When Jews Who Believe in Yeshua Become Anti-Judaism

June 18, 2015

By now we are all more than familiar with the discussion about whether anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism may fairly be equated. I would say that in some cases, definitely yes. There are people who hate the Jewish State because it is the Jewish State. But that is not what I want to talk about today.

Instead, I want to, nay, must talk about anti-Rabbinism and anti-Judaism among people who should know better: Jews who love Yeshua.

Who cares, you might ask? Well, I care and here’s why. There are some videos available today in which Jews seeking to promote the good news of the Messiah, feel obliged to ridicule and dismiss “the rabbis and their religion.” For them, Yeshua and faith in Him is right, and the rabbis and living a halachic life is silly, unnecessary, spiritually worthless and ridiculous on the face of it.

This offends and angers me. You too?

Here is one way to understand why this is offensive. There are people who hate the Jewish State, but say “Some of my best friends are Jews, and I have nothing against the Jewish people.” But somehow, we Jews have serious issues with anyone who rabidly opposes the only Jewish State in the world while the states around Israel are a study in human rights abuses. Somehow the statement “I like Jews but I hate Zionists” belongs in the same category as “I like you Jim. You’re not like other black people.”

Similarly, claiming to love the Jewish people, while categorically dismissing and ridiculing their leadership cadre which for thousands of years has guarded, transmitted, and preserved Jewish culture and the Jewish people sets off my stench detector. In particular, I would remind these Jews who seek to promote Yeshua by ridiculing and denigrating the religion of the rabbis and the rabbis of the Jewish religion that it wasn’t the ministers or priests or their Christian religion, no matter how pure of doctrine, that sustained the Jewish people through 2000 years of pillage, exile, murder and death. In fact, last time I checked, they had a lot to do with all of that, but not on the prevention end of things. It was the rabbis and their religion that saved Jewish life and Jewish lives.

And no, neither Yeshua nor I myself imagine for a moment that the rabbis are always right, anymore than the ministers and priests are always wrong. Let's not be silly. God uses fallible instruments for his extraordinary work, and if that upsets you, then you certainly do have a problem.

 You will say it was not the rabbis who saved Israel but God.  And I will say God used the rabbis and their religion to keep the Jews one people, trusting in the God who has, according to promise, brought us back to the Land and will someday fully vindicate his promises to us and our chosenness with Him.

If you can’t praise Yeshua without denigrating the rabbis and Judaism, then you have a different Yeshua than I do. You may keep yours, and I will keep mine, because mine applauds the rabbis and Judaism for keeping his people alive. Here at Interfaithfulness, we call him "a more Jewish Jesus." 

We are convinced he walks even among these lampstands (see Rev. 1-2). . 

 

 

 

47 comments on “When Jews Who Believe in Yeshua Become Anti-Judaism”

  1. Totally agree, Stuart.

    But the million-dollar question, of course, is this: Given that Judaism as we know it today is not the same as Judaism in Yeshua's time, what should the faith of Jewish believers in Yeshua look like? My conviction, strongly influenced by modern-day sages like yourself, is that it should be quite close to mainstream Judaism (which is a very broad term that includes everything from Reform to Chassidic and more) - anything else causes significant problems in many areas. However, this is not a popular view, and it is complicated by a relative lack of tradition to guide us.

    1. I was talking about this with someone today, making the point that it takes extraordinary chutzpah for any of us to presume to interpret the meaning and implications of the stipulations of Torah in isolation from that very community to whom the Torah was given, and who have been reverently struggling with its interpretation and application for thousands of years. We must remember that the Torah and more widely, the Tanach, is not a book which we found in a bookstore, or like the Mormons, allegedly on golden plates hidden in the Hill Cumorah, nor descended from heavem whole and entire as the Muslims say of the Koran. No, the Tanach, the Torah, the Jewish way of life is the legacy given to a people, the Jewish people. And I have long taught and increasingly believe that our obedience to that Torah should be in harmony with the standards of historical development among that people. "Moses delivered to us a law, an inheritance for the assembly of Jacob" (Deut 33:4).

      1. I am knew to this blog and really appreciate the discussions. My question regarding the above is this: On the one hand, Yeshua states in Mathew 23, "the rabbis sit in Moses' seat so whatever they bid you to do, that you should observe and do...." - thus showing that in regards to the Torah, the rabbis have maintained the right to determine halacha. Further more, we see clearly in Acts 21, that the believing Jews maintained their Jewish identity, keeping the Torah ("Moses"), circumcising their children and keeping the "customs." My question is how do we then interpret Matthew 16 ( I won't quote all of the verses here) - in which the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees is compared to leaven and to be avoided as well as in both chapters 16 and 18 we see the idea of the ability to "bind and loose" being given to Peter/the "church?" My understanding is that binding and loosing are halachic terms regarding, at least in part, legal, Torah -based rulings and therefore, it seems that here, the authority does not belong the Rabbi's but to the "church." - how do we reconcile these? - Is Yeshua perhaps referring to the gentile church in Matthew 16 and 18? Again, very glad I found this blog.

        1. Dear David,

          Thank you for your interaction.

          In dealing briefly with your questions, preliminary groundwork must be laid. The issue concerns being aware of the assumptions we bring to the text, because those assumptions will color our interpretations. Their power to color and even determine these interpretations is magnified by the degree to which these assumptions are unconsciously held. The more unconscious, the more determinative. Therefore, if we would arrive at an interpretation that is not simply a projection of our own assumptions, we must do three things: (1) Do the hard work of making our assumptions conscious; (2) Be vigilant about their influence upon us in any examination of the text; (3) Dedicate ourselves to a sober consideration of the assumptions held by the Scripture writers, their audience, and their apostolic peers.

          Unless I miss my guess, you would not be resistant to the idea that the Church in some way inherited prerogatives previously assigned to the Jewish world. This involved not just joining the Jewish world in these prerogatives, but rather replacing these Jewish prerogatives with others superior to them and more eternal. I, on the other hand, am inclined to resist and deny these claims. So much for our assumptions.

          So what is to be done? Is it just a case of "You go to our interpretation and I'll go to mine?" Hopefully not! Rather, we need to do all we can to see what were the assumptions of he Scripture writers, their apostolic peers, and their recipients. This calls for self-awareness, humility, and vigilance.

          To this last principle I would add one more: That clear statements tend to have more weight than inferential arguments. This being the case. let's have a look at your questions.

          FIrst, the Matthew 23 text and the Acts 21 text which you allude to are strong in establishing the apostolic era in adhering to Jewish halachic precedent, Acts 21 takes place between 14 and 21 years after Pentecost. The Apostles and Jewish believers in Jerusalem are still attending temple rituals, and we can be sure that they would not have been admitted or tolerated if they did not adhere to the purity regulations followed by other Jews. (Look what happens when rumors spread that Paul brought Trophimus, a gentile, into the Temple! RIOTS!) Yet there is no problem for these myriads of Jewish Yeshua belivers in Jerusalem still availing themselves of Temple rituals. This is a strong corroboration of what James says in Acts 21. BTW, it is generally believed that James, known as Ya'akov HaTzaddik (James the Just) was greatly revered by his Jewish contemporaries because of the depth of his Torah-piety. This could not be true if he was an innovator coloring outside the lines of acceptable practice. And remember too that he was the most prominent Jewish believer in Yeshua in the First Century. Richard Bauckham, a world class expert on the family of Yeshua in general, and of James in particular, professor of New Testament studies at St. Mary's College, University of St. Andrews, Scotland, states, “As far as we can tell, the vast majority of Jewish Christians in the NT period continued to observe the whole law, taking for granted that they were still obligated to do so.” This was the way Jews were supposed to live, as Bauckham reminds us, and is the presupposition behind Paul’s participation in an offering in Jerusalem at the behest of James, and behind Paul’s reassuring the elders of the synagogue at Rome that he had not violated Torah or the customs of our ancestors. IN other words, he was reminding them, “Whatever you may have heard about me, know this: I have always continued to be a good Jew, living as Jews should.” Paul was a controversial figure in the Jewish world for one reason: that he said that Gentiles could become members of the people of God without b. coming Jews first. His halachic piety by Jewish standards was never disputed.

          While it is true that Matthew's gospel includes much dispute between Yeshua and the Pharisees and Scribes, these disputes sound very much like Talmud! They are not disputes about whether Torah should be kept but how. The disputes underscore the authority of Torah and the need for acceptable standards of halachic interpretation.

          I strongly advise reading Mark Kinzer's great book, Post-missionary Messianic Judaism, especially the second chapter on the New Testament and Jewish practice. This chapter alone is worth ten times the price of the book and is unsurpassed for its breadth and depth. As an example, consider what he says here:

          “Matthew’s harsh polemic against the Pharisees is only half of the story.
          The whole story is far more complex—and far more interesting. While Matthew
          is undoubtedly the New Testament’s most polemically anti-Pharisaic book, it
          is also the most substantively Pharisaic—or proto-rabbinic—text in the early
          history of the Yeshua-movement.28 The proto-rabbinic character of Matthew
          is reflected especially in the book’s concern for halakhah, that is, the practical
          outworking of the Jewish way of life rooted in the commandments of the Torah.
          Matthew shows not only a proto-rabbinic concern for halakhah but also knowledge
          of terminology, ways of thinking, and particular disputes that would later
          appear in rabbinic literature. He even shows surprising agreement with certain
          halakhic positions formulated in the early rabbinic movement.

          As in rabbinic literature, communal leaders in Matthew have the authority
          to “bind and loose,” i.e., forbid or permit certain behavior in accordance with
          halakhic standards (Matthew 16:19; 18:18).29 As in rabbinic literature, the whole
          Torah is summed up in terms of a limited number of commandments (Matthew
          7:12; 22:40).30 As in rabbinic literature, some commandments are seen
          as “light” and others as “weighty,” yet they are all valid and binding (Matthew
          5:19; 23:23).31 As in rabbinic literature, principles derived from biblical texts are
          employed to resolve practical conflicts between competing Torah obligations
          (Matthew 9:13; 12:7).32

          Matthew appears to be aware of halakhic disagreements that exist internal to
          the proto-rabbinic world. In Mark 10:2, Pharisees ask Yeshua, “Is it lawful for
          a man to divorce his wife?” In Matthew 19:3, they ask, “Is it lawful for a man
          to divorce his wife for any cause?” In Mark, Yeshua answers, “No.” In Matthew,
          he answers, “Whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries
          another commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9). Peter Tomson views this difference
          between Matthew and Mark against the background of proto-rabbinic disagreements
          between the school of Shammai and the school of Hillel. The school of
          Hillel permitted divorce for any cause whatsoever (“even if she spoiled a dish
          for him”), whereas the school of Shammai ruled that divorce was allowed only
          in cases where the wife was guilty of sexual immorality.33”

          That Yeshua gives to the Apostles the authority to bind and loose should not be taken to mean that he removes this authority from the proto-rabbinic establishment. It can just as easily mean that he extends this authority to the Apostles insofar as underscoring their authority over their own intra-communal affairs. In addition, the harsh statements made about the Saducees (not so much the Pharisees) in the NT are due to their negligence and corruption in government, much as Jeremiah and Ezekiel critiqued the shepherds of Israel. But these words may have been especially pointed to leaders of a particular corrupt generation, and not to the Jewish leadership as a class. Again, the practice of the apostolic era does not demonstrate an abandonment of Jewish norms by Jews. It is just not there. And even the Letter to the Hebrews concerns not the replacement of the entire Torah legislation, but the only change in view there is to the Temple cultus.

          That must be all for now, except this: have your views changed as a result of what I shared here? If not, then either you are not in the market for modifying your views or I did a poor job. Let me know.

          1. I should say as well that I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your response and I think that these fundamental ideas you are trying to make know may be part of Hatchalat Hageulah

          2. I actually completely hold to your views stated above. My question was mainly regarding how to deal with what appear to be contradictions when discussing the issue with Christians who are not interested in what modern biblical scholarship has to say.

        1. Hi again.
          I apologize as my position on the issue is much different than you suggest. I fully agree with the points you have made regarding the Jewish people, that halachic authority still belongs to the rabbis and that the Jewish followers of Yeshua, including Paul, remained completely halachically committed Jews.
          The point of my question was that I also engage in this discussion with people holding the contrary view and who quote Matthew 16/18 (or statements in Galatians by Paul) as defense of the view we both disagree with. Furthermore, they often take a very literalist approach to biblical interpretation (by that I mean they are not interested in anything that modern biblical scholarship has to say). When dealing with that point of view the challenge seems, to me at least, to be this: how can I reconcile what seems to be conflicting statements on the issue for them? (It is a kind of selective blindness - if I say look at Matthew 23, they say look at Mathew 18) My main approach has basically been that I view the statements made by Paul in say Galatians or Romans as being primarily rhetorical - that he is using "over-the-top arguments to make his primary point Gentiles do not need to be circumcised/become Jews in order to be part of the community. ("saved")
          But as for the Gospels, especially that of Matthew, I find it more difficult to defend without resorting to arguments involving biblical criticism which they are not apt to accept. I appreciate your approach, but as I am sure you would agree, it requires a willingness to look at it without the lens of Christian tradition.

        2. Paul's warnings in Galatians about law-keeping are issued to his Gentile converts who are being enticed to believe that their Yeshua-faith is not in itself adequate to make them first-class people of God, that they need to receive circumcision and become Torah observant to really be God's people. He is not disparaging Torah itself, but is instead pulling out all stops to dissuade the Galatians from the path they are taking because not only is that path superfluous and a detour from the pathways set out by God for Gentiles, it is also an insult to the adequacy of what God has done for them in Messiah--it is an insult to what is commonly called "the finished work of Christ." However, do not miss that in chapter three he tells them that if they receive circumcision they are obligated to keep the whole law. This affirms what Paul's practice and that of the NT ekklesia demonstrated, that Jews were covenantally bound to Torah obedience, (and not as a means of salvation, but as a communal response of honor and respectful obedience to the God who gave the Torah and its requirements to them as Israel's national lived out holiness). Paul upholds Torah obedience for Jews, but he attacks the presumption that it is required of Gentiles. It is Israel's national patrimony, and Gentiles become fully the people of God through the work of Messiah and are NOT covenantally called to the pathways of Torah. To claim such would be to undermine the uniqueness of Israel, proclaimed continually in Scripture and continuing into the eschaton.

    2. The prophets too spoke against the religious leaders, are they also anti-semitic and anti-judaism?

      The Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden” (Isa 29:13–14).

      The author will probably won't approve this post as he didn't others I post (I kept printscreen i'll post later...) but that's ok.

      1. I am well aware of the scathing rebukes the prophets could deliver and did to the leaders of Israel. Well aware. But I stand my what I said in my blog which is not hateful at all. It is unbecoming for Jews to stand up in public and with a broad brush denounce Judaism and the rabbis as a class. Shameful. And one has only to look at the videos in question to see how the speakers use ridicule to broadly dismiss Judaism as a dead religion and the rabbis as a class. It was and is shameful. But I am certainly unashamed of the rebuke I offered. I stand by it. Shalom.

    3. As we read the Bible, we discover that God could and did work in the hearts and minds of pagan rulers in order to accomplish his will through them as instruments of his purpose for Israel's discipline, for example (Assyria, the rod of God's anger, for example in Isaiah). Therefore, a kal v'chomer argument, are we to imagine that God could not and has not worked in and through the historical process and leadership of the jewish community, superintending matters there for His greater glory? It seems naive, and yes, sub-biblical for us to imagine that Israel somehow shut the door on His presence when our leaders rejected or failed to embrace the Messiah. God is not shut out, and if he works his purposes through pagans, how much more in and through His chosen people and their leaders? This being the case, it makes sense to believe that the development of Jewish standards of practice has not been behind God's back. In addition, we must remember that the Torah was given to a people--it is the legacy of a people considered together--the seed of Jacob. For us to interpret Torah without respectful deference to thousands of years of discussion among those people is pure chutzpah.

      Finally, Torah is clear that we increase God's glory when we Jews honor Him in the same ways--in common with each other. See for example Deut 4:5-9. And it diminishes God's glory when we either opt out of Torah obedience, or every man does what is right in his own eyes, thus destroying the communal testimony to the cohesion of the Jewish people and the holiness of the ways God gave to our ancestors.

  2. Shame on this hateful blog - I bet you consider the prophets to be "anti semitic" and "anti-judaism" too:

    Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save,
    nor his ear too dull to hear.
    2 But your iniquities have separated
    you from your God;
    your sins have hidden his face from you,
    so that he will not hear.
    3 For your hands are stained with blood,
    your fingers with guilt.
    Your lips have spoken falsely,
    and your tongue mutters wicked things.
    4 No one calls for justice;
    no one pleads a case with integrity.
    They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies;
    they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.
    5 They hatch the eggs of vipers
    and spin a spider’s web.
    Whoever eats their eggs will die,
    and when one is broken, an adder is hatched.
    6 Their cobwebs are useless for clothing;
    they cannot cover themselves with what they make.
    Their deeds are evil deeds,
    and acts of violence are in their hands.
    7 Their feet rush into sin;
    they are swift to shed innocent blood.
    They pursue evil schemes;
    acts of violence mark their ways.
    8 The way of peace they do not know;
    there is no justice in their paths.
    They have turned them into crooked roads;
    no one who walks along them will know peace.
    9 So justice is far from us,
    and righteousness does not reach us.
    We look for light, but all is darkness;
    for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.
    10 Like the blind we grope along the wall,
    feeling our way like people without eyes.
    At midday we stumble as if it were twilight;
    among the strong, we are like the dead.
    11 We all growl like bears;
    we moan mournfully like doves.
    We look for justice, but find none;
    for deliverance, but it is far away.
    12 For our offenses are many in your sight,
    and our sins testify against us.
    Our offenses are ever with us,
    and we acknowledge our iniquities:
    13 rebellion and treachery against the Lord,
    turning our backs on our God,
    inciting revolt and oppression,
    uttering lies our hearts have conceived.
    14 So justice is driven back,
    and righteousness stands at a distance;
    truth has stumbled in the streets,
    honesty cannot enter.
    15 Truth is nowhere to be found,
    and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
    The Lord looked and was displeased
    that there was no justice.
    16 He saw that there was no one,
    he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
    so his own arm achieved salvation for him,
    and his own righteousness sustained him.
    17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
    and the helmet of salvation on his head;
    he put on the garments of vengeance
    and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
    18 According to what they have done,
    so will he repay
    wrath to his enemies
    and retribution to his foes;
    he will repay the islands their due.
    19 From the west, people will fear the name of the Lord,
    and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory.
    For he will come like a pent-up flood
    that the breath of the Lord drives along.[a]
    20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion,
    to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,”
    declares the Lord.

    Jews who boldly convict other Jews of their way are not "hating Judaism" nor anti-semitic. that's a hateful blog you've posted.

  3. I know Eitan and Moti whom you are referring to I believe. They are wonderful loving people who love Yeshua and share Him everywhere they go! They witness Israeli Jews coming to faith all the time and all you Stuart is doing is... complaining.
    I wksh start defending Yeshua in stead of those who hate Him so much!

    P. S. But hi, at least you didn't compare the two with Osama Bin Laden this time...

    1. I am sure Eitan and Moti are fine people. I repeat here again my response to the Rosh Pina Blog on this matter.

      To all concerned: I am sure that Moti and Eitan are noble servants of God and of the Jewish State. Nothing was said nor intended to disparage them! I am not saying that differing with the rabbis and reabbinical Judaism is disallowed. But there is a difference between differing, and creating a caricature or ridiculing, and that was painful to watch and hear. For example, dismissing wrapping tefillin as “wrapping the skins of dead animals around one’s arm” was unnecessary and nasty.

      In addition, I did not mean to say that these gentlemen are anti-Semites or anti Zionists! My comparison was that just as it is incongruous for those who say they love the Jews to hate the Jewish State, so it is incongruous when we say we love the Jews but hate the means God used to preserve them. THAT is the comparison–incongruity.

      Again: differing is one thing, ridicule is another. And it is unbecoming for Jews, for fine Jews like Moti and Eitan, to ridicule that religious tradition and its exemplars whom God used to preserve our people. I felt they failed to show proper kavod. That I am viewed as having failed to show THEM proper kavod, also a sin, is something I regret. But it was not and is not my intent. Kol haKavod–but I remain convinced that rabbinical Judaism and the rabbis deserve more Kavod than is often shown. That, and that alone, is my point. Shalom.

    1. Here is my response to the Rosh Pina blog . . . To all concerned: I am sure that Moti and Eitan are noble servants of God and of the Jewish State. Nothing was said nor intended to disparage them! I am not saying that differing with the rabbis and reabbinical Judaism is disallowed. But there is a difference between differing, and creating a caricature or ridiculing, and that was painful to watch and hear. For example, dismissing wrapping tefillin as “wrapping the skins of dead animals around one’s arm” was unnecessary and nasty.

      In addition, I did not mean to say that these gentlemen are anti-Semites or anti Zionists! My comparison was that just as it is incongruous for those who say they love the Jews to hate the Jewish State, so it is incongruous when we say we love the Jews but hate the means God used to preserve them. THAT is the comparison–incongruity.

      Again: differing is one thing, ridicule is another. And it is unbecoming for Jews, for fine Jews like Moti and Eitan, to ridicule that religious tradition and its exemplars whom God used to preserve our people. I felt they failed to show proper kavod. That I am viewed as having failed to show THEM proper kavod, also a sin, is something I regret. But it was not and is not my intent. Kol haKavod–but I remain convinced that rabbinical Judaism and the rabbis deserve more Kavod than is often shown. That, and that alone, is my point. Shalom.

  4. And might I inject the note, for the sake of "The Prophet", that there is significant difference between denouncing sin among Jewish people as much as three millennia ago and denouncing the entire praxis of those who have pursued the righteousness of Torah for two millennia and more since then, including those who do so nowadays? These are not at all the same target, though views like that of "The Prophet" seem erroneously to treat them that way.

    1. Truth can offend. Eitan and Moti are not “smearing” anyone, they, just like the prophets and Yeshua himself, are saying the truth – the truth hurts sometimes, but it should still be said!

      But here is the real problem that you, Mr Dautarmann, and the rest of the Hebrew Movement need to understand fawning on the rabbis (who hate you b.t.w) will not provoke them to Christ. And, following their man-made traditions is a false way of life that keeps them from the Savior. As a matter of fact – the concept of a “God-given Oral Law” is a legend. An “Oral Law” was never given to Moses at Mt. Sinai; it is 100% man-made, and one can even claim that it a significant part of Israel’s blindness and hardness of heart towards Yeshua to this day (Rom 11:25). As long as people try to work out their own salvation by keeping man-made traditions, they fail to understand their need for the Savior. The ‘oral-law’ has been the main reason Yeshua is a prohibitive, unknown person to Israel until this very day. But God always turns bitter into sweet! Though the oral law persisted as an apologetic against faith in Yeshua, this same oral law also served as an instrument in preserving Israel as a distinct nation. This is analogous to Israel’s sojourn in Egypt, whereby God used Egypt’s detesting of the Hebrews as a protective incubator to multiply the nation and to keep it from assimilating with the Egyptians.
      Let us delve deeper. As mentioned earlier, after the destruction of the Second Temple, without a priesthood, an altar, or sacrifices, the Sages were desperate to find a new way through which they could hold the authority exclusively in their hands, and thus hold the Jewish world together, without Yeshua. They needed a Judaism that could continue to function without the Messiah they had rejected, and also without the temple. In other words, they had to establish their authority as carrying on God’s voice to the Jewish people, and the way to do it was to establish rabbinic traditions as the new law. This law gave them, the learned rabbis (“Sages”), the authority and control over all religious and social aspects of the people of Israel, while annihilating any other Jewish tradition of the day (Sadducees, Messianic, etc.).
      In order to convince the people of Israel of the authenticity of this modus operandi, the rabbis claim that the “Oral Law” was actually given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. For example, Maimonides claimed at the beginning of his introduction to the Mishnah (Tractate Avot 1:1) that Moses knew the entire “Oral Law” by heart, and he imparted it to the wise men and to all the people. It sounds nice. But the truth is, as recorded four times in the Torah (Lev 24:12; Numb 9:8; 15:34; 27:5), Moses himself did not know how to give an answer in regards to the commandments. In each of these instances, Moses referred the question to God and waited for His answer.

      This indicates, despite Maimonides’ claim, that Moses did not receive an “Oral Law” with a complete and detailed explanation on how to implement all the written laws in the Torah. The Scriptures clearly indicate God’s covenant with the people of Israel was based only upon the written Law, which He commanded Moses to write. In Exodus 34:27, God commands Moses: “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” No other law is mentioned, no “Oral Law” of unwritten tradition that was supposedly transmitted orally. But the Sages tried to force us to think the “Oral Law” was indeed included. They came up with a new drash (a commentary or interpretation) on Exodus 34:27. The rabbis claim that when God says, “in accordance with these words,” (al-pi) it actually means “on the lips” (l’fi), i.e., the Oral Law. However, this theory of an Oral Law comes from an intentionally twisted interpretation of a Hebrew phrase (as we have seen previously in the discussion about Aknai’s oven, this method has been widely used). The most natural interpretation of this phrase in its context is clearly “in accordance with,” an interpretation that is supported by all other similar occurrences in the Torah (Gen 43:7; Ex 34:27; Lev 27:18; Num 26:56; Deut 17:10–11 ). This interpretation is also supported by all modern English translations of this passage, be they Christian or Jewish: “And the Lord said to Moses: write down these commandments, for in accordance with these commandments I make a covenant with you and with Israel” (The New JPS Translation according to the Traditional Hebrew Text, 1985).

      No doubt, the Talmud is an impressive compilation full of human knowledge and even wisdom, but there is no historical or biblical basis whatsoever for the idea that the “Oral Law” was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. The contrary is true. If an “Oral Law” did exist (the kind that was supposedly given to Moses by God), you would expect to read about it hundreds, if not thousands, of times throughout the Hebrew Bible. But neither God nor Moses ever mentioned the term, “Oral Law.” Not even Joshua ben Nun, whom God appointed as leader after Moses, gives us any indication of an unwritten law. God says to Joshua:

      This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success (Josh 1:8).

      God tells Joshua he should do everything written in the Book of the Law. God did not specify or even imply the existence of an “Oral Law,” which was passed on to Joshua from Moses. The case is the same with Ezra the scribe, and any prophet or king in the Hebrew Scriptures; no one ever mentioned that term or implied the existence of such a God-given “Oral Law.” If an “Oral Law” truly existed, it was not a part of God’s covenant with Israel. If it existed, it probably was not of much interest to anyone. None of the biblical writers ever expressed any interest or desire to know or to obey any sort of “Oral Law.” In other words, based on what is actually written in the Hebrew Scriptures, an “Oral Law” that was given to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai never existed. The term “Oral Law” actually appears for the very first time approximately 1,500 years after the time of Moses!

      Interestingly, the Qumran (Dead Sea) scrolls (100-200 BC), and the Jewish Apocrypha (100-200 BC), never mention or even imply any form of God given Oral Law. The Cyrus Cylinder (6th century BC) that describes the Jews of Babylon and their lifestyle not only fails to mention any existence of a God-given Oral Law, but actually sheds light in the other direction. According to the Cyrus Cylinder scholar, Irving Finkel, their Jewish identity was internal only, without any external religious sign or mark. Another very convincing proof comes from Ethiopia. The Jews of Ethiopia returned to Israel after 2,000 years in exile, and relative isolation. The Ethiopian Jews did not recognize the authority of the rabbis. They did not recognize the rabbinic traditions, and they had never heard of the rabbis’ invention of the “Oral Law.” Interesting, right? Those whose ancestors lived in Israel over 2,000 years ago, and have only recently returned to the Land, do not recognize the existence of a God-given “Oral Law.” Is that surprising to you? This is merely more evidence an “Oral Law” was never given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Rather it was invented by the Sages so Judaism could continue to exist without the temple and without the Messiah whom they rejected under their exclusive authority.

      This same agenda has also affected some believers who try to root their identity in the rabbinic traditions (sometimes called “Hebrew Roots” movement), forgetting that the traditions humans adopt become their identity. Our identity as believers (Jews or Gentiles) must be rooted in Yeshua (Phil 3:20), not in man-made traditions. We are not saying that tradition is bad or evil so long as it does not become the primary focus or a stumbling block. Tradition can be wonderful as an added spice, but should never dominate our walk with the Lord.

      If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (Phil 3:4-8).

      1. So you're saying that God did NOT use Judaism and the rabbis to preserve Jewish continuity? That was my point and your theological attack is not to my point. So again, are you saying that God did not use the fabric of Judaism as maintained by rabbinical Judaism to preserve Jewish continuity?

  5. Hi Stuart,

    The main problem I have with the videos (assuming that they are the ones to which you refer), is that even though they are made in Israel and spoken in Hebrew, there are translations into English subtitles. This means that whatever criticisms the speakers have of rabbis and Jewish traditions is now available to the much larger Gentile audience. So what should be an in-house debate among Jews becomes a source for lessening the love for Jews among Christians, and potential fodder for anti-Semites. Not a good thing.

  6. In the name of Eitan & Moti - how dare you compare them to anti-zionists???? They who live in Israel and serve their country while you sit and write your childish critisicm from the comftable beaches of California??? Seriously man??

    They see Jews in Israel come to faith on a daily basis, while all you do is complain and call yourself a rabbi.
    Look in the mirror friend.

    1. Please read more carefully, and you won't falsely accuse me. The only comparison I was that just as there is a disconnect when people say they love Jews while hating Zionism, so there is a disconnect when people say they love our people while ridiculing the means God used to preserve this people. I would never be so foolish as to imagine for a moment or to suggest that men who are putting their lives on line for the Jewish State ae antisemitic or anti-Zionists. I am saying that all of us should give credit where credit is due, honor to whom honor is due: we owe to religious Judaism and the rabbis the survival of the Jewish people. As I said, it was not the ministers and priests of Christianity that preserved Jewish continuity, but the rabbis and Judaism. This does not mean that one may not criticize Judaism or the rabbis! But there is a vast difference between criticism and ridicule. I am sorry I appeared to offend. But I trust you see that the comparison was as to inapproriateness and that only. It is inappropriate for men who love Jews and the Jewish state to ridicule the means God used to preserve our people. And I am sure you will agree, now that I made myself clearer. Thank you for writing.

      1. Stuart,

        You bring up a good point: Christian priests and later Protestant ministers—and those they influenced—didn't preserve the Jewish people for the past 1800 years.

        But they could have, and I believe should have.

        Had they consistently preached love for God's chosen people, had they rejected the fantasy of replacement theology that eventually became church dogma (at the cost of Jewish lives), had they properly understood their role as non-Jews who were now cleansed, made acceptable, and brought near to a God that wasn't their "own"... well, everything would be different, including (I suspect) the content of rabbinic Judaism.

        @"Sheep" makes some interesting comments. I agree that claims made about the Oral Law being given at Sinai are hard to take, and remind me of catholic claims of Peter being the first pope, only to create legitimacy and retain power. But she also says:

        "The ‘oral-law’ has been the main reason Yeshua is a prohibitive, unknown person to Israel until this very day."

        From my interaction with Orthodox Jews, she's right. Yet you (Stuart) rightly point out that this Oral Law creation was instrumental, even necessary, to preserve the Jewish people. So, my question is, was the legend of the Oral Law necessary to create legitimacy and power, because the church was failing in their God-given role to preserve them? If so, then even "Sheep" and hopefully many more, will recognize that whatever errors are within rabbinic Judaism are at least partially to blame on the errors of Christianity. In other words, neither is perfect.

        1. Brilliant comment! My time frame limits me to too brief a response.

          Oral Law is an unavoidable universal reality. When you have a body of people, in this case exceeding 600,000 men plus women and children, and you have a body of law, since categorized as 613 commandments, it is unavoidable, inevitable, and necessary that there will be discussioin as to "What do we do first/next/etc?" "How do we do this?" "What exactly does this mean?" "How do we do this under these conditions? These? and These?" And as SOON as you have this kind of discussion you have Oral Law.

          As for this statement, "was the legend of the Oral Law necessary to create legitimacy and power, because the church was failing in their God-given role to preserve them?," my answer is "No." I believe this requires a contrived and Christian hegemonistic perspective on the issues and actions involved.

          Thanks for you great input. Do it again!

  7. Well shucks, I'm blushing now rabbi! 🙂

    I would like more input from you about your "No" response when you have time. For me, looking at the past history of the Jewish people, coupled with the commandments that Yeshua gave to love (even the least of) his brothers (and Jews have proved to be "the least" not only in numbers, but also being consistently despised) and the principles of distinction for mutual blessing, well, God knew that a His people were coming upon a very long exile. Wouldn't His grace extended to Gentiles at this time necessarily factor in to the equation, to benefit the Jews who would be blessed by Christians, and Christians who would be blessed by blessing them?

    1. Certainly God wanted the Gentiles to be a blessing to the Jews. I agree, "Had they [the Gentiles] consistently preached love for God’s chosen people, had they rejected the fantasy of replacement theology that eventually became church dogma (at the cost of Jewish lives), had they properly understood their role as non-Jews who were now cleansed, made acceptable, and brought near to a God that wasn’t their “own”… well, everything would be different," except for your add-on phrase, "including (I suspect) the content of rabbinic Judaism." A hardening in part has happened unto Israel until the fullness of the gentiles has come in . . . this hardening is due to the purposes of God, and I suspect that even if the Gentiles had played their cards better, we would still be where we are.

  8. Now serious, there is one thing I never understood:
    You always tell to believe in the one and only G-d. There is only one Universe, made by Him, so He must be the same G-d all the Moslems and Christs believe in, because there is only one G-d.
    Don't you think He is so devine and holy and high above us, that He doesn't mind if you call him Lord, Allah or G-d (don't want to offend you and your religion)?
    That He is so vastly superior that he does not mind our childish fuss her on earth? That being superiour belongs to Him and Him alone?

    This is the problem for me as deeply believing man with all the Major religions:

    If we Human beings want to be superiour we end up haughty and conceited
    If we want to be the only one to know the truth we are just jealous
    If we think we are smart enough to understand what He says(!) we are presumptuous and impudent

    There is so much talking about experiences of people living thousands of years ago.
    There were very few people living far away from each other. All this has changed.
    Could we maybe start THINKING and care about our common future???

    1. You have some glimmer of truth in your comment, and one imbedded fatal flaw which is that you form your own construct of what is reasonable to believe about God. But doing this reduces the Supreme One to the size of your hypotheses, which is of course making God over into your own image, a.k.a. idolatry. We get a clue about this from Isaiah who reminds us that God says, "8“ My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.9“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts."

      This being the case precludes forming a religion based on what you deem reasonable, or myself or anyone else for that matter. What it does is necessitates our being sensitive to and desirous of knowing how God has revealed reliable information about Himself and what he demands of us. But that is another discussion.

  9. Dear Mr. Dauermann,
    I just wanted to tell you how refreshing your blog is when it comes to embracing Yeshua as the New Testament portrays Him. Most anti-rabbinic Messianics and Christians have at least an awkward relationship with what Yeshua said about the Pharisees having Torah Authority ("Chair of Moshe", Matt 23) or they reject it with all kinds of unbiblical reasonings. Paul who found Mashiach was still adhering to the "customs of his people" and defended himself as essentially being Pharisaic in Torah-practice and views. Most anti-rabbinic people again deny this or say that Paul only used this way to reach his goal. Well, that would make him a liar and a hypocrite. However I believe Paul was who he said he was.
    I encountered a lot of people that have no understanding whatsoever about what "rabbinical" Judaism actually is. Judaism is indeed "solely" (yes, Hashem always uses fallible people, gam zu le-tovah) alive because the choices those faithful Jews and their rabbis and judges made. They were not yet called orthodox, because living Jewishly according to the Torah automatically meant including its jurisprudence, like ANY other self-respecting and realistic body of people/country/nation. I always explain to "Oral Torah haters" how the Books of Moshe are the ultimate Divine basis, the Constitution as well as the written Code. All judges in any court in over 2,000 years of history used jurisprudence, in other words "oral law". Yes, it even includes principles/instruments like "takkanot" and "gezeirot" and the like as time and circumstances change. And that is fully normal and accepted and every law-abiding citizen lives by it. Let's not forget that the ultimate basis for setting up courts and having judges originated in the Torah when Yitro strongly advised Moshe to do so and this was passed on over the millennia until the time of Yeshua, which is why He could indeed state and believe that the Pharisees provided the judges and received and passed on older jurisprudence and customs. So why does one accept written and oral law in any nation or country or body of people, but suddenly changes the standard when it comes to the Jewish nation? Doesn't Mishlei/Proverbs state that a double standard is a to'evah/abomination? So my answer is fairly simple: the spirit of Amalek burns the midnight oil, inside the Jewish people. The satan uses the internal yetzer hara to attack from inside. Why? Because there is no better way to keep people away from seeing Yeshua as Mashiach than by portraying Him in a very historically and theologically false light. Anyone who thinks Yeshua's piercing rays of criticism toward several Pharisees should read Jewish literature intensely and meet rabbis such as Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polonoye (early 18th century chassidism) who often surpassed Yeshua in his sharp condemnation of hypocritical, sinful religious leaders, rabbis, teachers, cantors and ritual slaughterers. It might refresh one's outlook a bit!
    May God be full of Grace to ALL of the Jewish People, its leaders and the ingrafted gentile believers. Amen. Shalom.

    1. Dear Erik,

      Thank you for your articulate and informed comments. Rebbe Nachman of Breskov famously said, “The whole world is a very narrow bridge. And the most important thing is not to be afraid." I would presumptuously add that perhaps the most important thing is not to fall off to one side or the other. In other words, what is called for is balance: neither blanket adulation of the rabbinic tradition, nor blanket condemnation of it. Rather, the goal should be respectful, informed engagement. Be well. And thanks again.

  10. I very much agree with what you say up here. Balance is the word. But isn't that what in essence the Mishnah and the Talmud already show? Jews were commanded to obey their appointed leaders, but always keep their own eyes and minds open as well. Yes, they can go together. It's not all Greek and black-white, it's dynamic. Sometimes I have the feeling that people are too afraid to step outside the comfort zone. Paul said "research everything and hold on to the good". A true follower of Yeshua can trust he's doing it with Guidance, as long is his intention is loving, respectful to everyone. Have you ever heard of Dutch-Israeli (Chareidi-)orthodox Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo? His latest book "Jewish Law as Rebellion" is refreshing, he is a defender of truly Talmudic debate, of getting rid of "outdated" halachic rules and even "not so fond" (although respectful and grateful) of the codification of the Torah SheBeAlPeh. He reminds me of both Paul and Yeshua and also Yaakov Yosef of Polonoye (not in the last place because he dares to criticize leaders and the religious). I might not always agree with his points, but hey, it's not always about being right, it's about giving Life to the Letter. I think what plays a role is lack of knowledge, xenophobia and "rabbinophobia". It's too bad, there are way too many beautiful and Godly lessons to be learned from these sources, these voices. The reason why I defend "rabbinic" Judaism rather strongly is not because it's fully and only kosher, it's because most people slammed the door shut to engage with it. This is sinful in my opinion. Without being open, respectful and thankful to it the most a Messianic Jewish community can become is what anti-missionaries think it is anyway: a branch of Christianity with a deceiving layer of Jewish external rituals (borrowed from the Oral Torah of course). What one often can see is where people disregard the jurisprudence they in the end disregard the written Code itself! All the best and Shabbat Shalom to you and yours.

  11. I want to say, again, how much I appreciate this blog and ministry. For the first time I have been able to read and listen to discussion that gets at the heart of what I think are core issues surrounding the attitudes toward, the beliefs of, and practices of, Jews who have come to acknowledge the resurrection of Yeshua.

    I, personally, am primarily interested in the ramifications for Jews who come to accept Yeshua who are currently orthodox in their practice and are part of an orthodox community -observing and recognizing the authority of the Rabbi's.
    By in large it seems to me that a Jewish person of this type is put in the position of having to either deny the Torah/halacha of the Rabbis in order to openly profess Yeshua, or remain silent and so remain in their community.

    What is to be done? It would require a miracle, a real miracle, but I suggest that there needs to be a great movement on the part of believing Jews - those who are Jewish according to Jewish law - and who openly confess Yeshua and who have a love toward the Jewish people....to return to the halacha of the Rabbis and more importantly to join/rejoin the existent orthodox Jewish communities.

    Dialogue is a tremendous thing, and needed, and keeping some halacha is a great first step as well, but truthfully, without a rejoining with the orthodox communities, on their terms, I suggest that it will always arouse suspicion, amongst the orthodox, regarding the motives of the messianic community. The primary suspicion being that, at the end of the day, the messianic community does not really take observance of the Torah seriously and that any observance that is done is really is a mere tactic to convert orthodox Jews to Christianity.
    I do not know how it would happen - it can't just be on the level of a few individuals - and I don't claim to have the courage to do it on my own. But buy joining en masse it would show that the rabbi's authority is taken seriously and that the Torah is taken seriously. That accepting Yeshua does not mean rejecting rabbinic authority or the Torah.

    1. Dear David, thanks again for writing. I appreciate your idealistic vision. However, God's ways are not our ways and his thoughts not our thoughts, and he has ways of doing things that would not have occurred to us. I think your call for us to join with the Orthodox communities is a noble aspiration but, at this time, problem-causing. It is too confrontational, too massive. The Kingdom of God grows like a seed planted in the ground, like a mustard seed, like leaven mixed in dough. The beginnings are small, but the eventual consequences huge.

      Before continuing, let me remind us all that not all observant Jewish communities are "orthodox." There are observant Conservative Jews, observant Reform Jews, observant Reconstructionist Jews, and yes, observant Messianic Jews. This does not make them Orthodox, because Orthodoxy implies a certain social circle, one of inclusion and exclusion, and certain canons of halachic decision-making. These other camps similarly honor halacha and keep an observant life, but their canons of halachic decision-maling will differ somewhat. On top of all of this, it is a grave but common error to imagine that all Orthodox Jews march to the same drummer. Not so. There are camps within Orthodoxy as well.

      Getting back to our mustard seed idea. I am happy to report small but necessary beginnings have already been made in our day, as certain Messianic Jews acting in concert with other Messianic Jews, have, in their writings and practice demonstrated a substantial knowledge of Jewish life, a commitment to observing a halachic life, and a respect for Oral Torah and the rabbinic tradition. I myself am the founder of Hashivenu, a seedbed organization which established an ethos in which some of these seeds where planted. Certain key members of the Jewish world have taken notice, and bridges of respectful relationship and inquiry have been built and are still being employed.

      But these things take time, and in general, small gains are the only gains one can expect. Major redrawings of the map of association are too much too soon, too scary, and, to tell the truth, too naive. As I was telling my niece in a conversation just today, when the Jewish community sees that we care about Jewish life and about Jewish lives, the conversation changes. But this calls for communities where this serious engagement is happening, and sadly, in and around the Messianic Movement, much of the experimentation in this area is naive, quirky, and strange. Things need to be better informed, better disciplined, and better conducted. I am happy to say that in my view, the Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council is doing a fine job, working slow, working methodically, with scholarly acumen and sober intent.

      "Matthew 13:31 Yeshua put before them another parable. "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed which a man takes and sows in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it grows up it is larger than any garden plant and becomes a tree, so that the birds flying about come and nest in its branches." 33 And he told them yet another parable. "The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with a bushel of flour, then waited until the whole batch of dough rose."

      1. I'm intrigued, Stuart -- have you actually become acquainted with Jewish messianists who are halachically Torah observant and yet remain undercover or even openly in Reform communities that by nature repudiate the requirements of such observance? I can envision doing so in a Reconstructionist community, though there are undeniably aspects of their outlook that also deny certain mitzvot. I, myself, have decades of experience doing so in a Conservative shul and community, as well as some in Orthodox environments in Israel. You're right, of course, that these Orthodox communities are quite varied. And, to encourage David, a number of Israeli Jewish messianists are, in fact, integrated quietly into various Orthodox communities where they attend local shuls. They also know each other socially, and meet together at times for discussions and classes on topics of common interest. We encounter each other continually in various social settings, at the kotel in Jerusalem, at weddings, bar-mitzvahs, funerals, events around various 'hagim, et al.

        However, basic Orthodox halachic observance is not something that can grow like a mustard seed, except perhaps in a Conservative community. It requires a commitment to a body of praxis, even in a community of "hozrei b'tshuvah". Even there, what may grow like a seed is the degree of comfort and familiarity, along with deeper understanding and kavanah. We, the body of Jewish messianists, both in Israel and abroad, need to be pursuing this as a fundamental element of our pursuit of maturity and "greatness" in "malchut ha-shamayim", as haRav Yeshua ben-Yosef described it in Mt.5:19-20.

        There is some degree of recognition among some Orthodox rabbis in Israel, and perhaps elsewhere, that a body of Jewish followers of Rav Yeshua does exist that is supportive of common Jewish interests rather than of factional separatism in the pattern of ancient "minim". If the number of quietly-integrated Jewish messianists continues to grow and mature sufficiently in their observance, the time may come when such recognition becomes an open secret and marginally acceptable. The rapproachement between Jews approaching each other from two separated camps will finally reach a middle ground of commonality and comraderie, and the kingdom will be more than merely "close at hand". But this process must continue quietly unseen, planted in the ground and growing, until the climate is ready and the plants are mature enough to peek out above the surface and not be mistaken for a crop of weeds.

        Even so, let us not be so naive as to think there will not remain many Jews who are still afraid, who will continue to marginalize messianists and reject them as "minim". We may hope to shame them by our good example; and we will be required also to repudiate bad examples from our midst, who claim to be loyal messianists but who continue to reflect prior ignorance developed by gentiles who were inimical to Jews and Judaism. The mitzvah of "tikun ha'Olam" will be more important than ever.

        1. Thank you for your intelligent and informed response. As for knowing observant Reform Jews, not really, although I have attended a synagogue made up of the amalgamation of Reform and Conservative congregations where the level of practice is high. I was also intrigued years ago to encounter a fascinating book coming from a movement within Reform Judaism termed "Observant Reform," a movement back toward halachic living by Reform Jews who realize that Classical Reform denuded Judaism of its essential essence. See this book: Goldstein and Knobel, Duties of the Soul: The Role of Commandments in Liberal Judaism.

          And my concern in Israel about Messianic Jews living as part of Orthodox or Conservative communities is simply this: pondering to what degree we risk hiding our light of the knowledge of Yeshua under a bushel. I am sure that this issue comes up from time to time and lives in the kishkes and consciences of such believers. There are no pat answers, but it is crucial to ask and answer the question.

          Shalom!

          1. Rav Yeshua's exhortation was: "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good behavior and glorify your Father Who is in heaven." [Mt.5:16] The preceding two verses about being a light to the world that is not to be hidden "under a bushel basket" clarify what is meant by that light. It is not about Rav Yeshua per se, but about the Torah-informed behavior and insight that he promulgated. His modern Jewish disciples need not hide any of this from even the most sensitive or reactionary Orthodox community in which they may be quietly embedded and living as their ancient rabbi instructed them. There is no impending crisis of conscience to bother them. And when they are known to their neighbors as knowledgeable Jews dedicated to Torah and halachic behavior, any reference they might make to haRav Yeshua ben-Yosef does not invoke the knee-jerk negative reaction that might arise in some other context.

            Let me emphasize just how far removed is this state of being and behavior from missionary-like preaching of traditional Christian doctrines or Trinitarianism or any form of idolatrous doctrine. Preaching about himself is not what Rav Yeshua meant by "shining light"; and anyone whose conscience impels them to do so is not apprehending what the Jews who wrote the apostolic writings actually represented about an ancient rabbi in his Jewish context, or his insights into Torah, or his Jewish good news about the kingdom of heaven and its relational aspects relative to Torah, the Jewish community, and HaShem's Fatherhood and Kingship. Enlightened Jewish disciples of their Rav reflect HaShem's light of Torah as they demonstrate it with the knowledge and behavior and the insight they have received. Jews who study Torah together regularly in various aspects of Jewish literature are continually sharing insights and arguing over their merits. It is in this context that the light of insights obtained via Rav Yeshua may shine most brightly.

          2. There are Calvinists who seek to turn Paul into the ultimate Calvinist, just as there are Mennonites who seek to turn Yeshua into the ultimate Mennonite, and some who, like DaVinci in his painting of the Last Supper, seek to turn the apostles into fifteenth century Florentine Roman Catholics with fish on the table at the Good Friday Last Supper (because until relatively recently, Roman Catholics did not eat meat on Friday). We must avoid the same tendency to limit and circumscribe Yeshua by our own cultural assumptions, even Jewish ones. Yes, he certainly lived a sinless life by rabbinic standards, and of course he is our Rav, but he is so much more. All the people I mentioned here and we ourselves need to beware of the tendency to domesticate Yeshua––an almost universal human fault. I am reminded of the interchange he had with Yochanan haMatbil, John the Baptist, who said, "Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for someone else?" 4 Yeshua answered, "Go and tell Yochanan what you are hearing and seeing -- 5 the blind are seeing again, the lame are walking, people with tzara'at are being cleansed, the deaf are hearing, the dead are being raised,y the Good News is being told to the poor -- 6 and how blessed is anyone not offended by me!" Yeshua was reminding Yochanan that he is not a domesticated Messiah, and that he cannot be and will not be accommodated to our tidy categories.

            He is more, much more than the best of rabbis, and more than simply the most authoritative and perfect interpreter and embodiment of Torah righteousness.

            I part company with you in your dismissal of Trinitarianism, although its language is often culturally off-putting, I must make room in my thinking for a Messiah who asked his Father to "Give me the same glory I had with you before the world existed." He is claiming existence with the Father prior to the time space continuum--prior to the created order. This is absolutely a Messiah who bursts the bonds of our tidy assumptions, who, ultimately, will receive our bowing obeisance, when all shall honor the Son even as they honor the Father.

            In C.S. Lewis' words, "He is not a tame Lion."

            Let's not argue about these things. But I needed to articulate my responses to presuppositions resident in your recent appreciated post, which are not the same as mine.I hope I did not misread you too badly. Thank you for this opportunity to map out some of the distinctions. As always,

            Shalom.

  12. Sorry I couldn't respond sooner, Stuart, but my computer has been under repair for the past week. It may well be true that our views of haRav Yeshua ben-Yosef differ somewhat; but my dismissal of Trinitarianism is well-founded. Its basis is found in Isaiah 45, where no less than four times HaShem is quoted to emphasize that He is a singular being and that there is no other who can qualify as a deity. This is, of course, consonant with the Shm'a. Rav Yeshua was not a deity alongside his archetypal heavenly Father HaShem; however, his divinity is not thereby diminished. It is not, however, unique. When he asked to return to the same glory as before the world existed, he was reflecting a Jewish doctrine that Rav Shaul also invoked in Phil.2:6-7 when he described Rav Yeshua's neshamah as having emptied itself rather than grasping at the divinity, or imago dei, that is inherent in human neshamot.

    This teaching views all human souls as having been created with Adam's, concurrent with the rest of creation, then distributed across the timescape to their assigned human bodies. Without quibbling over the intention of the actual phrase that is translated as "before the world was made", we can consider the existence in Hashem's mind of the role and purpose of the messiah, and the communicating characteristic "word" by which HaShem brought the entirety of Creation into physical existence and which He incorporated into the neshamah that He sent across the timescape and implanted into the fetal body of Rav Yeshua, all taking place together.

    Thus any one of us might ask HaShem for the same restoration of divine condition, which in fact we shall receive when this mortal puts on immortality and this corruption puts on incorruptibility. Nonetheless, divinity is not deity, nor is the agency whereby haRav Yeshua served so well as HaShem's "power of attorney" to represent Him to his disciples and to his generation, in order to accomplish His goal to redeem humanity. The special, unique, job of "the Lamb" that places him at HaShem's Right Hand, where He sits upon His heavenly throne, does not make of him a demigod nor any part of a (non-existent) multi-part "God-head" that would deny the repeated insistence in the Torah and the Prophets that HaShem is ONE. Similarly, it can be demonstrated that Rav Yeshua is not himself merely HaShem in some disguised form (though *that* heresy also has been proposed from time to time).

    It seems to me that the problem arose when the same folks who tried to replace Jewish chosenness with universal acceptance by G-d also tried to replace the Jewish G-d with their notion of Jesus the super-demigod. They failed to grasp the ability to distinguish between the honor due to an exalted personage and that which is due to G-d. They conflated the one who was sent with the One Who sent him as His specially-designated representative. Having been insufficiently weaned from polytheism, these folks insisted on making over the unitary G-d of the Jews into a multiform one of their own imagining. The restoration of a Jewish cosmology and Theology puts an end to the long-standing idolatrous error of Trinitrianism.

    Shabbat Shalom

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