Rabbi Yosi said: Let the property of your fellow man be as dear to you as your own. Prepare yourself for the study of the Torah, for the knowledge of it is not yours by inheritance. Let all your deeds be done for the sake of Heaven. (m.Avot 2:17)
Rabbi Yosi offers a piece of excellent advice that we need to pass on to each generation in order to ensure the survival of Messianic Judaism. He says, “Prepare yourself for the study of the Torah, for the knowledge of it is not yours by inheritance.” This advice is especially true for second generation Messianics. Do you remember the feeling you had when the proverbial light switch was flipped and you came to the realization that the Torah had not been abolished by Yeshua? Do you remember the sense of excitement and your insatiable curiosity when you discovered that the Torah was actually still applicable? Second generation Messianics do not have this type of drive to propel them forward. The only momentum they will have going forward is the inspiration we leave them fueled by what they create for themselves.
The children of self-made millionaires rarely appreciate the financial empire their parents have created. Since they didn’t have to invest their time and energies into creating the financial security they enjoy, they often squander their inheritance through foolish and impulsive choices. They have little value for wise counsel and long-term investments. Children who have been raised to appreciate the value of things earned, however, continue to value them long after their parents are gone.
Each generation must take ownership in its own acquisition of Torah. We can’t expect them to appreciate what we have worked hard to acquire. We cannot expect second generation Messianics to have the same zeal and fervor for the Torah that we have, without them discovering it for themselves. We must challenge them to think for themselves, encourage them to take greater strides, inspire them to great things, and teach them to study for themselves. We cannot expect them to just pick up where we leave off.
Paul, valuing the importance of generational discipleship, adjured Timothy to invest into others who would continue to pass on what they have learned to still others:
“What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
This is the essence of discipleship. When we make disciples, the result should be a disciple who is fully capable of making more disciples. We cannot be short-sited in this regard. Learning Torah for ourselves is not enough. We must do whatever it takes to allow the next generation to take ownership into what we have invested our lives into.
Yes, we have prepared ourselves for the study of Torah, because we realized that we did not inherit Torah. The next generation, however, may be tempted to believe that they have inherited Torah from us and therefor do not have to mine it as deeply or as diligently as our generation. If we can prepare them by engaging them in Torah and inspire them to have ownership into the work of the Kingdom, then Messianic Judaism will have a future we can look forward to. Only then will all of our “deeds be done for the sake of the Heaven.”