Walking to the Temple

The Spiritual Responsibility of the Church to Israel

In a closed Facebook group, someone mentioned recently that the Noahide Siddur completely omits the Mussaf, probably because the wording is so closely associated with the exclusive relationship of the Jewish people to Hashem and the avodah of the Temple.

And while I’ve said in the past that Gentile Talmidei Yeshua are not Noahides (though I have been since corrected that a better title would be “more than a noahide”), this does bring up a boundary line between non-Jewish disciples of Rav Yeshua and the Jewish disciples (and Jewish people in general). There are just some things we can’t claim to share with Israel because they are the exclusive property of Israel.

Very recently, I wrote a blog post about a Christian’s duty to support and defend Israel and the Jewish people, even from the “war” being waged against them by our nation’s current administration.

It’s not always easy to do.

No, we’re not Israel. We’re not Jewish. But we still have a duty.

But what is the duty we Christians and/or Talmidei Yeshua have relative to the Jewish nation and her people?

The Jewish people are considered as one “organism.” What happens to one limb affects the entire body.

Every Jew recognizes that all the Jewish People are bound together. When there’s a terrorist attack in Israel, we all feel it. The Talmud says “Kol Yisrael areivim zeh la-zeh” – Every Jew is responsible one for another.

The story is told of the religious man who died and went to heaven. There, he appeared before the Heavenly Tribunal to hear a listing of his good deeds and bad. The man was quite satisfied to hear of all his mitzvahs. But he was shocked to have included amongst his transgressions the prohibition of eating pork.

“What?!” the man protested, “but I never once ate pork!”

“True,” spoke the Tribunal, “but for 20 years you lived next door to a man who ate pork, and you never made an effort to discuss it with him. For that, you are responsible.”

from the article “Responsible One for Another”
posted in the “Ask the Rabbi” column at
Aish.com

OK, that’s the responsibility of one Jew for another, but what about the rest of us?

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”

Matthew 25:34-40 (NASB)

MessiahI once knew a Christian who had a unique interpretation of these verses. While on the surface, it seems as if the disciples of Yeshua (Jesus) are commanded to provide assistance for people who are hungry, thirsty, without clothing, or who are otherwise in distress or disadvantaged, this older Christian gentlemen (and one of the most steadfast doers of what Jesus commanded that I ever met) said he believed that we merit the reward spoken of by our Rav (he didn’t word it this way, of course) when we provide this sort of care specifically to the Jewish people, not just to people in general.

I’m not sure that’s likely, considering that Yeshua’s audience consisted of Jewish people and that Matthew’s Gospel is widely considered to have been written specifically to Jews, but on the other hand, it makes a sort of sense.

The Rav himself said that “salvation comes from the Jews” (John 4:22), and if Israel can be said, particularly through our Rav, to be a light to the nations (Isaiah 49:6), then we owe that light a great debt.

The Apostle Paul (Rav Shaul) believed that there were many advantages to being a Jew, as he chronicled in his Epistle to the Romans (Romans 3:1-2). Paul also commended the largely non-Jewish communities (“churches” if you will) in the diaspora for donating charity (tzedakah) to the Holy Ones in Jerusalem (see 1 Corinthians 16 and 2 Corinthians 8 for examples), as if the Gentiles owed it to the impoverished Jews in the Holy City.

Of course, there are other reasons we owe the Jewish people a debt:

On this day in 1601, Hebrew books that had been confiscated by Church authorities were burned in Rome. This was an unfortunate theme throughout the Middle Ages: In 1592, Pope Clement VIII had condemned the Talmud and other Hebrew writings as “obscene,” “blasphemous” and “abominable” — and ordered them all seized and burned. Centuries earlier, Pope Gregory IX persuaded French King Louis IX to burn some 10,000 copies of the Talmud (24 wagon loads) in Paris. As late as 1553, Cardinal Peter Caraffa (the future Pope Paul IV) ordered copies of the Talmud burned in the Papal States and across Italy. Yet despite all attempts to extinguish our faith, the light of Torah shines brightly till today.

from “This Day in Jewish History”
for Shevat 11
Aish.com

OK, you might say that you’re not Catholic or that this happened a long time ago and we don’t do this to Jewish people anymore, but the inherit memory of the Jewish people and the history of the Church’s “relationship” with the Jews is very long lived.

And sadly, even to this day, we can often find the spirit of Haman in the Church.

It’s so easy to wallow in the mud, to get tangled up in Israel’s final redemption and the current political landscape. It’s easy for non-Jews in Yeshua to experience jealousy over the advantage of the Jews (Romans 3:1-2), which I suppose is why Christianity developed the doctrine of supersessionism (or cryptosupersessionism as the case may be).

Rabbi Noah Weinberg of blessed memory wrote an article over 15 years ago called Free Will – Our Greatest Power. It’s somewhat lengthy, but here’s a summary of his five main points:

  • Level One: Don’t be a sleepwalker. Make decisions actively.
  • Level Two: Don’t be a puppet of society’s goals, or a slave to your old decisions.
  • Level Three: Be aware of the conflict between the cravings of your body and the aspirations of your soul.
  • Level Four: Identify with your soul, not your body.
  • Level Five: Make your will God’s will.
Rabbi Weinberg
Rabbi Noah Weinberg

If you read the entire missive, you’ll see that having free will and making Hashem’s will our will results in an intersection between the mundane and the Divine. We learn to see past the physical reality of our world and the things (and people and nations) we often fight against, and perceive them (things, people, nations) through a spiritual lens.

By the way, this isn’t an either-or affair:

Given that we live in a physical world, much of the goal of Judaism is to infuse the physicality with holiness. We say a blessing before eating our special kosher food, we have a framework for sanctifying our marital relations, etc.

from the article “What is Holiness?”
posted in the “Ask the Rabbi” column
Aish.com

In the western mindset, we tend to think of things in binary terms. Something is either this or that, we turn left or right, we can choose this one or that one. But that mindset, including within the Christian Church, is based on ancient Greek philosophy.

Judaism and Hebrew thought is much more comfortable with dynamic contradictions in which seeming opposites can live together, if not at peace, then at least under a flag of truce.

Observant Jews don’t choose between the material and spiritual worlds, they infuse the physical with the spiritual. In my own dim little way, I can see Israel as both the present political reality and the Holy Nation of God given to the Jewish people as their perpetual heritage.

I think if we choose to put on that pair of lenses and see the many aspects of our world, and particularly Israel and the Jewish people, the way God sees them, we would have no doubt in our minds (or hearts) at all that we should be doing all we can to assist an Israel under siege, or at the very least, not to get in Israel’s way.

I said that the physical and the spiritual can co-exist in dynamic tension, but looking at Level Four of Rav Weinberg’s summary, it seems like that co-existence isn’t exactly 50/50. If we can perfect our vision, it means being biased somewhat toward the spiritual side of our sight. In this context, that means seeing more of Israel’s spiritual reality than her current physical and political reality. It means seeing Israel more as what she’ll be when her full redemption arrives.

For when Israel’s redemption arrives, ours will arrive with him.

If your bread fell out of heaven, you might be afraid to make a diet of it. Sure, it’s convenient, but most people would rather sink their teeth into a steak, or at least a potato—something that feels like a part of their world.

That’s also the way many people feel about any topic that touches on the spiritual. It is the unknowableness of it—that you can’t grasp it in your hand or tally it up with your assets—that causes people to shun it, to run from it, to even deny it exists.

These people are running from who they are. Far more than we are a body with a bank account, we are spiritual beings. Without nourishment for our souls, we are plagued by insatiable cravings—like a body lacking essential nutrients.

For the human being, inner peace is achieved by first surrendering to the unknown.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“Grasping Bread from Heaven”
Chabad.org

If we don’t feed ourselves with “bread from Heaven,” not only will our spiritual self be starved, we won’t be able to recognize what is truly, spiritually real, and then act upon it in the present world.

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10 thoughts on “The Spiritual Responsibility of the Church to Israel”

  1. Referring back to the article/blog post you wrote four days before this one (and linked back to from this one), I am posting this news article and another response on my part: http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/capitol-hill/2016/02/02/army-marines-women-combat-jobs-draft/79695978/

    Thanks Republicans, for nothing meaningful. “Are women capable?” “Will they detract from effectiveness?” That’s it? Women serve in the military in Israel. Abortion is also legal in Israel. And women are provided abortion services by the military/the government in Israel. Yet your other article leading in to this one made a big deal out of the topic of abortion rights. Of course the bad people want abortion rights. And I guess good people want women in the military by requirement, like in Israel. You know; “contrast” how Israel is and how we’ve been. This happens all the time… another example: complain that a president of ours trades Muslims for our guys. Yet Israel does this too.

    It’s easy to play on the ignorance of the American people.

    Yes, Christians have a responsibility. But the political recipes used for partisan reasons are usually bologne.

    By the way, Hillary was contrasted with Trump in that blog post — in a contentious manner. Trump has clearly said he is very pro-choice (at all stages); at that same time, he said he hates abortion. In the last few days, a reporter asked Trump how he is consistent or believable with his newer statements that he’s pro-life. Trump did not answer except to fight with the person asking and tell him he should have read the “whole” thing and not left out the part about hating abortion. End of story. Really? Look, anyone can say they’re pro-life. And anyone can imply they are by contrasting being pro-choice with supposedly being pro-Israel by voting for someone’s preferred candidate.

  2. Marleen said:

    Yes, Christians have a responsibility. But the political recipes used for partisan reasons are usually bologne.

    We don’t just support Israel because of what she is but because of what she’s destined to be…what she means to Hashem.

  3. I’m pro-U.S. troops and veterans; that doesn’t equal (as many would like to believe and promote) that I have to fall for Donald Trump’s junk. Junk it is. [Same goes for supposedly being pro-Israel.]

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/28/politics/donald-trump-veterans-organizations-donation-recipients/index.html
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/01/28/veterans-group-wont-take-trump-fundraiser-donations.html
    http://www.msnbc.com/the-last-word/watch/votevets-chair-trump-really-doesn-t-know-our-issues-610650691915
    http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/trump-foundation-has-given-little-vets-groups
    http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/trumps-history-veterans-gets-renewed-scrutiny

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/trump-vet-stunt-follows-exploitive-pattern-611202115943
    http://player.theplatform.com/p/7wvmTC/MSNBCEmbeddedOffSite?guid=n_maddow_dtrumpvets_160128
    1/28/16 Trump vet stunt fits campaign’s exploitive pattern
    Rachel Maddow reviews Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s recent history of attempting to exploit veterans and veterans causes to advance his campaign and cover over his personal shortcomings. Duration: 13:38

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/mccains-loyalty-palin-goes-unrewarded

  4. I find it deeply sad to pit (creating an illusion of) Israeli Jews against American Jews and American Jews against Israelis — especially to a largely Christian audience — based on specious (non) “information.” And for political reasons. It’s heartbreaking really.

  5. http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/the-origin-of-presidential-turkey-pardoning-574548547710

    … the annual tradition of a U.S. president pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey is surprisingly recent and began with President Ronald Reagan trying to make a joke to avoid a tough question from the press about issuing pardons in the Iran-Contra scandal {or treason}.

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/iran-reagan-the-wrong-example-follow

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/reagan-cruzs-favorite-non-reagan-influence

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/its-not-just-reagan-republicans-flunk-jfk-history-too

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/gop-candidates-deluded-on-reagan-iran-record-604080707895
    This link, like the first one in this post, is to a video.
    {The three in the middle are to short articles.}

  6. I don’t quite understand why this topic became the dumping ground for opinions about Donald Trump or Conservative Republican opinions about women in military service, or whatever. I’m not touching any of that; and I’m not intending to support Trump in any way (actually, I might favor Cruz). However, I was intrigued by the logic of the question about how one might be “pro-choice” and yet “hate abortion”. If one limits the definition of the term “pro-choice” to its literal meaning, one would have to consider it quite possible for someone to hate when choice is used to perpetrate an evil such as murdering unborn infants and yet support the notion of liberty embodied in the word “choice”. It is simply a matter of constraining liberty with a sense of proper moral responsibility. That constraint is the essence of the American political enterprise. All of our choices must balance our guaranteed inalienable liberty against our implicit human responsibility for one another (including the weakest among us).

  7. It certainly is possible to be pro-choice and hate abortion. But Trump has been playing with American ruts of thinking to gain popularity. U.S. voters have been falling for it and neglecting diligence to expect him to answer questions and so forth; it’s not the Republican point of view (or what they use anyway). And it’s no foundation on which to dis American Jews (for not favoring him over Hillary as if he will save babies and Israel to boot) as was done. That is the one reason (or in some cases the two reasons) many people vote Republican. Another reason is the military (but I don’t trust them with the military any more). I don’t think there’s any good reason to contrast Hillary with Trump. But I don’t plan to vote for either one of them. But what really bothered me was the political motivation to put down American Jews.

  8. {I should clarify — since I referenced “the Republican” point of view — that my statement was ahistorical to an extent; it is historical, but based in the last few decades. Prior to that, the Republican thrust was not anti-abortion and was worse than pro-choice; they were out promoting abortion, especially as a matter of population control (in consideration of economics and resources available to groups of people and the decrease of goods on the earth). So, abortion as elective for economic reasons or due to poverty or ambition to “succeed” in life came from that. They used to go to other countries and even push for population control. This is akin to what goes on now in China. Having an abortion there is not mostly about a woman or even a family making choices. Prior to the popularization of being against choice in the Republican party, the Republican party was already against choice. An example of being against choice was a case when a woman who worked for the government was pregnant and was told she either had to quit or have an abortion, or she would be fired. Not really any kind of realistic* choice, but she refused. Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued for her, for life.

    You’re supposed to have money and not be lazy (an unfair charge), but you also have to quit if you want to give birth to your baby.}

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