that once enticed an Ethiopian outta his chariot to take a dip, and quite a few modern former Ethiopians have chosen to settle in Ashkelon (though not necessarily for that reason). Last summer, though, it was advisable to check the local weather forecasts before heading to the beach, in case of possible rocket showers. As for aliyah, I’d have to recommend the grilled fish rather than a kettle of ’em, but that’s up to you. Meanwhile, you’ll have to pardon me while I pry my tongue away from my cheek….
“At one time it was somewhat popular to envision MJ as a sort of bridge between two worlds (Christian and Jewish).
Since I used the word “bridge” in one of my comments, saying that it is my purpose for involvement in MJ, I want to clarify that my meaning was much different than the excellent analogy you offer, and frankly I hadn’t thought of it that way before, so thank you!
My point in using the term was regarding relationship building between Christians and Jews. As in healing old wounds that I honestly didn’t (yet) understand the reason for. In my fantasy, both sides remained in their own identity (I had no idea anyone would fake a Jewish identity, demand a “spiritual” Jewish identity, or attempt to create one out of thin air by insisting “God told them they were Jewish”) but they would be willing to learn about and love the “other”.
We are planning another trip so I will definitely let you know! The main reason for this one was to keep me away from normal activity so I could rest. Others were to visit hubby’s relatives and his grandparents graves and synagogue, and I’ll be posting about that soon-ish.
PL: The poor Ethiopian was a eunuch. I suppose dipping unmindfully in cold water might make him a one-trick pony.
Man, that story makes me squirm. Ew.
@Drake — I’m sure that the Ethiopian eunuch had long since become accustomed to bathing in water of varying temperatures, particularly since he was also identified as a servant of the Kandaké (Queen), so I don’t quite understand why the story should make you squirm (unless you’re squeamish about the thought of eunuchs in general, or if it matters to you whether their sterilization surgery was partial or radical).
@Kari: I dunno. The remake/reboot of Battlestar Galactica had humanoid Cylons that seemed to match up with humans all too well.
Oh, you are in fine form today. 😀
All sterilization is radical. Just ew.
Well, not exactly, Drake — “Radical”, in this case, describes complete genital removal, which was not done to all eunuchs. In many cases, testicular removal alone was deemed adequate sterilization for a eunuch. However, modern sterilization via vasectomy would not be considered sufficient to define a eunuch, nor would certain forms of chemical sterilization. You may still say: “ew” if you are squeamish about such clinical details, but calling them all “radical” would be imprecise at best.
I was at a discussion once where it was suggested that the Ethiopian wasn’t a eunuch in the manner of physical “alteration” but rather as someone who was celibate or otherwise “set apart” in some fashion because of his high rank in the court of Kandake (Candace). Does that help, Drake?
In my focus on physical clinical description of a eunuch, I did neglect figurative definitions such as James suggested, which may be in view as one of three descriptions in Rav Yeshua’s observation in Mt.19:12.
PL wrote: “Drake — You’re right that gentile disciples may not have justification to say: “asher kidd’shanu b’mitzvotav”, but that doesn’t prevent them from praying something like: “asher kidd’shanu b’damo shel moshia’h ben-Yosef”, even adding: “v’hakrivenu l’amo”.
Again, Gentiles had salvation and prophecy before Jesus. How his death and believing in it makes gentiles more sanctified I don’t really see. Ezekiel speaks of the Messianic Eon, and I assume then as well as now we cannot eat of Pesach, observe shabbat, or say the prayers, and we will still have no mitzvot.
You have said that all men are sanctified to some degree as they were created in the image of G-d, and therefore holy. Yes? That was also true of Gentiles before the cross. Gentiles had prophets in the Tanakh, as well as salvation. G-d considered them to be sinning when they oppressed people. Right? Not only that, but you have suggested the legitimacy of Noahide laws. So they possessed a certain loose sanctity, but one that is below that of Jews:
1. Cohen Gadol
3. Davidic King
7. Animal Life
So in the spirit of Tanur Shel Achnai and the mystery of the broken klee, if sin were indeed already contaminating Gentiles before the cross, then they were already sanctified in the baseline, adamic, image-of-G-d sense and they were contaminating that sanctity. So there was already a level of sanctity for gentiles before the cross, a baseline from which to fall into sin.
So it appears to me that the death and resurrection of Messiah cleansed/atoned those gentiles who believed. But again, I don’t see how it added some new stratum of sanctity for gentiles. Why? The “madregas” of holiness before the Cross still seem the same after the Cross:
1. Cohen Gadol
3. Davidic King
7. Animal Life
I see the cleansing of gentiles and a subsequent fervor for righteous behavior, thus returning gentiles to their lower-tier level of required sanctity which already existed. I don’t really see the list change with the Cross, though. I understand how sacrifice can purge something that is already sanctified; I don’t understand how it’s supposed to sanctify us again or make us more sanctified.
The Christians would take that list and wipe most of it out. Theirs would look like:
1. Jew and Gentile Jesus believers
2. Lost people
G-d sanctified the descendants of Avraham above all Mankind, and the mitzvot describe the state of sanctity they were placed within. It does not seem plausible to proclaim sanctity – or any state for that matter- without describing it. Commandments detail what the sanctity looks like.
What G-d required of Gentiles before and after the Cross seems relatively undisturbed after the event. No new sanctity was described, really. No new commandments, that is. There is just a return to a baseline adamic sanctity for all men.
Hence, a gentile cannot say “asher kidd’shanu b’mitzvotav…”
, nor can he say: “asher kidd’shanu,” either in a messianic prayer. The most he could probably get away with is: “asher natan lanu et derekh hayeshua…” or something to that effect.
@Drake — Your lists of 7 are misleading, because not all sanctity is for the same purpose, nor is “kiddushin” a ranking system. And, apparently, you haven’t grasped the redemptive function of moshia’h ben-Yosef as a symbolic sacrifice that can affect the human spirit similarly to how animal sacrifices functioned in the Jewish sanctuaries. Kiddushin is not so much a state as a purpose, and one may lose or regain one’s sense of purpose or one’s sense of kiddushin. Sometimes this is for valid reasons such as specific sins or a general background of them, and sometimes it is merely an error of feeling or psychology. In either case it may be restored, and doing so was one purpose of sacrifice. You might view “derech ha-yeshua” as a path toward such restored sanctity; hence I suggest that “kidd’shanu b’damo shel moshia’h ben-Yosef” is a valid formulation. We’re talking about the reassembly and restoration of “the broken kli”.
It has occurred to me that in my stating that someone was realistic about qualifications (for being a rebbi, or not quite being qualified), I did not mean to imply the rabbi I was referring to wasn’t halachically Jewish. He was Conservative (on the Orthodox side of the spectrum in terms of experience) and the child of two Jewish parents from “the old country” (whatever country that may be for any particular person, one example being Hungary, another Poland, you get the idea).
PL: My list of 7 are a rough formulation, but when the Bible speaks of holiness outside of that ranking, it tends to specify it somehow. Of Jesus and Enoch, neither could enter the Holy of Holies. But that’s because Enoch became the Metatron and Jesus saw and was G-d. All gentiles living in the Messianic Age live the same way as those of their forefathers who were upright, seemingly. So I cannot imagine they are holier than ones born in the Tanakh somehow. To what end, it does not specify or describe, if so. Israel, on the other hand, still seems set apart in ages yet to be in the World to Come, while Gentiles in all their billions, are still simply called “the nations.”
I understand full well that Jesus dying on the cross was not a true sacrifice in the classical sense. That’s just a poetic likeness. So while true sacrifice lends givers and objects a certain holiness, it would seem that whatever holiness ascribed to Gentiles through Messiah would also be a poetic likeness of what holiness is.
Anything outside that rough list of 7 seems to be difficult to characterize, and hence making daring claims of their holiness seems hard unless it actually tells us how they are somehow holy outside that 7 (like Jesus or Enoch).
@Drake — Why are you trying to make comparisons between ancient and modern gentiles, or between those present with those yet to live in the messianic era? Why are you concerning yourself with who’s holier than whom? You cannot answer such questions with any certainty, and it would do you no good even if you could. What is important is the pursuit of holiness *now*, by the means that are available.
As for most of those who live in the messianic era, they will have passed through either a transformation described in 1Cor.15:53 or through the first resurrection process; hence they certainly will differ from all those who lived before then. Any who survive the extreme turmoil preceding that era will, of course, be as they are now, and we have no info about whether they also will have an option to undergo such a transformation (though I think Justice will provide it).
Those who deliberately set themselves apart from evil (as HaShem views it) must be considered “holy”. It is not helpful to quantify “how much” holiness they have acquired as of any given moment, especially for those seeking to continue its pursuit. It is not a status in which to revel, but rather a moving target to follow after, and it may be recognized by its characteristic behaviors and attitudes. All those who turn to HaShem, He will not turn away; though they must follow trustingly and without presumptions about their “status”. “Whosoever will, may come”; and all those who will shall find that they have a marvelous destiny and a share in the grandest purpose which is the pursuit of human redemption that begins in their own personality.
The management of expectations is not solely a matter of recognizing limitations, but also one of directing aspiration toward real potentials. Rav Yeshua was constrained from service in the earthly mikdash, and from entering its most holy place, yet he was accorded the highest position of priestly service in the heavenly sanctuary upon which it was modeled. For all that gentiles are constrained relative to the Jewish covenant, they are not prohibited from participation in the kingdom of heaven. They merely need to learn well how to do what they may do.
@PL – Beautiful words, beautifully said.
I keep returning (in my life personally and in this thread) to the lesson we can learn from Dayenu. It can be extremely hard to accept that what we’ve been given is enough, especially when we feel a lack, but I’ve found it’s an extremely important first step in grasping our Purpose. You’ve reminded us all that even Rav Yeshua had to contend with that reality. Thank you!
On a personal note, I just don’t jive well with claims about Gentiles that cannot be backed up. Claims that might get hopes up, more to point, only to bring them down. Boaz Michael said that Divine Invitation was an accident, and Church says that Gentiles can be The Remnant or some sort of Elect.
Telling Gentiles that they are cleansed my Messiah to return to a pre-existing bar of holiness from Adam seems more realistic to ween them on the hope that now they are holier in some sort of way.
Expectations management, they call it in PR.
“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Revelation reads.
Now are the Gentiles in Ephesus really priests somewhere? No. That’s just poetry.
You could make the case that such a line is directed at Jews living there, but you’re still just proving my point.
I agree. It’s what I’m trying to say in today’s and tomorrow’s blog posts.
Yes, exactly. Thank you for that.
PL Wrote: “Why are you concerning yourself with who’s holier than whom? You cannot answer such questions with any certainty.”
Au contraire! The Bible says this all the time. This is holy. This is especially holy. It redeems people, then redeems firstborn among those people in exchange for one tribe, then divides them into sacred regiments and puts leaders over them who can see the Ark. So yes. You can answer questions of holiness with darned near certainty in the Levitical world. Heavenly, it gets more gooey.
Otherwise, holiness means something very specific, and again I go off of rabbinic sources and Jacob Milgrom. People sling the word around and interchange it with other words very liberally. Man is already holy in a baseline sense of being human, or made more holy by covenant, and his behavior as a tsaddik upkeeps that holiness. “Tsaddik” and “holy” are not interchangeable words. Noah was a tsaddik, but Hophni and Phineas were more holy than Noah was simply because of who they were and what their destiny and identity was, regardless of their status as taddikim or not.
It’s kind of like people using *chol* and *tahor* and *kosher* and *kadosh* interchangeably. While they are sometimes found in the same klee, not always. It’s something that grinds my gears in these debates. Leaven is unkosher for a week, kosher in all others. Priestly food is unkosher for an Israelite despite being tahor, but kosher for a priest because it is kadosh. Pig, however, is unkosher for Israelites or priests because it is tamei when dead, but kosher to send to a gentile to slaughter.
Holy, upright, enlightened, and good-hearted are not interchangeable. So I think we are talking past each other. Just don’t set gentiles up for disappointment by telling them they are a “kingdom of priests” or whatnot. It’s silly and leads to pain later when they get they get their verve popped with the prime dose.
“As for most of those who live in the messianic era, they will have passed through either a transformation described in 1Cor.15:53”
Ezekiel clearly says that people will be born, living and dying in the Messianic Era, admonishing priests of the 3rd Temple not to wed prostitutes. Gentiles, as per James’ previous posts, still will not eat Pesach in this time. We might be talking past each other.
These resurrected people on the other hand seem to be in a higher class. They are not feasting or marrying anymore, which pretty much seems like all the fun and experience intrinsic to what it means to be human is “burned away” as the Christians put it. The mode of being is described in the vaguest of terms; I cannot form an opinion on them. And amid a series of posts about gentile destinies and a need for retooling them in the world (if that’s even possible) it is a telling forfeiture to base gentile trajectory on having to die first. It’s lewdly escapist to the world at hand.
“For all that gentiles are constrained relative to the Jewish covenant, they are not prohibited from participation in the kingdom of heaven.”
I agree that in a general sense that gentiles will have life in the World to Come. But there is a self-defeating logic in your statement; if everything is holy, nothing is. The prophets are clear that the concentric layers are still there, even in the furthest beyond. But again, this is not what bothers me…
I’m actually not grinded raw that G-d took the time to shape a divine identity for Jews. You keep suggesting that. Good for them! That makes me happy. I cheer for them and see their plight as the loveliest drama of G-d in search of Man. I’m just a bit confused that He said so little of Gentiles, and we have to wait until we are dead to have this question answered in any lasting or corporate way. Jews rise and fall as a nation, Gentiles rise and fall as lone individuals. When the very question of self as it relates to G-d is put off until death and gets sloughed behind that curtain, people tend to brace for a huge con, as dead customers can’t demand a refund. And as we goyim are redirected from peeking into the curtain, we are tossed back into Protestant thinking of waiting until the other side of the grave for answers, or Catholic thinking of inventing the answers for ourselves, having our progeny discover that there is no mouth to the river of our tradition or why it’s imperative we do it.
I don’t want to be healed of my humanity, and I don’t give a damn about the jewels I’m supposed to own. Or even how holy I’m supposed to be. Instead I pine for a day when Messiah sees gentiles as distinct nations – and distinct from each other – instead of “non-Jews.” Even the very term “gentile” is one that looks outward and says “all you people,” an offensive way as to define races by negation, as a fungible and undifferentiated blob “that’s not us.” I pine for a day when Messiah sees gentiles not as saved or unsaved individuals, but as banners. I hope that one day being a Greek or Scythian comes to mean something else in G-d’s eyes beyond “non-Jew,” but Greek or Scythian, and that G-d has distinct plans and destinies for these peoples *that he actually tells them*. And that a Greek or Scythian might be able to pray to a G-d of their fathers (which they cannot, sadly), that their society’s traditions would NOT be a guesswork with no source, that they know they are rehearsing something real in their respective religions, and that there be existential categories in heaven and earth recognizing Greek and Scythian as a people before G-d. Do that, and I really don’t give a flip if I’m Gomer or Javan on the outer rings of 70.
There is a primal desire for all men to emulate the cosmic. The Valley of the Kings are monuments whereby man tried to build heaven on earth. Though the effort was misbegotten, the hope was not. On this blog, you guys downplay mitzvah and divine decree horribly, when it is divine decree that created the world, divine decree that separated its facets, divine decree that created the colors, created all life diversely, and divine decree that hamovdil bein kodesh l’chol. And the whole lot of you dismiss the primordiality of decree to true faith and tradition. Mitzvot and decree represent real ties to G-d, differentiation and form pulled out of TV static, and specifically taking the thoughts of G-d in planting them in time, adding shape to the formless. Love Thy Neighbor is a universal to all men that differentiates man from animals; it does not differentiate a Scythian from a Greek or tell us what they mean to G-d respectively. You cannot define “ethnos” under heaven on the basis universals, which all of you keep trying to do. This is why as a gentile in the absence of decree, I lament G-d’s silence. Generically, all Mankind came from the dust without a pronouncement. Yet unlike the World, unlike the Temple, unlike the Torah, unlike Israel, or even the animals which were all separated, named, and described, G-d’s decrees have not “created” gentiles. We remain formless and void.
Good ol’ tovu b’vohu. LeSigh…
I have more awe for a G-d who sees in color. He specified 70 palms along with 12 wells at Elim. He did not say 12 wells and one giant bramble. That has to mean something, and it’s what I expect. Yet the NT does not talk about diversity in any clear way. It talks about Gentiles as a blob, as interchangeable, and as non-Jews – even to the end. This is sad to me.
PL: So am I still just “jealous for not being holy or not being a Jew?” Seriously, come off it. There’s nothing left of that horse.
“But gee Drake, gentiles will all be sons of G-d and we have the Spirit! Huzzah!”
How do monotheistic universals that are common to Jews and Gentiles define an ethnos as distinct before G-d? Life without purpose or variation means nothing. It’s like those people who paint heaven as eternal church. You don’t get to claim that G-d loved diversity just by Paul limiting conversion. It has to mean more than not being Jews.
Kari (Lisa) wrote: “I keep returning (in my life personally and in this thread) to the lesson we can learn from Dayenu.”
Would it have been truly Dayeinu had G-d never given the Torah or reneged on His promise to give the sons of Avraham the Land, and instead ditched them in the desert as the song goes? The song is kind of a versification of absurdities and covenantial ruptures when you back-engineer it and try to play it out. Results may vary. Don’t you think?
I mean, I get the sentiment in terms of a plucky and chin-up attitude. I get it.
Dayenu is not an exercise in logic or intellect; it is an act of the soul. Yes, there is a logical inconsistency in the words. It’s meant to awaken the inward most parts to a vital life truth, and that only happens at certain times by bypassing the intellect. Gratitude is not about a chin-up attitude. In a very real way, it grows hope in the soul. THAT is the essence of Dayenu.
This is a life truth I’ve been learning for the past two years especially (so know it’s not just some fuzzy idea I throw out there with no practical experience to back it up). As the Mussar teachers teach us, if all we have is life, it’s enough to be grateful for. Of course, the implication is that we all have so much more beside. I have fought through depression and anxiety and hopelessness and insecurity amid life circumstances that I thought would completely crush me, and the light that began to lead me out of that tunnel was gratitude. It’s not just a chin-up attitude. It changes something visceral, something as real as the nose on your face, yet totally intangible. (And as a disclaimer, I’m not saying practicing a bit of gratitude is a cure-all or a substitute for professional or medical intervention. Simply that it is spiritual medicine for problems of the spirit.)
I keep meaning to sign off Kari (Lisa), but I guess by the time I’m done typing out my response I’ve completely forgotten. Pregnancy hormones do crazy stuff to your brain. Well, not to YOUR brain, but you get the point. 😉
And one last thing – this renewed world wherein people are still being born will be no kind of paradise unless men are FINALLY the ones to carry the babies. Just sayin’.
– Kari (Lisa) Do we at least resemble each other? Or is it the four-letter name? Is Lisa just on your brain? What’s the deal? Lol
@Drake — I haven’t been accusing you of being jealous of Jews, despite your apparent desire for a comparable distinctiveness. I have suggested that you are too pessimistic, too prone to view the glass as half empty while neglecting the savor that is in it.
The point of Dayenu is that HaShem is known for going above and beyond all that we may ask or think or hope (viz: Eph.3:11-21, esp.v.20); but our attitude must be one of gratitude for what is, and not of complaint for what we might think should exist and does not. We’re given a potter-and-clay analogy to remind us that we’re not so wise as to be qualified to challenge our maker for how He made us and our surroundings, to answer such complaints if we should forget to appreciate His Goodness and His Lovingkindness-that-endures-forever or if we should somehow be blinded that we cannot see it.
Korach was not wrong when he observed that all the people (of Israel) were holy. He was simply wrong to presume that this alone could make them all eligible for the same jobs. Their different assignments did not derive from greater or lesser holiness. Moreover, one of the challenges of the ‘Hasid is to find the holiness that exists even in the most commonplace things and situations (i.e., “kiddushat ha-chol”). To say that “if everything is holy then nothing is holy” is a zero-sum error that fails to appreciate or apprehend the infinite nature of holiness. And still that does not define specific purposes or specific performance for holy ones among the families of the Adamic species, which derive from other characteristics and principles. Perhaps the bottom line is what appears in Micah 6:8, which is addressed to a Jewish man — but as a man who is representative of all men rather than only Jewish ones — saying:
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?
There are times I read a book and I say “gee, the author could have ended that better,” or “that ending seemed rushed.”
Authors working under hard deadlines.
I was at target the other day. There was a beta male carrying his whelp in this odd contraption over his belly, as though he were mechanically pregnant with his own son. I looked at him, and as I looked at him I conveyed a certain knowing that he registered. And he shot me the the most hateful glance, while inwardly I was rolling. And I didn’t even crack a smile – I was so disciplined! And yet he still knew.
He could not start an altercation that might imperil his precious cargo.
My dad was a construction worker and Navy diver who harpooned fish and drank rum. I remember seeing my him with me in all my kid photos, and while he made many sacrifices for my sake, wearing a male exo-womb in a department store was never one of them.
+1 Jerry Dunaway
Should he carry babies or not, just don’t buy him that contraption. Your Ashira could become his Sharia.
And no. I was talking to her while I was writing. Lisa’s into gingers anyway, which nixes me.
You do realize that baby-wearing is a HUGE magnet for women, right? Like it beats out having a puppy. It could even turn ginger-lovers into solid brunette fans. Just sayin’. ;-P
If I ever hear through the grapevine that you’re getting set to welcome your own “whelp”, I’m mailing you a Bjorn.
@Kari — We seem to be rather off-topic with an observation that women are attracted to a man wearing a baby, but nonetheless I found myself wondering about the purpose of such an observation. I wondered also if it were equally attractive to single women, childless married women, and/or women with their own children. A single father seeking a female companion to join him in raising his child might conceivably benefit from meeting unmarried women in this way, and a father seeking help or advice from experienced mothers might benefit. But, otherwise, might not a magnetic baby be viewed as a detriment that attracts unwanted temptation? Why, then, should this observation be offered to Drake? I suspect that there are other motivations that might better recommend the practice of close interaction between fathers and their infant children, as well as of both parents sharing the physical burdens associated with childcare. It also remains to be deliberated whether there can be any fair comparison between a woman’s pains and discomforts during each nine months of gestation and a man’s pains and discomforts laboring to support the children thus produced during the decades required for their maturation. Clearly, there is no free ride owed to either parent; and life is defined by the labors it demands.
@PL – there are indeed many benefits to recommend baby-wearing; I simply limited my presentation to the ones I thought would be most immediately relevant to Drake’s stage in life.
As for who this practice appeals to, I’d have to say “women who want to be mothers” and “women who are mothers” primarily. For women who are mothers, seeing their own husbands with a whelp in the belly pram will engender all kinds of fond feelings. Seeing other husbands do this could go either way. If their own husbands baby-wear, they could just think kindly and fondly of seeing another top-notch human being in the world. Maybe such a woman would be motivated to suggest a friendship between the husbands (thus further cementing the benefits she derives from the practice), as well as promoting healthy connections between people in a similar stage of life. If her husband is not a baby-wearer, seeing another man with a whelp in a belly pram could stir up jealousy and/or dissatisfaction with her own macho, unhelpful tool of a husband who refuses to wear the baby from some misplaced sense of protecting his “masculinity,” thus increasing marital dissatisfaction and the potential for strife and eventually divorce. So, you see, it can only benefit society for men to wear babies. It’s dangerous not to.
So, so sorry for completely hijacking your thread, James.
The Happy Wife of an Awesome Baby-Wearing Manly Man
*I remember seeing him with me
Ere in the thread ProclaimLiberty and I were bemoaning the castrati of Ethiopia, and somehow I sense the same miasma oozing down to our discussion about bellyprams for men.
Drake, Drake, Drake. Haven’t you heard the ancient proverb?
“He who wears babies makes many of them, but he who refuses, his lot is worse than an Ethiopian!”
I’m including a shirt that says “Real Men Wear Babies” along with the Bjorn.
Or might you prefer “Real Men Wear Whelps”?
I don’t want anyone thinking the ancients hated on Ethiopians. 😉
PL wrote: “We’re given a potter-and-clay analogy to remind us that we’re not so wise as to be qualified to challenge our maker for how He made us and our surroundings…”
The Patriarch questioned G-d all the time. They did as He told them, but they still questioned him. “How do I know you will do this?” Avraham kvetched. In fact, he also questioned G-d’s goodness to his face before he destroyed a city. And Moses more successfully.
I wake up some days and I am religious. Sadder days I wake up and I am I relapse into my college skepticism toward all faith whatsoever and if any of it is even real. Admittedly, I cravingly want the former to be true. But I cannot go though my life and beguile myself that I don’t have harbor doubts, and I prefer to tell G-d when I do. If He’s half of what He says He is, I’m sure He can take it. Besides, doubts don’t do well bottled up, in my experience.
We’re quibbling over the definitions of a single word at this point. Holy. In light of the Orwellian SCOTUS ruling today, words have no meaning anyway.
Let us agree to disagree. Have a pleasant evening.
Perhaps, in time, we can find more we agree upon, PL.
@Drake and Kari: I have twin sons and a daughter who’s about 2 years younger than my boys. I have a photo of my Dad wearing a “backpack” device with one of my boys in it and a harness on his front with my daughter in it…naturally when they were very young.
My Dad Is one of the most macho rednecks there is. As a younger man (he’s well over 80 now), he hunted with every kind of legal firearm plus bow hunted, fished, did car work, carpentry, and was an Air Force firefighter who attempted to rescue pilots from downed and burning aircraft.
Needless to say, it was a tough example to grow up with.
In spite of that, I remember as a child seeing him on his hands and knees stripping the wax off the floor so he could mop it and rewax it for my Mom. He worked 4 days on and 4 days off and had the time to show her he loved her in many tangible ways.
In spite of him being tough as nails, he always loved me and my brother and to this day, he adores all three of his grandchildren, especially my daughter.
You can be a “real” man and love children. Believe me.
Let there be no misunderstanding. I’m not against men porting their children on their shoulders or loving their kids. I am against the specific sort of contraption that gloms a man’s child to his tummy as though to exude the maternal pathos the goes with the baby resting in that exact spot.
Kari: Ok. Now I know it’s unnatural. It’s called a Björn, with a goofy little Swedish umlaut.
@PL – Let me clarify, lest it seems I was making any kind of untoward suggestion. It can benefit Drake in a few ways.
1. He can casually mention his support of paternal baby wearing in the hearing of any females he may find interesting.
2. He can ratchet those statements up by offering to wear a friend’s baby in front of said female to prove his support.
3. After he’s married, he will invariably garner the happiness and total gratitude (and mushy feelyness) of his wife upon busting out the belly pram. This, in particular, can do nothing but benefit him. Though he’s likely to doubt that at this point in his life.
@James – Thank you! See! “Real Men Wear Babies” . . . and scrub floors, and fold laundry, and make dinner and wash dishes. A man who’s secure in his masculinity doesn’t prove it with machismo.
It seems to me, drake, that a lot of what you would want in an identity (and I’m sorry if I’m using “identity” again when you may not like that word, but it seems apt to me) was created by Jews and not commanded by God directly. So, the idea that identity isn’t about negatives, like what not to do, well, there are a lot of negatives in the Bible, or I shall say, the Tanakh. The “positives” are largely having to do with Levites, etc. — that and what to positively do to people who don’t adhere to the negatives.
Now, if we think there ought to be distinct recognitions of various groups and not generic gentiles… well maybe, but that would get confusing too, I’d think. If someone has a scottish grandparent, an english one, one romanian, one czech, then what? Pick one? Or should we go by color? So, there’s no confusion for that person; the person is white?
Wow. I’m so glad I made fun of that dude at Target.
I just got invited to a shabbat, and so I have to find some wine somewhere.
I’m going to ask this in a halachic dispute sort of fashion to the group if Bjorns are unnatural and unbefitting a man to wear in public. I will prevail.
Kari/Lisa: Seriously, don’t make him wear a Bjorn. It’s like the horizontal striped dress; nothing to gain, everything to lose.
I have zero confidence that you will facilitate a fair discussion. And even less that you will report honestly should you lose.
And just so we’re clear, I *make* that man do nothing. I asked him to defend paternal whelp-wearing in 10 seconds or less, and his response was: “Why would I even need to defend that? If I can support my wife who works her tush off, why wouldn’t I do that?” – Tyler Miller (7:03 am PDST) He also added as advice to single guys: “You get lots of attention for wearing a baby. So strap in your nephew with no wedding ring on your finger, and watch what happens!”
Maybe something that fits on the back would work. Like the baby is camping gear. I could do that. I can meet you halfway there.
Drake, you can’t put a newborn in a backpack.
Do you know how many times I’ve ever heard a woman say “I really want a man who will treat his children like camping accessories”? I’ll just leave you with that.
I had a shabbat once where there were 5-8 year olds. I offered them both Mr. Tippy cups and they scowled. I’ve put them in a room and offered them Barney. Didn’t go over well. Thought Barney was catnip for the little ones and you could just babysit them with it, but then again I suppose they are not playing Oregon Trail and Pac-Man either… My mom liked videogames and TV because they kept me quiet.
Children are not my forte, and I’m totally tone deaf as to what they like and how to manage them. I get teased for it all the time, and my past hijinks and debacles are a well of many running jokes at Tikvat David to which people keep returning over enough beers.
You put on Barney for kids older than 4? You should be thankful they didn’t pelt you with rotten fruit!
If Amy Murphy happens to be part of your halakhic dispute, my confidence in a fair discussion rises above negative levels.
I have to back Kari up on this. It is so tiring to carry the children before they are born and then have to carry them after too (even while they are getting bigger yet and you’re still 5’5″ and 110 pounds), while “he” carries a camera hanging around his neck or something, anything, else.
We have hardly any pictures of the family, by the way; that wasn’t the point of wearing a camera as precious cargo.
Yeah. Amy and I have a storied rivalry… a saga.
My, my, Kari. Pregnancy hormones have certainly brought our your creativity. 😀
First thing I thought of was the lyrics to Rod Stewart’s Every Picture Tells a Story:
I’ve got a crazy associative memory.
@Marleen: I think we all want to be sure of our identity as believers, particularly given a Messianic context. It’s just up until now, something we’ve always assumed but never examined. Under examination, I’ve discovered that it needs to be recreated. As what isn’t easy to say, hence this rather lengthy conversation.
Kari said to Drake:
Maybe he should steer them to this portion of this blog conversation so they have the whole context. 😉
@Kari and Drake:
I have a 6 year old grandson who is terrific and my daughter-in-law is about to give birth (probably Monday or Tuesday) to our first granddaughter. I couldn’t be more thrilled.
When my boys were born, I had no doubt my Dad would love them and relate to them because he raised my brother ane me. But my Dad had no daughters, so when my own daughter was born, I wasn’t sure how he’d take it.
Turns out he just melted and she had him twisted around her little finger from the moment he laid eyes on her.
This may sound a little mean, but grandkids are so much more fun than your own. All of the play time, none of the responsibility (that’s something of an exaggeration).
Well, James, he *should* direct them to this conversation, but will he? I dread to think how this thread could be misrepresented without proper context.
I’ve seen that same grandparent dynamic with my parents. I think it is definitely not carrying the responsibility for their upbringing that makes the relationship (mostly) all fun.
Mazel tov on an imminent new arrival! Girls are pretty much awesome. 🙂 Just don’t forget to send her home in your favorite super hero garb. 😀
Have I sufficiently demonstrated how utterly obnoxious it is to refer to a baby as a “whelp”, or shall I do so another dozen times to really drive the point home?
Drake, don’t be the Replacement Theologian of the baby-wearing debate. All meaningful discussion will have to center on context and accurate representation.
Aaaaaaaand, we’re back on topic. 😉
1:23 PM June 25
….and I don’t give a damn about the jewels I’m supposed to own. Or even how holy I’m supposed to be. Instead I pine for a day when Messiah sees gentiles as distinct nations – and distinct from each other – instead of “non-Jews.” Even the very term “gentile” is one that looks outward and says “all you people,” an offensive way as to define races by negation, as a fungible and undifferentiated blob “that’s not us.” I pine for a day when Messiah sees gentiles not as saved or unsaved individuals, but as banners. I hope that one day being a Greek or Scythian comes to mean something else in G-d’s eyes….
This is just a short excerpt from a VERY long post from drake. After arguing about holiness, he says he doesn’t care about holiness. I try to grasp what he’s really getting at, and I come away with an agreement with PL that he’s pretty well set on whining. At least PL tried to relate the sadness to something based in prophetic recognition. I applaud the effort and think it IS worthy of consideration. Now, as to being Scythian or anything else, I don’t just reject the thought, but I think it through; if there is to be a category for drake, and it has to be defined with rules to make drake happy, apparently everyone has to choose between all the different backgrounds they have. I have at least four. My children have more than that. MayBE at least some of us will have to choose someday. For instance, people with some Native American blood may have to go with that over anything else and inherit America. For now, usually when gentiles get all worked up about such a thing, it doesn’t look pretty (and its not generally the minorities who make it ugly).
I used the word “sadness” but think drake is more angry.
I have more awe for a G-d who sees in color. He specified 70 palms along with 12 wells at Elim. He did not say 12 wells and one giant bramble. That has to mean something, and it’s what I expect. Yet the NT does not talk about diversity….
I have read books, drake, that talk about how Rome needed to keep ethnicities separate and only dedicated to Rome itself and whatever rules or definitions Rome had for individual ethnicities. If no one was concerned with anyone else, Rome remained strong. The Galatians were to stick to their own business, the Ephesians to theirs, the Philippians, well, that was a messed up bunch, Corinthians, yeah I guess they all should have kept marrying their cousins.
Drake, I submit this little-known parable for your next Shabbat table halakhic-style debate over baby-wearing. Who knew the rabbis had already addressed this (obviously ancient and well-known) practice? Forgive the length of this post, James, but it was obviously too appropriate to pass up. Uncanny, really. From Tractate Millerah 43:5
A parable. There lived in a certain city two men. The name of the one was Tylerias, and the name of the other was Drakiah. Now Tylerias was a man of little means, but very well-respected. He had many children, and his wife was known in the city as a hard-working and congenial woman. Tylerias would often sit in the city gates, where people would come and seek his counsel, and whenever visitors came to his home, they would leave, exclaiming “What a joyous home! What shalom bayis rests on this place!”
Now Drakiah was a prosperous and a studious man, though he had no wife. One evening he was out for a walk, and he passed the house of Tylerias. He could see through the open window from the road, and was astonished at what he saw! Here was Tylerias, cradling an infant over his abdomen as though he were with child! And, behold! His wife lay upon her couch, resting, as Tylerias swept the floor and hummed to the infant! The other children in the home either played or worked at their father’s feet, all while their mother slept!
Deeply troubled by this sight, Drakiah rushed down the road and knocked at the door of his rabbi.
“Rabbi, how could this be? This man, known for his wisdom and for the blessing of HaShem that rests on his house – he degrades himself behind closed doors by acting like a woman! He carries infants as though he were with child, and sweeps floors while his wife sleeps! This is no man!”
The rabbi smiled at Drakiah, and laid a hand on his shoulder.
“My son, have you not heard the proverb: “A man who wears babies makes many of them, but he who refuses, his lot is worse than an Ethiopian eunuch’s?” Tylerias fills his household, not only with children, but with love and peace by serving his wife instead of his manhood. Have you not also heard “In a happy wife is the seed of a happy life?” What can this “seed” be but the seed that produces life? You see, Drakiah, it is the man who humbles his manhood for the sake of his wife who harvests the most fruit for it, for what will a well-rested, content wife not sow to repay her husband’s kindness a hundred fold at harvest?”
“But, rabbi! He degrades himself! It is against nature!”
“Drakiah, where is nature better observed than in the “seed” that produces a happy life? A happy wife is a fruitiful vine, and a man’s fountain flows freely to water such a vineyard. But a man who refuses to ease the burden of his wife to protect his manhood ends up as dry and parched as an Ethiopian eunuch’s well. Now, my son, you decide. Which is the wiser and greater man?”
“But rabbi, is this really the lot of the married man? To serve his manhood only by serving his wife?”
“You do well to remember those words of yours, Drakiah. Now go and find your own well of happiness.”
Ah, Marlene wrote:
“This is just a short excerpt from a VERY long post from drake. After arguing about holiness, he says he doesn’t care about holiness.”
Hm. I was unaware that long posts were an offense worthy of censure. Nobody forced you to read it. Very sorry to have displeased you. I guess.
It’s not scandalous to say that I don’t care about holiness. None of us are Levites. I don’t believe holiness is not something that “one attains.” I think it’s a misnomer. Rather G-d says, “this person is holy,” and by dint of theosis and discipline, a person maintains that holiness and rises to its expectation. Holiness is typically something that comes from G-d, so I don’t really care about it because I cannot control if and when it comes to me. One can only “live up to” whatever holiness has been ascribed them. G-d sets people and things apart; it’s not something one can do on one’s own authority. On one’s own authority, I think one can only live up to whatever holiness has already been set for them. A priest can only live up to his holiness as set for him. An Israelite can do the same. A goy, the same.
G-d told Israel to be holy only after He made them holy.
So when I say that I don’t care about holiness and whatever I’m supposed to be allotted in this life or the next, I don’t. It’s not for me to give it to myself. I can only live up to it if or when it happens to me. Same to you, or anyone. But in a general sense, yes, I an everyone wants to be more holy. But we cannot focus on it. It’s out of our control.
“I try to grasp what he’s really getting at, and I come away with an agreement with PL that he’s pretty well set on whining.”
How disappointing. “Whining.” Gentiles “getting worked up” and becoming “ugly.” When I wrote it, I was sipping coffee and designing the graphic art on ad bookings with my publishers, so I was pretty calm actually. I too can set in order choice verbs to describe your contributions, Marlene.
“Be quiet and be happy you have salvation! Your thoughts are irrelevant!” John Smith “excreted.”
“You’re an ingrate!” Jane Doe “blubbered.”
There is a certain language you are using to characterize the positions of others that I think is disappointingly beclowning and ad hominem.
“My children have more than that. MayBE at least some of us will have to choose someday. For instance, people with some Native American blood may have to go with that over anything else and inherit America.”
Firstly, I wasn’t talking about your children. Secondly, your reductio ad absurdum when it comes to my (and many people’s) quandary as to the fate of nations in the Bible is somewhat abusive – and obtuse.
For example, Zechariah 14 tells us explicitly that Egyptians – as a people – will be corporately judged based on whether or not they go to Zion to observe Sukkot. If they fail to appear, G-d says they get no rain. This means:
1. G-d is reckoning and judging gentile ethnicities corporately.
2. Some people are recognized as Egyptian and some not. He’s apparently drawing a line somewhere and choosing who qualifies.
Now at this point, I can take your route and ridicule the prophecy’s seeming “absurdity” by pointing out that:
1. Dr. James Hoffmeier points out that the Egyptians seldom relied on rain, rather the vast waterworks and aqueducts of the Nile, making the threat of no rain meaningless to them.
2. I can also point out the prophecy’s absurdity that the Egyptians no longer exist as a society, religion or race, and that Islamic invasion wiped them out.
Just that passage from Zechariah 14 raises questions of gentile identity in the Bible and how G-d actually registers it on a national and individual level. These are meaningful, but to an American raised in a democratic melting pot based on a naturalization model of cultural assimilation (and a church built on the same), these questions might appear inane.
“I have read books, drake, that talk about how Rome needed to keep ethnicities separate and only dedicated to Rome itself and whatever rules or definitions Rome had for individual ethnicities.”
I believe that you are referring to the religio licita under the Roman Collegium? I don’t know what book you read. In its day, that model was actually considered enlightened. Instead of absorbing everyone linguistically and culturally into Rome, Rome was seen as benevolent in letting local religions and autonomies flourish under their federalist model. Judaism was a religio licita, and thank G-d for their sakes that it was. Otherwise it would have been absorbed.
But I also read books. I once read a book called Genesis wherein all the 70 nations from Noah melt together and assimilate in one spot at the decree of a popular tyrant. G-d sees this as an affront to the world order, draws distinctions and lines through this assimilated people (like your kids, since you brought them into this discussions as case examples), and scatters them out once more to the four corners of the earth. Was that “ugly?”
The Roman Collegium actually seems more enlightened than church assimilation of countless distinctive nations into a blob, which today has little connection to the past. In a Biblical sense, assimilation meant loss of identity and rupture from the past and from family. I’m not an anti-church MG who runs around thinking that “church is pagan” and I agree with the FFOZ sentiment that church is very good. But church (gentile monotheism) has come to represent more of the absorbing, uniformity paradigm embodied in Babel than would the Roman Collegium model that allowed for distinction, category, and permanence of peoplehood through the ages. This can only come as a result of living in an institution where all tradition is considered “non-binding” and “optional” for gentiles. Distinctions fall apart and a bouquet of nations become a mass.
“I used the word “sadness” but think drake is more angry.”
Well, all caps to my understanding are the social media convention of expressing anger. The jots and tittles of Internet prose, one might say.
I actually do have a pet peeve, and while I might express deep dismay at the dearth of information the Bible contains regarding goyim (which James has also done), something else actually piques my anger. It happens when someone casts aspersions onto my motives, declaring said aspersions to others openly, all while writing as though I am not here.
Marlene: Presumption has rendered your attempted clairvoyance into my soul into a prophecy of the self-fulfilling kind. Yes. You are right. Now I am angry.
But only for a moment. I wish you well.
What a wonderful style adaptation. Points for that.
“Now Drakiah was a prosperous and a studious man…”
Now I don’t make my bed with the rich, but I *wish* that characterization were true.
Over the weekend I did tell Amy about you and our little encounter. You were there in spirit.
Some people seem bent on marriage, and I was when I was younger, actually. But it was something shallow along the lines of why most kids go to college nowadays. “It’s what you do after high school,” just trying to satisfy a sequence. And as I grasped, all my reaching and grasping turned up dead ends trying to satisfy that sequence for its own sake. Plus I was under the delusion that it’s impossible to be complete without someone. I just grew up believing that.
I do think now and again about how my life would be different if I were still with her and we were now a married couple. And I’m thankful it failed. I’m a more interesting person, I translate for my company, run, still have my 29″ waist, my Led Zeppelin posters, I’m switching my music back to vinyl. I still get to read and paint and investigate whatsoever I wish. And every shabbat I nurture a moderate wine buzz and float in siestas after shul. From time to time, my friends and I make Tikkun Olam in Atlanta. And the joy of relating to Israel’s people tends to allay the sting of not relating to Israel’s G-d.
Kari: But in your tale, I’m a rich Jew.
In this world, I am neither rich nor a Jew.
But would that I were the man in your tale, I would hire help to take the burdens off my wife so we could rollick about the town. She would not be exhausted by work or coarsened by stress. I would see her, to echo Horace, “…fat and sleek, a true hog of Epicurus’ herd,” or as Tevye puts it “…with a proper double-chin.” And I? I would study for 7 hours every day.
♩ ♪ ♫ ♬…If I were a rich man…♩ ♪ ♫ ♬
Wait a minute . . . did you think this parable was about YOU? (Cue Carly Simon) No, no, no. It was about wearing BABIES. Any similarities to actual persons are purely coincidental.
No pressure to hitch you, Drake. I think the real message of the parable is “don’t think too highly of any vows you take in singlehood about what you would or wouldn’t do if you were married.” And certainly don’t go around judging other people’s manhood. At least that’s what I took from it. 😉
To state that your post was very (or VERY) long is to find the length offensive now. I guess you just have all kinds of chips on your shoulders. Kinda nice that you’d be pleased with a fat wife, though. I will give you props for that. Personally, the raising of the children is good for parents to do (rather than being absent), but help isn’t a bad thing.
Okay, as it’s long again, I’m approaching it in pieces. I wasn’t referring to you when I used the phrase “worked up” or the word “ugly” — I was talking about nations. You can look at history.
I didn’t think you were talking about my children.
I didn’t say or think it was scandalous not to be concerned with holiness. It’s just some sort of runaround to get all into it and then say you don’t care about it after all like it’s that other person’s issue.
Lol, “others” — are you more than one person?
Yes, I said you seem to want to whine.
Maybe I should apologize after all. I think there are probably actual pieces missing from the Tanakh. (I don’t, though, think they have to do with telling the nation’s they are holy.)
Why does that always happen? “Nations” (not with an apostrophe).
Sorry for the misunderstanding on caps (for one word), I only meant inflection. Not yelling.
reductio ad absurdum
For the NT writings to tell the gentile people who were written to that they were so holy they needed to remain distinct (from each other)… I think that would be absurd. Sorry you don’t like my opinion.
*In its day, that model was actually considered enlightened. Instead of absorbing everyone linguistically and culturally into Rome, Rome was seen as benevolent in letting local religions and autonomies flourish under their federalist model. Judaism was a religio licita, and thank G-d for their sakes that it was. Otherwise it would have been absorbed.*
I am all in favor of allowing. Today too.
Ta-tah for now.
This book illustrates, what Rome did isn’t the same as allowing.
“For the NT writings to tell the gentile people who were written to that they were so holy they needed to remain distinct (from each other)…”
It’s not a question of being “so holy.” It’s a question of hamovdil, the concept of separation as an act of creation. Again, you see G-d doing this in Babel, separating people to give them the space to be who they are. He sees it as detestable they become a blob/mass. The sages always saw the usage of fired bricks at the tower as a symbol that Nimrud was building a conformity factory of sorts.
That said, Christianity’s history has been troubling to me in this regard. The NT describes Gentiles 1. only in terms of what they are not. Gentile means non-Jew. 2. what traditions they have are not binding, hence optional. Over generations, viewed as non-essential and unimportant by new Christian converts, distinction between peoples wears down and erodes. I remember reading the Arthurian saga in school, and how Christianity wiped and cleansed England of ethnic identity and how people were skeptical of it for that very reason.
Gentile monotheism has this problem. You see it in both Islam and Christianity. They are both these big-box Wal-Mart religions that bulldoze and assimilate everything around them. People adopting it might keep their local customs for a time, but realizing they have “inherited lies” and that the G-d of Israel does not really hold them to keeping any real mitzvot of any kind, only to doctrine, people abandon who they are, and thus over time monotheism makes all peoples the same. History is as full of graveyards for extinct ethnicities left in monotheism’s wake as it is extinct Christianities.
By Genesis reckoning, this is ethnic cleansing and a crime. I lament that Babel and the Collegium were more diverse than Church; assimilation of peoples does not seem like the behavior of the deity who toppled Babel. Something went amiss very early on, and I think the lack of information regarding Gentiles in the Bible allows a framework under which all people become one and lose identity.
That’s why I’ve always viewed decree as essential in understanding one’s relationship to G-d. Decree creates, defines and separates.
Drake, is it your contention that G-d’s desire was to keep nationalities and ethnicities separate? I find that hard to digest when He makes an explicit allowance for intermarriage between Israelites and Egyptians (for example) after the appropriate number of generations have passed. Hopefully I’m misunderstanding your point, because this seems to saddle up to eugenics.
Oops. Just realized I myself mixed up my internet prose jots and tittles by using caps when I should have used asterisks. Just so we’re clear, I meant to emphasize, not yell. *you* and *babies*
As in the case of Joseph and Asenath?
Of course G-d allowed intermarriage. But they decided what their descendants would be. Joseph and Asenath’s descendants (Ephraim and Manessah) became ethnically Jewish. I suppose in every relationship people have to devise how they will raise the kiddies. Now, it would have been irresponsible in those days to let their status hang in the balance in no-man’s land into perpetuity, in the way much of the modern world lives now. The whole Ellis Island paradigm of “I’m going to forget the Old World and just become someone new in America!” is antithetical to worldview the Biblical man. Today, the children of people who made that bargain live in what sociologists call culturally-bankrupt suburbs. They sometimes try to be Rastafarian or become Hari Krishnas. Trying to reconnect with a birthright their fathers sold.
But again, this is something G-d alludes to from time to time in prophecy. I will gather “these people” in Egypt and judge them on their ability to keep Sukkot, etc. Zech 14. He does it previously at Babel as well.
It’s funny, because I used to think that protestants who would ask “what is the fate of ‘Murica after the Tribbelation!?” were silly. But Zechariah and the Genesis Table of Nations, the Babel Narrative – recorded in all of our Bibles – all kinda do just that. Studying comparative Ugaritic and Sumerians myth has really opened my eyes to family and national awareness in the ancient world.
It’s strange to me that it’s totally respectable to talk about maintaining distinctions between Jews and the world on these blogs (which I agree, the text is clear there). Nobody would see it as separatism or anything radical like that — and it’s not. But then when you simply carry the same logic to the nations and how they relate to each other, and how G-d separated them out from each other every time they tried to glob up, it somehow becomes “eugenicist” talk.
“Will we raise our children as Greeks or Scythians? Will Ephraim and Manasseh be Egyptian or Jewish?”
A worldwide religious framework that cannot (or refuses to) answer such questions for those who accept it typically becomes a wiper, ethnic assimilator, or cultural destroyer as it expands, and as Islam and Christianity historically have.
How many Celts or Native American tribes vanished through intermarriage with the monotheist invader? Why do you think this was only ever a challenge for Jews?
Personally, I’m not “advocating” for anything. But I think I’m doing a pretty good job of pointing out where the Bible is silent regarding the nations and the problems that such a silence allows for.
Namely erasure, assimilation, and rupture from the past.
I would not contend that G-d intended to keep them “separate” anymore than Jews should be “separate” from gentiles. Distinction and clear distinction can still exist amid nearness and rapport.
Distinct, not separate.
As a studious (though not particularly prosperous) man, I assume I’m not saying anything you don’t already know when I point out that Jewishness cannot be defined as an ethnicity, or a culture, or a nationality, or a set of universal customs, foods, or even a universal religion. It’s simply not that simple because there is such a diversity and multiplicity of “kinds” within Jewishness. It’s actually really difficult to nail down exactly what makes a Jew a Jew, and when you really press on the common definition (ie your mother was Jewish), it almost creates more questions than answers. If it’s so ambiguous for Jews, who indeed encompass all kinds of ethnicities, why would it not be so for the nations? Do you see it being clear-cut for anyone, really?
That first line should begin “You being” since “As a” points to me being the studious man rather than you. Oy! Distraction.
And so the ancients had a preoccupation with ethnic purity. Why do you conclude this is a reflection of Divine will and not simply a reflection of the ancient human influence on the Tanakh?
“Why do you conclude this is a reflection of Divine will and not simply a reflection of the ancient human influence on the Tanakh?”
Because Nimrud thought that none of it mattered, and the Bible and Judaism both take a low view of him. And G-d felt it mattered enough to reverse his course. Elim (the wells and palms) in Exodus and Numbers 11 (elders speaking in the 70 nations of the world) both mention the 70 nations in conjunction *with* the 12 tribes, honoring that paradigm going forward into the Tanakh.
“And so the ancients had a preoccupation with ethnic purity.”
Not so much purity as continuity. Again, most cultures I believe allowed for intermarriage, but it was factored in what the children would be raised as.
“As a studious (though not particularly prosperous) man, I assume I’m not saying anything you don’t already know when I point out that Jewishness cannot be defined as an ethnicity…”
I’ve heard (and understand these arguments) before, and “who is a Jew” becomes pretty hairy a debate. I’ve heard it all. But often times that statement is somewhat a dodge. For all its evolution, Judaism is clearly “something,” the Torah describes it as peculiar, and they clearly are not Hindus.
The bottom line is that the Bible is silent on Gentile ethnicity, and areas like this seem to be where the silence lies thickest. Consequently, gentile monotheism tends to be a wrecking ball in the world community.
Also, I think your conclusion that Christianity swallows up cultures and national distinctions into one homogenous “Mother Culture” is an overstatement. The church in Korea has a distinctively Korean flavor, the church in Africa an African flavor, the Church in Fiji a Fijian flavor, etc. I think European Christianity definitely did what you’re suggesting, but look farther East and you still have distinctive cultures and ethnicities surviving multiple generations with a strong connection to both their Christian religion and their cultural and national identities. Look at the Orthodox Church. There is a Russian Orthodox Church, a Serbian, a Greek, an Armenian. All Christian, but culturally distinct. America is the great assimilation pot, I agree. But that’s not the trajectory of *all* Christianity, and you see the distinct cultural expression of Christianity even here. Observe African-American churches, Korean churches, Chinese churches, Spanish-speaking churches, etc.
*I’ve heard “all that” (and understand these arguments)…
“Why do you conclude this is a reflection of Divine will and not simply a reflection of the ancient human influence on the Tanakh?”
“And so the ancients had a preoccupation with ethnic purity.”
Which is ironic you would dismiss that as all Bilateral Ecclesiology and wider Judaism is tilted toward relieving the ancient impulse to distinguish ethnicity and nationhood.
Don’t saw off the limb you are sitting on.
“Which is ironic you would dismiss that as all Bilateral Ecclesiology and wider Judaism is tilted toward relieving the ancient impulse to distinguish ethnicity and nationhood.”
I’m not following you here. What did I dismiss? And are you saying Judaism and BE advocate for ethnicity and nationhood being inseparable? Or that they are trying to correct the ancient impulse to divide people by ethnicity and nationhood? That’s a bit ambiguous.
@Drake & @Kari — While I hesitate to jump into the fray that you two seem to be enjoying, let me offer a definition of Judaism for Drake’s consideration. Judaism is a civilization that includes elements of ethnicity and culture. It is not limited solely to either one, and both contribute to defining its boundaries. As Drake has pointed out, there is certainly a variety of non-Jewish ethnicities and cultures with which one might identify. The problem arises when one tries to redeem those identities in accordance with HaShem’s principles. Stripping them of their idolatries and false values has a tendency to rip the very guts out of them and also to remove their foundational underpinnings. One can find oneself having to build an identity from scratch rather than trying to stitch together the rags left over from such a process. This is one reason why some folks try so hard to usurp elements of Jewish civilization that don’t rightly belong to them — particularly after seeing how badly some traditional forms of post-Nicene Christianity did as they incorporated all sorts of pagan elements. Apparently they went to great lengths to attempt defining a non-Jewish civilization; though, as has been noted here previously, their anti-Jewish sentiment that they inherited from the Roman Empire’s hegemony pushed them into supercessionism and rejection of Jewish ownership of the scriptures, their interpretation, and the times and seasons they define.
CS Lewis wrote of a struggle between two impulses or perspectives (or sets of values) within virtually every culture. In the case of the UK, he called the two by the names “Britain” and “Logres”. His sense of the latter was rooted in Arthurian legend, representing for him many noble qualities and values that he associated with an ideal fundamental biblically-based form of Christianity (not to be confused with Christianity in its ancient and medieval persecutory forms). His sense of what he called “Britain” included most of the self-interest and utilitarianism of non-idealistic and materialistic modernity in his era. Thus he also was, in some sense, wrestling with the problem of defining a non-Jewish culture in terms of biblical values while still reflecting some of its native characteristics.
@PL – This has always been a public discussion, so you don’t need permission to join it. 🙂
@Drake – Now I understand. I was most certainly not arguing that there isn’t a dividing line when it comes to Jewishness. Obviously, as you pointed out, I see that and accept it, otherwise I would not be converting. I simply meant to convey that the dividing lines are not simple or clear-cut (I appreciated the clear-cut/bris pun, btw). I accept that there is a line that distinguishes me from Jewishness right now; I also accept that my conversion will not remove that line in everyone’s mind. It is a clear line I’m stepping over, while accepting the ambiguity conversion brings with it. It’s both/and.
My main point was that I don’t see that as altogether different from the way Gentile Christianity self-defines. After all, “Christian” also encompasses many ethnicities, cultures, languages, expressions of religious life, etc. In that way, it also has dividing lines AND ambiguity.
It is also different, because though Jewishness is not defined by culture or ethnicity or national ties alone, it does also include those things.
Even your “circumcision” line isn’t definitive, though. An uncircumcised Jew is still a Jew. Maybe not a ben brit, but still a Jew.
I get your point to a point. Gentiles don’t have a common, united identity bestowed upon them by G-d. I can’t begrudge you your feelings over being a part of a conglomeration of peoples without a clearly-defined link to the past or a clear trajectory (as a people group) into the future. But I still feel I’m perjuring myself somewhat to say that, because the trajectory of the Gentile ecclesia IS defined, but not in cultural terms or national ones, and not by a praxis that’s laid out in canonized writ. But their trajectory is participation in the Kingdom of HaShem as sons and daughters, brought near to the covenant blessings in the Messiah, informed by generations of faithful followers. (I predict you’ll reject that last statement, but consider that the Jews also recognize the righteous Gentiles of history. They ARE there.)
You likened Gentile identity to a Tibetan sand wheel at one point. But the thing is, it’s not sand at the center; it’s Messiah. That’s no small thing, Drake!
At times in this exchange you have made big points into small ones and overblown others. I think you need balance on these things.
Now I must go do things. Shalom!
@PL – It’s interesting that Lewis would have equated Logres with the “non-persecutory” Christian past when Arthur’s knights were forever questing to the Holy Land to participate in the Crusades.
@Kari — Thank you — I didn’t want to intrude …
It’s true that Lewis was rather selective in his view of the high and noble in the Arthurian heritage, neglecting the impact of the Crusades to retake the “Holy Land” from the “infidels” on the exiled Jews along the way to whom it really belonged, not to mention those Jews in Jerusalem whom they massacred and burned alive. Clearly, this historical heritage was not in his view of the somewhat mystical one. But, like many other Christians, Lewis also could suffer from shortsightedness and inconsistency. Alas for human failing. I suspect that not even his brief relationship with the assimilated Jewish Christian Joy Davidman would have sensitized him to a Jewish view of those Crusaders, since, even if she had once possessed such insight and had not suppressed it in the process of her own Christianization, her illness likely focused their conversations on other matters. Moreover, a great many have had their perspectives altered radically since the period during which Lewis wrote, due to the restoration of Israel as a sovereign state and the rise of Jewish messianism that radically re-envisioned the Israeli rabbi on whom genuine Christians have pinned their hope of salvation.
I was intrigued also by your rather revealing statement about having an ambiguous or tenuous Jewish background and never having felt intermarried, which no doubt contributes to the justification for you to pursue a conversion that will in some degree set matters to rights rather than being viewed as contrary to Rav Shaul’s emphatic Galatian teaching against it. I agree, however, that culture is far more important than mere ethnicity (which is, incidentally, why conversion is even possible or meaningful).
* are tilted
Honestly, I think you calling it a dodge is a bit of a dodge. I brought it up *because* it is hairy, and your portrayal of it makes it seem like we’re talking about something clear-cut. Contend with its hairiness, and then demonstrate how Gentile identity is any different.
“But that’s not the trajectory of *all* Christianity, and you see the distinct cultural expression of Christianity even here. Observe African-American churches, Korean churches, Chinese churches, Spanish-speaking churches, etc.”
Give it time. The amoeba will absorb what it envelops. The Shakers are gone. There are as many dead Christianities that absorbed into the homogeneous whole from the Old World as well. Besides, national identity as the Bible reckons it is not a “flavor.” And once, over generations, all those varied Christians come to understand that their expressions are non-binding flavors that G-d does not really require of them, those too will fall into neglect and absorb with time. It’s the pattern of history.
“Honestly, I think you calling it a dodge is a bit of a dodge. I brought it up *because* it is hairy, and your portrayal of it makes it seem like we’re talking about something clear-cut.”
Taking a whelp…errr…baby to a mohel and deciding to raise him under Moshe is pretty clear cut to me (no pun intended), despite all the permutations Judaism takes. Nobody is kind-of a Jew anymore than kind-of a husband. You take the route or you don’t. The very reason such an institution as conversion exists is because Judaism values the clearness of that line.
Most discussions on MJ/MG threads (especially with SWJ involved) seem to hover around, “Gentiles are blurring our lines! Not respecting distinction!” Which is a fair gripe. Much of the tension in MJ today tends to focus on respecting the mechitzah between Jews and Gentiles and deciding where it falls. So in light of all that, it’s somewhat less than ingenuous to then say “well…Jew can mean many things…it’s very amorphous…nothing really central,” in a conversation about the rest of humanity. If Judaism is distinct enough to make gentiles sit in back or not participate fully, then Judaism is a bit more concrete than you’re letting on. That’s why I felt your statement was a dodge.
“I’m not following you here. What did I dismiss? And are you saying Judaism and BE advocate for ethnicity and nationhood being inseparable?”
You said that the idea of nations and distinct categories within humanity was something of an abstruse mentality in ancient peoples who were preoccupied with continuing their peoplehood, and such thinking is not part of the values of the overall Tanakh. Ok.
Yet it just so happens that if you are converting to Judaism (I assume you are based on your blog). You are formally adopting a distinct category within humanity that was something of an abstruse mentality in ancient peoples who were preoccupied with continuing their peoplehood. You are submitting to that very mindset. (Mazel tov, by the way).
Judaism dislikes when goyim were tallit and don tefillin for a reason, and Judaism is pinioned on the same ancient mindset of category you allege is not part of the Tanakh. One has to convert and commit to Judaism to do those things, as not to blur the lines. Judaism is pinioned on that same ancient mindset of perpetuity of nationhood.
I criticize the Bible for its silence on matters of Gentile destiny, saying it’s far too vague, etc. James somewhat laments the dearth of information as to what gentile identity looks like in the Kingdom. So I fleshed out what the Bible would hypothetically look like if it did address these issues for Gentiles with real specifics.
You say not to worry about it and that category does not matter for gentiles. Just be whatever. But then again, you are in the process of adopting a category to which you are pledging eternally. You also place stock in it. So it’s *not* irrelevant that gentiles among themselves would seriously think about their own ethnicities and national destinies, pine to know how they relate do G-d, and want some real assurance that their corporate march through history with G-d is not a journey of randomness or abandon.
PL: Good example from Lewis.
One final thought between doing the things . . . I wasn’t pushing against distinction, but against keeping those boundaries along ethnic lines (ie “separation of races”). What should be the problem with a Chinese Jew marrying an Ethiopian Jew (or the entire Chinese Jewish population assimilating into the Ethiopian Jewish one) – if they so chose? Or a Chinese Christian and an Ethiopian Christian? The problem, at least in my mind, lies more with Jew/non-Jew and Christian/non-Christian. Which I realize is funny since I’m a non-Jew married to a Jew – but he was satisfied with my ambiguous Jewish ancestry and my commitment to a Jewish future as well as my faith in Messiah, so we’ve never really *felt* “intermarried”.
Anyway, call me crazy, but I think having similar faith/worldview/covenant responsibilities is more important than ethnicity. Maybe the ancients thought too much of ethnicity. Maybe I think too little of it. I don’t really know, but I’ll let HaShem sort that one out.
Good. I’m ready to talk about gays getting married now in the next thread and how we’re all on a toboggan ride straight to hell. See ya.
Andrew Bird (music)
@Kari — I just had one additional thought about Arthur’s knights: their famous characteristic quest was actually not the same as the purported purpose of the Crusades. They set off questing to find the Holy Grail, which was the vessel deemed to have contained “the blood of Christ” which thus related it to the Christian notions of Communion and Eucharist (i.e., “unity” and “true grace”). In Arthurian mystical terms, this would also have invoked the notion of the human person as a vessel that was to “contain” such virtues because of the redeeming blood, and the quest to become such a vessel. If we consider also that the Arthurian knights would have pursued their great quest in the seventh century CE, fully four centuries before knights sallied forth toward the “Holy Land”, and that the Arthurian period was rather short, considering the fall of Camelot due to human sexual misbehavior among other shortcomings that reflected the conflict between “Logres” and “Britain” at that time, perhaps Lewis was fully justified in disassociating the Arthurian period from the latter one of the Crusades.
It’s interesting that you say this in relation to defining “who is a Jew” because my opinion of non-Jewish believers in Messiah is that, upon realizing the true nature and message of the Bible in relation to Israel and the Jewish people (and Judaism), building an identity from scratch for the non-Jewish believer becomes a serious consideration.
It does seem like the Bible is biased heavily in defining the roles and responsibilities of the Jewish people and is pretty skimpy with its “advice” to the Gentiles. This is probably why some “One Law” supporters just assume it’s all about them and that there are no distinctions.
As my long suffering wife might say, “Oy!”
@James — You wrote: “It does seem like the Bible is biased heavily in defining the roles and responsibilities of the Jewish people and is pretty skimpy with its “advice” to the Gentiles.” I think I mentioned somewhere above, in response to a similar comment from Drake, that this should be obvious because the literature was written by Jews for Jews, and its consideration of gentiles was only to provide a larger framework for the world in which Jews must exist as a part of that larger body of humanity. It was never intended to provide advice or guidelines for non-Jews, though such guidelines may be (and have been) inferred from it. I pointed out to Drake that it is inappropriate to “criticize” this literature for not providing such information, because that was not its purpose. One might as well criticize a cookbook for not including motorcycle-repair instructions, or a self-help book about quitting smoking for not addressing drug addictions in general. Now, it’s not entirely incidental, of course, that the instructions for a pilot program redeeming one of the families of the earth should contain information that can be generalized to other families; but to criticize a lack of generalized information is just not correctly appreciating the nature and purpose of the existing literature.
I’m not criticizing the Bible, PL. I’m just stating a fact.
I don’t disagree with anything you’ve just written, especially the parts about the Bible being written by Jews for Jews and containing some notes on a “pilot program” (I like that expression…fitting) for somehow including the rest of humanity in God’s redemptive plan. But having said that, it leaves something of a vacuum for what we non-Jews are supposed to go do with ourselves, given that the pilot program isn’t really “fleshed out” in a way that’s particularly useful for filling in the gaps in our praxis.
I sometimes want to look up to Heaven and ask God, “What about the rest of us?”
@James — Didn’t say you were criticizing … noted that Drake had done so. Funny, though, that you should look heavenward to ask: “What about the rest of us?” as compared to Tevye who asked: “Couldn’t You choose somebody else for a change?”.
On the one hand, I’ve been expending significant writing resources attempting to convince non-Jews associated with Messianic Judaism that we have a significant role to play and plenty to offer in the effort of Tikkun Olam and preparing for Messiah’s return. On the other hand, if all that’s true, why did God only leave us with a “pilot program,” as you say? It’s an interesting conundrum.
As far as Tevye’s commentary goes, I can only respond with a phrase written by Stan Lee that is practically Spider-Man’s mission statement: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
I may live in a suburb, but had my dad’s parents stayed in the “old world” we would have been overrun by Nazis and Soviets. So, I’m fine with the bargain. Other side, gave up a king/queen.
From PL: I pointed out to Drake that it is inappropriate to “criticize” this literature for not providing such information, because that was not its purpose. One might as well criticize a cookbook for not including motorcycle-repair instructions, or a self-help book about quitting smoking for not addressing drug addictions in general.
I like that. Of course, it’s probably “proving” drake’s point or bolstering his “reason” to kvetch. But I haven’t tended to have a problem with authority in life — real authority that isn’t hypocritical and the like. Do your part, I’m with you. Sadly, I’ve been betrayed by close people who didn’t take their roles seriously except to get what they want when they want (specifically my mom and the person I married). It seems to me a lot of flailing about to worry about nationality or whatever. I DO (emphasis, not yelling) appreciate knowing my background. That’s fine. But it’s way more important to focus on relating as basic, decent humans. Interestingly, Jews do this… as the tradition goes beyond what is written. And, as you pointed out, PL, getting involved in world issues will land you in the good company of Jews.
@Marleen and PL –
I think that’s a bit unfair to Drake. His main thesis was that there is a lack of information in Scripture that is addressed to Gentiles, in contrast to what most Gentile Christians believe about the Bible. I don’t think he was necessarily criticizing the Scriptures for this; just arguing that it’s so.
I think he also shared how this knowledge has impacted his view of G-d and his own relationship to G-d. Though I think it’s fair to press him toward balance, I don’t think it’s fair to toss criticisms at him for his honesty and vulnerability. I think we should be able to discuss these ideas (thoroughly – lol) *and* be a safe place for people to be honest about their struggles with it all.
“It does seem like the Bible is biased heavily in defining the roles and responsibilities of the Jewish people and is pretty skimpy with its “advice” to the Gentiles. This is probably why some “One Law” supporters just assume it’s all about them and that there are no distinctions.”
It seems “biased” because we aren’t aware of how ETHNIC the scriptures are, indeed, how ETHNIC all so-called “religion” was in ancient times. But of course it wasn’t called “religion” at all. And it didn’t work the way it does now, as a separate aspect of one’s life. A person worshiped the gods of their ethnic people group, and there was rarely any crossover, it was taboo to reject your people’s gods, although we know Romans and Greeks were willing to add other people’s ‘gods’ to their religious repertoire.
We cannot understand that today since we’ve grown up in a country saturated with Judeo-Christian ethics and the Christian worldviews put forth by our founders as they implemented the great experiment in freedom. We aren’t given our rights, for example, they were endowed by our Creator –the God of Israel– flipping Rex-Lex (king is law) on its head and instead, being led by the Jewish scriptures, implementing Lex-Rex (Law is king) which was revolutionary.
I believe if we really contemplated the ethnic nature of “religion” and the scriptures, we would find much to be encouraged about! How could something so grand and “successful” as Christianity, not have been in God’s plan? Has it been perfect in its theology on Jews, as it developed under much fire and persecution? No. Does that mean we should ignore the immense good it has brought into the world? No.
We non-Jews must spiritualize the scriptures, and that isn’t a bad thing (with appropriate boundaries and caution).
“One might as well criticize a cookbook for not including motorcycle-repair instructions, or a self-help book about quitting smoking for not addressing drug addictions in general.”
I hope criticizing a holy text is not a damnable offense. If so, I might as well give up now and do something else with my weekends. I recall Heschel’s statement that the Bible is “but the literature of the Jewish People,” so you are not relating news to me about to whom it is addressed. Maybe I’m committing the sin of the 12 Spies and shrinking in dismay before a grand reward? I don’t know. But I feel that it needs saying. And like all things, if G-d is who He claims to be, He can weather it and perhaps answer it one day. Hopefully before the era is through.
Nevertheless, this self help book in the beginning *did* promise to deal with both smoking and all drugs addiction in general. And so far it’s done an outstanding job at addressing smoking. One cannot say “Be happy! You were planned for in the very beginning!” on other threads and then suggest that any feeling of let-down with the denouement is unfounded. Characters were begun and not developed much relative to the finish.
“It was never intended to provide advice or guidelines for non-Jews, though such guidelines may be (and have been) inferred from it.”
From what I understand, Judaism was the first religion of its kind in a sea of paganism that actually envisioned a destiny for all of Mankind. It’s one of its unique calling cards. So, in fact, yes the Bible opens with a very bold vision peculiar in its mindfulness of all humanity amid its lofty goals. What an unreasonable expectation t’is that while every other world religion tells its votaries how to live, that a book beginning with the bold vision of redeeming nations (Gen. 12:3) would at some point describe it.
Judaism has given me a much broader definition of what it means to be saved. As a Jew, PL is not saved yet. He’s not bringing goods to the Temple under the wing of Messiah yet. Salvation in all its dimension is stratospherically beyond whether or not we burn like the Christians think. And restoration to his place is probably something PL pines for if he’s devout. Now as a gentile, we’re not seeking restoration of a place; we want to know what it actually is.
My church friends speak often of the Old Testament world. You’ve all heard the trope. They aver that the people of yore had no clear vision for the beyond, and that their soteriological framework was murky. They claim that ancient clairvoyance into the shape of things to come was dim at best, and that all their lives were overhung by a silence and darkness of unknowing.
If only my friends arrived to where James and I have, and then realized that they were actually describing themselves, and that the heroes of the Bible knew more where they stood than they. There are little glimmers of irony I see beaming through the cracks of this crumbling world here and again. “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”
Marleen wrote: “It seems to me a lot of flailing about to worry about nationality or whatever.”
That statement could easily be turned on MJs who insist on congregational purism. While I think their gripe is legitimate, why is it flailing when other people ask the same question?
Marlene: Gentiles often say that Jews spend too much time worrying about “nationality or whatever.”
Your curt dismissal saws off a branch you might be sitting on.
My point exactly. I started this series, in part, because of my studies using A Daily Dose of Torah. My wife gifted me this series some years ago. I studied through it back then but decided to give it another go this Torah cycle. With its sections on Mishnah and Gemara, and my unfamiliarity due to lack of a Jewish education, it all certainly seems “alien” to me.
That’s when I realized that Messiah will seem alien to me as well. Once Israel reachs its full ascendency and the rest of the nations are made vassal to the Jewish nation, we non-Jews will be “strangers in a strange land,” reversing our position with the diaspora Jews who have been marginalized for thousands of years in one nation or another.
I’m not sure most non-Jews, either those in Messianic space or especially traditional, church-going Christians, have any idea just how radically everything is going to change upon Messiah’s return. If we non-Jews can’t figure out how we’re going to fit in, then how isolated from King Messiah are we going to be? The worst case scenario will be the living enactment of bilateral ecclesiology world wide.
Granted, that’s pretty “doom and gloom” of me, but I don’t think Gentiles in Messiah have thought all this through. We just assume we’ll fit in because, based on our Church backgrounds, we’ve been told repeatedly that it’s all about us.
However, as you point out, it’s almost never about us at all. I wonder what is going to happen to the world population (or the remnant that is left) of believing Gentiles in the Messianic Kingdom?
Also, I think great care should be taken to “spiritualizing” scripture, since that’s the dodge the early Church Fathers used to refactor Messianic Judaism into Goyishe Christianity.
I have definite concerns with us defining who is and isn’t “saved”. I think how the Church sees “salvation,” as merely a personal reconciliation with God and the promise of going to Heaven when we die, is woefully limited. I see redemption of people and nations as a process, even as the world’s redemption, begun with the first advent of Yeshua but not yet fully realized, is a process.
We’re all on a journey of redemption if we claim any sort of relationship with and affiliation to the God of Israel. While I sometimes complain about the Church being misguided, I don’t think any of us individually or corporately have it all “right”. We are all struggling within the aforementioned process. It’s the reality of our existence and the truth of our lives from birth to death and then beyond.
@Kari — In all fairness to Drake, he was the one who said he was criticizing.
@Drake — As a Jewish messianist, I have the very fullness that is promised in the apostolic writings in all spiritual blessings. As an Israeli, I have the unfolding redemption of the land and my people, as well as the expectation of its completion when Messiah returns to fulfill the ben-David promises. As an orthodox pursuer of Torah living, I have a grip on the means to greatness in the kingdom of heaven (as described in Mt.5:19-20). I’m not sure which kind of salvation you had in mind that you believe I lack, though I’ll agree with you that some aspects of the overall picture are still a work in progress. To that, I can only respond in accordance with a plea whose expression was coined about a half-century ago, to the best of my knowledge, by a Christian teacher named Bill Gothard, saying: “Please be patient — G-d isn’t finished with me yet!”. I can extend that individualistic perspective much more generally to apply to redemption in general, of peoples, of cultures, and of history itself. The Temple was a tool for use in the redemptive process, but not the only one. In the messianic era, it will be so again. But, in the meantime, Jews like myself are not denied salvation for lack of bringing sacrifices into it. Rav Yeshua, in the role of the ben-Yosef messiah, ensured that — and there are related considerations too profound to address here that affect salvations and redemptions for Jews collectively and individually.
@ PL – I had to chuckle because I made my comment right before Drake posted his, admitting he had been criticizing the Bible. I also reread another comment from him where he said it plainly. So, excuse my statement.
If anything, I think accusations of “whining” and “kvetching” take this outside the bounds of civil debate.
Oh, ho hum. Not “damnable” drake.
Do your part, I’m with you. Sadly, I’ve been betrayed by close people who didn’t take their roles seriously except to get what they want when they want (specifically my mom and the person I married). It seems to me a lot of flailing about to worry about nationality or whatever. I DO (emphasis, not yelling) appreciate knowing my background. That’s fine. But it’s way more important to focus on relating as basic, decent humans. Interestingly, Jews do this… as the tradition goes beyond what is written. And, as you pointed out, PL, getting involved in world issues will land you in the good company of Jews.
What about this drake? You want to pick on people (by your apparent definitions) and ignore the larger points being made but still wince if you think it happens to you. I’m not trying to put you down.
The whole world has its hands full with the basics. People don’t love other people (not even most Christians, but they can play a role in bringing decency to some messed up worldviews and places). And you don’t need an ethnicity or nationality to wave.
I am content that Jews are chosen to fulfill a redeeming part. Despite excruciating life experiences, I have faith that this will be completed. I also believe that if differences are important or even enjoyable in the Kingdom, they will be brought out.
I agree with you that redemption isn’t complete until, well, a lot could be said. Suffice to say the Christian view is wrong.
I probably shouldn’t have used a Yiddish word to refer to him. Sorry. But when someone isn’t playing by fair rules (the runaround I mentioned and the other double standard of touchiness), “whine” is okay.
Also, I first thought “whine” was okay just in a general sense because of the prophet who was quoted as referring to gentiles finding sadly that what had been handed to them with their gods was worthless. This is not terrible to whine or cry about, but realization.
Marlene: “But when someone isn’t playing by fair rules (the runaround I mentioned and the other double standard of touchiness), “whine” is okay.”
What runaround? I’ve been the most candid. I debated holiness and its biblical definition with PL, at which point I said clearly that shapelessness was what bothered me, not perceived holiness. It began when he and others kept on claiming that Jesus belief makes gentiles holy, at which point I listed all the gradients laid out in the Bible between Cohen and Peasant and asked where on the spectrum Jesus places them in holiness. PL said that the resurrected are the most holy, at which point I told him that his proposition great for the next world, something you have to wait to die to see. But that such a rebuttal does not answer James’ question as to how we live now in this age, or by what means Gentiles are holy now. Personally, I’ve encountered a lot of disappointment in pursuing G-d in life, and telling people that they are somehow holy for Jesus-belief if it really is not seen in this life seems to set gentiles up for later disappointment when they “learn that there is no honey on the moon.” *
But that was not my initial argument. I can accept that someone is holier; I have a hard time swallowing that gentiles are somewhat shapeless/formless in this present age, uncreated by decree. ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wish’d. **
* Roots Manuva, Rapper
Everything I’ve said I’ve backed up by arguments. And just as I said before, so I am summarizing to you now. I’m not being touchy and I’m not giving runarounds.
Actually, Drake, I said that holiness is *not* a graduated ranking system. It represents a special dedication or purpose or designation or assignment. Apparently you did not understand at all what I wrote. Resurrection does not confer holiness, per se, but rather it confers glorification. Even post-resurrection holiness will depend on HaShem’s special assignments. Trust in Rav Yeshua’s symbolic sacrifice does not convey holiness either to Jews or to gentiles. It does, however, open doorways to redemption and sanctification, the latter of which represents holiness as a special dedication to the ways of HaShem. This is how non-Jews must approach holiness.
* is great