Our community is fortunate to have Daniel with us functioning in the role of Mashgiach Ruchani; this is a pastoral position and is vital to how we at Tzemakh David move as a unified community and grow as individuals. Daniel, his wife Angela and their son have only recently relocated to the Northwest and we are glad to have them on board.
At Tzemakh David we practice halachic Judaism. We observe Jewish law according to the Shulchan Aruch and, nevertheless, we are “un-Orthodox”.
The label “Orthodox” is foreign to Judaism and has only recently been borrowed from Christianity. Before the haskalah or Jewish enlightenment Jews did not need to be orthodox, they were simply Jewish. During the haskalah we saw for the first time in modern history Jews organizing into religious bodies opposed to the observance of the Jewish religion, the Torah. With communities dividing over the observance of halachah, many Jewish organizations felt the need to assert themselves as “orthodox”. The orthodox movement was insistent on building walls to isolate Jewish minds from unwanted and seemingly dangerous influences.
Historically rabbinic thinkers were given the space to comment on the person of Jesus, even favorably. An example of this can be seen in the work of the Rashbatz (רשב"ץ) who argued against the church during the 1400's. His argument was that Yeshua had been an observant Jew. Today this position is widely accepted among Christians. Even as late as the 1700's Rabbi Jacob Emden was free to argue that Yeshua was torah faithful. It was his understanding that Christianity was the result of a Jewish outreach program to the nations. Rabbi Emden believed that Jesus hadn't come to start a new religion but instead He came to send His students to the ends of the earth publicizing the knowledge of G-d. We don't see those kinds of conversations happening among many orthodox Jews today. They were encouraged only if Christians would disagree. Today, no Orthodox Jew is free to articulate thoughts like those of the Rashbatz or Jacob Emden. But as we have shown, this is new. This is the innovation.
Not until the 1200's did any rabbinic thinker argue that it was forbidden to follow Yeshua. Certainly the Shulchan Aruch, the code of Jewish law, never approaches the subject. An argument is made that a Torah Jew would simply never think to follow Yeshua and so it was not needed to forbid such activity. This is absurd. Jewish law examines every detail of the human experience. From waking to sleeping, permitted activities and those which are forbidden are dissected and scrutinized. Believing that Jesus is Mashiach is not forbidden by any authoritative halachic source. Tzemakh David is a place for any Jew, even an orthodox Jew, but it was created by Jews who are simply Jewish.
Every gift of the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKadosh) that was at work within the community of Mashiach in the first-century is accessible today. The power of G-d's Spirit moving among His people enlivens our communities and strengthens our resolve as we are made aware of His Presence. Through the Holy Spirit which is a gift of Christ-Mashiach to His people we have a direct connection to HKB"H. The Holy Spirit imparts supernatural gifts for the edification of the Body and our service to the world.