A Global Association of Orthodox Jewish Believers in Messiah Yeshua
Do I need to be circumcised?
Yes, it’s part of keeping the Covenant.
It is a sign of the Covenant, in that it is a sign as to Who the Messiah is, in that he does not come by human effort, and that He is the “seed of the woman” prophesied in Genesis 3:15.
It is also required of all males who wish to eat of the Passover. Yeshua commanded “do this is remembrance of me,” that is, the Passover. Those males who desire to follow his charge concerning Passover, must also submit to the Torah’s requirements for keeping it, which includes circumcision.
Circumcision has been misunderstood by the traditional Christian community for nearly two millennia. Neither the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, nor Paul in any of his letters ever prohibited circumcision. It was cautioned against, but not prohibited. It was cautioned against because “circumcision” meant more than just the surgical procedure during that time (as it does to this very day). It was cautioned against because of the prevalent view of those promoting it to the community of believers, that it was seen as a means to secure a portion in the World to Come by becoming a Jew. The term “circumcision” was synonymous with Jewish conversion, and was a term that was often used as shorthand to define a Jew. The whole process associated with the the term included getting circumcised, accepting the Torah, presenting a sacrifice, and immersing in a mikvah. After the destruction of the Temple, the sacrificial requirement was dropped.
Jewish conversion, in itself, was not what was cautioned against, but rather the reasons for conversion were. Conversion to Judaism was being preached by certain individuals to Gentile converts to HaDerech as the means by which a Gentile could secure a portion in the World to Come. Obviously, when Yeshua preached repentance (that is, to return to the Torah), he clearly preached that it was not by being born a Jew did one receive a place in the World to Come, but by being “born again” of the Spirit of G-d would eternal life be given as an inheritance. The disciples of Yeshua understood this. So did Rav Shaul (Paul). A place in the World to Come, is only secured when one has faith, like Abraham, in the Promised Seed, the Messiah, Yeshua.The evidence for this faith, however,has always been obedience to G-d’s Torah, that is, keeping the Covenant.
It naturally follows that one who desires to keep the Covenant, is one who will also desire to get circumcised, commit to do the Torah, and even go through a mikvah of conversion!
Repentance to the Torah, then, is given even to the Gentiles! That a place in the World to Come is available even to the Gentiles is without dispute. Most sects of Judaism would have you believe that this security is acheived by keeping the Noachide laws, a set of seven commandments derived from the Torah up until the time of Noah. The insistence that the Torah is for Jews only, is only out of understanding that the Torah is for Covenant members only. If a Gentile does not return to the Covenant that G-d made “with those who are not here today” (Deut 29:15), then what good is the Torah for one in rebellion against G-d anyways? It would only serve to condemn them. However, unlike all other sects of Judaism, we view all believers in Yeshua as full-fledged Covenant members the moment they accept Yeshua as the Messiah, and submit to Him which means to also submit to his Torah teaching. Those who do, have a right (and responsibility) to fully participate in the Torah that G-d gave to Israel; and as a new convert to HaDerech aligns his lifestyle with that of the Torah, circumcision (if a male), comittment to the Torah, and even going through a mikvah in Yeshua’s name will eventually be the fruit.
Conversion into all other sects of Judaism require that circumcision come first. HaDerech has no right to change this universally accepted community requirement, and this site does not intend to do so either. We recognize one who is a Jew as one who has been circumcised according to orthodox halakha. This does not mean, however, giving up the belief that Yeshua is the Messiah, and the Word of HaShem, since to do so would be to rebel against HaShem and His Torah, for which the Torah warns we will not be forgiven if we do so.
As disciples of Yeshua, our responsibility is to add to Jewish conversion, the requirement of faith on Yeshua the Messiah for one’s redemption into the World to Come, in accordance with the Torah. One must accept that one only inherits a portion in the World to Come by faith in Messiah’s work of redemption alone, evidenced by our obedience to Him as our King (keeping the Covenant). We must deny any request to witness a conversion to Judaism of anyone converting for the purpose of securing a place in the World to Come, since it is not by Jewish identity one has eternal life, but only by the same faith of Abraham who believed on the Word of HaShem, and was credited righteousness, does one have eternal life. Obedience to the Covenant is simply the evidence of this, and certainly following through the process of conversion to the Jewish sect of HaDerech (getting circumcised if male, committing to do Torah, and going through a mikvah in Yeshua’s name) is such evidence, but it is not absolute proof of a changed (circumcised) heart.
Turning your heart toward obedience to HaShem is the first act of obedience that is required for conversion (and all other sects of Judaism agree!). To convert to the Jewish sect of HaDerech, accepting Yeshua as your King is the first act after one’s heart turns toward HaShem and His Torah – as one can not obey a commandment of G-d if they first do not love G-d, and we love G-d by following his Messiah.
Without first accepting Yeshua as the King and thus obeying Him, then getting circumcised for the purpose of Jewish conversion only gains you access to the Jewish community. It means nothing when it comes to inheriting a place in the World to Come. Conversion through other sects of Judaism makes you Jewish in the eyes of all Judaism, most certainly! But at what cost? To get accepted into the majority of Jewish communities, you must include in your conversion the denial that Yeshua is the Messiah, the Word of HaShem – a vetting out process that orthodox halacha demands for any potential converts to Judaism! When one submits to this process, one must ask why. Is it to secure a portion in the World to Come? When it comes to a portion in the World to Come, circumcision and uncircumcision both mean nothing! What matters is faith in Messiah Yeshua for your redemption from the sin of rebellion against HaShem, without which your name is blotted out of HaShem’s book. Until you understand this, we repeat the words of Rav Shaul: do not convert to Judaism for any other reason than as an act of obedience to the Messiah, for if you do, then you will have indeed fallen from the grace of G-d offered by the Messiah’s work of redemption, and forfeited your right to a portion in the World to Come for then your hope is not in Messiah’s work of redemption, but in your flesh.
Getting circumcised apart from desiring to be obedient to HaShem, and apart from accepting Yeshua as your King, is nothing but a surgical procedure, or worse, could lead to you believe that Jewish identity grants you a portion in the World to Come – at which point, what good is Messiah Yeshua, the Word of HaShem to you? He would have died for nothing!
Circumcision is one of the most obvious signs of a “circumcised heart” yet it is not proof of one. We view circumcision as we view any other commandment in the Torah: a standard of obedience to the Messiah who himself was circumcised and commands us to do the same. If ones does not get circumcised, then they are not obeying the Messiah in this regard, and thus not obeying HaShem, and thus have not made true teshuvah – repentance to the Torah; and all are called to repentance!
As a convert from the nations, part of your obligation in keeping the Covenant, if you are a male, is to get circumcised in fulfillment of the commandment regarding circumcision. Circumcision is not an absolute requirement of being a Covenant member (that is, being made righteous before HaShem, and thus obtaining eternal life), but it is a requirement of obedience to G-d’s commandments, because circumcision is commanded for those who are of the seed of Abraham, whether born into the family, adopted, or converted.
As mentioned above, circumcision reminds us that the Messiah came not through human effort, but by G-d’s providence through supernatural means.
If after reading all of this you understand what circumcision is, and that is an act of obedience, rather than an act of gaining favor before HaShem for the purpose of receiving eternal life, then if you are male believer in Yeshua the Messiah for the redemption from death, the consequence of your sin of rebellion against Him, then pursue circumcision, and thus conversion into Judaism, as an act of obedience to the Messiah.