09:21 04Dec08 Leigh Ann Bookhout-Kohne -
Thank you for your article on Rabbinic Tradition. As always, I learn something
with each publication. I am a gentile who loves the Jew and Israel and I pray
for the peace of Israel who is Yeshua. The Lord bless and protect you as you
do His work and will.
09:41 04Dec08 Eliza -
I agree with your conclusions. In addition to Shabbat traditions (not the
prohibitions Yeshua objected to but all the good things), there are also
traditions associated with Sukkot and the other festivals, as well as beautiful
prayers and music. I would add, for the consideration of those attracted to
rabbinic Judaism beyond the scope you approve, that Yavne must be taken into
account (the threshold event in the 2nd century CE). Those present deliberately
reformulated Judaism to survive the loss of the temple and the diaspora, but in
doing so they negated the necessity of blood atonement and made it impossible
for anyone who proclaimed Yeshua as Messiah to stay in the synagogues. Any
fruit that came from that tree is - cannot help but be - poisonous. I concluded
this after years of reading and prayerful thought, but am open to correction if
you disagree. I consider you to be one of the voices of sane and
Yeshua-centered Messianic Judaism in our day, praise God for His Spirit poured
-- Dr Juster replies:
I would add a few points. There is controversy concerning Yavneh. Did
it really occur and ban Messianic Jews via a curse? Recently Daniel
Boyarin argued no, and that the story was a reading back in the later
Talmud. However, Oskar Skarsaune says yes. Rabbinic Judaism is not just
one tree that can only produce good or bad fruit. It is the culture
formation ground of the Jewish people and, as such and, as in any human
culture, it produces good and bad fruit. One could also say of the
Western Church after it officially rejected Israel, that it is a bad tree
too, but it is also a mixture with some good fruit and some bad. It is
not one simple tree. Discernment by those who walk in the Spirit is ever
the key. God has not left any culture without good things that come from
10:19 04Dec08 Andre Tavares -
I'm attentive to your opinion about Jewish tradition since I read Jewish
Roots but mainly your article "The value of tradition" (available on
Hashivenu). As a Social Scientist I'm conscious of tradition's role in
culture, but to me Dooyeweerd's explanation of it is amazing! In "In the
Twilight of Occidental Thought" he says that to accomplish the cultural
mandate we have to develop human culture (then all Creation) and unfold
the possibilities (in submitted partnership with G'd, as you say) G'd have
gave to us. So, H.D. says that tradition holds and preserves the memory of
one people, and it is important to collect and bring together all those
cultural material. Nevertheless, it's necessary to develop and freed the
spheres, the aspects of life, to differentiation and to reach complexity
and fullness. Tradition has, some times, lose control over culture,
forbear and give place to history processes of disclosure.
I think that Judaism gathered uncountable quantities of cultural material,
building one of (if not the most) incredible living tradition. But it's
out of time (delayed) to freed, to separate and classify it's traditon to
bless the nations of Earth. Haskala tried to do that and failed much than
had success, but German Judaism did what was a urgent need to put Judaism
up to date - I'm not saying about "modernization" but about awareness,
attention to own time.
But to develop, to do the proper use of our tradition, or other else, it's
necessary to be under G-d's rule, will, purpose and Sovereignty in
obedience. I think that neither ordinary Judaism or Messianic Judaism are
totally in this position.
We, Messianic Jewish, have much influence of free evangelical position
about tradition... they are dying for lack of doctrine, memory and
history, because rejected all of it. At least here in Brazil, we have some
pastors and leaders from "free background" looking for more traditional
churches (we have a little but consistent Reformed group of churches, and
others are joining Anglicanism) because they are seeing to where "free
evangelicalis" is leading them.
And just a question to you: Don't you think that even to understand G-d,
Yeshua, the Holy Spirit and Torah, and how to honor and obey them, we need
to be informed by a tradition, that is also a vehicle to G-d's had in
-- Dr Juster replies:
Few reference Herman Dooyweerd to me. Amazing! I have heard of this
book, but mostly reference H. D.'s Critique of Theoretical Thought that
sits in my library. I think it is not possible to read without cultural
tradition, but this does not make me a relativist, because we transcend
our limits in dialogue. H. D. sounds closer to H. R. Niebuhr in your
recounting than I would have thought.
10:58 04Dec08 Tom Dolph -
Anyone who knows me will tell you, I have an opinion about EVERYTHING! Not this
time. As an "outsider looking", I don't feel I'm in any position to add my
2-cents worth. However, YOUR opinion strikes me as showing more wisdom and
balance than anything I've heard or read thus far (including my own private
thoughts). I'll support YOUR position on the matter.
14:13 04Dec08 Sean Steckbeck -
That was very good!!!!!! I think we have alot to learn about the value of
tradition, especially as messianics, Jewish tradition. Recently, I have just
been amazed at the tradition of arts and paintings in the Catholic tradition to
tell stories to a people who can't read. As messianics, how much more should we
appreciate the covenant meals and the traditions that follow that teach the
family the stories and the Word of God by mouth through experience.
15:57 04Dec08 Marla Sternburg -
I lived in Jerusalem for 2 yrs and had very good relationships with many
Orthodox Jews. Often they showed more mercy to me than most Christians and
Messianics there. I was an Ambassador of Reconciliation - and treated them with
Love. They are not paracites - they pray day and night - which has held off
much Judgement vs. Israel and helped during Wars and Crises. They do Spiritual
Warfare and repent for Israel - in a like manner that we do. It is the same
Mitzvot. Most are very charitable and social minded. I have found them to be
more obedient to many New Covenant principles - because they are the same as
the Old Covenant - whereas the Church - which is zealous - is often lacking in
Compassion, kindness, mercy and supporting their own. While they are blinded
to the Messiahship of Y'shua - we also forget that we also used to be blinded
- and often came from more sinful and disobedient backgrounds than the
Orthodox Jews. Reb Y'shua Himself prayed and worshipped The Father/HaShem.
That's what they do - and they get the same answers to prayers, miracles and
healings! As Romans 11 says - They are blinded in PART - not completely
16:14 04Dec08 Raymond E. Wiggins Sr. -
Your "acrostic order of priorities" is in keeping with the wisdom of Yeshua
when He set the precedence for such cautious observance of "rabbinic tradition"
when He testified saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat,
therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do
according to their works, for they say, and do not do." (Matthew 23:2,3)
As you well pointed out, there are many "good" things that we can "learn" and
"practice" from those who "sit in Moses's seat" in their "rightful place!"
16:28 04Dec08 Simon -
Wise words, yet disappointing for in dealing with the challenges of our time
and various mixes of cultures, should we not look first to Scripture?
The Messianic community in Israel and beyond struggles for identity. It is not
the gentile church and it is not Judaism. Perhaps it could be be the gentile
church with added Judaism? But that is to treat Judaism as a cultural add-on
and ignore the foundation of our faith in the Hebrew Tenach and the Jewish
Yeshua. Perhaps it could be Judaism with added Yeshua, but Yeshua is no add-on
but the centre.
The Messianic community is called to distinct identity for that is its
prophetic role from the Tencah and what Paul sought also. That it was submerged
for so long, yet now has re-emerged illustrates how high the stakes are.
So, what does Scripture say? In Romans 3 and 9, Paul identifies the Jewish
distinctives as having been given the oracles of God, and having belong to us
the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants (plural), the giving of the Law,
the temple services, and shared ancestry in the flesh with Yeshua. Quite a list!
The oracles, the adoption, the glory, we can but humbly give away to those who
are grafted in with us. The temple services are not for the present. The Law
and some of the covenants are in some sense distinctive to us. And the common
ancestry in the flesh is necessarily specific to being a Jew.
So, it seems to me this points us toward understanding and helping others
understand the foundations in the Hebrew Tenach, and what the covenants and the
Law and the temple ceremonies reveal of Yeshua. In this, should we look to
mainstream Judaism? As Eliza points out, since Yavne, there has been as
deliberate turning away from the very things which signify Him. From the
Lord's viewpoint, it is Messianic Judaism which is true Judaism and what calls
itself Judaism is heresy. Should what is true measure itself by what is false,
can that be our plumbline? Surely not.
We can still look to rabbinical Judaism to understand what holds our people
(and perhaps to some extent ourselves), and to be able to dialogue with and
understand the culture. We can show where Judaic thinking has found it
difficult to avoid the implications of the Messiah. We can draw on what it has
carried into the present age of the feasts and traditions. We may find
illuminating commentary on Scripture by the sages.
But that does not make rabbinical Judaism part of us, even as the last of a
string of letters. And that makes the process of discovering our identity in
Yeshua all the more painful and difficult.
-- Dr Juster replies:
There are some good comments here. Well, I do think that our way of life
is part of us including. However, in my little list of letters there is
much more than can be said in two pages. Some is said in your response;
a supplement. However, the letter Y means that we really are attached to
Yeshua, to who he is in his cultural context of Jewish life in the first
century, as the Jewish Messiah. He is connected indeed to Torah, but He
is the living Torah. Torah includes what is described in Romans 9 and
all that is distinctly part of us. However, we can not say that the good
things of tradition are not part of us too. We have had 36 years of
Passover seders. For us and our children, this is part of our lives;
centering in Yeshua. All that is in Judaism without Yeshua has to be
transformed in Him if it is in keeping with the spirit of the New
17:10 04Dec08 Jeffrey Seif -
Bravo Dan! Instead of accepting the polarization between the old guard and the
innovative impulses and creative elements within our movement, you respectfully
look to move the conversation between both forward. This is why I find you one
of our more able theologians.
20:05 04Dec08 Peter Dickson -
You know, I don't always agree with everything you say. But this is a really
solid, well thought out article written in humility. I agree with your
conclusion that those whose primary focus is God/Y'shua/Spirit and Torah may be
able to correctly discern what parts of rabbinic Judaism are worth holding on
to. You are the man.
04:09 05Dec08 Even -
Yeshua is Torah (The Word). Those who honour Torah honour Yeshua even if they
don't know it. All Jews are commanded to keep the Law always everywhere and if
you not being Jewish is grafted upon the Tree should and will you not also
pertain of the sap of the Tree which is Torah?
12:00 05Dec08 Calvin E. Kaiser -
Once again, Dr. Rabbi Juster has hit a grand slam.
Succinct, compelling, and comprehensive, a Rauch led piece of literature. My
hope is that the reasonable, objective (think no idealogues) thinking,
Messianic community is listening.
12:13 05Dec08 Rose-Line Simon -
When you came in to teach a few years ago about this (keep what is good and
reject the evil) that was plain and simple and yet it has helped me, to live as
a Jew that I am, and also to shine (hopefuly) to those who watch me from
"outside". It's not burdensome as some suggest; it's clear, wise and it just
makes sense. I love the way you convey your message, you can bring simplicity
out of complexity. A true gift to us.
12:19 05Dec08 Rabbi DF Eukel -
First, your heart, head and hands display mature seasoning. You are clear,
concise and compelling while walking compassionately. You serve our Messianic
community well. Second, both your written work and the comments of the
community deserve publication by both audio & visual means - preferably across
the Internet for wider dispersion. I would encourage you to invite, much like
Dr Michael Brown, representatives of opposing viewpoints who will engage and be
engaging. Third, and finally, I am in strong disagreement with your acrostic.
It continues the digging in of the heels perspective of those who fail to
acknowledge GOD is Echad (not yachad) first, as our first faith foundations
fathers clearly understood. Additionally, we must anchor our spirit impressions
with The Spirit of GOD's Word first, not fourth, as your acrostic does.
-- Dr Juster replies:
The issue here was not the issue of authority which is of course the Word
of God. It was rather what from the emphasis of the Word of God we
should emphasize. These emphases arise out of the Word.
14:50 05Dec08 Jonathan Switzer -
This is a classic auto-immune disease problem. Due to the build up of bad
toxins in valuable organs, the body's immune system begins to think that the
organ itself is the problem and begins to attack the important organ. The
problem is not the organ but the poisonous toxins that have built up in the
organ. We struggle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and
powers and spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly realms.
17:36 05Dec08 JG -
Tradition and the role that it plays is a very difficult subject for those
hungry for fresh acts of the Ruach. Sadly. Few Holy Spirit focused
congregations have enough meaningful tradition in their lives and services
while the tradition centered invariably are Spirit-resistant. It is critical
that we make room for living manifestation "when we come together" without
losing touch with tradition.
18:36 05Dec08 Susan Fiedler -
Wonderfully balanced article and approach. In our small congregation we have a
wide range of observance of various customs. As each person follows as he is
led by the Spirit, our lives are enriched. Customs that point to Yeshua and
deepen our relationship with Him are wonderful. Those that don't should be
avoided. However, different customs have different effects on different people
at different times of their lives -- which is why freedom in Yeshua to follow
as led (but always within the overall framework of scripture) is so important.
21:54 05Dec08 Bruce Kelso -
Lord, grant us the strength of Jane O.'s daughter.
01:42 06Dec08 Dan (not Juster) -
So where does this leave us? Is it wrong to be Torah observant or only if we
are extreme or radical in our observance? Knowing that the first commandment is
to Love The Lord our G-d with all our heart, strength,mind and spirit, is
obeying His Torah loving Him or loving ritual? As messianic Jews are we to be
like christians and forsake our traditions? Or hold to our traditions and
alienate both christian and Jew alike (Christians who do not keep Torah and
Jews because they do not believe we can keep Torah and believe in Yeshua) so
what would Yeshua say of all this? Didn't HE keep Torah? Can we keep Torah and
Love The Lord and our neighbor at the same time? Wouldn't this be a real
witness to all?
-- Dr Juster replies:
The issue is emphasis. We are to abide in the Vine, Yeshua as our number
one emphasis. When this is in order, then we are to apply the Torah as
is fitting to the New Covenant order. Only abiding in the Vine, Yeshua,
and being filled with the Spirit enables us to obey the Torah.
09:42 06Dec08 Marion Carrozza -
I think your article is very good and truthful. I am a gentile and go to a
messianic group. I feel that the man is too legalistic. There seems to be no
joy in the group. I feel we should be celebrating Yeshua. I also attend The
Bridge church, which is part of JP Jackson ministry. I have been to conferences
with Dan Justine as speaker for as far back as 1988 while I lived in Brooklyn
NY. I've been part of Sid Roths ministry in 1988 in NY so I've been involved
in Messanic groups. Been to Israel 3 times. Will be going with Don Finto group
as we support the Messianic groups. But as a gentile I find some Messianic
groups too severe with the old laws.Yeshua came to give life more abuntantly.
I'm a christian 27yrs and before that a Catholic. I understand traditions. We
celebrate all the feasts and shabbot. My prayer is that Jew and Gentile truly
come together without all this pride business. I see Sid Roth with that kind of
love, also Jonathan Burnis, Kurt Landry, Robert Stearns.
-- Dr Juster replies:
The brothers you mention are all old and dear friends. We all emphasize
that our focus on Yeshua and the power of his Spirit must be first if we
are to apply Torah rightly and not fall into legalism.
11:23 06Dec08 PL Henry -
Excellent (metzuyan!!) article, Dan!! It is so easy to fall into to seeing
things as "either or", not as "both and". Thank you for presenting a godly
balance to a sensitive topic. Shalom.
05:48 08Dec08 Tibor Ruff -
First of all, sorry for my poor English. I am a new-born, Spirit-filled pastor
in Hungary. In main points I agree with your conclusions. I am a Ph. D. of
Jewish Studies, I earned it at the Beth HaMidrash (Jewish Theological Seminary)
of Budapest. My thesis was: 'The New Testament and the Torah'. My opponents
were a leading Jewish philosopher of the greater secular university of Hungary
and one of the chief rabbis (age 87), the best Talmudist in our country, and a
Christian theologian. They all agreed with me in the main points. I studied the
relationship between Jesus, the Twelve and Paul and the written and the oral
Torah in details. My final conclusion is: Jesus and His disciples did not
reject the whole oral tradition and did not accept the whole oral tradition.
Their relationship to it was SELECTIVE, CRITICAL and CREATIVE. This was usual
in their time, because Judaism was a PLURALISTIC world before the Churban.
There was no NORMATIVE JUDAISM then. Normative Judaism begun only in the galut,
because of the losing of the spiritual centre: Jerusalem, the Temple and the
High Priest with the Sanhedrin. What measure is a qav, a hin, a cubit? We know
all those only from the ancient halachas. Jesus never questioned those.
We know all those only from the ancient halachas. Jesus never questioned those.
What is the canon of the Tanach, which books does it contain? We know this only
from oral tradition (not one of the books in the Bible contains a list of the
canon). Jesus never questioned this. Which one is the authoritative text of the
Tanach (Septuagint differs in many points for example)? We know this only from
the masoretic tradition. Which is the right calendar (written Torah does not
solve the problem of the delay between the lunar and solar year)? About all
those unsolveable problems the written Torah itself gives the authority to the
High Priest and the judges of the Temple (Deut 17:8-13) to decide and punishes
with death who is unobedient to their decision. Jesus agrees with this (of
course, this is the written Torah itself!) even if the Priests and the
Sanhedrin are fully corrupt (Matthew 23:2-4), as they really were. This was the
main, very, very deep, hard and serious moral and social problem of the Jewish
society in His time for every honest and obedient Jew. After the Churban,
Sanhedrin lost this great legal authority, because in the Torah it is
explicitly connected to the Temple. The Sanhedrin of Yavne or Tverya doesn't
have so great authority. And so on. The rabbinic tradition has very many
levels. There are ancient halachas; the decisions of the High Priests and the
Sanhedrins of hundreds of years before the churban; the decisions of the
Sanhedrins and local authorities after the Churban; there are later halachas;
some of them made by simple rational conclusions; or simple local or general
customs; takkanot of rabbis of all times; and infinite number of sheelot
utshuvot and aggadot, and different opinions about everything. All these are
the oral Torah. ALL THESE LEVELS HAVE DIFFERENT AUTHORITY. For example, if
somebody denies the canon or the right text of the Tanach - it's a great sin
and false teaching, even if he is a Gentile Christan! If a Jewish Messianic
believer goes to an excursion with his family by car on Sabbath - this is his
opinion about the topic, no problem, I think.
SO IF SOMEBODY WANTS TO SAY SOMETHING SERIOUSLY ABOUT THESE MATTERS HAS TO
THINK IT THROUGH VERY CAREFULLY AND DEEPLY BEFORE SAYING ANYTHING. THIS IS WHAT
I REALLY WANTED TO SAY. THESE ARE REALLY ACTUAL AND IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO
JEWISH MESSIANIC BELIEVERS IF THEY REALLY WANT TO BE A LIVING PART OF THE BODY
OF THEIR HOLY NATION AND IN THE SAME TIME TO LIVE FULLY IN MESSIAH YESHUA AND
THE HOLY SPIRIT. A WONDERFUL, HAPPY LIFE!
-- Dr Juster replies:
I think you have a very good grasp here. I would only add that while
the Rabbinic tradition is largely post Temple as you say, it did begin
in the land of Israel after the destruction of the Temple.
08:47 08Dec08 Mary Drakeforrd -
I was most impressed with this article. I agree with everything stated. I
liked the acrostic because it is so true. We must first acknowledge the Father
and Jesus. The spirit is sent out to us then. It is written we can't get to
the Father without first going through the Son. Once we do that the Holy
Spirit will be sent to us. The Holy spirit represents the Father and Son. In
other words we have the complete Godhead working through and in our lives.
This is the best thing that has ever happened to be. Everything Christ said
in HIS word is true for those who truly believe. HE will give us power to
become a witness for HIM.
18:30 08Dec08 Moshe Liebschutz -
I am a Jew who is perplexed at how Messianic Judaism should instruct the goyim
to keep from being a stumbling block to his Jewish brother who is in fact
called to keep the Mitzvot. Currently, most gentiles act as if halachic
concerns are for the Jew only and, therefore, do not weigh in much as how they
should act when both are together, i.e. showing little reverence or minimal
regard for the Shabbat which I am called to uphold for my family. Why is there
such a vacuum in this regard?
-- Dr Juster replies:
Although the early Church rejected Marcion who rejected the Hebrew Bible,
the Church has always been confused as to the application of Torah. The
early Rabbis understood that the Torah applied to Jews and Gentiles but
in a different way. There were commands for Jews and universal commands
for all. All are to take the Torah seriously and seek to apply it in the
New Covenant order. If this were done, Christians would understood that
they are called to encourage Jews to be loyal to their Jewish life and