Sunday, May 17, 2015

Oy, the Paradoxes!!!

Do you accept the legitimacy of modern, halachically-recognized Jews?

Of course you do (unless you are some kind of anti-Semitic weirdo in which case you need to move along).

But, then, doesn't that mean that you are retrospectively conferring law-making power to the Rabbis in that you have accepted the legal status of modern Jewry which is the product of the Rabbinic legal system?

In other words, wouldn't it be a contradiction to accept the legitimacy of halachic Jewishness while rejecting the legitimacy of the halachah that defined that Jewishness?  If you reject the latter then logic requires you to reject the former.

Certainly none of us in the Messianic movement would ever reject the legitimacy of modern Jewry.  Yet this is an interesting dilemma for Messianics who, understandably, must reject Rabbinic authority over Messianic communities since that would pose an existential dilemma for the Messianic communities.

It also poses an existential dilemma for halachic Jews because if their continuity is only assured through the Rabbinic halachic system but Messianic communities, for existential reasons, reject the Rabbinic halachic system, then a halachic Jew who assimilates into a Messianic community will inevitably forfeit generational continuity.

If the above reasoning is accurate, that halachic Jewry needs Rabbinic halacha to maintain continuity...and Messianic communities similarly need Messianic halacha if they are to retain continuity...

...wouldn't that imply the need for 2 different realms of mutually exclusive halacha?

FURTHERMORE...

...since there are Jews and Gentiles in the Messianic movement whose status has been retrospectively affected by Rabbinic halacha (e.g. folks who converted under Rabbinic halachic auspices prior to coming to the Messiah, etc), doesn't that mean that these 2 realms of halacha have areas of overlap?

Oy vey!  Mutually exclusive and yet overlapping halachic systems!  That's quite a paradox!  

So it seems to me (at 1:27AM) that the only way that Messianics can help preserve the continuity of the Jewish People (and the continuity of the Messianic communities) is to assist Messianic Jews in making aliyah, helping them to return to the Land of Israel, a nation where Rabbinic halachah is the "law of the land" and, therefore, generational continuity is assured.

Ah, well, bedtime...

How is it possible for 2 systems of halacha to be mutually exclusive and still overlap???

Such paradoxes!






33 comments:

  1. Most Jews and their identity, has nothing whatsoever to do with Rabbinic Halacha. Majority of Jewry in the land of Israel are completely secular and yet still hold the identity of Jews, in fact, on a human level, the entire idea of Israel and the restoration was lead by majority secular Jews. Not only that, there are various sects of Judaism, which all follow different traditions, some contradicting each other. There is no standard, doesn't exist. Thus you can't pinpoint identity to a minority of beliefs or even to one sect of beliefs...

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    1. Zion,

      Let's say you know a Jewish person named Sam. Sam is halachically Jewish (i.e. according to Rabbinic halachah as codified in Shulchan Aruch, etc).

      Do you recognize him as legitimately Jewish?



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    2. This is a stupid question, since the majority of Jews are both, halachically and also by blood.

      You need to study the subject of Giyur before you open your mouth. Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist Judaism are not considered Jews by the Rabbis you love so much.....

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    3. It's a valid question and one which yields an informative answer.

      By the way, I'm intimately aware of the non-halachic standards of liberal branches of Judaism. Why would non-halachic Judaisms be at all relevant to my inquiry regarding a specific aspect of halachic Judaism?

      You are very fond of calling me stupid. Keep in mind that I am your brother in Yeshua and entitled to some level of civility.

      Shalom and Blessings,

      Peter

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    4. I did not call you stupid. I said your question is stupid, just like this one:

      "By the way, I'm intimately aware of the non-halachic standards of liberal branches of Judaism. Why would non-halachic Judaisms be at all relevant to my inquiry regarding a specific aspect of halachic Judaism?"

      How would you feel if I said that you are not at all a believer, that you are way outside the scope of believing in Yeshua? That you are a fraud by calling yourself a Messianic Jew when you are not a Jew at all? And we are not even from the same blood. Well, Rabbinic Orthodox say that whoever is outside Orthodoxy is not a Jew. Who are they to decide? Who put them out for the task?

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    5. I didn't say that non-halachic Jewishness was illegitimate. You harbor an understandable anger toward halachic standards and have irrationally transferred that anger onto me (when I am in no way responsible for halachic Judaism).

      I'm DESCRIBING something that occurs as opposed to PRESCRIBING what ought to be. I'm pointing out that our behavior when we recognize as legitimate the halachic idea of Jewisness then we have consequently legitimized, to some degree, the halachah that defined that Jewishness.

      This is simple logic, Dan.

      And this logic doesn't imply that we have declared the Rabbis infallible--it merely implies that we have recognized that they have power (even though this power may be shared with other non-rabbinic entities) to regulate Jewishness as a legal matter.

      Do you understand?

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    6. Peter,

      Do you believe that a gentile can magically become a Jew? Through a Halachic practice?

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    7. Zion,


      You answered my question with a wonderfully incisive question of your own.

      Your question implies that you cannot recognize our hypothetical "Sam" as legitimately Jewish until you have verified that he is not a convert (since you personally do not recognize halachic conversion as conferring legitimate Jewish status).

      I'm going to think about your question for a few minutes before answering.







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    8. Zion,

      Okay, I think have an answer for you. I believe that anyone who has been adopted by the Jewish People becomes a Jew. In other words, I believe the Jewish People have the right to adopt whomever they wish.

      I look at this as a fundamental right of man, that we can choose to adopt someone and bring them into our household and make them an heir. Abraham would've selected Eliezer of Damascus to be his heir though Eliezer was not related by blood. In the custom of that day, that type of adoption meant that the adoptive parent agreed to believe "Thou are my son, this day have I begotten thee."

      I think the Rabbinic Halacha is too strict. But if certain segments of the Jewish People need certain rites to be performed in order to accept someone as a Jew, I don't see a problem with that.

      However, if you can show me that this poses a problem, I'm open to being educated on the matter. I'm just answering your question the best way I know how. And I'm open to correction if you believe I should be corrected.

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    9. Well, more specifically, who decides? The government of Israel? God? The religious or the secular or both? Does this mean they are in covenant or just citizens? This is what Dan was asking you earlier...

      For example, when Messianic Jews wave a wand and turn Derek Leman into a "Jew", is it valid, does Orthodox Judaism recognize it? Does the government of Israel recognize it, should they? Do you recognize it?

      If it is valid, does that make gentiles who understand the apostles to be declaring us part of the family, wrong, who is right, the Judiasm of the Apostles or that of the Pharisees.

      What about when Judaism would declare you a Noahide? Is that correct?

      I think you are over simplifying the issues. Its not innocent overlapping, some of these issues are diametrically opposed.

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    10. Zion,

      I am trying to show Peter the problems, but he ignores them because they don't fit his agenda. I am trying to show him that the problem is not Jews and Gentiles, the problem is Jews and Jews. Why adhere to the Rabbis who say that any non-Orthodox Jew is not a Jew? Forget about Gentiles for a moment, the Haredi Jews in Israel who count about 15% of the population are openly maintain that the other 85% are not Jews. What qualifies them, who qualifies them? As an Israeli, this is where my problem is. The sons and daughters of the 85% are shading their blood to protect the 15% parasites who seat in the Yeshivot and refuse to join the IDF. And when I see how Peter keeps kissing the Rabbis behind, all I can say: ignorance is bliss.

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    11. Zion,

      You asked a lot of questions. I'll try to answer all of them in turn:

      (1) "Well, more specifically, who decides [who may become a Jew]? The government of Israel? God? The religious or the secular or both?"

      This question is like the question of "Who decides to make a baby?" There is a human aspect to the equation. A couple may decide to have a child...but G-d must make the decision where a soul will actually result from the decision.

      This question is also like the question "Did Abraham make the converts?" Certainly Abraham "made" many converts as it is written:

      "Vayikach Avram et-Saray ishto ve'et-Lot ben-achiv ve'et-kol-rechusham asher rachashu ve'et-hanefesh asher-asu veCharan vayetse'u lalechet artsah Kna'an vayavo'u artsah Kna'an," Genesis 12:5

      But G-d was also working through Abraham to make these souls ("...ve'et hanefesh asher-asu...").

      (2) "Does this mean they are in covenant or just citizens?"

      Were the souls that Abraham made in covenant? Were they citizens in the nation? ("I will make you a nation...")

      (3) "For example, when Messianic Jews wave a wand and turn Derek Leman into a "Jew", is it valid, does Orthodox Judaism recognize it? Does the government of Israel recognize it, should they? Do you recognize it?"

      Now that's a very good question. I would say that if some Jews want to consider Derek Leman Jewish then that's their business. Again, if it's something that happens amongst Jews where they decide to "take someone in" then what can I say against it? Can I say to the adoptive family "No, you can't adopt him!"?

      But G-d can always step in and overrule a covenant. For example, G-d approved of the marriage covenant between a Jew (Boaz) and a Gentile (Ruth). But later G-d rejected many marriage covenants in Israel between Jews and their Gentiles spouses (Ezra 9).

      So sometimes a Jew may decide to bring someone into the covenant (e.g. Moses' marriages to Gentiles) and then other times (as in Ezra) a Jew may decide to bring someone into the covenant only to have G-d reject the covenant.

      (3) "If it is valid, does that make gentiles who understand the apostles to be declaring us part of the family, wrong, who is right, the Judiasm of the Apostles or that of the Pharisees."

      Just because one segment of the Jewish Family (e.g. Hasidim) refuse to recognize another segment as Jewish (e.g. Reform Jews) doesn't mean that the latter does not belong to the Jewish Family.

      In the same way, the fact that many Jews reject the authority of the Apostles does not in any way render the Apostles powerless to declare the reality that G-d has accepted Gentiles into Israel via the Jewish Messiah.

      (4) "What about when Judaism would declare you a Noahide? Is that correct?"

      Judaism can declare a marriage between a man and another man valid but that doesn't mean it is valid in the Heavenly Court. In the same way, some (many) Jews would declare Gentile Believers to be Noahides. But if G-d has adopted us into Israel via Yeshua then the dissenting opinion becomes irrelevant.



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    12. Based on your response, you are saying that responsibility and authority has no absolute, man has every right to make it fit his agenda... That it is just a chaotic mess, so how can you point to any form of halachic standard?

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    13. Zion,

      You mixing two separate concepts: (1) what the law "is" and (2) what the law "ought to be".

      Humans hardly ever get the first to match the latter. Yet G-d is still in control and uses all things for good.

      Israel has never kept the Law perfectly--not even the Law that pertains to preserving Am Yisrael. And yet G-d has preserved Israel!

      I don't presume to have all of the others, most of this conversation is an examination of what "is", describing the present chaos and trying to make sense out of it.

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    14. In other words, don't blame me for trying to make some sense out of the chaos.

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  2. Peter,

    You can't justify the issues, based on the argument that "man is imperfect". Either it is wrong or right, whether God uses our imperfection, is not our choice. The point is, it is still wrong, and while we can have mercy towards that and grace, it does not mean we must accept it as legitimate. We just look forward to it being corrected, not settling for falsities, we just acknowledge God's mercies in our wrongs and the wrongs of others.

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    1. Zion,

      Here's our available options:

      (1) become the police for "Jewishness", not accepting anyone as Jewish until we've fully examined their family tree for bogus converts;

      (2) simply accepting as Jewish those who have apparently been adopted by the Jewish Family (i.e. one of the familial streams of the various Judaisms) and leaving it to G-d to sort out any issues.

      Am I missing an option?

      In our hypo scenario regarding "Sam", you didn't want to accept "Sam" as legitimately Jewish because in the fact pattern provided it was unclear whether he might be a convert under Rabbinic auspices. So it's as though you're advocating that we make ourselves the judges of Jewishness.

      I just don't think it's necessary (or possible for that matter) for us to do that.

      By the way, even if someone is considered a "Jew" via covenant (and by covenant we mean the legal fiction where a person is deemed to be related by blood when in fact they're not related by blood, "Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee") that doesn't mean that they are in covenant with Yeshua.

      Salvation only comes via the blood (and New Covenant) of Yeshua.

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    2. Am I missing an option?

      In our hypo scenario regarding "Sam", you didn't want to accept "Sam" as legitimately Jewish because in the fact pattern provided it was unclear whether he might be a convert under Rabbinic auspices. So it's as though you're advocating that we make ourselves the judges of Jewishness.

      I just don't think it's necessary (or possible for that matter) for us to do that.


      Yes, you are missing an option:

      (3) Gentiles do not and cannot become Jews, its not biblical. Thus the entire predicament is based on a false reality.

      Side note: I am not determining who is Jewish, a Jewish person's ancestry through physical descendant already determines this, based on fact, instead of a magic wand, regardless of any halachic beliefs or personal opinions. Thus going back to your original argument, there is nothing to stand on.

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    3. Zion,

      2 quick points:

      (1) adoption isn't about literally becoming of the same bloodline;

      (2) if your proposed option #3 is correct then you are saying that Jews are not allowed to adopt a baby of a different ethnicity and raise him/her as a Jew because it would just be an act of delusion. Do I understand you correctly?

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    4. Zion,

      While you're at it, you might as prohibit marriage as well because that also involves an act of "delusion" whereby you consider someone not related by blood to be "flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone."

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  3. Peter,

    Adoption does not make one a Jew, take for example Abraham as you mentioned earlier, he did not turn a bunch of people into Jews, Abraham would not have known what this practice was, as it was a much later invention. The Bible maintains the distinction between a native born and converts (gerim), the bible never teaches a ger becomes a native born, that would go against the very laws of nature. So when we compare the much later rabbinic invention of gentiles "becoming Jews", to the Biblical model, they simply do not line up. When Paul says gentiles are now sons of Abraham, this does not mean we have become Jews, that is not how it works, neither did our blood change.

    As for your example of marriage, it is a metaphor, me and my wife are still separate people, with two different blood lines and two different skeletans and two different fleshes.

    The gerim were to be likened to a native born, not become native borns, again an impossibility.



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    1. Zion,

      2 points:

      (1) The Rabbis never say that a convert literally undergoes, transubstantio, a DNA change. Rather, they describe it as a legal change of status (i.e. legal adoption). Saying that the Rabbis believe that conversion involves, transubstantio, a DNA change is like saying that Protestants believe the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation of the Eucharist. It's just flat out inaccurate;

      (2) By your answer, you indicated that a Jewish couple would be mistaken in viewing their adopted Gentile baby as a Jew. But the Torah says,

      "And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai."

      Why does Sarah say that she will have this child when the child wouldn't literally come from her at all?

      The idea was that she would legally have this child. She wasn't saying that the child's DNA would change. In short, Sarah was planning an adoption.

      And this indicates that it permissible to raise the adopted child as if they are your own flesh and blood.

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    2. Peter,

      Based on what you said, this means, that you believe, that because you are an adopted son of Abraham, that you are a Jew?

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    3. Zion,

      Fallacy of equivocation there. You pose the question as a "yes/no" question when it employs a known ambiguous term which is also the key term to understanding the question correctly. For this question to be correct (i.e. a question that can be answered accurately as posed), you would have to define the term "Jew".




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    4. Fallacy of equivocation there. You pose the question as a "yes/no" question when it employs a known ambiguous term which is also the key term to understanding the question correctly. For this question to be correct (i.e. a question that can be answered accurately as posed), you would have to define the term "Jew".

      Peter, you haven't defined any of your terms, half this conversation back and forth is full of anachronisms, you are assuming we share the same understanding, I am just going based on what you said. So I am wondering based on your understanding of adoption and your use of Rabbinic understanding, how exactly you make that fit, with the words of Paul, when he considers a gentile like you, to be an adopted son of Abraham? What are you and how does it relate to the points you have made?

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    5. Zion,

      Great question. I look at Abraham as proto-Israel since Torah literally has G-d telling Abraham, "I will make you a nation." So adoption by Abraham means membership not only in the family but also in the nation. The question then becomes "which part of the family/nation?" There's probably at least 3 options to consider:

      (1) a natural born covenantal member of the nation;
      (2) a natural born covenantal member of the nation by the law of human adoption;
      (3) a foreigner who becomes a covenantal member by the law of Divine adoption.

      I really wouldn't apply the term "Jew" to category 3. By the way, I personally identify with category 3.

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    6. Peter,

      The problem is still that Halacha would not accept this, so you are not in agreement with Modern Judaism.

      As for #2, you can't be a natural born, based on a law of human adoption.

      The very basic language of being natural born, means you were born within the borders of the nation, thus you are a natural born citizen. Ruth was still considered a moabites despite being a member of Israel. So if we recognized some form of covenant acceptance on a human level, they do not become natural born. The ger maintains this distinction, obviously, or there would be no need to say:

      Numbers 15:16:
      "There is to be one law and one ordinance for you and for the alien who sojourns with you.’”

      The covenant ger also could not own land, further proving that a ger in modern terms, never became a Jew. Now assuming the ger has children, then those children being born into the land would essentially be considered natural born, as that is the most obvious situation, they were born in the nation. But the Ger, who by default was not a natural born citizen, could never hold that title. Rabbinic Judaism, ignores this reality, giving a convert natural born citizen status, the Torah on the other hand, does not allow for this. In fact, that would be breaking the Torah, as the Torah maintains that distinction.

      Not much is different in our situation, just because we are adopted and our now covenant members through the King of Israel, we do not become Jews, no need, those in Messianic Judaism who have fallen for this identity crisis, in trying to be something they are not, is detrimental to the message of God, and it doesn't even line up with the Torah. Paul was adamantly against it, calling it a false circumcision. Some people think Paul accepted it, just not for gentiles, however it is clear Paul was completely opposed to it, meaning he was against the very teaching, he referred to those who taught that doctrine, the false circumcision.

      Gentiles do not need to become Jews in order to serve Him and to keep His commandments. The ger did not become a Jew in order to keep the Torah, neither should we.

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    7. The only sane person among a bunch of meshugenes....

      Shabbat shalom.

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    8. Shabbat Shalom!

      I wanted to make a note, some Messianics are so enthralled by Judaism, they think it is infallible, It doesn't even matter if there are contradictions, they will try to find ways to make it flow with their beliefs, or they will ignore the contradiction and simply choose to accept Judaism as correct, regardless of right or wrong. I am not necessarily pointing my fingers at you Peter, but I think you should be careful and more balanced in your approach.

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    9. Also, note that many of these people who are enthralled by the thought of Judaism, are usually more than willing to criticize Christianity, yet you won't see them criticize Judaism, this is not being realistic. Just some food for thought.

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    10. Zion & Dan,

      I'm just venturing opinions here, discussing a topic that most people are afraid to discuss or don't even know how to articulate the issue well enough to discuss.

      Keep in mind, I've asked the scholars of our movement these types of questions and they don't have an opinion that they can even share publicly. So at least I'm willing to explore these things. I'm not afraid to venture an opinion in order to get the discussion going and start the learning process (even if it makes me look stupid).

      Anyway, I enjoyed the discussion. G-d bless everyone and have a good Shabbos!

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  4. Hope everyone has a great Shabbat and Shavuot, love this holiday, be blessed and enjoy it!

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  5. During a discussion on Judaism the first pri-minister of Israel David Ben-Guryon said: " Who is a Jew? anyone who wants to be a Jew." But what did he know, he was not a rabbi...

    " some Messianics are so enthralled by Judaism,"

    Well, how come we did not hear any of them during the Holocaust? How come only recently they all discovered a Jewish grandmother? And then they proceed to teach the Jews how to be Jews.....OY!

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