What is Messianic Judaism?
Messianic Judaism falls into a branch of Judaism known as Chasidic Judaism. Chasidic Judaism is based on love for your fellow Jew/Person, connection to G-d and joyous observance of G-d’s instructions (Torah), as expanded on below. The major difference between Messianic Judaism and Chasidic Judaism is that Messianic Judaism believes that Yeshua of Nazareth is the promised Messiah, and we follow Him as our Chief Rabbi.
Messianic Judaism is not Orthodox, but is more in line with Conservative Judaism.
Chasidic Judaism stands out from other Jewish sects due to its belief that a righteous Rabbi called a Tsaddik can connect us to G-d. This Rabbi will care for his disciples and be devoted to their spiritual and personal life. This Rabbi is like a shepherd guarding and guiding his flock. This Rabbi is believed to perform miracles and healings, he is said to be able to bring his followers' prayers before G-d and intercede for his followers. For us, this Rabbi is Yeshua HaMashiach.
Chasidic belief entails that G-d has ordered all the events of the earth and has a plan for our everyday. We do not need to worry about what will happen tomorrow because G-d has it in control, he plans and knows all things.
Yeshua said in Matthew 6:31-32: "So don't be anxious, asking, 'What will we eat?,' 'What will we drink?' or 'How will we be clothed?' For it is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all." (CJB*)
Chasidic belief strongly hinges on the idea that all Jews should live in unity and harmony. It is the goal of Chasidic Judaism to create harmony using the ideal of love for every Jew/person to make unity a reality in their neighbourhood, town and city.
Yeshua told us in John 13:35: "Everyone will know that you are my talmidim by the fact that you have love for each other." (CJB*)
Joy and happiness are major defining hallmarks of Chasidic Judaism, the undertaking of the instructions of G-d’s Torah are done with joy, it is not an arduous burden for the Chasid. To study the Torah in a state of joy and to celebrate the Festivals with song and dance are Chasidic innovations in their connection with HaShem. To support your fellow with joy and warmth and not be burdened by helping others is part of Chasidic Judaism’s unique method of worshiping G-d.
Yeshua said in John 4:23: "But the time is coming — indeed, it's here now — when the true worshippers will worship the Father spiritually and truly, for these are the kind of people the Father wants worshipping him." (CJB*)
The early Chasidic sects encountered opposition from their fellow Orthodox Jews, who thought that their theology and the way they practised Judaism was breaking tradition. The opposition sought to stop the spread of Chasidic teaching because they seemed to oppose the ideas of existing Orthodox Judaism. Those who opposed Chasidic Judaism thought that they were doing away with Judaism’s scholarly norms and over-emphasising joy, dancing and singing.
The beginnings of Messianic Judaism underwent similar persecution.
Early Chasidic Sects emphasised not falling into a dry religious routine and placed importance on spontaneous heartfelt loud prayer and singing. Keeping respect for silence in prayer such as the Amidah, however, they also adapted some of the traditional times of prayer and the traditional prayers to suite their theology. Chasidic Jews thought it was important to pray outside in nature or secluded in their bedroom with the door closed. Great emphases was placed on deeds done with the right intent being equal to the efforts of great scholars, this encouraged the uneducated Jews to feel connected to G-d.
The Answer is No. Conversion to “Judaism” is to a people group and not to the religion. The Apostle Paul believed that Israel and the Righteous among the Nations, while retaining their distinct identities, must offer joint worship to G-d. In the New Covenant community, discrimination between Jews and non-Jews was now forbidden; while functional distinction between them was rightfully upheld.
Paul’s reasoning was simple: If non-Jewish followers of Messiah become Jews, then the G-d they worship would be too small. He would be the G-d of the Jews only. If, however, the Righteous among the Nations (Non-Jewish followers of Messiah) would worship Israel’s G-d alongside the Jews, then the grandeur of this One G-d would become evident to all.
In addition, according to halacha (Jewish Law) Non-Jew (Ger) can remain a non-Jew and take on any or all mitzvoth of the Torah including Shabbat and Talmud Torah. He does not have to convert. He can become a Noahide Ger, a non-Jew who accepts the Seven Laws of Noah and accepts G-d, the G-d of Israel as his G-d and rejects shituf (sub-deities or multiple godheads).
The Noahide who takes on the Seven Laws and says to G-d, Yisborach (“You are my G-d”), he can do any and all mitzvoth (commandments) in the Torah without the Jubilee Year, without going to a rabbinic court for acceptance, without living in Israel, and he can do it even according to the Rambam.
Every Righteous person from the Nations can accept upon himself or herself belief in G-d and lead any holy Torah lifestyle he or she chooses – without converting. The Rambam calls them Hasidei Umot HaOlam, which technically means a non-Jewish Hasid, a pious person in the eyes of G-d and the Torah of Moses.
The Ger in the Gate is established by G-d in the Torah. The Ger in the Gate is mentioned in three verses; one is in the Ten Commandments, where he is told to rest on Shabbat. The Biblical Ger in the Gate is a G-d fearing non-Jew, as it says (Deut. 31:12), “the Ger in the Gate shall hear and learn and fear the Lord your G-d.”
The Answer is No. At Derech HaMashich we acknowledge and respect the everlasting covenant and relationship between the Jewish people and HaShem (G-d). We believe in the continuity of G-d's covenants with the Jewish people, the physical people of Israel (Jeremiah 31:35-36) and, as such, we do not proselytise or seek in any way to ‘draw away’ Jewish people from their faith. Rather, we respect the ‘dignity of difference’ and actively work to bless, help and support Jewish people wherever and whenever we can, in the hope that they will find the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua.
Therefore, while we believe in the Hebraic roots or heritage of the New Covenant Community (or Messianic Judaism), we do not subscribe to the doctrines prevalent in some Hebrew Root Movements of “one new man” replacing Israel, or the “two house” and “lost tribes” theologies.
The Answer is Yes, but it is conditional on who and where you are.
Just as Yeshua kept all the mitzvoth that were applicable to Him as a Jewish male living in the Land of Israel while the temple was in place, so we too desire to fulfil all the mitzvoth relevant to Gentile followers of Messiah, living outside the Land of Israel, with no Temple in place. We also encourage Chasidism, which is the desire to go over and above our required observance of Torah, so as to hasten the coming of Messiah, may it be soon and in our day.
We long for the day of Jeremiah 31:33-34, where the Torah will be written upon our hearts, upon the hearts of His new creation (Hebrews 8:7-13), and we will all practice Torah fully. To this end we again encourage, without judgement, all to participate in as much of Torah mitzvot as people are able, in line with the Didache (VI:3).
While we at Derech HaMashich believe that the Written Word (which consists of the Tanak and the Apostolic Writings) are the whole and only infallible, inspired and authoritative Word of G-d, we also believe that reading these in isolation (e.g. Apostolic Writings without Written Torah knowledge, Written Torah without Oral Torah) can lead to misinterpretation or misunderstanding the truth and goal of Scripture and Who G-d is.
The Oral Torah, which has now been documented as the Talmud (includes the Mishnah and Gemara), together with other ancient Hebraic and Jewish writings, provide contextual background for the Written Torah, as well as the “how to” for the written instruction of “what to” do in the Torah. The Oral Torah does not carry the same weight as the Written Torah, but is inspired instruction and teaching that adds weight to the Written Word.
*Taken from the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD 21029. www.messianicjewish.net.