What are the special responsabilities of the Jewish people?
I would want to try to state these special responsabilities of the Jewish people, which are incumbant upon all Jews born as such and upon those that join the Jewish people and are adopted into it.
One might think of the "obvious" answer to the responsabilities: the 613 Mitzvoth. But this is not a very applicable answer to the question. They might supply a theoretical framework of action, but the reliability of the rabbinical translation into halacha is a matter of dispute for messianics. The reasons are manyfold:
-disagreement about the adaptation to the new reality: on one side to the absence of the temple and living in exile, on the other side to the time after the coming of Yeshua and the multitude of gentile believers in Him.
-mistrust towards the rabbinic judgements, their intentions and the spirit guiding them.
-the dichotomy of the Letter and the Spirit might require rather an understanding of the heart of the Mitzvah, its intention and normal practical application, leaving the specific details for each instance up to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, instead of arguing about specific applications based on the Letter in a kind of legal debate.
With this last point in mind, one might also in regard of the responsabilities rather look to describe them in terms that touch the heart of the calling of the Jewish people. The framework of the 613 Mitzvoth are just the instructions given by divine wisdom in order to live out this calling to G-d's honor. They reflect G-d's love and character and are a way which He chose to bless.
RESPONSE: Absolutely! The problem is, most of the 613 Mitzvoth were for the priests of the day; some only applied (and still apply) to only men, and some only to women. We get to keep what we possibly can today, but the rabbinic "stuff" needs to be tossed out.
The Sabbath was never meant to be a burden wherein we can't do ANYTHING but sit at home and read the Bible....The rabbis put way too many fences around Torah! Here's an article I recently wrote to dispute some nut who tried to tell us we don't have to keep the Sabbath because it's too much of a burden: http://therefinersfire.org/sabbath.htm
How can we describe the responsabilities in terms that touch the heart of the calling of the Jewish people?
That is not an easy question to answer in an email, but the answer is pretty much outlined in the next book I'm about to publish, which is geared toward traditional Jews to show them their need for not only Torah keeping, but their need to believe in the Final Sin Sacrifice of Yeshua haMashiach.
The bottom line is: A Jew has a calling to be a light to the nations. This doesn't mean he has to wear all the traditional black garb, etc., but to wear the commanded tzit-tzits, be kosher, keep the Sabbath and the Feasts, and be Torah observant to the best of his ability.
No Halacha prescribes the wearing of the traditional clothing of the Jews in Russia and Poland from 150 years ago.
There's still a big gap between the very general "being a light to the nations" and the literal and very technical fulfilling of certain comandments. Many people would get stuck or fall in this gap full of questions.
No one ever "does it" perfectly, but by just doing these things, he sets him/herself apart from the world and consequently shows the world how to LIVE OUT the faith.
I think the heart of the calling of the Jewish people needs to be described precisely to fill this gap, such that the multiple aspects of being a light to the nations can be grasped and the specific technical commandments can be understood as tools for it: Truth, Righteousness, Justice, Holiness, Longsuffering, Grace, Goodness, Love, to name some of the characteristics of G-d, which shall be hosted in the midst of the Jewish people, reflected by them and uphold as a light to the nations.
I'll stop here for today. Would be happy to hear what you think.
Greetings in Yeshua!
Looking forward for your comments and contributions!
related posts: Link Collection: Defining Jewish Identity in the Messianic Jewish Context
Discussion Forum: Topics
My Collection Of Relevant Links
- Ahavat Elohim Forums
- Forum Messianic Jewish Discussion
- Messianic Judaism Quest
- The Messianic Center
- Sean Emslie: ... toward a messianic judaism
- Kevin Geoffrey has Messianic Jewish Issues
- Derek Leman - Messianic Jewish Musings
- Jews for Jesus Home page
- MBI Messianic Bureau International
- The Jerusalem Council - Messianic Beit Midrash
- Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council
- International Messianic Jewish Alliance
- Wikipedia: Messianic Judaism