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Posted June 10, 2015 - 6:35am

Towards the end of May, my family and I attended First Fruits of Zion’s 2015 Shavuot Conference at Beth Immanuel Sabbath Fellowship in Hudson, Wisconsin. As always, it was a great delight to be part of such a well-organized, well-researched and well-presented event. The lectures and discussion that took place over the course of our week-long stay helped clarify and articulate many of the concepts that we have had in our minds over the last several years revolving around Messianic Judaism. One of the primary concepts I took home from the conference is that the goal of Messianic Judaism is to become a prolepsis of the Messianic Kingdom. What does that mean? Let me explain.

First, let’s define the term. According to the basic definition, prolepsis is “the representation of a thing as existing before it actually does.” In other words, it’s when an element — a concept, an event, etc. — represents something before it actually exists.

How does this relate to Messianic Judaism? According to a new definition proposed by Boaz Michael, “(Ideal) Messianic Judaism is the Judaism of the Messianic Era — practiced today.”1 Let me say that again:

(Ideal) Messianic Judaism is the Judaism of the Messianic Era — practiced today.

I think this is the best definition of Messianic Judaism to date. But you may not recognize its brilliance at first. Let me attempt to explain this concept further.

Posted May 31, 2015 - 3:25pm

Recently, the internet as been abuzz with the latest story of Olympic gold medalist and all-American athlete Bruce Jenner. Jenner, world-renown for his domination of the Olympic decathlon in 1976, became an American hero and a household name in the last few decades of the twentieth century. He became known as the face and personality for Wheaties brand cereal, “the breakfast of champions.”

In his recent interview with Diane Sawyer of ABC’s “prime time news magazine,” 20/20, Bruce revealed a dark secret that he says he has been hiding all of his life. He admitted to a lifelong struggle with gender identity. Although he had lived the last sixty-five years of his life as the epitome of masculinity, he felt that he had lived sixty-five years of deception. He had finally decided to end the struggle and begin adopting a female identity (which actually began in the mid-80s with female hormone treatments), and he was ready to make it public. 

Bruce is in a growing number of people who consider themselves “transgender,” a term that basically means that they don’t fit the gender they have been “assigned to,” whether through divine providence or through medical intervention. The transgender concept is more technical than this, but this definition covers the basics.

Posted April 13, 2015 - 8:12am

In this series we are working to expose the myth that humans are incapable of keeping God’s Law. In our previous article we began seeking to understand what Peter was referring to when he described a yoke “that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear” (Acts 15:10). Was he referring to the Torah in this context, or was he referring to something else? We began by discussing misconceptions within Christianity and what the Scriptures themselves have to say about the Torah and the perceived difficulty of following its directives. Whereas Christianity believes that the Torah is impossible to live out, Judaism knows no such concept. According to both Judaism and the Torah itself, the Torah is God’s boundaries and guide for life. It is the minimum standard expected from members of the covenant. But many Christians are confused over this because of how we have misunderstood the words of Paul. We tend to interpret Paul’s letters in terms of making a formal break from Judaism rather than being in continuity with it. We have to keep in mind, however, that although Paul was at times a bit of a maverick, he willingly submitted to authority, particularly Scriptural authority. His doctrine of “grace through faith,” was never intended to supplant over a thousand years of Scriptural precedent, no matter how inspired we believe it to be. His intention was never to override the Torah, but to uphold its principles, particularly in the light of two incredible revelations given to him: (1) Yeshua as the fulfillment of the Messianic hope of Israel, and (2) Gentiles were to be included into an exclusively Jewish (up to this point) faith. While we are still working to understand Peter’s claim regarding the unbearable yoke, we need to better examine the purpose of the Law before making any assessment of his statement.

Posted April 6, 2015 - 4:16pm

We were slaves to Pharaoh in the land of Egypt. And the Lord, our God, took us out from there with a strong hand and an outstretched forearm. And if the Holy One, blessed be He, had not taken our ancestors from Egypt, behold we and our children and our children's children would [all] be enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt. And even if we were all sages, all discerning, all elders, all knowledgeable about the Torah, it is a commandment upon us to tell the story of the exodus from Egypt. And anyone who adds [and spends extra time] in telling the story of the exodus from Egypt, behold he is praiseworthy.

For nearly the last two thousand years the order of the traditional Passover seder has been celebrated through a compilation of texts called the Haggadah (הַגָּדָה). The above paragraph was taken from the opening paragraph to the Maggid section of the traditional Haggadah. It was written in response to the four different places in the Torah in which the Lord commands the Israelites to tell their children of the exodus from Egypt. The Haggadah, which means “telling,” is a book that contains the order of service, including the complete text, for a Passover seder. It was developed to fulfill the commandment from Exodus 13:8, which says, “You shall tell — v’higadtah (וְהִגַּדְתָּ) — your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’”

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Latest Book Review

The Magerman Edition

Author: Daniel Rose & Jay Goldmintz
Publisher: Koren Publishers
Year: 2014

The Koren Ani Tefilla Siddur is one of the latest in Koren’s growing collection of siddurim (prayer books) geared towards a specific demographic. Koren describes Ani Tefilla as “an engaging and thought-provoking siddur for the inquiring high school student and thoughtful adult.” Koren says that Ani Tefillah has been developed in order “to help the user create their own meaning and connection during the Tefilla [prayer] experience.” The name of the siddur is connected with its objective. Ani Tefilla means “I pray.” 

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