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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Command or Tradition?

I found a very interesting post by a man who calls himself the Wandering Heretic. It is directly related to our search for truth and differentiating between the customs that were adopted by man and the commands that are specifically laid out in the scriptures. This is another good reason for us not to be labeled, because that connotes something specific in people's minds, and the only label I would want to bear would be sola scriptura. Can you imagine the confusion if I were to declare that I am a fundamentalist messianic believer attending a joint baptist/Judaic congregation with reservation as to the non-scriptural customs? Put that on your blog heading!

The heretic brings up the non-history of the custom of the yarmulke (beanie) that Jewish men wear. As someone who has searched out the original language of the passage in Corinthians 11 (looking for a way out, honestly) I know that the word choice means a cloth covering, so I have been wrestling with the yarmulke, which would be opposing the teaching of this very same verse that commands women to cover.

In the scriptures, we see that in 2 Samuel 15, Esther 6, and Jeremiah 14, covering of the head was a sign of mourning or shame for a man. When the priests went into the tabernacle to serve, they were to cover their heads with a mitre as a sign of humility (Exodus 28). But there is not a specific command regarding praying with the head covered or uncovered for the everyday man. Not until the teachings of the Brit Chadashah (new covenant) is the practice of covering or uncovering in reference to prayer discussed.

So what does that mean? Should we go around to Messianic congregations and rebuke the men wearing the yarmulke? No! No more than I go around rebuking women without a covering. First,many of the people in messianic groups are truly converts, having lived the Judaic life for a very long time and then coming to the truth of the identity of the messiah. I would never risk offending a new brother over attire. As the common blogosphere theology phrase indicates, it is not a 'matter of salvation'. Secondly, Paul taught that he became all things to all men in order to draw them in. Certainly he did not mean he became a murder to reach murderers or a thief to reach thieves. Having a congregation where people look just like an orthodox Jew will make more Jews feels secure in checking it out.

My point is really to those of us raised in a 'replacement' atmosphere, where anything to do with Judaism was seen as wrong, and who have now come to the understanding of the roots of the faith and the identity of the Son of Man (or as I call it, the "Jesus was a Jew! moment). As those who are being spiritually grafted in, should Gentile believers wear the yarmulke?

A little more in the middle of the road is the question of the tallis (prayer shawl). The shawl is an interpretation of Numbers 15:38-39 and Deuteronomy 22:12, where a command is given to tie tassels with a blue thread to the corners of garments. The type of garment is not specified, so the tallis would cover this requirement. Customarily any man visiting a synagogue should wear the yarmulke, but not the tallis. Yet for the Messianic believer, the tallis is the custom of the two that has specific mention in the scriptures. The two questions that arise when discussing the tallis are the practice of wearing it over the head when praying (which would be in opposition to the verses in Corinthians above) and the point of whether holding to any part of the law requires observing the whole law (Romans 3:27-31, Galatians 3). This section in Deuteronomy has other commands which are not kept by Christians, such as not wearing clothing of mixed fabrics, not planting two kinds of seed together, and building a parapet in the roof of the house. So what should be followed and what should not?

My answer would be twofold. First, I do not think we should observe any custom that conflicts with scripture. Scripture does not conflict with itself, so where we find an admonition against a man praying with his head covered we do not find a command for men to be covered when they pray. This is obviously a matter of depth, requiring one to be further in study than the milk of the Word. Secondly, I see no problem with following scriptural customs (as long as they have not been specifically abolished, such as animal sacrifice for atonement) so long as our faith is not in these observances to save us, but rather our faith is in the redemptive blood of the lamb, and our observances are a means to be closer to Him and to His people. If we have already seen the truth in scriptures and yet we willingly jump back into the traditions of men rather than the commands of YHWH, we are taking ourselves from light to darkness. That is not to condemn the Jewish believer in any way, but if we have already been freed, it is a slap in the face of our messiah to go back into bondage.

Well, great! Now what? I would envision men wearing a tallis, if they so chose, around their shoulders. This lends the visual connection to Judaism that would welcome visitors without conflicting with the command not to be covered when praying. We can adopt enough of the Jewish style of worship to be unified without going against the Word. The question as to why the yarmulke is not worn would present a teaching moment. And as for why we have been commanded in such a way, I think the fact that we have nothing more to mourn over or be ashamed of that Yeshua has not already conquered would be a huge possibility!


Kelly said...

When the priests went into the tabernacle to serve, they were to cover their heads with a mitre as a sign of humility (Exodus 28).

Does this mean you do not believe the mitre is tied to the worship of Dagon, the fish god? ;) (Sorry, couldn't resist!)

Swylv said...

I posted about the kippa here

as for the talit (spelling?) one of my new friends is a hubby/dad of 4 daughters and his 3 year old said once when he gathered them under to pray over them, "daddy, it's like we are under your wings" .... a 3 year old understood this.

Anonymous said...

You have brought up a very good thought in me, and its now causing me to want to read into this all more in the BIBLE. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

Anders said...

Hello! I found your website. My name is Anders Branderud and I am from Sweden.
I would just like to write some words.

Who then was the historical J*esus?

Does the New Covenant really include gentiles??

I am a follower of Ribi Yehoshua – Mashiakh – who practiced Torah including Halakhah with all his heart.
He was born in Betlehem 7 B.C.E . His faher name was Yoseiph and mother’s name was Mir′ yâm. He had twelve followers. He tought in the Jewish batei-haknesset (synagogues). Thousands of Jews were interested in His Torah-teachings. Some Jews who didn’t practice Judaism where threatened. They decided to crucify him. So they did - together with the Romans. His followers were called Netzarim (meaning offshoots [of a olive tree]) and they continued to pray with the other Jews in the synagogues.

Christianity does not teach the teachings of Ribi Yehoshua. Ribi Yehoshuas teachings were pro-Torah; Christianity is anti-Torah.

If you want to learn more click at our website -- than click at the lick "Christians"

Hasheim – the Creator of the universe – loves you. If you want to have a relation with Him you need to follow His Torah non-selectively.

Be blessed when you practice Hasheims Torah and His mitzwot!

Anders Branderud
Follower of Ribi Yehoshua in Orthodox Judaism

Kelly said...

Anders, I visited the website you left, and I wanted to ask you a question. If you feel the New Testament is a false document which is not to be followed, then what is your source of information about Ribi Yehoshua?

Anders said...

Thanks for your reply and your question!

We use The Netzarim Reconstruction of Hebrew Matityahu.

“Uncovering the genuine historical Jew who was Ribi Yәhoshua, and his authentic teachings, requires identifying the authentic record, the earliest extant source documents that chronicle his life and true teachings. Only the earliest extant source documents help filter out subsequent — well-documented and extensive — redactions of the Roman gentile Hellenist pagans.

The earliest extant Church historian, Eusebius, was describing the original followers of Ribi Yәhoshua, the Nәtzarim Jews, when he declared that the "only" account they accepted of the life and authentic teachings of Ribi Yәhoshua was "their own Hebrew Matthew" (later Hellenized by non-Jews to "Hebrew Matthew"). The original, Jewish, followers of Ribi Yәhoshua, the Nәtzarim, never accepted the NT. Indeed, the NT didn't even exist in their time (up through 135 CE). Moreover, the N
әtzarim Jews regarded only the Tan"kh as Scripture.” -- > Click at History Museum (in the left menu)  Click at the first section in the top menu..
or if you want to see the book :  Israel Mall (left menu)  Netzarim (bottom menu)

Anders Branderud
Follower of Ribi Yehoshua - Mashiakh (some translate it Mashiakh) - in Orthodox Judaism
If you want to learn more about my life and religion; then click at our website -- than click at the link "Christians" – then click at my photo.

Kelly said...

Anders, thank you for answering my question. This is not my blog, so I'm not sure how long Amy wants this conversation to continue, but I will leave it to her to decide.

Have you actually read Eusebius yourself, or are you relying on what your group is telling you about what Eusebious says?

Because Eusebius was describing, not the true followers of Ribi Yәhoshua, but what he considered a group of heretics. Among other things, they did not believe Jesus was born of a virgin, nor that He was divine. As you have said, this group also rejected most of the New Testament writings.

As Eusebius didn't write until the 300's, I'm not sure why one would consider him a better source of information than than the books of the New Testament, which all pre-date Eusebius.

Here is the actual section from Eusebius:

1. The evil demon, however, being unable to tear certain others from their allegiance to the Christ of God, yet found them susceptible in a different direction, and so brought them over to his own purposes. The ancients quite properly called these men Ebionites, because they held poor and mean opinions concerning Christ.

2. For they considered him a plain and common man, who was justified only because of his superior virtue, and who was the fruit of the intercourse of a man with Mary. In their opinion the observance of theceremonial law was altogether necessary, on the ground that they could not be saved by faith in Christ alone and by a corresponding life.

3. There were others, however, besides them, that were of the same name, but avoided the strange and absurd beliefs of the former, and did not deny that the Lord was born of a virgin and of the Holy Spirit. But nevertheless, inasmuch as they also refused to acknowledge that he pre-existed, being God, Word, and Wisdom, they turned aside into the impiety of the former, especially when they, like them, endeavored to observe strictly the bodily worship of the law.

4. These men, moreover, thought that it was necessary to reject all the epistles of the apostle, whom they called an apostate from the law; and they used only the so-called Gospel according to the Hebrews and made small account of the rest.

5. The Sabbath and the rest of the discipline of the Jews they observed just like them, but at the same time, like us, they celebrated theLord's days as a memorial of the resurrection of the Saviour.

6. Wherefore, in consequence of such a course they received the name of Ebionites, which signified the poverty of their understanding. For this is the name by which a poor man is called among the Hebrews.

motherofmany said...

Kelly and Anders,

I have absolutely no problem with others interacting in the comments. Feel free to continue. (You actually brought up my own thoughts, and since I am fuzzy-headed from allergy meds, I appreciate it!)

I also wondered if these writings held to Yeshua as merely a rabbi, or the Messiah- as in he was crucified and resurrected. If so, how can all of the Torah still be binding? What was the point of his death, then?

Anders said...

I have read quotes from Eusebius. We don’t accept Eusebius Christian doctrines; we use him for some historical references.

Quote from – Glossaries:

“What little is known about the Ëvyonim is found in the early Church literature, by Greek-speaking Hellenists, almost exclusively gentile, who had no grasp whatsoever of Hebrew or Judaism. Their knowledge was limited to what was conveyed to them in Greek. Since the Ëvyonim were Hellenist, they were [a] apostates by definition (as Hellenists) and [b] the first and earliest "Jewish" group with which the earliest Christians could communicate. Eusebius specifically notes (EH III.xxvii.2) that there were a number of groups and he knew no better than to lump all of them together, though noting that they were distinctly different, under the same name: Ëvyonim, acknowledging that he doesn't know which is which; nor is he clear about the differences between them.
Information about the Nәtzârim, as contrasted with the Ëvyonim, must be derived from the description of Dërëkh י--ה given in 4Q MMT in order for the Nәtzârim to have been accepted in the 1st-century Pharaisaic community in the first place as well as to remain there, at enmity with the Christian Church, until the Christian Church extirpated them in 333 C.E.

Eusebius did describe the true followers of Ribi Yehoshua – Netzarim. The true followers of Ribi Yehoshua practiced Torah – the Jewish Bible - non-selectively. However as the above quote states there are reference in the verses to other groups than Netzarim.

Anders Branderud
Follower of Ribi Yehoshua - Mashiakh (some translate it Mashiakh) - in Orthodox Judaism
If you want to learn more about my life and religion; then click at our website -- than click at the link "Christians" – then click at my photo.

Anders said...

Ribi Yehoshua is the Mashiakh (some translate it the Messiah).
The point of Masiakh’s death is that there shall be kipur (expiation / atonement / salvation) for geirim (some translate it proselytes) and Jews in the Covenant with Hasheim (the Creator) – we do our utmost and we get kipur when we do mistakes while doing our utmost to practice Torah.
We have a book named Atonement In the Biblical 'New Covenant' (ABNC) (see: ; “Israel Mall” (in the left menu); the quote is from the book description):
Atonement In the Biblical 'New Covenant' (ABNC) demonstrates the concept of 'New Covenant' kipur (expiation / atonement / salvation) as understood and taught by its author, Yirmәyahu the Prophet, centuries before the advent of Christian displacement theology (Yirmәyahu 31.30-33): "I will place my Torah within them"!!!
Prior to (..) Christian displacement theology, kipur was defined as the graciousness of ha-Sheim granted to Jews and geirim who were doing their utmost — "with all your heart and with all your soul" — to practice Torah. Even for these, kipur was granted only upon repenting from any Torah-transgression followed by returning to the non-selective practice of Torah "with all your heart and with all your soul." More than this was never required.
Less than this contradicts Torah and, therefore, cannot be the teaching of a Mashiakh endorsed by — and dependent for authenticity upon — Torah.”
If you want to know more about Netzarim I recommend you to read the article Christians linked at our first page in our website; there you also will find clickable images with the stories of what made me and others choose to switch from Christianity to Orthodox Judaism.

Anders Branderud
Follower of Ribi Yehoshua - Mashiakh (some translate it Mashiakh) - in Orthodox Judaism