This is a question that plagues me as I try to start a new kind of Messianic community here in Brooklyn NY. It isn’t hard to notice that the Messianic community is small and that even within that smallness there are many fractures of people going in so many different directions. While I appreciate the diversity of the body of Messiah, and the fact that of course there will be differences, I can’t help but think of Yeshua’s words that called us to unity, and to love. “By your love they shall know that you are my disciples.” And so this blog is a call to unity, and call to step back and look at what kind of legacy we are leaving to our children, and to the Jewish world which doesn’t have the adjective of “Messianic” in front of it. What does it look like to them? What are the major issues that keep this continual fracturing going on? I think at least one of my answers is what the sages have said destroyed the second temple - Sinas Chinam (Baseless Hatred). This Baseless Hatred goes in many directions but it’s largely under two umbrellas: One, is internally among us as Messianics; and Two, is our attitude towards the Orthodox/Rabbinic Jewish world. I think we need to stop and look recognize these two sins of our movement and we need to begin having dialogue about them.
My walk of a messianic life is humbly observant of Torah, pro-rabbinic traditions, but above all, is centered firmly in Yeshua. So, let’s talk. I know of course that this lifestyle and these statements may cause some to cringe and others to jump for joy - but before we square off into our corners to debate the minutiae of these statements- lets first breathe. Baseless Hatred is good for nobody. Baseless love is in fact the Tikkun (Repairer) of these problems. I love you, you love me we’re a happy family…..memories of a big purple dinosaur. But in reality, it is a good idea. Before we begin debating these things which I (of all people) am very passionate about - let us remember to show love to one another to repair the baseless hatred that exists between us. So, I will lay out a reason for our legacy to be one of unity, hope, and a fervent love for G-d as well as for each other, whatever our walk towards Messiah will be. In these blogs I want to honestly wrestle with the larger issues I see in the Messianic community and come to suggest solutions for them.
The legacy of Messianics in the Orthodox world will be terribly disappointing if we continue on the path we have set our current path. We have made Messiah almost into a laughingstock among the Orthodox community. We preach you can be a Jew and believe in Jesus, and yet so many in the Messianic community participate in what I call “Messianic Christianity”. We have forgotten that Yeshua followed a Jewish life, died a Jew, and was raised a Jew-but worse than that we have forgotten that being a Jew is more than DNA, is in fact a culture, and a way of life. As a friend of mine puts it “Jewish is the genus, Christian is the species”. Our testimony to the Orthodox community is one of lawlessness, hypocrisy, and hate. One of the chief questions I get from Hasidic men I speak with in Brooklyn when I mention Yeshua and they are at least partially interested is “does this mean I can cheat on my wife?” I have wrestled with why so many men in the Hasidic community have this attitude. I think it is largely because we have made a joke out of living a holy life for the most part. We say we believe and follow the whole Bible but Jesus takes care of it when we fail in the law, which is true- but does not mean we should sin that grace may abound. Too many of us haven’t had a changed life. We need to live as Jews humbly following Messiah, and base our synagogues after biblically based, Jewish tradition-informed, lifestyles. If as a Hasidic man I talked with stated “All I could think about was the 100’s of shofars blowing, that the devil got confused and put on Teffilin” we have distracted with nontraditional lifestyles so that he couldn’t see messiah - he could only see how different Messianics were.
And this difference was and not in a way of love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, goodness, patience, meekness and self-control, but in a way of doing whatever is right in our own eyes, without discipleship, and without accountability, and therefore more foreign to him than a church service.