Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The War on Messianic Judaism: Eitan Bar & Moti Vaknin of "One for Israel" Strike Again





This past January I took a lot of flack from fellow Messianics as I denounced a video produced by Eitan Bar and Moti Vaknin of One For Israel.  In the video, these two Israelis laid out a case for why we should all be anti-Judaic.  The video is apparently no longer available but I've quoted verbatim what I can recall below (see note 1 below).

Caleb Hegg (Torah Resource) came out in favor of the anti-Judaic video, saying it "hit the nail on the head."  Rob Roy also liked the video and took me to task for denouncing it.  So it basically felt like I was suddenly all alone in the Messianic movement--the one remaining Messianic who recognizes the value of the Oral Tradition as a consultative authority.  I'm sure that's not the case at all but that's how it felt at the time.

And why did I feel so strongly about the necessity of a core Jewish tradition that goes back to Sinai?  Why the urge to defend it at all costs? Because the Written Tradition (i.e. the Tanak) cannot be understood completely without an explanatory tradition (see note 2 below with excerpt from Menachem Elon).  And if our interpretative tradition is arbitrary then there is no longer any Torah to follow except those reinterpreted mitzvot that one deems convenient for one's particular lifestyle.  In short, without an objective interpretative framework, we are left with no legal framework whatsoever (i.e. moral relativism).  Furthermore, the Apostles were pro-Judaic and Yeshua Himself was pro-Judaic.

So now Eitan Bar and Moti Vaknin are at it again.  This time they were not satisfied merely to strike at Jewish Tradition.  This time they attacked the entire Torah, saying that we are not obligated to keep it, that it's impossible, that those who say they are Torah observant can never really be Torah observant (by the way, the more correct term should actually be Torah pursuant), etc.  In other words, they have exposed themselves as Christians.  Now, I should say that I love Christians since they believe in Yeshua.  But they are our weaker brothers who have believed a terrible lie.  This anti-Judaic, anti-Torah lie is so destructive!  And, historically, it has always led to terrible anti-Semitism.

But there's hope.  I noticed that Rob Roy posted this on Facebook the other day:



The text, if it's too small to see, says:  "::Sigh:: While I'm very thankful to see so many Israelis coming to know Yeshua as Messiah, and while I was optimistic about One For Israel Ministry when I saw some of their videos on YouTube, alas, it looks like Eitan Bar & Moti Vaknin have bought into the same bad theology that many Christians have fallen for as well:  'Jesus declared all foods clean!  The Torah is too difficult to follow!  It's commands are burdensome!  Throw off the Old Law, and let's just love, love, love!"  I cringe to think that this is the 'Messiah' that they're attempting to share with their Jewish brethren."

CONCLUSION

For the Messianic Reader, my dear friend, please beware of those who claim to be Messianic but are not.  A Christian is a brother but he is also anti-Judaic (which is anti-Torah).  A Messianic is pro-Judaic.  By "pro-Judaic" I mean having a modicum of respect for Rabbinic opinion.  They are not our  final authority--only Scripture and the Ruach is our Final Authority---but the Rabbis do have an expert level of authority when it comes to Scriptural interpretation.  By the way, for a definition of Messianic Judaism see note "3" below.

Anyway, the way the world is going, pretty soon the world will be divided into just 2 groups:  those who keep the Torah and those who try to destroy Israel.  So now's the time to figure out which side you want to be on.

Shalom,

Peter



NOTES:

(1) "After the destruction of the second Temple...[the rabbis] had to invent a new Torah (Law) all together.  And so they did. They called the new law they invented the 'Oral Law.'.....In Exodus 34:27, God commands Moses:  'Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.'  No other law is mentioned.  No 'Oral Law', or of tradition, unwritten that was supposedly transferred by word-of-mouth.  But the Sages tried to force us to think that the 'Oral Law' was indeed included.....'Oral Law' is a myth, invented by the rabbis, in order to give themselves the power and the control.....God is expressing His anger with the people of Israel, because they follow commandments made by man, exactly as it is happening today with the 'Oral Law', that the rabbis invented, so they can have the power and the control over all of you.....we should mention, that wise men traditions and commandments are occasionally mentioned in the Old Testament, but always in a negative way," Eitan Bar and Moti Vaknin, One For Israel Ministry

(2)  "One may conclude from even a cursory examination that Biblical commandments and laws were accompanied by many explanations and detailed rules--given orally or preexisting in practice--which supplement and give meaning to what is written in the Torah.  The following are a few illustrations. 

With regard to the law of the Hebrew slave it is stated:

'When you acquire a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years; in the seventh year he shall be freed, without payment.'

The basic intent of this and the ensuing verses is to limit the number of years of work and to establish the law applicable to a slave who enters his master's service either with or without a wife.  Scripture postulates that it is possible to acquire a Hebrew slave and that how to do so is known, even though the Torah itself gives no details as to how such a slave may be acquired.
     Later in the same passage it is said:  'When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not be freed as male slaves are,' and also 'if he [the buyer] designated her for his son, he shall deal with her as is the practice with free maidens.'  What is 'the practice with free maidens' to which the verse refers?  Neither this verse nor any other part of the Torah explains the nature of this legal institution.  It necessarily follows, therefore, that these were laws that were known and accepted by the people, and the Torah's provisions were additions and refinements.
     Divorce is another illustration of the same point.  The Torah states:
     
'A man marries a woman and lives with her.  She fails to please him, because he has found something obnoxious about her, and he writes her a bill of divorcement, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house....[Then, if the woman marries a different man and that man divorces her or dies, her first husband] who divorced her first shall not take her to wife again.'

The thrust of the passage is to prohibit remarriage to one's former wife after she has married someone else.  The passage is premised on certain legal assumptions:  that the woman was married to the first man; that he divorced her with a bill of divorcement, which he handed to her; and that she then married someone else.  The Torah is silent as to any details concerning how marriage is effected, the nature of a bill of divorcement, etc.  If no Oral Law existed to explain and give content to these legal institutions, it would have been impossible in practice to carry out the provisions that are stated in this Scriptural passage.
     The Book of Deuteronomy provides still another illustration:
     
'When there is a dispute between men and they go to law and a decision is rendered declaring the one in the right and the other in the wrong; if the guilty one is to be flogged, the judge shall have him lie down and be given lashes in his presence, by count, as his guilt warrants.  He may be given up to forty lashes but not more, lest being flogged further, to excess, your brother be degraded before your eyes.'

     The point of this section is to teach us that if the accused is adjudged to undergo flogging, the rule is 'He may be given up to forty lashes but not more.'  But when is a person to be sentenced to flogging?  How does the court declare the one in the right and the other in the wrong?  This, too, was necessarily law that was customary or transmitted orally, and the Torah builds on this law and merely complements it.
     Finally, many commandments by their very nature require at least some explanation in order to understand their meaning and delineate their scope.  For example, the prohibition of work on the sabbath is repeatedly stated in very general terms:  'You shall not do any work,' 'And on the seventh day you shall cease from labor,' etc.  But what manner of work is prohibited?  The Torah lists only three:   plowing, harvesting, and the kindling of fire.  However, is there any logic to prohibiting only these forms of labor and not others that are similar and even more onerous?  From the Torah itself we learn that there forms of labor were not the only ones prohibited.  The Book of Numbers states:
     
'Once, when the Israelites were in the wilderness, they came upon a man gathering wood on the sabbath day.  Those who found him as he was gathering wood brought him before Moses, Aaron, and the whole community.  He was placed in custody, for it had not been specified what should be done to him.'

     Thus, the people that found the man knew that he was violating the sabbath, in that this was one of the forbidden labors, but they did not know what punishment was destined to be prescribed for him.
     In short, the existence of oral laws necessarily follows from what is revealed by examination of the Written Law.  The undefined terms and vague references in the Written Law simply cannot be understood, and therefore the Written Law cannot be carried out, without the Oral Law, which provides the necessary explanation and complementation," Menachem Elon, Jewish Law:  History, Sources, Principles, Vol.1, pgs. 200-203

(3)  Messianic Judaism is the belief that Israel consists not only of physical Israel, composed of both lineal Jewish descendants and halachic converts, but also of faithful Israel, composed of both tribally-affiliated members (i.e. Messianic Jews) and non-tribally-affiliated members (i.e. "Messianic Non-Jews", "Messianic Judaists", or simply "Messianics"), and that all of faithful humanity has therefore been called to join Israel and restore the pro-Judaic and pro-Torah Way of Life and Worldview advocated in the Apostolic Writings (a.k.a. the New Testament).  

8 comments:

  1. The new publication The Torah's Goal? flat exposes the authors' dispensational biases. Such theology passed its expiration date a while back--but it will die very, very hard.

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    1. RE: "...it will die very, very hard."

      Agreed. These guys will probably come around.

      Delete
  2. Great post Peter, those guys have been hanging around the church to often. This is why we must stay together. Granted as you stated Christians are our brothers; nevertheless, we must know when to refrain from them. You notice there theology has been integrated within MJ. Your not alone on this one. You ever notice they are quick the divulge of oral Torah. It's oral Torah that said certain passages are messianic. Yet, they are willing to rid themselves of this. My my. I honestly think they don't know the ramifications. What do you all think?

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  3. Many from the side of Christianity who come to the Messianic/Hebraic perspective, are quick to point out that Christianity teaches many false doctrines, probably the worst doctrine espoused by Christianity, is Replacement Theology, this doctrine in itself, effects all aspects of Bible interpretation, from God's purpose with Israel, the Law of Moses, the New Covenant, eschatology, etc and it is a detrimental theology that continues to perpetuate blindness and lies, as you noted Peter. Yet most never will point that same finger at Judaism, at least in an objective way, usually there is this blind bias towards Judaism, people leave Christianity and then just become enamored in Modern Judaism, and thus Christianity is wrong and thus Judaism is right, but not so fast. Judaism has blind theologies as well, that perpetuates blindness and lies, especially concerning the Messiah. Thus the better approach is acknowledging truth for what it is, instead of just falsely claiming one is wrong and the other is right. Christianity while being wrong in certain areas is not completely wrong, we should not treat Christianity as the saying goes, "throwing the baby out with the bath water." Neither should we treat Judaism that way either. I don't agree with Eitan Bar or Moti Vaknin in their theology concerning Torah, or in their blanket statements towards Judaism, however they are a much needed niche, because Israel needs to know the Messiah, and most under the name of Messianic Judaism are more concerned with fitting in with Modern Judaism and their personal identity, rather than spreading Messiah to Judaism, doctrines such as Unrecognized Mediation continues to perpetuate this blindness. So in this case Messianic Judaism won't fill that gap.

    So while we may disagree with them, most of Israel does not even believe in God, and many secular Jews are not interested in Modern Judaism, so maybe at the very least, One For Israel can reach them and hopefully after, the rest of the details can be sorted out in time, they are doing a job, that many in Messianic Judaism are not, so we can be thankful for them in this regard.

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  4. You're right to be in favor of the oral Torah, since the Torah itself testifies to it (Devarim 17) and commands all of Israel to heed the words of the Sages received the how-to guide on the mitzvot from Moses.

    However, I am curious how you cope with the fact that "God is not a man" and that the idea of HaShem being a physical entity is totally against what the Torah has ever taught. Perhaps you do not believe in the divinity of your messiah, but that only leads to other questions.

    As a teen, I began exploring Rabbinic literature and I realized that there is wealth of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge that is unparalleled and that I had been lied to by Messianic family and friends about the authenticity of the oral Torah, that they said it is false while not even having any knowledge of what it is, hardly.

    After I reached this realization, I simply read Samuel, Kings, and Isaiah and I realized that the whole hope was for a re-established Davidic Kingdom wherein the Messiah, a descendant of David, would be a warrior who would return Israel to our former state. The one you believe in messiah simply did not do this. He wasn't a warrior, he didn't create any sort of world peace, redemption, or anything of the like, instead the opposite happened. You may say this is part of the plan of his messiahship, but we never find anything about the messiah dying and coming back later to complete an unfinished job. The closes thing we saw to the real Messiah was Bar Kokhba who was - get this - a warrior and did a good job beating the Romans pretty badly. Unfortunately, he wasn't successful entirely and as soon as he died, the wise Sages obviously realized he was not the promised Messiah. It would be more believable to continue a belief that Bar Kokhba would return to be the messiah rather than to believe the one you believe in, because at the least the former started the actual job!

    I believe the Messianic movement is a stepping stone out of Christianity, and I hope to see you all get out all the way as I did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Real Breslov,

      I just wrote a new post especially for you--because I love you very much and want you to know the Truth:

      http://orthodoxmessianic.blogspot.com/2015/08/censoring-face-of-messiah-why-jewish.html

      Delete
  5. "“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so that they do not see with their eyes, understand with their hearts, and do t’shuvah, so that I could heal them.”"

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  6. One generation shall praise Your works to another,
    And shall declare Your mighty and remarkable acts.
    5
    On the glorious splendor of Your majesty
    And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.

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