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Should Christians Sit at the Feet of Rabbis?

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By Christine Darg

Jerusalem Channel

Last night as I was returning home in Jerusalem from a Bible study with Orthodox Jews, I was thinking this:

IF a Christian is well-grounded in doctrine and secure in salvation by faith in the finished work of the Messiah Jesus (Yeshua), it is a very blessed opportunity to sit securely at the feet of rabbis to learn and imbibe of our Hebrew roots without feeling that one must convert to Judaism.

Sadly, over the years of my association with Israel, I’ve seen many Christians “convert” to Judaism and in the process compromise their faith and even deny the Lord Jesus.

Some did so in order to obtain residency within the Land, and it’s possible that in so doing they made Israel into an idol.

But they were never properly grounded or related to the One who has the Words of eternal life.

Studying Bible with Orthodox Jews can be a very comfortable and enriching experience if one is well-connected to the Saviour who, after all, is at home in the presence of his own kinfolk. “Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.” (Hebrews 5: 14)

Once again last night I enjoyed enormously studying around the table of a rabbi whom I consider to be one of the many mentors in my life. As Christians, we have so much yet to learn from our elders in the faith.

I’ve also been to numerous Shabbat meals at this rabbi’s home and have always been welcomed, even though he knows I and my many guests are Christians. I’ve never sat under his rich teaching and not been blessed or edified.

I’ve observed over the years that this particular rabbi, like so many, embodies what the Jewish people call “Kiddush Hashem,” sanctifying God’s name with respectful words and holy actions.

I’ve hardly ever seen or heard a Christian guard his words and his speech as carefully as this rabbi does….consistently, refusing to speak negatively of people, continually (I’d even say routinely) releasing blessings upon people and situations, and so forth. It’s very refreshing and edifying to be in his company.

How many Christians consciously aspire to Kiddush Hashem on a daily basis, carefully watching our words and every action to honor God?

Kiddush Hashem and Hillul Hashem (Heb. קִדּוּשׁ הַשֵּׁם וְחִלּוּל הַשֵּׁם) are antithetical terms. Kiddush Hashem (“sanctification of the [Divine] Name”) and Hillul Hashem (“defamation of the [Divine] Name”) are complementary antonyms and denote the two aspects of one of the most significant concepts in Judaism. They imply, respectively, the glorification of the God of Israel and the diminishing of His honor.

The concepts are biblical in origin and are included among the 613 commandments:

“Ye shall keep My commandments and do them: I am the Lord. Ye shall not profane My holy Name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel; I am the Lord who hallow you.” (Lev. 22:31, 32) The entire nation was subject to these principles, although the priests were especially cautioned to avoid Hillul Hashem (Lev. 21:6; 22:2).

I personally am very conscious of words. This is because Jesus said in Matthew 12: 37, “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”

Indeed, “Men’s language discovers what country they are of, likewise what manner of spirit they are of. The heart is the fountain, words are the streams. A troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring, must send forth muddy and unpleasant streams. Nothing but the salt of grace, cast into the spring, will heal the waters, season the speech, and purify the corrupt communication. An evil man has an evil treasure in his heart, and out of it brings forth evil things.” (Matthew Henry’s commentary on Yeshua’s saying.)

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