Rabbi’s Reflections – Friday, July 15, 2022
(Early) Shabbat Shalom,
Was Yeshua Successful? Part 10 of 10, Section 1
First, some “housekeeping” on the RR. Today is part 10 of 10 in Section 1. The title “Was Yeshua Successful?” is designed to address the real question, “Is Yeshua the Son of God?” I want to pick this subject up again in the (as yet undetermined) future. By no means have we exhausted the subject in only 10 (relatively) small RRs. After all, it took God the entire Bible just to get started.
Next Monday, I want to pick up with the series I previously suspended on the Sermon on the Mount. We got as far as Matthew 7:14 so that leaves us 15 verses to complete our Sermon on the Mount study. I know we didn’t quite finish that before we started this, but I needed these last two weeks to prepare for the service tomorrow (July 16th) with Cantor Moishe Bear. The subject is at his request. I’m praying he asked for it, so he can hear why I do believe in Yeshua. May the Lord open his heart.
Have you ever heard there are perhaps millions of Jewish people who secretly believe in Yeshua? These are people who have come to faith but out of fear of being ostracized from the Jewish community, including family and friends, they have become “closet believers.” Let me offer you several of my own personal experiences that lead me to believe this is true.
First, I met a man in America and later visited with him in Israel who has been a follower of Yeshua for many years. He is an ultra orthodox Jew in appearance and practice. He is Chasidic. For many years he lived in fear that his wife would find out he is a believer in Yeshua and divorce him. She had her suspicions, and finally they confronted one another only to discover they were both believers in Yeshua and had been keeping it from each other.
My second example also took place in Israel. I had been invited to dinner at a friend’s parent’s house. The matriarch of the family was quite open to the message of Yeshua (even intrigued by it), but the patriarch was quite closed to any mention of Yeshua, although they both knew their daughter and her family (and myself) were all believers.
After dinner, the patriarch of the family got up from the table to take their dog for a walk. As soon as he left the house, his wife (the matriarch) almost jumped across the table, grabbed my hand and said, “Tell me, what happened to you?”
She caught me by surprise. I asked, “What do you mean?”
She said, “What happened to you to change you from not believing in Yeshua into believing in Yeshua?” She wanted to know more. She was both hungry and thirsty. I told her what I could before her husband returned. I trust and pray she received the good news by faith.
Finally, in the late 1980s, my rabbi and I were invited to be interviewed on Christian television (in the Washington DC market). We arrived on time at the studio for the one hour live program. We brought our Torah with us. During the interview, we opened the Torah and brought the camera in close so everyone at home could see the calligraphy.
Suddenly, the phone lines of the TV studio lit up. The host of the program said nothing like it had every happened before. There were dozens of people calling in who were upset that we had removed a Torah from our synagogue and displayed it on Television. Who were these people? Obviously, Jewish people. But, why were they watching Christian TV in prime time? Curious minds want to know.
You may have already read my personal testimony. The history of it hasn’t changed, but the story continues.
Testimony of Rabbi H Michael Weiner, Messianic Rabbi & Cantor
I’ve titled this… “Because the Rabbi said.”
About the title… Sometimes as I was growing up, I would ask “why” questions about our Jewish practices. Usually the answer was the same, “Because the Rabbi said.” But there has to be more to faith than “Rabbi said.”
It’s Monday morning, September 27, 1982 and I’m sitting in the Yom Kippur service of Messianic Synagogue, Ohev Yisrael in Northern Virginia for the first time, with my (now late) wife, Ann, and my 3 daughters. At the age of 30, with a wife and of four children (our son was already grown and out of the house), I don’t believe like the rest of the people sitting there. After all, I had 2 Jewish parents and 4 Jewish grandparents. Note: All of them have now passed on as I write this. My point is, I’m Jewish and at that first Yom Kippur service, I was not sure why I was even there. I know I’m looking for answers to the questions I have been asking since I was an adolescent. Did the “rabbi say” or is there a higher authority? What do you do when the Rabbi changes his mind? (That happens sometimes.) Before continuing the story of that Yom Kippur in 1982, let me back up to my early childhood.
I was raised in the Conservative Synagogue, B’nai Israel on 9th Avenue, in Pensacola, Florida. We practiced our Judaism seriously. A typical week found me in the synagogue no less than five times.
- On Sunday morning there was TNT (Tallis and Teffilin) when young men and older men together would put on the Tallit (prayer shaul) and Teffilin (Phylacteries) then pray together. This was followed by breakfast and 2 hours of Sunday school.
- & 3 After public school on Monday and Wednesday I attended a one and a half hour Hebrew school class (usually waiting another hour and a half for my brother to finish his lesson).
- Friday night was the beginning of the Sabbath. The service began at 8:00PM, lasted exactly one hour and was followed by an hour of fellowship called an Oneg Shabbat.
- The next day, Saturday morning, there was another Shabbat service beginning at 10:00AM and lasting a couple of hours. This last service was a Junior Congregation completely conducted by young people and usually not attended by adults at all.
We had an orthodox rabbi in a conservative synagogue. He invested heavily in the children of our small community. He taught us in Hebrew school how to conduct the Hebrew liturgy of the worship service. I even served as the rabbi of the Junior Congregation for a year.
Mind you, I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m very thankful my mother and father took the time and other resources to bless me with an excellent Jewish upbringing. I never have to question my Jewish identity or wonder how I connect to the worldwide Jewish experience.
I had two good buddies while I grew up. We all did a lot of the same things together. One became a cantor in a traditional synagogue and the other became an ultra-orthodox rabbi. I, of course, became the leader of a non-traditional Messianic Jewish Congregation in Knoxville, TN. Although Shomair is non-traditional, anyone who attends will know it is an inclusive blending of traditional Judaism and first century Christianity, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
I always had a strong Jewish identity. In the Boy Scouts of America I received the Ner Tamid award earned by Jewish scouts who complete the requirements. In high school I was president of my BBYO (Bnai Brith Youth Organization) chapter, a part of the Cotton States district. In college I served as president of the Masada chapter at the University of Houston. Masada was the college youth arm of the Zionist Organization of America.
In 1976 my late wife, Ann, (she died of complications from a pancreatic tumor in 2018 after 42 years of marriage) and I were married in Houston by a rabbi from Port Arthur, TX, who was on loan to our Houston community, under a chuppah at the Shamrock Hilton.
Then, in 1982, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, at Ohev Yisrael Messianic Jewish Congregation in Northern Virginia, it was great to hear that we could repent, but we already knew that from the synagogue. In the synagogue, on the Day of Atonement, Jewish people all over the world pray that they will be written in the book of life for another year. At the Messianic Jewish service we learned we could be written in the book of life for all eternity. Why settle for the temporary when you can have the eternal?
Yeshua calls all people everywhere to put Him above everything else. He is a perfect fit to Judaism, which is filled with Messianic expectations. He calls us to be holy, to observe the commandments, to celebrate the feasts of the Lord (which are all part of Jewish life), in short, to obey God. In fact, in the book of Hebrews His name is called “more excellent,” His ministry is called, “more excellent,” and His sacrifice is called, “more excellent.”
More excellent than what? Not more excellent than the commandments, but more excellent than the Aaronic priesthood and the sacrifice of animals. He is a priest forever after the order of Melchizidek (made of two Hebrew words meaning “a righteous king”). The priesthood of Aaron sacrificed animals, Yeshua gave himself as the once for all time sacrifice. The rabbis have always known that when king and priest come together in one man, the Messiah has come. Yeshua is our Priest in His first coming, and will be the King in His second coming, and more excellent in both.
Back to my story… Three months after that 1982 Yom Kippur service we had been invited to attend a Sunday service with about 5,000 people in attendance, when the Lord continued to tug at my heart. I thought about accepting the call to come forward and give my heart to the Lord, but resisted, settling back in my seat with the thought that a decision of this magnitude deserves further scrutiny. At that moment the speaker said, “I believe there is someone here who is intellectualizing this decision. God wants you to know that this is not a decision made from your intellect or your mind, but from your heart. You give your heart to Him and he’ll see to it that you’re never ashamed.” I felt like he was talking personally to me.
I reached over and asked Ann if she would accept the Lord with me and she did. It was near the end of the altar call but I didn’t want to slink up the side aisle. Just like when we got married, we walked up the center isle while many people waited for us to get up to the front. Those steps began a walk that has lasted for 40 years now and will continue into eternity.
The following week, Ann and I were immersed in the Mikvah (Baptized) by David Chansky, rabbi of Ohev Yisrael. Beginning 2 years later, we accepted an invitation to serve as deacons at Ohev, which we did for about 8 years. We lived in Israel for a season in 1992 and 1993, then in Texas for 2 years before moving to Knoxville in 1995.
In 1997, in Knoxville, TN, just before Yom Kippur we founded Shomair Yisrael Messianic Jewish Congregation. It means Watchmen (or guardian) of Israel (the congregation has the same last name as our home congregation Ohev Yisrael). That was almost 25 years ago. We are amazed at the growth, both in numbers (which some would consider still very small) and in the quality of community life.
Two years after Ann died in 2018, the Lord did a marvelous work. He brought Jan and me together in a supernatural way (a testimony in itself, I will tell another time), and we got married under a chuppah on March 23, 2020. Today at Shomair, the Lord has brought the most wonderful people to serve Him with us. We are eternally grateful.
Jan and I are that “one new man” prophesied in Ephesians 2. We believe that Shomair Yisrael today is a manifestation of that reality… Ephesians 2:4a For He is our shalom, the One who made the two into one and broke down the middle wall of separation. 15b He did this in order to create within Himself one new man from the two groups, making shalom,
Please allow us the opportunity to explain in ways that we could never put in print that Shomair is where Jewish and non-Jewish people come together as one. We enjoy a personal relationship with the Jewish Messiah and personal relationships with each other. Yeshua unites us together as one. Feel free to contact me, Michael Weiner, at 865-414-4527 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Fri 15-Jul-2022 16th of Tamuz, 5782
\Nu 23:27-24:13 Eze 16 Ne 3 (Lk 12:1-34) Php 1
Memory Verse: Nehemiah 6:9 For they were all trying to intimidate us, thinking, “Their hands will become weak from the work and it will not be done.” So now, strengthen my hands!
141 7/11 Monday: Nehemiah 7-8
142 7/12 Tuesday: Nehemiah 9
143 7/13 Wednesday: Nehemiah 10
144 7/14 Thursday: Nehemiah 11
145 7/15 Friday: Nehemiah 12