June 2012 - Derek Leman


I see Messianic Judaism as the intersection of Judaism and Christianity and an important place from which the Holy One will advance messianic redemption in the lives of people everywhere. With many mentors, I have become zealous for the practical work of growing Messianic Judaism and the people in our congregations into a learned and faithful community far exceeding what we have attained. I believe that four areas in particular will characterize us if we commit ourselves to learning and doing what God has given as our responsibility in repairing the world. I call them the four M's.


Messiah. I learned from Rabbi Dr. Kinzer that Yeshua has not been absent from Judaism in the two millennia since he walked among us. I also learned from many mentors that Yeshua has not been absent from the Church. I believe we are uniquely placed to learn Messiah from Jewish and Christian sources and to see the benefit of the Holy Spirit's work from within Israel and from within the nations. Writings such as Tsvi Sadan's recent The Concealed Light (2012, Vine of David) exemplify what our people can learn and be a witness to in Israel and to the Church.

Midrash. I learned from Rabbi Carl Kinbar that Israel has since the early days of the Common Era had a tradition of theology, theodicy, and devotional reflection on God's love which is in the midrashic writings of the sages. The New Testament reflects a similar kind of thinking, a similar use of Hebrew Bible passages, and in some places explicitly uses midrashic styles of discourse. Rabbi Kinbar is currently working on a book (tentatively titled, Sages of Galilee) that explores Midrash and its relevance for Messianic Judaism. This book, I believe, reflects what we can learn, practice, and communicate as a movement to our people and the Church.

Mussar. I learned from Rabbi and Rebbetzin Jason and Malkah Forbes that there is a Jewish tradition of great depth exploring our inner qualities as lovers of God and people.  I find that Christian devotional literature has much in common with Jewish mussar literature. I believe our movement is uniquely placed to communicate a higher order of ethical and spiritual living drawing on both reservoirs of wisdom about character and deeds. I believe Riverton Mussar (an online learning community) represents what we as a movement can witness to our people and the Church.

Mysticism. I learned from the writings of Umberto Cassuto that the Immanence of God is a theme throughout Torah and Nakh. I learned from Rabbi Dr. Kinzer that a tension between rationalism with emphasis on transcendence on one side and mysticism with emphasis on immanence has existed for a long time in Jewish history. The breach between the Church and Israel has contributed to a retreat from belief in Divine Immanence. As we believe the Shekhinah (and all the fulness of divinity) has taken on humanity in the person of Yeshua, I believe our community uniquely is able to communicate Messiah's divinity and the presence of the Spirit.

I see my calling as spreading enthusiasm for these things and encouraging disciple circles (the method of the early sages, whose situation in many ways parallels our own) to increase learning and practice of them.

Derek Leman



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Read more about Rabbi Leman on his profile page.