March 10, 2016
The Internet. It is a boon and a bane. On the one hand, it connects people from across the globe that would have never had an opportunity to be in community together. On the other hand, it is a plethora of information, and everyone knows it takes a great level of discernment to sort out the good from the bad.
As a disciple of Yeshua Ha Moshiach, I derive a great amount of anxiety about the mass number of Rabbis available to learn from on the world wide web. I can only imagine in the First Century, how people met Yeshua. In my mind, or what I can best surmise from the writings, He would walk from town to town, and meet people in the market place, while at work….even at the well (which is probably where he would have found me). Back then, a person would have had days or weeks of time to become acquainted with a Rabbi before being invited to leave their father’s home and follow.
Today, however, one simply needs to go to youtube, and type in any keyword (Rabbi, Torah, Judaism) to find themselves an internet Rabbi. In a world where “Do It Yourself” is the craft of the day, this initially seems like a blessing. And yet, many problems arise from this model. Like, how do we “know” the Rabbi is credible? Where is his smicha? More importantly, how is it possible to determine the fruit of his teachings from the internet alone? And then there is the issue of living in community…how does one truly “do community” (a necessary ingredient to proper halacha) on the internet? But, that is an issue I will tackle in later posts.
And while this problem is sure to persist, we cannot overlook that fact that the internet, in so many ways, has brought the Torah and the message of Yeshua into too many homes to throw out the “baby with the bathwater.”
In the past year, I have had the delight to learn from two Messianic Rabbis, whom have earned my trust and respect: Rabbi Itzahak Shapira, and Rabbi Yehezkel Italki. Together with Rabbi Steven Bernstein, they have an online Yeshiva called Shuvu.tv. I am not a student of this Yeshiva, but do participate in online services, including the occasional youtube video.
What interests me in this team of Rabbis is that they are focused. They are passionate about empowering believers to interface with Normative Judaism without sacrificing trust in Yeshua.
Case in point: On February 24, 2016, they hosted a live Question and Answer session on Youtube during which they fielded questions from both disciples of Yeshua, and opponents of Yeshua. Out of this Question and Answer session arose the need to host a live debate with one of the loudest internet opponents to Yeshua, Asher Mezer, on February 28, 2016.
During the debate, several issues were discussed, sometimes heatedly, but most important, the commonly spread viewpoint of the Yeshua counter-missionaries: “The very idea of Yeshua’s life being given for a nation of people is contradictory to the Torah itself!” Rabbi Shapira and Italki were able to clearly articulate how the life of Moshe set a precedence, as a foreshadow of Yeshua Rabbeinu.
But, don’t take my word for it! You can view the Q and A session
and the debate session
for yourself. The debate, in and of itself, was informative and extremely helpful to my personal walk. I was most impressed by the very obvious depth of respect and love they all had for each other- a sincere desire to remain brothers, despite the disagreement. This is something we don’t see very often in passionate debates. Good fruit. And yet, I would probably not have posted about it, except for one detail….
The word says to judge no man, but by his fruits he will be made known. (Matt 7:16) and The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. (Proverbs 11:30)
I will let you judge for yourself.
On March 1, something remarkable happened. To quote from his Facebook page, “Today I received the news that a Jewish man that I been praying for, for almost 2 years received Yeshua. His letter truly put me in tears. This is why I am involved in ministry. Not for debates, not for arguments, not even for teaching, but to see all of Israel being saved. Sometimes people do not understand what we are involved in. I will take hundred stones, and thousand curses and abuse to see every Jew in the world receive the true Jewish MaShiach. – R’ Itzhak Shapira”
It is my hope that one day Rabbi Shapira and Rabbi Italki will invite an even more credible representative of counter missionaries to a debate. Maybe even Rabbi Micheal Skobac!
Blessings on you all, as you walk out Torah and imitate Yeshua Meshicheinu!
To learn more about following Yeshua in a Hebrew way, go to www.HolyLanguage.com or search Holy Language Institute on youtube.