Respecting the Mechitzah

As I am a woman and I was in an orthodox synagogue, I stood behind the mechitzah (dividing wall) and prayed in unison with the men, which I was more than happy to do.

This mechitza was created for the Suburban Torah Center in Livingston, New Jersey, and features carved glass ornamentation. (Image: Toksook at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

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The dual ministry of First Fruits of Zion and Vine of David continues to bear fruit. While First Fruits of Zion focuses on bringing the teachings of Messianic Judaism to the Church, Vine of David focuses on creating resources for the Messianic Jewish movement and presenting the authentic, Jewish Yeshua to the Jewish people.

A Day with a Scholar

Yesterday I had the great privilege of meeting with a wonderful Jewish scholar at his home in New York. I was invited to do so because recently our Vine of David materials caught his eye, and he was extremely impressed at the beautiful quality of work, the authentic Jewishness of the work, and the specificity that the work has to our Messianic Jewish community. I, in particular, was invited to meet him due to where I currently live, which is in close proximity to him, and due to a book of rabbinic commentary that I have translated from French into English that he was very eager to read.

This beautiful man wanted to learn more about Vine of David, Messianic Judaism, as well as my own personal history of entrance into the Messianic Jewish world. We exchanged ideas; I was able to speak to different view points that he holds since I am fairly familiar with them, and the dialogue was one of complete respect and honesty. He asked me the "elephant in the room" question, the question that all Jews need a spiritually and intellectually honest answer to, a question and concept that is the hardest for Jews to accept, a question that most people don't want to answer: "Why do you believe in a divine messiah?"

This is a huge and convoluted question that cannot be answered in one or two sentences, nor can it be sufficiently answered with a few choice Scripture verses; but I did my best to openly and honestly answer one of my favorite questions. He explained to me his difficulty with this concept, and the red flags that it raises, which I completely understand. I was transparent and told him that according to my view points, nothing is entirely valid if we cannot see a precedent for it in Judaism. (Of course, Scripture is included in my definition of "Judaism" as it is the absolute foundation and beginning of Judaism.) We were in complete agreement on this point, so I proceeded to explain why I believe in a divine messiah, referencing the old Jewish theology of the Memra (Word or Logos) of HaShem as taught about in ancient Jewish literature such as the Zohar, the Aramaic Targums, and of course in the first chapter of the book of Yochanan (John) [for more information on Memra theology see Chronicles of the Messiah on Parashat B'reisheet]. I also offered some verses from the Tanach that identify acts that Messiah is to perform which indicate a more-than-simply human Messiah. Being the gentleman that he is, he listened to me with great patience and understanding.

The conversation concluded in great respect for one another and in a clearer understanding of each other's views. He had asked me questions that perplexed him; I asked him questions that perplexed me, and most importantly, we constantly searched for — and consistently found — the common ground that unites our faith: Judaism and the traditional understanding and performance of it. In reality, we agreed on close to 99% of the issues we discussed, our main difference being the identity of the Jewish rabbi from the Galilee.

Where there is warmth, there is thawing

Lastly, before I returned home, he took me to his synagogue nearby where I was able to pray minchah/ma'ariv (afternoon and evening prayers) with him and other men in his community. As I am a woman and I was in an orthodox synagogue, I stood behind the mechitzah (dividing wall) and prayed in unison with the men, which I was more than happy to do. The sweet gentleman that I had come to visit was very kind and came behind the mechitzah to make sure I was able to follow along with the very fast-paced prayers in the completely Hebrew siddur. I was doing just fine. It was a beautiful and moving experience praying to God in this tiny, adorable little synagogue together with so many pious Jewish men.

This entire interaction with the scholar was a huge blessing for me. I pray it was for him as well, and it will be a sweet and fun memory for me. I am humbled to have even been provided the opportunity to have an audience with such a great thinker, and I am grateful to HaShem for this amazing opportunity. It is encouraging to know that the work of Vine of David is bearing great fruit among the Jewish people and has started a dialogue that would not have occurred had Vine of David not been adamant about retaining an authentic Judaism in connection with rabbinic tradition, illuminated and informed by the glorious revelation and teachings of Messiah. I pray that more great Jewish minds will be intrigued by the resources of Vine of David, but even more importantly, may the works of Vine of David cause these brilliant Jewish minds to become intrigued with the Messiah, Yeshua of Nazareth.

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About the Author: Jordan Levy is a staff writer for First Fruits of Zion and Vine of David where she also serves by translating from Hebrew, French, and Italian into English. She is dedicated to strengthening her community and providing linguistic and theological teaching. More articles by Jordan Levy

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