Recently ORU had the opportunity to hear Rabbi Adlerstein of the Orthodox Jewish faith deliver an insightful message about Jewish culture and modern Christianity’s need for it.
One might find it interesting how an orthodox rabbi delivered a lecture about Jesus. However, there really should not be a disassociation between the Jewish culture and the Messiah. Jesus was Jewish after all. He was the fulfillment of prophecy spoken of in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament. The Old Testament where Christians still today read the Jewish law, Torah, and the Tanak. Therefore, as Christians, Judaism should not be a distant thought. Certainly then, it would not be wise to dismiss the Jewish culture as a Christian, but rather, Christians should acknowledge and learn from it.
When Rabbi Adlerstein came to visit, there was much to be learned. As a Torah teacher, a teacher of Jewish law at Loyola School of Law, and the director of interfaith affairs at Simon Wiesenthal Center, he has ample amount of experience with open discussion and engaging a Christian audience.
One of the main points he wishes for Christians to understand first is Torah living. A day-to-day way of life for him-gratifying and meaningful.
He said the law “Is important to Christians because without it, you can’t understand Jews and Judaism, which is first and foremost a legal system. And without understanding the role of law, you really can’t understand Christianity either.”
Jesus even did not stray “from accepted Jewish practice or belief,” Adlerstein said.
If Christians are to understand many of Jesus’s words such as those about the Sabbath, one must know “what he himself experienced with the Shabbat.”
Although for a Christian, it may seem as if this way of life only asks for constant sacrifices to God.
“I’m not sure that God is primarily interested in sacrifice,” Adlerstein said. “God is interested in growth, and connection with Him, and becoming more like Him. That’s really the theme of the commandments…The key is to hold nothing back.”
A beautiful statement indeed, “hold nothing back.”
While true, Christians are freed from the law through Christ’s blood, Jews, by the way, also believe it is the element of grace which in the end saves. And even though Christians and Jews of course disagree on some fundamental theological points, Adlerstein clearly intends to work with Christians, and knows the impact Christians and Jews may do as a team.
With Secularism on the rise and atheism growing in popularity and belief, the two can bring the knowledge of God’s existence to the world. It is in this secular world upon which Christianity grows as a minority.
He also spoke on how Christians are suffering in many of the same ways Jews have suffered too for many years.
“As far as physical danger, Christians are the new Jews,” Adlerstein said. “More Christians are threatened every day through loss of life and limb than any other minority.”
With such a statement, Judaism’s history and culture for a Christian remains important. Christians alas, must acknowledge Judaism for its impact and constant relevance. In the same way, Jews acknowledge Jesus for his. There is no getting around it for either party. Rabbi Adlerstein does well to inform, acknowledge and educate in this arena of Jews and Christians knowing one another and working together, and excels in teaching others to do the same.