1. Messianic Judaism Disregards The Authority Of The Sages.
Rabbi Mordechai Rhine published an article last week on parashas Shemini focusing on Nadav and Avihu. About their death he asked, “How could it be that these two great sons of Ahron would err in such a significant way as to deserve the divine punishment of death on this auspicious day?” He answers by citing a story from the Talmud:
Moshe and Ahron were going in the lead, Nadav and Avihu were behind them, and the rest of the Jewish people followed. Nadav and Avihu said, ‘When will these elders die so that we can be the leaders.
Rabbi Rhine reminds us that these two sons of Aharon were holy men who had difficulty controlling their own drives and submitting to a mentor. They wanted to take a shortcut to spirituality in spite of the commands of G-d and the ways of their fathers. Moshe and Aharon were “in the way” of their aspirations to greatness. Read More
Only Torah Observant Jews and studied Noahides really have a clue about who G-d is and what He wants. It does not matter how educated a person is, how long they have attended church or how many years they went to a Reform Jewish camp as a kid, it is only the person who is occupied in the Torah that can speak about G-d from our limited, human understanding with any truth. All the rest will simply mislead you.
With all of the travel between Austin and “home,” the Jewish community where we really want to move, it has been difficult to find time to blog. Not only that, but there has been so much we’ve been experiencing, I’ve needed some time to integrate it before I can actually write about it.
So here’s what’s been brewing in my head lately.
The Great Messianic Pretenders.
A Relief Depicting The Development Of Oral At Diaspora Museum, Tel Aviv
My wife and I are amazed at how little Messianic Judaism has to do with real Torah Judaism. It is even more embarrassing how our former lives appear to us now. I also feel angry at the deception that is infused in Messianic Judaism by its adherents. Unless you’ve been through this it might be hard to understand what I’m saying. Messianic Judaism claims that it encourages Jews and Gentiles to follow the Torah but this is so misleading because fundamentally all Messianics reject the Oral Torah. This is key because in Orthodox Judaism “Torah” is Torah Sheba’al Peh and Torah Shebichtav (Oral and Written Torah respectively). Even if they run around separating meat and dairy (as we began doing years ago), keep Taharat HaMishpachah, and hold to other halachah as outlined by the Sages, if they still think Jesus/Yeshua is the messiah then they are ultimately rejecting the Oral Torah outright and are bringing tremendous disgrace to the Sages.
For example, I know of one man who has been involved in Messianic Judaism for many years. He claims that he has great respect for the Sages and is even a little familiar with the Talmud. He wears a tallit and lays tefillin. He observes some Rabbinic holidays and keeps some other halachah given in the Oral Torah but he accepts it cafeteria style. Ultimately he is an Evangelical Christian trying as best he can to mold Torah Judaism to his pick-and-choose belief system. But what he (and the others) are trying to do will never work. It would be better for him to drop Yeshu and become a Noahide under the direction of a Rabbi and learn Torah that way. It would also be better for the Jewish Community that he professes to love. Sadly, he doesn’t see the damage he is causing and because he is so lost in idolatry, he can’t even be willing to hear arguments from the Jewish side.
Bonding To My Rabbi
I am grateful that we have found a Rabbi to whom I feel so connected. We have been able to speak openly so far about everything and I always feel better after being around him and speaking with him. He treats me and my family with such respect. He is a lively teacher and very congruent in his life with what he believes. Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Perachya says in Pirkei Avot (Chapter 1, Mishna 6) “Make for yourself a teacher…” and the commentaries go on to say that this person should be someone you can trust because he has your best interest at heart. I know my Rabbi does and I look forward to seeing him every week, be’ezrat Hashem.
Rabbi Shimon Doing Chesed for Ohev Israel
The Talmud teaches (Psachim, 50b) “Right action for the wrong reason leads to right action for the right reason.” I’m noticing an uncomfortable feeling creeping in. Although my wife is coming along and asking questions and being open to talking, being caught in this “no man’s land” is difficult because it is hard to stay motivated to keep doing all of the rigorous observances of Torah with no community, no rabbi, and no friends to provide chizzuk.
A page from a medieval Jerusalem Talmud manuscript. Found in the Cairo Genizah.
I’m aware that in the past my observance of Torah was motivated out of love for G-d and I’m becoming aware of motivations that are more “down to earth” so to speak. I have derived satisfaction from my actions in the past. I’ve felt a sense of pride because I have belonged to something greater than myself. I have enjoyed the sense of belonging that “doing Torah” creates. The social aspects of Torah life are virtually absent for me right now and it is getting more difficult to sustain on my own.
I’m not worried about becoming an apostate, chas v’shalom. I’m just noticing little things that I’ve taken some leniency on that I wouldn’t have before. Part of this is waiting to be under the direction and care of a rabbi. But it’s also true that doing Torah in community is helpful and rewarding for me.
Am I alone in this too?