Torah And The Jewish People

I meet a lot of non-Jews these days who go on and on how they love the Torah, and feel like they are now a part of Israel, because they follow the Torah. When I ask them about what form their observance takes, I get one of two responses. One response is for people to fully accept an Orthodox Jewish approach to life. While I am not against Orthodox Judaism, I don’t believe it is without error and doesn’t really work well in the modern world. It especially doesn’t work well if you aren’t fully committed to a Jewish way of life.

In another response, they freeze up and let me know in no uncertain terms that they follow Biblical observance, and not the Judaism of the Rabbis. I always feel like I have been slapped in the face when I get that response because they do everything but spit when they mention the Rabbis or traditional Judaism. It makes me wonder if a person can truly reject Judaism and be Torah observant. They feel they can, but I’m not so sure.

They claim that Rabbinic Judaism is the wrong interpretation of people who rejected Yeshua and invented the Rabbinic form of Judaism to preserve their own authority. The problem I have with their accusation is that while rejecting the Rabbinic interpretations in favor of “the pure teaching of Torah,” as they call it, they are really not following Torah, but THEIR interpretation of Torah. So I have a choice; I can believe the learned Rabbi’s interpretations, even though they were imperfect humans, but still loved God and sought to serve Him, or I can believe the interpretations of these self-proclaimed purists, with their explanations of Torah. The problem is, the purists are also imperfect, and also like to make or preserve their own authority. It’s not like this is something new.

The Karaites, in the ninth century rejected Rabbinic writings, authority and customs, and replaced them with their own. While most Jews rejected them as apostates, Maimonides reached out to them. Even the Karaites were not original in this area.

Before the Karaites, there were the Samaritans. The Samaritans were mostly non-Jewish Peoples displaced by the Assyrians and resettled in Israel after the northern kingdom was taken into captivity. Some of them intermarried with the few Israelites remaining in the land, but most were not physically connected to the Jewish people. The Scriptures teach in 2 Kings 17:25-26, “And it was so, at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they did not fear the LORD; therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which killed some of them. So they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, “The nations whom you have removed and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the rituals of the God of the land; therefore He has sent lions among them, and indeed, they are killing them because they do not know the rituals of the God of the land. Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, “Send there one of the priests whom you brought from there; let him go and dwell there, and let him teach them the rituals of the God of the land. Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the LORD.”

The Samaritans followed the Torah after their own fashion. They could say they were Torah observant, but their shortcoming, was that they had nothing to do with the Jewish people. By the time of Yeshua, the Jews and Samaritans had no dealings with one another. Even Yeshua said to them in John 4:22, “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.”

The Torah can’t just be applied any way you want it. We are told that the religion of the Northern Kingdom of Israel prior to the captivity, was an abomination. They had the Torah. They built two temples and made sacrifices in the Name of the God of Israel. But they built golden calves, calling them by the Name of the God of Israel, and the Torah forbids it. The Torah also forbid them from having temples any other place than the one in Jerusalem. They felt anyone could be a priest, and not just the Levites. It was Egalitarian. They did what the Torah said, but they didn’t do it the way God prescribed it. Application of Torah is very important.

The Samaritans tried to be Torah observant without any connection to the Jewish people. The reason their approach was in error, is because the Torah is an eternal covenant between God and the Jewish people. Just as portions of the Torah make no sense outside of the Land of Israel, because it says, “when you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you,” It also says, “I am the Lord your God,” and “To you and your children and your children’s children.” It was made for a certain people, in a certain land. Of course there are parts of the Torah that can be universally applied, and I am not arguing for an exclusivity of the Torah for Jewish people alone. I am saying that any Torah observance a person takes on, will be warped if it does not include the People of Israel and the Land of Israel.

When people take on Torah, but separate themselves from the Jewish people, they seem more like Samaritans than Jews. i don’t say this as a slur.. there were good Samaritans, at least one anyway. I don’t think that non-Jews who are Torah observant are bad. I’m not against them being Torah Observant. I do think that when they decide to take on the Torah, they should consider the Jewish interpretations on how Torah is to be practiced. I think that this rich tradition of interpretation is far more uplifting than a make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach. That’s just my opinion. But however it is applied, I do believe there should be a concern for the Jewish people, and a desire to aid in the welfare of the Jews. Paul said in Romans 15:27, “For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.”

The bottom line, is that I think its a good thing for non-Jews to want to embrace the Torah as their lifestyle, but I also believe it’s important that they pray for the wellbeing of the Jewish people and support the State of Israel, and contribute to alleviate the suffering of the poor among the Jewish people.

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14 thoughts on “Torah And The Jewish People

  1. Excellent Perspective! The only thing I would say, however, is that Paul in Romans 15:27 was referring to the fellowship of Jewish believers in Jerusalem, and not the larger Jewish community in general. While I’m fine with Gentile believers supporting the welfare of Israel, but it saddens me that there are far more who support Israel than there are who support the Messianic Jewish community.

    • Justin, From my perspective, Paul was referring to the Messianic Jews, but in a larger sense it applies to the Jewish people in general. I agree that people should support Messianic works, but to me, a Jew is a Jew, whether or not he is Messianic. If a Jew is hungry, I want to feed him, regardless of his belief or lack thereof. To me there is no better way to share the love of Yeshua with people in a way that will touch their hearts, than to minister to their physical needs, letting them see the hands of Yeshua. Too many people want to preach and no one wants to listen. To get back to the point of the blog post, if people are going to adopt a Torah lifestyle, let them also seek to bless the people to whom the Torah is an eternal inheritance.

  2. Well said. I find it offensive when people claim to practice Judaism, but not the misguided “traditions of men” found in “rabbinic judaism,” and in doing so create a false dichotomy between Judaism and the observance of the Torah. There is no such thing as a judaism outside of the body of teaching and tradition that they dismiss when they claim to practice Judaism, but not “rabbinic judaism.” They have essentially created a straw man in order to justify their own interpretation of the Torah.

  3. Shalom,

    I’m really enjoying your thought provoking discussions.

    Two items of note:
    – 1 Yochanan 3:4-6 makes it clear to me anyway that sin is a violation of Torah and anyone who keeps violating Torah has no part with HaShem.
    – The Master says very clearly that the Pharisee’s (predecessors to Rabbi’s) sit in the seat of Moshe and they have the right to make rulings. I understand this as the right to make binding halacha.

    If I am understanding those 2 sections correctly. Then rabbinic Judaism is following HaShem and has the right to make binding rules for us to follow.

    To me that is the basis for our decision to follow the Shulkhan Aruch. While Conservative Judaism acknowledges the authority of the SA, they do have the ability to make rulings about modern halacha regarding how to follow it. Clear examples are driving on Shabbat, women rabbi’s, etc.

    Messianic Judaism if it seeks to be a valid expression of Judaism has the respect the Rabbi’s and their rulings.

    Your thoughts?

    • I believe that Messianic Judaism, if it is to take its place at the table with the rest of the Jewish world, must at least interact with the halacha, or else it is something other than a Judaism. My position, is that it is a Judaism. If you go to ourrabbis.org, you can read the interaction of the Messianic Jewish Rabbincial Council with traditional Halacha. I am member of the UMJC and the MJRC.

    • Shalom all,
      May Torah be written on your hearts so you know all truth! Praise be to Yah.
      Yahshua spoke to the people and said to listen to those on the seat of Moshe, what he said was listen to what they read from Moshe but do not practice their traditions, as they are making traditions that annulled Torah. They were heaping their oral traditions on the backs of the people and they were to much to bear and so the people were losing faith. Yahshua said to guard what Moshe taught and he also told the pharisees that Moshe indeed would judge them on what he taught them. Yahshua taught pure Torah for the people as laid out in Devarim (the book of Torah as Moshe called it. Yahshua was the one Moshe said would come to clean us up!
      Shalom,Jason

  4. Shalom uvracha,

    Great post!! I agree, we should support Israel and I believe that we should learn with fear and trembling with G-d fearing Jewish people who have been the custodians of Scripture through time. I think there is much to learn from the Rabbis and their writings, I’ve been doing it for the last 3 yrs and I’ve grown so much!

  5. Michael,

    There are many Messianic congregations in the UMJC that act more like churches and discourage Torah observance for gentiles. Some even discourage it for Jewish believers. Can you comment on that?

    Shalom

    • Harry,

      I won’t comment on some of the UMJC congregations, because its not right to single them out over other MJ congregations. While, personally, I don’t tell people what they have to do or can’t do, I do believe that Messianic Jews should observe Torah in traditional modes as an act of covenant faithfulness, and as a bond with the rest of the Jewish people worldwide. I believe non-Jewish Yeshua believers do not have covenantal obligation, but they do have a divine invitation to enter into a Torah lifestyle, because it is the lifestyle God prescribed for his people.

  6. Paul, saying that the Jew has much advantage, said in Romans 3:2 the most important is that: the Jews are committed the Word of God.

    This is very important. If they have the Word, we (the gentiles) must consult them. And after two millennia of Christendom it seems that they have indeed got some authority by God to save scripture from error and misinterpretation.

    It’s interesting that from Jewish perspective there might be contradicted opinions, but what the Gemara decides, this is what you have to obey, whether it’s the good opinion or not. In the end, when the prophet Eliah comes we shall see what’s good. For now Jews have to keep to accepted mitswot. Because of their given authority.

    You can’t say simply: Only God is my authority and I only listen to Him.

    Thanks for sharing this interesting article,
    Jos

  7. Yahweh is our only authority and yes you must bow down and do as he says. Man does not have the right to add to or subtract from Yah’s word (Devarim says it several times). This is the problem , man makes the same mistake as King Sha’ul when he decides to listen to his own directions instead of what Yah lays down for us. Yahweh has been trying to teach us for so long that we do not know better only he does. Bow down and recognize the ultimate authority that all the prophets point to! Yes Yehudah has carried our truth but it must discard it’s traditions and teach the world only the true Torah and stop adding to it. Do we not realize why bad things still pursue us, is it not because no one really wants to listen only to Yahweh! Please I beg all to see this truth as I do. Christianity and it’s teachings are very hard to purge but we can do it when we repent and turn back to the only truth that can truly save us from utter destruction. This was why Yahshua came when he did to preserve the truth. The truth is in Mattithyah’s recording of Yahshua’s word from Yah our father. From their he can lead us back to Moshe and to Yahweh. There is no sacrifice beside giving up what we believe and trusting Yah’s Torah. May Yehuda be blessed and use their key to open up the life for us the other 10 tribes of Ephraim. You have preserved the truth now please teach it, throw away the laws that have been added so as not to scare away those who are poor in heart and weak. Teach what Yahshua taught Yah’s salvation!!!!
    Shalom,
    Jason

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