Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Circumcision – Outdated Legalism, or Loving Obedience?

The Word of the Almighty (Torah) is such a beautiful creation that is perfect and good in every way. It teaches us how we are to love Him and draw close to Him and also how to love and care for our neighbors too. But there are religions, like Christianity/Messianic, Hebrew Roots and even Islam, who believe and teach that it is old and outdated to some degree or another. Such people see the Torah as a list of do’s and don’ts. These are the people who do not know or understand the heart of the Torah or the Almighty at all.

These people also only see the Scriptures in a very shallow way and cannot see or recognize the true depth, meaning and value of the Scriptures. What that leads to, is simply a lack of understanding of many teachings and, therefore, the belief that many of the ancient customs are outdated and no longer necessary today. But to someone who dedicates his life to the pursuit of truth and understanding and the deeper study of the Torah, this idea of being outdated is absolutely ludicrous. What some might perceive as redundant, to another person it is a great treasure and overwhelming wealth.

Maimonedes (Rambam) explains, so clearly, the differences between the Torah Jews and other religions, that might seem to resemble that of Torah Judaism. It is this that he wrote to the Jews who were living in Yemen, who, at that time, were being persecuted and was facing forced conversion to other religions, in that case it was to Islam. Rambam wrote these letters to support the Jews and encourage them to stay strong in their beliefs. In one of his letters, he wrote the following:

  “Our religion differs as much from other religions as a living person differs from a lifeless statue, which is ever so well carved out of marble, wood, bronze or silver. When an ignorant person sees a statue that superficially resembles man in contour, form, features and color, he thinks that the structure of its parts is similar to that of a human being. But the informed person, who knows the interior of both, is aware of the fact that the internal structure of the statue shows no skillful workmanship at all, whereas the inner parts of man are marvelously made.

So too, a person ignorant of the deep meaning of the Bible, and of the deeper significance of the Torah, would be led to believe that our religion has something in common with another. True, both contain a system of religious observances; but the tenets of other religions, though resembling those of the Bible, are merely superficial imitations. People have modeled their religions after ours in order to glorify themselves

One of the biggest controversies surrounding the Scriptures is that of the circumcision. Many teach that it is

If your argument is, “but I am too old,” Then please spare a thought for Avraham who was 99 years old when he circumcised HIMSELF. He did so because of his love and devotion to the Almighty Creator, without any hesitation at all.

Now, let us look at the different views and understandings of this commandment and see which view is shallow and deceitful and which is the one who knows the deeper rooted understanding of this commandment.

As noted above, Christianity/Messianic believe that it is redundant and not necessary to perform anymore. Some do it because they want to, for health benefits etc, and not because it is a commandment. Some may do it because the Torah teaches so, and often because their friends are doing it too, but they are few and far between. They claim that Sha’ul (Paul) taught that circumcision is not longer necessary and that in Acts 15 it was done away with. We will discuss this case further below.

Now let us see what Judaism teaches on this subject. This section was taken from Jewish commentary of the Torah from the Torah portion mentioned:

”Regarding the commandment of the circumcision (Gen 17:9-14).

From the sequence of this chapter, it is clear that the blessings of the children and possession of the Land depended on circumcision, a connection that is also implied in the second blessing of the Blessing after Meals.

The symbolic significance of this commandment is indicated by the name of the flesh that is removed in performance of the commandment – “orlah,” commonly translated as ‘foreskin,’ but more accurately, as it is used in Scripture, ‘a barrier’ standing in the way of a beneficial result. For example, the sinful habits that predispose a person not to change his lifestyle are called the ‘orlah’ of the heart (Lev26:41; Jer 9:25; Eze 44:7).

Thus, although this concept is beyond human understanding, circumcision is a means to help the Israelite ennoble himself and return to the spiritual state of Adam before his sin. As the Sages teach, Adam was born circumcised, but after his sin his foreskin was extended and covered the organ (Senhedrin 38b), as a symbol that he had created a barrier between himself and set-apartness.

By removing the superfluous skin covering the organ of continuity, circumcision teaches that man must eliminate the natural barriers blocking his advancement. But circumcision’s capacity to accomplish this is not a logical outcome of the physical act; to the contrary, it is metaphysical. This aspect of circumcision is symbolized by the commandment that it be done on the eighth day of a boy’s life. As Maharal teaches, the natural order of Creation involves cycles of seven, such as the seven days of the week and the seven years of the Shemittah agricultural cycle. The number eight represents the concept that one can rise above limitations of nature. By commanding Israel to circumcise its male children on the eighth day, Elohim taught that the Israelite’s ability to remove the barriers to his spiritual ascent transcends the natural order of life. Nevertheless, Elohim gives man the ability to do it – and since he can, he must.

A commandment consists of two parts: the physical act and its underlying moral or spiritual teaching – and neither is complete without the other. Just as it is not enough to perform the commanded deeds if they are denuded of intellectual and moral content, so it is not enough to philosophize on the commandments and seek moral improvement without actually performing the commandments. Hence, the physical act is the covenant, but it is also a sign of the covenant’s deeper meaning.”

Can you see the difference? The one sees the commandment as a redundant obligation whereas the other sees its true value which is removing the barrier so that we can come closer to the Almighty. The one view is humanistic and the other is recognizing the love for YHWH. Also notice how valuable and important it is to analyze the Hebrew text for the absolute truth. You will not find this information in any English translations at all.

So what about Acts 15… does that not teach that circumcision is not necessary for Gentile believers? Well, lets analyze it a little bit together.

And certain men came down from Yehudah and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised, according to the practice of Mosheh, you are unable to be saved.”” (Act 15:1). Here we see that certain Y’hudim were teaching that new believers must submit to all the Torah straight away, including the Circumcision. But this is not possible for new believers as it takes a lot of study to know the whole Torah.

So when Sha’ul and Barnabah had no small dissension and dispute with them, they arranged for Sha’ul and Barnabah and certain others of them to go up to Yerushalayim, to the emissaries and elders, about this question.” (Act 15:2). Sha’ul and Barnabah were not disagreeing with the Y’hudim with regards to the circumcision, but rather when it was to be introduced to the new believers. This is so that the new believers would not be frightened off. So they went and sought counsel.

Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the gentiles who are turning to Elohim, but that we write to them to abstain from the defilements of idols, and from whoring, and from what is strangled, and from blood.” (Act 15:19-20). Here it is clear that only new believers from other nations (non-Jews) who were turning to Elohim (Torah Judaism). They were taught that there are a few things that they have to immediately obey without question. These things are:

1) Abstain from the defilement of idols:
now redundant and that it is not necessary to perform anymore. The reason, so often being, that the men are just too afraid to go and have such a delicate organ operated on. So they simply try to justify their fears by teaching that the Messiah is the new covenant and that we do not need to be circumcised any more and all sorts of non-sense like that. This is a very humanistic point of view where the person stands in the center instead of the Almighty being in the center of one’s belief. Is it not written that the Messiah came to live as an example for us and that we must follow in his footsteps? Was the Messiah not circumcised? (Luke 2:21).

1) Defilement of Idols
a)      Eating meat offered to idols
b)      Speaking in the names of idols (Exodus 23:13)
c)      Having an idols image or statue in your home
d)      Riches and popularity etc.

2) Whoring:
            a) Do not commit adultery
            b) Do not have any sexual relations with anyone other than your husband or wife
            c) Do not follow the teachings of men
            d) Do not turn away from the Word of the Almighty to follow other false teachings

3) What is strangled:
            a) Any meat that comes from an animal that has been strangled, which is a kosher law

4) Blood:
            a) No blood is allowed to be eaten, for the soul is in the blood (Kosher law)
            b) Do not murder
            c) Women’s monthly cycle laws

These things are absolute no-no’s for anyone who turns to the faith of the Messiah, and have to stopped immediately if they are still being performed. But that is not where it ends. The chapter goes on to say:

For from ancient generations Mosheh has, in every city, those proclaiming him – being read in the congregations every Sabbath.” (Act 15:21). Here is the key to the entire chapter. Because the new believers do not know the whole Torah, they need to go to the Jewish congregations on every Shabbat to learn Mosheh (Torah) so that they can know how to live their life in righteousness and serve the Almighty in truth.

As one learns the way of righteousness, he is then required to live accordingly. That is why the new believers went to learn Mosheh, so that they can learn righteousness and changed their old practices and habits in favor of the teachings of the Torah. So when it came to the section in the Torah which speaks of the Circumcision, the new believers then, out of their own desire to obey and serve YHWH, became circumcised, because that is what the Torah teaches. In fact, the Torah makes it very clear that no person can partake in the Passover if he is not circumcised in the flesh.

It is very clear that, neither Sha’ul, nor any other disciple ever taught that it was not necessary to be circumcised. Only through the twisting of Scripture and trickery, do the Christian/Messianics teach this false theology.

Let us end with the following Scripture of a prophecy:

‘Thus said the Master יהוה (YHWH), “No son of a foreigner, uncircumcised in heart OR uncircumcised in flesh, comes into My set-apart place, even any son of a foreigner who is among the children of Yisra’ĕl” (Eze 44:9).

Do you want to go into the Set-Apart place of the Almighty, or do you want to be rejected and denied entrance because you did not want to become circumcised, and chose to keep the barrier between yourself and the Almighty Creator of the heavens and the earth?

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