Thursday, May 30, 2013

Trinity in Kabbalistic Writings

DISCLAIMER:  I'm citing this just to show that traditional books of Rabbinic Judaism support the idea of the Trinity;  I'm expressly not supporting the Zohar.

"Come and see the mystery of the word [Adonai]: there are three steps, each existing by itself: nevertheless they are One, and so united that one cannot be separated from the other. The Ancient Holy One is revealed with three heads, which are united into one, and that head is three exalted. The Ancient One is described as being three: because the other lights emanating from him are included in the three. But how can three names be one? Are they really one because we call them one? How three can be one can only be known through the revelation of the Holy Spirit ." (Zohar, Vol III, 288; Vol II, 43, Hebrew editions)  [from:  http://www.messiahnj.org/af-tri-unity.htm]

Hear, O Israel, Adonai Eloheinu Adonai is one. These three are one. How can the three Names be one? Only through the perception of faith: in the vision of the Holy Spirit, in the beholding of the hidden eye alone! The mystery of the audible voice is similar to this, for though it is one yet it consists of three elements-fire, air and water, which have, however, become one in the mystery of the voice. Even so it is with the mystery of the threefold Divine manifestations designated by Adonai Eloheinu Adonai - three modes which yet form one unity. This is the significance of the voice which man produces in the act of unification, when his intent is to unify all, from the Infinite (Ein Sof) to the end of creation. This is the daily unification, the secret of which has been revealed in the holy spirit," (Quoted from Zohar II, 53b, as excerpted from Studies in Zohar by Yehuda Liebes) 

A Question for James (and FFOZ)

So I actually tried to comment just now on James' blog but I couldn't figure out how to log in to the comments system.  I use my email but then it needs a wordpress log on (which I don't use anymore and can't remember)...it's a whole big thing.  Anyway!  I had a question for him...several questions.  James, if you are reading this, maybe you'll answer.

James, do you believe that Yeshua is G-d?  I'm not interested in debating the doctrine of the Trinity.  I just want to know where you stand.  Also, does Boaz believe that Yeshua is G-d?  Does that lady...what was her name, Jordan Levy?  Does she believe that Yeshua is G-d?

Why do I ask?  Because I got a funny feeling while reading your morning meditation today. 

A Vision for One-Law Halachah

We desperately, as a movement, need to develop several things.  Here's some examples in no particular order:

  • Messianic halachic commentary for the Mishneh Torah and Shulchan Aruch;

  • An English translation of the Shulchan Aruch (there is no English translation today;  there are English translations of the Kitzur but not the actual Shulchan Aruch);

  • Supplements for each of the Orthodox halachic codes, explaining which sections should be updated according to New Covenant realities and the range of options, from the strict to the lenient (e.g. how to restore legal force to ketubot and the need for separate ketubot for Jews and Non-Jews).  We could mass-produce these as inserts for people to place inside the front covers of the codes;

  • Supplements for Orthodox siddurim (not just Shabbat siddurim), highlighting sections that might conflict with Messianic Theology, offering suggested alternatives;

  • Systematic guides to the minchagim (although progress has been made on this front).

I'll try to talk to the One-Law leaders shortly and see if anyone is interested in developing these types of things.  You know..I've received emails from Messianics around the world who are interested in traditional halachah and do not feel represented by the more liberal ("progressive") segments of the Messianic movement.  I say it's time we give the tradionalist Messianics a voice! 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Angriest Email I've Ever Received

I remember reading Stern's Manifesto back in my college days.  It blew my mind.  I would read it over and over.  The parts I really liked were the parts that explained that the Torah is still valid.  But there were other parts that never seemed to be quite right.

Today I flipped through the book again and was surprised by how one-sided it was.  Stern's ecclesiology was so short-sighted.  Don't get me wrong, I have immense respect and gratitude for his pioneering work.  But no work is perfect.  And the blind-spot in this book was Gentile identity, seeing it as limited to Christianity and the Church.

The reality for Messianics is that, although we love Christians, we have a completely different ideology:  we are pro-Judaic; they are anti-Judaic.

That's why most of us get kicked out of Christian congregations/fellowships.

At our last fellowship, I spoke out against an "elder" (he was just in his early twenties) who had said something that I perceived to be offensive regarding an actual elder (who was seventy).  I knew in the Spirit that there was something wrong with this guy (it turned out later he was arrested for taking video up women's skirts).  Here's an excerpt of the email I received after speaking out:

"You are an exact replica of the Pharisees in Jesus day!....Here is my question for you.  Why is it, in this situation and all the others that everyone sees things different than you?  What damage has it caused?  Everyone is fine except you.  You are the only one offended....your spiritual judgment is severely impaired....I do not think that you are genuinely saved.  I think you are a Pharisee and an enemy against those who are genuine sheep....I have dealt with demonically influenced people like you before. I see through the schemes of the enemy.
YOU ARE NOT WELCOME AT OUR FELLOWSHIP ANY LONGER. (NOT THAT YOU ACTUALLY FELT A PART OF IT ANYWAY)"
Why do I share that with you?  To embarrass the one who sent it to me?  No.  Because I know that other Messianics out there have been through the same thing or are about to go through the same thing. Be prepared.  You will be called demonic for practicing Torah, teaching Judaism.  You might be called worse things that what I was called.


 

The Messianic Marriage Crisis: A Unique Solution to a Unique Problem

50% of Jewish marriages are inter-marriages.  

We see this in the Messianic movement too.  When I attended a UMJC synagogue, the last two rabbis had intermarried.  And intermarriage has touched my life personally though I'm not going to go into specifics.  My point:  though they'd hate to admit it, intermarriage is a reality in large Messianic organizations.

Is this a problem?

On the one hand, if the Jews and Gentiles in Messiah are all called to the same Torah (i.e. One Law) then what could end up happening is similar to how Judah subsumed Benjamin--both are now only known as Jews.  

But there's another possible scenario.  

This is just an idea so don't shoot me for discussing a possible option.  We might need to create slightly different ketubot (marriage contracts) for Jews and Non-Jews.  This is the part where I ask you to lower your weapon.  Don't shoot!

Why am I even suggesting this?  Many reasons.  The main reason though would be to preserve Jewish tribal identity.  So Messianic Jews, for example, could have ketubot that identify them as Jews;  Messianics, on the other hand, could have ketubot that identify them as Non-Jews.  This way, if a Jew and Non-Jew wish to intermarry (which is fine) then the non-Jewish spouse can take on the Jewish tribal identity.

Keep in mind, I'm not suggesting that Torah should be different for Jews and Non-Jews.  I'm merely suggesting we may have to update halachah to a new situation:  the New Covenant reality that Jews and Non-Jews will have virtually the same set of beliefs and same set of practices (e.g. both will be keeping the so-called "sign commandments").

Well, it's just a thought.  If everyone hates this idea then that's the last you'll hear about it from me.  





Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Jewish Excommunication

I'll update this with more links as I find them:

Here's an overview:

LINK #1

LINK #2

Here's a look at the excommunication of Mordecai Kaplan:

LINK #3

Here's a site examining Shulchan Aruch (Yorah De'ah 334) on the subject of excommunication:

LINK #4

Here's an interesting quote by Novak:


"In Scripture, herem has the absolute sense of berit; indeed, it could be considered the negative of a berit.  E.g., 'You shall surely destroy [tahreem] them; you shall not make a covenant [berit] with them' (Deut. 7:2).  However, in rabbinic usage, herem is often a synonym for shevu'ah (oath)..." (pg. 63 (footnote 117) of The Jewish Social Contract by Novak)

Here's a quote from Jewish Traditions by Eisenberg:

"The first indication of herem in the context of excommunication occurs in the period following the return from the Babylonian exile, when loss of property and separation from the community was mentioned as a penalty to coerce individuals to obey communal authorities (Ezra 10:8)," (pg. 607)

Here's an actual herem from the Spinoza case:


"By decree of the angels and by the command of the holy men, we excommunicate, expel, curse and damn Baruch de Espinoza, with the consent of God, Blessed be He, and with the consent of the entire holy congregation (kahal kadosh], and in front of these holy scrolls with the 613 precepts which are written therein; cursing him with the excommunication with which Joshua banned Jericho (cf. Josh. 6:26) and with the curse with which Elisha cursed the boys (cf. 2 Kings 2:23-24) and with all the castigations which are written in the Law.  Cursed be he by day and cursed be he by night; cursed be he when he lies down and cursed be he when he rises up.  Cursed be he when he goes out and cursed be he when he comes in (cf. Deut. 28:19). 'The Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven.  And the Lord shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law' (Deut. 29:19-20. 'But you that cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day' (Deut. 4:4).
We warn that no one should communicate with him, neither in writing, nor accord him any favor nor stay with him under the same roof nor within four cubits in his vicinity; nor read any treatise composed or written by him." (Jewish Political Tradition, edited Walzer, Lorberbaum, Zohar)




EXCOMMUNICATION

Sorry for the scary ALL CAPS title.

I'm still thinking about Judah's post from the other day, the one about Messianic misfits, the question, "At what point on the crazy theology scale do you break fellowship with certain Believers?"

Here's a site that lists the verses talking about excommunication:

CLICK HERE FOR LINK

I must confess that I am ignorant about this subject.  I need to do some reading...


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Must-Read Blog Post

This is probably one of my all-time favorite blog posts by Judah (couldn't have come at a better time):

CLICK HERE FOR LINK

"Blessed Are You...For Not Making Me a Gentile"

"9.  Tosefta Berakhot 6:18...R. Judah says:  Three benedictions a man is required to recite each day:  Blessed [are You O Lord...] that You did not make me a Gentile.  Blessed [are You O Lord...] that you did not make me an ignoramus.  Blessed [are You O Lord...] that You did not make me a woman.  A Gentile--as it is written, 'All the nations are as nothing before him;  they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness' (Isa 40:17)." (Parables of the Sages by Notley and Safrai)

Does anyone have any thoughts about this?

American Orthodox Judaism: Its History, Structure, Practices, and Ideology


What Cultures Contributed to American Orthodoxy?

pg. 27  "These various trends in world Orthodoxy were imported to America and at least three distinct streams converged on the shores of the New World.  There was the austere and somewhat pomp-ridden Sephardic Orthodoxy imported from Holland and England;  there was the dignified intellectualized Orthodoxy of Germany;  and there was the parochial Talmud-oriented, ghetto-minded, disorganized East European brand from Poland, Galicia, Russia, and Hungary." (from Contemporary Judaism by Rosenthal)

What is the Main Congregational Institution for American Orthodoxy?

pg. 41  "In 1898 a thousand delegates gathered at New York's Shearith Israel--scene of so many historical events--to form the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations...The purpose of the group was to 'advance the interests of positive Biblical, Rabbinical, Traditional, and Historical Judaism.'  The group disclaimed any intention to become a synod, declaring itself merely a representative body...Ideologically, the Union affirmed its belief in Divine revelation of the Bible and ceremonial law, and it emphasized its commitment to 'the authoritative interpretation of our rabbis as contained in Talmud and Codes' and the Maimonidean thirteen principles of faith." (ibid)

What is the Rabbinical Council for American Orthodoxy?


pg. 45  "Meanwhile, the American-trained Orthodox rabbis had formed an organization of their own, and it proved to be the most potent force for Orthodoxy in America.  Out of the Alumni Association of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (1923) developed the Rabbinical Council of America (1935)." (ibid)

pg. 45 "The spiritual leader of the RCA and charismatic leader of most of modern Orthodoxy is Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik." (ibid)


How May One Categorize American Orthodoxy?

pg. 116-117  "A useful way to categorize Orthodox Jews was put forward by Charles Liebman.  In his pioneering study, he differentiated between the 'uncommitted Orthodox,' the 'modern Orthodox,' and the 'sectarian Orthodox.'  The first were East European immigrants who, out of inertia rather than religious choice, identified as Orthodox, or they were individuals who had no particular commitment to Jewish law but preferred to pray in an Orthodox synagogue.  The modern Orthodox 'seek to demonstrate the viability of the halakha for contemporary life...[and also] emphasize what they have in common with all other Jews rather than what separates them.'  The sectarians are disciples of either roshei yeshiva (heads of yeshivas) or Hasidic rebbes, whose strategy it is to isolate their followers from non-Orthodox influences." (A People Divided by Jack Wertheimer)

What is the Political Structure of American Orthodox Judaism?

pg. 116  "The issue of authority is more complicated in Orthodoxy than in any other denomination.  In some ways, Orthodox Jews are the most likely to accept the opinion of a rabbi as authoritative on questions of Jewish living...At the same time, Orthodox Jews are less dependent on a rabbinic elite to guide their fortunes than are those in other denominations.  Pulpit rabbis have less status in the Orthodox world than in any other segment of the Jewish community, and most Orthodox institutions rely heavily on lay rather than rabbinic leadership.  For this reason, many of the most important developments within Orthodoxy that we will discuss are not traceable to any elite institution or to the pronouncements of any particular rabbi." (ibid)

pg. 66 "...the lack of a central authority or rabbinic body in Orthodox life makes it virtually impossible to discern a consensus on some basic issues.  Responsa are written, votes are cast, opinions are pronounced, anathemas are declared--and we are as confused as ever as to where Orthodoxy stands."  (Contemporary Judaism by Rosenthal)

What are the Unifying Practices and Ideologies of an American Orthodox Jew?

pg. 66 "Of course, Orthodox scholars are in accord on certain fundamental rules of the Torah as interpreted by the Talmud and the sages, and codified in the Shulhan Arukh...The Sabbath is inviolate for an Orthodox Jew...The Orthodox male prays daily with talit and tefillin, and wears a yarmulka (skullcap) at all times as a sign of reverence for God...Orthodox partisans observe the dietary laws both in and out of the home....It should be obvious to the reader that Orthodoxy's focal point is Halakhah.  He who would understand the ideas and ideology of Orthodoxy must survey Halakhic literature and the philosophies of Jewish law propounded by the various legal experts and Talmudists." (ibid)

What Does Orthodox Communal Life Look Like?

pg. 74  "...despite all disclaimers, many Orthodox synagogues are really synagogue-centers as envisioned by Orthodoxy's nemesis, Mordecai M. Kaplan.  Many have gymnasiums and pools, most run club programs, and virtually all hold social functions with mixed dancing, Orthodox law notwithstanding....In one area, however, the Orthodox synagogue has made almost no concessions, namely, in liturgy." (ibid)

pg. 76  "Orthodoxy has made an uneasy compromise with the realities of life:  it closes its parking lots on sacred days so that the worshipper parks around the corner if he cannot walk to shul."  (ibid)

Summary:

pg. 84  "Summary
Out of the welter of varied Orthodoxy ideas, concepts and pronouncements, we can draw some conclusions as to the basic ideology of the mainstream of American Orthodoxy.
1.  Orthodoxy accepts the classical notion of God with little theological speculation.  To the Orthodox Jew, God is a personal deity whose providence is a reality.
2.  Orthodoxy teaches as its cornerstone the Divine origin of the Torah as interpreted by the rabbis of the Talmud and as codified in the authoritative Shulhan Arukh.  Halakhah is Orthodoxy's guide; it is eternal, binding and irrevocable, and it can be interpreted and applied to new situations only by the Gedole Ha-Dor--the great sages of Israel.
3.  Orthodoxy believes in the unity of the Jewish People....Orthodoxy is convinced that its version is the only correct interpretation of Judaism.
4.  Orthodoxy is passionately devoted to the restoration of the State of Israel to be run along the lines of Torah and mitzvot as directed by the rabbinic sages...
5.  Orthodxy has worked with other Jewish groups in behalf of Jewish life, culture, and rights...
6.  Orthodoxy believes that the liturgy is immutable and that  the synagogue and yeshivah are the basic institutions of Jewish life..." (ibid)





Thursday, May 23, 2013

If You Don't Fit In Then There Must be Something Wrong with You (Right?)

At the time, I didn't think anything of it.  I was waiting in the lobby at a church and flipping through one of the Christian magazines out of boredom.  I can't remember the name of the magazine or the article but here's what I remember:

The author was in a fellowship group and this couple were thinking of leaving the church.  They weren't being fed or whatever.   And so the author of the article gave the usual sermon about how we shouldn't be focused on what we get out of church or whether the people there are perfect, etc, but rather we need to think about what we can do.  You know the routine.  The message:  if you leave church it's not because the church is wrong;  it's because there must be something wrong with you.

But I'm reading this article as a Messianic.  And here's my impression:  maybe that couple wasn't being selfish at all!  Maybe they (like all of my friends from Christian school) just got tired of the CULTURE OF CHRISTIANITY.

There are pastors that I like.  There are Christians that I like.  But they can't make up for the fact that cultural Christianity is harmful.

So I'd just like to say to those out there who are dissatisfied (or outright disgusted) with Christian culture.  THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU!

Recently, Gene made fun of Dan for not fitting in with the Messianic movement (in Gene's opinion).  The presupposition seems to be:  if you don't fit in then there must be something wrong with you.  James made the same ad hominem attack against Zion.

But let's think about this for a second!  If that's true--that something is wrong with someone who doesn't fit in--then...


  • There's something wrong with each secular Jew who feels like they don't fit in with secular culture and so they decide to return to Judaism or even make aliyah!  Think about it:  if you make aliyah, you're essentially saying that an entire country was so bad for you that you had to leave!  Talk about a misfit!
  • There's something wrong with a college co-ed who suddenly realizes that it's not right for men and women to share the same bathrooms/showers and so they decide to take a stand and leave that school.  Prudish misfits.
  • There's something wrong with Messianic Jews or Messianics for not wanting to go to church.  Messianic misfits.


See I rather like the misfits.  I like those people who aren't afraid to go up against the system or remove themselves from an unhealthy situation.

And so I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Dan and Zion for being a pair of wonderful misfits!  I love you guys!











How Do You Know If You a Part of Messianic Judaism?

The disparity of views on this issue has left my head spinning:

  • We've got the UMJC saying that One Law is its own movement, separate from Messianic Judaism (LINK).  
  • We've got Gene echoing the UMJC, saying that there's no way that One Law can be considered a branch of Messianic Judaism.
  • Yet most independent or affiliated One-Law Believers consider themselves to belong to Messianic Judaism and the Messianic Jewish Movement (even if they don't feel accepted by segments of the Messianic Jewish Community).

How are people making such determinations?  For example, how does Gene determine that One-Law is not part of Messianic Judaism?  And who has the right to act as judge on this issue and decree that One-Law is not a part of Messianic Judaism?  




Update

(1) Still working on a review of McKee's Acts 15 For the Practical Messianic.  Trying to be thorough because I feel that it is an extremely important book;

(2) I now have access to a new library with the largest Judaica section I've ever seen (I'm so lucky).  So over the next few weeks I'll be plundering it and I'll let you know about anything interesting that I find.

(3) As always, message me if there's something you'd like me to post about.

Shalom,

Peter

Would You Like to be a Guest Blogger?

Just wanted everyone to know that I have no problem if someone wants to be a guest blogger and submit something for a post.  If something is on your heart, feel free to right it down as a blog post, send it to me, and I'll post it for you. 

Shalom,

Peter

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Should the Liberal UMJC be Allowed to Speak for the Entire Messianic Community?

There are really two types of Judaism:  Liberal and Traditional.

And I believe that Messianic Judaism also has within it the Liberal and Traditional camps.

First, let's start with non-Messianic Judaism.

In non-Messianic Judaism, the Liberal movement is made up of Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist.  How can I say that?  Because all three groups believe that Rabbinic Halachah must be updated in one way or another to the modern world.  

The major practical differences can be seen in the realms of:

(1) Shabbat observance;

(2) Kashrut law;

(3) Definition of a Jew;

(4) Gender role differentiation (e.g. female rabbis? mechitzah? etc)

(5) Taharat haMishpochah

So we can take those for examples.  In all those areas, the Orthodox follow the traditional halachah;  the Liberal movement has no determinative halacha:


"It would not allow the halachah to be determinative--and therefore Reform Judaism could not be considered halachic..." Movements and Issues in American Judaism by Bernard Martin

Thus, the Liberal movement is very flexible when it comes to how one should observe the mitzvot (or not).  

NOW...

Let's talk about the Messianic movement.

From my experience in the UMJC and from having read all of their major documents, I believe that the UMJC falls within the Liberal movement.  The leadership wing of the UMJC even alludes to this somewhat explicitly:

"Therefore, like Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist branches of Judaism we recognize that the new circumstances of the modern world require adaptation in traditional practices." (MJRC Standards)

In a recent email, Dan (and I hope he doesn't mind me using his words) explained the frustration he feels with the UMJC:


"The problem with all this is, and I am speaking from experience, the leaders of individual UMJC congregations are not educated enough to determine what Jewish halacha is.  For example: They will scold a Gentile member of the congregation for wearing a tzitzit and a kipah, saying these are uniquely for Jews according to halach, but then, turn around and conduct a Bat Mitzvah ceremony for a girl that is not halachically Jewish (her mother is not Jewish).

It is obvious that leaders in the movement are preferring the “pick and choose” theology.  There are numerous leaders whose mothers are not Jewish but never converted to Judaism.  Conveniently opting for the Biblical model that Jewishness is determined by the father, and therefore they don’t need to convert.  But how does it jive with Rabbinic Jewish halacha that they are so eager to push on the members?"

Other authors seem to echo Dan's frustrations with the Liberal movement:


"Liberal halachah remains unclear" (Liberal Judaism and Halachah by Walter Jacob)

Dan also points out something that I have personally found to be quite frustrating:


"In their zeal to become a part of mainstream Judaism, Messianic Judaism UMJC and BE style are :  1)  Trying to eliminate Gentiles from their midst. 2) Starting to deny the deity of Yeshua, 3) Pushing adherence to submit to Rabbinic authority.  It is the third  item on the list that I would like to address."

He even notes how Boaz Michael has jumped on the bandwagon:


"For years the leaders of MJ, first with subtlety, and now openly are forcing Rabbinic halacha in their teachings and congregations.  It came to a head with the leader of FFOZ, Boaz Michael (who BTW is not Jewish), equating believers who do not adhere to Rabbinic authority as “Sons of Korach.”"

CONCLUSION

The UMJC, as an extension of the Liberal movement, thinks that it carries some sort of over-arching authority, that it can speak for the entire Messianic movement.  

We need to give them a reality check.  The traditional movement of Judaism may be small but this doesn't mean, for example, that the Reform movement gets to dictate that Reform Judaism is MORE AUTHENTIC.  But that's precisely what groups like UMJC are doing!  Rudolph's new book is a perfect example of this.  Other examples are the UMJC paper that says One-Law is a threat to the Messianic community--AS IF THE UMJC REPRESENTS THE TOTALITY OF THE MESSIANIC COMMUNITY!  

But enough of my opinions.  What are your thoughts?  Agree, disagree?





Which Group is More Traditionally Rabbinic: Inclusionist MJ or Exclusionist MJ (e.g. UMJC)?

The term Halachic Judaism refers to Orthodox Judaism.  I know you hear groups like MJRC say that they are a Halachic Judiasm.  But the truth is that Halachic Judaism has come to be known as a system of Judaism that considers Rabbinic norms to be binding--and that only applies to non-Messianic Orthodox in my opinion.

So it's really a bad term, halachic Judaism, because it's confusing.  The real issue is how much authority each sect of Judaism attributes to Rabbinic halachah.

And a more relevant question for Messianics is:  which Messianic sect is more traditionally Rabbinic, Inclusionist MJ (a.k.a. One-Law) or Exclusionist MJ (e.g. UMJC)?

What's your opinion?


Ethnic Identity and the Need for Distinctive Cultural Behavior

"But, as Barth emphasized, 'ethnic groups only persist if they imply marked differences in behavior i.e. persisting cultural differences,'" pg. 53 of Jewish Identity by Herman.

Do you agree or disagree with the above statement?  Why or why not?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Would You Like to Know the Messiah Personally?


Yesterday, many people in my country died from a natural disaster.  

This should remind us all that death can come at any time:

"Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away," (James 4:14)

It's also a reminder that we need to fix our relationship with our Heavenly Father while there's still time.  Because it says:

"It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment," (Hebrews 9:27)

Fortunately the Judge of the Universe is also merciful and doesn't want anyone to suffer eternal punishment:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life," (John 3:16)

To be saved from eternal punishment, one must enter into a relationship with Yeshua (also known as Jesus):

"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

Would you like to have a personal relationship with our wonderful Savior, Yeshua?  I'd be happy to talk to you.  Please message me through the "contact me" tab at the top of the screen.  Don't let another day pass without knowing Him!  You don't know what tomorrow will bring.




Monday, May 20, 2013

Mataios and Agnoia: Using Ephesians 4:17-18 as an Hermeneutical Key for Establishing a Non-Jewish Audience in 1 Peter

[This is one of those extremely nerdy posts.  Unless the title excites you, go ahead and skip it]

Compare these passages:

Ephesians 4:17-18
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 

1 Peter 1:14, 18
14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the futile way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 

Notice that Paul and Peter link two key aspects of paganism associated with Gentiles:  ignorance and futility.  The Greek terms are "agnoia" and "mataios".  I think that this linkage helps us to confirm (along with a set of cumulative evidence) that 1 Peter is addressed to Gentiles.






Assad Ready to Strike Israel

CLICK HERE FOR LINK


Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Taste of the Kingdom

It's really funny how food brings people together.  We went to a Lebanese food festival today.  It took place on the grounds of a Catholic church (of all places).  There under the pavilions, seated together at picnic tables, were Jews (seemed like the entire Richmond Jewish community), Arabs, Africans, Irish, Italians (even ran into some Iraqi friends).  We were all there, drinking wine, eating amazing food, talking, laughing.  I even danced with my daughter in front of the music stage where a Lebanese family played on clarinet (mijwiz), violin (buzaq),  bongos (tablah), and a lute.

Later my daughter played on the playground with all the children from around the world.

Perhaps this was a taste of the Kingdom to come...


Saturday, May 18, 2013

We Discovered an Old, Black and White Photograph

As you, dear reader, probably know, my wife and I used to attend Tikvat Israel, a UMJC congregation.  My wife attended since she was a child.  But it turns out that my wife's ties to that building pre-date the Messianic congregation that currently uses the building.

We found an old black and white photograph--this was rather spooky--that featured some of my wife's relatives standing out in front of a very recognizable building--Tikvat Israel!  Only this was long before it was Messianic.  I think my wife's mother said it was my wife's grandmother who attended there.  

It's probably coincidence and means nothing.  Although...a part of me would like to take it as a hopeful sign...that maybe one day... who knows?





Why Is This Blog Called "Orthodox Messianic Judaism"?

A commenter recently asked that.  Here's an extended answer:

The New Testament (or, as we like to say, the Apostolic Writings) teaches Judaism.  Specifically, it teaches Orthodox Messianic Judaism.  But let's break it down:

(1) "Orthodox":  This can be defined as "the correct way to believe."  [Orthopraxy, on the other hand, refers to the correct way to practice];

(2) "Messianic":  We believe that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah who taught....[drum roll]...Judaism!;

(3)  "Judaism":  Whilst Christianity is anti-Judaic, the Judaism taught by the Apostolic Writings values the Sinaitic Torah and the Jewish traditions--specifically those traditions which help to explain the letter and spirit of the Sinaitic Torah.


Is Yahnatan a Supersessionist?

In a recent post, Yahnatan said:
"Also, I believe Ben Witherington argues for a Jewish Christian (again, hist term) audience for 1 Peter in his commentary Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians. If I recall correctly, Witherington thought this bolstered his case for authentic Petrine authorship."

I went ahead and glanced at that book since Yahnatan mentioned it and discovered that Witherington believes the following three points:

(1) You have to be a supersessionist to think 1 Peter 1:18 is written to a Jewish audience.  

(2) 1 Peter 1:18 is, "to be sure", evidence that Peter was writing to a Gentile audience.

(3) Most scholars believe that 1 Peter is written to a Gentile audience (pg. 28 of Letters and Homilies)


So let's look at 1 Peter 1:18 and then we'll look at what Witherington has to say:
"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors" (1 Peter 1:18)
Is the above passage written to Jews or Gentiles?  Here's Witherington's take:
"But what about the statement about being 'ransomed from the futile ways of your ancestors'?  This, to be sure, could be a reference to the audience having a Gentile background" (pg. 31of Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians by Ben Witherington III)
"Thus the question becomes whether our author [Peter] has something of a...supersessionist reading of the earlier history of Israel or not...I do not think that such a [supersessionist] view can be lightly dismissed....Whether we call this completionist or supersessionist rhetoric, clearly enough our author [Peter] feels that he can make such a hermeneutical leap..." (ibid) [emphasis added].

So I guess the question then for Yahnatan is whether he is a supersessionist or not.  : )

It's funny because Gene is currently backed into a similar corner as per our most recent conversation:

Peter:  I'd like for you to answer my question: is keeping enough Judaism--enough Jewish lifestyle--so that subsequent generations consider themselves Jewish, is that what Peter meant by "empty way of life"?  
Gene:  I know of plenty of secular Jews today who have inherited from their parents an "empty way of life", one that had little to do with whatever little Judaism they were exposed to and one that had little use for G-d. Yet, they are still Jews and for those of them who cared about being Jewish enough to in-marry, so are their children. It's not that hard to imagine the same being true in the first century. 
Peter:  Saying that Jewish identity has little to do with Judaism is like saying sunlight has little to do with the sun. 






Friday, May 17, 2013

The Best Relationship Advice You'll Probably Ever Hear

This may sound simplistic or naive but here it is:  if you're ever stuck in an argument about something that is in past-tense, try to change the issue so that you're discussing something that is future-tense.

So, for example, if someone forgot to bring something, don't worry about what happened.  Focus on how to move forward:  future-tense.  How do we solve the problem going forward?

The guys probably know what I'm talking about.

Shalom,

Peter

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Chasidic Viewpoint Allows That G-d Could (in Theory) Take on Human Form

Noson Gurary in "The Thirteen Principles of Faith:  A Chasidic Viewpoint" says the following in a footnote:


"13.  It may be pointed out that in terms of God's omnipotence, He could have chosen to have a body of some sort too (not necessarily in the purely physical sense).  However, the Torah testifies to the fact that He did not choose to do this (cf. Exodus 20:4; Deuteronomy 4:16-19)."

I just thought it interesting that the author allowed for the logical possibility even if he believed it was not Scripturally warranted.

I have to say though that those passages merely prohibit Israelites from making idols in the form of man.  This leaves plenty of room, in my humble opinion, for G-d to do precisely what Gurary notes is logically possible in terms of G-d's omnipotence:  to choose to have a body.

  
  

Is the Star of David a Magical Talisman?

Gerbern Oegema wrote a very well-documented book entitled "The History of the Shield of David" which examines all ancient sources (written and archeological) for the hexagram.  Here's a few of the highlights related to Judaism:

King David didn't have a hexagram on his shield:

"If someone looks for the Shield of David among the Jewish symbols in antiquity, he may not find it.  Although the legend is well known that in Biblical times king David in his wars had adorned his shield with a six-pointed star, it is without historical proof."

The hexagram was used by Jews as a magical and astrological sign:

 "We may conclude that since late antiquity the six-pointed star has been a universal, magic-astrological sign with no exclusive Jewish meaning, but with a specific magic adaptation within the context of Jewish cosmogony and mysticism.  The sign may have represented the good angels, which were thought to be celestial beings.  It was sent down from heaven to the mystic on earth, where it provided the owner with protective power over the demons...The sign was accompanied with incantations, eulogies, psalms as well as the mystical names of God and the angels....the hexagram became a protective sign against evil in general and, in the case of the popular use of amulets, served to protect the unborn child against demons.  It also served the needs of the ordinary people and thus in medieval and early modern times it became a widely known symbol of magic and superstition."

The hexagram first appears in Judaism in the seventh century B.C.E.:

"The first examples of the six-pointed star in Judaism originate from the seventh century B.C.E.  A first Jewish adaptation of the hexagram together with its astro-magical meaning took place in the first centuries C.E.  As we have no written documents on this process, but only archeological findings, we may assume that the adoption caused no hermeneutical problems, but instead was a rather natural development."

Maimonides was, presumably, against the use of the hexagram:

 "The great Jewish philosopher and commentator Maimonides (1135 till 1204) criticized the use of magic signs on mezuzoth, from which we may conclude that not only the pentagram, but also the hexagram were already in the 12th century or earlier a widely used magic talisman."  

It's odd that Judaism still retains non-Biblical names for the months, names which probably go back to Babylon.  It's even more odd that the Star of David goes back to Babylon.  Still, I'm not going to be the one to denounce the Star of David.  I just wanted to present you, dear reader, with this information.  Besides, if Maimonides already denounced the use of the hexagram then what good would it do for me to denounce it?


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Another Great Dialogue with Gene

So the comments in the post entitled "Should a Non-Jew Aspire to be a Pharisee Like Paul?" were pretty enlightening.  In that thread, we saw Gene offer the following test for how one can know which commands apply ONLY to ethnic Jews:
Dan, if you want to know which commandments apply specifically to Israel, just look up any commandment (or a section of commandments) that starts with G-d saying "Say to the children of Israel" and you'll know who G-d meant them for.
And then Zion pointed out a flaw in Gene's test:


Gene, in 1 Peter 2:9-10 We have Peter calling gentiles a "chosen race", "priesthood", "holy nation"...etc etc. The point is, he is quoting Exodus 19:6 concerning gentiles, and the verse in Exodus 19:6 says: 
These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel. 
Since Peter applies a verse that directly applies to the sons of Israel to gentiles who now trust in the Messiah, where does your understanding come into this?"
But Gene responded:


Zion, my friend, you've made a lot of assumptions about the First Epistle of Peter. Neither its authorship (most scholars today consider the work to be pseudographical) or its the target audience (which many scholars believe were assimilated Helenized Jews living in Diaspora that Peter as the Apostle to the Jews was trying to reach) is a settled thing. Far from it.
 To break it down:  Gene is advocating that 1 Peter is deceptive when it purports to be written by Peter (1:1).  He's also advocating that the consensus of scholars are wrong to say that the addressees were predominantly non-Jewish.  But let's pause to hear what the scholars are saying.  First, was Peter the author or is 1 Peter pseudographical:


"If the evidence traditionally used to point to a late date and pseudonymous authorship is actually inconclusive because it could pertain to any period of the Christian church in the first century, then it becomes more difficult to avoid a more direct association of the letter with the apostle Peter himself.  And there is substantial evidence that would point to a very close association of the apostle Peter with the letter.  
First, the letter indisputably claims to be from the apostle Peter (1 Peter 1:1).  In today's scholarly milieu, this may seem a naive point.  But under the assumption that epistolary pseudonymity was frequently practiced and widely accepted in antiquity, the text's own claim is sometimes not given its due in favor of inferred evidence of questionable weight."  [1 Peter (Baker Exegetical Commentary) by Jobes]
Second, who were the addressees of 1 Peter:


"On the basis of 1:18, most modern commentators disagree that the audience was primarily Jewish Christian; that verse refers to the 'useless way of life you inherited from your ancestors'…" [ibid]


So I just think it's funny to watch how the Exclusionists attempt to get around Scripture.  They have a big problem with Ephesians 2.  But they have an even bigger problem with 1 Peter 2!  With Ephesians 2, they desperately try to redefine "politeia" to mean something other than "citizenship" because if it means "citizenship" then non-Jews are FULL members of the New Covenant along with Messianic Jews.  And they desperately try to argue that 1 Peter isn't written to non-Jews because if 1 Peter 2 is about non-Jews then we're forced to conclude that Apostle Peter believed that non-Jews had been incorporated into the People of Israel.  

One last thing:  what is the implication if non-Jews have been incorporated into Israel?  I think McKee says it best:
 "James affirmed Peter's testimony before the Council about God concerning Himself with the nations, and integrating these new Believers into the community.  Interestingly enough, Peter himself would later write to a large group of Jewish and non-Jewish Believers, and would apply many Tanach concepts of Israel equally to them.  Not only would these concepts serve to inform who they were to be as transformed Believers, but also how they would all be living out the Divine mandate as originally given to Israel together:
     '[Y]ou are CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY' (1 Peter 2:9-10; cf. Deuteronomy 7:6; 10:15; Exodus 19:6; Isaiah 61:6; 43:21; Deuteronomy 4:20; 14:2; and Hosea 2:23).
We can safely assume that James, brother of Yeshua, would have agreed with this later assessment of Peter.  It is not enough to just be a part of Israel or God's chosen, as one must live forth the special calling upon Israel,"  (pg. 57 "Acts 15 for the Practical Messianic" by J.K. McKee)


CONCLUSION

If you are a non-Jew then you need to realize that Yeshua has brought you into Israel, that this is a humbling responsibility given so that you will help Jews come to know the Messiah (because it's a gospel to the Jew first), and that you must "live forth the special calling upon Israel" which involves following Sinaitic Torah and showing respect for the Jewish traditions that conform to the spirit and letter of the Law.  

[P.S.  I've got to go to work now so I won't be able to check back until probably tomorrow.  Shalom!]













Monday, May 13, 2013

GUILTY! Abortion Doctor Gosnell Found Guilty of Murder (and Some Ethics Questions)

Here's the link:  CLICK HERE FOR LINK

The babies were born alive and whimpering and he used scissors to snip their spinal cords.

ETHICS QUESTION #1:

If you saw the baby on the table whimpering and then you saw Gosnell approach with a pair of scissors, would you kill Gosnell in order to protect the baby?

ETHICS QUESTION #2:

Same situation but the baby is seconds away from being born:  what is the right thing to do?



An Interesting Post by James (the Blogger)


Should a Non-Jew Aspire to be a Pharisee Like Paul?


A Guide to Shavu'ot Practices

Shavuot, known in Scripture variously as "hag ha-katzir", "hag ha-shavuot", "hag ha-bikkurim", is a day that commemorate the giving of the Torah at Sinai (Zeman Mattan Toratenu).  So how do we celebrate it?

WHEN IS IT?

The sixth of Sivan (late May or early June).

ANY SPECIAL OBSERVANCES?

Yes:

Tikkun Lel Shavuot:

Sorry for those who aren't night owls but it is customary to stay up the entire night before Shavuot.  Why?  Well, there's a legend that the Jews at Sinai slept too well, that they should've been more eager.  The Zohar says that one should stay up just like a groom stays up the night before his wedding because he is eager for the next day.  I can hear the shocked gasps from some readers that I should mention the Zohar.  Yes, the Zohar is a kabbalistic text.  I'm not advocating all the teachings of Kabbala.

Eating a ton of dairy:

Everyone (except the Yemenites--they've always gotta be different--just kidding, I love you guys) eats dairy on Shavuot.  Why?  Because the Torah is milk and honey (Song of Songs 4:11) and also because if Passover was the "birth" of Israel then Israel was just a baby at Sinai.  And we're all infants if you think about it (when it comes to Torah).

Floral decorations:

So I think Vilna Gaon was totally against this as a supposed Christian custom but it really isn't.  Shavuot is an agricultural day let's not forget.  And so decorating the home and synagogue with flowers and foliage is quite fitting in my opinion.  Plus, a flower always brightens a room, don't you think?  And we're supposed to enjoy Shavu'ot like a wedding day after all.

Reading the book of Ruth:

This custom goes way back (Masekhet Soferim 14:16).  Why read the book of Ruth?  Well, sorry to disappoint Boaz and the Exclusionist groups out there but Shavu'ot has some universal implications.  The story of Ruth occurred at what time?  The harvest!  And so, in the latter days, the prophets say there will be a world-wide harvest, an in-gathering of not just Jews but also non-Jews!  Take that Boaz!  You can't stop G-d!

Songs:

Here's some suggestions for songs to sing on this beautiful day:


Torat Emet

Tanu Rabanan

Kabbalat ha-Torah

Torah Tzivah Lanu

Barukh Elohenu

Yisrael ve-Oraita

Yismah Mosheh

Yismehu Adirim 

Dundai

Der Oibershter Iz Der Mechutten

Naaleh he-Har Tziyon

Kumu ve-Naaleh

Alu, Alu


Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Mysterious "Prince" of Ezekiel: Is it Yeshua or David?


Here are the differences, as I see it, between Yeshua and the Prince (of Ezekiel):

A DIFFERENCE IN LAND OWNERSHIP


Yeshua owns the entire planet:

Psalms 2:6 “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. (7) I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. (8) Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”

The Prince of Ezekiel owns a relatively small parcel of land:

"7 ‘The prince will have the land bordering each side of the area formed by the sacred district and the property of the city. It will extend westward from the west side and eastward from the east side, running lengthwise from the western to the eastern border parallel to one of the tribal portions. This land will be his possession in Israel," (Ezekiel 45:7-8) 
"21 What remains on both sides of the area formed by the sacred portion and the property of the city will belong to the prince. It will extend eastward from the 25,000 cubits of the sacred portion to the eastern border, and westward from the 25,000 cubits to the western border. Both these areas running the length of the tribal portions will belong to the prince, and the sacred portion with the temple sanctuary will be in the center of them. 22 So the property of the Levites and the property of the city will lie in the center of the area that belongs to the prince. The area belonging to the prince will lie between the border of Judah and the border of Benjamin," (Ezekiel 48:21-22)

A DIFFERENCE IN RIGHTEOUSNESS


Yeshua never sinned:

"15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin," (Hebrews 4:15)

He committed no sin and no deceit was found in his mouth," (1 Peter 2:22)

David sinned:

"For David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the LORD's commands all the days of his life--except in the case of Uriah the Hittite," (1 Kings 15:5)

The Prince of Ezekiel has a sin nature:

"On that day the prince is to provide a bull as a sin offering for himself and for all the people of the land," (Ezekiel 45:22)

 A DIFFERENCE IN PROGENY


Yeshua had no physical offspring.

The Prince of Ezekiel will have physical offspring:

16 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: If the prince makes a gift from his inheritance to one of his sons, it will also belong to his descendants; it is to be their property by inheritance. 17 If, however, he makes a gift from his inheritance to one of his servants, the servant may keep it until the year of freedom; then it will revert to the prince. His inheritance belongs to his sons only; it is theirs. 18 The prince must not take any of the inheritance of the people, driving them off their property. He is to give his sons their inheritance out of his own property, so that not one of my people will be separated from their property,'" (Ezekiel 46:16-18)

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS


How do we resolve passages like Ezekiel 37:24-25 which refer to "David" as Melech (King) and "David" as ha-nasi (the Prince)?  I believe that there are two Davids.  Yeshua is the Davidic King;  David is the prince.  And it wouldn't be the first time that David performed a priestly role.  Remember how he wore the ephod?  (see 2 Samuel 6:14,17).  

But feel free to disagree and discuss.  Does anyone have a better interpretation?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Prophets vs. Boaz Michael: A Brief Look at the Prophetic Expectation for Non-Jews in the "Day" of the New Covenant Age


So James in Acts 15 quotes from the LXX of Amos 9:

"In that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen..."

According to James, this "day" is evident in the story of Cornelius:

"Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name"
The "day" refers to the dawning of the New Covenant Age.  What else happens on this day?
"In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, 'Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you'" (Zech. 8:23)
Does that sound to you like Jews and non-Jews are meant to have separate communities???

Please, brothers and sisters, do not listen to the false teachings of "First Fruit of Zion" and Boaz Michael or anyone from the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations.  You are NOT meant to stay in church on a permanent basis.  You know this:  doesn't your spirit grieve there?  I know that it does!  Because my spirit grieves there too!

The Prophetic Expectation is that Non-Jews will grab hold of a Jew (in a nice way of course) and start down a path to learning the Torah of Moses (Acts 15:21).

I want to help the Christians in churches but my spirit cannot take it there much longer.  And I'll not have my daughter identifying with those who hate our Judaic heritage.  May Heaven protect her from the spirit of lawlessness!  And may G-d protect her bashert!



Judah's Tribute to Geza Vermes

CLICK HERE FOR LINK


Fronczak's (F.F.O.Z.) Review of David Rudolph's "Introduction to Messianic Judaism"

CLICK HERE FOR LINK


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Across the Sea

Do you believe that two people can have a psychic link?  Earlier today I was daydreaming.  I imagined standing on the shore of Sicily, facing Israel, and knowing that Israel was just across the sea.  Then I thought about how the Israelites eventually came to Sicily (there used to be a huge Jewish population there, believe it or not) and so many other peoples came there...

So I tell my wife what I was thinking about and she says that she was thinking about the phrase "across the sea" earlier today, she liked the phrase.  And she said she thought about an episode of a t.v. show she watched a while back entitled "across the sea" that took place on mysterious island.  In the episode, the people spoke Latin (of all things), and dreamed about what people there might be across the sea.

We both thought the coincidence was a bit strange.  Don't have any idea what it means thought.  Ah, well.

Shalom,

Peter

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Why Did the Israelites "Grumble" About Not Having Meat (Basar)?

  • Why did Abraham serve meat to his heavenly visitors?  (Gen. 18:7-8)
  • Why did Daniel abstain from meat while he was mourning? (Dan. 10:2-3)
  • Why did G-d anticipate that Jews would "crave meat" and say "I would like some meat"? (Deut. 12)
  • Why did the Israelites grumble about not having any meat and say "Who will give us meat?"(Num. 11; Exodus 16)
  • Why did the father upon seeing his prodigal son return, order the servants to prepare a fattened calf for a celebration? (Luke 15)


Remember the story about Peter and how he fell asleep because he was hungry and then had the vision about the meats?  I always thought that was funny.  As it happens, I've not been eating very much lately (trying to lose a few pounds) and so today I was thinking about the significance of meat to the ancient Israelite culture.

For an Israelite, meat represented G-d's special provision (Exodus 16).  It was seen as a special blessing to have meat ("then you may eat as much of it as you want").  And people were joyful when they had meat:

"There were plentiful supplies of flour, fig cakes, raisin cakes, wine, olive oil, cattle and sheep, for there was joy in Israel," (1 Chronicles 12)

The most important feast to an Israelite was Passover.  This was even more than a physical provision because, in addition to providing savory meat (yes, I'm definitely hungry), there was a spiritual provision:  the blood representing Yeshua's blood, the blood of family/kinship, offered a way for sinners to be reconciled with G-d.  

YET...

only the circumcised could partake of this special feast! 

Does this mean that when Yeshua returns and there is a grand celebration of Passover that the non-Jews will be excluded from the joy and fellowship and provision of the lamb feast?

I don't think so.  The goyim will be commanded to keep Passover because it says:

"All the congregation of Israel shall keep it," (Exod. 12:47)

They are part of the Edah (congregation) via Yeshua's blood.  Which means they'll have to be circumcised at some point so that they can fulfill the command to keep the Passover.

At least, that's the way I see it.  Feel free to disagree or discuss.  

Shalom and Happy Eating,

Peter  




Monday, May 6, 2013

Wyschogrod Says That G-d Loves Gentiles...Just Not as Much as He Loves Jews

I can see now why this guy is among David Rudolph's favorite scholars and why he went to visit him:

"What, now, of those not elected?  Those not elected cannot be expected not to be hurt by not being of the seed of Abraham, whom God loves above all others....The consolation of the gentiles is the knowledge that God also stands in relationship with them in the recognition and affirmation of their uniqueness.  The choice, after all, is between a lofty divine love equally distributed to all without recognition of uniqueness and real encounter, which necessarily involves favorites but in which each is unique and addressed as such.  If Abraham was especially loved by God, it is because God is a father who does not stand in a legal relationship to his children, which by its nature requires impartiality and objectivity.  As a father, God loves his children and knows each one as who he is with his strengths and weaknesses, his virtues and vices.  Because a father is not an impartial judge but a loving parent and because a human father is a human being with his own personality, it is inevitable that he will find himself more compatible with some of his children than others and, to speak very plainly, that he love some more than others.  There is usually great reluctance on the part of parents to admit this, but it is a truth that must not be avoided.  And it is also true that a father loves all his children, so that they all know of and feel the love they receive, recognizing that to substitute an impartial judge for a loving father would eliminate the preference for the specially favored but would also deprive all of them of a father.  The mystery of Israel's election thus turns out to be the guarantee of the fatherhood of God toward all peoples, elect and nonelect, Jew and gentile," (pg. 64 of Wyschogrod's "The Body of Faith") [Emphasis added]

Wow, thanks, Wyschogrod.  That's quite a consolation for gentiles.  Not loved as much as Jews but...still loved.

Really?

Actually, I can see why Rudolph loves this guy.  If I were Jewish, I'd love him too!  What son wouldn't want to hear that he is the favorite son?