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"It is better to take refuge in Adonai than to trust in human beings; better to take refuge in Adonai than to put one's trust in princes." -Tehilah 118:8-9

Yhoshuas Arise!

Catching up on the news over at Israpundit, a post by Felix Quigley catches my eye: Jewish people must go on the offensive. RIGHT ON! I scan the post. I like Felix and I agree with many of his arguments-- not all, but many. One, however, stands out like a sore thumb: The Jewish people have always underestimated the Arab people, and the Muslims if I am to push the circle wider.

You know what I say to that? The Jewish people have always underestimated themselves and their G-d.

Look at our history, just glance at it, and you will see that we are the people of signs, wonders, and miracles from above. Our nation wasn't founded by a warlord with great armies, nor a group of empassioned rebels with arms: We began when one guy heard the voice of G-d telling him to separate himself from everyone else, and he did it. One man. One G-d. That is our nascence and our essence.

Our population has grown larger over the years, but every recorded moment in scripture focuses on that individual relationship between G-d and prophet, G-d and warrior, G-d and King, G-d and human being. All of these relationships transcend to the communities surrounding them: G-d instructs D'vorah, who aids Barak in leading an Army of Israelites; Yeshua instructs His talmidim, who go out to Israel and the goyim to preach the truth of Messiah. The relationships are also reciprocal: Rut, a foreigner, chooses to follow G-d and thus enters into the line of Moshiach; David praises Adonai in such a way that he is labeled "a man after G-d's own heart." Our history as a people consists of a series of individuals willing to reach out to Adonai with all their heart, soul, and strength, and, in return, Adonai blesses the entire nation through these faithful servants.

Today we are a large and fragmented group. We are divided by religious ideas, political beliefs, geography, and even economy. We each have our own leaders we turn to, but we have no centralized leadership, no unifying force... or so we like to think. The truth of the matter is that we can be as united as the 12 talmidim. We have the same Messiah: the same Ruach that was given to them is free to us as well. We can be today's Hadassahs, Davids, D'vorahs, Ruths, Kefas, Shauls, Yochanans, Moshes, Avrahams-- if only we are willing to believe in the power HaShem has given us, and the power HaShem has over this world.

What other nation of priests has cowered in the face of evil so much so that they have shaped their traditions and sacrificed their truths in order to conform to the ways of their enemies? The concept makes no sense! Yet, this is exactly what we have done time and time again since we wandered the ground of Sinai. We continue to do it to this very day: the latest issue of the Messianic Times is filled with letters to the editor arguing over whether or not believers should celebrate Christmas! What pagan nonsense is this, and why are we wasting our time on it when there is work to be done?!

This is only one of many issues we face as a nation that is under constant threat of survival. Scroll down on the Israpundit front page, and you will find a series of headlines from various sources under the post title of U.S. losing on all fronts and yet, what do you hear from American Jews but, "America supports Israel, so what do we have to worry about?" Still more Israeli Jews are busy drowning their sorrows in Tel Aviv nightclubs, left at a total loss for what to do in this time of turmoil.

A growing number of Jewish Americans and Israelis recognize the threat to be real, and are responding to it through a well-organized grassroots movement known as the J-blogosphere. What do the Messianic Jews have to say? How are we responding to the threats we face as a nation? How are we fighting for our survival and countering the vicious attacks placed against us, the people of Israel, on a daily basis? Where is our network? Where is our communication? How many Messianics in the Diaspora even have contact with the believing community in Israel? We are sorely lacking in actions-- and faith without works is dead. When is the Messianic community going to grow up, get with the times, and start paying attention to the current events that are truly impacting us as the nation of Israel? Will we be the individuals who will rise up to defend our nation in such a time as this, or will we be the indistinguishable masses led off to Babylon when all is said and done?

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posted by Shoshana @ 6:14 PM

Administrative Notification

I've prayed about it and have decided to change the way comments can be posted on this blog. Originally, I established a moderation process for comments because of the continual nuisance of spammers leaving advertisements in the comment section of my posts. I also prefer to moderate comments so that I may be aware of new comments made, in order to respond to them in a prompt fashion. Recent scheduling issues, which have afforded me less time to blog than I'd like, have caused a backup in comment publication and, as a result, miscommunication between this blog and its readers.

Now, instead of leaving a comment, I would ask that any reader who wishes to comment on any topic email their comments to theunifiedbody AT yahoo DOT com. That way, I can cultivate all comments into a digest posting once a week. This will enable me to both publish and comment all remarks at the same time, which is much easier for me to do, instead of waiting to publish each individual comment when I have time to read and respond.

So, once again, don't hesitate to email your comments to: theunifiedbody AT yahoo DOT com. Thanks so much for reading!

posted by Shoshana @ 5:50 PM

Quick News Update: SYRIA

Olmert: Israel Must Be Prepared for War [Israel National News]

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his cabinet and the heads of Israel's intelligence agencies that Israel needs to prepare for war, despite the estimates that war with Syria was unlikely this year. "We must also prepare for things that are not very likely to happen," Olmert said at the close of the government session Sunday.

Olmert also announced he would be holding cabinet discussions at frequent intervals, in order to study the conclusions the IDF was reaching as it studied the Lebanon war, and to make sure lessons were being learned and implemented.

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posted by Shoshana @ 7:52 AM

Where is Our Wilberforce?

This afternoon, I was afforded the opportunity to catch Amazing Grace, the story of British Parliamentarian William Wilberforce, who successfully championed a bill outlawing the slave trade in the early 1800s. As a young man, Wilberforce experienced a spiritual awakening, and considered leaving politics for the church before he was convinced by friend and future Prime Minister William Pitt to gauge his moral compass towards spearheading the issue of abolition. Wilberforce committed himself, heart, soul, and strength, to outlawing slavery, a commitment that resulted in ulceritive colitis so painful that he relied on large quantities of laudnum, a potentially deadly painkiller, just to function in daily life.

Where is our William Wilberforce? Where is the Wilberforce of the Jewish people? Where is the Wilberforce of the Messianic Movement? I have yet to meet one person who would commit themselves to the pains of death in order to inspire our movement to seek out and meet realistic goals. 75% of Israelis are in favor of joining the European Union, which would require the State of Israel to give up its Jewish religious and ethnic identity. We can poo-poo this action, but do we really have the right? What are we as Messianic Jews doing to support Israel? Writing a check? Remembering the name in our prayers? Wow. Big deal. Do you even have the ability to identify with Israel, the knowledge to understand what it means to be all alone in the world, the courageous determination to turn your tube of lipstick into a bullet and fire it into the face of the enemy who is bent on your anhiliation?

I recently received a mass-mailing from the International Messianic Jewish Alliance, informing me that they have taken over the publication of The Messianic Times. In the letter, Executive Director Paul Liberman writes, "[The Messianic Times] will remain independent in its contents, but linked to us economically and in other ways. We both try to take a global and non-partisan position." The IMJA is Presided over by Joel Chernoff, who also acts as the General Secretary of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America. The IMJA also claims a relationship with a number of sister organizations, including the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations. Can we assume that these organizations share the same opinions regarding global, non-partisan persectives?

Let's be clear, here: The soul of our people is on the chopping block, bound and gagged with a knife to her throat, waiting for G-d to shout, "STOP!" and provide the sacrifical lamb to take her place. We, the ones who have faith in that Sacrificial Lamb, are too busy figuring out "Who's a Jew" and "What's a Jew" to even be bothered defending our own Jewish people, our own Jewish land!

Tell me: If a true Jew is one whose heart is right with G-d, then who are you to even begin to claim to know how to identify a Jew? What, you think you're so special because your parents called themselves Jews, because you daven three times a day, because you don't eat pork in public? Is that it? Do all these things give you the authority to put a label on another person, to decide who they are and what their subsequent role is in life in relation to yours? Who are you to play G-d when there is work to be done! Yeshua didn't preach, "The hour is late and the workers are few, so you'd better figure out which ones are in and which ones are out." The GATHERING is our job; the winnowing belongs to HIM.

We are a pathetic people. It does not surprise me that our scriptures are filled with detailed accounts of G-d's wrath set loose upon us. We have not changed. In nearly 3,000 years, we have not changed. We are still the same prideful, deceitful, self-involved, easily-led-astray creatures despite the piety we claim through our faith in Messiah. We begin by preaching to seek the good in others and end up judging one another instead. I am tired of fruitlessness in our movement; I would rather we be the tree Yeshua condemned to death than to remain sitting here, in the presence of the Son, bearing no fruit.

How long will it be until we raise our voices, until we put our plows to the ground, until we take that step out of the pathetic and into the prophetic? I refuse to stand by and watch as the faithful are ripped to shreds and the wanton whore our soul to our enemies in fear and self-loathing. I will not stand idly by and accept destruction. My generation will not be another one condemned to Babylon, or to the Pale, or to Warsaw or Auschwitz; I refuse to let that happen to my people. I refuse to hand over my G-d given identity to the wills and whims of men who claim to be both my enemy and my friend. I will not waste my time judging nor being judged.

Nor will I waste my time with defeatist logic that argues against my support of my people and my land out of an offense to my pride. How many in our movement refuse to consider aliyah because of the difficulties facing believing Jews in the land of Israel? Still, how many more have hardened their hearts to our land because they are refused entry, and some of their bretheren stand persecuted in the land for their beliefs? SO WHAT? Did the talmidim turn their backs on their nation and their people because they faced the threat of persecution? How weak are we in Spirit that our souls seek consolation in the flesh? To those who make these ridiculous arguments, I must ask: Do you know Messiah, or do you just claim an affiliation for the eternal perks?

Where are our William Wilberforces? Where are our Devorahs, our Joshuas, our Gideons, our Davids? Where are the Messianic Jews who are willing to stand up as a united Army of G-d and defend all that is holy and true in the face of an evil that seeks to destroy us? Is everyone just sitting around, waiting for G-d to do their bidding? If so, then take up space in someone else's waiting room, in the pews of the churches that are sorely lacking in members and crumbling to the ground in self-destruct. Our G-d is a G-d of action and responsibility, not ambivalence and sloth. We did not become a people by saying, "Uh, well, my supervisor is unavailable at the moment; may I take a message?"

It took William Wilberforce nearly an entire lifetime, lived mostly in gruling pain, to see his goal accomplished. Are you willing? Are you willing to see our movement grow, to see Messianic Jews take on real issues facing the Jewish people, to take ownership in the land, and to unite with all believers in Adonai as one in the name of Israel? Or are you just in it for the kitsch?

You're either in, or out. There is no in-between.

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posted by Shoshana @ 6:16 PM

How do you Do your Jewishness?

Firstly, thanks to Boaz at Scaling the Soreg and to my favourite Anonymous commenter (I'm pretty sure you're consistently the same person...;) for their condolences at the passing of my grandfather. I truly appreciate the comments and welcome the unity of the Messianic community over all things physical and spiritual, happy and sad. There is great strength in unity; it is the oil of joy for mourning that flows within our midst. May all of Israel be so greatly blessed through it.

Secondly, I go ahead and take a few weeks off because I've started a new job, and what do I have when I return but a riot at the Temple Mount, a demand from Blogger to convert to their upgraded system, and a new post on Jewish identity brewing in my head!

As I've said, I've started a new job. It seems to be going well so far. Interestingly, my new boss is Jewish. Even more interesting, though, is the way he identifies and relates to his Jewishness. Every time he explains the business to me (because, along with being my boss, he's the owner of the business) he relates his cost-effectiveness and keen business saavy to the fact that he's Jewish. "You don't get anything by this Jewish boy," he'd remark when talking about different clients/competitors. He buys lunch for the staff at my location every day. While he'll splurge on a buffet, he won't buy drinks because, "It kills me to spent $1.89 on a soda. I buy Snapple. You can drink Snapple. You know why? Because I pay 48 cents a can. At ten o'clock at night, I'm in the grocery store, going in and out six times, just so I can stock up on their two-for specials. You don't see a Jewish boy paying $1.89 for a soda when you can get drinks at 48 cents each."

So, here's my question to you: How do you identify with and express your Jewishness? Do you find yourself relating to it through stereotypes, or scripture? How many times have you relied on phrases like, "Two Jews: Three opinions," or "I'm running on Jewish time," or even, "I'm a cheap Jew"? Is your Jewishness based in the beauty of your knish, or your skill at Mah Jongg? Or is it based in what you wear-- your Star of David, your tefillin, tallitot, kipot? How many times have you put a piece of Judaica on and thought, "Okay, now I'm being a good Jew," or, "I don't care what the world thinks"? Is your Jewishness based in the fact that you pray three times a day from a Siddur, or that you eat a family meal every Shabbat? Is your Jewishess about doing what G-d wants you to do, or is it about not doing what the rest of the world does? What is your Jewishness to you? And how does that definition define who you are in your own eyes? In the eyes of the world? In the eyes of Adonai?

To give you a bit of perspective to work from, I'll share this one simple fact that, when I first learned it, really blew my mind. In Israel, Jewishness is an identity of action, not wardrobe. Kippot, tefillin, tallitot, all of the things Jews in the Diaspora (believer and non-believer alike) wear to the hilt (and sometimes even argue over or use to out-do one another) are hardly even worn in Israel. Sure, you have the Orthodox, but to the average Israeli Jew, Jewish garb isn't necessary. They see the garb as adornments worn by Jews in galut to distinguish themselves from the gentiles around them. Even religious Jews in Israel (believers included) don't place special emphasis on religious garb the way we in the Diaspora do. To them, it's glorified kitsch. In Israel, being Jewish is about the people you associate with, how you interact with them, and how you live your life.

So, what is being Jewish to you?

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posted by Shoshana @ 12:13 PM