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A Discussion of Messianic Judaism, the Emerging Messianic Jewish Paradigm, and Related Leadership Issues from the Preoccupied Mind of Rabbi Stuart Dauermann, PhD.

All Contents ©2004-2007 Stuart Dauermann - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Cube Model of Messianic Jewish Spirituality

Among the challenges facing Messianic Judaism is defining the elements intrinsic to its own spirituality, balancing those elements, and relating them to the person and work of Messiah, Jewish tradition, and what we have been taught about the Holy One, Blessed be He. This model attempts to address these concerns via a visual metaphor

The Cube Model of Messianic Spirituality is a six sided cube, with each translucent side representing one of six aspects of Messianic Jewish Spirituality: Torah, Avodah, Gemilut Hasadim, Ritual Life, D’vekut, and Mitzvah. The Cube is made of stained glass, and the leading joining all the sides together is comprised of a compound of three ingredients, [acronym, EMeT]: Emunah [faith, faithfulness]; Masorah [tradition]; and Teshuvah [Repentance, Return]. The Light within the cube is the Divine Presence, and through any and all of the sides of the cube shines the image/face of Messiah who is Himself the embodiment of perfection in Jewish Spirituality in all of its aspects. The cube may be rested on any of its sides, depending upon situational and personal factors.

The choice of six sides and therefore six aspects of Messianic Jewish Spirituality is arbitrary, although the model seems comprehensive. One might just as easily have chosen four or five elements, or more than six.

The sides of the cube are translucent, signifying that while each side retains its unique character, one can view the other sides [and thus aspects of Messianic Jewish Spirituality] through any one of the sides. In addition, each of these sides is illumined by the Divine Presence and each reveals Yeshua.

One of the sides is Torah. Torah is holy instruction rooted in the Chumash, the Tanakh in its entirety, and the sacred texts and related discussion in Jewish life, including the B’rith Chadashah and holy teachings related to it.

Another side is Avodah. Avodah is the life of prayer, especially liturgical prayer.

A third side is Gemilut Hasadim. Gemilut Hasadim, “Deeds of Lovingkindess” signifies the ethical dimension of Messianic Jewish life, founded upon Imitatio Dei (the imitation of God) and treatment of all humans as bearers of the Divine image.

Ritual Life is a fourth side. As per Lawrence Hoffman, I would define ritual as “the habitual scripted, and repeated patterning of time so as to commuicate, preserve, or create meaning and achieve satisfaction by means of anticipation and fulfillment in a context of shared [communal] understanding.” The short definition is “what we habitually do at established intervals as a means of conveying or preserving community values, meaning and identity.” [see Lawrence Hoffman. The Art of Public Prayer: Not for Clergy Only].

D'vekut is the fifth side. D’vekut is cleaving to the Divine. In Hasidic circles, this is seen to occur through cleaving to the Tzaddik, the Rebbe who is seen as the intermediary between the community and Hashem. It is Yeshua who fills that function in our communal life: by cleaving to Him in faithful obedience, we experience the Divine Presence in transformation, empowerment, and intimate communion.

MItzvah is our sixth side of the cube, Mitzvah is the awareness and acceptance of living under covenant and commandment. As members of the Community of Iisrael we may obey, or disobey, but we cannot avoid the commanding voice of God embodied in His commandments, which are not irksome when embraced in reciprocal love.

The cube is constructed of stained glass. Stained glass is used for its colorfulness, its connotation of the holy, and its translucent nature. Just as stained glass only stays together because of the leading joining piece to piece, so Messianic Jewish spirituality adheres through the presence of the compound of Emet--Emunah, Masorah, and Teshuvah.

Emunah, faithfulness is an important constiutent part of our "leading." Messianic Jewish spirituality will not work if one is simply going through the motions. Emunah signifies not simply agreement, but rather ongoing commitment founded in trust and evidenced in faithful living.

The second component of our leading is tradition, or "Masorah." Messianic Jewish spirituality is lived out in the context of
Jewish community both relationally and conceptually. We seek to live among, with, and as our fellow Jews, informing our practice by the canons of Jewish tradition.

Teshuvah is the third component of our leading. Teshuvah is a lifestyle of returning again and again to faithfulness
to the G-d of our ancestors, walking in his ways, and returning to those ways whenever we wander from them. It also signifies the imperative for Messianic Jews to repent of departure from the ways given to our fathers, and to return to Jewish life out of faithfulness the covenant between our ancestors and our God (See Deut 29:10-15).

The Divine Presence illumines our spirituality It must be the Divine Being who illumines our spiritual lives and who is revealed through our spiritual disciplines. In addition, the Divine Presence [the Ruach HaKodesh] illumines Yeshua to us, who is seen through the disciplines of Messianic Jewish Spirituality. In addition, the Divine Spirit empowers our lives individually and collectively as the people of God.

At the center of all of this, exemplifying the life to which Messianic Jews are called is Yeshua, our Righteous Messiah. The Incarnate Word, Yeshua, is our spiritual model, who embodies the spiritual perfection toward which we strive.

Any model of spirituality must make allowances for individual differences. Accordingly, the cube may rest on any of its sides depending upon the temperament, giftedness, development stage, or life situation of the individuals involved. Some would argue one or the other side to be primary. Historically, Torah has been regarded as foundational in Jewish life—the side upon which the entire cube rests. However, in practical terms, each of us has one or the other aspects of the cube which is foundational to the others in our life and experience. For example, it appears that functionally, Avodah, the life of liturgically informed prayer, was foundational to the life of Abraham Joshua Heschel. In my own life, at one time study/Torah, that is guidance from our holy texts, was the foundation upon which everything else rested. Later, it was Avodah that undergirded all the rest.
What is written here pertains especially to those under the holy bonds of Israel's covenants with God, but I trust there is something here for all of us to contemplate.

And of course, there is more that could be said.

At 11/06/2006 2:26 AM, Anonymous rohel bat carlito said...

I think that six sides are necessary to have a cube. Five sides would be The Pyramid Model (which could have negative connotations), and I can't think of what four sides would make.

So, having six sides isn't arbitrary (from the cube's perspective).

At 11/09/2006 3:59 PM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...


Sorry to be late in getting to your message.

Of course if you wanna have square sides and be three dimensional, you'll have to get used to be a cube!

And from the cube's perspective, of course, six sides is the norm!

BTW, have you ever read a little classic called "Flatland?" I have not yet, but have been told that it explores what it would be like living in a two dimensional universe when someone three dimensional shows up--some see it as an allegory for the Incarnation. Your posting reminded me.

Amazon comments on "Flatland" and a later related work "Sphereland," saying:

"Unless you're a mathematician, the chances of you reading any novels about geometry are probably slender. But if you read only two in your life, these are the ones. Taken together, they form a couple of accessible and charming explanations of geometry and physics for the curious non-mathematician. Flatland, which is also available under separate cover, was published in 1880 and imagines a two-dimensional world inhabited by sentient geometric shapes who think their planar world is all there is. But one Flatlander, a Square, discovers the existence of a third dimension and the limits of his world's assumptions about reality and comes to understand the confusing problem of higher dimensions. The book is also quite a funny satire on society and class distinctions of Victorian England. The further mathematical fantasy, Sphereland, published 60 years later, revisits the world of Flatland in time to explore the mind-bending theories created by Albert Einstein, whose work so completely altered the scientific understanding of space, time, and matter. Among Einstein's many challenges to common sense were the ideas of curved space, an expanding universe and the fact that light does not travel in a straight line. Without use of the mathematical formulae that bar most non-scientists from an understanding of Einstein's theories, Sphereland gives lay readers ways to start comprehending these confusing but fundamental questions of our reality."

Fascinating, as was your whimsical question!



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