Adrian’s Midrash (A-Drash
This Week’s Torah Portion:
Nitzavim Vayelech “Standing/He Went”
It has been quite a long time since you’ve last received an A-Drash from me. However, I hope you find this one timely since we are back to full-swing with school and all. I thought I would start off this week’s A-drash with an answer I gave to a sister in the Messiah via email. It’s longer than usual, but not too long. Next week I will continue on with my normal midrash, but I hope you’ll enjoy this week’s. Also, don’t forget to study the Torah portion above. Let me give a warning to this A-drash: It will offend some of you; however, my hopes are that you won’t be offended but rather challenged to go to the Bible for your answers.
It’s always nice to hear from you. I feel like you’re my long lost sister, now found. 🙂 Anyhow, you’ll be happy to hear about my progress. I have been working hard on my studies, but more importantly, my book! So, please pray for clarity and wisdom.
Now, regarding your question (question at bottom): The Scriptures teach, "The gifts YHWH gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers (rabbis), to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Mashiyach" (bold mine, Ephesians 4:11-12). Therefore, obedience to Torah is good and righteous and it shows our love to YHWH through the Messiah; however, it is very important to understand that there are true leaders and false leaders (Yochanan 10). Many of the rabbis that established some of the fences that most observant Jews follow today are hindering seekers and believers from walking out Torah with Yeshua’s yoke, which is easy. Sadly, many Messianic Jewish teachers are no better.
History is one of our best teachers if we allow her to be. Today’s modern Judaism, regardless of the tradition (Orthodox, Reform or Conservative), follow mandates that the rabbis established from A. D. 90 onward. The Mishnah (circa., A. D. 200) and the Talmud (circa., A. D. 500) didn’t have its hold during the first-century–even though the rabbis would love us to believe so. They like to teach that it has been passed down from Moshe to them after Mt. Sinai (Oral Law). The rabbis established themselves as descendants of the Pharisees and gave themselves sole authority over the Scriptures. They call it preservation; however, I call it rebellion. Prior to this time, you and I know that the Netzari faith was going full-steam ahead. By the turn of the first-century there were over a million Yehudim (Jews) and hundreds of thousands of gentiles following the Way, meeting on the Shabbat, and caring for the widows and orphans, and feeding the poor. During the first war, when Rome destroyed the Temple (A. D. 70), the Netzarim fled to the mountains because of Yeshua’s words in Mattiyahu chapter 24. Those that were still influential among first-century Judaism (Which is different from today’s Judaism.)at that time cried wolf and made the Netzarim out to be apostates. Well, when the revolt of A. D. 135 took place many of the Netzarim remained and fought but the damage had already been done. However, by that time the Netzarim consisted of every sect of Judaism on the planet, including some from the leadership of the Pharisees (Acts 15).
Anyhow, I say all of this because being obedient to Torah has to be consistent with the Netzari faith, not today’s Judaism mandates. Apparently, the first to third-century believers didn’t have issues with holding to Torah and worshiping YHWH through the Messiah, Yeshua. They didn’t see the "conflicts" that we see today. Through the influence of the "church" and Constantine’s mandates including anti-Semitism, Christianity has become just as much a a snare with all its mandates as modern Judaism. Therefore, both Christianity and modern Judaism are Yokes of Men, that for the most part, sway people from true–righteousness (religion). Furthermore, many Messianic leaders would have you forsake the Writings of the Apostles (NT) and bicker over every detail of the "Law," which in many respects is no different than Judaism with a little sprinkle of Yeshua on top to make one feel better about their "obedience."
The Word is clear about what we are set free from (ceremonial laws), while teaching us to follow YHWH in true righteousness. As a Gentile, you have been grafted into Israel; therefore, you ARE Israel. You were circumcised in the heart and received the new-birth of the Torah upon your life. The four mandates of Acts 15 are the starting point for all believers not only Gentiles (In today’s culture regardless of race, we are all messed up). Furthermore, the growth of a disciple takes him way beyond the four mandates. Those mandates were not given as an all-in-all-to-end-all; they were starting points.
Now, here are all believers’ mandates:
"I therefore, the prisoner in the Messiah, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Ruach in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Ruach, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Messiah, one faith, one baptism, one YHWH and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all" (bold and italics mine, Ephesians 4:11).
"The fruit of the Ruach HaKodesh are: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Yeshua HaMashiyach have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Ruach, let us also be guided by the Ruach. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another" (bold mine, Galatians 5:22-26).
"Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends" (1 Co 13:4-8a).
"If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion (obedience) is worthless. Pure and genuine religion (obedience) in the sight of YHWH the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you" (bold mine, James 1:26-27). (This by the way, is done through observing true Torah mandate.)
This last one is a key to all things in Torah. How many times have we seen believers stress the "Torah" in such a way that tassels and beards become the focus instead of true obedience. The Ten Commandments of YHWH are easy (morally they are written in our hearts), but they are worthless if we are not walking in love and caring for the outcast, which may include nonbelievers. Shhhh . . . don’t tell the rabbis and pastors that life is found in Yeshua and obedience to him through righteous Torah, not just Torah or New testament alone. . . .
Now as far as the major details: Yes, the Shabbat should (must) be observed, and we should not covet, or murder, or commit adultery, etc.; furthermore, we observe the feasts of YHWH found in Leviticus 23. I have seen more believers try to control Shabbat and make others observe, all the while talking against those that don’t fulfill Shabbat like they want them to. Gossip, slander, and hatred are their order of observing Shabbat and not love. So, who is considered more righteous in the eyes of YHWH? The one that walks in Yokes of Men, or the one that may stumble in trying to walk in obedience and is not doing it to the very details that the man wants?
For example, I remember one day you asking me about making fires on the Shabbat. If at all you can prepare the wood and everything prior to the Shabbat, then by all means do so; however, if you had to build a fire to host some people at your home that were outside freezing to death, which becomes more Yeshua, YHWH, Torah-like? Since there is no law against love to build a fire for the sake of a person’s safety, life, or comfort, then by all means build a fire. Furthermore, does God honor a person that is freezing to death, yet wanting to praise him and study his Word if all he or she can do is think about building a fire and not thinking about YHWH? Who then is being worshiped? The flesh or YHWH? Yes, our flesh wants to be fed and comforted; however, it is also the Temple of the Ruach HaKodesh, thus the house of Yeshua–take care of it. 🙂
I once remember a professor telling me in college, "If you are fasting for the Lord, but all you can do is think about pizza, then repent! Go eat your pizza, and then come worship the Lord." That’s pretty wise if you ask me.
So, (Ommitted), finally, what does this have to do with the rabbis, tradition, and obedience? Well, we must confirm all things with the Torah. So, regardless of what the rabbis say, including this one (teacher), you are to balance it all with Torah by not forsaking the greater things . . . love! Remember, we are to be obedient to Yahweh’s Torah through Yeshua the Rebbe, not any particular rabbi (pastor). Tradition is good; however, observing tradition that goes against Yahweh’s tradition and not walking in love is, the worse thing we can do. The Writings of the Apostles are there for a reason, and they were not given to us to hinder or omit the Torah. They were given to modify and amplify Torah. I think many forget that there were always God-fearing Gentiles, they just needed a push in the right direction (Acts 10-ff).
Let me leave you with this: "In Caesarea there lived a Roman army officer named Cornelius, who was a captain of the Italian Regiment. He was a devout, God-fearing man, as was everyone in his household. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God (true Tzadakah (righteousness))" (Acts 10:1-2). Simply put, the house of Israel, the Jewish people, were given the responsibility to be a light unto the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6), and the Gentiles were called to be grafted into the people of YHWH (Romans 11). This was the work of the Messiah, Yeshua: That all nations would worship YHWH and walk according to His ways. You, dear (Ommitted), and all other Yah-Fearing Gentiles, are . . . Ruth. (A grafted-in Gentile no longer belonging to the gentiles but belonging to Yahweh through His Messiah.)
Sadly, in today’s world a Jew would not feel welcomed in a church, and a Gentile would not feel welcomed in a synagogue. Both have their traditions according to their rabbis (pastors) that keep the fences up. However, those that follow proper understanding of Torah through the Messiah in love become the people of YHWH and a light unto all sinners (Jew and Gentile alike).
Your brother, Adrian.
PS. To answer your question bluntly about getting your Lulav and Etrog specifically from Israel? NO! you don’t have to.