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Is a Christian a Jew?

Greetings in His Name:

It’s been a while since I did any regular posting here but I’ll try (once again) to make regular posts for consideration of friends and family.  The question today is, “Is a Christian a Jew?”  This will be remarkably short (by my standards) since the answer is very simple:  Yes.  How do I know that?  From Paul’s (former Saul of Tarsus) writings in the letter to the Romans, Chapter 11: (Yes, it’s rather long but necessary to the whole argument.  So read carefully and understand that I have taken the liberty of using Goyim rather than Gentile, Avraham rather than Abraham, etc.)

  1. I say then, Hath G-d cast away his people? [I Sam 12:22, Jer 31:37]  G-d forbid!  For I also am Yisraelim, of the seed of Avraham, of the tribe of Benyamin.
  2. G-d hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.  Do ye not know what the scripture saith of Eliyah?  How he maketh intercession to G-d against Yisrael, saying
  3. [I Kings 19:10] “Lord, they have killed thy prophets, digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.”
  4. But what saith the answer of G-d unto him?  “I have reserved to myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.”
  5. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
  6. And if by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace.  But if it be of works, then it is no more grace; otherwise work is no more work.
  7. What then?  Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the the election had obtained it, and the rest were blinded. [Is 29:10]
  8. According as it is written, [Deut 29:4, Is 6:9] “G-d hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear.” unto this day.
  9. And David saith, [Ps 69:22] “Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompense unto them:
  10. Let their eyes be darkened that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.”
  11. I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall?  G-d forbid!  but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Goyim, for to provoke them to jealousy.
  12. Now, if the fall of them be riches of the world, and the diminishimg of them the richs of the Goyim, how much more their fullness?   [Jer 30:4, Zech :11]
  13. For I speak unto you Goyim inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Goyim, I magnify my office.
  14. If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh and might save some of them.
  15. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
  16. For if the first-fruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
  17. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatnes of the olive tree;
  18. Boast not against the branches.  But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
  19. Thou wilt say then, “The branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.”
  20. Well, because of unbelief they were broken off and thou standest by faith.  Be not high-minded but fear!
  21. For if G-d spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
  22. Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of G-d; on them which it fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness if thou continue in His goodness; otherwise thou also shall be cut off.
  23. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in; for G-d is able to graft them in again.
  24. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature and wert grafted contrary to nature into the good olive tree, how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
  25. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes but as touching the election they are beloved for the fathers sakes.
  26. For the gifts and calling of G-d are without repentence.

OK, that’s enough scripture for now.  I will deal with works and grace, predestination, foreknowledge and election, etc. in another blog at a later date.  Note that the “wild olive tree branches”, meaning the Goyim or the Gentiles, were grafted INTO the true olive tree that is Judaism.  NOWHERE does Paul (nor any other apostle) say that there is to be a new religion to be called Christianity, nor Messianic Judaism nor anything like that.  No, rather he says that those who were NOT Jews shall be grafted into Judaism BECAUSE of their belief.  After all, the New Testament [Acts 11:26b] does say that it was in Antioch that the Schismatics were first called Christian, a Greek word for Messiah, or Messiahim or followers of the Messiah.  And history books seem to record that until that time the Jewish leaders referred to them as Schismatics, not as Messiahim of Messiah Jews – just a splinter of Judaism, like Reformed , Conservative, Hassadim or Lubavitch.

The MAIN point here is the so-called Christians today are actually nothing more than Jews who believe that Y’Shua was (and is) THE Messiah, the deliverer of Israel, not a whole new religion that would in later days persecute the very Jews that He came to save.    Y’Shua Himself said, [Matt 5:17] Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.  [18] For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.  [19] Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Not one jot (a punctuation mark) nor one tittle (a flourish made on the first letter of each book or chapter that was decorative in nature only) would pass away until all be fulfilled.  Now most Christians say that the Law (Torah) was all fulfilled in Y’Shua.  I shan’t argue with that for I also believe it to be true.  But I will say that even though the Torah was fulfilled in Y’Shua that it can not be thrown out.  Did not G-d say through Malachi (Ch 3, v.6), “For I AM the LORD, I change not.”  I G-d does not change, then it would follow that what he said through Moshe, through Isaiah, through any of his prophets, that they are a covenant forever, not just for that time and period?  Y’Shua only repeated that when he said that the Torah would not change.

And again, in David’s Psalms 19:7, The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the souls; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making the wise the simple. [8] The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandments of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. [9] The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgements of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.  [110] More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold.  sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Remember, that Y’Shua kept all of the commandments; that all of the first century New Covenant apostles and disciples kept the commandments as best they could; not that they could obtain salvation through keeping the law, no one can, but that they might please G-d by being obedient.  As I told my son the other day, we don’t keep the law and the commandments because we HAVE to do so, we do this to please G-d.  G-d himself said that obedience is better than sacrifice and that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.

And, again, Y’Shua said to the 12 apostles, [Matt 10:5] These twelve Yshua sent forth, and commanded them saying, “Go not into the way of the Goyim, and into any city of  Samaria, enter ye not. [6] But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Yisrael.

And again, Y’shua talks with woman who wanted healing [Matt 15:22] And behold a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. [23] But He answered her not a word.  And his diciples came and besought saying, “Send her away; for she crieth after us.”  But he answered and said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Yisrael.”

And the passage continues where she rationalizes that even dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of the Master and Y’Shua marveled at her faith and her daughter was healed.  There are several lessons here but the one that I am pointing out is the Y’Shua was sent to the Jew first  and then to the Goyim.  All of that to say this:

The so-called Christian is a Jew who believes that Y’Shua is the Messiah who came and is to come again.  Acts 11:26 says, … “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”  Not that they themselves called themselves Christians, but they were called Christians by others.  By others!  They themselves attended services on Friday night or Saturday morning in the temple or place of worship at home.  In Rome they met on the “Lord’s Day” – meaning Ascension Sunday – each week before work and had a very brief service and sang some hymns and then went to work.  This because the Jews who were in charge (the priests and others) of the Temple (Synagogue) of that day would not permit talking about Y’Shua in the temple itself.

There.  That should be enough to chat about for a while.  BTW, as to the question, “Can a Jew be a Christian?” that has been answered here as well.  A Christian IS A Jew and a Jew who accepts Y’Shua as the Messiah is a Christian.  Plain and simple.  Not a Christian-Jew nor a Jewish-Christian nor a Completed-Jew nor a Converted-Jew nor a Converted-Christian.  They are one and the same.  Salvation came to the Jew first and then to the Goyim.

SDG

Yaakov

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November 21, 2009 Posted by | Religion | Leave a comment

Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Greetings:

Abstract:
“I could be wrong,now – but I don’t think so!” (From “It’s a Jungle Out There”) The following is for those seeking understanding on the traditions of three of the world’s main religions. Most of what follows is history and not meant to open up a discussion but mainly to help those who don’t really understand the differences in the three main religions of the world nor the sub-groups within each one. This came about because I have many friends who believe that a Jew is a Jew and a Moslem is a Moslem (Muslim is the plural of Moslem) and a Christian is a Christian. Each one has many shades and colors of meaning and this is just my attempt to explain the grouping to my friends and neighbors.

I’ve given a bit of thought to the problem of explaining the world’s three mainline religions to my friends. This paper follows their origins along with some thoughts about the breakdown of each one into its main components.  One of the problems in this dissertation is that I have not found a way to post anything in Hebrew, Greek nor Aramaic so most of this will be Julian dates and a (best as I can do) transliteration of the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic words into pronounceable words in English.  Also, this article is directed to those not terribly familiar with all three religions but mostly with one or the other.

Judaism is the oldest and more established of the three main religions of this paper.  Born when Avram (later Avraham) was called out of Ur (supposedly located in Iraq between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers) and later established by Moshe when he led the Children of Israel out of Egypt and G-d gave him the Torah to give to the Children.  Judaism seems to be (or is) composed of four (or five) main branches:  Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed and Hassidic.  All believe in the ONE G-D and that there is no other G-d or gods.  Outside of that, they seem to be all over the map in what they believe.  My Rabbi once told me that there is a Jewish proverb that wherever there are two Jews you will have three opinions; the first Jew’s opinion, the second Jew’s opinion and G-d’s opinion.  He also told me that the original characters for a Jew as three yuds; two side by side and one in the middle just above them showing that two Jews are united under one loving G-d and father over all.  But, you can’t show that in the early printing so the third yud was dropped.

  • Orthodox and Hassidic are similar in observances in that both believe that the Masoretic Text (bretween 600 and 1000 AD – 4550 to about 4750 on the Jewish calendar), closely observe all of the 621 laws in HaTorah. HaTorah (The Law) is the first five books of the bible – Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy. (Bereshis, Shemos, Va-Yikra’, Be-Midbar and Devarim in Hebrew.)  Some of those laws, most dealing with sacrifice and civil penalties, cannot be observed until the restoration of the temple in Jerusalem or until the nation of Israel moves from a secular collection of of Jews (by birth) becomes the nation of Judah, a nation observant to HaTorah.  Pretty much, they believe that the Bible is the revealed Word of G-d.  More on the Hassidic later.
  • Reformed are the “left wing” of Judaism in that they are observe a “big tent” where you can believe almost anything and still be a Reformed Jew.  (Seriously!  Almost anything!) This “latter day” movement started in Eastern Europe in the early 1800’s and spread to the USA and the UK in the early 1900’s. There is in a short document in Wikepedia on Reformed Judaism that recounts most of the highlights of the movement. Suffice it to say that that Reformed Judaism does not follow the letter of  the “Law” of the Torah nor many of the practices of traditional Judaism.
  • But what about Conservative or Masorti Judaism?  Conservatism is neither Orthodox nor Reformed, but seems (to me) to be an attempt to reconcile between the two main branches and is neither fish nor fowl.  While more liberal than Orthodoxy and more traditional than Reformed, they seem closer to the Orthodox in that they (for the most part) do believe that the Masoretic Bible is the revealed Word of G-d and has been preserved down through the ages.

Christianity came about with the birth and death of Y’Shua (Jesus) who was thought to be the son of a certain Joseph and Mary.  However, Christians believe that G-d himself “caused” Mary to become the mother by a miracle and this was revealed to Joseph in a dream from an Angel of G-d.  Others believe that Y’Shua was a priest (or rabbi) from a little known sect of Jews called Essenes, a minor movement compatible with the Pharasees and the Saducees.  When he was crucified by the Romans he is believed to have risen from the dead after three days (if you believe in a Thursday crucifixion rather than Friday) and ascended into Heaven bodily after a period of about 40 or 50 days and was seen by hundreds during that time.  Present day Julian calendars are denoted as BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini – Year of the Lord).

Christianity can be broken down into three main groups as well:  Conservative (Baptists, Reformed Baptists, Reformed Methodists, Bible Churches, Four Square, Church of Christ, Orthodox – Eastern, Russian, Coptic, etc – and Nazarene.), the Liberal (Presbyterians, Episcopaleans, most Methodists, most Lutherans, Church of England, Roman Catholic, etc.), the Charismatic churches such as Assembly of God and others who hold to the belief that God still gives the gifts of tongues and healing today and the Cultic churches such as Mormans, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the like.  You will find that most of the “TV Churches” are of the Charismatic variety but there are still a sprinkling of the conservative and liberal.  However, all except the cult groups (to be discussed later).  All except the Cults and a few non-trinitarian churches hold that Jesus was the only son of G-d and was, in fact, very G-d himself.  The Trinity is explained as three parts of the ONE G-d and not three separate gods, which would be heresy.

  • Conservatives, for the most part, believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of G-d, baptism is part of the salvation process and only those who believe in their heart and confess with their mouth that Jesus (Y’Shua) was the Son of G-d will be allowed into Heaven.  Some have closed communion (commemoration of the Last Supper) some are open but all seem united in certain causes such as anti-abortion to preserve the life of the unborn baby and yet favor the death penalty for certain crimes.  Some will not allow divorce except for adultery or desertion while others recognize divorce as a sin to be forgiven.  All seem to favor baptism by immersion but some (just a couple) will accept baptism by other congregations of the same denomination but only if they were immersed.  Why so many denominations?  Usually because of splits over methods of baptism, whether communion should be observed every week or monthly or quarterly or annually, titles in the church, etc.
  • Liberals are diverse group who usually do not believe in the inerrancy of the bible (much like the Reformed Jews) and hold to permitting abortion, are strongly anti-death-penalty for anything, don’t really seem to have a firm conviction of who will go to heaven and who won’t and usually vote for the more liberal political party.  Except for the Roman Catholic who are liberal EXCEPT for being strongly anti-abortion and strongly anti-divorce, even more so than their conservative counterparts.  Christianity is, indeed, a multi-colored coat that embraces almost anything.
  • Charismatic churches are pretty much orthodox christianity EXCEPT that they believe that G-d still gives the gifts of healing and tongues in today’s churches.  For many years they were outcasts but recently they have been included into the mainstream churches and even some of the conservative and liberal churches have begun to accept this point of view while not preaching it from the pulpit.  Again, rather strange behavior but the churches seem to be bent on keeping their members even if they have to bend their faith a bit.
  • Cults are the hardest to explain to the outsider.  While the Mormons do believe in the King James Version of the bible as the inerrant word of G-d (so far as it is interpreted correctly) they add several books to the bible that were give to them by Joseph Smith, their founder and first prophet.  These are the Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price and The Doctrines and Covenants.  They are also polytheistic in that they believe that Jesus was the G-d of THIS world but that there are other worlds and other g-ds of those worlds.  One of their main doctrines is that “As Man is, G-d once was and as G-d is man may become.”  Also they seem to hold that Jesus and Lucifer were both sons of G-d and that  only Jesus was chosen to redeem mankind.  Jehovah’s Witnesses, on the other hand, hold that Jesus was a man and only a man which is as heretical in the Christian way of thinking as believing that HaShem was only one of many gods in Judaism.  But, both Mormonism and JW’s are growing at fanatical rates, especially outside the USA where they were first developed.

Islam is broken into two main groups:  The Shite (pronounced Shee’-ite with a soft ‘t’) and the Sunni (pronounced Su’-nee) and, to my understanding, has more to do with a political breakup after the death of Mohammad.  Some followed the sons of Mohammad and others followed the then leaders of Islam.  Even today, while Iraq is mostly Sunni with Shite in political control, Iran is mostly Shite with very few Sunni.  The Arab states (Arabia to most of us) is almost all Sunni with a sprinkling of Sunni.  Islam (the Koran) recognizes the other two main religions of Judaism and Christianity as “People of the Book” since, by their way of thinking, the Jews have the Old Testament and the Christians have the New Testament.  Both are allowed to co-exist with Islam under certain conditions – usually that they don’t preach nor convert anyone from Islam to their faith.  In practice, neither are allowed to co-exist unless Islam is not in power.  Even then, Islamists seem to push for Shari Law and other concessions that they would never allow in a country controlled by Islamists.

I have tried to understand the Islamists point of view and have read an English translation of the Koran.  I do find certain points of view acceptable but, according to the Koran, any other faith other than Islam is not allowed unless the non-believer confesses that Allah is G-d and that his only prophet is Mohammed.    This no believing Christian or Jew could do and still be following their faith.  Frankly, I don’t see any kind of co-existence possible UNLESS we can all recognize that while we have different faiths we have to abide by a civil law that is an amalgamation of all of these different faiths.  And if we do that, then none of us can live by their professed faith.  Truly it is a problem for which the only solution is to have countries that are Muslim, others that are Christian and others that are Judaic.  But, if we did that, the Catholics would want their own country and the Baptists would want theirs, etc., etc.

SDG

Yaakov

November 16, 2009 Posted by | Religion | Leave a comment

Comments on Torah

Greetings:

I was reading the comments on the Torah posted on the Ahahvath Sholom Congregation web site.   Rabbi made some interesting observations but, like my original Rabbi Seymour Moskowitz, he presented several different interpretations without saying which one he would prefer.   The passages that I found most interesting was that on Genesis 34, the story of Yaakov’s (my namesake) daughter Dinah, her rape by Schechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite who was a Prince of that country.  Subsequently, the sons of Yaakov killed all the men and took the women and children and cattle as their possessions.  Yaakove was dismayed that they had done this.

Now, here’s the problem.  The question that was raised was not necessarily about the event itself but the “why” this event happened.  Theory One was blaming the victim, Dinah, because she “… went out to see the daughters of the land.”  In other words, she made herself a target.  Some of the Rabbim even suggest that she dressed inappropriately by “showing her arm” or some other such nonsense.  There was even a comment about holding out a bit of meat in front of a bird.

  • “Rabbi Berekiah said in Rabbi Levi’s name: This may be compared to one who was holding a pound of meat in his hand, and as soon as he exposed it a bird swooped down and snatched it away. Similarly, ”Now Dinah… went out” and forthwith ”Shechem son of Hamor… saw her.” Rabbi Shmuel bar Nahman said: her arm became exposed. (Bereisheit Rabbah 80:1)”

Make up your own mind but, to me, this is the same principle as, “Well, see how she was dressed.  She was just asking for it.”  (An argument for rape that has filtered down through the ages.)  I find that a bit hard to believe since Schechem immediately asked to marry her which, to me, indicated guilt and fear that her (many) brothers would be angered.  I am no saying that Dinah was right to “parade around in front of the Goyim” but, even had she done such a thing (which is not actually indicated in the scriptures) she still would not have been a target except to someone who felt that he was above the law and that his father’s position would protect him.

Another interpretation put for was that what happens to some and not to others is  matter of luck, mazel.  (MazelTov, after all, just means that you have “Good Luck”.)  The belief in good or bad luck is faulty in that it takes control of all situations from G-d and puts them into “chance”.  I have never found in the scripture that G-d ever took a chance on anything.  When you find someone casting lots to determine something it was never at G-d’s instructions.  

Here’s my theory (and that of some scholars):  HaShem is in control of the Universe.  Whatever happens always goes back to Him.  When Job was being persecuted by Satan, did not HaShem say to Satan in Job 2:3: “And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.”  G-d took responsibility for what was happening to Job even though Satan was doing it.  G-d is either omnipotent or He isn’t.  If He is, then everything that happens is for a reason.

Small parable to illustrate this:  When you are building a home and you have to hit the nail on the head with a hammer, I’m sure that if the nail could think he would wonder WHY was the hammer hitting him on the head?  Neither the nail nor the hammer can know the final intention of the builder.  Do you remember what Job said about his so-called “misfortunate” circumstances?  In Job 2:9,10: “Then his wife said to  him, ‘Do you still hold fast to your integrity?  Curse G-d and die!’ (10) But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks.  Shall we indeed accept good from G-d, and shall we not accept adversity?’   In all of this Job did not sin with his lips.”

I know that there are those who will want to argue about the Holocaust, babies dying from horrible circumstances, entire communities wiped out and will want to ask, “Shall we blame G-d for this?”  I will discuss that later but, for now, the answer has to be and is, “Yes.  G-d is in control.”  We cannot “blame” G-d for things – only accept what happens as part of something that we do not understand.  More on that in another blog.  For now, back to Dinah.

My own interpretation:  That which the sons of Yaakov took to be vengence, the Almighty (Blessed be His Name), used to keep the family moving and absolutely keep them from falling in with the Goyim of the countryside.   Some are cursed with the riches of this world.  Some are blessed with poverty and can only depend on HaShem to keep them clothed and fed.  Personally, like Tevye, I prefer the curse of riches – and may I never recover – BUT knowing that it came from G-d.  Again, that’s another discussion.

So, what do you think?  Go read Rabbi’s discussion and then I would appreciate your comments.

SDG

Yaakov

December 13, 2008 Posted by | Religion | Leave a comment

Shabbos, Part IV

Greetings:

I’m beginning to have discussions with my son and his friends about the Sabbath, or Shabbos.  Since my household has to obey Shabbos (as we try to obey all of the law of HaShem) I have a problem explaining sufficiently what one can do and what one cannot do on Shabbos.  Basically, I try not to get into particulars unless he asks but here is a brief (really brief) recap of our discussions this week.

Microwaving coffee:  Son, “All we’re doing is warming up food that is already cooked.”  Hmmm…  OK, if I were a Jew traveling with Moshe, then my argument would be, “All I’m doing is putting food on the fire to warm it up.”  Immediate stoning follows that one.  😦

Son, “OK, all I’m doing is throwing a switch to start the microwave.”  Again, traveling with Moshe, “All I’m doing is lighting a match to light the fire to warm the food.”  OK, no matches in those days but you get the idea.  Bad move.

Son, “All I’m doing is going to the Mall to look around.”  My answer to that one was fairly easy, “But looking is shopping even though you did not pay for anything today.”

Son, “Are we going to start sacrificing animals now?” Answer, “No, there is only one place to sacrifice animals and that is the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.  No temple, no sacrifice.  G-d has forbidden sacrificing on every high place in the land.”

Son, “OK, what SHOULD we be doing?”  Answer, “Those things that are pleasing to HaShem and not things that are necessarily pleasing to us.  This is also covered in previous posts Shabbos, part II and Shabbos, Part III.  Watching football is pleasing to us, but are we using it to glorify G-d?  Playing football?  Could be…  If we are playing football with unbelievers in order to tell them about HaShem and the joy of serving Him.  But if we are just playing to pass time, then that time could be better spent reading the bible, listening to recordings about HaShem or watching pre-recorded video on talks about HaShem.  Mostly, it comes down to how much do we love G-d and how much do we want to please him.  (Something taken from an earlier comment.)  We can play for just the fun of football at another time on another day.

If walking in the forest is communion, so be it.  Not argument there.  But not at the expense of gathering with other believers on a weekly basis.  We should be walking with HaShem, G-d, every day, all the time, in a state of constant communion and prayer.  This is what Paul meant when he said to be in constant prayer.  A prayer, after all, is communion with G-d and not necessarily bowing your head and closing your eyes.  That would be really dangerous on the interstate at 60 mph.

Son, “OK, when does Shabbos begin?”  At dark – most Jewish calendars have the time on Friday afternoon when Shabbos begins and when to light the candles.  In winter, it begins about 5:00 to 5:30 p.m., depending on location.  In summer, it could begin at 9:00 p.m.  At the North Pole or the South Pole or anywhere in between, you should observe 24 hours of Shabbos.  (North Pole in Summer has 22+ hours of sunlight, but it begins at dark on Friday and ends at dark on Saturday, roughly 24 hours.)  We get this from Genesis where HaShem records that “This was the evening and morning of the first day.” And the other six days as well began on the evening, not at the Roman time of Midnight.

Finally, I had to tell him that I don’t have all of the answers.  BUT, he has to go read the bible himself and talk to G-d about what he wants to do.  After that, then come discuss it with me.  After all, when he has his own home then he will have to make the rules and reason out the why and why not so long as these things are based on scripture, not what I said, not the feelings nor writings of Rabbim, not what somebody else said that G-d said.

Keep the Faith.  The bottom line is to read G-d’s word and try your best to do what He said to do and not do what He said NOT to do.

SDG

Yaakov

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Religion | , , , , | Leave a comment

Shabbos – Part III

Greetings:

It’s been a while since I posted the last in this series but I wanted to complete it.  Usually I do this as one of my Shabbos activities but last week and this one got caught up in research on Ramban and Rashi, both very fascinating, historical Jewish figures.  Their writings are well preserved but often “re-written” to reflect whatever particular thoughts of the translator in what he/she thought that the Rabbim meant when translating from Hebrew to some other language.  The life of Ramban can be found at http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/111857/jewish/Ramban.htm and that of Rashi at http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/111831/jewish/Rashi.htm – both of which might be consider slightly skewed by the sometimes overly zealousness of the Chabad to defend the faith.  But, personally, I would rather the over-zealousness of the Chabad to the “Who Cares?  Don’t rock the boat.” attitude of so many Jews and Christians today.  But, again, I digress…  Let’s return to our discussion on Shabbos and what we think G-d wants us to do and not do on that day.

What I find amazing is that Christians (and some Jews) actually attend services on Shabbos (Saturday for Jews, Sunday for Christians – more on that later) and then go out to eat, or to a movie, or something else that is absolutely incompatible with G-d’s teaching.  So, what DOES G-d say about His special day?  (Most quotes are from JPS – Masoretic text – with some changes for convention, such as G-d rather than using the name itself.)

  • Ex 16:27: Yet some of the people went out on the seventh to gather, but they found nothing. (28) And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you men refuse to obey My commandments and My teachings?  (29) Mark that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you two days’ food on the sixth day.  Let everyone remain where he is; let no one leave his place on the seventh day.”  (30) So the people remained inactive on the seventh day.
  • Ex 20:8: Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.  (9) Six day you shall labor and do all of your work, (10) but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your G-d:  you shall not do any work – you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, or your cattle, or the stranger within your settlements. (11) For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the seventh day and hallowed it.
  • Ex 31:15: Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to HaShem.  Whoever does any work on Shabbos, he shall surely be put to death.
  • Ex 34:21: Six days you shalll work, but on the seventh you shall rest; in plowing and in harvest you shall rest.
  • Lev 26:2: You shall keep My Shabbos and reverence My sanctuary.  I am the LORD.
  • Nu 15:32-35:  Once when the Israelites were in the wilderness, they came upon a man gathering wood on the Sabbath day.  (33) Those who found him as he was gathering wood brought him to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community.  (34) He was placed in custody, for it had not been specified what should be done to him.  (35) The the LORD said to Moses, “The man shall be put to death: the whole community shall pelt him with stones outside the camp.”  (36) So the whole community book him outsede the camp and stoned him to death – as the LORD had commanded Moses.
  • Det 5:12: Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy, as the LORD, your G-d commanded you. (13) Six days you shall labor and do all of your work, (14) but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your G-d; you shall not do any work – you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your ox or your ass, or any of your cattle, or the stranger in your settlements, so that your male and female slave may rest as you do.  (15) Remember that you were a slave in the in the land of Egypt and the LORD your G-d free you from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your G-d has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
  • Isa 56:2:  Blessed is the man who does this.   And the son of man who lays hold on it.  Who keeps from defiling Shabbos, And keeps his hand from doing any evil”
  • Isa 58:13-14: If you turn away your foot from Shabbos, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call Shabbos a delight, the holy day HaShem honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, (14) Then you shall delight yourself in HaShem; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.  The mouth of HaShem has spoken.
  • Jer 17:21: Thus saith the LORD, “Guard yourselves for your own sake against carrying burdens on the Sabbath day, and bringing them through the gates of Jerusalem.  (22) Nor shall you carry out burdens from your house on the Sabbath day, or do any work, but you shall hallow the Sabbath day as I commanded your fathers.”
  • Jer 17:27: But if you do not obey my command to hallow the Sabbath day and to carry in no burdens through the gates of Jerusalem on theSabbath day, then I will set fire to its gates; it shall consume the fortress of Jerusalem and it shall not be extinguished.
  • Ne: 10:29:  And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and all who separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to [follow] the Teaching of G-d, their wives, sons and daughters, all who know enough to understand, (30), join with their noble brothers, and take an oath with sanctions to follow the Teaching of G-d, and to observe carefully all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, His rules and laws.  (31) Namely: We will not give our daughters to marriage to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons.  (32) The peoples of the land who bring their wares and all sorts of foodstuff for sale on the Sabbath – we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or a holy day.
  • Neh 13:15:  At that time I saw men in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and others bringing heaps of grain and loading them onto asses, also wine, grapes, figs, and all sorts of goods, and bringing them into jerusalem on the Sabbath.  I admonished them there and then for selling provisions.  (16) Tyrians who lived there brought fish and all sorts of wares and sold them on the Sabbath to the Judahites in Jerusalem.  (17) I censured the nobles of Judah saying to them, “What evil this is thais that you are doing, profaning the Sabbath day!  (18) This is just what your ancestors did, and for it G-d brought all this misfortune on this city; and now you give cause for further wrath against Israel by profaning the Sabbath?”
  • Eze 20:12:  Moreover, I gave them My Sabbaths to serve as a sign between Me and them, that they might know that it is I the LORD who sanctify them.

I think that all of the verses taken in context mean something:  That we should spend Shabbos honoring G-d, doing things that honor him, NOT doing things that are part of ordinary week.  Not watching football games, not just sitting outside reading a good novel, not mowing the yard, not washing dishes, not washing the car, not working on something that could be done any other day, etc.  And for those who have not grown up this way, it’s really, really, REALLY difficult to quit doing all of those things.  And for each person, most of what you should and should not do is the same but for some, working on something like this blog, is how we honor G-d.  Reading his Holy Word.  Talking to the family about who He is and what He has done in our lives.

We always complain that we don’t have enough prayer time.  Wouldn’t Shabbos be a great time for an hour or two of prayer?  Listening to Psalms and Hymns when not at temple or church would be good as well.

OK, here is a good question:  Can we listen to religious services on TV or radio?  Depends on how you do it.  MY opinion (talk to G-d about it) is that you tape the religious program during the week and then listen or watch on Shabbos.  That way you are not causing anyone else to work on Shabbos.  If everyone turned off their radio or TV during Shabbos, what a difference it would make to the networks.  Why have an event on TV if no one is watching?  So what would the sports teams do?  They would move their games to another day.  Why NOT have football games on Wednesday or Thursday night like we do on Monday night?  That would leave Saturday (Jewish Shabbos) and Sunday (Christian Sabbath) free for worship.

Some other verses that you might read and think about are

Christians have one thing that Jews don’t have.  Y’Shua (the name of Jesus in Hebrew) said in Matthew 12:11, “What man is there among who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?”  And there is another one about an Ox in the ditch.  But, here’s the thing:  The sheep or the ox fell into the ditch or pit and the man did not put the animal there. However, many Christians will say, “Well, my ox in in the ditch today and I need to work to feed my family.”  (This point was raised in an earlier comment.)  But to work on Shabbos indicates that we don’t have faith that G-d will make up for it another day by allowing us some extra time.  We MUST learn to depend on HaShem to keep us clothed and fed and not disobey His commandments just to follow the ways of the world.

Another example:  My son is a musician and his band (made up of Christians) wants to practice on Saturday afternoon.  We have been following scripture the past few months in this regard and they just don’t understand.  They don’t keep Sunday Sabbath, even though they are Christian, and they cannot understand why anyone would “go out in right field” with this stuff.  (WITH THIS STUFF???)  Well, so far, my son is following the teaching in the Bible and not following the ways of the world.  He still heats his coffee in the microwave but he’s coming around.  Maybe one day he’ll learn to drink a caffinated soft drink on Shabbos and eat sandwiches or meat from the night before that is still at room temperature.  (Not chicken, of course.)  And, so far, he hasn’t given up bacon, pork chops, shrimp and lobster,  but he’s beginning to realize that these things are bad for your health.  Maybe he’ll come around, maybe not.

Whatever G-d commanded, we should follow.  We can’t have sacrifices because we don’t have a temple and HaShem did command that we NOT sacrifice on every high place but only in the temple.  And we do not have the sceptre (meaning the right to pass judgement on those who break the biblical law) but one day we might.  Then the world will say that we are radical and unreasonable.  So be it.  Remember, early Israel did not have prisons – only retribution for theft and other things, or death for really serious crimes.  And breaking Shabbos was considered a serious crime in early Judaism.  Draconian or not, HaShem is the ruler of the universe.  If I do what I can, within the laws of the land, to follow Him and His commandments, then I’m doing the right thing.  And if HaShem said do something and the law says not to do something, HaShem’s law trumps Civil Law.  And if HaShem said NOT to do something and and civil law says to do something, then, again, HaShem’s law trumps Civil Law.

Here’s the bottom line:  HaShem said to DO certain things on Shabbos and NOT to do other things on Shabbos.  His commandments are not suggestions, they are commandments.  On Shabbos, attend services, sing His praises, talk about Him, when going out or coming in, HIS thoughts should be YOUR thoughts.  Pray without ceasing; while walking, while meeting with others, while eating, while drinking, while watching a sunrise or a sunset, pray and commune with your creator.

Take care.  Read you Bible every day.  Pray for guidance.  Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Amen v’Amen.

SDG

Yaakov

December 6, 2008 Posted by | Religion | 4 Comments

What About the Sabbath – Part 2

Greetings:

This is a continuation of What About the Sabbath blog from last week.  I will try and denote “rabbit trails” – those thoughts that pop up that are not pertinent to the central thought of this blog – as [begin RT] and [end RT].  In that way you can skip random thoughts.

[begin RT] I have always thought that the Sabbath was a good time to talk about things to do with Ha Shem.  Last week I wrote the beginning of a blog on the Sabbath and I’ve had some time to think about it and do some more reading about it.  Because of the various background of my readers (both of them) I don’t vary much from the many and varied translations of the bible itself or the original Masoretic text in Hebrew or the Christian New Testament in (Textus Receptus or Majority Text) Greek.  And, as I have said many times, I am NOT a scholar of either Hebrew or Greek – I know just enough to be dangerous but I do find the original languages much more explanatory than some of the translations.[end RT]

[begin RT] For Christian translations I like King James Version [KJV], New KJV [NKJV], The NKJV Greek Interlinear, The Amplified Bible, and a few others.  I also have an interesting Hebrew-English version of the New Testament [NT] that makes for helpful translations.  For Jewish and Old Testament [OT], I still like the the Christian translations but in addition I like J. P. Green’s Interlinear, the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) with English (1999), and the older 1955 JPS w/o English.  Also, from time to time, I consult two or three Jewish Prayer books since the translations there give some insight into what the Jewish people really believe about that particular passage of scripture.  So, enough about translations and versions and on to the main topic, the Sabbath, or Shabbos as some call it, which, actually, is a much better pronounciation of the word. [end RT]

Wilson Mar commented last week that the punishment that Ha Shem imposed was rather Draconian.  Draco was a man, a created being.  So, to my way of thinking, to call the law and enforcements of the laws of Ha Shem something like a man would indicate that Ha Shem was being like a man rather than the man behaving like Ha Shem.  Or something like that.

[begin RT] Even though Draconian is a word that I have frequently used myself to describe some overly eager application of some law or rule, I looked it up and it has to do with a “law giver” in Athens, Greek, in about 620 BC.  (I don’t care for the artificial BCE appelation – either use Judaic dates and time or Christian dates and times but BCE is silly and used mostly by Israeli archeologists.)  [end RT]

In the early days, the Mosaic law (the Torah) was pretty explicit about who is G-d and the things that He expects of us.  Wilson’s comment that, “I think this severity is warranted because what we do during the Sabbath demonstrates our willingness to submit to Him.” is spot-on.  How we observe Shabbos, if this observance comes from the inside of a person, shows our zeal for G-d and our own personal search for Holiness.  As it says in Lev 11:44 “… ,and ye shall be holy; for I am holy… ” This same precept is echoed in the Christian New Testament, I Peter 2:16, “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”  G-d has called His people, Jews and Christians, to be holy even as He is holy.

Some seek holiness by fasting and prayer.  Indeed, there are tales of Christian churches (Christians interpret the word “church” to mean the people of the congregation, not the building) who fasted and prayed until there was an “answer from G-d Himself.”  In like manner did many of the ancient prophets, and some of the prophets today, isolate themselves to prayer and communion with G-d until they had release.  Perhaps Shabbos itself could be a day of prayer if not fasting.

Now, let us consider what we SHOULD be doing and not doing on Shabbos as G-d commanded us to do or not do.  Considering the early Christians (more on the name later) were all Jews for a while, they kept both the Shabbos (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown) and then kept a “Lord’s Day” in honor of Y’Shua (Jesus) by starting the day with prayer and songs – then going to work with the rest of the world.  The gentiles (goyim – or nations) had never kept the Jewish Shabbos so they usually just kept the first day as a Sabbath.  (this from a brief description in Cruden’s Complete Concordance.)

It is here that I will make the distinction between Shabbos (Jews) being Friday sundown to Saturday sundown and Sabbath (Christian) being just before sunrise on Sunday morning to sometime late evening (near midnight) on the same day.

Ex 16:22-30: And it came to pass that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. (23) And he said unto them, This is that which The LORD hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. … (25) And Moses said, Eat that today; for today is a sabbath unto the LORD; today ye shall not find it in the field.  (26) Six days ye shall gather it but on the seventh day,  which is the sabbath, in it there shall be noon. … (29) See, for that theLORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore He giveth you the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.  (30) So the people rested on the seventh day. [KJV]

Note that the italicized words are not found in the original Hebrew and that the KJV used LORD rather than Ha Shem or “YHVH” or Jehovah.  (Jehovah is a really bad transliteration since it is nowhere near the true name of G-d.)  I rather like that about the KJV rather than the JPS that is fairly liberal with the translation.

What I gather from this are two things.  (1) We are pretty much commanded to stay home, or very close to home.  Later it became a Jewish (and some Christian) tradition that a Sabbath days Journey was about a mile.  Even later, the Rabbim took it to mean any place around which you could place a rope.  So some congregations came up with REALLY long ropes that would encompass entire cites to allow the congregation to travel anywhere within the city.  This seems to be a contrivance to avoid, or get around, G-d’s laws concerning Shabbos rather than an attempt to obey them. (2) Gather and prepare for Shabbos on Friday during the day by preparing twice as much food as you would for just Friday so that you won’t have to cook anything, including coffee, on Shabbos.

The question that has arisen in my home is, “Well, what about using the microwave?  That isn’t a fire is it?”  My answer up until recently has been to pray and do as G-d leads.  But my family seems to try and push the limits of the laws of Shabbos rather than trying to go out of their way to honor Ha Shem.  Maybe it’s just the natural rebellion of mankind.  Anyway, beginning next Shabbos, we will learn to do without the microwave – coffee will be prepared the day before and set on a timer.  We will eat leftovers that are not “nuked” or prepare only sandwiches.  As the father / leader / papa of this home it falls to me to be sure that my family and anyone living in my home observe G-d’s laws, if not in spirit at least in form and function.

The only fire that I read about that was permitted (actually, commanded) on Shabbos was that one in temple which was for the sacrifices.  And then only the High Priest could do these things.  And, before you ask, yes, the priest does work on Shabbos but that is by commandment.  Whether the priest takes Friday or Sunday as Shabbos is usually up to the individual person or congregation.  In ours, the priest works on Saturday and Sunday and takes Monday for Shabbos.

Ex 23:10-12: And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof.  (11) But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat and what they leave the beast of the field shall eat.  In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard and with thy olive yard.  (12) Six days thou shalt do thy work and on the seventh day thou shalt rest; that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed. [KJV]

Lev 25:2b-7: When you enter the land that I assign to you, the land shall observe a sabbath of the LORD. (3) Six years you may sow your field and six years you may prune your vineyard and gather in the yield. (4) But in the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath of complete rest, a sabbath of the LORD: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. (5) You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your untrimmed vines; it shall be a year of complete rest for the land.  (6) But you may eat whatever the land during its sabbath will produce – you, your male and female slaves, the hired and bound laborers who live with you, (7) and your cattle and the beasts in your land may eat all its yield.  [JPS]

Now, personally, I have trouble reconciling verses 6 and 7 with verse 5.  Verse 5 says not to reap but verse 6 says that I can eat of it.  How can I eat of it without reaping?  One explanation would be that during the Sabbath year for the land that you do NOT sow the field nor prune the vineyard (i.e., do not do the “normal” work in the vineyard).  BUT, you can eat whatever springs up of itself during the Sabbath year for the land.  Maybe a rabbi or two will weigh in with an answer…

Since this is almost 1,800 words, I’ll pick up here next week.  Maybe by then we’ll have an answer for verse 5, 6 and 7.  Besides, no blog should go much over 2,000 words or it becomes an chapter in a book.

SDG, Yaakov Kohen

November 22, 2008 Posted by | Religion | , , , , | 1 Comment

What About the Sabbath?

Greetings in the Name of HaShem:

In both Christian and Jewish worlds, a Sabbath (usually the seventh or first day) is supposed to be observed once weekly.  This blog will be in two (or more) parts – first on the Jewish Sabbath (ancient and modern, Orthodox, Conservative and Reformed) and then on the Christian Sabbath (ancient and modern, Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant).  That’s a LOT of ground to cover in just one blog so, hopefully, this will be the start of a series of blogs.  Since my knowledge of Islam is very limited, I know only that they have a Sabbath on Friday/Saturday and usually it is observed by the faithful so I won’t be writing about theirs.

First let’s consider the ancient Sabbath.  For now we (myself and any comments posted to this blog) will assume that the Masoretic text is as close as you can get to what HaShem actually said.   I use the word(s) HaShem for the name of The Eternal – meaning “The Name” – for our Heavenly Father rather than any other in respect to most factions or sects of Judaism.  Also, I use the name G-d for reference to HaShem rather than using the full name for the same reason.  After all, this is going on the internet and I have no idea how it will be used so I try to stay with Judaic convention of writing.

First, almost every Christian and Jew knows of the “Big Ten” commandments and the Fourth Commandment.  These are found in Deuteronomy and Exodus in the Torah, or the first five books of the Old Testament.  Since the main subject of this blog is about the Shabbos, permit me to quote just a few passages about it from the KJV (slight editing by yours truly) of the bible:

Deuteronomy 5:12-15: Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it, as HaShem thy G-d hath commanded thee.  (13) Six days thou shalt labour and do all thy work: (14) But the seventh day is the Sabbath of HaShem thy G-d: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor the stranger within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.  (15) And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt and that HaShem thy G-d brought thee out thence with a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore HaShem thy G-d commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day.

Exodus 20: 8-11: Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. (9) Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work. (10) But the seventh day is the Sabbath of HaShem they G-d: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, they manservant, nor they maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days HaShem made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day: wherefore HaShem blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Now that alone should point out that since HaShem took more space and time to be sure that everyone understood what he was saying that we, Jews and Christians alike, should always keep the Sabbath day as a holy day and do no work therein.  Also, before someone jumps in with any side tracks, let’s leave the reasoning for the words “Keep” and “Remember” or the wording or phraseology of each one for another time and another topic.  For now, we will focus ONLY on the Sabbath, keeping the Sabbath and what all that entails.

For now we will consider only the two passages above.  The two things to consider here is that HaShem took most of His time on this commandment and therefore some think that by taking this amount of time that He considered it more important than the others.  Hardly!  Would keeping the Sabbath be more important than not worshipping other gods?  Or more important than not taking His name in vain?  However, when we consider that the punishment for not keeping the Sabbath – which is considered as a dishonor to HaShem Himself – was death, it is AS important as the others.  Today, this is thought of as being barbaric and inhuman treatment.  

When HaShem said “Thou Shalt Not Steal” the punishment was not death but to replace five times the amount stolen back to the person from whom it was stolen.  There did not seem to be any prison sentences in HaShem’s Torah (Law) – no prisons until much later.  So we might consider that the commandments that involved death as a penalty as something that was really, really important to HaShem.  

Second: What do we mean by “Keep” or “Remember” the Sabbath?  The main thing is not to work.  But also, and just as important, is to do those things that honor HaShem; usually studying His word, singing praises to Him, meeting together to study and sing praises as well a privately, but most that the day should be focused on HaShem and not just reading or watching TV.  Some go so far as to ban all reading of anything except holy works, book on the bible, watching TV programs about HaShem, listening to radio or music that either tells of His great works or sings his praises.  A lot of this will be covered next week. 

Conclusion for Part One:  On the Sabbath, from Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown, we should consider meeting with others of like mind to worship HaShem.  If you are Christian (something for another discussion) then from Sunday morning until Monday morning is considers “The Lords Day” and is equivalent to the Jewish Sabbath.  During that time, we should focus our minds and hearts and energies on G-d, not on earthly things.  CAN/MAY we watch a football game?  Or even play in a football game?  Certainly.  Personally, I would think that an hour or two break to release energies should be permissible.  But NOT if it is for pay nor if it is in exchange for tuition at college, which is the same thing as pay.  Nor would practice if you are a professional or playing for tuition at college.  Playing music, playing piano or guitar is fine UNLESS you are doing this as a professional musician or if you are learning to be a professional musician.  Singing and playing at temple or church is fine – that is something that is in honor and praise of HaShem so long as you take no money nor anything in payment for your services.

There was a time (and maybe still is) when Jews would hire a “Goy Boy” (young man of the nations, not a Jew) to come in and turn on lights, warm the food, whatever.  That was NOT honoring the Shabbos – it was circumvention and having a manservant or maidservant work on the Shabbos.  Today we use timers to turn the lights on and off or turn coffee pots on and off.  That would be fine if the timers and coffee pots are set the day before.  Even setting a timer for a roast to cook the day before is fine.  

What about washing up the dishes?  Probably not OK but probably putting them in a sink full of water would be fine.  Fine line stuff has to be worked out between you and HaShem, not with anyone else in between you and HaShem.  Read and think:  Do you really think that you are smart enough to fool the same G-d that created the Heavens and the Earth?  He knows your heart and He knows when you are “trying to put one over on Him.”  When in doubt, DON’T DO IT!!

What about writing a blog on Shabbos?  Well, if you are a professional writer, and the blog is NOT about HaShem, of course not!  If you are not a professional writer, will it wait until tomorrow or the next day?  (You know it will, right?  Or course, right!)  But if the blog or article (for which you do NOT get paid) is about HaShem, then you *should* write it.  Just pray for inspiration before writing.  Maybe He will give you inspiration, maybe not.  But if you are writing or singing or reading about HaShem, then all is in order.

Here’s the important thing:  Whatever you do, do it in honor to HaShem Himself.  Not for filthy lucre (money) but as praise and honor and glory to His Holy Name.  If you fail and do something other than that on Shabbos, ask His forgiveness.  And do it right the next time.  

Next week, the next blog will pick up here and continue with the other passages in both the Old and New testament on the Sabbath.  Meanwhile, to see what the Sabbath SHOULD mean, watch the movie “Chariots of Fire” this weekend.  

SDG

Yaakov

November 15, 2008 Posted by | Religion | , , , , | 1 Comment

Radicals and Messiahim – Zealots and Extremists

Extremism – it isn’t something that makes the ordinary person comfortable.  Today I was reading a post about the Torah on extremists in general and Pinchas in particular.  It caught my attention because in my college days (yes, I really did attend a decent university in my youth) I once had some friends named Pinkus, not the same spelling as above but close enough since it’s a Hebrew word that has been translated into English.  I didn’t know much about them nor their religion; they never offered and I never asked, even though I often had lunch or supper at their house.   Sometimes Jews think that everyone “just knows” that they are Jews because of their name.  Not really true in the USA amongst the younger folks since most young folks rarely think about things that are outside of their immediate realm of books, friends, cars, coffee and exploring the world.

Back to the subject:  Extremists make us uncomfortable because we really want to be extremists but we don’t want the pain that goes along with it.  Yeshua (called Jesus in English) was such an extremists.  Messiah is the Hebrew transliteration and Yasu (long a, long u) would have been the Greek pronunciation.   Isaiah was an extremists as was David and Daniel and many others of biblical fame.  Probably the most extreme person in the bible was Elijah, whose very name declares that “Adonai” (jah) is “G-d” (Eli).  He ordered more than 400 servants of the false god Baal killed on one day – probably within one hour after the one true G-d had lit the fires of the altar after the altar was doused with four dousings water until the water ran like a small creek around the altar.   See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elija for more on the subject or just read your bible, I Kings, Chapter 18 or so.

Extremism:  WHY do they make us feel uncomfortable?  If we know that this person is right, then why are we so, so, SO uncomfortable around them?  Sometimes just hearing about them makes us uncomfortable?  Because, deep down, we wish that we could be like that Radical person, that Zealot, that Extremist.  And we want, deep down, to be holy, even as G-d has commanded us to be holy just as He is Holy.  There is a longing in our soul that cries out to G-d to help us to be holy even as He is Holy.  It’s why we weep openly at the death of a hero or a fallen soldier who has given up everything including his life for his cause.  We want so much to be a hero but there is that awful chasm of fear, that wide gulf of pain to cross to get there.  And we know that the extremists is the person who has given up on this life and is truly, totally, absolutely looking forward to the next life with his G-d and his Savior.  This desire for holiness is the reason that those seeking G-d at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem sometime can do nothing more than stand there and weep openly and unashamedly.

On the other hand, if that radical person is wrong, why not just ignore that person?  Because we know that this person could be dangerous to us and our way of life.  That person is no longer afraid of judicial punishment here on Earth but is looking forward to the next life.  Even if that person is wrong, that person STILL believes in what is being done.  Just like the Muslim extremist today – or the Christian Radical Right Wing (such as the KKK that is not Christian but they think that they are Christian) – we know that they are wrong and they are a real and present danger to us and our way of life, whether we are Jew, Christian, Islam, Atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, Agnostic, whatever…   

OK, then just who is this Pinchas person?  Pinchas (another spelling of Pinchus) is discussed in some detail, not a lot, at http://www.azamra.org/Parshah/PINCHAS.htm and is the middle of five Torah lessons in Numbers, those five being Chukat, Balak, Pinchas, Mattot and Massei.   Pinchas is sometimes called the “Prince of Peace” because in Numbers 25:11-12 G-d says, “Pinchas, son of Elazar, son of Aaron the Priest, turned away my wrath upon the Children of Israel in his zealousness.  Therefore say: I hereby give him My Covenant of Peace.”  So what did he do to earn this title?  If you read either the link or Numbers you’ll know – but I’ll save you the effort.  

The Torah forbids intermarriage between a Jew and anyone of the “nations” – goyim.  This is, in effect, to show the difference between the Holy and the profane, between those chosen of God and the rest of the world, a people who do not know one hand from the other.  (Kind of harsh sounding today, isn’t it?  What we would call “extremism” or “orthodoxy” in Judaism.)  So, when a Jew married a Midianite girl and took her into his tent in the very face of Moses and the rest of the congregation to consummate their marriage, all of Israel was stunned.  Even Moses just sat there.

But Pinchas, a mere lad, alone, but a majority of two (himself and G-d), picked up his spear, went into the tent and drove the spear through the two of them (both at once) while they were in the middle marital coitus.  He then dragged them out to show that the defilement of Israel and the blaspheming of the Law of the G-d of Israel would not be tolerated.  Even RAMBAM (Moses Maimonides) said in his code that this is still the law, though it has been watered down to being forty lashes.  And they can be killed only during the act of coitus itself, not something that can be talked about and then taken before the council.  (How wimpy all that sounds now compared to Pinchas.)  

Even the study of Pinchas is done alone of the five Torah studies in Numbers.  When Rebbe Kotzer was asked he replied, “Pinchas stands alone because Pinchas himself was an extremist.  Extremists always stand alone.”  So, if you are uncomfortable around extremists, that’s OK.  Maybe you won’t ever be extreme about anything.  If everyone one was extremists then there would not be a word for extremism, would there?  But you might give some though to doing your dead level best to always doing what G-d said to do and not tolerating those who would stray from His Holy Word and call it “pluralism” or “inclusion”.  More on the later…

SDG

Yaakov

July 18, 2008 Posted by | Religion | Leave a comment

On Romans 8:28

If you read the KJV of this passage it runs something like this; “For we know that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.”   This sometimes leads to a false sense of security.  

But the Greek text (from the Textus Recptus) doesn’t really say that.  If I could switch to Greek (there MUST be some way to do that) then is would say something like “oidamen de ote tois agapos ton Theon panta ounergei eis agathon tois kata prothesin klatois ousin.”  

Close.  But, when you ask a modern-day Greek what that means to him, you get something like this; “(we) know that those of us (the ones that) love (the) God alway work together toward good (pure good, God-kind of good) us according wishes (intentions) called (as you have been called) us.”  

Putting that back into English, “We know that those of us who love God always work together toward good for we are called according to the wishes of God.”  Not quite the same, is it?  Basically, it’s now saying that if we are called by God then we are always working for the pure, upright and holy wishes of God.  Sort of put the onus back on us to do good things, not to expect good things to “just happen because we are called of God.”  

I’m not sure that what I have here is absolutely correct, but I do know that the original Greek didn’t say what the King James crew wanted it to say.

SDG

jco

April 24, 2008 Posted by | Religion | | 1 Comment