The Difference in Being Jewish and Being Torah Observant
By Rabbi Yehudah ben Shoemyr
Being Jewish is unlike any other thing in the world. For when you say
"Jewish" you can either refer to an ethnicity or a religion, or both!
I Cor. 7: 17-19
19 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called
every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.
Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be
Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
What Rav Sha'ul is saying is that if you are a Jew (circumcised) when
you come to Messiah; don't become like a Gentile (uncircumcised).
likewise if you are a Gentile and you do not have to convert and
become a Jew to keep the commandments and serve Adonai. Gentiles
indeed have their place and purpose in the body. But there is also no ban if one sincerely wishes to become a Jew through the process of
For a Gentile who comes to the Faith they can either
officially convert if they so desire and become a full fledged Jew, or they can remain a Gentile and be as Acts records, a G-d Fearer (Acts
15) (See: "To Circumcise or Not to Circumcise, That is the Question"
in the book "Get Back to the First Century" by Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr).
However, even though it was left up to the Gentile if they
wanted to convert or not, it was almost expected of them after they began to serve YHWH and learn how to keep Torah. Many people
misinterpret the writings of Rav Shaul and say we don't have to keep circumcision. Okay, this is the crux of the issue.
argued "You must be circumcised to be saved. Circumcise first, teach Torah later." Rav Shaul said, "If you think your foreskin is your
ticket to heaven you are sorely mistaken. What sense does it make to circumcise first, only to have the convert disagree with some of the
commandments and say, ""This is not for me.", and splits. In this
instance the circumcision would have been all in vain, thus harming YHWH's name and reputation, and our reputation among the goyim
(gentiles) by publicly professing YHWH, His Torah, and His Messiah, then live contrary to that, no, teach Torah first then circumcise."
The reputation and responsibility of being circumcised is comparable
to that of Christian baptism. A potential convert to Judaism under went a year of training in the Torah (Acts 15:19-21). My point being
is that following Torah, obeying Torah is not the same thing as being Jewish.
There are not two covenants, one for Jews and one for
Gentiles, for both Hebrew and Gentiles (mixed multitude) accepted Torah upon themselves when the Torah was given at Sinai (Exodus 12:38,
Ex. 19:8) (See: "Torah: All for One and One for All" in the book "Get
Back to the First Century" by Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr). There is not
one faith, two expressions.
The Torah is incumbent upon every
believer. Granted, not all 613 Commandments apply to one person. Some are for Men, Women, Kings, Israeli Farmers and some are for the
Levitical Priests, but there are some that is applicable to all and not to be confused with "Jewish Customs".
For example, kippot (head
covering) have become a custom, albeit based on Torah, but not specifically mentioned in Torah. But tzitzit (fringes) (Num. 15:37-41)
on the other hand is a commandment for everyone, not just for Jews.
You don't have to eat challah bread, chullin, gefillta fish, lox and
bagels or a falafel, but you do have to eat kosher (See: "The Root of Kashrut" in the book "Get Back to the First Century" by Rabbi Yehudah
"For most Christians, the commandments which they have a problem with
are commandments which deal with the Sabbath, Feasts, dietary laws, and miscellaneous things like tzitziyot (fringes), mezuzahs, beards,
etc. These things are dismissed as "Jewish rituals, just for the Jews to do until Christ came."
Yet the Bible nowhere singles out these
commandments from the rest of the Torah and says that they are just
for the Jews. Nor does the Bible say that these commandments would be
abolished by the coming of the Messiah. People think of these things as Jewish practices only because Christians abandoned them centuries
ago, and the Jews have continued to practice them. But the Bible does not give one set of rules for Jews and a different set of rules for
non-Jewish believers. "Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am YHVH your G-d."
(Lev.24:22)." – Daneil Botkin of Gates of Eden publication
Most Jews agree on observing all 613 Mitzvot, but we all differ on
how, and to what extent we keep the Commandments. The way any particular Jewish sect keeps the Commandments is called, "Halakah",
meaning, the way one walks. Keeping Torah doesn't mean one looses their cultural distinctiveness.
In Judaism there is Sephardic Jews,
Yemenite Jews, Ashkenazi Jews, Netzari Jews etc. These are all Jews
who follow and keep Torah. Yet within these and other groups, there is
enough room for them to keep Torah in their own way, and maintain their unique cultural identity, such as dress, food, music, customs
etc. Each group has their own way of tying tzitzit, and laying teffilin. The Torah says to do them, but not how. Culture and custom
help define this, as Frank Sinatra sang, "I did it my way!" And each
group's way of fulfilling the Commandments vary and are so pregnant with meaning and depth. And so too, I see no problem with Gentiles
who accept the Commandments of Torah, the Messiah and serve the G-d of Israel but decide not to official convert to have their own customs
that distinguish them from Jews, as long as the customs do not violate the Laws of G-d. For example, I have a good friend from Burundi Africa
who is a master drummer; he indeed can use those drums and his talents
to worship YHWH in a Torah way.
However, remaining a Gentile and not officially converting does not
make a Gentile a "second class citizen" but they will be certain things a Gentile will not be able to do, and places they will not be
able to go.
This is because certain commands were given to the Jews,
not as a double standard, for these particular commandments are not of a moral nature, but are in commemoration of the Exile from Egypt. For
instance and uncircumcised man may not eat of the Passover lamb (Exd.
12:48). But since the Temple is not standing and we therefore do not sacrifice lambs, eat them, nor even have lamb to eat at modern seders
this has become a moot point. However, when the Temple is rebuilt and Passovers will be as they were back then, a Gentile can come to the
seder, but not eat of the lamb. In a similar way a non-Levite cannot eat of sacrificial meat (Lev. Ch.7, Ch.22). Speaking of the Temple,
there is a section called the court of the Gentiles in which a Torah Observant Non-Jew may worship, but he cannot go any further unless he
officially converts to Judaism.
Many would site that the 7 Noachide Laws are for the Gentiles.
However, that is purely a Rabbinical invention based in Torah. I do not believe in the Noachide Laws for reasons stated above.
Yeshua didn't come to start a new religion, but to bring into fullness
the original one and desires everyone to be apart of it in their own cultural way.