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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

The NRA Blew It !!

Greetings:

Normally, I read my American Rifleman magazine from the NRA with a bit of enthusiasm about the articles but with a jaundiced eye toward the political rants and raves of the far-right wing of American Conservatism.  So, basic premise: Articles good, political articles bad.  Even so, when they picked the AR Top 10 Infantry Rifles where they picked the Best of Breed, they really blew that one.  

#1 – No discussion, no question.  The venerable M1 Garand, 30-06 is probably the finest infantry rifle built at the time and for many years thereafter.

But consider the ones that they left out:  The M14, .308 calibre (7.62x51mm) that served so gallantly as a replacement to the M1 for many years they left in the armory of time because, as they so un-characteristically put it, “One of our personal favorites, the M14, was dropped because we decided that when two comparable contemporary guns were on the list, like the M14 and the FN FAL, the tie had to go to the gun with the greater historical impact and longer service life, rather than the gun we liked best.”

What claptrap!!  FIRST, this is the “American” Rifleman, not the “Rifles of the World” magazine.  SECOND, it is not a gun you nitwit you.  It is a weapon or rifle.  Apparently they never had to do high-port-double-time for hours because they referred to their weapon as a gun shouting, “This is my weapon and this is my gun!  This is for fighting and this for fun!”  THIRD: The FAL 7.62 is a piece of crap compared to the M14 so they were NOT considering the BEST OF BREED and NOT considering AMERICAN, you were playing international politics and which one has been around the longest. 

If they had taken the time to read Sgt. Carlos Hathcock’s (USMC-ret) books or Sgt. John Culbertson’s (USMC-ret) or Col. M. R. Lanning (US Army-ret) books on American Snipers, they would NEVER have put the M16, .223 / 5.56x51mm in their list and left out the M14.  These guys lived the sniper life and learned quickly what worked and what didn’t work.  Yes, the military replaced a real “grunt” rifle (M14) that would drop the enemy in his tracks with a plastic piece of crap (M16) that jammed time after time after time when in real combat conditions of mud, rain, snow, sleet and crappy conditions that are always there in real combat.  The M14 is another work of art much like the M1 that it replaced.  

And, yes, the military, in its unintelligent, moronic logic, replaced the M14 sniper rifles with a Remington BDL .300 Magnum bolt action.  Another REALLY dumb move.  (A bolt action takes away the option of a quick second shot.)  The M16 and the BDL are NOT sniper nor combat rifles; one is a toy that excels in street fights (but not in combat street fights) and the other is great for hunting.  Neither is a military weapon worthy of consideration.  Personally, having lots of fire is not the same a knock-down.  The woosey military felt that the .308 was “too powerful” for the modern army – mostly because the women and girly-men could not handle the recoil.  So, today, that’s why we have toy guns in combat – so the women could have something to shoot.  It makes you want to go somewhere and just puke.

Personally, I would have put the M14 as #2 and the Kalashnikov AK-47 as #3.  The Enfield .303 calibre  (which was #6) should have been in there somewhere but it probably could have replaced the M16 as #3 or #4 behind the Mauser.  

FINALLY, how about this:  The StG44 7.92mm is # 7.  Talk about not having “time in service” !!  It was only in service for a VERY short period of time in WW II by the Germans.  True, it WAS a nice piece of machinery, but it was a unique calibre (7.92x33mm, not 7.62).  Personally, most Airborne GI’s in WW II preferred the Thompson .45 for rapid-fire delivery at short range with tremendous knockdown over most any other rifle, including the M1.  They liked the 1911 .45 for the same reason.

Well, that’s about it.  Write the “Used to be” American Rifleman and let them know your discontent.  I’m ready to give up that bunch of non-combatants.  

Yaakov Kohen

November 23, 2008 Posted by | Guns-n-Ammo | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

First 2008 Presidential Debate

OK, it wasn’t exactly a debate – but personally I liked it much better than a debate.  They had the same questions that they had to answer from the Southern Baptist pastor at Saddleback church in California, one of the few SBC Mega-Churches with more than 22,000 members.  Just in case you missed it, here is just a sampling of the questions, answers and comments by another Texas Jewish Cowboy (me).  

I have always discounted John McCain as another Hillary Clinton but wearing a Republican arm band. Obama I haven’t trusted since he said that he could no more desert his pastor than he could desert the black community nor his white grandmother – and then promptly deserted his pastor two weeks later. What a wimp! I had said during the preliminaries that if it was McCain versus Clinton in the presidential vote, I wouldn’t even bother going to the polls because they were cut out of the same piece of cloth. OK, here are just a few of the questions and answers from last night:

To whom would you go for counseling?  (name three):  Obama names his wife, then his mother, then said that there were many others someone outside of the “family.”  McCain names General Patraeus, then John Lewis (D.Ga) – civil rights leader – and then Meg Whitten, the CEO of EBay.  Sorry, but I read Michelle’s thesis – I certainly would not trust her as the First Counsel for the President of the United States. General Patraeus, while not my first choice, did have the knowledge to straighten up the armed forces in Iraq so that we have a chance.

Does evil exist and if so how would you deal with it? Obama said that Americans must have humility when confronting evil. McCain said, “Defeat it! If I have follow him to the gates of Hell I will get Osama Bin Laden.” He also stated that the Al Queda is now in both Iraq and Afghanistan and that we need to put the pressure on him there rather than here. I rather like that much more than the namby-pamby, politically correct answer that Obama gave.

When does life begin? Consider that we have had 40 Million abortions in the USA since Roe versus Wade Supreme Court decision. Obama said that he was not in a high enough pay grade to answer that one. (Not only a duck and dodge, but a really wimpy duck and dodge.) Obama then stressed that because he was Pro Choice did not mean that he was Pro Abortion. (Sorry, Charlie – they’re one and the same.) McCain immediately said, “At conception.”

When asked about their darkest moments and toughest decisions, McCain responded with the, by now, well-know episode in the Hanoi Hilton (North Korean prison camp) where he had to decide to follow the code of conduct when he was offered release before prisoners who had been there longer than himself. He declined and spent another three years in the Hanoi Hilton. I don’t even remember what Obama said but it was not notable. What McCain did NOT say was that the North Koreans broke his already broken arms (he broke both arms when he bailed out and crashed) again in prison. He also told of the Christian prison guard who relieved his pain once when his elbows were pulled up behind his back and his head was forced down between his knees and he had been left there for the night. Later that year, on Christmas Day, the guard wandered up to McCain and with his boot drew a cross in the dirt.

I didn’t know it before, but now I KNOW the man that I want leading my country for the next four (or eight) years – and it is not a wimp from Chicago; it’s the man of iron, the REAL man of iron, that I saw last night. I was wrong last year and most of this year about McCain – he is decisive, clear, articulate and a strong right-wing Christian. If he picks a Jew for a running mate, who can stop him? You can find some of talk scattered around the internet – my left wing newspaper ran only a 1/4 page on the inside back of the main section.

SDG
Yaakov

August 17, 2008 Posted by | Political | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bare Knuckle Push-UP

Just had a chat with a friend of mine over in East (almost) Texas.  Fort Worth, actually.  He said that he went to lunch with a couple of friends from the Dallas Rules Group who wanted to start up a course based on the Progression Chart listed on the DRG home page somewhere.  It’s a “kind-of” Sigma-Six thing where you study your whatever off and you get awarded varying degrees of completion that is based on Karate / Tae Kwon Do / Kung Foo kind of progression.  Basically it is a five-year or more plan where the student moves from apprentice to journeyman to master, or in their case white belt (three grades) to yellow, green, blue, purple, three levels of brown belt and finally to black belt.

I’m not too sure that anyone would want to do bare knuckle-pushups to strengthen their hands and wrists and focus in order to better perfect their punch.  Especially when the workout is on a gravel road leading to the sand dunes and then to the sea.  It all seems so Okinawan to me.  (Karate started with Kung Foo teacher from China who taught on Okinawa and the art migrated to Korea, Japan and, eventually, to the USA and Europe.)  Anyway, the Okinawa “masters” would repeatedly punch a 1″x4″ board wrapped in hemp rope, do spear-hand-thrusts into buckets of sand, do knuckle pushups on gravel, wood or something else damaging to human flesh, all in order to enable them to punch through bamboo armor worn by the Japanese soldiers occupying their land.

So, what does all this have to do with his luncheon date?  My friend carried away two things from the meeting.  One of the persons there asked, “Is there any way to compress this time frame from five years down to something shorter?”  He should have just gotten up and walked away at that point but, being a Western Gentleman he gave the lady the benefit of the doubt and simply answered with a comparison of shortening a Ph.D. career – some can, most can’t.  Obviously, she would not have lasted two weeks but he was too PC to tell her that – maybe at some later date.

The other problem was that it had to fit into a corporate environment.  Oh, yeah.  Now there’s a great idea.  Move a Knowledge Engineering school that probably belongs in a Ph.D. program in some high-end university to a corporate environment.  Never happens – no “short term” benefits; only long-term benefits if the students can last that long.  Think about it – most high-tech employees don’t last five years on the job.  What’s to keep them there to complete a five year course of study that will separate them from their family and friends?  

Anyway, like most high-school rock-musicians, programmers eventually have to get a day-job to support their habits of family, friends, nice homes and fancy cars.  The Karate stuff, and the studying, go out the window as soon as they leave college.  No, Jimbo, you’re going to have to keep looking for those few, those silly enough to commit their very lives to the study of knowledge for the sake of just knowing what they are doing.  I hope you have a long and fruitful life but I don’t think it’s long enough to find those Fearless Five in this century.  🙂

 

SDG

Yaakov

July 21, 2008 Posted by | Rule Stuff | Leave a 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

George, George, George

George, George, George!! Why, oh why, did we ever vote for you in the first place? We thought that you would do so much good and on 9-11 we thought that you were a real President. But you have SO disappointed us. By “us” I mean all of the conservative (read, Orthodox) Jews, (read, Baptists and Charismatic) Christians and others of faith who thought that you had repented from your foolish boyhood transgressions and would lead a moral life.

True, you didn’t diddle with the interns in the Oval Office as did your predecessor. Worse. You diddled the American voter. Afghanistan I could see – almost. Iraq? Well I think you lied to us on that one. (Just one man’s opinion, not a fact.) But NOW you seem to have gone behind closed doors with a major real estate agent (a former logger) and negotiated to sell off 1.2 MILLION Acres of National Forest for home development. And (so said the article in today’s paper) it “could” lead to paving of the logging trails – not that it “would” but that it “could” – do you guys really believe that we (the voters) are THAT dumb?

If selling off National Forest land was a good thing, then it should have been open for bid to anyone who wanted to buy it. If it was not a good thing the no one should have been allowed to buy it. George, we hardly knew ya – but we got to know more about you that we wanted to know.

For more details on what Georgie Boy has been up to the past few years see
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/george_w_bush/index.html?query=LOGGING%20INDUSTRY&field=des&match=exact

SDG
Yaakov

July 5, 2008 Posted by | Political | , , , | Leave a comment

Drools, BRMS and Revolutions

Greetings, Programs:

If your are a member of the Dallas Rules Group (DRG) and you don’t subscribe already to the Drools RSS feed at http://feeds.athico.com/DroolsRSS, maybe you might should since most of “All Things DRG” are Drools-centric. Of particular interest is the “latest and greatest” early editions of version 5 from the Drools Team for two reasons:

(1) The Drools Team is beginning the late-September release of Drools 5 that will include a BRMS implementation. Admittedly, their initial implementation might be just a bit behind that of ILOG or Fair Isaac BUT, and this is the important part, it includes basic BRMS functionality AND (wait for it…. wait… here it comes…..) DROOLS IS FREE.

(2) The Drools team lives on the globe. Literally. Mark Proctor (their fearless leader) is in London. Edson Terelli is in Canada. Mic Neale is in Australia. And the others are scattered around the globe. BUT they work together to produce a product that is making giant leaps and bounds from that “freeware” tag into what used to be the exclusive domain of $20K or $50K starter BRMS tools.

Here’s another thing: More and more companies are using shareware or freeware products such as Linux, Open Office, Java, Eclipse, Net Beans, JBoss to run those $500K (final installed price) BRMS packages. Now they’re going to have another really good package to add in there; Drools. The line between commercial BRMS vendors and freeware vendors is becoming more and more blurred and, with the next year or two, should disappear altogether.

Remember when JBoss was free and big companies would not use it because it did not have “support” from a “real” vendor? So they paid through the nose for BEA (formerly Tuxedo) Web Logic (now owned by Oracle) or IBM Web Sphere. And all of the software ran on either Sun Solaris or IBM AIX. But then “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum” – small companies, then bigger companies and bigger companies started using Linux, that Unix work-a-like for Linus Torvalds. Totally unexpected. Fast forward three years and now major companies are not only using Linux, they are beginning to use JBoss. But they continue to use ILOG, Fair Isaac, Pega, Corticon, Visual Rules, etc. BECAUSE the OPSJ, Drools, CLIPS and Jess folks just could not produce a “real” BRMS product.

So, fast forward three more years – companies at that time were beginning to use Jess and Drools in places where they never did before BECAUSE Jess and Drools were using the Eclipse interface and debugging tools and Ant and all of that other stuff that their geeky programmers loved so much and used anyway – until they got caught and reprimanded. (They used it even after that because they could not get that vaunted “tech support” from the commercial vendors.)

Today we, the BRMS and rulebase programmers, rule engineers and knowledge engineers, stand on the cusp of an historical incident much like the Rete Algorithm gave us almost 30 years ago in 1979: A FREE BRMS !!! It’s coming! The first editions are here! That “pre-alpha” part where there are more problems than features. But judging on the history of the Drools Team, those problems will go away. If you are a BRMS consultant, get ready and be prepared. Meaning you had better download Drools and begin getting used to their syntax rather than that of the big commercial vendors.

My prediction is that within the next three years those dinosaurs of the BRMS world will be rapidly slipping into the tar pits of obscurity and we will have copy-cat BRMS freebies. They won’t be as well done as Drools, but we will begin to see more and more BRMS products (note that I did NOT say more and more rulebased products) that are, for the most part, free. Maybe the Drools logo now should be a giant purple dinosaur surrounded by a large red circle with a bar through it. Meaning, STOP THE DINOSAURS. 🙂

SDG
Yaakov

July 4, 2008 Posted by | Rule Stuff | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

October [Technical] Rules Fest

The Dallas Rules Group (http://www.dallasrulesgroup.org) is sponsoring a Rulebase Conference in October called, of all things, the “October <Technical> Rules Fest” – maybe it has something to do with the German community in South Texas that has the October Fest.  But October Fest in Munich is actually from September 15th to September 30th.  All very confusing. 

BUT – and here’s the really cool part – this could prove to be the “Woodstock of the Rulebase World”, as one of the “leaders” of the Jess group called it.  Why?  Well, check out http://rulesfest.org and you’ll see that the list of speakers includes almost all of the major rulebase leaders today.  Just to name a couple:  Dr. Charles Forgy [invented Rete and Rete2/Rete III], Mark Proctor [inventor of Drools], Gary Riley [inventor of CLIPS], and many more.  There is even a day of tutorials on Wednesday.  All included for only $150 per attendee.  That’s dang-near free in today’s $5K conference fee level.  Even the El-Cheapo BR Forum is $1,750.  

 Only a couple of world-class God Fathers (sorry ladies, I just don’t know about any God Mothers in the rulebase world) are missing and DRG is trying to get them.  The really, really cool part is that it was the speakers themselves who kept asking, “Well, did you invite so-and-so?”  We invited so-and-so and he would ask, “Did you invite who’s-it?”  And it just grew all by itself.  

Check out the link.  Check out the speakers.  This probably will NEVER happen again – meaning there are not plans right now for an “October <Technical> Rules Fest – Der Zwi”.   OK, so my German is really bad movie-subtitle-level German, but you get the idea.  There may not BE another conference like this ever again.  

SDG

Yaakov

June 10, 2008 Posted by | Rule Stuff | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment