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Iyov

She looks to be a remarkable and intelligent woman. I wish her nothing but good will.

It reminds me of the protests in Italy when a non-Italian won the Miss Italia beauty contest.

Funny that you draw an analogy. This is a reference to the racists who reacted in horror when Denny Mendez, a beautiful black woman from the Dominican Republic won Miss Italy.

The thing is, I never recall being approached by a black person and asked to change my skin color. In fact, my black friends and colleagues accept me for who I am. But every single so-called "Jewish" messianic I've met . . . .

Cristian Ratza

I must say that I have always been (and I still am) puzzled by how the state of Israel decides who is a Jew. Apparently it is no problem if you are an agnostic or even if you do not believe in God. However - if you believe that Jesus is the Messiah (and of course you also believe in the God of the Old Testament keep the laws etc) you seem to be disqualified...?

Maybe someone can explain this to me. In any case - CONGRATULATIONS to Bat-El.

JohnFH

Very good comeback, Iyov.

Obviously. someone like Bat-El Levi sees her Jewishness and her belief in Yeshua as the Messiah as completing each other. Furthermore, the movement she belongs to considers it their responsibility to invite fellow Israeli citizens, Jewish or otherwise, to experience the shalom they have come to know through belief in Yeshua as the Messiah. In turn, these facts trigger a reaction among some orthodox Jews that tarnishes, it seems to me, the name of Judaism.

A tiny band of pious, God-fearing messianics who keep far more mitvos than are required of them if they were Gentiles apparently poses a greater threat to Judaism than the vast plurality of Jews in Israel who desecrate the Sabbath on a regular basis.

Whatever happened to the wise counsel of Gamaliel reported in Acts 5:33-42?

Iyov

Oh, they are pretty upset about Sabbath observance too.

But, entire Jewish communities have been forcefully converted to Christianity (think Torquemada, or the expulsion of Jews from England and France). Something similar is going on today in places like Iran.

There were 11 and half million Jews worldwide in 1900, 0.68% of the world population. In 2005, there are are 14 and half million Jews, 0.23% of the population -- a relative reduction to one third of their previous population.

So, yeah, they're sore. It turns out that Christian and Islam missionaries (and communism, and violent measures) have been amazingly successful in the 20th century in reducing the percentage of Jews.

Iyov

I must say that I have always been (and I still am) puzzled by how the state of Israel decides who is a Jew.

True, it is a mess, and I'm not going to get into that debate.

But let me suggest this. If you get Al Mohler and R. C. Sproul and Pat Robertson to all make a statement saying that "Mormonism is a valid form of Christianity" and "It is perfectly fine with us for Mormons to try to convert Evangelicals -- we welcome it, in fact" and I'll see what I can do about getting the ultra-religious Jews in Israel to recognize your people.

Cristian Ratza

Iyov - of course Mohler and Sproul will never say that "Mormonism is a valid form of Christianity," [unless they can show them from the OT that Joseph Smith is the Messiah :):)]but they will also never say that you can be a Christian if you do not believe in God.

They will also never say that they WELCOME the conversion of Evangelicals to Mormonism...However, I guarantee you that they will support the right of Mormons/ Jehova's Witnesses, and even Muslims to proselytize and try to convert anyone they want in USA by peaceful means.

P.S. Iyov - is there a good Study Bible (more advanced) that YOU would recommend? Please let me know. Thanks.

Iyov

Indeed, and in Israel, the Levy family can live (under the Right of Return) and they can proselytize. And BatEl, can compete in the Bible contest, and if she is good enough, even win. As the link above showed, "Jews for Jesus" is launching a huge campaign in Israel. And remember, 25% of the Israeli population is not of Jewish origin.

So what is the point? The Christians evangelize, but the Jews don't like it at all. Are they not free to express their complaints? Must their complaints be greeted with derision by Christian pastors?

Of course, Jews never evangelize, because they are forbidden to by Jewish law.

Cristian Ratza

"So what is the point? The Christians evangelize, but the Jews don't like it at all. Are they not free to express their complaints? Must their complaints be greeted with derision by Christian pastors?"

Certainly not. I am sorry if I came across that way.

I did not know that Jews are prohibited to evangelize. What law are you referring to? Certainly NOT a biblical law...?
I did not see the link, but I will check it out. Thanks.

Cristian Ratza

Iyov - I read the article.

"Rabbi Tovia Singer, a leading lecturer countering the efforts of Christian missionaries, says that both the Messianic Judaism movement and Jews for Jesus have as their goal the elimination of Judaism and its replacement with Christianity as the faith of the Jewish people."

Since Messianic Jews are 1/10 of 1% and atheistic Jews (?) are perhaps over 50% of the population - I would concentrate my attention in that direction.

I still believe that Bat-El is more "Jewish" that those who do not even believe in God...Call me old fashion!

Iyov

Hi Christian --

I disagree with your statistics. Worldwide, there are far more Christian missionaries than there are Jews. In terms of total population (missionary and non-missionary), there are 150 times more Christians than there are Jews worldwide.

In many circles of Evangelical Christianity, Mormonism is viewed as a threat, yet there are only 13 million Mormons worldwide. Almost all American Jews are willing to vote for a Christian President; the experience of Mitt Romney shows that a large fraction of Evangelicals are not willing to vote for a Mormon President.

Almost all Messianic "Jewish" organizations receive big bucks from major Christian denominations, namely the SBC, which is its primary funder. SBC is not a tiny group; it is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

Messianic "Jewish" organizations (which teach that one can both be Jewish and Christian) have limited success -- even the most confused Jew is able to figure out that belief that God was a human being is incompatible with Judaism; and Jesus as messiah is a problem since none of the major prophecies (e.g., swords into plowshares, lambs and lions) were fulfilled. On the other hand, overall, I have read (and I am not sure of the accuracy of these figures) that there have been excess of 2 million conversions out of Judaism (many of these conversions were to Islam) in the last century, while the number of conversions into Judaism (which is quite difficult and discouraged) is under 100,000. So, conversion is a source of major losses to Judaism.

Yes, Jews are forbidden to evangelize. The Noachide laws indicate that gentiles are already "saved." So it is a Biblical principle not to encourage conversion. As with almost all Jewish laws, it is elaborated on in the Talmud.

You are right that secular Jews are also a problem, and there are outreach programs to secular Jews, which are called kiruv.

Marianne

Interesting article and replies. Small mindedness is everywhere. I wish the best of anyone who is a scholar regardless of their religion or flavor of their religion.

JohnFH

You have a beautiful blog, Marianne. Thanks for commenting here.

S.

> it should be obvious that the call for a boycott is extraordinarily positive free advertising for Messianic Judaism in Israel. Can’t Aviner figure that out?

No. The "Bans-are-great-publicity clue" hasn't yet reached many traditional rabbis, as evidenced by too many recent and not so recent internal Orthdox Jewish affairs.

S.

>Yes, Jews are forbidden to evangelize. The Noachide laws indicate that gentiles are already "saved." So it is a Biblical principle not to encourage conversion. As with almost all Jewish laws, it is elaborated on in the Talmud.

That's sophistry. And no amount of that will convince anyone - including yourself, I bet - that this alleged issur of Jewish evangelizing is an issur de-orayta. You've got to be kidding, Iyov!

Iyov

MFM: That's the way I learned it, but feel free to provide other sources.

In any case, as you most certainly know, the ban on evangelization is binding halacha. (There is an interesting question as to what happened in the days of the Second Temple, but I am speaking of the last millennium here.)

I have to say that is one of the most endearing features of Judaism -- Jews are proud enough of their religion -- Barurch H' that they don't go ringing on doorbells and shoving it into the noses of gentiles. (Accidental overflow of kiruv from Chabadniks and other is already confusing enough to our righteous gentile friends.)

Cristian Ratza

Iyov - I am very surprised by your comments and I think that they are false (Judaism is "a many splintered" thing - what you are saying may apply to a limited part). You say:

"In many circles of Evangelical Christianity, Mormonism is viewed as a threat, yet there are only 13 million Mormons worldwide. Almost all American Jews are willing to vote for a Christian President; the experience of Mitt Romney shows that a large fraction of Evangelicals are not willing to vote for a Mormon President."

I doubt that much of what you say here is true. Are there some Christians who will never vote for a Mormon? Sure. You are most likely right. Meanwhile - Jewish people in the USA have not really had a choice (as far as I know all the candidates have been Christians?). Obviously most Christians do not have a problem voting for Jewish candidates considering how many are mayors in major cities in the USA.

My statistics are from your article. In any case - it is well known that most of the Jews who get 'lost/converted' do so under pressure from the secular forces. Much more Jews have been lost through 'secular marriages' than through anything else. And most of those are really 'lost' - for they do not believe in God, do not go to the synagogue, and do not respect most of the Jewish observances.

Meanwhile - you have a very small section who believes in Jesus as the Messiah, and you disqualify him for being a Jew (though he/she keeps most of the observances). Now this is something that I do not fully understand. Is it better to have a Jewish person who believes in the wrong Messiah and keeps the observances, or one who does not even believe in a Messiah at all, doesn't believe in God, and does not care about Jewish observances? Which one is more Jewish?

Also - let's not forget the Rabbi Akiva also believed in the wrong Messiah, and I do not believe that he was disqualified from being Jewish because of that.

The "secular forces" have a lot more money and influence than SBC, and really - that is where most of the 2 million Jews that you mention were 'lost.'

P.S. If all Gentiles are saved - who cares if Bat-El is a Messianic Jew, a Muslim, a Christian - or anything else?

Iyov

I don't care what BatEl is -- I'm an American and support religious tolerance. As I said, I wish her nothing but good will

Akiva believed a candidate, Bar Kohkba could be a messiah, and it is quite common (especially in hassidic groups) to have a belief in a particular messianic candidate today. That's what all those "Moshiach is coming" bumper stickers mean. I do wish to note the the Talmud records a particularly horrible punishment for Akiva's sin. (However, Bar Kohkba is still in the running [albeit, as a highly unlikely candidate] for messiah.)

Jesus isn't in the running for the Jewish messiah for seven reasons: (a) the Talmud explicit declares Jesus isn't the messiah; (b) Jesus may have claimed to be God, which would be against Jewish law (the messiah is not a god); (c) Jesus may have suggested breaking the mitzvahs (breaking the sabbath), which would be out of keeping with the high standards a messiah is held to; (d) Jesus's intellectual follower, Paul, broke Jewish law by (i) releasing people from all mitzvahs; and (ii) accepting uncircumcised gentiles into the religion; (e) Jews are depicted in a sub-human fashion, particularly in the gospels of Matthew and John, so those taking the gospels at face value will find their values directly opposed to Judaism; (f) Jesus never fulfilled the key Messianic prophecies -- in particular, he never brought peace; and, most important of all (g) Christianity, together with Islam, has been the chief persecutor of Judaism from its origin to the present day. One only need look at the Roman Church's complicity in the holocaust to justify this. (On the other hand, I want to state clearly that there are many righteous gentiles, particularly in the United States, who live in harmony with Jews.)

So instead "Messianic Jew", I prefer the terminology "Hebrew Christian", because their belief system is Christianity, colored by some Jewish ritual. It is a perfectly valid for of religious expression (from my view as a secular American). However, it is not a Jewish form of religious expression.

You are right -- there are many Jews lost through intermarriage and general secular assimilation. So there is concern about that too. But for some reason, missionaries really bother the Jewish religious authorities. (The "Jews for Jesus" missionaries I have talked to have regularly been deceptive -- I'd rather talk to a traditional evangelical missionary who gave me straight talk.)

So I hope that answers all your questions.

Anyway, this thread has been great fun, but I think it is getting a bit repetitive, so I don't plan to add to it any more. Best wishes on your own journeys.

Cristian Ratza

You too Iyov. Maybe we can talk about this sometimes over a coffee, be it in Israel or in the States :)

SHALOM!

Phil Sumpter

Jews don't evangelize

On my recent trip to Israel I saw more Jewish missionaries then I have seen evangelical ones in my life. Just about every bus stand and town centre has stalls where Orthodox Jews of various stripes hand out leaflets and try to engage people in conversation. Their target audience may be "lost Jews" as opposed to non-Jews but it's evangelism all the same, isn't it?

JohnFH

Hi Phil.

I think it's only a matter of time before some strand of orthodox Judaism becomes confident enough culturally and equipped enough organizationally to proselytize among Jews and Gentiles alike with the same degree of fervor the Pharisees were known for in Second Temple times.

Rollie Kenmore

Does anyone agree that Malaysia should be boycotted?

Their leader is anti-Jewish...

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    By Chris Weimer and friends, posts of interest on ancient Greek and Roman topics (archive). Chris is a graduate student at the City University of New York in Classics
  • Threads from Henry's Web
    Wide-ranging comment by Henry Neufeld, educator, publisher, and author
  • Tête-à-Tête-Tête
    smart commentary by "smijer," a Unitarian-Universalist
  • Undeception
    A great blog by Mike Douglas, a graduate student in biblical studies
  • What I Learned From Aristotle
    the Judaica posts are informative (archive)
  • Bouncing into Graceland
    a delightful blog on biblical and theological themes, by Esteban Vázquez (archive)
  • Weblog
    by Justin Anthony Knapp, a fearless Wikipedian (archive)
  • Writing in the Dust
    A collection of quotes by Wesley Hill, a doctoral student in New Testament studies at Durham University (UK), and a Christian who seeks the charism of chastity
  • גֵּר־וְתוֹשָׁב
    by David Miller, Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism, Briercrest College & Seminary, Caronport, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • ואל-תמכר
    Buy truth and do not sell: wisdom, instruction, and understanding - a blog by Mitchell Powell, student of life at the intersection of Christ, Christianity, and Christendom
  • משלי אדם
    exploring wisdom literature, religion, and other academic pursuits, by Adam Couturier, M.A. in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible (graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)

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  • Ancient Hebrew Poetry is a weblog of John F. Hobbins. Opinions expressed herein do not reflect those of his professional affiliations. Unless otherwise indicated, the contents of Ancient Hebrew Poetry, including all text, images, and other media, are original and licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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    Copyright © 2005 by John F Hobbins.