This Shabbat was a weird one. After meeting with the Chabad rabbi last week and not being able to get an answer about how much we should continue in our observance of Torah until we convert, it seemed wrong to make Kiddush on Erev Shabbat. This pained me a great deal and it was heartbreaking to explain this to my wife and even harder to have to enforce it. There was no Challah, no Kiddush, no Netilat Yadayim, only dvar Torah.
Why is this necessary? Well, what right do we have to do Jewish things? How can we claim for ourselves what was meant only for the Jewish people? Surely that is what the Christians/Messianics do based on their false belief that they are a part of Israel because they “believe in” Jesus. It is a hard reality to face for former Messianics who find that their love of Torah is wrapped up in a false messiah. Once they realize he’s not the guy, what do they have left? The Noachide laws? That won’t work for me.
I want my family to take the higher ground and do Jewish things because we’re Jewish, not because we are stealing. I want to be guided by a rabbi who can make our conversion the best possible experience so that we become holy Jews who have something to offer to Israel and to be a light to the Goyim.
My wife’s question from Friday night is still ringing in my ears: “What else are you going to take away?” How can I know? We need a guide so that we do this right. I don’t want to be stripped of everything but I also don’t want to be a liar and a thief. G-d help us and may we get answers soon!
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.
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 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.
Today has been one of the harder days so far going through this. My wife has been crying off and on and blames me for “destroying everything in our lives.” To make matters worse, due to an info leak that I thought was secure (not from a person but an online source) my mother found out today that I no longer believe that Jesus is the messiah and that I want to convert to Torah Judaism. She gained access to my blog and fell apart after reading it. Next she called my best friend’s parents (who are evangelical Christians who pushed me along several years to get “saved”) and cried to them. They in turn contacted my best friend and commiserated about the loss of my salvation with him. Oy va voy!
Jeisyn with Ben Gurion's gavel in Independence Hall, Tel Aviv, Israel
I tried a mental exercise to relieve some of the stress; it involves imagining others who are or have been in scenarios far worse than you. I thought of the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the Pogroms, the Shoah, the assimilation of Jews into secular American society, those living through the modern rebirth of the State of Israel: all events that always brought the tension of other faiths (mostly Christianity) into direct contact with Jewish ideas and beliefs. People died, lost everything, were dejected and despised. I would be honored to be counted among them…and feel so unworthy.
Auschwitz: Arrival of Hungarian Jews 1944
Tonight over kosher Indian food I noticed my wife was a little softer and somewhat happier. I felt it was the right time to gently push her past some of her emotional connections to the New Testament by pointing out a few of its fallacies. I asked her to please think about how she should respond to the fact that the writer of the book of Matthew states that Jesus lived in Nazareth to fulfill a prophecy that doesn’t exist in the Tanakh. I then brought up a few other errors until she distracted and let it go. When we got home, our son was asleep in the backseat and she asked if we could talk there in the car. I could sense there was an opening.
Papyrus 1, Matthew
She asked me, “Why did Yeshua say things like ‘No one comes to the Father except through me’ and why would G-d allow him to say those things?” We talked about some of the questionable accounts in the New Testament, reviewed some of the inconsistencies and went over the basic requirements of the messiah based on the Torah and Prophets.
She burst into tears, squeezed my hand and after getting herself together said, “Go on.” So I finished my thoughts and she was able to talk rationally. She brought up concerns about whether we’d fit into the Jewish community, still be able to home school our children if we converted and other issues presupposing the she would eventually accept this.
This is a huge step forward for us! May Hashem continue to direct our paths and send us in the direction of Jewish men and women who will care about us and help us in our journey home to the Jewish people. But may it be soon…my neshamah is impatient!
Today it seemed like my wife and I traded positions, one being angry while the other assumed a more patient, long-suffering temperament. The day started with me dodging verbal arrows and offering comforting words while she discussed how she was feeling. “You’ve changed all the rules,” “Our foundation has been shattered,” and so on. I tried to explain how our faith has been based in Torah principles all along and that letting go of Jesus is not going to send us all to Hell. “Don’t you worry that your choices will cause you to lose your salvation?” It was an honest question and my sincere answer was, “No. I do not believe G-d works that way. Nowhere in the Torah does it say that we have to identify a man, ‘believe’ in him and then have salvation.”
A kettle full of Jews burning in Hell
By the end of the day I had a headache and felt furious. I don’t know why but I had zero patience. Read More