I recently read an article on aish.com called “5 Signs You Need to Take a Fresh Look at Judaism.” The points were well presented and intriguing to me as I am Jewish but curious where I would stand now that I am a Messianic Jew. Although all of the issues raised were relevant and understandable with “no change” before or after my accepting Yeshua as Messiah as my reaction, two topics in particular caught my interest:
“1. You think Judaism is all about guilt.”
Ironically, the point of this section is to help Jews not to feel like being Jewish is one long guilt trip. The writer goes on to state, “Unlike some religions which regard people as innately sinful and bad, the Torah explains we each are created” betzelem Elokim, in” the image of the Divine (Genesis 1:26). “
The author of the aish.com article discusses how the Torah is our “playbook” providing the guidelines that help us to make the right choices. As she helps Jewish readers not to feel like Judaism is all about guilt, she focusses on learning from our mistakes rather than feeling bad about them.
As a Messianic Jew I have come to terms with the sound bite about original sin and do not get hung up on what is a complex theological statement that cannot even begin to be understood in a one liner. My goals for choices I make to be a better person are completely consistent with the author’s recommendations, to live by Torah, to learn from our mistakes, and to try to be a better person. As a Messianic Jew I understand we are made in the image of God and we are to strive to live in a godly manner, as put into humanly understandable terms by trying to act as Yeshua would. And all agree, we fail since we are human, so understanding the truth of Yeshua helps me to forgive myself as I know He has already forgiven me.
“ 2.You feel that Judaism doesn’t speak to you personally.”
The author shares the story of a friend with whom she spoke who could relate to Judaism through knowledge of the holocaust and the state of Israel but not personally on a day-to-day basis.
I like the writer’s answer that Shabbat dinners, celebrating Jewish holidays, acts of lovingkindness, giving Tzedakah, living acts of Torah, all transform our souls and connect us to the infinite. Totally agreed.
Yet, when HaShem gave me the knowledge that Yeshua is indeed the promised Messiah, for the first time I understood what it felt like to have an intimate relationship with HaShem. Rather than praying to God up there, He was sitting right next to me, in everything I did, always with me palpably. As a best friend.
To my mainstream Jewish sisters and brothers, I completely understand how that last paragraph was not able to be understood, for I was in those shoes for 50 years. It’s as they say, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” But once you do, Wow!