Does Judaism Stand for Anything?

Does Judaism Stand for Anything?

The shots that rang out in the Tree of Life Synagogue this past Saturday
wounded the entire global Jewish community. Precious lives were taken
and families were shattered at the hands of an evil hater of God’s people.
The memory of the men and women who were slain in this terrible massacre
will forever shine as “kedoshim,” holy martyrs, who lost their lives
because they openly identified as members of God’s witness nation.

So many members of the general community of mankind stood
with us in our grief and shared in our pain. People of all faiths joined
the Jewish community in condemning the evil and in remembering the dead.
This broad outpouring of support is a testimony to the inner goodness of
man and gives us hope that we will soon see the day when all of humanity
will live together in peace and brotherhood.

American politicians from all ends of the spectrum denounced the act of violence
and supported the mourners. As representatives of authority it is their
moral duty to publicly decry the crime that was committed in the land
that they govern. It was in this context that at a political rally
attended by Vice President Pence, a memorial prayer was recited to
commemorate the martyrs.

The sentiment behind the prayer is honorable and true. I believe that
the organizers of the rally meant nothing more and nothing less than to
show solidarity and support for the Jewish community. However, the man
chosen to invoke this prayer was the wrong man and the prayer that he recited was the
wrong prayer. Instead of inviting a rabbi of one of the prominent sects of the Jewish community, the coordinators of the event invited a Messianic “rabbi” to represent the Jewish faith.

This was a mistake. Messianic Jews worship Jesus as a deity, and Jesus
is not the God of the Jewish people. In short; Messianic Judaism is
Christianity, it is not Judaism.

I believe that this was an innocent mistake rooted in good intentions. I
would say; “I appreciate the sentiment, but this man does not represent
my people” and leave it at that.

However, when Dr. Michael Brown wrote an article

https://stream.org/mike-pence-ask-fake-rabbi-pray-synagogue-victims/

explaining why he believes that Messianic Judaism is a valid expression of Judaism I feel
that it is my duty to set the record straight and explain the position of those Jews who are loyal to the God of Israel.

Dr. Brown argues that the first followers of Jesus were Jews whose beliefs were
accepted by their contemporaries as a valid expression of Judaism. It is
only when times changed and “trinitarian beliefs were considered 
heretical that these Jewish followers of Jesus were largely excluded 
from their Jewish communities.”

Dr. Brown would have us believe that at some point in time Jews accepted
belief in the trinity as a legitimate expression of Jewish faith.
Indeed, Dr. Brown has written (Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus,
vol. 2, pg. 7) that the Jewish rejection of the trinity is the result of
a “gut level negative reaction to anything Christian.” According to
Dr. Brown, Jews in the past, accepted the trinity as a viable expression of their faith but it was their hatred for Christianity that induced them to reject this belief.

Dr. Brown’s words are a real slap in the face to the Jewish community.
Do we stand for nothing? Why are we called a witness nation? What is our
testimony? Is our worship of God rooted in a petty hatred for another
group of people and not in love for God?

The name “Jew” is something that we inherited and the people who
bequeathed it to us did so at great danger to their lives. It wasn’t
easy to be called a Jew in a world that believed John’s Jesus who
described us as “children of the devil” (John 8:44). And those who held
on to that name “Jew” with their very life blood told us what it means to
be a Jew. To be a Jew means to stand in a covenantal relationship with
the One Creator of heaven and earth. At the very least, this covenantal
relationship demands that we do not give our hearts in worship to one of
God’s subjects, and everything under God’s heaven is His subject,
including the Christian Jesus.

Many Jews have abandoned much of the meaning and significance of that
glorious inheritance that was granted to them by virtue of being born
into the nation of Jews. But as long as they haven’t bent their hearts
in worship to one of God’s subjects, they still stand together with their
ancestors on one foundational issue and that is the belief that no one subject of
God ought to worship another of His subjects.

The Christian belief in the trinity involves devotion to a man who walked God’s earth and
breathed His air; one of God’s subjects. This was never considered a
legitimate expression of the Jewish covenant with God. Every bit of historical
evidence that we have tells us that Jews always saw worship of a man, no
matter what the theological justification, to be the very antithesis of
what Jews and Judaism stands for. We reject the trinity because it is
the deepest violation of the covenant that we share with God.

If Dr. Brown would have done his homework he would more readily find
evidence that the first Jewish followers of Jesus were not real
Christians. It goes without saying that they did not believe in the
trinity. It took several hundred years for the Gentile Christians to
develop this theology. There is no reason to believe that the early
Jewish followers of Jesus accepted this idolatrous belief.

But it goes much deeper than that. There is solid evidence which tells
us that the Jewish followers of Jesus did not see his death as an
all-atoning sacrifice. After Jesus’ death, his Jewish disciples were still bringing offerings for the forgiveness of sin in the Jerusalem Temple that operated under the
jurisdiction of the broader Jewish community (Acts 21:23,24). Not only
were they bringing these offerings for the expiation of sin but they
used these offerings to represent their loyalty to the Law. Had they
believed in the core Christian credo which sees Jesus as the sacrifice to end
all sacrifices they would have no need for the offerings in the Jewish
Temple, much less use those offerings as an act that represents their
loyalty to God and His Law.

Messianic Judaism is not real Judaism. Dr. Brown’s attempt to rewrite
history does not change the testimony of the Jewish people. And our
testimony is clear and simple. All Jews who want to stand with their ancestor in this national covenant that we share with God testify to the following truth: That every cause for devotion resides with the One Creator of all and with Him alone.

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22 Responses to Does Judaism Stand for Anything?

  1. Concerned Reader says:

    Rabbi, I was utterly floored when I learned that the White House had a messianic deliver that prayer.

    It was literally the most tone deaf and disrespectful thing I have ever seen. It made me angry.

    Praying in the name of Jesus for victims who are religious Jews?

    It just shows that Christianity for all its declarations of “progress” has a lot of work to do to treat others with dignity.

    I gather this was Pence’s doing.

    • Mav128 says:

      Every report that I have read said it was the congressional candidate’s decision.

    • Dina says:

      To be fair, I don’t think this was anything but an honest mistake.

      • Dina says:

        Although a very cringeworthy one, to be sure!

      • Eleazar says:

        No, it was not an “honest mistake”. Nothing at that level is an accident. Republican by any chance, Dina?

        • Dina says:

          That’s not a simple yes or no question for me.

          Before Donald Trump, I was a Republican. I did not vote for him, and I feel betrayed by my party, which has gone mad. I am a moderate conservative. I am still a registered Republican, but I think that moderate conservatives are now a minority in the Republican party.

          I am inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt no matter their political affiliation. I despise partisanship.

          For example, what bothered me most about the whole Kavanaugh debacle is that people’s judgment of his guilt or innocence lined up frighteningly neatly with their political beliefs and party affiliation.

          Each side dehumanizes the other, and that is a terrible turn of events for this country. We have ceased to see the other side as human beings created in God’s image who happen to disagree with us. Time was when a conservative could count liberals as his friends and vice versa. That is increasingly becoming rarer. How have we come to a point where we judge a person based on his political beliefs?! How did this happen?!

          I will get off my soapbox now with apologies to Rabbi B. for going off topic.

          I didn’t follow this story, but my assumption is that whoever brought this fellow in assumed that he’s a rabbi because that’s what he took for his title. I’m sure when they heard him pray it was a very big “oops” moment for them.

          I make this assumption because I don’t assume automatically that people act from malice.

          I could be wrong, but I hope not.

          • LarryB says:

            Dina
            When did this happen? It’s been going on for a long time. I believe driven largely by the media. Of course the internet is there and adds to it. If the media wasn’t there to put any trash against Kavanaugh on air, untrue, not remembered or backed by anyone else, the other party would have never handled things the way they did. I also think since the main stream media has picked a party to back it drives everyone in the other party mad.

          • Annelise says:

            Dina, I agree tha political extremism and the frequent ignorant partisan statements are a huge problem. Social media algorithms and targetted political advertising are causing so many lies to be believed, and we all get fed more of what we’ve already been reading, rather than any real balance.

        • Dina says:

          Eleazar, you wrote, “Nothing at that level is an accident.”

          Our government has demonstrated incompetence at all levels, up to the highest levels. I am surprised to hear you make this assertion, as it is entirely unreasonable. Even with the greatest competence, mistakes occur at all levels in all kinds of organizations. Kal v’chomer for the government!

        • Dina says:

          I decided to do my homework and check out the story. While Mike Pence did introduce the messianic rabbi to say a few words, the actual person who invited him was a Jewish Republican candidate for congressional office. I think it is fair to say that Pence would not have known beforehand that this was a fake rabbi.

          The candidate, Lena Epstein, does seem to have known and doubled down on Twitter, claiming that she invited this prayer to unite people of all faiths. Why she thinks that is unifying rather than divisive is mystifying to the point that she should be disqualified from running for office :).

  2. jose carlos seghiri pizarro says:

    Grande, muy Grande Rabbi Michael Skoback ! I love you Rabbi ! once

  3. Dana Hales says:

    Several hundred years to develop a trinity belief?The trinity is plainly revealed throughout New Testament scripture…

  4. Annelise says:

    Christian/Messianic people will often offer to pray for people as a way of changing ‘the name of Jesus’ from an expression of hate to one of love. Sometimes (in what feels like a less generous way), they will say “I’ll pray for you” when they run out of answers to our objections. Or they hold conversations with Orthodox Jews where they keep on mentioning verses from the Jewish scriptures that refer to salvation, redemption, grace, God’s servant, atonement, etc… and with all the best intentions, they hope their traditional Jewish friend will ‘recognise’ or intepret Jesus into the meaning of the text.

    One of the problems with this ‘passive Evangelism’ is that it doesn’t answer any questions. Which leads to another problem with passive evangelism, even at its most loving and sincerely concerned: it suggests that there are no questions to be answered anyway. That an expression of neighbourly love is the only thing needed to melt people’s hearts towards Christianity. That the Jewish community for the last 2,000 years has been blind to something in plain sight. This reinforces the concept that God has spiritually blinded the Jews due to stubbornness and legalism in their hearts. It alienates religious Jews by suggesting, without any logical explanation, that their perception is inferior. It denotes unwillingness to listen to what the relationship with God is like for an Orthodox Jew. It suggests that all their ancestors’ historical persecution and martyrdom was a mistake and for nothing, because they failed to see something. That’s part of why it was so awful and hurtful in this context.

    The Reform Jewish candidate’s desire to be ‘ecumenical’ is similarly problematic. It suggests that Orthodox Jews are being petty in their refusal to be associated with Christianity, as if they had arbitrarily formed their identity in terms of being ‘not Christian’. But the reason why Jews are rejecting Jesus comes from a core element of their identity that existed long before Jesus was born: the intention to worship their Creator alone. Jesus can’t claim to be God beyond all shadow of a doubt. The very DNA and life of every Jew exists because of generation after generation of individuals who devoted their lives to being part of the community upholding this single value at its heart…at immense cost. When a Western government, or even an individual Messianic or Reform Jew, promotes the inclusion of Yeshua-worship among Jewish identity, they are ignoring (or trying to negate) the value of that heart of Orthodox Judaism. To take the memory of people who took the real risk of being openly religious Jews, and lost their lives for it, and use that memory as a platform for all this ignoring and negating of what those people cared most deeply for…that is hurtful. And it resonates with the way Christian governments have historically tried to impose things on Jews without being willing to listen, so it stirs up a very old fear for the many who have been so personally affected by that terror.

    • Dina says:

      Annelise, this is spot on. I want to add something to your statement that Christians think there are no questions, really, and therefore “an expression of neighbourly love is the only thing needed to melt people’s hearts towards Christianity.”

      I have always been baffled by this contemptuous and superior attitude, as if Jews have no experience of neighborly love within our own communities.

      • Annelise says:

        Agreed. All the things that Christians try to ‘shine a light’ with are already present in many Orthodox Jewish communities. Sometimes Evangelicals misread sincere actions as legalistic because of the difference in style. And sometimes they forget that in both religions, you will find individuals and communities that are more in line with the religion’s values, or less….and all are still learning.

  5. Concerned Reader says:

    Its interesting how Christianity sees itself as setting out to rectify what it perceives as the legalism, and as self righteousness, but in the attempt to “fix it” ends up creating something worse. Unbounded pride, self righteousness, and a sense that “I cannot be wrong,” which used to erupt into insane amounts of violence.

    This problem is very evident in the person of Paul of Tarsus, who couldn’t even make nice with his fellow Jesus coreligionists, because he HAD TO be recognized as an apostle, with the UNIQUE message to the gentile world.

    Even if you believe Paul submitted to James and Peter, he says in his own words that he opposed them if someone wanted to offer Jewish conversion as an option for a gentile Christian. Where is the grace in that situation? Its hardened by the surety of Paul’s self assurance that he alone is right.

    I’ve noticed problems like this with friends who have asked me about Judaism’s view of Jesus.

    They don’t intend to be arrogant, but when you point out that Jesus literally never sat as a king, the way David did, such that he literally doesn’t fit the strict Torah definition of a monarch, they brush it off by saying “its a heart issue.”

    The thing that makes it so bad is that its not intentional. Christians are not trying to be insensitive. They literally just cant see why people would disagree with them.

    For example, every time I see Dr. Brown mention traditions of a possible suffering messiah in Judaism, I always think, “yeah Mike, and you also believe those are traditions of men,” IE non authoritative, and cast blame on those who wrote those traditions down.

    Academically the Christian world of Scholarship is well aware that Jesus was a religiously observant Jew, but the religious Christian world still sees this as a “maybe,” supplanted by love and grace.

    One way of putting it is, Christians may have done away with the so called “works based” salvation, but they replaced it with “grace in your face,” which can be worse, because it has the same problems, (humans are still human, and still screw up) but they are now not recognized as problems, which makes it even harder to fix.

    As an example. I saw a street preacher once who was complaining about the “liberals” wanting to take his tax money for whatever healthcare, education, etc. and he said Jesus wouldn’t want that, etc.

    I said to him “its funny how you will take salvation as an unearned free hand out, but when your neighbors might find use in actual help in the form of a hand out, you do not want to be there.”

    The whole idea of Christianity in some sense divorcing salvation from one’s actions, was an attempt to live up to the justice of the law over the letter. How ironic that they then claim to only care about the letter of the Bible, not traditions which soften some of scripture’s more harsh notions.

    The woman caught in adultery is the perfect example. Jesus’ statement “let he who is without sin cast the 1st stone,” is essentially a rhetorical jab at the accusers as if to say “ok innocent ones, how exactly did you catch her in adultery without going where the prostitutes are and peeping in there lustfully.”

  6. Yehuda says:

    Hi Folks, Long time no comment. Thought I’d chime on on this latest example of Dr. Brown’s shameless misdirections.

    Seriously?, only when “trinitarian beliefs were considered heretical that these Jewish followers of Jesus were largely excluded from their Jewish communities.”

    Yeah, some times I pine for the days of yore, when the Rabbis preached in the name of the father, son, and HG. Nothing’s the same, since those anti-trinity frummies took over,

    Gotta hand it to him. He keeps me laughing.

    I’ll stay out of the political tangent. I have neither the time nor the inclination. Although, on teh topic of Justice Kavanaugh, an item of note emerged two days ago. The Washington Times reported:

    “Sen. Charles E. Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee revealed the fraud in a letter the FBI and Justice Department Friday, asking them to prosecute Judy Munro-Leighton for lying to and obstructing Congress. Mr. Grassley said Ms. Munro-Leighton is a left-wing activist who hijacked another “Jane Doe” anonymous report about a backseat rape and claimed it as her own story, calling it a “vicious assault.” “I am Jane Doe from Oceanside CA — Kavanaugh raped me,” Ms. Munro-Leighton wrote in an Oct. 3 email claiming to have been a victim of the judge. Mr. Grassley’s investigators tried to reach her for a month but were unsuccessful until this week, when they spoke to her by phone and she confessed that she was not the original Jane Doe, and “did that as a way to grab attention.” She admitted to the false allegation, and said she has actually never met Justice Kavanaugh “I was angry, and I sent it out,” she told investigators”

    Hope everyone is well.

    Yehuda

    • Dina says:

      Yehuda, so great to read a comment of yours again! I also saw that item on National Review.

      My point wasn’t at all about guilt or innocence; I was defending myself from an accusation of partisanship by Eleazar, who snidely suggested that I thought Mike Pence made an honest mistake because I’m a Republican. (Which news reports vindicated; it turns out the Jewish Republican candidate, Lena Epstein, invited the messianic rabbi.)

  7. Yehuda says:

    Thanks Dina.

    I wasn’t really addressing you or anyone else here in particular re: Kavanaugh. Just pointing out what I think is an interesting development.

    Dr. Brown on the other hand. Well, he’s another story

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