As most of you know, my passion is to interface with my Jewish brothers and sisters and educate them as to the truth of Yeshua. I may have a somewhat different bent on this than do others since I feel my role is to do just that – educate – rather than necessarily succeed in winning the listener over to my way of thinking, at least for that moment. I am confident that our Abba will do the rest as is appropriate for each person. I personally feel each individual’s walk with HaShem is unique to him or her, that our Abba meets us where we are, speaks to us in the ways we can hear Him. My very small role in the process is to lay the foundation, shatter stereotypes, explain my new perspective while understanding the listener’s sensibilities, address the emotional barrier to even thinking about Yeshua, make way for the possibility for the person to hear Him.
Raised as a mainstream Jew for most of my life, I freshly remember how it feels to hear of Yeshua from the perspective of a Jew. I believe this is changing for the better for our younger generations as the Holocaust becomes a time to study in history rather than experience during one’s own or a parent’s lifetime. For me, and especially with my Eastern European grandmother living with us, the subject of “Jesus” was verboten. I can palpably remember fear of persecution and anti-Semitism in the name of Christianity even if it was irrational and misplaced. This framework helps me to be sensitive to the feelings of my Jewish listeners when helping them to understand that Yeshua was the greatest Jew who ever lived, that He died a Jew and did not found Christianity (a commonly held misconception of many Jews even today.)
With that as a backdrop, and being a child of the social justice movements of the late ‘60s, I am well equipped to dialogue about Yeshua to Jewish people, and I do so on a regular basis. Each day brings its challenges, disappointments, and encouragements. When recently seeing no progress after multiple attempts to a Jewish organization concerning their exclusion of Messianic Jews, HaShem cheered me up with the following encouragement:
https://www.myjewishlearning.com/ is a resource I utilize, as do other Jews, as a good reference source for all things Jewish. So when my sister and I were verifying whether some of the bubbameisters (grandma fables) our bobbe told were made up by her or part of a larger body of stories, we went to this website for verification. There I found an article titled “8 Popular Jewish Superstitions” by Ronald L. Eisenberg, reprinted with permission from another Jewish source “Jewish Traditions: A JPS Guide” published by the Jewish Publication Society. Sounds pretty Jewish on lots of levels! So I was taken a bit aback at the explanation for spitting three times, the “pooh, pooh, pooh” made between one’s index and ring fingers as a response to something exceptionally good or evil. Here is My Jewish Learning’s explanation:
“However, this popular Jewish superstition may well have originated from the Christian Bible, which mentions the miraculous power of the spittle of Jesus. ‘And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech. . . And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is ”Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plain’(Mark 7:32-35).”
The explanation goes on:
“In another reference, Jesus spat in the dirt and made ‘clay’ and put it in the eyes of a blind man, who subsequently could see (John 9:1-7). “
I really was shocked to be reading Brit Chadasha (Good News/New Testament) passages in my Jewish referral source! How wonderful on so many levels! First, what a step in the right direction that Jews are not afraid to maintain academic integrity even when the truth crosses this particular hard wired Jewish/Christian barrier of the ages. We are seeing more and more of this development (Dr. Danial Boyarin, Dr. Amy Jill-Levine). And what a joy that so many Jewish readers were reading quotes and citations to the Good News, perhaps sparking additional intellectual curiosity about Yeshua. Most intriguing was the thought that perhaps this custom dates all the way back to our modern Messianic Jewish ancestors, those Jews who walked with Him.
Rest assured your efforts are not in vain as you share the Good News with your Jewish brothers and sisters. HaShem is the quarterback. We just need to hear the directed next steps. For every setback, turn to the encouragements, on a trajectory two steps forward even if one step back, and know that the day is near when all Jews will say “Baruch haba, B’shem Adonai, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”