Email 45

Shalom Rabbi Davis,
I was told that there is no such thing as a Messianic Jew.That you were either Christian or Jew.I told them the term Jew means born in Judea or of the Tribe of Judah.So you could be a Messianic Jew.
So Rabbi Davis, What is your thoughts on it? What is a Jew and what is a Messianic Jew?
Thank you for your thoughts.

Shalom v’brachas, B

You’ve been talking on the Jewish chat line again?

Messianic Judaism is the name given to congregations and organizations that remain Jewish in concept and lifestyle, but believe that Yahshua is the Messiah. If an assembly does not, then it is as I coined ” messianity.” Messianity is a group who like to dress us as Jews, employ Jewish liturgy, but are not Torah observant. In doctrine and theology, it is Christianity with Jewish trappings. These latter groups have led to a blurring of the line for both Jews and Christians and are a disservice to true Messianic Judaism.

Traditional Judaism has taken the position that you cannot be a Jew and believe that Yahshua is the Messiah, therefore if you believe Yahshua is the Messiah then you are a Christian. This thinking has developed for several reasons. To combat what traditional Judaism see as assimilation and because of persecutions suffered by the Jewish people in the name of Christianity. Traditional Judaism cannot believe a Jew could accept the “Christian G-d,” Yahshua. In addition, the antinomian spirit of Christianity is very distasteful to Jews. This thinking is also designed to deter Jewish people from believing in Yahshua for it amounts to a Jew being cut off from Jewish people. When I announced that I believed in Yahshua my family sat Shiva for me because to them I was as dead, a traitor, a turn coat to the Jewish people.

I am a guest teacher at a local college on comparative religions, and no Traditional Jewish rabbi will sit on the panel with me because they say Messianic Judaism is deceptive and a Jew cannot believe in Yahshua. They essentially treat Messianic Judaism as non-existent. Unfortunately, it is a fact. In my area Messianic Jewish synagogues out number Traditional synagogues or Temples.

Personally, I am from the tribe of Judah, born a Jew, from an impeccable Jewish background of rabbis, lived as a Jew and continue to live as a Jew, and in fact am more Torah observant than most traditional Jews that I know in this area. Regardless of the semantics employed by detractors, I am a Messianic Jew, which means I live as a Jew, but believe Yahshua is the Messiah. My birth guarantees me the right of return to Israel. Even so, I do have some very good friends who are Orthodox Jewish Rabbis, albeit they could not openly support me. I find that the Jewish laity is less tolerant.

Messianic Judaism was birthed because Christians have the mistaken notion that a Jew who comes to Yahshua is also no longer a Jew. They used the epithet a “completed Jew.” In the old days when a Jew accepted Yahshua as Messiah, there was no assembly where he could go and remain a Jew and be Torah Observant. It was a common practice for Christians to take a Jewish convert to a restaurant and give him a ham sandwich to eat, in effect to symbolize the throwing off of the law (Torah).

I find that Christians are just as intolerant. On that side we are accused of being legalists and bound by the law trying to work our way to heaven. In other words to be a Messianic Jew takes guts. We catch it from both sides, but our testimony is our strength. To Christians we have the advantage of our Jewish heritage and knowledge of the Scriptures and Hebrew that gives us an enlightened view of the scriptures seen in a new perspective, and on the Jewish side we are usually more Torah observant than they, which provokes them to jealousy just as the scriptures state. Christianity will never provoke Jews to jealousy because in the main they are anti-Torah and have persecuted Jews for eons in the name of Jesus.

Unfortunately, for traditional Judaism there are now more than a million Messianic Jews world wide even in Israel. I am sure there are more assemblies of Messianic Jews in this country for at last count traditional Judaism had only 800 in the US. Messianic Judaism is not dying but growing. In addition, many Christians are attracted to Messianic Judaism because they find something lacking in Christianity such as accountability. It is a force that both traditional Judaism and Christianity tries to deprecate because it is eating into their denominations. We are charged with being deceptive, that is being Jewish, but really not Jewish, because we believe in Yahshua and that is an oxymoron as far as traditional Judaism is concerned. Christians think we are trying to “work our way to heaven.”

I get inquiries every now and then from an obviously Jewish person (at least to me-although they try to disguise the fact) that has been on the web site and they question me regarding my Judaism, practice, training, etc. looking for something specifically in which to discredit me. I believe most come from anti missionary Jewish groups that list Messianic Synagogues with warnings that they are not Jewish. My synagogue is listed by one of these groups with a warning that we are not a Sephardic synagogue. The funny thing is that we never said we were and we make no bones about believing Yahshua is the Messiah. Neither do we proselytize Jews. None of these inquirers has ever responded to my answers even though I encourage them to. I believe it is because I answer their questions from a strictly Jewish perspective employing facts contained within the body of Jewish literature where they can locate it and check it out. I do not believe any person without a thorough Jewish background and training should ever get into a debate with these people for most of the time it serves their cause and does a disservice to the Kingdom of G-d.

By the way, when they were discussing who should be admitted to Israel at it’s rebirth the first premier, Ben Gurion said if they say they are a Jew they are a Jew for who in their right mind would claim to be a Jew if they weren’t. This was right after the Holocaust. I think he had something there. With all the anti Semitism in the world who would want to be a Jew if he were not.

Shalom v’brachas, Rabbi Davis (R. Milchamah b. David)