Thursday, March 24, 2011
(This is a picture of an eruv that I found at http://bokertov.typepad.com/btb/2007/12/boulder-eruv-fr.html)
I was watching the Daily Show from Wednesday night and one of the reports was about an eruv that Orthodox Jews want to put up around Westhampton Beach. I don't know a whole lot about Orthodox Judaism, but according to myjewishlearning.com and wikipedia (I know, not the most reliable sources) the eruv is an enclosure around a home or a community that allows observant Jews to carry things on the Sabbath. Basically, God told the Jewish people not to work on the Sabbath. Jewish scholars include carrying babies and other things within this command to not work. Obviously, if you have a baby you have to pick him up and, by this definition, work even on the Sabbath. So they created the idea of the eruv. It is a symbolic wall set up and within this "wall" you are allowed to carry certain things on the Sabbath. The segment on the Daily Show was about discrimination and some other things, but as Drew and I have been memorizing Romans 8 with our church family and this idea of an eruv really caught my attention.
The way I see it, the Orthodox Jews know that they cannot fulfil the law. They (and we) are not capable of doing everything that God requires. These Jews also know that they will be judged according to the law. So they have created a loophole. They are still breaking the law, but they can feel justified because of their human tradition. As a Christian, I am so thankful that I do not have to rely on tradition to feel justified. God's word tells me "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you, through Christ Jesus, from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses could not save us, because of our sinful nature. But God put into effect a new plan to save us. He sent his own Son in a human body like ours, except that ours are sinful. God destroyed sin's control over our lives by giving his son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the requirement of the law would be fulfilled for those who no longer follow their sinful nature but instead follow the Holy Spirit." Romans 8: 1-4 NLT. How wonderful that we do not have to rely on ourselves to fulfill the law on our own, or to create our own loopholes, but we can simply turn to Christ and God has done it for us!