Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween: Treif or Treat?

It's that time of the year again. The Jack-o-lanterns, pumpkins, goblins and ghouls gave it away. My least favourite goyish holiday is here again. Halloween is celebrated in Anglo-Saxon countries worldwide and is considered a national holiday. Many Jews unfortunately participate in the Halloween festivities: trick-or-treating, decorating the house and dressing up. So is Halloween kosher?

While many Jews today prefer to focus on the universal aspect of Judaism, tikkun olam, morality, ethics, etc., Judaism demands that Jews remain a separate people. God tells Moses to teach the people:

"I am the Lord, your God. Do not follow the ways of Egypt where you once lived, nor of Canaan to where I am bringing you. Do not follow their customs (be-hukotehem lo teileichu)" (Leviticus 18:1-3, cf. also, 20:23).

Deuteronomy suggests that this prohibition is intended to prevent idolatry:

"Take heed to yourself lest you be trapped by following them, after they are destroyed from before you; and lest you inquire about their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods?' that I may also do likewise" (Deuteronomy 12:30).

While many halakhic authorities understand these injunctions to be limited to the customs of the Canaanites and Egyptians, the Rambam understands it to be a prohibition of following any non-Jewish rite or ritual. The Torah is warning us against adopting chukat hagoy, gentile customs which will lead us to assimilate. He writes:

"We do not walk after the ways of the idolaters. We do not assimilate ourselves to them; not in our clothing and not in other things like this, as it says, 'do not walk after the ways of the gentiles' (Leviticus 20:23)…Rather, a Jew should be distinct from them and recognizable through one's clothing and one's other actions, just as one is distinct from them in one's thoughts and characteristics" (Laws concerning Idolatry, 11:1).

Halloween, although today it is mostly devoid of religious significance, has pagan and Christian roots. The philosophy behind the festival is idolatrous and antithetical to the Jewish worldview. According to Wikipedia:

"Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (Irish pronunciation: [ˈsˠaunʲ]; from the Old Irish samain). The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture, and is sometimes regarded as the "Celtic New Year". Traditionally, the festival was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, now known as Halloween, the boundary between the alive and the deceased dissolved, and the dead become dangerous for the living by causing problems such as sickness or damaged crops. The festivals would frequently involve bonfires, into which bones of slaughtered livestock were thrown. Costumes and masks were also worn at the festivals in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or placate them."

The Catholic Church celebrates Halloween as All Saint's Day and special services are held in churches worldwide. Why would any Jew celebrate a holiday even remotely connected to the Roman Catholic Church? Historically, many pogroms occurred on Halloween. Jews would be kidnapped, murdered or brutalized as part of the celebration, since Jews were associated with evil, the devil and witches.

The pagan worldview in which Halloween took root is completely contrary to Judaism's teachings. There are no ghosts and goblins, heavenly families, satanic adversaries or demons. There is only Him, the One and Only. Halloween, or Samhain, was a worship of nature and the spirits which rules it. Judaism, however, is insistent that all of nature is subservient to Him.

In short, there is nothing kosher about Halloween. It originates in pagan adoration of nature and was eventually appropriated by the Church as a day to celebrate all of their saints, many of whom were virulent anti-semites. In Eastern Europe, Halloween was a time when pogroms usually broke out. Jews weren't able to celebrate the holiday because they were hiding in cellars for their lives. Tainted with paganism, christianity and a bloody history of anti-semitism, Halloween is treif, treif, treif. This year, Halloween falls on erev shabbos, which makes it all the more unkosher. Instead of dressing up to commemorate pagan worship of nature, Jews should celebrate the day which is testimony to G-d's Creation. Ditch the ghosts and pumpkins and switch them for shabbos candles and kiddush.

I certainly won't be answering my door. But if you want to wish me a good shabbos, I'll be ready for your knock.

Cross-posted from For Zion's Sake

Monday, October 13, 2008

Chag Sameach!

Wishing all of Am Yisrael, and the entire world, a chag sameach and may our simchah be completed by the arrival of Eliyahu Hanavi and Moshiach Tzidekeneinu.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Remember who you are

On the eve of Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, 'Jews for Jesus' is getting more and more aggressive in the drive to convert Jews to Christianity. According to internal memos from the proselytizing organization, missionaries are being directed to the Northern town of Qiryat Shemona. The memo goes on to boast that the missionaries "handed out 21,700 gospel tracts" and "have contact information of 995 Jewish people who told us that they want to know more about Jesus." 'Jews for Jesus' has about 2000 missionaries active in Israel. Just days ago, a radio ad by 'Jews for Jesus' in the Northern Galilee was blasted from the radio after protests. Irate listeners found that the message was far too aggressive in its call for Jews to accept Christianity.

'Jews for Jesus' is but one of close to a thousand missionary groups active in Israel. In the coming weeks, tens of thousands of Christian missionaries are expected to descend on Jerusalem for the annual Feast of Tabernacles Parade. The ICEJ, organizers of this mega-missionary event, claim that "the word of G-d (read 'Jesus') is preached nightly and is central to the evening meetings." Christians are entering a fever pitch, trying to get as many Jews as possible to become Christian. Sadly, many Jews who are unaffiliated, secular or have little knowledge of Judaism are succeptible to their tactics. These Messianic groups often claim that they represent authentic Judaism, albeit one that believes in Jesus as messiah. They believe themselves to be restoring the true message of the Torah.

This week's parsha of Haazinu tells us how to recognize authentic Judaism and to be able to spot out pseudo-Judaism. With many groups and individuals around the world passing off a fake, corrupted false Judaism as the real deal, this message is essential. "Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations; ask thy father, and he will declare unto thee, thine elders, and they will tell thee." (Deut. 32:7) If a Jew is confused as to what is kosher and what is treif, he need only go back to his roots, to his traditions, to his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. He must ask himself, "did my great-grandfather worship like this?" The Torah is clear about what happens when the Jews stray from the path of their ancestors. "They roused Him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations did they provoke Him. They sacrificed unto demons, no-gods, gods that they knew not, new gods that came up of late, which your fathers dreaded not." (Deut. 32:16-17) Clearly, the Torah places emphasis on the fact that the Jews went after new gods which were recently invented. This is critical today. When confronted by missionaries who preach that Jews must believe in Jesus or be condemned to an eternity of hellfire, every Jew must take the Torah's warning to heart. Would his great-grandfather with his long beard and black hat sitting in a shtetl in the Pale of Settlement recognize his faith? His grandfather in the mellahs of Morocco? His ancestors in the judeiriahs of Spain? Would any of them recognize Jesus or feel comfortable at a Messianic service? Every Jew must answer back that Jesus and the Christian theology is 'a new god that came up of late, which our fathers dreaded not'. If a Messianic were to stand in a room with a Rambam, a Rashi, a Rabbi Akivah, a Baal Shem Tov, a Vilna Gaon, a Ramban, or even a Moshe Rabeinu, he would not fit in. They would not see any resemblance between their Judaism and the counterfeit junk hawked by the apostate.

The Kol Nidrei prayer on Yom Kippur night awakens within every Jew the desire to come home to HaShem, to do teshuva and to be faithful to what they really are. It gained special significance during the time of the Spanish Inquisition when Jews were forced on pain of death to take vows and abandon Judaism. Kol Nidrei became their way of renouncing any vows they were forced to take by the Church. The knew at heart that they were Jews.

When the American forces reached the Buchenwald death camp, they opened the gates of the camp wide and liberated the inmates. The prisoners left the camp and dispersed, each going his own way. Reb Leizer of Czen-sto-chow was one of the freed inmates. At the gate he paused. "Where? Where should I go?" He knew that most everyone in his family had been murdered. They came with him to the camp, and he saw them led to the crematoria.

Only one hope remained. As all of the people of the town were being herded together for shipment to the death camp, he was able to smuggle his little son Yossele out of the ghetto and into the "Aryan" section of town. "Who knows?" said Reb Leizer to himself, "Perhaps the child is still alive, still alive." He would go looking for him. But how, where?

Reb Leizer went back to Czen-sto-chow. He wandered about the streets and the marketplaces, and every time he saw a boy about Yossele's age, he would stop and look at him closely. Perhaps this was his son. He began asking guardedly, "Did anybody know the Leizer family, or what happened to them?" People told him that the family had left the town in the death trains, everyone except the little boy, whom someone took to the monastery. Which monastery? No one knew. "If my son is alive," decided Reb Leizer, "I will save him."

He went from one monastery to the next, inquiring about his son. The monks denied ever seeing him. No Jewish child, they claimed, had ever crossed the threshold of a monastery. Reb Leizer knew they were lying, but what could he do? He went and bought an organ. Among the tunes he put into it was the melody of Kol Nidre. Reb Leizer strapped the organ to his back and began making the rounds of the streets and yards from village to village, from one monastery to the next. Wherever he saw children playing, he would set the organ down on its legs and begin turning the handle. Immediately he would be surrounded by children. As the children stood listening, he would watch their faces closely – particularly when the organ ground out the tune of Kol Nidre.

Did any child's face change or show some emotion – fear, perhaps, or sadness and longing? Whenever he saw a child stir as the Kol Nidre melody was played, he knew that child was Jewish. As all the other children scattered, he would follow this child, talk to him, and tell him that the war was over and he could go back to his own people. Though unable to find Yossele, history records that he was able to save scores of Jewish children and restore them to their faith, with possibly the most moving tune of our faith.

Reb Leizer took his organ and buried it in the ruins of a destroyed synagogue and he went to Israel. People from that district of Poland say that at times they hear the tunes of a hand organ coming out of the earth, and among the tunes is the melody of Kol Nidre.

On the eve of Yom Kippur, I pray that HaShem merit that the beautiful and moving melody of Kol Nidrei stir the heart of every single Jew to return to his Father in Heaven. Before we begin the Kol Nidrei service, we say that by the permission of the Heavenly and earthly courts, it is permissible to pray with sinners and transgressors. On Yom Kippur, all Jews are welcome before HaShem. We must remember who we really are and not let any dastardly peddler of false beliefs lead us astray. May every single lost Jewish child return home. Gmar chatima tovah.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Onward Christian Missionaries

Posted by Ellen W. Horowitz

In the mad pre-Rosh Hashanah rush, I neglected to send out a missionary update. So below is the last update on evangelical missionary activity for the year 5768 - and it's a long one.

Let's hope that this New Year brings shorter and sweeter news, as we make progress in our efforts to upset the designs of those who are determined to take the Jewish people away from
their faith.

With the U'netaneh Tokef prayer being such an integral part of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur service, we might as well begin in Germany where more than 800 years ago the martyred Rabbi Amnon of Mainz left us a very painful and eternal lesson on an interfaith friendship gone awry.

The WEA issues the 2008 Berlin
Declaration: a decree to convert European Jewry:

YNET reports that the World Evangelical Alliance ended their conference in Berlin with a statement calling for the mass conversion of Jews (in the spirit of friendship, of course)

The statement issued by the WEA Theological Commission entitled "The Berlin Declaration on the Uniqueness of Christ and Jewish Evangelism in Europe Today" was developed by a
task force at a consultation in Berlin, Germany which took place on August 18-22, 2008.

The ADL was quick to denounce the World Evangelical Alliance for targeting European Jews for conversion. It was not unlike Foxman's statement issued at the end of March which censured the very same WEA for launching a campaign targeting Jews for conversion via full page ads in the New York Times and other major papers.

The WEA is no fringe group. It " is a network of churches in 128 nations that have each formed an evangelical alliance and over 100 international organizations joining together to give a worldwide identity, voice and platform to more than 420 million evangelical Christians."
And it enjoys the endorsement of some heavy hitters among so-called "Christian Zionists". As you may recall CUFI regional director and publisher Stephen Strang was among the endorsers of that WEA statement, as was radio-show host Janet Parshall - who was instrumental in
launching and establishing the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus.

[It should be noted that the "prophetic" Parshall withdrew from the Caucus as she sensed a
time when Israel would soon essentially say, "We'll take your aid, your
support and your tourist dollars, but we won't take your Jesus."
Damn straight, Janet !

Ironically it was Abe Foxman of the ADL who played a role in preventing Israel from passing badly needed anti-missionary legislation back in 1998. Something about "the
bill's implications on civil liberties and religious freedom in Israel".
What goes around comes around, Abe.

Messianic Jews Promote Ethiopian Aliya:

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that Messianic Jewish missionaries from the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA) are busy convincing 50,000-70,000 Ethiopian Christians from far-flung villages in Ethiopia that they are really Jewish believers in Jesus and entitled to aliyah.

The following are excerpts from the article:
"Operation Tikva is contravening the Israeli government's attempts over
the last year to wind down official aliya operations in Ethiopia, and the
project is being viewed in Jerusalem with alarm."

...."These people are clearly not Jewish and they are working in areas
where none of the people are Jews either; everything they are telling these
people are lies," said Rabbi Menachem Waldman, a member of the Public
Council for Ethiopian Jews, which has successfully persuaded the Israeli
government to continue checking the eligibility for immigration of a further
3,000 Falash Mura (Ethiopian Jews whose ancestors converted to Christianity
more than a century ago) from the same region of Ethiopia...

Aveje Manhanei, who runs an Israeli-based Web community dedicated to
preserving the traditions and culture of Ethiopian Jewry, told the Post, "If
Israel does not put a stop to this activity as soon as possible then there
will eventually be another 75 million Ethiopians demanding to make aliya."

Kidnapping the Kotel:

Missionaries continue their "love affair" with Jewish symbols with the
intent of drawing Jews closer. Well here's one kotel we Jews won't
be kissing.

Every Home for Christ located in Colorado Springs, will be spending $2.3 million on a replica of the Western Wall which will be housed in the Jericho Center for Global Evangelism - a
missionary training center

The replica will fill 2,500 square feet of an 8,000-square-foot, 300-seat auditorium. About 50 tons of stone will be used to construct the mini two-story wall and auditorium. Stones will be cut from an ancient mine outside of Jerusalem. The wall will be free and open to the public 24 hours
a day. The hope is to have Christians and Jews praying together.

1 Million Christians to Claim Inheritance of Eretz Yisrael.

.if Joel Bell gets his way. The Israeli citizen and Christian missionary (how did he make aliyah?)
who sends out Hannukah greetings praising Jesus, has unveiled ambitious building designs in Israel, as well as plans to bring 1,000,000 Christians on aliyah. Joel figures that the time has come for Christians to claim their eternal inheritance to Israel - and he's got Likud

Joel, knows how to put a slick presentation together for his Christian brethren, and WORLDWIDE BIBLICAL ZIONISTS "actively develop opportunities through partnership for your participation here in Israel. Investments, jobs, housing, education, military training, community, and tools you'll need to make Israel your home. "

Joel Bell has his eyes set on Judea and Shomron, and he will be
bringing a large group to Israel in November to seek out opportunities - so
heads up, Jews.

IDF Officers "hook-up"with Southern Baptist Missionaries:

According to a series of letters sent to 11,000 Christian clergy, Southern Baptist Pastor Jim Vineyard "hooked up" with 80 IDF officers at a "War College" in France in late September. Vineyard stayed at the same hotel with "these 80 Hebrews to study primarily, the Normandy Invasion".

One of the sponsors of the program is Colonel J. Tyler Ryberg, USMC (Retired). Ryberg is the Director of the missionary agency and local church ministry of Faith Baptist Church, Belleville, IL , where his mission is to "evangelize and disciple military men and women around the world through Worldwide Military Baptist Missions".

In all fairness, Colonel Ryberg has a wealth of battle experience and appears to have great admiration for Pastor Vineyard and his efforts. But he is first and foremost a missionary with a vision for U.S. military men and women " to be saved, baptized, discipled and serving the Lord Jesus Christ." So one wonders why our IDF officers need this kind of program which appears to have been - to a large extent - coordinated and sponsored by Baptist pastors like Vineyard and Ryberg.

According to one of Vineyard's letters, packages were distributed to the IDF officers. "when we put that package of books and DVDs into their hands. They would ask, "For Me?" Then they would walk away amazed."According to the letter, most of the material was related to the
subject matter at hand (the Normandy Invasion). But you gotta wonder.

The State Department has an Orthodox Jewish Problem:

The International Religious Freedom Report of 2008 was recently released, and the State Department leveled some unwarranted charges against the Jews. Seems we've been persecuting the church here in Israel and denying Christians their right to pretend to be Jews.

The Jerusalem Post reports that the State Depatment "put blame for the "tensions" on "certain Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities."

But except in one case, the report, which noted numerous incidents of discrimination or violence against Christian or Messianic Jewish communities or individuals, failed to prove that the perpetrators were Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox

The biased and shoddy State Department reporting seemed to rely heavily on the spin given by CBN (the Christian Broadcasting Network) and the ACLJ (The American Center for Law and Justice) - both Pat Robertson productions. As expected they covered items like the Ariel Purim explosion ("bombing"), the Narkiss Church fire ("arson"), and the incineration of missionary materials ("bible burnings"). Of course Pastor/Lawyer Calev Myer's Jerusalem Institute of Justice was one of the messianic sources which the State Department used in their hatchet job.

Pat Boone "sings" at Eckstein's anniversary Bash

Pat Roberston was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for support of Israel at Yechiel Eckstein's 25th anniversary banquet for the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ).

As already pointed out, Robertson's institutions like CBN and ACLJ are giving Israel a messianic migraine. But it was Pat Boone who MC'd the Eckstein event, and Pat "sang" about his hopes for the Jews onChicago's news station WBBM 780. You can hear that clip here or just read it:

".one of the early leaders of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, 74-year-old singer Pat Boone, who is Christian but says, with a smile, that he represents the Messianic branch of Judaism.

"The time will come when Jews themselves will say, 'What do you know? The messiah has been here all this time.' So that's what we believe, and we long for. Not that we try to force it on anybody. And we understand why they don't see that yet. Maybe some never will."

The Israeli daily Ma'ariv reported that Eckstein's organization (IFCJ) gave $10,000 in 2007 to an evangelical group in Jerusalem that proselytizes Israeli Jews. " That organization would be Kings of Kings Assemblies in Jerusalem.

"King of Kings Community is called to be a compelling, Messiah-centered, Spirit-empowered, disciple-making community that reveals the true face of Yeshua (Jesus) to Israel and to the nations. "

Yep. That sounds pretty missionary to me.

Is There a Rabbi in the House?

While Rabbi Eckstein may have distributed funds to missionaries, it appears that Rabbi Riskin has accepted missionary related funds.

A CUFI sponsored event at the Harvest Training Center
- a missionary organization - raised $12,600 for Rabbi Riskin's Ohr Torah Loving Kindness Fund in Efrat.

The Calvary Tabernacle Harvest Training Center of Cranford New Jersey is affiliated with Dugit Messianic Outreach Center in Tel Aviv ( a very active missionary organization)

ICEJ Crowns Jesus as the Lion King and Ruler of Jerusalem:

Once again the annual ICEJ (International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem) Feast of the Tabernacles pilgrimage will soon descend upon Jerusalem. As you may recall, last year the Chief Rabbinate proscribed Jewish participation in the Feast events, as well the Jerusalem March due to a missionary presence and activity. As I pointed out in a recent report, the rabbinic decision was more than vindicated.

The Lion of Judah is the theme of this year's Feast and this is what Chuck King has this to say about this year's feast:

From the tribe of Judah came King David, and from the House of David the true "Lion King" - Jesus - appeared. Jesus' identity as the triumphal Lion of Judah is revealed in Revelation 5, where He is described as the only one worthy to open Heaven's scroll.

This year's Feast of Tabernacles celebration raises a banner bearing the symbol of the Lion of Judah. By lifting up His tribal ensign, we proclaim in this 60th year anniversary of Israel's national rebirth, that the coming Lion of the Tribe of Judah will soon establish His rightful inheritance and establish His throne to rule over His city and the nations

The lion of Jesus theme is prominently featured throughout the week long pilgrimage with events proclaiming THE INHERITANCE OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH, THE ROAR OF THE LION OF JUDAH, THE LION OF JUDAH AS JUDGE, THE TRIUMPHANT LION OF JUDAH, etc.

Some people will simply dismiss this as a Christian event about Christian beliefs. But as Jews living in Eretz Yisrael, we do have the following issues:
a) The event - the largest tourist event of the year in Israel - is fully endorsed by the government of a Jewish state.
b) the Prime Minister as well as Knesset members and "rabbis" and Jewish/Israeli diplomats and dignitaries attend the events of Feast pilgrimage and/or give it their blessing.
c) A Jewish convention center that enjoys a kashrut certificate hosts the pilgrimage
d) there is a heavy messianic and missionary presence at the Feast (it is essentially an evangelical/missionary event)
e) The Jerusalem March will certainly feature large banners of the Lion of Judah - symbolic of their Jesus, and Jewish bystanders and participants will inadvertently be paying homage to and acknowledging the Christian participants and their symbols (this may pose a serious halachic issue)

Honestly I haven't been so disgusted since Jerusalem's emblem of the lion of Judah was morphed into two lions mating to promote a gay pride parade in the streets of Jerusalem .

So if I could be so bold as to momentarily reclaim the Lion King from the Christian Embassy, and borrow a line from Walt Disney..

"Remember who you are"

As we Jews stand before Hashem during these awesome days, we should try and remember just who we are and where we are standing.

And I think we can and should restore the symbol of the lion of Judah to its proper place by politely, but firmly, telling the Christian Embassy where they can put their jesus.

Shana Tova and G'mar Chatima Tova.

Cross-posted from Shiloh Musings

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Having Your Jesus and Eating it Too

Tallis, tfillin, shabbos, Torah classes, sukkot, Jewish stars, Hebrew... must be Jewish. A newcomer to a Messianic congregation, upon seeing the Jewish symbols and paraphernalia, often concludes that this is the real deal, that this is authentic Judaism. When called out on the contradictions between Judaism and Christianity, Messianics will quickly point to the fact that they keep the mitzvot. Indignant at being called a Christian, they reply that they keep kosher, that they keep shabbat, light shabbos candles, etc.

The Messianic movement emerged 30-40 years ago, as sort of a half-way house for Jews into Evangelical Christianity. Frustrated at the low level of Jewish conversion to Christianity, fundamentalist Christians sought a way to make Christianity more palatable to Jews. Well-aware of the bloody history of Judeo-Christian relations and the deep distrust many Jews feel towards Christians, Evangelicals tried to find a way to make their Christianity feel less "Christian". The crucifix, long associated with persecution and oppression, had to go, as did " Jesus Christ", pastor, altar, Sunday morning mass and all of the goyish accoutrement often associated with church. In its place came Jewish stars, a newly Hebrew "Yeshua HaMoshiach", rabbis, and shabbos morning services. Dressing up their church- I mean synagogue- with Jewish symbols, the Hebrew-Christian movement set out to teach Jews of the "Jewish Jesus". No longer was he a WASP or a Catholic priest, but a good yiddishe bochur, a nice Jewish boy who went to shul, kept the Torah and was 100% kosher. Certainly no Jew could refuse such a messiah.

The result of this emerging Messianic movement was a Christianity that gave up none of its fundamental theology that set it apart from Judaism, but that used Jewish symbols and rituals. Messianics don't keep Christmas as they feel that it is a pagan holiday, yet they still believe in a virgin birth which they celebrate on Shavuot. The same goes for Easter; despite not celebrating what they see as pagan, they still believe that a demigod dying for their sins, and commemorate this event during Pesach. This was a win-win situation for Evangelical Christian: they didn't have to give up on any of their fundamental beliefs and were able to, at the same time, take part in Jewish rituals and observances. What resulted was a primitive form of Christianity that hid itself behind Jewish labels.

The first commandment that the nation of Israel heard directly from G-d's mouth at Sinai was "You shall have no other gods before Me". Only from this fundamental basis can all other commandments proceed. The essence of Judaism is that there is One G-d, One and Indivisible, and none besides Him. Without this, there is no Judaism.

A careful examination of Messianic groups reveals that they fail on this cardinal principle, making any claims of authentic Jewish expression irrelevant.

Jews for Jesus, an organization aiming at converting Jews to Christianity while at the same day observing the mitzvot, states the following as its central tenets: "We believe in one sovereign God, existing in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, perfect in holiness, infinite in wisdom, unbounded in power and measureless in love; that God is the source of all creation and that through the immediate exercise of His power all things came into being... We believe that Jesus the Messiah was eternally pre-existent and is co-equal with God the Father; that He took on Himself the nature of man through the virgin birth so that He possesses both divine and human natures." Whether or not they keep shabbat matters little. At heart, the theology of Jews for Jesus is identical to the theology of Baptists and Evangelical Christians.

Sid Roth's Messianic Vision's statements of faith reveal a theology more at place at a Baptist revival meeting, than in a synagogue or yeshiva. Same thing for the Chosen People Ministry, whose beliefs are at odds with Jewish beliefs. All Messianic organizations, while pretending to be authentically Jewish, are hostile to traditional and authentic Jewish theology. Simply wrapping a cross in a tallis does not make it Jewish. If something walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is reasonable to assume that it is a duck. Messianic groups, while preaching adherence to the Torah, fail on the cardinal test of theology. In that realm, they are purely Christian groups, masquerading around with Jewish objects. One can dunk the New Testament in a mikveh and put a hechsher on it, but in the end, if it Jesus Christ to be Lord and Saviour, it ain't Jewish.

It is important to discuss Christian misuse of Jewish symbols. By keeping kosher, putting on tfillin and saying the Shmah all the while believing in Jesus, one does not endear themselves to G-d. Quite the opposite. G-d demands as a basis that we remember we should have no other gods before Him, and that besides Him there is no other. Anything else is spiritual adultery. Bowing before Jesus, praising him and calling him divine is adultery with HaShem. "I am the Lord, that is My name, and My glory will I not give to another. Neither My praise to graven images!" (Isaiah 42:8) G-d does not share His glory with anybody, certainly not Jesus. Keeping the mitzvot while worshipping idols only angers G-d. It can be compared to a wife who suspects that her husband is cheating on her and to placate her, he gives her jewelry, a car and other fancy gifts. Coming home with another woman's scent on his clothes, his diamond bracelets are meaningless. They only make the wife angrier at her husband's betrayal. Similarly, if someone lights shabbat candles in Jesus honour, G-d is infuriated at the desecration. It matters little if a person keep the entire 613 commandments scrupulously; he is cheating on the G-d of Israel who shares His with no one, and has no equal.

As Yom Kippur approaches, we must all do a cheshbon nefesh, a spiritual accounting and realize where we have come short. It is incumbent upon each and every person to do teshuva and to return to the One who created them. The first step is realizing who the Creator is and who He isn't - and He certainly is no man. "To whom shall you liken Me and make Me equal and compare Me that we may be alike?" (Isaiah 46:5) "I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no god but Me, no savior except Me!" (Hosea 13:4)

To my readers, I wish you all a gmar chatima tovah.