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.
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
I hope this blog will be a conversation with anyone interested as much as it is about me sharing my story. I’m finding myself now at a juncture (and here is where you come in) where I’m finally being honest with myself and those closest to me–and you are watching it all unfold.So now I’m going to write it for the first time: I don’t believe that Jesus (or Yeshua as some call him) is the Messiah.