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R. Steven Bernstein

            In my last blog, I discussed why having a phobia against the oral law makes no sense whatsoever. The fact that the Jewish people do not recognize that Yeshua is the Messiah, is through no fault of their own, and in fact is a directive of Hashem as we see in Romans 11. This being the case, we must ask ourselves, why do we cling to contradictory Christian thought and commentary instead of learning the Jewish sages?

            One of my teachers recently reminded me during class, we are each a product of our own spiritual growth. This includes the culture that we are raised up in and the language or languages we are raised up in, these are things that give us comfort in our thinking about Scripture and about Hashem. Perhaps, the answer to the above question is simply that that is what we are raised in and what we are used to, on the whole. If you are raised in the church, or entered the church one 1st finding Yeshua the Messiah, it is church doctrine church culture and church language that we are most familiar with, even today. Most of the leadership in the messianic movement, in fact, most of the people in the messianic movement, did not grow up in a learned Jewish atmosphere. If your only true introduction to Hashem was through the church after finding Yeshua the Messiah, how much more so would your immersion into church thought and doctrine be.

            We are seeing the beginnings of a Jewish return to Messiah Yeshua. Within this beginning, we must recognize that the vast majority of Jewish religious people worldwide are from the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox communities. The Pew research study of 2012 indicates that the numbers of people involved in American Reform Judaism are declining rapidly. Outside of the United States, Reform Judaism, for all practical purposes, does not exist. We as a movement, must, therefore, brace ourselves for a coming influx of new believers with a learned Jewish background, that are not willing, nor should they be willing, to simply throw away Jewish scholarship simply because it’s Jewish and not Christian.

            In fact, it is these Jewish sources that give us accurate, vetted, and thoughtful understanding of the Tanakh. These are resources that we as messianic Jews should be embracing in contrast to contradictory replacement and dispensational theology presented to us by the Christian church.

            For this reason, we as a movement seriously need to begin study not only of Jewish attitude and understanding of Scripture, but Talmud, Midrash, the Gaonim, the Rishonim, etc. We need to recognize that these writings are not “the traditions of men,” but rather the collective understanding of the children of Israel, passed down to us throughout the generations. These writings are not Scripture. Nor should they be treated as Scripture. In fact, no Jewish person I know or have ever known has ever treated them as Scripture, that is a strawman argument that I’ve seen repeatedly. The understandings in these writings serve as a basis for beginning the journey toward understanding Hashem and Messiah through Jewish eyes. As we have the new Jewish believers, that have substantial background in the Jewish antiquities, come into the movement, we must be ready for them.

            So the question is, what are you studying now? What is your course of study, what has been your course of study, how and in what direction? Have you advanced in the last 5 years, 10 years, 20 years? Most particularly if you are in leadership, how much time do you devote to study? In order to be ready for the coming influx of believers of a strong Jewish background, it would be seemly to begin, or continue, a course of study in the Jewish antiquities.

Sun, July 25 2021 16 Av 5781