Some of my readers know that my wife is pregnant (in our second trimester now) and I can relate to this child in a different way than the first time we were pregnant. I, much like that child, am a fetus in a gerut kind of way. I’ve left my old religion, Messianic Judaism a.k.a. Christianity, and am now transforming into becoming a Torah Jew be’ezrat Hashem.
I am not fully formed but I can begin to move; my features resemble Torah Judaism now more than ever (having rejected Jesus/Yeshua as messiah), but like our fetus my eyes are functional (can see light) but the lids are still sealed; I hear sounds with my ears but I am only now building an intelligible database which allows me to recognize what I’m hearing; I am connected, albeit it very delicately, to a greater body but I cannot touch or be touched by others as I am also insulated and isolated by very organic barriers; I am alive but fragile and the future is uncertain in so far as Hashem has designed a perfect system for me to grow in but so much can go wrong, chas v’shalom.
So I’ve found my new, living, Orthodox Jewish, intellectual hero: Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb. He has his Ph.D. in mathematical logic, was Professor of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University, and is a senior faculty member at Ohr Somayachin Jerusalem.
Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb
What turned me on to him? Simply because he wrote a paper entitled Coming Home and in it he said: “Teshuva is the greatest creative challenge a person will ever face: the challenge of recreating oneself. A person’s whole past – talents, training, experience, successes and failures – provides the materials from which his new identity will be forged. He does not turn his back on his past, but organizes it to fulfill its potential in a new way. It is a denial of Providence to regard any of his “unplanned” prior life as a loss. Everything which happened to him was planned so that he could fulfill his unique human potential and make his unique contribution (see Luzzatto’s Derech Hashem, Part II, Chapter 3). Later, he will see how his seemingly pointless past gave him the tools for his religious future.” These words of course are a great inspiration to me as I am definitely in the process of recreating myself.
My wife and I have been listening to various debates by Rabbi Tovia Singer, Rabbi David Blumofe, and Dr. Michael Brown. The information has only been affirming for me and I think it is a fair way to present the arguments to my wife. Dr. Brown is a decent debater. R’ Singer is excellent as well. R’ Blumofe comes at the New Testament from a unique angle (with over 200 proofs against Jesus), more so than some other counter-missionaries.
It has also been affirming to hear from the many former messianics that my wife and I have known who have either converted, are in the process of converting or are currently doubting. I know that this phenomenon has happened commonly in the last few decades as Gentiles have turned to Torah but I suspect it will increase as more of us speak out about Jesus. Let the reader understand: I do not wish to convert others to Judaism. I am simply saying that as intelligent people study Judaism for Judaism’s sake, they may be naturally drawn to its ultimate conclusion: embracing the Sages and Tradition and letting go of the lies they have been taught.
Without Moses there can be no messiah. Without Torah, anyone can be a messiah. Jesus' existence and his failure are subsumed under both premises.
One could finger Judaism (or even Torah) as the great corrupter of Hebrew Christians; an accusation that I have actually heard with my own ears. But maybe another approach could be that the Torah is a holy purifier in whose fires Jesus, Yeshua, or Yoshke (whatever your preferred name for him is) cannot withstand and by whose illumination reveals that he is a false messiah.
And Nimrod, and Mithra, and…well all the other god-men born to virgins or otherwise. Thanks for changing the world. Although it would have been nice had you left it a better place. But let’s not quibble over facts. I mean, what matters today is what people feel in their hearts, right?
In fact, what the followers of Jesus feel in their heart should be a testimony to his messiahship. We should see all manner of his works manifesting in his believers as they do even “greater things” than he did. But once again the evidence falls short. Or worse, it testifies against his messianic claim.
Starting today I’m home from work for ten days as the Center closes for winter break. It’s always a nice (forced) vacation. But it is particularly timely because we can finish out the rest of Chanukkah unencumbered by work concerns and can donate our attention to family time and hopefully to discussions about our beliefs and where we will go from here.
So we’re getting ready for Chanukkah IV and Shabbat; cleaning, running errands, the norm. Then the thought occurred to me: I don’t have to prepare for anybody else other than myself and my family. There won’t be a houseful of people coming tomorrow. I can actually spend Shabbat with my family! I took a very easy deep breath of relief. I wonder if we’ll visit a shul or if we’ll decompress at home? Either way it will be a welcomed change of pace from the messy life of messianics.
Speaking of that, I was able to gently force a conversation with my wife last night about the book Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jews Don’t Believe In Jesus. One small part of it touches on this scenario:
I can understand the Christians in the Austin Messianic community who want to ostracize me and run my name through the mud under the guise of “protecting” others who may be vulnerable (some are going so far as to call as many people on their lists as they can to talk about me and my recent rejection of Jesus/Yeshua as messiah). I can also understand their huddling together like lost sheep trying to continue on with a few very green pseudo-leaders at the helm who are trying to protect and steer the “scattered flock.”
But I don’t understand and cannot excuse the cruelties they have committed against my godly wife. One of the former elders of the community is sending demand emails for his charity monies to be returned at my own personal expense. Never mind he is clueless about non-profit law–has he considered the effect this would have on my pregnant wife and child? Another elder in the community comes face to face with my wife at the Kosher Randalls in town and shuns her. All he can do is stare her down. This same man is the ring leader who has taken it upon himself to make this call-list and to get in touch with folks (to commit lashon hara) and he hasn’t even spoken to me and my wife to get all the facts. Rather than judging us fairly, he assumes I have ill intent (which is idiotic–I’m going into Orthodox Judaism–we don’t proselytize). Rather than consider that my wife is still a believer in Yeshu (a fact that he is well aware of), and treat her as a “sister,” he punishes her right along with me. There are no courtesy calls to ask for clarity. No words of love or encouragement. No pleas to repent. No offers to comfort my wife. She gets blacklisted right along with me as if she too is a heretic.
I don’t believe the ner on my Chanukiyah has ever burned as brightly or as clearly as it did tonight. We had a lovely Chunukkah party with family and friends. In addition, all of the supportive and positive comments that I have received so far on this blog, on Facebook and in emails were in my mind and heart tonight also illuminating our evening. Thank you all so much. Please keep them coming.