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"The MJRC consists of a group of ordained Messianic Jewish Rabbis and associated leaders who share a common vision for Messianic Jewish practice rooted in Torah, instructed by Tradition, and faithful to Messiah Yeshua in the twenty-first century."

 

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Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council Standards of Observance

(last revised May 2007)

The Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council (MJRC) was formally established in May 2006. It consists of a group of ordained Messianic Jewish Rabbis and associated leaders who share a common vision for Messianic Jewish practice rooted in Torah, instructed by Tradition, and faithful to Messiah Yeshua in the twenty-first century.

The MJRC had its beginnings five years earlier. At that time a set of Messianic Jewish leaders from New England invited some of their colleagues from outside the region to join them in working on a common set of halakhic standards for themselves and their congregations. While other areas of Messianic Jewish life are of profound importance, such as worship, ethics, education, and social concern, we believed that halakhic standards had received far less attention than their place in Messianic Jewish life warranted.

The standards of observance contained in the present document are the fruit of our study and deliberation over the course of those five years. They embody in practical form the core beliefs and values that are at the heart of the MJRC.

While the MJRC commends these standards for the consideration of the entire Messianic Jewish movement, it recognizes the limits of its own authority. The decisions of the MJRC are binding only on the members of the MJRC. Nevertheless, we hope that others in the Messianic Jewish world will benefit from the work we have done.

Strictly speaking, these standards of observance are not "halakhic rulings." They are not authoritative determinations of how the mitzvot of the Torah should ideally be lived out in our contemporary context. While we began our work intending to provide such rulings, we eventually concluded that something else was needed.

The Messianic Jewish movement consists mainly of people unaccustomed to or uncomfortable with a traditionally observant Jewish life, and those we are seeking to reach for Yeshua generally have a similar background. In large part this results from the high rate of secularization and assimilation among twenty-first century Jews. However, this profile also fits our vocation as a movement for Yeshua within the Jewish world. Just as he came to seek and save the lost, and devoted his energy especially to reaching the disenfranchised among the Jewish people, so our mission is directed primarily to Jews who have little knowledge of or attachment to traditional Jewish practice.

In light of this reality, the MJRC decided that it should not formulate standards of observance that aim to be an authoritative interpretation of the Torah's contemporary requirements, but instead should articulate realistic and practical guidelines that point our communities toward the way of covenant faithfulness. We want to set out on a journey with Yeshua that will lead us all, in diverse ways, to a richer and fuller life of Jewish observance.

This document employs two terms that require special explanation. The first term is "basic practice." This refers to standards of observance that members of the MJRC are themselves committed to follow in their own lives. They will also seek to order communal events of their congregations in accordance with these standards, and will employ them in instructing those preparing for conversion. While members of the MJRC commend these standards of basic practice to all members of their congregations, they will not be imposed as requirements for congregational membership.

The second term is "expanded practice." This refers to a more demanding level of observance, beyond basic practice, that includes a fuller expression of traditional forms of Jewish life. An expanded practice is one that is explicitly commended by the MJRC, but is not required of its Rabbis or those converted under their auspices. The practices so listed do not exhaust the range of worthy expressions of Torah observance that a Messianic Jew might adopt, but provide concrete examples of the shape such observance could take.

This document includes two types of material. The main body of the document, in normal font, consists of decisions approved by the full Council. Each of these decisions derives from hours (and sometimes days) of Council deliberation. Together they constitute the Standards of Observance, referred to in the document's title.

The document also contains an explanatory commentary on the Standards, printed in a smaller font. Prepared by the MJRC Faith and Halakhic Standards Committee, the commentary aims to explain the meaning of the Standards, and the reasoning behind them. While the commentary is endorsed by the MJRC, it does not have the same level of authority for the MJRC as the Standards themselves.

Like most Messianic Jews, we acknowledge the Torah as the constitution governing all Jewish life, and seek to obey it in accordance with the teaching, example, and redemptive work of Yeshua the Messiah while also drawing upon Jewish tradition, especially those practices and concepts that have won near-universal acceptance by devout Jews through the centuries. This commitment to the Torah has motivated us to seek a common approach to its practical observance.

We rejoice in the opportunity to work together as Messianic Jewish leaders who desire to discover together what obedience to the Torah means for our daily lives. Like others in our movement, we are only beginning the journey. But we are determined to walk together, and to grow steadily in knowledge and observance of the Torah, and in faithfulness to our Righteous Messiah.