Import jQuery

Weekly Bracha 37

Yom Teruah is passed, the shofar has sounded. Hope you fine blog readers had a good one.

In the interlude between Teruah and Kippur, this week’s bracha will satisfy even the most knowledge-thirsty Messianic mind, as we recap this week in the Messianic blogosphere, with relevant, tasty side dishes from the Jewish and Christian worlds:

  • Position Paper on FFOZ’s Divine Invitation Theology – A friend of mine who happens to be a humble, gracious, witty leader of a Messianic congregation, Yisrael Abraham, has written a position paper on First Fruits of Zion’s “Divine Invitation” theology. Give it a read.
  • Cataloging the New Testament’s Hebraisms – Biblical scholar David Bivin has catalogued a list of Hebraisms in the New Testament, discusses whether the New Testament was originally Hebrew, and whether the disciples spoke Hebrew rather than Aramaic:

    Hebraisms can be found in all books of the NT -- after all, most, if not all, of these books were authored by Jews living in the land of Israel in the first century -- but the vast majority of the NT’s Hebraisms lie buried in the Greek texts of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Isolated idioms do not prove Hebrew origins, just as a French word or idiom in American English does not prove Americans speak French. No single Hebraism can support the supposition that a NT book was originally written in Hebrew; however, masses of Hebraisms in a NT book tend to indicate a Hebrew ancestor.

  • Leadership – Forgettable title, but excellent post on what makes a righteous leader. This is particularly important for you Messianics who are leaders in your congregations. Please give this a read.

    When I meet people who try to impress me with what they know or think they know, or what they have studied, it tells me they are not speaking out of humility but out of pride. Real leaders can’t act out of selfishness or what is comfortable for themselves. They need to be seeking other people’s good, and comfort those who need comforting and rejoice with those who are rejoicing. People who are trying to show what they know or what they can do, or put themselves above anyone else are not seeking other people’s good. They are jockeying for position.

  • Asher Intrater Responds to Rabbi Riskin – An Israeli Messianic leader publicly responds to Israeli Rabbi Riskin’s recent  Jerusalem Post article in which he minimized the attacks on the Messianic community in Israel. Worth a read if you’re interested in the “situation on the ground” for Messianics in Israel.
  • What Did Jesus Teach About Gentiles? – Given that Messiah commanded his disciples to observe God’s commandments in the Torah, and given that Messiah told his disciples to “go into all the nations, teaching them everything I have commanded you”, does this mean Jesus was teaching gentiles to keep God’s commandments? What did Messiah command his disciples to teach concerning gentiles? Bonus reading part 2 and part 3.
  • Burning Books – Rabbi Resnik writes a moving letter to the Koran-burning Christian pastor, asking him to stop his plans for the burning.
  • Why don’t the rabbis put a stop to this nonsense? – Yad L’achim, the Israeli organization that regularly persecutes Messiah’s followers in Israel, the organization responsible for employing the terrorist Jack Teitel who attempted the murder of an Israeli Messianic family – yes, this fine G-d honoring organization – has a special offer! One time only! Donate now and you’ll receive a free ShamWow a minyan of davening Jews!

    Don’t miss the amusing nugget in the comments, “Now all I need is someone to put on tefillin for me, shake lulav for me, and sit in the sukka for me. Heck, I'd be willing to pay $18 and have those guys keep kosher and Shabbos for me. And I'd be willing to pay even more to have them observe all the laws relating to sexual relations.”

  • What I’ve Learned in Two Years of Blogging – Christian author Frank Viola, who now runs one of the most popular religious blogs on the web, has a list of 12 things that blogging has taught him.

    “I remember as far back as 2001, some of my friends encouraged me to start a blog. And I kept saying to them, ‘I don’t have the time.’ Well, I didn’t . . . and I still don’t. But here I am, blogging every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. (If I could explain the above sentence to you, I’d be three-fold a Solomon.)

  • Confessions on Yom Kippur – The traditional prayers for Yom Kippur include asking forgiveness for…coercion and bribery? Uncomfortable, much? Kinbar asserts,

    Something is wrong: I must recite these confessions but I cannot honestly say that I have sinned by interest and usury. Do I live with this tension, or is there something I must learn?

  • Why I Won’t Be Waving a Chicken Over My Head – Jewish blogger FinkOrSwim has an amusing post on why it’s time to end the kaparos-with-chicken ritual, a tradition done before Yom Kippur in which one’s sin is transferred to an object, usually a chicken, by swinging it around one’s head three times, then slaughtering and eating it.
  • Who Was Melchizedek? – Well-known Christian apologist and “Bible Answer Man” Hank Hanegraaff ponders whether Melchizedek, the mysterious priest who appeared to Abraham, was a Christophany, that is, an appearance of Jesus in the Tenakh.
  • Christians help Israel’s needy celebrate holiday – YNetNews has an article on International Fellowship of Christians and Jews donation of $1 million to help provide Israel's poorest citizens with boxes of food to prepare the special meals associated with the High Holidays.


Enjoy the bracha, fine blog readers!


  1. So far I've just had a chance to read Schiffman's blog post. Kind of dry writing but he makes a good point. It's sort of the same thing I'm trying to say on my latest blog post. Being a leader should always mean thinking of yourself as a servant. The minute you lose sight of that and start calling yourself "leader", you've lost your vision and probably your calling.

  2. Sorry to comment "back-to-back", so to speak, but I just read Frank Viola's blog and needed to say this.

    Viola said:
    Blogging has helped me answer my critics with the graciousness of Christ.
    I hope this is true. One way to view unjust criticism is to get upset, reject it out of hand, defend, or attack back. The other is to view it as an opportunity to reveal Jesus Christ in one’s response. Over the years, God has given me an instinct to view it in the latter way. I hope that I’ve been faithful to respond in a gracious manner at all times.

    Wow! This is a lesson we can all learn from in the Messianic blogosphere.

  3. Yeah, that same point struck me in Viola's post. Something Messianic bloggers totally need to hear and apply.

  4. When I read Schiffman's posts, they come across as frank, without much ceremony or fancy prose. The plain meaning is clear.

    While that can be dry, IMO it's something that sets apart his blog from others. I kind of like it. :-)

  5. I just read the "Position Paper on FFOZ’s Divine Invitation Theology" and, maybe it's just that my brain is tired, but I had a hard time understanding what the Yisrael Abraham position was except they didn't agree with FFOZ on everything. Can anyone tighten up the "nuts and bolts" for me as far as what Yisrael Abraham is saying? Thanks.

  6. James,

    My take from it is,

    1. They agree with FFOZ that the disciples didn't obligate the gentiles to the whole Torah, especially circumcision.

    2. They disagree about certain commandments being labeled "Jewish identity markers", as gentiles are "we are all children of Abraham, members of the commonwealth
    of Israel, grafted in through faith, co-heirs of the covenants of promise, and one in Messiah."

    3. They're not dogmatic about this, and would rather affirm unity in Messiah with FFOZ.

  7. Thanks, Judah. Seems to be the extent of what was said. I guess I was looking for something a little more detailed, but then, if you've seen how I write, you know what I mean. ;-)

  8. Read the blog post, "Why I Won’t Be Waving a Chicken Over My Head" and started wondering how many Messianic Jewish congregations or at least individual members will be performing this ritual. Any ideas?

  9. Very few, if any. It would only come from the ultra-observant sect who observe both Torah and oral traditions, and even then it would be a tiny subset of that niche.

  10. "how many Messianic Jewish congregations or at least individual members will be performing this ritual. Any ideas?"

    I attend an event with this ritual last year - although not actually "waved the chicken" myself:)

    As Judah said, the ritual is limited to certain circles of Orthodox community. Although I do not see a need to participate in it (from a personal point of view, but I will not judge those who do), I think the ritual has at least the value of REMINDING people of a sacrificial system, where an animal had to die to purify a person (a system that will once again be revived once the Temple is rebuilt.) Which is good.

  11. Judah, I'm just slightly confused. Not with the "chicken waving" ritual per se, but relative to general practice, I thought what I call 'strict Messianic Judaism', which would include those congregations adhering to Bilateral Ecclesiology, observe both the Torah and oral traditions. Maybe Gene would like to field this question.

  12. Here is the reason many Rabbis reject this ritual: If the ritual of the chicken is capable to remove one's sins, then what is the use of Yom Kippur? Why waste time in repentance and account taking?

  13. "I thought what I call 'strict Messianic Judaism"

    James, there's no such thing (at least at the present.) There are no congregations like that in existence where JEWISH believers live as ultra-Orthodox Jews. However, there are individual Jewish talmidim who live as devout Orthodox Jews, but most of them attend Orthodox congregations (the only places where such lifestyle can be practiced, since Jewish life is not a solitary existence), and not Messianic ones (most of which are sadly Evangelical charismatic churches with tallits, Hebraisms and a tiny Jewish minority, if they have any Jews at all.)

    I believe that true Jewish "renaissance" WITH Yeshua will only come at his coming. Right now most of what is known as "Messianic Judaism" is still firmly planted in Protestantism, Evangelicalism, and Charismatic theology - although there are encouraging changes in some quarters.

    BTW, in my own life I strive to observe both Written and Oral Torah (but still have much room to grow in that regard).

  14. Apparently, I've been living under something of an illusion. I got the impression (probably my misinterpretation) from you, Derek, Rabbi Joshua, and a few others, not to mention the UMJC, that there was an entire group of Messianic Jewish synagogues out there that operated, more or less, in the same manner as Orthodox synagogues, apart from professing faith in Yeshua as the Messiah.

    That's one reason why it's seemed so odd to me that a group of Messianic Jewish guys in the Denver area would bug a Gentile Pastor over running a One Law-One Torah congregation just because the guy isn't Jewish (as recorded in the post Blackball).

  15. Gosh. My last observation was obviously a conversation killer.

    Have an easy fast, everyone.

  16. LOL.

    My understanding is that most of these observant Messianic congregations are more on the level of Conservative Judaism.

    Have a quick fast. Be blessed in Messiah, James!


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