A Jewish Response to The Dilemma of the Ger

Ruth of Moab, perhaps the most famous foreigner who embraced the God, the Torah, and the people of Israel. (Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Ruth in the Field of Boaz.)

Several weeks ago, Dr. Rivkah Lambert Adler published a captivating article in Breaking Israel News.  In “Are We Witnessing the Restoration of an Ancient Biblical Status for Non-Jews?”, she presented the biblical concept of ger, or foreigner, as a possible status for Torah-keeping non-Jews.  Soon thereafter I posted a commentary on Rivkah’s article entitled “The Dilemma of the Ger” as the first round of what she and I both hoped to be a point-counterpoint dialogue. 

I must apologize for the delay in posting Rivkah’s response to my remarks.  She provide them about a month ago, but the B’ney Yosef North America Summit and its aftermath have taken much of my attention in the interim.  Hopefully there will be no similar delay as we move forward.

What I hope you, the reader, will see in Rivkah’s remarks is a sincere heart seeking to make sense out of a development that is shaking her Jewish paradigms just as much as it is shaking the paradigms of those who have come from various Christian streams.  You, like me, probably will disagree with some of the points she makes.  In a few days I will post my next round of remarks to address those points.  In the meantime, please do not let disagreement cause you to throw out Rivkah’s entire presentation.  Look instead for those points of connection, and from there prayerfully see where we might build a relationship based on mutual respect and understanding.


A Jewish Response to “The Dilemma of the Ger

Dr. Rivkah Lambert Adler

I appreciate very much your willingness to engage in this conversation with me.  I acknowledge that we are both trying our best to be as sensitive as possible, despite the fact that these conversations have the potential to be excruciatingly uncomfortable.

My prayer is that Hashem helps me find the words that will touch the hearts and souls of those who desire to hear what the Torah actually says regarding the non-Jew.

Let me start where you started, with the definition of the word ger.  It’s a complex word in Hebrew and means so much more than stranger.  For the purposes of our discussion, let’s define Ger as a 100% kosher non-Jew. Hopefully, that definition has the potential to attract the attention of those who are drawn to Torah, but who do not wish to become Jews.

As a Jew, it was eye-opening to me to learn that the Torah has a complex, deeply satisfying, designated path for non-Jews.

Most Jews understand the world as divided into Jews and non-Jews.  As a result of my personal experiences engaging with sincere, spiritual and seeking people in the Hebrew Roots movement, and now with Gerim, I understand that this is a grossly oversimplified understanding.

The Torah itself offers a different taxonomy.  Ger exists as an additional Torah identity, poised between Jew and non-Jew.

For those non-Jews who are connected to the Torah, who wish to remain connected to the God of Israel in the fullest possible way, but who do not want to convert and become Jews, Ger offers a roadmap.

You are certainly familiar with the idea of a Noachide.  Some of the people in the Hebrew Roots movement with whom I have spoken have rejected the Noachide path because it does not offer enough spiritual richness.

They are absolutely correct.

When I speak about the Torah status of Ger, I’m speaking about something deeper and significantly more spiritually engaging than the status of Noachide.  A fully developed Ger is much, much more connected to the Torah, Hashem, the Jewish people and the Land of Israel than a Noachide.

Jacques Kotze, a leader of the Ger community in Cape Town, South Africa, compiled a list of qualities that define the Ger.  I want to share some of his definitions here.  According to Jacques, a Ger:

  • Is loyal to and has a burning love for Hashem, the Torah (Oral and Written), the Jews and the Land of Israel.
  • Doesn’t see himself/herself as a second rate citizen just because he/she happens to be not a Jew. Like a husband and wife so is with Jew and non-Jew/nilveh/ger.  The wife isn’t “less” than the husband nor the other way round.  To bring life both are needed.
  • Has an intense longing to see the end of the galut (exile).
  • Has a great longing for the coming of Mashiach, the third Beis HaMikdash [Temple] and the complete Geulah (redemption).
  • Understands his/her role in this process of bringing on the Geulah. (Moshiach ben Yosef).
  • Has a deep attraction to and love for the esoteric (Sod/Secret/concealed) dimension of the Torah (the Torah of Shem).
  • Strives daily to draw nearer to Hashem.
  • Is not interested in (however by all means not at all against) conversion to become a Jew as he/she knows that he/she was created a non-Jew for a very particular purpose.
  • Knows his/her purpose as a non-Jew in his/her role regarding tikkun olam (repairing the world).

I have been deeply moved by my interactions with individuals in the Hebrew Roots movement.  As a Jew, I’m used to protecting myself from antisemitism.  Meeting people who express such a feeling of closeness with the Jewish people is still quite novel for me.  That part is exciting, and feels like a partial fulfillment of what we pray for each time we recite the Aleinu prayer.

Aleinu is recited at the end of every Jewish prayer service.  It speaks of a time when all people will worship the God of Israel.  This idea is expressed in this part of the Aleinu prayer:

And for all living flesh to call Your name, and for all the wicked of the Earth to turn to You.  May all the world’s inhabitants recognize and know that to You every knee must bend and every tongue must swear loyalty.  Before You, Adonai, our God, may all bow down, and give honor to Your precious name, and may all take upon themselves the yoke of Your rule.  And may You reign over them soon and forever and always.

I have simultaneously been uncomfortable in my interactions with individuals in the Hebrew Roots movement.  I am uncomfortable because there is simply no way to accept the claims of individuals in the Hebrew Roots movement and remain within the parameters of the Torah.

There is no Torah category for Hebrews who are, in your words, “inextricably attached to Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ), whom we believe to be our Messiah, and whom we do believe is the incarnation of Almighty God.”

As much as I admire the sincere search for emet (truth) and the personal price that many individuals in the Hebrew Roots movement have paid for following their spiritual inclinations, the Torah does not provide me a way to accept the claim of a person who identifies as a Hebrew but who remains attached to Yeshua.  With the Torah as my guide, it is simply not a possibility.

There can be no denying that the price of accepting upon oneself the elevated status of Ger is to separate from belief in Yeshua as Messiah.  I understand that that price will be too high for many, perhaps most.  Nevertheless, I would be remiss if I didn’t present Ger as an option for a kosher Torah identity, as honestly as I can.

In the event that there are any, among the readers of this dialog, who are curious to know more about Ger as a Torah status, I encourage you to be in touch with Russell Kirk, who is a leader among Gerim.  He has agreed to engage in further discussion with any reader who has questions.  Russell lives in Texas and can be reached at rskirk999@gmail.com.



Dr. Rivkah Lambert Adler is a Bible and Prophecy Watch reporter on Breaking Israel News.  She made aliyah in 2010 from Baltimore, where her husband served as a synagogue rabbi.  Rivkah currently lives in Ma’ale Adumim, just east of Jerusalem.  On September 11, 2001, she became passionate about the Land of Israel and the Final Redemption, about which she has been writing, speaking and teaching ever since.  Rivkah also enjoys writing about women and Judaism and about making aliyah.  She has a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland.

© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2017.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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About Albert J. McCarn

I am a lifelong disciple of Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth, an avid student of the Bible, a devoted husband and father, a 29-year veteran of the United States Army, and a historian who connects people with their own stories.

10 responses to “A Jewish Response to The Dilemma of the Ger”

  1. Christy says :

    Interesting article. Personally, I am curious as to why Jews have an issue with Yeshua being Messiah – other than the obvious misrepresentation of Him that has occurred for thousands of years. Being a Follower of Yeshua, I can’t help but see Him all throughout the Torah!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Pete Rambo says :

      Christy,

      While I agree with you in believing that Yeshua is the Messiah, we must acknowledge that he has not finished the job. Our expectation is that he will, but there are many prophecies yet to be accomplished, therefore, the Jews are justified in their ‘wait and see approach.

      Like us, they await, eagerly, the Messiah, but because of millennia of injury in the name of Jesus, it is understandable that he is not widely embraced at this point. Zechariah 12, particularly v. 10 points to a mass turning in the latter days.

      May we learn to walk at peace with Judah and humbly repent for the sins of our fathers while letting the Father sort this thing out as He is clearly doing in our day.

      Shalom.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Rivkah Lambert Adler says :

      Christy, This excellent question has been answered by many Jewish scholars. Here is a link to a pretty comprehensive, yet accessible, answer: http://www.aish.com/jw/s/48892792.html

      This is the knotty issue Al and I discussed that we can never compromise our way out of, no matter how much good will exists on either side. For reasons outlined in the article above, there is no possibility in Torah to accept Yeshua as the long-awaited Jewish Messiah and that has been true for 2,000 years.

      I don’t mean to be unkind by stating it so plainly. That’s simply our bottom line, unshakeable reality.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Christy says :

        I did not see your reply as unkind. I appreciate you taking the time to respond. Like others have already stated, it is good to have an open discussion so that we can better understand one another.

        Like

  2. Margaret Louise says :

    Very interesting to hear her point of view. I look forward to the next post in this conversation!

    Like

  3. falconress says :

    I can’t wait for the continued dialogue.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ro Pinto says :

    It’s always good to engage in dialogue of this kind. It helps us to understand each other better.

    I am curious as to what Dr. Adler thinks of those in the Chabad–Lubavitch movement who hold to Rabbi Schneerson as Messiah.

    Like

    • Rivkah Lambert Adler says :

      Ro – From a Jewish perspective, there is a potential Moshiach (messiah) in every generation. The Lubavitcher Rebbe was a great and holy man who could have been the potential Moshiach when he was alive. However, once he died, according to mainstream Jewish thinking, he was no longer a possible candidate.
      The followers of his who think he still is are a fringe group whose belief holds no credibility with the vast majority of Jews.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Brian Somers says :

    Dr. Adler, I totally understand #1 in the Aish.com article of unfulfilled prophecy as being a deal-breaker. #2C in Torah Observance is changing. Mainstream Christianity does not recognize Torah Observance, but the Hebrew Roots does, so that point may no longer be valid. It’s #3 – National Revelation that particularly interests me, as I think that will have to happen once more to unite us, as one people.

    I think we are looking at Global Revelation (Deuteronomy 30:1-10; Ezekiel 36:22-32 NSRV)

    When all these things have happened to you, the blessings and the curses that I have set before you, if you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, 2 and return to the Lord your God, and you and your children obey him with all your heart and with all your soul, just as I am commanding you today, 3 then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you, gathering you again from all the peoples among whom the Lord your God has scattered you. 4 Even if you are exiled to the ends of the world,[a] from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will bring you back. 5 The Lord your God will bring you into the land that your ancestors possessed, and you will possess it; he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors.

    6 Moreover, the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live. 7 The Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on the adversaries who took advantage of you. 8 Then you shall again obey the Lord, observing all his commandments that I am commanding you today, 9 and the Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all your undertakings, in the fruit of your body, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your soil. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, just as he delighted in prospering your ancestors, 10 when you obey the Lord your God by observing his commandments and decrees that are written in this book of the law, because you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

    22 Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God, when through you I display my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. 28 Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will save you from all your uncleannesses, and I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. 30 I will make the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field abundant, so that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. 31 Then you shall remember your evil ways, and your dealings that were not good; and you shall loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominable deeds. 32 It is not for your sake that I will act, says the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and dismayed for your ways, O house of Israel.

    Like

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