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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

Reader's Digest

Anonymous writes:

This is in response to your comment that Rabbinic Judaism is set against Yeshua. Understand that reliable scholarship (both Gentile and Jewish but particularly Jewish) that the original community of the Jewish followers of the Master would not have agreed with you, because they WERE Pharisaic.

It is only the anti-semitic scholarship-lite Christian encyclopedias (such as Newadvent) that may suggest another story.

The problem is not that Israel's religious leadership is Pharisaic (the same authority the initial community functioned within), but that it is Pharisaic according to the Ashkenazi rite with a clearly "ultra-Orthodox" bend.

Think about it, when you so much as hear the phrase "Orthodox Jew", what imagery goes through your mind? Of course: a man in a black hat, long dark suit, with foot-long peyoth. No one imagines Sephardim wearing casual clothing and knitted kippas, or a bronze-skinned Yemenite.

Yet scholarship of the most reliable form confirms that various aspects of the Ashkenazi rite are the product of some mix of Judaism and assimilation, despite what the Chareidim want to do to make all Judaism revolve around their tradition. Contrary to this, these same aspects are much more authentic and in continence with ancient Judaism in the Sephardic tradition, all the way down to the pronunciation of the Hebrew. What has been researched and confirmed as the most authentic Pharisaic tradition of all time, however, is that of the Mizrahim, particularly the Yemenites.

Their customs and their Jewish blood is ancient and virtually untouched by assimilation going all the way back to the 1st century and ultimately to Har Tzion. …If we're following any halakha, Teimani is the way to go.

My Response:

In identifying Yeshua and His talmidim as Pharisees, one enters into a slippery-slope of egalitarian thinking. I've discussed the concept of defining Yeshua through human terminology before; suffice to say, trying to define G-d Himself in human terms, through human traditions or ways of thinking, is moot. G-d defines Himself through Torah and the prophets—both of which have been grossly ignored by the Jewish people since their publication and canonization, even going as far back as Mt. Sinai!

How could Yeshua have been a Pharisee when He spent so much time criticizing their hypocrisy? If He cared so much about Pharasaism, or upholding the traditions of the Pharisees, He wouldn’t have been so critical, for as He taught, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." Moreover, as Rabbi Stephen Wylen writes in his book The Jews in the Time of Jesus the Pharisees were a classist sect who were greatly prejudiced against the am ha'aretz; they supported Roman rule over Yhudah; they took liberty to reinterpret Torah to suit current situations—a liberty that translated itself into a complete reinterpretation of the entire sacrificial system after the destruction of the Temple, one that negated the need for blood atonement, and replaced sacrifice with the concept of praise—two distinct actions in Torah. Does any of this sound compatible with the teachings and actions of Yeshua?

Could it be that, just as 19th century Christian scholarship sought to demonize the Pharisees to provoke or justify anti-Semitism, 20th century Rabbis seek to associate Yeshua with the Pharisees in an attempt to quell this same anti-Semitic fervor? If so, are we reaching any solid conclusions, or simply attempting to use scholarship to put out the fire instead of fan the flames?

Your visual image of Orthodox Judaism is illustrative of the lack of American and Jewish American knowledge of the greater Jewish world. However, your reliance on scholarship claiming that the Yemenite diaspora is somehow more "authentic" disregards the Biblical fact that, since the beginning, the Jewish people have been composed of a mixed multitude. Even in the Exodus, the greatest, most self-defining moment in our history, a mixed multitude of Jews and gentiles escaped from Egypt. King David's great-grandmother Rut was born a gentile, so if you want to be particularly biological about it, even Yeshua wasn't a "pure Jew." Quite frankly, this blood-line research is not only non-Biblical, it's a scary reminder of why Jews prefer not to be typed as a "race".

Historically speaking, the Talmud (the founding text of Rabbinic Judaism) began in the Babylonian Diaspora, long before the first century. So why should we believe that any Diaspora community is somehow more inherently Jewish than another? Even in the middle ages, the Jews of Europe were being educated with Babylonian Talmuds delivered via Sephardi Jews in Spain-- so no matter the location, the source text was the same. We must understand that distance from HaShem is not merely a matter of geography or geneaology, but a matter of spirit. The spirit of Rabbinic Judaism is one that prefers to distance the Jewish people from G-d by means of human laws and traditions. This is the complete opposite of Yeshua's teaching, preaching, and purpose on earth.

Bo'az writes:


Shalom, Shoshana.

My comment for your article "Israeli Leadership, the Orthodox, and Us" is as follows:

You stated:
"It is important for the believing community to understand the ultra-Orthodox culture. As we begin to develop a more Jewish identity as Messianics, we sometimes strain to adapt to Rabbinic culture, believing it to be an authentic representation of Judaism when it so clearly is not."
I think it is important to differentiate between the Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) and Orthodox Judaism. The Haredi are usually the Chassidic anti-Medinat Y'sra'el (State of Israel) yet are true Messianics too as they wait for HaMashiach just as we do to establish Israel as she should be. They do differ on a lot of things (especially in their vehement treatment of the State, and the holocaust deniers came from this camp albeit in the very, very small minority), but not as much as first perceived---a lot of Chassidic writings read just like the Apostolic Writings for example, it's uncanny.

The question is not whether they wait for Moshiach, but who they believe Moshiach to be, and how they believe He will establish His reign. The Orthodox vision of Moshiach is grossly different from the Biblically prophesied vision fulfilled through Yeshua, which leads one to question where their vision is coming from, and how accurate it can truly be. It's nice to think that we, as believers, and the Orthodox are more alike than popular thinking tends to believe—and this is true in some areas. However, we cannot equate the truth of Yeshua with their vision of Messiah, because we base our faith on two different sources; ours is in scripture, and theirs is in the writings of the Rabbis. Hence, they can be both pro-Moshiach and anti-Israel at hte same time.

Orthodox Judaism has become slightly more stringent over the centuries, but I'd have to disagree with you and say they are very much representative of the Judaism of Yeshua HaMashiach's day (i.e. 1st Century). In fact, he tells his disciples to respect those "who have seated themselves" in Moshe Rabbeinu's authority---so even if we think they're not "deserving" of it, and Yeshua HaMashiach even alludes to their future "seating themselves" yet still says we are to respect their authority with the stipulation we're not to be active in hypocrisy as many P'rushim were in the habit of doing at his time. So in essence, I believe we're not following our Rabbi's example when we deviate from this teaching.

Firstly, Yeshua was not a Rabbi. In his book The Jews in the Time of Jesus Rabbi Stephen Wylen explains to perfection why the title of Rabbi is completely unsuitable for Yeshua:

In Yeshua's day, a Rabbi was "a scholar of Jewish legal traditions who had received ordination from another rabbi. …Their authority came from knowledge that had been handed down orally from teacher to teacher. Rabbis demonstrated this authority by quoting the law in the name of the teacher from whom they heard it. …A rabbi's exegetical ingenuity was limited by tradition. He could not validate just any ruling with a proof text from scripture. Rabbinic rulings had to be in line with current practice and the opinions of the sages in general. …[Yeshua's] own words have the authority of G-d. [Yeshua's] teachings need no support from tradition. The gospels affirm that [Yeshua] was not a rabbi.

It is possible that [Yeshua] did, on occasion debate the meaning of scriptural laws with Pharisees and other scholars, but that was not central to His calling. There is no evidence that [Yeshua] had studied formally in any advanced school for scholars, nor did He receive any formal ordination.

…[Yeshua's] parables have a power and freshness which, in this devoted Jew's opinion, formalized rabbinic parable cannot match" (163-165).

Perhaps this is why the writers of the gospels make a special point of noting, "They were amazed at the way He taught, for He did not instruct them like the Torah-teachers but as one who had authority Himself." In this light, calling Yeshua a "Rabbi" is more like a demotion than a promotion. You could argue that by calling Him "Rabbi" you are referring to Him as "Master" however, to a contemporary Jew, referring to Yeshua as a Rabbi lends credence to the idea that He was a mere teacher instead of the Moshiach.

Secondly, I believe the verse regarding the prushim taken from Matthew 23, "The Torah-teachers and the Prushim, He said, 'sit in the seat of Moshe. So whatever they tell you, take care to do it. But don't do what they do, because they talk but don't act!" is probably one of the most mis-interpreted verses in the Brit Chadasha. To understand what Yeshua was saying, we have to look to the Torah's attitude toward authority and the prophet’s comments regarding the spiritual leadership of Israel.

In Exodus 18, the Hebrews are at the base of Mt. Sinai, receiving instruction for how to act when G-d approaches the mountain. HaShem instructs Moshe to warn the people not to push forward to try and see Adonai; in the warning, He includes, "Even the cohanim, who are allowed to approach Adonai, must keep themselves holy; otherwise, Adonai may break out against them."

In Leviticus 4, as Adonai details the requirements for atonement, we read, "…if it is the anointed cohen who sinned and thus brought guilt on the people…" in other words, the sins of the religious leadership bring guilt upon all of Israel. Because of their role, the cohanim—the religious leadership—must adhere to their assigned duties ministering to Adonai and the people, lest both they and the people perish.

The prophet Hosea writes:

"Because you rejected knowledge, I will also reject you as cohen for Me. Because you forgot the Torah of your G-d, I will also forget your children. …But the cohen will fare no better than the people; I will punish him for his ways and pay him back for his deeds." (4:6,9)

Adonai appointed the cohanim—He also has the power to take away the authority He has given. Just as Yeshua taught to render unto G-d what is G-d’s, by teaching us to respect the words of the religious leadership, He is instructing us to respect the authority He has given them through the Seat of Moshe.

Yeshua's teaching against arguing with leadership is echoed earlier in the same chapter of Hosea: "But no one should quarrel or rebuke, because your people are having to quarrel with the cohen. Therefore you will stumble by day, and the prophet will stumble with you at night." Clearly, arguing with the religious leadership is something that causes stumbling, an action associated with walking off the way of Adonai in the Book of Proverbs. But, if the religious leadership is failing, how could arguing with them result in stumbling off the path?

To understand this in the context of Yeshua's statement, we must understand the role of the religious leadership in Yeshua's day. In the second temple era, the Torah-teachers were exactly that—teachers of Torah. The Torah was not available for the average reader to pick up and study as it is today—just as the talmidim decided in Acts that the new believers would learn how to live Jewish lives by attending synagogue every week, so Yeshua understood that His people would learn His ways by listening to Torah being read every week by those sitting in authority—in the seat of Moshe.

As Wylen points out, in Judaism we have "Torah" (Instruction) and "Halakha" (the Way to live out the Instruction). (81) When Yeshua instructed to "do as they say, don’t do as they do" He was drawing that fine line between listening to the Word of G-d and living the traditions of men. Yeshua never gave credence to the Pharisees' way of living Torah—He gave credit to HaShem for "putting leaders on their thrones and removing them" in accordance with His will, a concept clearly stated in Torah and the prophets.

As to the relevance of Yeshua's teaching on authority today, upon His ressurection, He taught, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore, go and make people from all nations into talmidim, immersing them into the reality of the Father, the Son and the Ruach haKodesh, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." Through Messiah's sacrifice and defeat of sin, through our faith in this, we have been given the authority to preach and teach Torah, because the One with ULTIMATE authority is our Messiah! Therefore, He is in the seat of Moshe, He is our source for learning Torah and living it. He is not a hypocritical parush or Torah-teacher, but the Living Torah, the Son of Man. Moreover, if we deny our faith in Him and-by implication-the power of the Ruach, we are subject to the same kind of termination as the cohanim (see Mark 3:29).

You wrote:
"How can we aspire to imitate a culture that is so blatantly anti-Israel, whose leadership is so corrupt, and whose mindset consists of levels of fear and self-loathing so great that they refuse to even speak their own language, lest they somehow cause offense? Not only would this be doing a disservice to our Jewish identity as members of the House of Israel, but we would be regressing, going against everything our Messiah instructed and sacrificed Himself for."
When I look at Messianic Judaism now--I see the Christian Church in "Jewish drag". And Christianity fits into your venomous description of Haredi Judaism as well. Several Christian denominations refuse to do business with Israel because of the "un-Christian" treatment of the Palestinians. Turning Jews into Greek anti-nomians is as anti-Mashiach as you can get! Forget calling him by a wrong or distasteful name, besides who can blame them when they've seen the results of "Christian love" over the centuries? We need to try to stay fair in our assessment of people, and remember that if our goal is a unified body, that non-believing, physical Israel needs as much love, patience and understanding (if not more so) as we give the Church.

Shavuah tov,

For a scriptural definition of "venomous," try reading what HaShem has to say about Israel, and Israeli leadership in particular, in the prophets—Ezekiel 16 comes readily to mind.

Mark writes that Yeshua felt "both anger with [the Jewish people] and sympathy for them at the stoniness of their hearts" (3:4) . As a Jewish person, who has experienced real anti-Semitism more than once, any vitriol I possess in condemning the current religious leadership has nothing to do with ancient Jew-hatred and everything to do with the desire to see my people better themselves before it is too late.

Because you see Messianic Judaism as "the Christian Church in Jewish drag" are you somehow justifying the hatred the Chasidim have for Messianics in the land? Tell me, what justifies Jewish-on-Jewish violence? The Scriptures certainly don't. Are you somehow trying to justify the Charedi persecution of Messianics by claiming that the Jewish people have been historically persecuted by Christians? Discussions like the one you quoted aren't about who did more wrong to the Jewish people over the centuries, but, rather, learning from the wrong to do what is right!

Quite frankly, if we stopped granting so much authority to the sins of others over the centuries, we would realize that it is we who have been given authority over these sins through our faith in Yeshua! I have no need to justify the vulgar actions of my people by employing the same scapegoat stereotype that has pinned us in a corner, weak and helpless, for centuries. We are not a weak and defenseless people; we are the chosen ones of the one and only, most powerful G-d of the universe, and it's time we started to act like it.

Kol Tuv, mishpocha b'Yeshua!

posted by Shoshana @ 5:35 PM

Quick Follow Up: Messianics in Israel/Syria Buildup

Israel Today, a believing news website, has an article on the Keshet TV report I linked to before Purim. You have to subscribe to read the entire article, but the free clip is here.

Syria News

Israpundit reports: Syria Modernizing Its Airforce With Russian Help - War With Israel On The Horizon Looks like Carl in Jerusalem isn't very off in his predictions...

More posting to come later in the week...

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posted by Shoshana @ 9:47 PM

Israeli Leadership, the Orthodox, and Us

Mid-Week News Update:

Israpundit posted the link to A-7's interview with pro-Israel American academic Francisco Gil-White. The comments on Israpundit and an Israeli blog linking to the post are as worthy as the interview itself, and shed valuable insight into Israeli politics and the clash between synagogue and State.

Check out Der Spiegel for an interesting and informative look on the effect of the Ultra Orthodox on Israeli government:
To attract devout Jews to the newly-founded country, the first premier included religious leaders alongside secular Jews in his government. Moreover, he granted rabbis a powerful role in society: a monopoly on performing marriages and divorces. [Ed. Note: And Messianic Jewish citizenship]

...Many Israelis are livid about the repeated exceptions made for the religious contingent. Young ultra-orthodox Jews, for example, are exempted from military service if they devote their energies entirely to Talmudic studies. They have their own state-funded educational system. Only recently has the government begun an uphill battle to introduce subjects like English, mathematics, history, and even Hebrew - the national language - into these schools. Unlike other Israelis, most ultra-orthodox Jews only use Hebrew in explicitly religious contexts. To ensure that Hebrew is not treated disrespectfully, they speak Yiddish most of the time, a language that originally evolved among middle- and eastern-European Jews.

...Increasingly, the religious parties are featuring as coalition partners in secular governments, often finding themselves in a position to tip the legislative balance one way or another. In return, they happily accept additional funds or special privileges for their constituents. But they have never set the national agenda or shaped Israel's foreign policy and its relations with the Palestinians. The religiously motivated settlers could only stake claims in the occupied territories because secular ruling parties favored colonization themselves.

...Ben-Gurion, who was not religious himself, loved to challenge the religious delegates in Parliament with his knowledge of the Bible. He was wont to quote from Psalm 24: "Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? Those who have clean hands and pure hearts." After reciting this passage, he would turn to the Orthodox members of parliament and say with a smirk, "According to these criteria, you're no more religious than I or my party colleagues are!"

Like their first prime minister, the majority of secular Israelis regard religion as clearly one aspect of their culture. A large number consider themselves to be nonreligious, although they observe many traditional religious practices, such as fasting during Yom Kippur, the most important Jewish holiday, blessing bread and wine on Shabbat evening, or holding the traditional seder meal at the beginning of Passover.
The entire article provides a brilliant perspective that Messianics generally don't get. We view our faith, and our adherance to our faith, through a western, Protestant Christian lens. In other words, when someone doesn't proclaim interest in our faith, we ultimately are taught to believe that it is because that person has a gripe with G-d. In Israel, if a person is not interested in Judaism or being "religious" per se, it is because they have a gripe with religious authority, aka the Rabbis in power. Just because these Israeli Jews aren't Orthodox doesn't mean they don't have faith or identify as Jews: They simply do so in a way that bypasses the established leadership that has, in many ways, proven itself corrupt time and time again.

Reader Feedback

Regarding the post, Messianic Jewish Israelis on Israeli TV!, Anonymous writes:
Wow, pretty interesting stuff, Shoshana! Perhaps in the near future we may finally not longer be viewed by the State as "missionaries" or anything similar and as a genuine reconstruction of the early Pharasaic Jewish sect of Yeshua ben Yosef's followers that the Apostles were the forebears of (but only if WE place all of our effort into making it just that!). The Messianic Jewish community in Arad has become absolutely decimated in recent years by the Charedim. We must stand up for Israel (well, I guess the Charedim are in opposition to that, too).

I find it interesting that some Israeli Jews refer to Yehoshua (Aramaic: Yeshua) as "Yeshu" (Hebrew: "May his name be erased"). The mysterious "Yeshu" figure described in the Talmud, I believe, is definitely not referring to Yeshua. Virtually all Jewish scholars agree that Yeshua was born within the time frame of a few years within year 0 CE, not 100 BC. The codifiers of the Talmud in the late 2nd century would have known this well. In the late 2nd century the Netzarim Jews' leadership was already largely decimated and lots of Gentile Christian heresies had already begun, but the true persecution of Jews by Gentile Christians had not yet begun, so
the Sages would not have had much of an anti-Yeshua bias. "Yeshu" is probably referring to another person entirely.
As far as Charedi Zionism goes, it doesn't take too deep a look into Ultra-Orthodox history to understand that they haven't always been as interested in Israel as the average Jew should be, and that's putting it ultra-mildly.

Regarding their general use of the name "Yeshu" versus "Yeshua," it is important to note that in Hebrew, using someone's name grants them a level of recognized authority in your eyes. It is a matter of respect and even deference to call someone by their name. Therefore, it isn't surprising that the Chasidim refer to Messiah by inaccurate names, whether they try to justify it through Talmud or not. Recall the saying, "There is power in the name," and you'll understand why they're so afraid to speak the name of Messiah Yeshua; to do so would not only be recognizing His authority, it would also put them in the hot seat when it comes to their own attitudes and actions regarding Him.

It is important for the believing community to understand the ultra-Orthodox culture. As we begin to develop a more Jewish identity as Messianics, we sometimes strain to adapt to Rabbinic culture, believing it to be an authentic representation of Judaism when it so clearly is not. How can we aspire to imitate a culture that is so blatantly anti-Israel, whose leadership is so corrupt, and whose mindset consists of levels of fear and self-loathing so great that they refuse to even speak their own language, lest they somehow cause offense? Not only would this be doing a disservice to our Jewish identity as members of the House of Israel, but we would be regressing, going against everything our Messiah instructed and sacrificed Himself for.

If you have any comments, don't hesitate to email them to theunifiedbody AT yahoo DOT com for publication next week!

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posted by Shoshana @ 8:31 PM

Being Desperate for Yeshua

"Why are you surfing the Internet on Purim?"

Call it taking a break between the festivities. In my yen for online sermons, I stumbled across this gem from up-and-coming Messianic leader Joshua Brumbach, who argues for unity in the believing community, and concludes that:
G-d doesn't want the people who think that they can do it all; G-d wants the people who are just desperate enough to see it happen.
Baruch haShem for the Mordecais in the community, and a double Baruch haShem to Mr. Brumbach's closing prayer.

Check it out. Be blessed.

Purim Sameach!

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posted by Shoshana @ 2:45 PM

Messianic Jewish Israelis on Israeli TV!

Via Ariel at Schmooze Blogger, a 5 minute segment from Keshet TV, a mainstream Israeli news station, on a community of Messianic Jews in Israel. The reporter interviews a number of members of the community and clips include a family at Shabbat and a Shabbat service, as well as a couple young men talking about their service in the IDF during the most recent war in Lebanon. The reporter also comments on the Haredi persecution of believers in Arad.

Schmooze Blogger gives a detailed transcription of the segment. Some highlights:

Like the Ronen family, residents of the moshav Yad HaShmona believe in Yeshu. They call themselves hayehudim hameshichim ("the Messianic Jews"). They stressed again and again that they are not nozrim ("Christians").

If you consider the people here from the moshav, our family, everyone: they are all combat soldiers, if not reconnaissance. So everyone always will try to give what he can get where he can. And also you examined from Tanakh itself and our writings, the New Covenant and everything. We are required to be faithful to the state, and to serve her.

Reporter: It is important for them not to be accused of "missionary activity," but it is also important that their truth is made known.

Tzuri [Messianic Jew]: I say, if I know this, and I believe in this, why don't other people at least hear about this, in order to be competent to choose? The choice is theirs. I am not… my responsibility is that they hear.

The reporter's concluding statement is profound:

They want us to know that their faith makes them fit for this land, that there isn't a contradiction according to their faith between the New Covenant and the Tanakh; to the contrary, that it is possible to pray to Yeshu (Yeshua, in their tongue), and in parallel, to receive the Shabbat as they have received her in millions of Jewish homes, in the wide spaces of the world.

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posted by Shoshana @ 11:50 PM

Syria Preparing for War... Guess Against Who!

Syria ups army infrastructure on border [JPost]
Syria has spent the past few months constructing and moving infrastructure to its southern border that could be used to launch a war against Israel, senior defense officials have told The Jerusalem Post.

According to the officials, the Syrian military - while restricted in the number of troops it is allowed to deploy along the border - has moved military infrastructure, including fuel depots, closer to the frontier. The Syrians have also built structures in the area that could serve as weapons stores and military bases.

"There is no doubt that something out of the ordinary is taking place on the Syrian side of the border," a high-ranking official said. ...
When something like this pops up on the mainstream media's radar, it's always wise to check the J-blogosphere for more details. Orthodox Jewish Israeli "Carl in Jerusalem" over at Israel Matzav comes through, yet again, with War with Syria on the horizon? Bet on it (my prediction below). Along with providing a link to yet another JPost report detailing that Russia has decided to sell thousands of advanced weapons to Syria, Carl links to the above-quoted JPost article and concludes that:
I've already gone out on a limb and said that I believe that there will be another war in the north by late spring or early summer. I'll go further: May 24. That's the day after the Shavuoth holiday here. I believe war will happen on the northern front no later than May 24. You heard it here first.
Biblically speaking, spring is the time when wars begin. [2 Samuel 11] HaShem also moves at His appointed times. I've had a conviction in my spirit for months that this season would bring war with Syria. Will it wait until after the feasts? I doubt it.

Now is the time for us to pray for HaShem's guidance and wisdom to be upon His people; for His appointed leaders to respond to His call for this hour; for victory to be swift and certain, that His Word would again be proven true; that, in His mercy, He would forgive us our sins and remember His love for His people Israel and save us in order that His Name would be glorified and the truth of Yeshua the Messiah would be made known to all of am Yisrael. Baruch haShem!

Sidebar: Check out the political left's litany of believer-hatred logged over at Israpundit:
'Some reproductive rights links to consider while digesting Christmas leftovers' by Amanda Marcotte suggests that Jesus' mother should have used contraceptives or had an abortion, which seems to be the meaning of "Plan B."
The ideological battle is getting vicious. American believers better be prepared for a ruthless 2008 election season.

Shabbat Shalom v'Chag Purim Sameach!

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posted by Shoshana @ 10:25 PM

The Purim of Today

Israpundit's Ted Belman reports in Israel is here to stay - Am Yisrael Chai.
Beit Halochem (Disabled Veterans of Israel) hosted an evening tonight in Toronto at which Efraim Eitan MK spoke. I was there.

Effie reached the level of Brigadier General in the IDF and is a member of the Israeli parliament’s Security and Foreign Affairs Committee. As a result he was in the loop with those who were investigating the failures in the recent war in Lebanon. The Washinton Times recently reported on his talk to members of Congress.

Here’s what he reported tonight.

... If all else fails Israel will destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities and set them back for many years. The US has been so advised. Jews all over the world and Americans too must be prepared to protect themselves thereafter.

...Finally he stressed that, if Israel is to survive for another two thousand years and beyond, it must reaffirm its biblical connection and be a Jewish state. Not a state like all the others. I totally agree.
Also, Yoram Ettinger reports on The significance of Purim 2007.

Side Note Speaking of the need for the Messianic community to develop a solid online presence in the blogosphere, check out Michael Freund's analysis at the JPost: Right On!: Circumvent old media-go for the blogosphere.

The things that struck me when reading the Megillah this year...

3:6 However, on learning what people Moredekhai belonged to, it seemed to him a waste to lay hands on Mordekhai alone. Rather, he decided to destroy all of Mordekhai's people, the Jews, throughout the whole of Achashverosh's kingdom.

When one of us is a target, we're all targets. E Pluribus Unum didn't start in 1776.

5:9 That day Haman went out happy and in good spirits. But when Haman saw Mordekhai at the King's Gate, that he neither rose nor moved for him, Haman was infuriated at Mordekhai.

Our refusal as Jews to give control over our loyalty and eternal allegiance to anyone but HaShem is the source of complete frustration to any other human being or people group that does not know Adonai. Why? Because human relationships are all about control. When other groups/people realize that they cannot control us, we become a frustration. When they realize that we submit to the One Eternal Authority Who, in turn, grants us complete liberty in our loyalty, we become a source of confusion. Combine frustration and confusion and you get fear. Fear results in the application of defense mechanisms plus rash emotions and, boom: the Jews must be wiped off the face of the earth.

6:13 After Haman had told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him, his advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, "If Mordekhai, before whom you have begun to fall, is a Jew, you will not get the better of him; on the contrary, your downfall before him is certain."

Although we're an object of fear and loathing, we still retain ultimate power and victory in the minds of our enemies. It's as if they're sure of their own defeat. If only we had such confidence in ourselves!

8:13 ...and the Jews were to be ready on that day to take vengeance against their enemies.

Achashverosh gave Hadassah and Mordecai the authority to issue a decree in his name regarding the lives of the Jewish people. In turn, Esther and Mordecai did not rescind the king's original declaration (to kill the Jews) but, rather, they place the power of defense in the hands of their kinsman. Our history is made up of unique individuals who responded to the call of Adonai and, in turn, were used by Him to save our nation. Salvation and empowerment go hand in hand. Whether it is a military victory that results in the expansion of the physical kingdom (David), or a mortal victory that results in the expansion of the spiritual kingdom (Yeshua), the fruits of the victory rain down upon both the individual leader and the nation as a whole. When Hadassah and Mordecai answered the call and conquered Haman, they secured the future of the Jewish people and empowered them with the authority to confront and conquer their enemies. When Yeshua conquered death, He not only secured for us everlasting life, He bestowed upon us the authority to use His name in trust to confront and conquer the powers and principalities of darkness-- the Hamans in our own lives.

8:17 ...Many from the peoples of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews had overcome them.

For clarification, here's a few other translations:

And many of the people of the land became Jews themselves, for they feared what the Jews might do to them. [New Living]

And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them. [NIV]

And many from among the peoples of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews was fallen upon them. [JPS Tanach 1917]

Is this the ancient employment of the phrase, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em"? Or is it a literal effect of being confronted with the power of G-d? HaShem did say, "If you fear Me and My Armies, you need fear nothing else." In any case, the goyim knew who the real winners were, and obviously wanted to be on their team.

10:3 He sought the good of his people and interceded for the welfare of all their descendants.

When people think of Purim and the book of Esther, they think of...who else? Esther. But, really, the account isn't all about her; Esther's role, while pivotal, is minor; Mordecai says so. We think of her as a great heroine, but truthfully, if she hadn't stepped in, Adonai would've used someone else to achieve His goals for that appointed time. We look up to Esther because she was willing to do what was right, even if it meant risking her own life, but, really, Mordecai's faith was the source of her conviction. Without Mordecai, Esther would've been just another Jewish chick who happened to be hot enough to appeal to a goy king. In Mordecai, we have the story of the Jew who dared to do what was right because it was the right thing to do; Mordecai was no trouble maker, no warrior, no prophet, no king. Mordecai was just your average faithful Jew who lived his life by Torah and faced the consequences with faith that HaShem was on his side and would take care of him and his people, no matter what.

The story isn't about a hot Jewish heroine; it's about a non-descript old Jewish man who, when confronted with Haman's ego probably thought, "Get on my knees for what? Am I going to irritate my old bones for you? Schmendrick goy, go eat your treif and leave an old man to read his Torah in peace." You can be a Mordecai. Faith isn't just for those blessed with a pretty face. And being Jewish isn't just about looking in a mirror; it's about looking out after one another in accordance with what HaShem says is right.

Tzedekah is an integral part of Purim. We usually save our big donations for Pesach, so this year, I'd like to encourage the Messianic community to keep their Purim tzedekah local. Do you know a Jewish family who deserves a nice holiday meal? Maybe a couple who could use a night off but can't find a good babysitter? Or a senior citizen who doesn't have anyone to talk Megillah with this weekend? Seek to bless those in your own community and in the Jewish community where you live. Reach out in faith, like Moredecai, and look after the welfare of your people Israel.

If you don't, someone else will, and you'll be the one who is missing out on the blessing.

Chag Purim Sameach! May HaShem be blessed, Yeshua glorified, and the entire nation of Israel lifted up in Spirit in this season of celebration. Baruch haShem!

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posted by Shoshana @ 8:43 PM