From Pictures with a Purpose
In Judaism, "Jewish souls" awakening from among the gentiles is something that happens. All converts are such people. Perhaps, now that we're nearing toward the geula, HaShem is harvesting some lost souls throughout the world. I don't agree that their current state is where they are going to stay, if they're actually going to become truly part of Israel. But I'm sure that anyone who seeks out the urge and desire that they have for Israel and Tora, they will eventually end up in the right place. And may HaShem help them.
Aaron ("Jewzilla") in a comment on
Kineti L' Tziyon
I suppose I'll have to publish a little more of the transaction between Aaron and me for this to make sense:
James: Funny, that's more or less what my wife said to me once. Of all the Jews I can discuss matters of faith with, she's the only one who doesn't seem to be offended by who I am and what I believe. Of course, she loves me, which probably makes a difference.I'm not sure if Aaron was encouraging me to convert to Judaism (and if he was, I'll take that as a compliment) but what he said and the way he said it made me stop and think.
Aaron ("Jewzilla"): James,
Follow up the passion with the fullest extent of action. ^_^
The various different manifestations of "Messianic Judaism" have been struggling especially hard recently to try and make sense of the non-Jewish presence in a "Jewish movement". Of course, Christianity is not thought of as a "Jewish movement" but the related worship of the same Messiah and the same God must be seen as some sort of connection between the Church and Messianic Jews. In the demilitarized zone between the two groups, you have populations of people characterized by the labels "One Law" and "Two House" who seem to be, at the same time, related and unrelated to both religious entities.
But who are we?
That's the Sixty-four thousand dollar question since "identity" is at the very core of the conflict between Jews and non-Jews in the Messianic and Christian communities (I use the plural since any real connection between Messianic Jews and the Christian church is largely theoretical at this point).
We are all here in the same "virtual" room, though we are using pieces of chalk to mark our various territories in that room and putting up signs at these chalk-drawn borders saying "No such-and-thus is allowed beyond this point".
I hope I'm exaggerating, but I fear I'm not...at least not by much.
I've got so much I could say about the conversations that have taken place in the "Messianic blogosphere" during the past week, I hardly know where to begin. I've tried to inject a little reason into what I see as an unreasonable set of situations in my blog posts What I Won't Miss and Imagining Ourselves, but reason seems to be the last thing that most people want at the moment.
I recently read a blog article called Torah and Non-Jews at Christian for Moses, which appears to be an extension of the previous blog post Orthodox Rabbi's View of Torah and the Gentiles (and I highly recommend reading both, along with related article Prayer and Non-Jews).
But who are we?
According to Aaron's comments, it is possible for a non-Jewish person to have a "Jewish soul" (and I'm very uneducated about how this would work) and it is believed that all Gentiles who convert to Judaism are such Jewish souls.
But isn't that a form of supersessionism (the hot topic of last week)? Isn't that a form of diluting the body of "real" Jews?
I suppose it depends on how you look at it. I've read Lydia Kukoff's Choosing Judaism, Anita Diamant's Choosing a Jewish Life and am in the process of reading Rabbi Kerry M Olitzky's and Joan Peterson Littman's book Making a Successful Jewish Interfaith Marriage. They all address this issue in one way or the other and confirm the general belief in Judaism that Gentile converts to Judaism are seen as having "Jewish Souls".
The authors of these books are rather liberal and take a stance that accepting converts and intermarried couples (more after the fact than before) actually strengthens Judaism rather than watering it down.
Interestingly enough, I see a sort of parallel between Gentiles being attributed to having "Jewish Souls" and the Two-House movement, which says that any non-Jew who is attracted to the Torah and Judaism must be a member of the lost ten tribes (as if no non-Jew in his or her own right could possibly be attracted to the beauty of the Torah for its own sake or for God's).
Of course it is Judaism's view that it is possible for some Gentiles to have "Jewish Souls" but it's a Gentile viewpoint that some non-Jews can really be "lost Jews" (and thereby hangs the difference). In both cases, the "belief" is the explanation for why a non-Jew could be attracted to Judaism enough to want to enter into some sort of "joining process". The former joining process (conversion or intermarriage) has always been seen with suspicion in Judaism and only accepted with difficulty (hence the necessity for books to educate potential converts, intermarrieds, their families, their Rabbis, and Jews and Christians in general). On the other hand, Messianic Judaism views Two-House as a rather odd form of "supersessionism" which is the act or attempt to replace or dilute Jews with non-Jews, and thus reducing or destroying Jewish identity.
What a mess.
This coming week, we will be reading and studying the Torah Portion Yitro, which features the remarkable act of millions of Jews and non-Jews standing at the foot of Mount Sinai and "as one man" accepting the Torah of God. The leader of this vast body of humanity is himself, an "intermarried" Jewish man who takes advice from his Gentile father-in-law.
Even at the level of the Mount Sinai event, there was a "mixing" of different people groups in relation to God and the Torah. Thousands of years later, Yeshua (Jesus) commits the ultimately confusing act of requiring his Jewish disciples to also make disciples of the peoples of the nations (Matthew 28:18-20) and Peter, the Messiah's "right hand man", actually witnesses Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit of God before his very eyes and says that the Gentiles should not be restricted from baptism (Acts 10:44-48).
Are One Law and Two House members an abberation which damages Messianic Judaism and are their beliefs inexorably supersessionist? I'll try to address that in my next blog. The answer might not be what you think.
No matter how I answer the question, I'm sure to invoke yet another blood bath among the body parts of the Messiah who are all commanded to love each other (John 13:34).
We were so close, there was no roomThe road is long and often, we travel in the dark, ignoring the light of the world. Look for the lamp who lights your path or you may become lost in the dark forever.
We bled inside each other's wounds
We all had caught the same disease
And we all sang the songs of peace
Some came to sing, some came to pray
Some came to keep, the dark away
So raise the candles high, 'cause if you don't
We could stay black against the night
Oh raise them higher again and if you do
We could stay dry against the rain
From Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)
Melanie Safka (1970)
"A Jew never gives up. We're here to bring Mashiach, we will settle for nothing less." -Harav Yitzchak Ginsburgh