One Torah

by Gavriel Gefen

Over the last year, I have received many messages from friends in Japan asking me about One Torah teaching. This teaching says that all people in the world are intended by God to keep all of the commandments he gave to Israel. Some teachers have been telling Christians that if they are really submitted to God then they will live like Jews. It is a deceptive teaching that is bringing confusion to many Christians.

Some people have responded to this teaching by adopting Jewish practices, and by removing themselves from living relationship with other Christians. It has brought division into their lives and made them self-righteous and judgmental of others. There are other people who have seen the danger in this teaching and have responded by withdrawing from involvement with ministries that support Israel and the Jewish people.

The term One Torah is found in Numbers 15:16:

One Torah and one standard of judgment will apply to both you and to the foreigner living with you.
15:16 あなたたちも、あなたたちのもとに寄留する者も、同一の指示、同一の法に従わねばならない。

Torah means instruction or teaching. It is often translated in Christian Bibles as law. The word Torah is most often used in reference to the teachings of Moses. Moses was an all-encompassing leader who led the people of Israel out of Egypt toward the promised land of Israel. On the way, he mediated between God and Israel in the establishment of a covenant that laid the foundation for uniting the people of Israel with the land of Israel and creating our nation. The people and land were brought together and established as a political nation.

Many of the things God commanded of Israel in this nation-creating covenant had nothing to do with personal salvation. They were related to national redemption and unique national purpose and calling in the earth. Many of the guidelines of this covenant are related to marking the unique annual cycle of the seasons and of the natural environment of the land of Israel. Many of the guidelines also have to do with marking and remembering the unique history of the people of Israel. Most of the commandments of Torah are given specifically to the people of Israel in the Land of Israel.

The passage in Numbers that speaks about having "one Torah" is referring to Israel's acceptance of foreigners living in the land of Israel in the midst of the people of Israel. The foreigner was not only to be embraced and accepted, but treated with the same justice. This was with the requirement that while residing in the land of Israel the foreigner was to live according to the laws of the people and the land of Israel. Once the foreigner went home to their own land and people, they were no longer under the same obligation.

Allow me to address some of the questions I have received from some of you by e-mail.

■The Sabbath

The Ten Commandments as a set of commandments were given specifically to Israel as part of the national covenant made at Sinai. We see in other places in Scripture, such as in the commandments given to Noah (the father of all mankind today) and in the teachings of the Apostles, that nine of the commandments are affirmed for all nations. Keeping the Sabbath is not commanded of the nations. It is commanded of Israel in a number of places in Scripture as part of her unique national covenant, but not required of the nations.

The seventh day of the week is not inherently sacred. We are told that the Lord made it sacred, holy. When God set it aside and rested from creating on that day, he made it sacred (set apart) for Himself. He later commanded Israel to also make it holy by setting it apart. When the people of Israel today continue to set apart the seventh day, they make it holy. When hundreds of millions of Christians around the world set apart the first day of the week, they make it holy. They make it a day of Sabbath, of rest. In that Christians also follow a seven-day cycle, they are a testimony to the world of the same thing that Israel is a testimony of, that God created the world in six days and then rested for a day.

■Feasts of Israel

The feasts of Israel are all connected to Israel's agricultural cycle. They are also times of remembrance of historical events that happened to the Jewish people. Other peoples in the world have their own agricultural cycles. They also have their own unique histories. Believers among each people group should continue to mark the seasons of their land together with their people. Believers among each people should also continue to remember their own people's history together with their own people, and to mark their own nation's times of celebration and memorial.

Believers in the nations are free to celebrate the feasts of Israel if they want to, but they do not have to. Celebrating the feasts can be used as a learning experience to help people to better understand the context of Scripture. Believers may also choose to celebrate some traditions of Israel as an expression of love and support for Israel and of relationship with Israel and the Jewish people. But, if Believers should choose to do this, it should be done in addition to continuing to mark the seasons of their own land and remembering the history of their own people. Celebrating Israel's traditions should not be done as a replacement for celebrating your own national heritage together with your own people.

■Prayer Shawl

The men of Israel were commanded to wear a four-cornered garment with fringes or tassels hanging from each corner. This is the tallit, the Jewish prayer shawl. The fringes are to remind the men of Israel of God's commandments to them in the covenant he made with Israel at Sinai. It would be out of place for Japanese Christians to make a habit of wearing tallits. The tallit is a reminder of many commandments, most of which were not given to the Japanese.


The mezuzah is a small box or cylinder that Jewish people attach to the doorposts of their houses. It contains a piece of parchment with Scriptures written on it. Like the tallit, the mezuzah is also a reminder to Israel of all God's commandments to her at Sinai, many of which do not relate to the Japanese.


The kippah is the skullcap worn by observant Jewish men. It is worn today as a symbol of one who lives within the covenant given at Sinai. If a non-Jew visits a Jewish synagogue, they may be asked to put one on as a sign of respect for the tradition of the people in that place of prayer. The visitor is welcomed as a guest, but the kippah on his head at that moment does not mean he is now also suddenly part of the covenant at Sinai.


Circumcision was commanded long before the covenant at Sinai. It is part of the covenant God made with Abraham. Circumcision is a physical sign on the body of each Jewish man that they share in the promise of the inheritance of the land of Israel. It has nothing to do with righteousness or salvation. The Jewish people today still have an inheritance in the land and should still circumcise their sons as part of that covenant. This includes Jews who believe in Yeshua. They also still share the inheritance in the land together with their people. Of course, it would be very deceptive for someone to teach Japanese Christians that they should also be circumcised. The Japanese already have their own land.


My dear Japanese friends, honor your fathers and the history of your people. Be faithful stewards of the land God has entrusted to you. As you serve His son Yeshua, remember that you do not need the European traditions of those who brought you the Gospel. You also do not need the traditions of Israel. We all need each other in loving relationship as part of the same worldwide community of New Covenant faith. We do not need to be conquered by each other's ways of life.