We Are Bereans

Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
Acts 17:10-11

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Ruminations

Passover Preparation: Getting Rid of the Chametz

And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.
Matthew 24:12

I have noticed a disturbing tendency in myself. It is not a new trend, unfortunately, just more pronounced in recent years. I do fight it. I do try not to succumb to this natural tendency – after all it is so easy to slip into it. What am I speaking of? I am speaking about speaking evil of others.

You may immediately be relieved that gossip is not “your sin” – but I assure you, it is not that easy. I am not what you call a “gossiper” – I don’t normally talk about other people’s failings. While some people do gossip, that is not where the problem starts. That is merely a symptom of a common disease. The common disease of “speaking evil” does not have to involve audible speech.

Yeshua told us that in the latter days, “because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” The word is anomia. It literally means “Torah-lessness.” When we read this verse, we often think that the “many” being named are those that are participating in the increase of “Torah-lessness.” Certainly, where the restraint of HaShem’s commandments is not found, violence and evil are ever present. However, if that was what Yeshua was speaking about, it is a sign of every day since we left the Garden. No, I think it is speaking about love growing cold in the hearts of those who know HaShem’s Torah. When we, who know the peace that comes through living the commandments of the Creator, begin to look down on those that do not, our love grows cold. There is great danger in this.

Sadly, I am not alone in this trend. “Majoring in the minors” has become the favorite pastime it seems in Messianic Judaism at large. When we begin to see ourselves (or our halachah) as better than others, we are in danger of our love growing cold. We need to not only speak well of others, but we need to assume that their shortfalls are unintentional, whereas ours are with full awareness.

In his “Letter for the Ages,” Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (RAMBAN), gave his son this wise council:

And now, my son, understand and observe that whoever feels that he is greater than others is rebelling against the Kingship of HaShem...

Therefore, I will now explain to you how to always behave humbly... Consider everyone as greater than yourself. If he is wise or rich, you should give him respect. If he is poor and you are richer or wiser than he, consider yourself to be more guilty than he, and that he is more worthy than you, since when he sins it is through error, while yours is deliberate and you should know better!

I am so saddened when I hear well-meaning people say things like,

  • “Those guys are so clueless. They tie their tzitzit on their beltloops!”
  • “If I hear another ‘praise song’ or mindless prayer, I will scream! These people need to understand true worship is not entertainment.”
  • “We find we just can’t eat with our family any longer. Their pantries are full of unheckshered food!”
  • “No, we stopped attending there. All they do is ‘Davidic Dance’ and they don’t even use a siddur for prayer.”
  • “The Baptist church at the corner is doing it again! Having a bake sale on Shabbat! I don’t care if it is to raise money for hurricane victims!”
  • “I am sorry, we can’t eat with your family. We only eat organic.”

Beloved, if I offended you in my list, you need to know I also offended myself. It is as much a danger to think more highly of ourselves (and our “right” way of doing things), as to have no standard at all. HaShem is quite clear in His word about the nature and path of pride. Matthew 23 should be more than a reference in our Messianic Apologetics. It should be a cautionary tale as well.

There is a better way to live faithfully – and to encourage others to do the same. Love.

The Rebbe Nachman of Breslov said in reference to Daniel 12:3:

“‘Those who turn the many to righteousness will be like the stars forever.” … The main rectification will then be brought about by turning many to righteousness. The most important spiritual work of the righteous will be to judge everyone favorably, finding the good points of even the very lowly. It will be through this that the Final Redemption will take place with the coming of Mashiach.”

Am I saying that we go to the extreme of calling evil “good” and good “evil”? Certainly not! Nor am I saying that our observance of HaShem’s commandments be compromised. However, we need to start seeing the good that others do, and acknowledge it for what it is: a reflection of the only Good One, HaShem Himself.

How do we turn many to righteousness? By consistently living out HaShem’s commands. In love.

Love sees others as better than ourselves. It considers their “halachah” as valid. In our rightful desire to rid our lives of chametz, let’s consider another thing in our preparation for Passover this year: Love. Love for the Breslovers. Love for the Baptists. Love for the Charismatics. Love for the Presbyterians. Love for the Two-Housers. Love for the Karaites. I could go on… Maybe even love for those who are intolerant of others…

Perhaps, when we love, we will not only ignite the love for HaShem in others’ hearts (which will lead to more righteousness!) – we might better rekindle it in our own heart as well.

 

 

 

 
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