Russ Resnik encountered Yeshua as Messiah in the early 70s as a young radical in the mountains of northern New Mexico. Later, he was drawn into the Messianic Jewish movement and founded Adat Yeshua, a Messianic congregation in Albuquerque, NM, which he led for nearly 20 years. Today, he serves as executive director of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC), an association dedicated to establishing, strengthening, and multiplying congregations for Yeshua within the wider Jewish community. Russ is ordained as a Messianic Rabbi through the UMJC and also maintains credentials as a clinical mental health counselor. He has an international speaking and teaching ministry, contributes regularly to Messianic Jewish publications, and is the author of Gateways to Torah: Joining the Ancient Conversation on the Weekly Portion,Creation to Completion: A Guide to Life’s Journey from the Five Books of Moses, and Divine Reversal: The Transforming Ethics of Jesus. Russ and his wife Jane live in Albuquerque and have four children and seven grandchildren.
Our Messiah warned us, "For I say to you, if your tzedakah is not greater than the soferim and the Perushim, you will not come into the kingdom of Heaven." (Matthew 5:20, DHE). We often interpret that sentence as if the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees were defective, but Yeshua might be saying the opposite: “Unless your righteousness is even better than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you’ll never make it into the kingdom of heaven.” Such words must have filled the original hearers with despair. How can I be more righteous than a Pharisee—especially if I’m a simple Galilean farmer or fisherman or wife and mother?
Kepha said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Yeshua answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”
Shimon Kepha said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”
Yeshua said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean . . .” (John 13:8–10)
"Be always sure you are right, then go ahead." -- Davy Crockett
I remember this quote from an ancient Disney black-and-white TV series on the Tennessee frontiersman. It’s homespun but insightful, for, as Davy noted, decisiveness does entail two components. First, we have to determine what is right, what we believe, what we are willing to commit to. And then we have to act on it.
In my own pursuit of Mussar, I find myself returning to Order more than any other middah. I can think of three reasons for this.
I was recently stuck in line at the car rental counter behind a guy who appeared to have never rented a car before in his life. I’d say he was a classic nudnik, but I don’t think I should call someone a name in an article about ethics. With shorts a bit too tight and hitched up a bit too high upon his potbelly, and close-cropped gray hair over a worried brow, he questioned every line in the rental agreement.