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.
After Motzei Shabbat, my closest friend joined us for the evening as we prepared Chanukkah themed prizes for our party coming up Tuesday night. As we talked, he finally got around to saying, “I’m really ticked at you for doing this,” referring to my belief that Jesus is a false messiah. When I asked him why he said that several years ago I had promised him that I would never do this and that he was worried this was the first step in my becoming an atheist. I told him that the atheist fear was a common worry among Christians when their friends realize the truth about Jesus. I pointed out that the New Testament can not stand alone without the Tanakh but the Tanakh stands alone just fine without the New Testament. I explained that identifying Jesus as a false messiah was in no wise taking a step back from G-d. Rather, I was deepening my faith in Hashem and distancing myself from idolatry.
As for the alleged promise I made him, what can I say? I refuse to be held responsible for a belief based on information that I didn’t know back then that I do have now which causes me to see Jesus in a true light which is making me renege on an impossible promise to keep. If I did promise him that I would never stop believing in Jesus I regret doing so and will be more careful in the future about making promises.
But really…I was disappointed he didn’t have a little more force to his discussion with me. He didn’t try to debate. He didn’t dig. No threats to shun me. He was the easiest to tell this news to. The hardest will be coming up in a few weeks. Please stay tuned.
My goal is to study Hilchot Shabbat, Torah philosophy, Hebrew, Jewish Law, the weekly parshah, and halachot dealing with an upcoming Jewish holiday, for two hours a day every week. Here’s my current study plan for this week based on suggestions from http://www.halakhicconversion.org/ (click on the image for more detail). Comments and suggestions are welcome!
Class Code and Daily Time Commitment
CJL-Code of Jewish Law -20 Minutes 6x a week
HS– Hilkhot Shabbat- 45 Minutes 3x a week
TT– Torah Thought – 30 Minutes 5x a week
HH– Holiday Halakha 45 Minutes 2x a week
HR– Hebrew Reading- 25 Minutes 5x a week
TP– Torah Portion- 45 minutes 2x a week
Shul of the Baal Shem Tov
The Baal Shem Tov asks, “From where do the Channukah candles derive their power not merely to dispel darkness, but to transmute it into light?” He explains the answer is that the first two letters of Chanukkah spell “chen,” one of 8 synonyms in Hebrew for beauty. It also means “grace” and “favor.” But chen refers to the kind of beauty that has to do with graceful symmetry. The Kabbalah teaches that chen is that which is composed of two opposites that reflect each other. At Chanukkah, these opposing forces are light and darkness.
Last night I realized that in preparing for Chanukkah this year, it has been the struggle of idolatry and the worship of the G-d of Avraham,Yitzhak and Yaakov that have been the elements in contradistinction to one another inside of me that have illuminated the truth that Jesus (Yeshua) is not the messiah. The hidden light of truth contained in the darkness of deception ultimately gave me the strength to be honest about what I knew deep down.
Interestingly, if you add up the Gematria of the letters of the dreidel, you get 358; Nun (50) + Gimmel (3) + Hei (5) + Shin (300). This is the same value as Mashiach; Mem (40) + Shin (300) +Yud (10) + Chet(8). The light and miracle of Chanukkah for me this year is discovering the truth of the messiah of Israel and embracing my desire to join the Jewish people fully.