7.11.2012

AMF 2012


Ok so, three four of you noticed my recent drop off the map - which I appreciate. It had to happen. I was invited to perform at the upcoming AMF - Messianic Music & Arts Festival, which was a tremendous honor, but one that required some massive, musical stuff take place here at the homestead. I'm still getting a few things together actually, so KOEOY will have to wait just a bit longer.

If you weren't planning to attend AMF, which is only a month away (in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina), you really should - it's going to be incredible. And if you are planning to attend, but haven't yet registered, you should do that too. Pre-sale tickets (at a discounted price) are available only until July 22nd.

Lahet Kherev (my experimental/ambient/dust-gaze? project) will be performing on Saturday, August 11th at 3pm on the main stage, and my brother-in-law's awesome project, Minikon, will be performing at the same time, and on the same stage, but the day before. There's about 50 bands performing, but as far as I know, we'll be the only musicians that will completely confuse the festival-goers. Should be fun. I'll have some copies of the new Lahet Kherev album, Eikev, with me (as well as another little surprise), and Minikon will have his albums and merchandise, too, as well as an AMF exclusive preview ep of his upcoming album ‘LoveWins’. I'd love to see a few of you guys among the many Messianic musicians and mountain majesties. Mmmountains. I may even return to Florida afterwards.

6.20.2012

Boyarin: The Gospels are Jewish

Today we are interviewing Daniel Boyarin, whose new book, The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ, was published by New Press this April. In The Jewish Gospels, Daniel presents an astonishing argument that the concept of the Trinity was not original to Christianity at all but came out ideas that were commonplace in the Jewish tradition long before the birth of Jesus. Daniel is one of the world’s most renowned, original, and admired scholars of ancient Judaism. He is the Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture in the departments of Rhetoric and of Near Eastern Studies at UC Berkeley. Daniel is not shy of taking provocative and controversial positions. His work was recently alluded to in the Oscar-nominated Israeli film, Footnote, where it was the subject of an argument. He has described himself as a Trotskyist, anti-Zionist Orthodox Jew, a set of positions and commitments that has excited both exaggerated interest in his work as well as scurrilous public attacks (mostly by pro-Zionist Jewish professors). Let’s hope today’s interview will engender both.

Andy: Daniel, everybody knows that Jesus was a Jew. But in The Jewish Gospels you are saying something quite different and original, even revolutionary. Can you explain your argument?

Boyarin: When people say that Jesus was a Jew, they usually mean that he came out of a Jewish milieu. Some think he completely revolutionized that environment, while others think it was the Gospels that produced that overturn, making a Jewish teacher into a god. I am arguing that the portrait of Jesus we find in the Gospels (especially in Mark) is one that could completely fit into the context of Second-Temple Judaism in which a Messiah who would be divine and human at the same time is not a foreign notion. I argue, moreover, that there is nothing in Mark or Matthew (or probably in Luke as well –  but this is a harder argument to make) that suggests that Jesus was setting aside or abrogating the law of the Torah. So it’s not only Jesus who was a Jew but the Christ (and Christ is not Jesus’ last name but his title!)

Andy: So let me get this straight. In the early years of Christianity there was no real distinction between Jews and Christians. There just happened to be some Jews who thought that a particular guy, Jesus, was the messiah. And these Jesus Jews weren’t really all that distinctive within the world of Jews at the time. Is that correct?

Boyarin: Yes. Fairly frequently I’m asked by Christian folk why the Jews “rejected” Jesus. I answer this (as Jews stereotypically are wont to) with another question: Who do you think accepted Jesus, the Zulus; the Goths? Jews were expecting a Messiah—this is one of the central arguments of the book—and many of them, moreover, had come to expect him to be a divine being in human form or even embodied in a human. Some Jews who came to know Jesus were so impressed with him that they accepted the claim (if he made it) or made the claim themselves that this Jew from Nazareth was the one that they and all of the Jews were expecting. Not altogether surprisingly a fair number, probably most, of the Jews around at the time were more skeptical. Today we call the first group of Jews Christians, the second Jews, but then and for a long time, they were all Jews.

Andy: When I studied The New Testament, I was always taught that St. Paul was the person who really made Christianity distinct from Judaism. And that happened early on. Apparently you see it differently. When did Christianity have its irrevocable break with Judaism? And why?

Boyarin: In some ways it was Paul who effected the revolution with respect to the Torah that we don’t find in the Gospels. But it needs to be remembered that Paul was an embattled figure, marginalized and considered a heretic by most followers of Jesus for decades if not  longer. I would tentatively suggest that it was the entry of myriads of Gentiles into the Jesus movement, folks who had no interest in or attraction toward the traditional ways of the Jews that ultimately precipitated a gradual and finally total separation of the communities. One of the important arguments of the book is that the Gospels are misread as portraying Jesus as rejecting the Torah and Jewish religious practice; it was Paul who did that, and even with Paul, a plausible argument could be made that he intended this rejection only for the “believers” from the Nations (the so-called Gentiles) and not the Jewish followers of Christ. Jesus, I argue, defended the Torah against the reforms and traditions of the Pharisees whom he saw as substituting their own traditions for what was clearly written by Moses!

Andy: A lot of your book is a close look at the language of the Gospels, particularly The Gospel of Mark. I always thought that the Gospels tried to distinguish Jesus’ ideas from the Jewish thinkers of his time, particularly the Pharisees.

Boyarin: Yes, but precisely the argument is that the Pharisees were not “the Jewish thinkers of the time;” they were some Jewish thinkers of the time. Jesus, I argue, was much more conservative in his approach to Torah than the Pharisees who were descended from Jews who had returned from the Babylonian Exile with some quite new ideas about the way the Torah ought to be practiced, especially their notion of a “Tradition of the Fathers”—later on called Oral Torah—that dictated some practices that certainly seemed different from the literal meaning of the Torah itself. So Jesus was portrayed as being in conflict with those Pharisees but that hardly marked him off as in any way not Jewish in his religious thought, any more than the attacks on the Pharisees in the Dead Sea Scrolls make those texts not Jewish or less Jewish than the Talmud!

Andy: When you think about this, it seems pretty provocative. How do you think Jewish and Christian theologians are going to respond to it?

6.07.2012

Prometheus





"The search for our beginning could lead to our end." or so goes the tagline for the new Ridley Scott film, Prometheus, opening tomorrow. What was originally billed as an ALIEN prequel, is now apparently a standalone work, and in prime position to do very well at the box office. Summer is upon us and school is out. Throngs of wide-eyed youth will soon flood the theaters to see Prometheus for themselves, and it seems to have every ingredient necessary to achieve summer blockbuster status. While it certainly looks thrilling and promises amazing effects, I don't believe Prometheus will attract hundreds of thousands of viewers simply because Ridley Scott directed it, nor because Damon Lindelof co-wrote it. I believe the Prometheus audience will flock to see this film because it taps into that submerged but stirring question in the collective mind of society today.

For centuries, people have pondered "Is there a G-d?", and they, in turn, were followed by multiple generations asking "Why am I here?". In more postmodern times, though, these types of questions have shifted to "Are we alone?" and "Are our governments lying to us?" And for good reason, too. Many inexplicable mysteries have unfolded during our time on the planet, and some of the most intriguing are the ancient ones on which this film will capitalize. With the meteoric rise of internet research and many other advances in information technology, we've been able to avail ourselves of all sorts of data concerning long-forgotten civilizations that we wouldn't have been able to view just a decade ago. There are entire worlds of information out there to discover. I believe there is even more deception, though. The question at the heart of Prometheus' allure, the current inquiry in the minds of many people young and old alike, as strange as it may sound, is "Did an advanced race of alien beings create us?" And if so, "Are they coming back?"

The concept of Exogenesis, or the origins of human life having evolved, or having been created elsewhere, is not a new one - nor is it uncommonly held. When evidence supporting the theory of evolution can't be found on earth, it must be in the stars, right? A related theory, Panspermia, the notion that life on earth may have been seeded from a distant, cosmic source, is also a favorite among an increasing number of contemporary scientists. Those wishing to kick the abiogenesis can down the road will seemingly accept any explanation, no matter how irrational, as long as it doesn't include a G-d of moral absolutes and judgment. For many astonishing examples of this, you'll want to watch the documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The entire film is excellent, but very near its end you'll witness the truly insane lengths to which a celebrated thinker will go to denounce G-d in his attempt to explain the origins of life on earth. In this case, the intellectual being interviewed is none other than Richard Dawkins, accomplished author and proud Atheist. I can assure you, the many interviews with various "experts" are worth whatever you might pay to own Expelled - and you should. But if you'd prefer a free preview of Dawkins' greatness, you can watch those few ridiculously "scientific" minutes here. Intelligent design by aliens? Highly plausible and intellectual! Intelligent design by G-d? Unthinkable, primitive and idiotic!

The idea that our creator(s) could have been alien is well-trodden territory in various creative disciplines - and as we'll see, it goes all the way back to the very dawn of human civilization. In the coming months, I'll discuss some of the people that have explored these concepts, and we'll look at many of the otherworldly beliefs and understandings found in ancient cultures. I'll also offer a scriptural assessment of the alien phenomenon - including how it may even relate to future events. If you're wondering how on earth Tanakh could possibly intersect with space invaders, I hope you'll join me. There is so much to discuss.

5.18.2012

Sanctuary / Stone

"But the L-RD of Hosts, Him you shall honor as holy. Let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread. And He will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Yerushalayim. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken. Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples. I will wait for the L-RD, Who is hiding His Face from the house of Yakov, and I will hope in Him." ~ Isaiah 8:13-17

Isaiah revealed that Adonai would become a sanctuary to some of Israel, and a stone of offense to others. Is that not perfectly clear - and clearly seen today? This is the plan of G-d. It is glorious, but sometimes difficult for us to understand. The struggle does not belong to us. It is His alone - and He alone will triumph. B"H!

4.18.2012

DSS: Suffering Messiah

A respected Israeli scholar and professor at Hebrew University is making an intriguing and compelling case that it is a distinctly Jewish notion to expect the Messiah to come, die as a “suffering servant” as an atonement for sins and the redemption of Israel, and then to rise from the dead on the third day. Based on his many years of research, and fairly recently analyzed archaeological evidence — including a previously unstudied Dead Sea Scroll – the scholar is also arguing that this notion of the Messiah rising on the third day is a pre-Christian concept that dates back to before the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem Ephratah. The case made by Dr. Israel Knohl has attracted significant attention, including a major article in the New York Times and several articles in Biblical Archaeology Review — see here, and here, and here.

The Times story, which ran under the headline, Ancient Tablet Ignites Debate on Messiah and Resurrection, begins as follows: “A three-foot-tall tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew that scholars believe dates from the decades just before the birth of Jesus is causing a quiet stir in biblical and archaeological circles, especially because it may speak of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days. If such a messianic description really is there, it will contribute to a developing re-evaluation of both popular and scholarly views of Jesus, since it suggests that the story of his death and resurrection was not unique but part of a recognized Jewish tradition at the time. The tablet, probably found near the Dead Sea in Jordan according to some scholars who have studied it, is a rare example of a stone with ink writings from that era — in essence, a Dead Sea Scroll on stone.” The tablet has been named by scholars as “Gabriel’s Revelation” because it suggests that the angel Gabriel was instructed by God to direct that the Messiah be raised from the dead on the third day.

4.16.2012

No Evidence.

Renowned Talmudic scholar, Daniel Boyarin, in his latest book, The Jewish Gospels (speaking of Isaiah 53, on pg.152) states:

"I cannot overstate the extent to which the interpretation of this passage has anchored the conventional view of Judaism's relationship to Messianism. It has been generally assumed by modern folks that Jews have always given the passage a metaphorical reading, understanding the suffering servant to refer to the People of Israel, and that it was the Christians who changed and distorted its meaning to make it refer to Jesus. Quite to the contrary, we now know that many Jewish authorities, maybe even most, until nearly the modern period have read Isaiah 53 as being about the Messiah; until the last few centuries, the allegorical reading was a minority position." He continues, "Aside from one very important - but absolutely unique - notice in Origen's Contra Celsum, there is no evidence at all that any late ancient Jews read Isaiah 52-53 as referring to anyone but the Messiah."

Purchase Daniel Boyarin's The Jewish Gospels here.
Read the 53rd chapter of Isaiah here.
Watch The Mysterious Prophecy of Isaiah 53 video here.

4.05.2012

The Jewish Gospels


Daniel Boyarin’s The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ is a welcome revelation. Not only is Daniel Boyarin a universally celebrated author for his understanding of Talmud and ancient writings, his knowledge of history and scholarship is exceedingly well exhibited in this title. So rarely does a book break so much new ground, and still manage to exact a severe blow to the impotent arguments of anti-missionaries. This is an incredible book, and it's been an absolute joy for me to discuss the many implications of Boyarin’s discoveries with others over the last week.

In fact, I dare anyone who has bought into the modern myth (that the Sages have believed and taught that the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 is Israel) to read The Jewish Gospels. That's only the beginning, though. This small format title (160 pages) packs in so much vision - it really is a marvel. I honestly can’t recommend it highly enough - absolutely essential reading.

The Jewish Gospels will certainly disturb those (in Christianity, as well as Judaism) who relish blindness and cling to ignorance - central pillars for far too many today. Daniel Boyarin reveals essential truth - truth this world desperately needs. The concepts Boyarin expounds upon in The Jewish Gospels are the key to the future of Judaism - and Christianity. If you feel you're ready to read an astonishing, challenging, and completely eye-opening book – it’s available here.

Chag Pesach sameach to you all!

3.26.2012

Yechida

The essential idea of Moshiach is – (Yechida). As it is known, David possessed the level of (Nefesh), Eliyahu of (Ruach), Moshe of (Neshama), Adam of (Chaya) and the Moshiach will possess the level of Yechida. These five names are the five levels of the soul. Nefesh (vitality) is the lowest frame and life-force of the body, the natural soul and simple life of man. Ruach (spirit) is the spiritual faculty vivifying man’s emotional attributes. Neshama (soul) is the divine force vivifying the intellect. Chaya (living) is an even more refined Godly level.

Yechida is the divine spark itself enclothed in the most refined spark of the soul, “United and one with God”. It represents total bittul (self-nullification)…..Yechida in this sense is expressed in Mesiras Nefesh (literal self-sacrifice) martyrdom…” (emphasis mine)

from On the Essence of Chassidus by R. Menachem M. Schneerson [Pg. 23]

3.23.2012

The Concealed Light

The Concealed Light: Names of Messiah In Jewish Sources
by Tzvi Sadan [Vine of David, 2012]

Book review by: Darren Huckey
Available at: Vine Of David

They say that quite often big things come in small packages. This is definitely the case with Tsvi Sadan’s, The Concealed Light. It is the most recent publication put forth by Vine of David, a ministry arm of First Fruits of Zion that specializes in early Messianic Judaism and the development of Messianic liturgical resources. Committed to excellence in both academic integrity and aesthetic presentation, Vine of David pushes the envelope in their latest offering. First, let me introduce you to Dr. Sadan.

“Dr. Tsvi Sadan is uniquely qualified as the author of this book. Born in Israel, where he currently resides, he holds a Ph.D. in Jewish History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has researched Jewish and Christian views of the Messiah for more than twenty years. Tsvi has taken on the task of becoming familiar with traditional Jewish materials. In this book he draws on this knowledge to give a picture of the Messiah found in Jewish literature but known to few Jews and fewer Christians.” He also had an article published in the latest issue of Messiah Journal, entitled Halachic Authority in the Life of the Messianic Community.

Now, let us move into the actual book.

Acher (Different), Even (Stone), Adoni (My Lord), Or (Light), Ar’yeh (Lion)… The list goes on from Alef (א) to Tav (ת). These are the names of the Messiah of Israel according to what the sages have derived from the Holy Writ. In this beautifully crafted book, you will find one hundred and one names in all, each presented in Hebrew with their English translations, explained in laymen’s terms by native Israeli and Hebrew scholar Tsvi Sadan. In The Concealed Light, Sadan goes deep into familiar rabbinic sources, such as the Talmud, Midrash Rabbah, Sifrei, Pesikta Rabbati, Zohar, etc. to pull obscure references to Messianic titles expounded upon by the sages, and clearly explain the significance of each one. But then he takes it one step further by delving into little known sources such as Sefer Yeshu’ot Meshicho and the Perushei Siddur HaTefillah laRokeach—many of which are only available in Hebrew—to bring out even more insights into the Messianic identity as affirmed by Judaism.

Here is a sampling of the amazing research he has pulled together for this:

Orphan

“‘We have become orphans without a father (Lamentations 5:3 NAS). … God said to Israel: ‘You have said to me, “We have become orphans without a father”; therefore the redeemer I will bring from among you has no father, for it is said … “Today I have begotten You””’ (Psalm 2:7). [He] “concluded from this that their Messiah … has no human father” (Sefer Yeshu’ot Meshicho). (page 116)


Olive

“‘Oil … for the light’ (Exodus 27:20)—this is King Messiah, who is also called ‘Green Olive Tree’ (Jeremiah 11:16). [He is called] ‘pure oil’ (Exodus 27:20) because he will light up the darkness for Israel, as it says: ‘That You may say to the prisoners, Go forth’ (Isaiah 49:9), and it also says, ‘The Gentiles shall come to your light’ (Isaiah 60:3)” (Otzar Midrashim, 138). (page 75)

Gold

“On ‘one day which is known to the LORD’ (Zechariah 14:7)—that day is a day of vengeance, when the Holy One, blessed be he, intends to wreak vengeance upon other nations. When he does, then ‘I will make a man more precious than gold’—this is King Messiah, who will transcend and be more precious than all the inhabitants of the world, all of whom will worship and bow down before him, as is written: ‘Those who dwell in the wilderness will bow before Him … The kings of Tarshish and of the isles will bring presents’ (Psalm 72:9-10)” (Zohar, Vayera, 107b). (page 186-187)

Glorious

In an outstanding Jewish commentary from the ninth century CE on Psalm 36:9, “In Your light we see light,” the author offers an imaginary conversation between God, Satan, and Messiah which reflects his own understanding of who is Messiah and what is his role. In this conversation, Satan attempts to deter God from honoring Messiah. Challenged, God asks Messiah what he intends to do in light of the suffering inflicted upon him because of those whom he came to save, and the Messiah answers:

“Master of worlds, with the joy of my soul and the pleasure of my heart, I accept upon myself that none from Israel will perish and that not only the living will be saved in my day but also those hidden in the soil…and not only those will be saved, but all hosts whom you have thought to create but have not. This is what I desire, this is what I accept upon me” (Pesikta Rabbati, 36). (page 120-121)

3.13.2012

Good Mourning!

Talmud - Mas. Sukkah 52a (excerpt) & [emphasis mine]

And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart. 1 Is it not, they said, an a fortiori argument? If in the future 2 when they will be engaged in mourning and the Evil Inclination will have no power over them, 3 the Torah 4 nevertheless says, men separately and women separately, how much more so now 5 when they are engaged in rejoicing and the Evil Inclination has sway over them. 6

What is the cause of the mourning [mentioned in the last cited verse]? 1 — R. Dosa and the Rabbis differ on the point. One explained, The cause is the slaying of Messiah the son of Joseph, 7 and the other explained, The cause is the slaying of the Evil Inclination.

It is well according to him who explains that the cause is the slaying of Messiah the son of Joseph, since that well agrees with the Scriptural verse, And they shall look upon me because they have thrust him through, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son; 8 but according to him who explains the cause to be the slaying of the Evil Inclination, is this [it may be objected] an occasion for mourning? Is it not rather an occasion for rejoicing? Why then should they weep? — [The explanation is] as R. Judah expounded: In the time to come 9 the Holy One, blessed be He, will bring the Evil Inclination and slay it in the presence of the righteous and the wicked. To the righteous it will have the appearance of a towering hill, and to the wicked it will have the appearance of a hair thread. Both the former and the latter will weep; the righteous will weep saying, ‘How were we able to overcome such a towering hill!’ The wicked also will weep saying, ‘How is it that we were unable to conquer this hair thread!’ And the Holy One, blessed be He, will also marvel together with them, as it is said, Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in those days, it shall 10 also be marvellous in My eyes.11

3.04.2012

Pedagogue

In a recent discussion with a believer online, I found myself navigating his attempts to prove to me, not only that Torah had been done away with in the coming of Yeshua, but that it was actually wrong for me to believe otherwise. After I showed him how his idea was in direct contrast to Yeshua's own words in Matthew 5:17-19, he countered with the text of Galatians 3:23-26. His primary interest, though, was to hear my understanding of verse 25, specifically. He asked, "What do you think it says?" It confounded him to learn that I thought it said exactly what it actually says.

“But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian…” or pedagogue, as the Greek renders it. The role of the pedagogue, in the Greek culture of the time, was to protect and prepare the child until he was old enough to sit under the schoolmaster. Rav Shaul uses the concept of the pedagogue to illustrate that Torah was our guardian, our caretaker. It protected us until Messiah Yeshua appeared. It prepared us by showing us what to look for - what to expect. Now that we're old enough, so to speak, we've graduated to the next level. Now that faith in Yeshua has come, now that He has appeared, the laws of the Temple sacrifice, for example, finally make sense to us.

How many of you would expect to take a prep course for a college class, only to find that once the class started, the professor instructed you to forget everything from the prep course - or even taught you contrary to it? Should this ever happen to you, know that you're in the wrong class.

Messiah Yeshua expounded on Torah in hundreds of enlightening ways. What we had come to understand of Torah paved the way to receive His teaching - for He is the Living Torah, the very Word of G-d! We have now come to realize that the entire sacrificial system pointed (and points) to Him. Truly, because of His sacrifice, “It is finished.” Not the instruction of HaShem, but our sentence for breaking it. Our sin, as long as we believe, has been atoned for. Now that we have faith in Yeshua, we no longer need to bring sacrifices for our sin to the Temple. Not to mention, we don’t even have a Temple at the moment - and that may serve as some measure of proof. The sacrifices of the Temple, the regulations of the priesthood, the particulars of unblemished offerings, etc. are the laws that we, as believers, are no longer under. We’re no longer under the pedagogue, the guardian, in that respect, but have now progressed to higher learning. The guardian, in order to continue our education, has handed us over to the schoolmaster. He will take what we know and build upon it - not negate it. We, unlike the rest of humanity, need nothing more to point us toward Messiah. He’s right in front of us! We’re now to sit at His feet and learn from Him. The rest of the world, however, seems to have foregone education altogether, opting instead, to enter the world ignorant and try to figure things out on their own.

Many people, like the one to which I was speaking, would like to pretend that Torah has been erased. It's human nature, after all, to gravitate towards that which requires nothing of us - the path of least resistance. The problem with that is, now that we're in Messiah, we're supposed to be moving away from the things human nature causes us to gravitate towards (Romans 12:2).

The "lawless" view thriving today, both firmly rests upon, and has enabled the tragic history of antisemitism within the Church. With the influx of gentiles into Messianic Judaism over the first few centuries, it was quickly transformed into what became, under Rome, the Empire of  Roman Catholicism. The original Hebraic understanding, structure and framework would be exchanged for pagan ideas and, eventually, a Papal domination of belief and doctrine - even salvation - a true pia fraus. The Reformation that followed was successful in shedding many false ideas within Christianity, but it didn't accomplish near enough - and, as is clearly seen in history, only served to stoke the flames of hatred and ignorance toward Jews and Judaism. This prevailing and errant view in Christianity is less about what "Jesus" accomplished, and more about a legacy of distancing Christians from Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah. That may seem somewhat of a rabbit trail, but understanding our past relations is essential to making sense of the chasm we see today between Judaism and the countless Christian denominations borne of reformed Catholicism.

But, returning to our topic, if it were true that Torah no longer applied, there would be no more sin in the world, and no one would be sinful before G-d (Romans 3:20b). How many of you understand that to be the case? Further, and this is very important to understand, if Messiah Yeshua did away with Torah, with the instruction of HaShem, He is no longer Messiah - or never was to begin with. One couldn't possibly be the Word of G-d and nullify it.

2.29.2012

Forest for the trees

When all your attempts and effort at patiently explaining the mystery of Yeshua (in light of the Oneness of HaShem) are met with the distractions of Christmas, Easter and other pagan/Christian silliness, it's easy to feel as though you're wasting your time. While I, of course, take tremendous issue with the vestigial, Roman distortions of G-d's plan of redemption - and, obviously, there are plenty of them alive and well in today's Christianity - it's really too bad that so many others are unable to look past all of that garbage to see the truth. Though, to be honest, the more falsehood I see myself, the more difficult it becomes to debate the detractors. I'm, honestly, not trying to "convert" anyone, though. That's the major misunderstanding. The last thing I'd ever want to do is "convert" anyone to anything, much less the many-headed "Jesus" monster running rampant today. My earnest desire is to direct others toward HaShem - to introduce them to His method for bringing us salvation and deliverance. It stands to reason that approaching a mysterious G-d requires pondering some mysterious things - Yeshua is one of those inescapable and mysterious issues.

Obviously, if we were to worship fire, it would be blasphemous - but that's how HaShem chose to appear. If we bowed down to a fiery bush, or a watery rock, it would be idolatry, but G-d works in mysterious ways, no? If we looked to a serpent on a pole for healing, we'd be labeled insane, charismatic - or both! But Israel trusted G-d, and all that looked upon it were healed. Not because of the serpent, itself, but because of their faith in G-d - directed toward something that certainly would have seemed pagan and absurd at the time. Should G-d do anything He like, who are we to question it? As we know, "It is the glory of G-d to conceal a matter, but the honor of kings to search out a truth" ~ Proverbs 25:2. It's enough for me to have humble faith in G-d. That wasn't the case immediately, though, and it took years for me to realize that my reasoning was nothing at all in the presence of His glory. I'm reminded of the quote by Ian Young that says, "The greatest obstacle to understanding the Bible is thinking that you already do."

2.27.2012

Talk to the Hand

Listen to Me, O Ya'akov, Yisrael, whom I have called: I Am He; I AM the First and I AM the Last. My own Hand laid the foundations of the earth, and My Right Hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together...Draw near to Me, hear this: from the beginning I have not spoken in secret, from the time it came to be I have been there." And now the L-rd G-D has sent me, and his Spirit. This says the L-RD, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Yisrael: "I AM the L-RD your G-D, who teaches you to profit, Who leads you in the way you should go." ~ Yeshayahu 48:12-13,16-17

2.23.2012

Terumah

Adonai is so good to His People! As a few of you already know, I've been a part of the design team at Beth Israel for nearly a year now, as we've been building our new synagogue. From the layout of rooms and traffic flows, to the most detailed interior touches and all manner of aesthetic decisions, to our breathtaking new sanctuary - I've been honored to work with some of the most talented and hard-working people I've ever known - and right alongside my beloved, and visionary, Rebbitzin. It has been, understandably, a very challenging process, but the end result, as with most challenges, is well worth the effort. Exceedingly so! I can't even articulate the joy I'm feeling right now.

I just wanted to share an update (and a small explanation for my absence) with you, as well as give thanks to HaShem for blessing us in so many unimaginable ways. We're finally (completely) finished, and just recently moved in (this week). In fact, our very first services in the new building will be tomorrow and Shabbat. How fitting that the portion for this week is Terumah! Our G-d is astounding in every way - and He will move heaven and earth to dwell among His People!

"And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them." ~ Exodus 25:8

2.14.2012

From Heaven?

This article, by Giulio Meotti, is absolutely essential reading. I can’t believe we’re actually seeing things this clearly already. Though, this is only the beginning.

It’s as though Christianity and Islam are two circles in a Venn Diagram of ignorance. Where they overlap, Israel is portrayed as a ravenous monster that must be usurped, dethroned and destroyed by any means necessary. And, somehow, with each passing day, latest headline, and conference aim, it appears that these circles are steadily drawing closer to each other - signaling a near, if not complete, alignment at some point.

For years, I didn’t see it coming to this, and now I can see no other way. The hour is fast approaching, and in many ways is already upon us, when those within Messianic Judaism, and all other like-minded communities, will be required to draw very clear and solid distinctions between themselves and these others that, through their sheer blindness, only facilitate the aspirations of our adversary. The true disciples of Yeshua will treasure the opportunity to stand firmly with their Jewish brothers and sisters – against all of our common foes. Though our enemies are certainly numerous, G-d stands with us.

“And it will happen in that day that I will make Yerushalayim a very heavy stone for all people; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.” ~ Zechariah 12:3

2.08.2012

Keep

The L-RD appeared to Yitzhak and said, "Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Avraham, your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth will be blessed, because Avraham obeyed My voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." ~ Genesis 26:5

Which of G-d's commandments, statutes and laws did Avraham keep?

2.02.2012

Remain

“For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they will come and shall see My glory, and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard My fame or seen My glory. And they shall declare My glory among the nations. And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the L-RD, on horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries, to My Holy Mountain, Yerushalayim, says the L-RD, just as Israel brings its grain offerings in clean vessels to the house of the L-RD. And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the L-RD."

“For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before Me, says the L-RD, so shall your offspring and your name remain. " 

~ Yeshayahu 66:18-22

1.30.2012

Do you fit in?

A Christian asked, "Where exactly do Messianic Jews fit in as far as the End Times are concerned?" and "Do they count as Israel or as the Church?" I'm tempted to point out that those mentioned in Revelation 12:17 don't exactly sound like the average church group to me, but instead, I ask, "Do Messianic Jews “fit in” at all? Must they “fit in”, necessarily? And why? Who chooses the container in which we must fit? Do the plans of G-d always (or ever) fit into our neat, tidy, eschatological theories, compartments and such? Will many, just like those in the first century, be too wrapped up in their own misunderstandings to discern the things that unfold in the days to come? Then, I try to relax a bit.

While we’re asking; where, actually, does the “church” fit in? I mean, even Rav Shaul referred to these things as a “mystery”, did he not? Perhaps it's the other groups that need to “fit in”. It might sound crazy, but let's not lose sight of the facts. Messiah Yeshua came solely to Israel. His disciples later carried the message of salvation to the surrounding nations and outsiders. Maybe they are the ones who are unable to accurately find their place. Just a thought, but that would explain why we were given Romans 11, no?

People have always been quite fond of pointing out what words aren't in scripture - and in this instance, you'll find I'm no different. If you consider the fact that the word “church” is found nowhere in the original scriptures, but is used as a translation of the word ἐκκλησία – the ekklesia, or the “called out assembly”, it begs the question; is it possible that even our nomenclature has contributed to massive distortions in understanding? Let me present it this way; the word “church” is from the old English word “cirice”, which is from the ancient Germanic word “kirika”, which, strangely, is from the Greek word κυριακὴ, which means “of the L-rd”, but is not even the word used to refer to this assembly in the Greek text originally. So, why the change? It's not as though English speakers wouldn't have understood the word "assembly". Why substitute it with a tri-translated distortion? Does taking what was once referred to as the “called out assembly”, and re-naming it the “church”, cause it to appear that those who are not the “church” are not “of the L-rd”?

1.24.2012

6 Questions

How many believers, marginal or otherwise, will raise their children in the midst of some sort of quasi-religious environment, complete with all manner of traditional trappings and myth, only to have them later, as adults, either lose their faith entirely, or search endlessly for a way just to make sense of things? How many parents, who clearly only want the best for their children, will emphasize adherence to some semblance of moral ethic, and endeavor to instill a sense of right and wrong in the young minds of their progeny, but completely neglect kindling a fire within their young hearts for the holiness of HaShem, His Word, and a life lived on the narrow path of Messiah Yeshua?

How righteous would our nation be if those within Christianity would tenaciously fight against the overwhelmingly powerful force of nostalgia and tradition, dethroning the falsehood and atrocious error of Supersessionism once and for all, and, starting with how they raise their children, seek to move ever-so-gently towards researching and adopting the beliefs and practices of the first followers of Messiah Yeshua - and the L-RD Himself - the One that they consider their Master? How greatly would the the collective heart of the Jewish People be impacted by witnessing the "one nation under God" humbling itself, fervently returning to HaShem, and celebrating the immutable position of Israel in G-d's plan for the restoration of the entire earth?

Truly, that's all that the disparity in Christianity amounts to - nothing but spiritual blindness brought on by the elevation of tradition, nostalgia, and groupthink over the very Word of G-d - certainly nothing scriptural! What would happen if the Church embraced the entirety of scripture and calibrated itself accordingly - rather than calibrating scripture according to the various creeds, edicts and initiatives of the Church? World changing stuff, I imagine -- and wasn't that the goal all along?

1.17.2012

Breath

"By the Word of the L-RD the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host." ~ Psalm 33:6

"..then the L-RD G-d formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature." ~ Genesis 2:7

"Thus says the L-RD G-d to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live... So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army." ~ Ezekiel 37:5,10

"And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit." ~ John 20:22

1.08.2012

The fruit loop

The serpent was the most cunning of all the land animals HaShem made. The serpent said to the woman, "Did G-d actually say you're not to eat of any tree in the garden?" And the woman said, "We're allowed to eat the fruit of all the trees in the garden, except one. G-d said to us, 'You are not to eat the fruit of the tree that is in the center of the garden - don't even touch it, or you will die.'" But the serpent said to her, "You won't die. G-d knows that when you eat from that tree your eyes will be opened, and you will be like G-d - you'll know good and evil." So when the woman saw that the fruit looked delicious, that there was plenty of it, and realized that it would make her wise, she took some and ate it. She gave some to her husband, too, and they ate together. ~ Genesis 3:1-6

For many, if not all of us, this passage from Genesis is about as basic, and elementary as it gets. Not only is it foundational, but chances are, whether or not you were raised in a home that valued scripture, you picked up some version of it from popular culture at a very early age. Is there anything more for us not-so-early-in-age to learn from this well known scripture? There certainly is.

In so many ways, this tragic event that befell our greatest of grandparents, has repeated itself in an identical, endless loop, and, still, reverberates onward even today. The multifaceted strategy the enemy employed to deceive Chavah, hasn't changed in the slightest since that calamitous day thousands of years ago. If anything, it's only gained effectiveness and bandwidth since its first use. It's a plan of attack that we'd do well to be mindful of as we approach Torah, and seek to accurately apply the Instruction of G-d to our daily lives.