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Weekly Bracha 44

Rejoice, Messianic sons & daughters of Abraham! The weekly bracha may be a day late, but it’s back with powerful punditry, bearing fine, fine, fine items from the Messianic blogosphere over the last week-ish, plus related news bits from the Jewish world.

  • Non-Jews as the Saviors of Judaism – Famed Orthodox rabbi Shmuley Boteach writes an opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post suggests Judaism will be saved by non-Jews doing a kind of Judaism. A gentile can become a Judaizer (his term), and thus save Judaism, by doing 7 things:
    • Having a family night on Friday night
    • Eating kosher
    • Celebrating the biblical feasts
    • Studying the Torah, Talmud, Zohar, and other Jewish texts
    • Observing niddah (marital purity laws)
    • Acts of kindness
  • Boteach's Non-Divine, Non-Messianic Jesus? – In response to the above article, Derek Leman responds to Shmuley’s take on Yeshua, whom Shmuley labeled thus:

    For the past six years I have been working on a book, to be published shortly, on a new understanding of Jesus as prophet rather than deity, based exclusively on the New Testament. The real story of Jesus as teacher of traditional Jewish spirituality to his disciples lies explicitly in the text. I have lectured Christian audiences about rediscovering the uniquely Jewish Jesus as a way of deepening their spiritual understanding of Christianity and stripping it of any acquired pagan coating.

    Derek responds powerfully:

    Shmuley’s upcoming book is about Jesus. Jesus the prophet, he says. But not Jesus the divine man or Messiah. Problems? You bet:

    If Jesus is a prophet (I certainly think so) then his words are from God. There is no way Shmuley can believe this. I predict some sort of game-playing will ensure so that many of Jesus’ words will be ignored through either denial of authenticity or clever reinterpretation.

    Derek ends with some Scriptures where Yeshua, in his own words, claims status as the bread of life, the unique son of man with authority to forgive sins, the Messiah, sitting at the right hand of power, having been handed all power in heaven and earth by God himself. Oh, yes! Go, Derek, go!

  • Seven Steps to Jewish Living for Non-Jews – James was the first Messianic blog to comment on Boteach’s article, with some interesting comments from James’ readers.
  • Boteach's Judaism for Non-Jews – Another reactionary post, Rabbi Brumbach wrestles with another aspect of Boteach’s controversial post: how do gentiles fit into Judaism? This question is particularly relevant to those in Messianic Judaism with its massive influx of gentiles.
  • US State Department's 2010 Religious Freedom Report – Prominent in the report is the Jewish terrorist anti-missionary group Yad L’achim, detailing its vigilante acts against Yeshua’s followers (e.g. the firebombings, explosive packages, intimidation, expulsion, etc.). It further links the terrorist group’s activities with government support from the Israeli Ministry of Interior.
  • Israeli Army Radio refuses to air Yad L'achim advertisement – Perhaps recognizing the futility of fighting terrorism in Israel while promoting terrorism on its own airwaves, the Israeli Army does the right thing (hooray!) and rejected Yad L’achim terrorist organization’s advertisement. Good on them!
  • Good News of Messiah – A new Messianic blog! Well, not really, he’s been blogging for over a year now, but it’s new to me, and probably new to most of you.
  • Do You Obey All The Commandments – James writes,

    No, even the best of you don’t obey all of the commandments listed in the Torah; not even the Ultra-Orthodox Jews obey all 613 commandments for the simple reason that they (and you…and we) can’t obey them all. Cool your jets. It’s OK.

  • What Is Grassroots? – Yahnatan talks about a conference non-conference for young Messianic believers, and how,

    One year, a dozen or so people who grew up in the UMJC sat down with a dozen MJAA people and basically said, "Here's what we (learned to) think about you."  The conversation led to a lot of repentance--changing minds and hearts about our fellow believers.

    That’s rather encouraging to hear. I think if folks in the various factions of the Messianic movement got together like this, there would be less fighting.

  • One Torah To Rule Them All – First Fruits of Zion’s new issue of Messiah Journal has an article on gentiles keeping Torah. James reviews the article, offers his views, and some FFOZ folks respond in the comments. Interesting discussion.

Enjoy the tasty day-old Bracha bits, fine Kineti readers!


  1. I just read Derek's commentary on Rabbi Boteach's soon-to-be-published book and one quote caught my attention:

    How will this solve the problem of intermarriage and the loss of Jewish identity? Will these God-fearers be allowed to marry into the tribe? First, I doubt Shmuley will propose that and second, if he did, this would still mean the loss of Jewish identity more and more over time.

    I honestly didn't get anything about Jewish/Gentile intermarriage from the original JPost article and (amazingly) I agree with Derek in that I can't imagine Rabbi Boteach actually endorsing such a thing. The only thing I see Rabbi Boteach trying to do (in book after book after...) is to find a way to build a bridge between Gentiles and Jews using Jewish ethical monotheism as the link.

    While I agree that Rabbi Boteach's latest effort is bound to be flawed, at least he's making the effort.

    Oh, by the way. I am a Gentile married to a Jew. We were both secular when we got married. After we got married, she pursued her Jewish identity with a passion and she and our children all have a definite Jewish identity (I'm the lone Gentile in the mix...sorry to disappoint but for me, conversion isn't an option because I'd have to deny my faith in Yeshua). I've been blamed before by BI/MJ for marrying a Jew (how dare I!), but in this case, it didn't result in doom and gloom.

  2. Apparently comments are closed on Yahnatan's Grassroots blog post, so I couldn't reply there (so I'll comment here). I really liked this:

    It meant that Grassroots doesn't offer famous speakers, well-known musical artists, or an extensive schedule filled with breakout sessions or activities. But what Grassroots does offer is lots of space for relationship-building.

    That's what I think needs to get better in the Messianic movement, both between different Messianic groups and between MJ and the rest of the world. It's nice to see the young people take the lead here and more than that, I think it's very telling.

    Perhaps the current generation of Messianic leaders aren't the ones to build the bridges. Maybe that's what I've been beating my head against for the past several months. It's for our younger brothers and sisters; our sons and daughters, to make the leap, just like the first generation who left Egypt were unable to make the transition and enter the Land. Their children had to do it.

  3. I think the intermarriage issue was inferred from Boteach's intro, where he says Judaism is failing due to assimilation.

    Thanks for being opened about your family. It's an interesting situation. Mine's kind of inverse: my dad is Jewish, I identify as Messianic, but my wife and son are Christian. We got married knowing this.

  4. I went over the beginning of Boteach's article again and he's almost being contradictory. On the one hand, he laments the intermarriage and assimilation rate of Jews into the Gentile world, which is a real problem, and on the other hand, he says the main problem is "Jewish insularity and isolation". How will exporting Jewish ethics to the Gentiles and reducing insular and isolationist Jewish behavior solve intermarriage and assimilation (and keep in mind, he probably sees Jews who become Messianic as having "assimilated" into Christianity)?

    The only answer I can see (and I'm guessing at Boteach's motives) is to get the Gentile world to understand and embrace the value of Jews being Jews and support Jews remaining Jewish. One way to possibly do that is to convince Gentiles of the value and benefits of a "Jewish lifestyle", so to speak.

    No matter which way I look at it though, it's still seems like smoke and mirrors. I can truly see the benefit of exporting Jewish morals and values to the larger world, but I don't see how that directly prevents intermarriage or assimilation. The issues are a lot more complex.

  5. Good catch, I hadn't noticed that when reading the article.

    His 7 goals are good: if gentiles kept them, the world would be better.

    That said, it is better yet to be a disciple of Yeshua than a Judaizer. :-)

  6. Given who we are and who we married to Judah, we should start an "intermarried" blog post sometime to discuss the issues involved. It would be illuminating to see if we're really so rare...and to see if it's possible for a Jew to marry a Gentile, remain Jewish, and raise Jewish children (yes it is). Might invite some interesting comments. ;-)

  7. Blessings Judah;

    I followed the link here from James' blog to read your article regarding Shmuley's new book and was surprised to see my blog listed; that was very kind. Thank you.

    Shalom uv'racha;

  8. Judah, I sent you an email to your gmail account. Best to take the planning stages offline.

    Justin, Judah's blogs are first rate and every week, he scours the Messianic blogosphere for interesting and provocative articles to present. I highly recommend following his blog.


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