Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Orthodox Rabbi's View of Torah and the Gentiles

"Anyone who accepts the 7 commandments and is careful to do them, behold he is from the pious of the nations. And he has a place in the world to come. And this is one who accepts them and does them because the Holy One blessed be He commanded them in the Torah and made them known by Moses our master that the sons of Noah were before commanded in them."

Rabbi Mayer Twersky
On the matter of the sons of Noah fulfilling the 613 commandments

I pulled the above quote from an interesting blog called Christian for Moses and should credit Toby Janicki of First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) for posting it on his Facebook page. Otherwise, I might not have found it.

The blog article Rationale for Observing Commandments Other than the 7 (for Gentiles) is short but compelling. You might want to sail over there and read the original source before continuing here. The blog author (who declines to state his or her name) provides appropriate links to the source material written by Rabbi Twersky, but you'll have to know Hebrew to be able to read it. Either the blog author reads Hebrew or had help with the translation. Either way, it should be interesting.

Rabbi Mayer Twersky, the author's source, is an Orthodox Jew who makes some rather startling comments about Gentiles and their observance of Torah beyond the 7 Noahide laws! That has rather profound implications for non-Jews in the Messianic movement relative to our ongoing discussions of what commandments to which we can or should respond.

The blog author's conclusion tells the tale:
So he says that a one who is not obligated in a certain commandment, but wants to perform it can still fulfill it, in this case there is no object of the commandment, but rather the deed is in itself the acceptance of the God of Israel. He notes further that this is the main difference with one who is obligated and fulfills the commandment, in which case there is an object of the commandment, and the fulfillment is the doing of that object.
There's no detail given on which commandments should be addressed by Gentiles, so I don't think non-Jewish Messianics can automatically jump on this and say "Ah ha!" as if it's an open door to Torah obedience for Gentiles. In fact, the statement specifically presents one who is not obligated...but wants to perform it, and says he can still fulfill the commandment, though apparently the act itself is a response to God and not directly to the commandment as such.

Still, I think this opens the door back up for discussion of Gentiles and the commandments outside of the Noahide laws and probably outside of Acts 15, particularly in light of Part 5 and Part 6 of Derek Leman's Not Jewish yet Drawn to Torah series and my response to his commentary. While there's nothing in Rabbi Twersky's statements that says anything about Gentile obligation, he certainly is saying that voluntary action can fulfill the commandment's intent.

I should note that the Heaven is Near blog beat me to the punch by posting their own missive on the same topic. Figured I'd toss my two cents into the hat anyway.



cliff said...

thanks James. nice thoughts and possible implications. the original post seemed to hint at the way I view my relationship to the Torah. I was immediately inspired and tried to get a few thoughts out in my blog.

James said...

Same here. I think if the Jewish Messianic Judaism is looking to the wisdom of the ancient and current Jewish sages to define Jewish and Gentile roles in "the movement", Rabbi Twersky's teaching could help point us all in the direction of how to make Gentiles and the Torah commandments "fit".

Judah Gabriel Himango said...

>> The blog author (who declines to state his or her name) provides appropriate links to the source material written by Rabbi Twersky

If you're talking about Christian4Moses, his name is Daniel. Despite his blog title, I would describe him as a former Christian. Perhaps a better title for him would be Noachide. Or Noachide Talmudist, if there is such a thing.