My father wrote that he heard in the name of the Alter Rebbe that all rabbinic authors until and including the Taz and Shach, composed their works with ruach hakodesh, the Divine Spirit. An individual’s ruach hakodesh, as explained by Korban Ha’eida in Tractate Sh’kalim (Talmud Yerushalmi), end of ch. 3, means that the mysteries of Torah are revealed to him. This comes from the aspect of chochma in its pre-revelation state.
-from the talks and letters of the sixth Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory.
Compiled by the Lubavitcher Rebbe; Translated by Yitschak Meir Kagan
Moses received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua; Joshua to the elders; the elders to the prophets; and the prophets handed it down to the men of the Great Assembly.
This isn’t going to resonate well with Christians who believe that God has abandoned the Jewish people. On the other hand, in reading the First Fruits of Zion book Gifts of the Spirit, I came across this:
We confuse ourselves regarding the giving of the Holy Spirit when we assume that, prior to the Shavu’ot even described in Acts 2, Jewish people did not have the Holy Spirit. That assumption also leads us to believe that non-Messianic religious Jews after that could not possibly receive inspiration from the Holy Spirit, act in any capacity of the Holy Spirit, or perform miracles by the Holy Spirit. These assumptions, I believe, are based squarely upon a misunderstanding of John 7:39 where it says, “He said this about the spirit that those who believe in him would receive, because the Holy Spirit was not given before Yeshua was glorified.”
-D. Thomas Lancaster
“Chapter 3: A Pledge of What is to Come,” pg 39
“Gifts of the Spirit”
That quote also won’t sit well with the vast majority of Christians, and I will comment more extensively on this quote and other chapters of the book next week.
But I got to thinking about the relationship between God and the Jewish people, all the Jewish people, not just those who profess a faith in Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah and Son of the Most High. Did God cut them off? Are Jews and Judaism “dead” to God and only those Jews who convert to Christianity (or alternately, enter into faith as a Messianic Jew) “alive” to God?
I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?
–Romans 11:1-2 (NASB)
Paul goes on to speak of a chosen remnant within Israel selected by God’s grace, which certainly makes it seem as if only a few Jewish people will “make it” and the rest are toast.
But there’s more to the story:
But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
–Romans 11:13-15 (NASB)
It seems the “stumbling” and “partial hardening” (v 25) of the Jewish people is for the benefit of the Gentiles, and this was Paul’s warning to the Gentile believers in Rome, as I discussed in my reviews of the Mark Nanos book The Mystery of Romans, to not create additional “stumbling blocks” between the Jewish people and faith in the Messiah by the arrogance of the Gentiles in the Roman synagogues.
How can we say that God abandoned all or even most of the Jewish people if Paul never did?
I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
–Romans 9:1-5 (NASB)
One of the Nanos papers (PDF) discusses a translation of the Greek we read in Romans 11:25 as “partially hardened” and renders it as “callused,” indicating that what separates most Jewish people from the knowledge of Messiah is a temporary condition, one which can be healed so that “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26).
If this is God’s intention for Israel, the Jewish people, the chosen nation of Hashem, then who are we, the non-Jewish disciples of the Jewish Messiah, to stand in the way for the sake of our own “self-superiority,” which is the same condition Paul was chastising the believing Gentile believers in Rome for exhibiting?
And yet, how are we to believe that the Holy Spirit continues to be with the Jewish people, even as they are “temporarily calloused” toward the identity of the Messiah, when in the Church, we believe someone receives the indwelling of the Spirit only when we come to faith in Jesus Christ?
Has the Holy Spirit of God abandoned the Jewish people or does the Spirit guide the “rabbinic authors” in composing their works? It’s difficult to imagine that one unifying Spirit is guiding all the Jewish people when the various sages across history and the different streams of Judaism today all seem to disagree with each other. But then again, examining the different denominations of the Christian Church, we see the same phenomenon: multiple streams of Christianity which are theoretically all guided by the same, unifying Spirit and yet all disagree with each other on a number of important theological and doctrinal details.
But every once in a while in Christianity and Judaism, we see evidence of the presence of the Spirit of God working in interesting and surprising ways:
A few months before he died, one of the nation’s most prominent rabbis, Yitzhak Kaduri, supposedly wrote the name of the Messiah on a small note which he requested would remain sealed until now. When the note was unsealed, it revealed what many have known for centuries: Yehoshua, or Yeshua (Jesus), is the Messiah.
With the biblical name of Jesus, the Rabbi and kabbalist described the Messiah using six words and hinting that the initial letters form the name of the Messiah.
“The Rabbi, the Note and the Messiah,” May 30, 2013
Reprinted from Israel Today Magazine, April 2007
You can click the link I provided to read the full article and also, go to YouTube to view a brief (4:48 minutes) video on Rabbi Kaduri’s revelation.
The yartzeit of Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri was observed last December 31st (the 29th of Tevet), which is why this information has been recently re-published in magazines and social media.
I’ve been writing a great deal on whether or not the “gifts of the spirit” have ceased or continued past the closure of Christian Biblical canon. To listen to John MacArthur of Strange Fire fame and other “cessationists,” the answer is that no human being has been granted specific gifts of prophesy, speaking in tongues, having visions, or healing in nearly two-thousand years. He and his colleagues have plenty of opposition to this idea.
My reading of the “Gifts of the Spirit” book, named for a conference I attended last May, tells me that the Holy Spirit continues to be active in our world today in very observable ways, but doesn’t really emphasize particular individuals continually exercising specific “gifts” provided by the Spirit of God. After all, we aren’t the apostles, so how can we expect to operate at their level of spirituality and holiness? Maybe there are a few tzaddikim (Christianity would call them “saints”) or exceptionally righteous individuals who can apprehend such gifts, but I’d have to say they’re few and far between in our religious and historical landscape.
I consider it nothing less than miraculous that Rabbi Kaduri could come to such a startling conclusion, which certainly has sent ripples of interest and shock across the body of his disciples and across the span of religious Judaism.
There’s a great deal that I don’t know about the Spirit and how He chooses to move among those who pray to the God of Abraham, which includes Christians, Jews, and Muslims, but I believe God can do exactly as He desires to do without the consent of human beings. I choose to believe Rabbi Kaduri had a vision. I choose to believe God did not abandon the Jewish people or Judaism. There is still wonder, and awe, and amazement, in our world as God is present among His people and speaking to us in many voices. I’m glad Rabbi Kaduri chose to listen and obey. It’s a message of hope for all believers and for all Jewish people that the gospel message of Moshiach is indeed good news for the Jews, and also for the people of the nations who are called by His Name.
Why did I write all this now? I read the quote I put at the top of this blog post today and everything else fell into place.