FAQ for Jews

These are answers from Jews to Jews. Christians are welcomed to eavesdrop - it might help non-Jews understand how some Jews think.

 

1. Having been separated from the Nations (Numbers 23:9), why serve Hashem (G-d) together?

Despite our initial separation, Isaiah 56:4-7, Jeremiah 31:9-12 and many other prophecies describe a “together” future that is echoed frequently in our prayers. Abraham is told from the onset that he is to become a family of nations. Prior to receiving the Torah, we are told that our destiny is to become a Priestly Nation (Exodus 19:6) - a role that can only be fulfilled together as a family of nations much like the Levites with the tribes of Israel. Bottom line: We were separated by Hashem (G-d) like the Levites from the other tribes to dedicate ourselves to a priesthood that must help all nations to learn how to serve Hashem (G-d) together.

 

2. How do I know that we are now in the “end of times”?


Many of the “end of times” prophecies are happening, primarily the gathering of exiles, restoration of Israel, revival of the Hebrew language, flourishing deserts, futile enemy attacks and more. Moreover, growing numbers in the nations are recognizing this, as in Psalms 126:2 “The Lord has done great things for them.” Many rabbis today agree that the time has come for us to respond as per the verse that follows: “The Lord has done great things for us [together], and we are filled with joy.”

3. How can I love those who hated us for so many centuries?

Joseph was hated by his siblings who did terrible things to him, yet he forgives them and recognizes his calling to care for them and reconcile - even if only to bring consolation to their father. Despite the terrible persecutions that the Jewish people suffered in the hands of the nations, in the generation of the gathering of the exiles, the time has come to create new hope for a new relationship between the nation of Israel and the Nations of the world. We too must bring consolation to our joint Father by learning to care for and love each other. You will be amazed as to how easy and exhilarating it can be when we trust Hashem (G-d) to guide us together in His teachings.

4. How can we study Torah with Christians who believe in Jesus as divine as well as a Trinity that violates the principle that Hashem (G-d) is One?

The worship of Jesus as G-d and belief in multiple entities within G-d is indeed problematic, but much has changed within Christianity since this was deemed pagan by our Rabbis. There are Christians today who worship only the One G-d of Israel, while thanking Jesus as Messiah (see next section) for directing them to learn His ways in conjunction with their Hebrew roots. Learning Torah helps them achieve an understanding that is more aligned with ours without abandoning their faith and journey. This can be confusing to us, but the bottom line is that Christians who join eNoam identify with the Shema and believe in the same One G-d of Israel that we believe in. Many share a common belief in His creation, inspired scriptures, His eternal covenant with Israel and Israel's priestly destiny – the biblical prophesies unfolding today.

 

5. How can we study Torah with those who insist upon Jesus as the one and only Messiah?

The Messiah in our Tanakh has many names - none of them Jesus. Reconciling the Christian concept of world redemption with the redemption of Israel as described in the Tanakh is challenging. Countless persecutions in the name of Jesus makes it difficult to even consider the possibility that he was endowed with the spirit of Messiah.

 

However, the Christians studying Torah with us emphasize that the Mashiach will be born of Israel and that Israel’s role is to play the lead role. For them, Jesus is already their Messiah because he redeemed them from pagan worship and the error of their ways. Maimonides and many other Jewish sages acknowledge that Jesus was personally responsible for spreading Hashem’s teachings throughout the globe.

 

In that light, different notions regarding the Messiah should have no bearing on our ability to work together in realizing the biblical roadmap. Moreover, our Jewish tradition teaches us that bearers of messianic roles exist in every generation, waiting for mankind to be ready for redemption. Learning to fulfill our role as a priestly nation can only hasten his coming, whereupon all who await him will surely embrace him together.

 

6. Do we have to agree on theology to serve Hashem (G-d) together?

Hashem (G-d) seeks an intimate relationship with each of us, referring to all of Israel as His children (Deut. 14:1). At the same time, He wants all His children to accept Him as a parent and to love each other as a family (Genesis 12:2-3). Even Israel at Sinai was not yet ready for a direct relationship - requesting that Moshe serve as an intermediary. Similar intermediaries are found in all major faiths - but the ultimate goal is a direct relationship together. As within any family, each intimate relationship is different because each of us is unique with a unique soul called upon to share his unique divine 6 light. Having created the world this way, Hashem clearly loves this diversity, embracing each of us unconditionally regardless of the gaping differences between us. Diversity in theology and practice is therefore not only inevitable, but it might very well be essential to our purpose. We can only emulate Him if we too learn to love others who are different unconditionally like He does. Clearly we have a unique role to play at this time in history among the nations.

 

7. How can we welcome into our midst those who do not commit to the Noahide laws?

According to our sages, the Noahide laws are binding for those from the nations who seek permanent residency in the Land of Israel. Without this, cultivate a Torah-bound priesthood and Temple for all nations in this chosen land would not have been possible. Those from the nations who came to visit, pray and study were never forced to first commit to those laws. Today, however, nearly all nations have already embraced the core Noahide values even if they don’t necessarily identify them as such. It is through our joint service and study of Torah that we and those from the nations can refine our understanding of all divine laws together.

 

8. Am I allowed to study Torah with non-Jews?

We are forbidden to study Torah with idol worshippers and those who deny its truth, but this isn’t the case here. Those joining us in e-Noam fully embrace the Tanakh as Hashem’s truth. Their understanding differs on occasion, but the more we study together, the more we reach understandings that enable us to listen together to the word of Hashem. Studying together dispels many myths about our Torah and ourselves for Christians, enabling us to work together in realizing the Torah vision for all of humanity - not just ourselves. Given our firstborn role as a nation of priests, studying Torah with non-Jews with a sense of purpose is actually our responsibility. For Abraham is promised (Genesis 12:3) that through him all families of Earth will be blessed.

 

9. How can we study Torah with those who interpret our Bible differently?

We fasted when the Torah was translated to Greek because the medium is the message and the ancient Greek culture fundamentally differed from the Hebrew culture. Much like the serpent in Eden, their gods compete with man and each other - they could not understand the Hebraic sense of a loving partnership with the Creator. Their focus on earthly beauty detracted from their understanding of the divine. Whereas Hebraic thought embraces dichotomies of body and spirit, Greek thought split our world into dominions of heaven and hell - our body belonging to the latter. Hence the end of days could not possibly be in this world. It is therefore not surprising that their biblical interpretations deviated greatly from ours. Israel’s restoration today has opened up the eyes of many non-Jews to see that much was lost in translation. They now realize that they can not truly understand Jesus and his followers without reconnecting with the people and land of Israel. That only through the study of Hebrew with the Jewish people can they properly understand his teachings and their prophesized role alongside Israel today.

 

10. How do I overcome a suspicion of a missionary agenda?

Many Christians have yet to abandon their missionary agenda, but e-Noam members commit never to engage in missionary activity within its platform. As expressed in our core values, all members must allow one another to continue to hold our own theological views without imposing them on each other, and without feeling threatened by discussing differences.

 

Moreover, many Christians have begun to realize that Hashem (G-d)’s love for Israel and His commitment to their covenant is unconditional. A growing number of Christians are embracing the possibility that the nation of Israel was never replaced by them - that we have a leadership role as a priestly nation that consists of many nations working together in a Greater Israel. Even the Vatican has proclaimed this, and many Evangelists have abandoned their missionary agenda when dealing with Jews.

 

Last but not least, studying Torah together changes attitudes and theological understandings. Sharing our Torah with the nations is part of our destiny. When called upon to fulfill it, we must overcome our fears and trust that Hashem (G-d) has given us what we need to accomplish this. Our name Israel requires that we have the courage to do so on all fronts

- with G-d and with people.

 

Although the missionizing theology is changing in many Christian circles, awkward moments in our social interactions are to be expected. Most Christian newcomers aren’t aware of Jewish sensitivities in the use of Hashem’s name. Jewish newcomers often assume that the terms that they are using are understood when they aren’t. Evolving attitudes and theologies take time. Reconciliation requires patience.

 

11. When a Christian says “Praise the Lord” and we say “Amen” doesn’t he mean Christ and we affirm what we aren’t allowed to affirm?

Many Christians do indeed refer to Yeshua as their Lord, but the expression “Praise the Lord” appears several times in the Torah (Noah, Eliezer, Jethro, Hiram) - always proclaimed by a non-Jew - always referring to Hashem (G-d). Yeshua, for a Christian, doesn’t replace Hashem. In the spirit of Exodus 23:20, he is the messenger that introduced Hashem and His teachings to the non-Jewish world. Through his spirit they seek a more intimate direct relationship with Hashem.

 

12. How can we take on Priestly Nation roles when we are divided in identity and purpose?

When our destiny is laid before us (Exodus 19:6), the order is that Hashem (G-d) will make us a priestly nation and we later become a sanctified nation. Our identity becomes what we do. It is through giving that we learn to love. Identity becomes what we do. The more we give the more we love. Tzitzit and Tefillin are our priestly garb - our pride and honor. When we wear them with this in mind, it helps us focus on our sanctified role, whereupon we become more sanctified. The more we engage in this endeavor, the more unified we will become in identity and purpose. Hashem chose us as His firstborn nation more than a hundred generations before we were capable of realizing His vision for us. Clearly He believes that we are up to the task and his prophets promise that we will succeed (Ezekiel 36:26-28, Malachi 3:20). Having miraculously built the foundations, with so many of the nations already seeking our light, the time has come for us to courageously embrace such a crucial and gratifying destiny.

 

13. Shouldn’t education and meaningful engagement with secular and other Jews take precedence?

These are definitely important goals. We do not shirk our responsibilities towards Jews who believe other than we do. However, when we embrace our universal role as a nation of priests, and engage with others from the nations, we actually make the Torah more relevant to secular humanistic Jews. These Jews shun away from nationalistic world outlooks that isolate them from the rest of mankind. They want to believe in a multicultural society capable of embracing diversity - which is precisely what we want to learn to accomplish through Torah.

 

14. How do I know that deeper relationships with non-Jews will not distance me from fellow Jews and my Jewish identity?

Those who are insecure with their Jewish community relationships or their Jewish identity should not get involved in e-Noam unless they believe that this will help them strengthen their Jewish identity. My experience has been that grappling with our role as a priestly nation and light unto nations has made me a better Jew. Others sense that they must first become better Jews before they engage with others. Finding the right balance is clearly personal - much like any challenging role in life we have to sense when we are ready.

 

The main thing is that all of us must prepare. In a recent conference on the relationship between the Jewish People and the nations of the world, several leading rabbis agreed that the time has come for a drastic change in mindset.

Those interested are encouraged to view the conference at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlIQVj7DI9Sp-WjjwUaTR2l-yWvS6ojiq

 

Rather than fully focus our energies on survival, more and more of our energies must be dedicated to our universal purpose. It is particularly encouraging to see how we are already becoming a ‘light unto nations’ in so many realms without even trying. Hashem has been preparing us for this role over thousands of years - it is part of our DNA. Many secular Israelis naturally think universally, contributing to a better world in countless ways. Each of us has a unique light and contribution - the time has come to discover and realize it, personally and together.