Because the burden of guarding the Testimony rests upon me, I will stand my watch, answering anyone who reproaches me for it. I belong to the assembly of the Testimony. I am a Hebrew and I fear the God of heaven. I am a Jew and behold, I observe the Torah, the written Torah and the oral Torah, and my soul is inextricably bound to Yeshua the Messiah. He is my life-breath, for he is my Savior King.
Chaim Yedidiah Pollak (Theophilus Lucky) was truly a remarkable man. He was born over one hundred years before his time.
He stood alone, along with a small handful of other Messianic Jews, proclaiming the importance of Torah and Judaism in the life of a Jewish disciple of Yeshua. He was viewed by his opponents as being much more focused on Judaism than the Messiah, given his Chasidic Jewish background and the fact that he never renounced it or fully abandoned it. Their accusations were wrong, for he himself proclaims unequivocally, over and over again, that Yeshua is his life-breath and his Savior King.
Only recently are Messianic Jews in bigger numbers starting to take his position deeply to heart. Only now are we realizing the importance of remaining connected not only to the “Jewish roots” or cultural heritage, but also to the religion of the Jewish people. Lucky was proclaiming this from the rooftops before we were even born—before the modern Messianic Jewish movement gained traction in 1960s America.
Lucky’s message was mostly rejected or unheeded in his day. With his death, his words also feel dormant to a large extent. This Messianic Jewish great is unknown to most in the Messianic Jewish movement. Perhaps this is one of the greatest tragedies, that his voice among his fellow Jewish disciples of Yeshua is still largely unknown.
For ten years Lucky labored in publishing his Hebrew journal Edut LeYisra’el (Testimony to Israel), incredible in its time for its scholarship, clear message, and new interpretations to gospel accounts and sayings of Yeshua from a purely Jewish perspective. The most amazing thing is that Lucky was adamant about writing in Hebrew, even before the language was fully resurrected in the land of Israel. As an outspoken Zionist, he chose Hebrew instead of Yiddish, working toward the goal of Hebrew being the lingua franca among Messianic Jews, and the Jewish people as a whole.
In 1916, on 1 Kislev—the month of lights, the month of Hanukkah—Lucky passed away. A bright light went to be with his Beloved, his “life-breath.” We remember Lucky this day, the hard labor he did for the sake of the kingdom, and we treasure his beautiful memory.
Vine of David has translated his words, researched his life, and published his works in the anthology Testimony to Israel. We hope that this incredible pioneer’s writings and testimony will not be further lost and that he can serve as a light and luminary as we continue down the path of maturity in the Messianic Jewish movement.