Passover – the Call to Freedom

Passover Bread and WineAbout a month ago I read Dr. Schiffman’s blog, “What Does It Mean to Join Oneself to Israel?” In it, he points out that Messianic Gentiles are all doing their own thing, not really joining themselves to Israel as Ruth did. I posed the question, “How does a believer in Yeshua join oneself to Israel without giving up devotion to Messiah?”

I’ve not received an answer, but to be fair it is a seven year old blog.

But here’s what’s interesting: About the same time I started reading “The World of the Ger” by Chaim Clorfene and David Katz. (A ger is a foreigner, a stranger among the Israelites.)

In his book, Rabbi Clorfene points out that the rabbinic council said they could not accept the Ger when there was no Jubilee for him to be freed, should he find himself in poverty with the need to sell himself into slavery. This ruling leaves the Ger (who desires to follow the God of the Universe) free to observe the Torah in any or all of the commandments, just like his father Abraham, the first Ger Toshav.

So where does the Ger start? With the Exodus, just as the Israelites did. He said, “Passover was, is, and always will be the beginning, because redemption begins with freedom.”

Amazing! This is where I started on this journey to Messiah, with a Seder demonstration by Jews for Jesus, in an Episcopal Church in a little town in south Florida.

In little over a month Passover will be upon us. It is a time to celebrate our freedom. We have been set free from slavery to sin, set free from idolatry, set free from the ways of the world. Passover is our call to freedom.

I hope and pray that you will find a place to celebrate this freedom.

3 Responses to Passover – the Call to Freedom

  1. James March 6, 2017 at 10:13 am #

    I went back and read Dr. Schiffman’s blog post (wow, seven years is a long time) and I’ve got a few questions/points.

    First off, what does “joining oneself to Israel” mean? That is, what is “Israel?” Is it a Messianic Jewish community that has been established by Jews to serve Messianic Jews? I suppose that’s one interpretation, but it comes with a problem: proximity. Not everyone who might wish to join themselves to Israel lives anywhere near such a community, so joining with Israel becomes moot. If that’s the qualification to be a Messianic Gentile/Ger, then most of the American population is out of luck, since such Jewish communities as I’ve briefly described are particularly rare.

    Second, does “Israel” really want us to join with them? Dr. Schiffman’s article brings up a good point about praxis. At least historically, non-Jews have indeed felt free to define their own praxis, even when in Jewish community and we have objected when the Jewish leadership has defined certain of the mitzvot as exclusively for Israel. Some Gentiles have even objected to not being included in Israel, so we’ve made things a bit of a mess.

    Since Passover is a uniquely Jewish event, even conducting or attending a seder outside of Jewish community becomes a problem. Is it appropriate for a bunch of Gentiles to hold a seder and call it good? I have a seder in my home every year, but my wife and children are Jewish. Does that event actually “join” me to Israel?

    In my own recent blog post Faith on a Desert Island, I stated that my own example may be fairly common among “Messianic Gentiles”. We don’t join ourselves with Israel because (among other reasons), there is no opportunity to do so.

    The entire state of Idaho barely has 1500 Jews, and obviously not all of them are observant. There are two synagogues in Boise (Reformed/Conservative and Chabad) and I believe one of the Rabbis periodically goes to another community in the state where there are a non-trivial number of Jews. That means opportunities for Messianic Gentiles to “join with Israel” are all but non-existent.

    This may be the core issue regarding the problem of non-Jews who self-identify as “Messianic” or “Hebrew Roots”. In some sense, we can’t really blame some of these Gentiles for doing their own thing simply because they have no guide to do otherwise and no Jewish community to communicate the appropriate mindset.

    Sorry for the lengthy comment, but this is a topic that requires serious consideration.

  2. Ro Pinto March 7, 2017 at 7:24 am #

    Hi James,

    You are right, it is a topic that requires serious consideration.

    Dr. Schiffman’s blog seems to deal more with conversions to Judaism (requiring denial of Yeshua) than the Ger, which is why I so enjoyed discovering Rabbi Clorfene’s book. In truth, it was one of your posts about a year ago that set me on a search of Gentiles observing the Sabbath. I came across one of Rabbi Clorfene’s teachings, which led to the purchase of his book.

    Rabbi Clorfene would not consider a follower of Yeshua to be a Ger Toshav, but when I read some of his words, I can’t help but hear Paul speaking.

    “Not everyone…who lives anywhere near such a community” South Florida has a good number of Messianic communities and I’ve yet to find one similar to PL’s community in Jerusalem, though I’m told they do exist. Time and loyalty to my community keeps me from seeking them out.

    I have a gentleman friend who regularly visits area synagogues, but that raises the question ‘which one’ – Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed? So you see, it’s more than a matter of proximity.

    “Since Passover is a uniquely Jewish event” Is it uniquely Jewish? Or is it something in which Gentiles can participate (sans the lamb), given Yeshua’s call to remember Him and Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians.

    James, you are in a unique position, one that is training you up to help believers survive the coming days – days when we will not be able to (or want to) participate in organized religion; days when we will need to survive being alone on a desert island yet need to reach out and experience God’s presence.

  3. David March 16, 2017 at 9:13 pm #

    bless your heart 🙂

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