Am I Jewish?

I was asked recently if I am Jewish. (When I told somebody I was Messianic, she said “Wow, I didn’t realise you were Jewish”) It was a rhetorical statement rather than a question so I didn’t need to respond to it directly. But the answer is yes… but no… but it’s complicated.

I came very, very close to converting to Reform Judaism (I looked at Orthodox Judaism too) some years ago but, in the end, I decided that it wasn’t the right path for me simply because Jesus was too central to my life and thinking to give up. But in the process of studying and being in Judaism I discovered that being Jewish is much more than religion – it is a people and culture (and country!) that I love, and so I consider myself Jew-ish.

The name I took (Shoshana) is now an integral part of my identity. As the convert Ruth said, your people will be my people, your God will be my God. So in the simplest Ruth-ite sense, I consider myself one with the Jewish people even if I am not recognised as such.

But more than that I realised that, through Messiah, I am grafted in to the Olive Tree of Israel, as are all believers, whether or not they recognise either themselves or natural Israel as in any way connected.

I have taken a lot of Judaism (sabbath, the festivals, food and music etc) back into my Christianity, because I love it and I believe it is good and true. A lot of people don’t like it but I’m not about to conform to please people. And for a long time, I agonised over having one foot in both camps, but now I’m comfortable in that position.

I consider myself to be standing in the gap, a repairer of the breach. The nation of Israel and the Jewish people need the support and friendship of Christians, now more than ever. Those of us who are in the mainstream church can and should be a voice for Israel and the Jewish people for as long as they are able to be. The church, meanwhile, needs to rediscover the roots of its own faith in Biblical Judaism and it needs to be restored to the truth of Torah.

As I explained to a new believer recently, the antinomianism of the modern church is a very new phenomenon. The Roman Catholic church believed in law, but it believed that having the ‘keys of the kingdom’ meant that it could discard God’s Law and replace it with its own. The protestant church rejected that claim, but traditionally divided God’s Law into moral, ceremonial and civil / judicial, and kept only that which it considered to fall under the category of moral law. Messianic believers on the other hand see no basis for such a division.

Increasingly though, and very sadly, even so-called evangelical churches are becoming antinomian, crucially misunderstanding the nature of the Law, the nature of sin and the nature of sanctification. I was told recently by an evangelical group that ‘Christ put an end to the Law’, adding that the Law was only for Jews. That really is a twisting of the truth that Messiah fulfilled the Law, setting us free. It is not Law that we need to be freed from, however, but sin (Why would gentiles need to be freed from Jewish Law?!). But thanks to the so easily misunderstood writings of Paul, taken out of context, these misapprehensions persist.

Rediscovering Home

I have been thinking a lot lately about how very deeply blessed and privileged I have been to be able to stay at home to be a full time wife and mother and homeschool my children. I know many women who would have loved to have that opportunity, but were denied it. I thank God for my sweet, kind, generous husband who recognised how beneficial it can be for a family to have the wife and mother at home, and that it was worth giving up a second income for.

And yet I have found ‘homemaking’ frustratingly and discouragingly hard, and as much as I desired to be ‘domesticated’, it has been a struggle because I have both a lack of practical knowledge and a lack of natural talent in this area.

I have realised that I have allowed my heart to slowly drift away from my home and family, and as a result I have looked elsewhere for satisfaction, fulfilment, status, recognition and ministry.

But I can also pinpoint the time when my heart began to grow cold – it was when I lost my fifth baby in a row, and I realised that I would most likely never fulfil my dream of having a large family (which was integral to my overall vision).

I started my married life with a vision of very old-fashioned, traditional, back-to-basics homesteading, based on a mixture of Little House on the Prairie and the Waltons (and if I’m honest that’s still my vision and ideal – I love the videos from Homestead Blessings, for example), and my vision was encouraged by reading Mary Pride’s provocative books ‘The Way Home’ and ‘All The Way Home’, amongst others, which advocated many of the things I was aspiring to.

But my reality has been very far away from that dream – I’m living a frustratingly fast, modern life which, although we escaped the city, does include regular trips to town for activities (which I’m beginning to question the value of), and sadly doesn’t include having access to any land at all.

I still haven’t learned how to cook properly or knit or crochet or quilt! So the result has been overwhelming discouragement. Perhaps it was all just a silly dream?

And yet, I feel as though somehow I have abandoned my first love. I seem to have looked for God and ministry in all the wrong places, and finally He is drawing me back, and turning my heart back to my home, back to my husband, back to my children.

I spent years as a young wife and mother desperately searching and hoping and praying for a Titus 2 mentor, but there were none, not a single one. Nobody in the church, or in the Messianic congregation, were living out anything like the traditional Titus 2 role at home. So mothers like Mrs Ingalls and Mrs Walton were my role models.

Now I am in my 40s I realise that, whether I like it or not, whether good or bad, I am setting an example for young wives and mothers. That is an awesome responsibility, and I don’t want to let another generation struggle the way I did.

So as much as part of me has been longing to escape ‘failure’ – the failure of my dream life to match reality, I realise I need to make teshuva, to turn around and go back the way I have come, and find the peaceful, gentle path I was searching for all along.

My own particular vision of Godly womanhood may not be at all what young women are looking for or would aspire to at all. In a way, it’s irrelevant because that’s not the life I’m actually living.

But this is the way it is described in Titus 2:3-5:

“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”

I’m really just feeling compelled to meditate again on this passage and what it means, and I hope that, despite all my flaws and failings, my life and my lifestyle, such as it is, will be achieving those things and giving young women something realistic and truly Godly to aspire to. And may the word of God not be blasphemed.

Shabbat Shalom!

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