Is Judaism at a place where it can spread to the nations? - new book

For the first time in 2,000 years, current and former Christians from around the world are discovering that the Christian teachings with which they were reared include an abundance of deception.

 IT IS believed that about 22 million people from Christian backgrounds are expressing a new openness to Torah.  (photo credit: MENDY HECHTMAN/FLASH90)
IT IS believed that about 22 million people from Christian backgrounds are expressing a new openness to Torah.
(photo credit: MENDY HECHTMAN/FLASH90)

I used to believe that the Torah is the exclusive property of the Jews and was not meant for any other nation. 

I don’t believe that anymore. I was surprised to learn that the Hebrew Bible has plenty to say about non-Jews and that the very last person whose words are recorded in Hebrew scripture was Cyrus, the non-Jewish king of Persia.

I also used to believe that Jews should keep a respectable distance from Christians lest they try to convert us.

I don’t believe that anymore either. 

As a result of meeting hundreds of spiritually-seeking non-Jews and hearing about their fascinating and often painful religious journeys, I have undergone a seismic paradigm shift regarding the relationship between the Jewish people and the rest of the world. It’s a paradigm shift I believe the rest of the Jewish world needs to experience in preparation for the Final Redemption. 

Starting in 2014, I began to meet people, mostly current and former Christians, who are incorporating biblical practices into their lives. They recognize Shabbat on the same day as the Jews, they study the weekly Torah portion, learn Hebrew, eat “biblically clean” by avoiding pork and shellfish, support (and, pre-COVID, regularly visited) Israel and worship the God of Israel whom they call “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” or sometimes “Abba.” Many of them have ceased celebrating Christmas and Easter and have begun celebrating Jewish holidays, which they refer to as “the biblical feasts.”

In 2017, I published Ten From The Nations: Torah Awakening Among Non-Jews about this trend, which remains hidden to most Jews. I presented the story of how, for the first time in 2,000 years, current and former Christians from around the world are discovering that the Christian teachings with which they were reared include an abundance of deception. The stories of people coming toward Torah, even as they sometimes stumble in error, are inspiring because of how diligently they are seeking God’s truth.

Today, these people are expressing a desire to connect with Torah, the Land of Israel, the God of Israel and the Jewish people. They consistently report the mind-blowing, and soul-enhancing, experiences they have when they are exposed to authentic Torah teachings. 

How prevalent is this phenomenon? It is believed that there are approximately 22 million people coming from Christian backgrounds who are expressing a new openness to Torah. Although 22 million sounds like a huge number in comparison to the size of the worldwide Jewish community, in reality, it represents only about 1% of the world’s 2.2 billion Christians.

The very existence of millions of current and former Christians expressing an interest in Torah, buying Jewish books, learning to blow shofar, lighting Hanukkah candles and more, makes a lot of Jews queasy. Most Jews, who were educated to believe that the Torah belongs to the Jewish people exclusively, feel threatened when they first learn about this non-Jewish awakening to Torah, as if the non-Jews are stealing our identity. This is a common reaction, but it does not match the Bible’s mandate.

Over time, it became increasingly clear to me that the Jewish people have not only an opportunity but a biblical obligation, to teach and guide these sincere non-Jewish truth-seekers as they explore how Torah is relevant to them.

The prophets Isaiah and Zechariah teach that all of humanity will eventually come to know, understand and believe that there is but one true God. To the Jewish people specifically, God assigned the task of sharing that knowledge with the rest of the world.

Understandably, for the past 2,000 years, the Jewish people have been preoccupied with shielding ourselves from vicious attempts to forcibly convert, banish or murder us. During these long and bloody centuries, it was neither safe nor smart to try to share any of the universal wisdom of Torah with the world. As a result, most Jews have completely forgotten that God charged us with teaching others about Him. 

Today, we are living in a revitalized era. Millions of non-Jews are turning to the Jewish people, exactly as the Prophet Zechariah told us they would, and asking us to teach them about God and His Torah.

“So said the Lord of Hosts: In those days, when 10 men of all the languages of the nations shall take hold of the corner of the garment of a Jewish man, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” (Zechariah 8:23)

As a Jewish person who has publicly expressed a willingness to befriend and answer Torah questions coming from sincere, non-Jewish souls, I get to witness non-Jewish spiritual seekers asking questions like these:

“Who is this servant, this elect one, in Isaiah 42? Is it speaking about the Jews who should take Torah to the nations?”

“I have a question about biblically clean food. I understand the law against pork. However, as I try to eliminate pork from my diet, I’m discovering just how many things include pork products. Ugh! Can anyone point me to a list of products/food manufacturers that don’t use pork and are safe to use? I didn’t realize the use of pork was so pervasive!”

“When God said to Abraham He will ‘make him a father of many nations’ (Genesis 17:4) what do you understand of the nations? Is the nations speaking of all the people in the world or only of the tribes that came out of Jacob?”

A few months ago, a pastor in Texas wrote to ask: “Each Tuesday at 7 a.m., we study the parasha. I need a good way to explain Oral Torah to them. As you know, that is not well understood by Christians.”

Given the blood-stained history of Christian antisemitism, I understand that Jews are suspicious of this interest in Torah. I am no longer skeptical, because I have met and personally interacted with hundreds of people who explain their interest in Torah in terms that echo this woman’s story: “I was born Catholic. Left Christianity three years ago. I listen to Orthodox rabbis. I ask questions. I do not missionize. I realize I need to learn from the Jews for they know what God wants. I listen because I want to serve Hashem, even if I am only a Gentile.”

In response to the misapprehensions many Jews have, I recently published a follow-up book that focuses on how Jews are supposed to respond to this outpouring of hunger and thirst for Torah knowledge coming from the Nations.

The foundational idea presented in Lighting Up The Nations: Jewish Responsibility Towards the Nations Today and in the Messianic Era is that the Jewish people have a biblical mandate to share the Oneness of God, and the universal wisdom of Torah, with the rest of the world. Each Jewish contributor to Lighting Up The Nations explores what this new reality means for the Jewish people. 

Interestingly, every contributor to Lighting Up The Nations, including seven Orthodox rabbis, lives in Israel. I’d like to believe that the theological confidence that comes from living in the Land of Israel makes it possible for us to welcome, rather than be threatened by, the burgeoning non-Jewish interest in the universal wisdom of Torah.