In this article I will explore the role of leaders in the Messianic Jewish movement. This will include the qualities which a Messianic leader should possess, the need for proper training, the understanding of Hebrew and a vision for the future.
I want to start out by saying that this article is written in love and not to attack anyone currently involved in leadership. We have many dedicated and Godly leaders within the movement. However, there is a vacuum when it comes to leadership within the movement. It is the gaps that exist and the resources required to help leaders become better equipped to serve and to grow the movement within the larger Jewish community.
The first issue that I would like to address is that of having proper Yeshivas for training Messianic leaders. If Messianic Judaism is to continue to grow as a viable, credible movement, there need to be rabbis who are trained to teach, lead and reach people. There currently exist a few places for Messianic training.
My opinion is that these Yeshivas do not go far enough. In terms of training we need more. The following is a suggestion of some of the main points to consider.
It is absolutely critical that any Messianic Rabbi or leader know the Hebrew language. How can we establish credibility not only within our movement, but to Jews around us, if we cannot speak the holy language (Lashon Hakodesh) which is Hebrew? Hebrew is the language of the soul; it is the language of the Torah and the language of the Jews. If our leaders cannot speak the language how can we be taking seriously as a Jewish movement?
I also believe that any Messianic Yeshiva should be a place with a comprehensive curriculum. The starting point has to be Yeshua and an understanding of the Good News within a Jewish context. However, I believe that there must be a comprehensive study of Torah and other rabbinical literature such as the Talmud.
Now, I can hear many leaders saying why study the Talmud? The answer, I believe, is two-fold. First, we study Talmud because we are Jews and Jews study Talmud. However, the greater reason is that much of our customs and traditions come from the Talmud. The lighting of Shabbat Candles is not commanded in Torah, but in Talmud.
I think it is important to note here, as I have said before, we are a Jewish movement and not a Christian one. Any leader who wants to run their synagogue more like a church should not call themselves a Messianic Jew.
I think it is important to have Jewish Rabbis and not just Messianic leaders. I understand that the movement is small and that we need leaders to stand in the gap. My hope is that one day our Jewish movement will be headed by Jewish Rabbis.
It is important for a Messianic Rabbi or leader to have a heart for Israel and the Jewish people. Again, many may say that this is a given among leaders, but not always. How many leaders truly support Israel? How many speak up when Israel is under attack? How many encourage members of their congregations to travel to Israel or make Aliyah?
Now does that mean we cannot speak against Israel? Absolutely not! We must condemn the secularization of Israel which allows abortions and Gay Pride parades. Just the same as we would condemn those practices in our own countries.
One of the most discouraging things I find among Messianic leaders is their lack of support for the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple). I have heard many say that the next Temple is that of the Anti-Messiah and that it is a place of desecration. My question to that is how can something be desecrated unless it was holy in the first place?
The fact is that the Temple must be rebuilt and sanctified in order to become desecrated. It is the same as saying you will take a piece of pork and desecrate it by adding oyster sauce. Now if you took a piece of kosher beef and added oyster sauce that beef is no longer kosher, but unfit for eating. Even Yeshua had a zeal for his Father’s house. “Yeshua entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers (Matt. 21:12-13) (See also Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46). If Yeshua had a zeal for temple – should we not follow in our Rabbi’s footsteps?
I want to encourage those Messianic leaders to learn Hebrew, study in a Yeshiva, and stand up for Israel and its causes. We are Jews first and Messianic second. We must never turn the movement into a Christian one. Christianity has no place in Judaism and vice versa, that does not mean we cannot love them, but we must not become like them.
Tags: credibility, gaps, godly leaders, hebrew language, jewish community, jewish context, jews, language of the soul, messianic jewish movement, Messianic Judaism, messianic rabbi, messianic yeshiva, nbsp, rabbinical literature, rabbis, talmud, Torah, vacuum, yeshivas, Yeshua
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