A Little High Holidays Study

© James Pyles

Being intermarried can be an interesting experience. My wife is Jewish and I’m a Christian. There are things we have tacitly agreed never to talk about and, for the most part, I thought we’d reached a nice balancing point. I read my Bible, both the Tanakh and Apostolic Scriptures, when I can be alone and she does what she does.

Working from home, there is plenty of times when I’m by myself. I was taking a break and walking around the living room and saw the books in the image above. I kind of thought we’d put this one to bed a long time ago, but something must still linger.

It’s not like she doesn’t have the right to believe as she wills, and it’s not like I’m “evangelizing” her, but something must be happening.

This year Rosh Hashanah extends from September 18 – 20 and Yom Kippur from September 27 and 28. Every year I think that perhaps I will observe the High Holidays in some manner or fashion, but then again, stuff like this comes up.

It reminds me that in the end, as a covenantless Goy, one who doesn’t fit in either within the church or the synagogue, all I have is God.

Oh, here’s what you can find out about these study guides on Amazon.

5 thoughts on “A Little High Holidays Study”

  1. I really did not know who R. Tovia Singer is, but, I did watch a video and have to say……he is impressive…….He does provoke soul searching if one is a Jew…and I suppose, conflict if one is a Christian. Very interesting post. Waiting for other comments.

    1. She was watching one of his videos last night. His speaking was so dynamic, I almost commented that he sounded like one of those old time Baptist preachers. Kept my mouth shut, of course.

  2. Hahaha! Sounds very venturesome! I think the fact that a Christian husband and a Jewish wife live together is so graceful and it embodies the image of One New Man. Between Judaism and Christianity, dont’ have to choose one of them because both are one. You can sometimes remind you of Christ whenever your wife says, “Seed or Israel or Word or Covenant or Salvation,etc..” You know what i’m saying. Bless your family!!

  3. I re-read your link, James, to the earlier discussion where I had outlined covenant or non-covenant states of spirituality. It occurred to me as I read this essay that there is a follow-on question that I don’t think we ever addressed. That is: where do we go from that basic understanding? What comes next? Or to put it another way, as expressed in a book title some decades ago by a Christian theologian, “How Shall We Then Live?”

    Let’s level the playing field a bit. Jews have responsibilities outlined by the Torah covenant with HaShem. This places them in a position that Rav Shaul described to the Roman assemblies in Rom.11:26, that all Israel will be “saved”. Gentile disciples, on the other hand, may draw close to HaShem by aligning themselves voluntarily with His principles, thereby placing themselves alongside that Jewish covenant and embracing it, Thus HaShem accepts their repentance and resolve to grant them the salvation that He has wished for all humanity from the start, as Rav Shaul expressed to his disciple Timothy in 1Tim.2:3-6 — “This is good and acceptable in the eyes of HaShem our savior, Who desires that all humans should be saved to approach the knowledge of the truth that there is only one G-d”, and one mediator between HaShem and humanity, who is the anointed man Yeshua who offered himself as a ransom for everyone and a testimony at the appointed time.”

    Alright, then, so all humans, both Jews and cooperating gentiles, have a place within the salvation scheme. What does that do for them or to them? First, it places upon them a responsibility to trust HaShem for continual mercy, as they become increasingly aware of their shortcomings and learn to acknowledge and repent of them, to re-think them and to repudiate them, and to learn how to avoid repeating such errors. By following this process, they will progressively mature in their attitudes and behavior to conform more closely with the model of ideal human behavior in their interactions with each other and with HaShem. That is how they enact their salvation, individually and corporately, within the framework of redemption that HaShem granted them to enter into. Rav Shaul exhorted such behavior in his letter to the Philippians (Phil.2:12), that they should “work out the results of their salvation”.

    This may bring us to the question that appears on the Tovia Singer book for which you provided an image: “Why doesn’t Judaism accept the Christian Messiah?”. The answer to that derives from no less than 15 centuries of history in which Christian theology and behavior have been inimical to Jews and Judaism. Among the fundamental antagonisms has been Judaism’s insistence on the “One-ness” of God, as distinct from Christianity’s insistence on a multiplex view of God that gives lip-service to monotheism but effectively devolves into an ancient pagan view as if there were actually three gods working together in a sort of mini-pantheon. One of these three then happens to be a demigod human, reflecting ancient Greek perceptions of a character not unlike Heracles. In this we have an example of Christian theology ignoring elements of its own presumed foundational literature, such as Rav Shual’s reference to the anointed human Yeshua. Hence the “Christian Messiah” concept is not acceptable to Judaism, it would therefore have seemed quite mistaken to Rav Shaul; and by inference from this passage he wrote it would not be acceptable to HaShem either.

    However, just as the redemptive salvation process that I summarized above probably sounds quite different from the traditional Christian salvation formulation of “repent and believe that Jesus is the savior (and the messiah) and you will be saved”, so also does a Jewish view of Rav Yeshua’s messianic credentials come off quite differently. There are actually two sets of messianic characteristics within Jewish thought, each one associated with a biblical character as its model. Modern Judaism since the time of the Rambam (Maimonides) has focused almost exclusively on the one identified as “ben-David”, the conquering king who will defeat Israel’s enemies and re-establish the kingdom of Israel under a monarchy that extends its righteous rule over the whole world. Virtually ignored is the other set of characteristics, for the “ben-Yosef” messiah, who is described by the prophet Isaiah as a suffering servant who redeems Israel from its shortcomings. This version is ignored largely because of Christian persecution and delegitimization of Jews and Judaism which included foisting upon them a false Christian messiah loosely based on the Jew Rav Yeshua ben-Yosef whose life actually did reflect the “suffering servant” characteristics. When one is suffering pressures to convert to Christianity and forsake loyalty to one’s own people and their covenant with G-d, one is not likely to appreciate the distinctions between their “Christian messiah” and the Jew they falsely claim to be such. Such conditions do not lend themselves to thoughtful consideration of an alternative view and the actual characteristics and teachings of haRav Yeshua ben-Yosef, by which one may acknowledge him as a suffering servant of the Jewish people and the ben-Yosef messiah who would turn the hearts of children back to their forefathers and evoke the heartfelt views of these forefathers in their children. Moreover, contrary to Christian emphasis, salvation is not predicated on whether one acknowledges who is a valid candidate for one or another messianic title. It is only in recognizing his contribution to fostering the redemptive process by his teachings and example that one may recognize Rav Yeshua as the ben-Yosef messiah, which reverses that false emphasis entirely.

    Returning then to consideration of the redemptive process, we may examine the distinctions between Jewish and Christian methodologies for progressive maturation. For Jews, the Torah covenant and centuries of civilizational development provide numerous specific characteristic and ritual behaviors to facilitate the process that are distinctively for Jews to maintain their identity and their exemplary role vis-a-vis other nations within the human family. For non-Jews there has likewise been civilizational development, much of it derived from interactions with the Jewish bible and the apostolic writings about haRav Yeshua. Regardless of many specific misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the biblical record, much moral progress has occurred across the intervening centuries from which gentile disciples may derive guidance, even learning from the mistakes as these become revealed to them through continuing study and interaction with covenant-faithful Jews.

    Regrettably, at this stage of history, there are large numbers of Jews who are not faithful to the covenant, as well as even larger numbers of gentiles who have no knowledge of the covenant whatsoever, let alone any commitment to the redemptive process. The task of those who are faithful, to persuade and educate them, remains a significant aspect of the mitzvah of “tikkun ha’olam” (fixing-up the world). So let’s get to it, cautioned by what we remind ourselves about ourselves and our own shortcomings, at this Rosh HaShanah season of repentance and return.

    1. When one is suffering pressures to convert to Christianity and forsake loyalty to one’s own people and their covenant with G-d, one is not likely to appreciate the distinctions between their “Christian messiah” and the Jew they falsely claim to be such.

      So true.

      Similarly (but also very differently), when zealots who have little or no sense of progressing salvation approach others (such as individuals who aren’t religious) to pressure them to join in something putrid, evangelization is fruitless or worse… and largely to be avoided.

      Now, in your prior paragraph, I would go with seventeen centuries (rather than 15) plus various smaller or subtler but consequential lead-ins before that (especially in the century prior). Some (not including yourself) say they are tired of reference to Constantine.

      Yet, his time (and those who enablingly led up to him) are integral to real history rather than simply an old novel or epic — take it or leave it. The history, and its fallout, is tiring. Still, it can’t just be whitewashed or ignored for wishful thoughts or “positive” incantation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.