Jewish Believers in Yeshua and Halachic Torah Observance: Living Today for Israel’s Tomorrow

The position I favor for implementation among Jewish believers in Yeshua (JBY) may be described this way: “Living today for Israel’s tomorrow.” It is a proleptic, postsupersessionist, postcryptosupersessionist and communal approach to halachically-informed Torah living for Jewish Believers in Yeshua.

Let me briefly unpack this for you.

First and foundationally, my paradigm involves “living today for Israel’s tomorrow.” This means our primary focus ought not to be on preserving and protecting old and favored constructs, as commendable as they may be. Instead, our focus is on preparing for and aligning with what is to come.  In mission theology this is called an adventus position as contrasted with a futurus position.  In a futurus position one plans present behaviors on past experiences. In an adventus position, one plans present behaviors on a future already anticipated.  The gospels are adventus documents:  “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of heaven is at hand!  Repent and believe the good news!” In other words, the future has broken in, and we must realign our lives accordingly.

Second, this is an anticipatory or proleptic position. This means that in thought, action, relationship and experience, our communities are meant to be a foretaste of what is to come, signs, demonstrations and catalysts of God’s consummating purposes for Israel. Having foreseen something of the shape of Israel’s future as summarized in my discussion of Ezckiel 37, we must adjust our agenda accordingly.

Third, this is a post-supersessionist position. This means that it is anticipates Israel’s glorification and consummation rather than her eclipse. In keeping with the uniform testimony of the prophets, this is a position which anticipates the rising and shining of Israel’s light, the vindication of Israel as God’s people and the Living God as her God.

Fourth, this is a post cryptosupersessionist position, prepared to reconsider and abandon those habits of thought, attitude and practice which tend to bleach Jewish life of its religious particularity, facilitating assimilation into the wider world, compromising our responsibility to be a peculiar people whose contrasting way of life by way of mitzvoth, chukkim and mishpatim would cause the nations around to sit up and take notice.[1]

Fifth, the position favors halachically informed Torah-living. As already noted, “the Torah is best interpreted in concert with the historical stream and transgenerational discussion of that people to whom it was given.”  Although many of us have been conditioned to distrust or ridicule the halachic rulings of the the wider Jewish community, the fact remains that it was to the assembly of Jacob that Torah was given. We should mark as naïve and presumptuous any attempt to interpret Torah apart from interaction with that community and its millennia of serious deliberation.  Yeshua reminds us, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat,  so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice.”[2] As Noel Rabinowitz teaches in the conclusion of his paper on this text, “Jesus did not mean for his disciples to literally do “all” that the Pharisees taught. He meant rather that they were to obey their teachings regarding the Torah and halakhah in principle, a fact supported by Jesus’ own basic observance of oral tradition.”[3]

While I recognize that this is not where many Messianic Jewish leaders wish to go, nevertheless I believe this is where God is taking us and where we should be heading.

To do otherwise seems both exegetically and missiologically unjustifiable.

In my  next three postings, I will consider in turn the whether, the what and the how of this proposal.


[1] “Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people” (Dt. 4:6).

[2] Mt 23:3-4

[3] Noel S. Rabinowitz, “Matthew 23:2–4: Does Jesus Recognize The Authority Of The Pharisees And Does He Endorse Their Halakhah?” JETS 46/3 (September 2003) 423–47, here 47.

About Stuart Dauermann

The blog of Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann, teacher, mentor, radio talk show host, denizen of Los Angeles, and a visionary with a long career in Messianic Jewish activism. You can hear Rabbi Dauermann as he hosts Shalom Talk, a weekly radio show, and even listen online at ShalomTalk.com. Rabbi Dauermann spends time traveling nationally and internationally, and throughout the year is in Israel as a Scholar in Residence at the MJTI Jerusalem Center. He has plenty to say about Jewish-Christian relations, the need for shalom in the world, and the agenda of Messiah, the Son of David.
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5 Responses to Jewish Believers in Yeshua and Halachic Torah Observance: Living Today for Israel’s Tomorrow

  1. rey says:

    “…whose contrasting way of life by way of mitzvoth, chukkim and mishpatim would cause the nations around to sit up and take notice.”

    By your idiotic acceptance of Paul’s writings as scripture you preclude this. The nations will remains blinded by this antichrist forever if the Jews who supposedly believe in Jesus don’t defend Jesus’ teachings agains the archheretic Paul.

    • You don’t encourage interaction by your rhetoric (your use of “idiotic” is not just a red flag: it is a roadside bomb), so I will not initiate a dialogue nor sustain one, except for the current comment. First, your concept of Paul is at least fifty years behind the times: Paul’s gospel is now widely regarded to be decidedly pro-Torah and pro-Judaism in ways the “Lutheran Paul” (the model you decry) was not. The list of scholars who now recognize that anti-Torah Paul to be an erroneous construct is very long indeed (consider James Dunn, Paul Gaston, Mark Nanos, Mark Kinzer, David Rudolph, Pamela Eisenbaum and a host of others) . You might begin by reading the seminal essay “Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West” by Krister Stendahl to see where the light broke through in Pauline studies in the early 1980′s. You might find it on line). Second, your level of hostility and readiness to show it indicates to me that your sense of ego strength is very much bonded to the iconoclastic position you express, which I would guess is quite central to your self-concept and self-presentation. Therefore, I doubt that you will abandon or reconsider it, even though your position is based on a now discredited paradigm. That is why dialogue is futile. Think about it. But don’t expect a slugfest here. That is not what my blog is for. Peace.

  2. Carl Kinbar says:

    Hi Stuart. May I comment on your fifth point?

    You connect Yeshua’s saying about the scribes and Pharisees with the statement that “the Torah is best interpreted in concert with the historical stream and transgenerational discussion of that people to whom it was given.” I agree with both statements, but I’m not sure how you are connecting them.

    Maybe you could address areas where there seems to be a disparity between them. For example, the contrast between what is mandatory (“Obey them,” however loosely understood) and what is preferable (“The Torah is best interpreted.” Another issue is how the authority of the scribes and Pharisees relates to the “the historical stream and transgenerational “discussion” from Moshe Rabbenu to our day. How do we equate mandates with a discussion?

    As you know, I’m coming from the place of contemporary scholarship that shows the relationship between the Pharisees and the Rabbis to be much less continuous than previously thought. Early rabbinic documents such as the Mishnah show that priestly concerns, not Pharisaic, were dominant. If this is so, then we should not take Yeshua’s statements to mean that the rabbis should be obeyed just as the Pharisees were to be obeyed. So the larger question would be whether Yeshua’s saying really relates to the “transgenerational discussion” to a significant degree. I believe that it relates only tangentially.

    That said, it seems to me that the basis for interpreting the Torah “in concert with the historical stream and transgenerational discussion of that people to whom it was given” seems to have much more to do with covenant than it does with the Seat of Moses. This is signalled by your phrase, “to whom it was given.” From this perspective, the “transgenerational discussion” involves the voices of Jews who receive the Torah as we did at Sinai, and are familiar with the conversations of the past and present. As you know, this isn’t like entering a casual conversation! It involves a lifetime of mandates as explained in Pirkei Avot 5.22):

    “Ben Bag Bag says: Turn it over, turn it over [in every possible way], for everything is in it. Contemplate it, grow old with it, wear yourself out with it, and do not stir from it, because there is no better portion.”

    I’m interested in reading your comments on these thoughts.

    • Thank you Carl for your articulate comment.

      On the matter of areas where there seems to be a disparity between Jewish authorities and Yeshua, one needs first to carefully discern if the “seems” is illusory or not, and this takes much scrutiny and discussion. Experience demonstrates irrefutably that people readily accept as proof data that corroborates their views or prejudices. In addition, the communal consensuses in which we have been shaped strongly predetermine what will view to be true and valid. Therefore, it is crucial to become aware of one’s biases and viewpoint, and, as Jewish life teaches us, in rigorous communal process, to examine whether our conclusions and assessments of data are in fact valid. As you know we also need to establish if we are comparing apples and apples or apples and oranges: are we rightly understanding both the rabbinic and New Covenant texts, their contexts, and guidelines for application? Are we rightly understanding our own context and is it truly parallel to these others? Are we rightly deriving and applying our conclusions or are we mistaking something along the way? For this we need a community of scholars and responsible leaders and laity–we need an ongoing quasi Talmudic discourse, and the courage to prefer finding what is true, and honoring proper boundaries and ideological mooring points, over facilely jumping to comfortable and confirming conclusions.

      As for intra Torah analyses, what is mandatory versus what is preferable, this is an elegant area that scholars among us familiar with halachic process need to address, as well as our leaders truly becoming learners, capable of distinguishing absolutes from guidelines. In the Christian world as well, there are some excellent discussion on hermeneutics which help sensitize and equip us for such explorations.

      As for the continuity/discontinuity between the Pharisees and the rabbis, of course there is disagreement on these matters in the scholarly community. My views, evident in my dissertation, postulate a fundamental continuity, and were largely shaped by Stuart A. Cohen’s work “The Three Crowns.” and the studies of Daniel Judah Elazar, of Blessed Memory. However, differences of opinion on these matters require discussion and a community where such discussion will occur.

      Daniel Judah Elazar would agree with you on the foundational status of covenant. I strongly recommend his works which are brilliant and seminal. And we agree, thankfully, that “the ‘transgenerational discussion’ involves the voices of Jews who receive the Torah as we did at Sinai, and are familiar with the conversations of the past and present.” I do not tire of saying that it seems chutzpadik for Messianic Jews to attempt analysis of Torah and its demands in isolation or in contradistinction to that community to whom Torah was given. I am also convinced that it strains credulity to imagine that God gave the Torah to the Jewish people but has then, for millennia, absented His Presence from involvement in their discussion. This would assume a level of Divine abandonment with which neither the facts nor I myself concur.

  3. Carl Kinbar says:

    “. . .it seems chutzpadik for Messianic Jews to attempt analysis of Torah and its demands in isolation or in contradistinction to that community to whom Torah was given.”

    Right – and I know you agree that independent analysis of Torah is rooted in that very isolation from the community. “He who separates himself, seeks his own desire, etc.” (Mishlei 18:1) The sad thing is that this is often done with the best of motives.

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