A kind of anti-Judaism pops up quite often from Christians looking at Judaism from the outside. It also can be seen coming from the thought of some Messianic Jews, non-Jews in Messianic Jewish groups, and people in Hebrew Roots communities.
I am not talking here about anti-Semitism. I am not talking about racism of any kind. That, obviously, is deplorable.
No, I mean a gentler but still insidious disdain for the set of historic practices of the Jewish people — what is known broadly as Judaism. Most people are fine with bagels and cream cheese, even matzo ball soup. Sprinkle a few Passover references into a sermon or bring up the existence of “completed Jews” or something like that and people are fine.
But when people encounter Jews who actually practice their religion, something quite different happens. When someone sees an Orthodox Jewish boy with peyot (sidelocks of hair) and/or strings draping down from their belts (tzitzit, ritual fringes), there is a certain wagging of the head. When a Jewish person attends a meal and it is discovered she does not eat shrimp or pork, there is a certain roll of the eyes. If Friday nights and Saturdays are observed, this seems to some people an excess of religious fervor.
Among some Messianics and Hebrew Roots people there is a love for “Torah” in some general sense, but often a little scorn for traditional Jewish observances. The false notion of “biblical Judaism” often arises or “written Torah only.” Tradition is thought by some to be something Jesus opposed (which is silly, since all people, religious or otherwise live according to traditions).
Well, this isn’t a long post. I simply discovered something I wrote way back in 2006 when I used to attend a conference of Christian missionaries to the Jews. Yeah. I used to do that. And increasingly I saw the error of my ways back in those years. I realized that these Christian missionaries (many of them Jewish and belonging to well-known Jewish evangelistic ministries) would say out of one side of their mouths, “Replacement theology (supersessionism) is wrong.” But they practiced their own kind of replacement theology.
Over the years I have pointed out that many who use labels like Messianic, Hebrew Roots, Two House, Ephraimite, One Law, One Torah, and Sacred Name, also practice a sort of replacement theology (non-Jews who keep Torah become de facto Jews, replacing, you know, actual Jews).
Well, anyway, back at a conference in 2006 I wrote the following paragraph. My old friend and a brilliant teacher who has influenced my like, Rabbi Stuart Dauermann, quoted me in an article he wrote in 2011. Here is what I said:
Many . . . are still infected with anti-Judaism while at the same time being pro-Jewish. It is as if we imagine you can love Jews and oppose the religion that has preserved Jewish identity. It is Judaism that has held Jewish people together, even though many do not practice it. Judaism the religion is what led to the succession of Brit Milahs (B’ritot Millah) through the ages, entering Jewish boys into the covenant of God. It is Judaism that led Jews to marry other Jews and not assimilate into the surrounding cultures. It is Judaism that has caused Jewish people to remain distinct, keeping Sabbath and dietary law as God commanded in the Bible. Without Judaism there would clearly be no Jewish people.
I actually read that aloud at the conference. I’ve never lacked chutzpah.
Here is the full article by Rabbi Dauermann: “Another Mold Infestation to be Wary of.”
Now, here is where I would love to see what you think in the comments.