Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Another rabbinic controversy in Israel...(what else is new?...)

News item:

Rabbi Yithak Shapira suspected of incitement against non-Jews.

Yitzhar rabbi arrested on suspicion of incitement to violence against non-Jews after his book " Torat Hamelech" (The kings Torah) says, "There's no prohibition against killing a Goy (Gentile) who violated Laws of Noah."

Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira of Yitzhar was arrested on Monday on suspicion of incitement to violence against non-Jews. Shapirah was probed following the publication of his book "Torat Hamelech" which addresses questions related to harming non-Jews.
He was arrested at the end of a joint Israel Police and Judah and Samaria District police investigation, and under the order of Attorney General Yehudah Weinstein.

Shapirah wrote in his book, "When we encounter a Goy who has violated the Seven Laws of Noah and kill him out of concern for upholding the seven mitzvot, no prohibition has been violated."

According to the rabbi,
"Anywhere where the presence of a gentile poses a threat to Israel, it is permissible to kill him, EVEN IF IT IS A RIGHTEOUS GENTILE WHO IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE THREATENING SITUATION." (YNET news).

The Orthodox Rabbis in Israel are split over this. Some are protesting that the book set a stage for unruly racial incitement, and was drenched in racist messages that discriminate between people based solely on race and nationality. Many others are asking why all the noise, Shapirah only Parroting what the Halacha already set down as laws, and therefore the authorities should arrest many other Rabbis and sages including Rashi, and the Rambam.

So here is where I come in, I would like to check and see who is right here. Is Israeli Orthodoxy racist, or the whole thing is a storm in a tea cup?

Let me start with one for each camp:

"R. Johanan said, quoting Jerem. 30:6, 'all faces are turned into paleness.'...God says, ' both these (i.e. the Gentiles)and these (i.e. Israel) are my handiwork; why should I let the former perish because of the latter?"( San. 98b.)

And now this, where we clearly see that the halacha using different weights and measures in dealing with the life of a Jew as compared to the life of a goy:

"A Gentile is put to death by ONE judge and by ONE witness, even if he was not forewarned, by a testimony of a man and not of a woman, and even of a family member. In the name of Rabbi Ishmael they said: even for (the killing of) a fetus." (Sanhedrin 57b).
Rambam also wrote concerning this:
"A Jew is not put to death for killing a fetus as it is stated in chapter 5 of tractate Niddah, mishnah 3: "a one-day old baby becomes impure by discharge...and one who kills him is liable...."

They have an answer to everything those rabbis, don't you think?

I let you fine blog readers (as Judah says on his blog)ponder this for a while, as I continue to dig and bring you evidence that those modern rabbis in Israel are only standing of the shoulders of the old Sages when it comes to discriminating against Goyim.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Isaiah 11:6: " And the wolf will dwell with the lamb..." Part II

In Part I we saw the beginning of the shift to define the Term GER as religious instead of social as designated in the Tanach.

But first I want to relate to some comments Rabbi Joshua expressed on his Yinon blog that show that he is reading his own agenda into Scriptures. He writes: " Another example is the laws of Kashrut. According to Deuteronomy 14:21:

"You shall not eat anything that dies naturally, you may give it to the GER who is within your gates, that he may eat it...."

But it is also written:

" When ANY person eats an animal which dies or is torn by beasts, whether he is a native or a GER, he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and remain unclean until evening; then he will become clean." (Levit. 17:15).

This seeming contradiction only emphasizes that the term GER is not a cookie- cutter term.

In another place Rabbi Joshua quotes Exodus 12:48"

"And when a GER dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover of the L-rd, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it, and he shall be as native-born (Exodus 12:48)."

Then he adds: "in this way, the Ger is brought into the peoplehood..."

In the book of Joshua, chapter 5, God asks Joshua to circumcise all the males who were not circumcised before the entry into the Land. All those uncircumcised males where already a part of the peoplehood (by the designation Bnei Israel-the children of Israel), all before they were circumcised, which of course shows that circumcision was never a means to get INTO a peoplehood.

In the decades after the destruction of the temple the teaching prevailed that the Torah which is the means for establishing a covenant membership is applicable only for Jews. Gentiles who want to join have first to become Jews, and the "ritual of a proselyte" was born.

There is no ritual of conversion found anywhere in the Tanach. There is no reference source in existence that indicates the biblical authors, whether of the Tanach or New Testament, ever thought that one could change his/her nationality status by means of a religious ritual.

Scriptures clearly teach that covenant membership is attained through acceptance of the God of Israel and His Messiah. The result of this is submission to God's Torah. Scriptures also teach that covenant membership is not come on the basis of ethnic status.

We also have to understand that the term "proselyte" was given a new meaning by the Rabbis contrary to what it meant in Scriptures. The fact that the term even appears in the New testament shows that according to the writers, a proselyte does not become ethnically Jewish. If they are Jews, why call them proselytes?


גיור--gyur--is not from God. It is a man-made invention witnessed by the mess we see in the State of Israel, where the Rabbis succeeded to botch it up permanently.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Isaiah 11:6; "And the wolf will dwell with the lamb." Part I

וגר זאב עם כבש --veGAR Zeev im Keves.

Note the emphasis on veGAR, which comes from the root גור-GUR-from the same root the word GER comes from also.
So, the question is asked:

1) In order for the wolf to dwell with the lamb, does the wolf need to undergo a ritual of conversion?

2) If yes, does the wolf then becomes a lamb?

3) Does he remain a wolf?

4) Does he become a wolf in sheep clothing?....

I thought I should ask.....

All this would have been funny if it would not be so serious...

In his fine blog YINON, Rabbi Joshua speaks of conversion in early Judaism. He identifies the term "conversion" by the Hebrew word "גיור "-(gyur). He then writes:
"it is true that the Torah and the earliest portion of the Tanach do not mention conversion clearly."
Well, The Torah and ALL portion of the Tanach do not mention the term "conversion"-gyur--AT ALL. There is no place in the whole Hebrew Scriptures that any formal ritual of conversion (gyur) was in place in the time of Moses, not in the era of the prophets. Even in the historical narrative and the prophetic literature of post exilic time, there is no ritual of conversion mentioned or implied. The GER "sojourner" became a covenant member on his own word, declaring his/hers willingness to confess to the God of Israel. The GER proved it by conforming to the Torah of Israel. He/she then received all the privileges along with the responsibilities that were enjoyed by the common Israelite. The GER became a part of Israel. He did not become a Jew, he remained as one chosen from the nations.

There is no evidence that circumcision was a part of any "ritual of conversion" in ancient times. That circumcision is singled out in Ex. 12 is understandable, since Passover points to the redemption from Egypt for God's covenant people. It would be silly to keep the Passover without being part of the covenant people. But circumcision did not make a person a covenant member, it only proved that the person was willing to obey God. Circumcision is a sign of the covenant just like the Shabbat is. A GER who broke the Shabbat would also be prohibited from participation in the Passover (Numb. 15).

The "ritual of conversion" is not documented until late in the second Temple era. Since covenant status had been changed, meaning there is only covenant blessing to the Jew,they came up with the brilliant idea that any Gentile who submits to the ritual, automatically is identified as a Jew...Covenant membership was available only to Jews.....

More later....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ester 8:17; what is the meaning of מתיהדים Part 2

There is another clue in the book of Ester that hints the מתיהדים were not גרי- צדק --righteous proselytes (which is also a late term),but were people that wanted to attach themselves socially to the people of Israel, without taking the yoke of the Torah. In the description of determining the days of Purim for all generations it is written:

קימו וקבלו היהודים עליהם ועל זרעם ועל כל הנלוים עליהם

" the Jews established and made a custom for themselves, and for their descendants, and for those who ALLIED themselves with them..." (Ester 9:27 NASB)

Who were those "Allies?" Could they be the מתיהדים who were now ATTACHED (Isaiah 14:1)? JOINED (Isaiah 56:3)? If they were all גרי אמת-true Gerim, they would have been Jews already and there was no need to designate them as "Allies."

BTW, the same goes with the term "Proselyte" in the New Testament (Matt. 23:5, Acts 2:5-10; 13:43; 16:3;), why call them proselytes if they were already Jews?

The phenomenon of JOINED, ATTACHED, Etc. is not something new. Note the "mixed multitude" in EX. 12:38. According to the Sages these Multitudes-ערב רב - were the cause of the sin of the golden calf, and other sins in the desert years. (one can always rely on what the Sages teach, right?....) Also see Num. 11:4 the term RABBLE--אספסוף .

More examples for "useful attachment" can be found back in the days of Kings David, and Solomon: " So David gave orders to gather the foreigners who were in the land of Israel, and he set stonecutters to hew out stones to build the house of God." (1 Chron.. 22:2)

"And Solomon numbered all the aliens who were in the land of Israel, following the census which his father David had taken, and 153,600 were found. And he appointed 70,000 of them to carry loads, and 80,000 to quarry stones in the mountains, and 3,600 supervisors to make the people work." (2 Chron. 2:17-18).

Note, both words "foreigners," and "aliens" are designated in the Hebrew by the term GER.

The title that was attached to Mordechai's name also raises some difficulties for the commentators:

" Now, there was a JEW in Susa the capital whose name was Mordechai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a BENJAMITE." (Ester 2:5 NASB).

The term JEW which is so spread in our days is found in the Tanach in only a few books, later period books (2 Kings; Zechariah; Nehemiah; Ester; Chronicles). In preexilic times the term was attached only to sons of the tribe of Judah, only later, after the exile it was understood to mean for all Israel. But we still don't know if Mordechai was a JEW or a BENJAMITE....Rashi is inclined after the PESHAT, explaining that the term JEW was attached to Mordechai even before he was exiled with the tribe of Judah, but right after, Rashi adds: "and our Rabbis interpret the way they interpret..." This comment points that the writings of the Sages sometimes deviates from the PESHAT of Scriptures. Some sages took the easy way: "his father was from Benjamin, and his mother from Judah..." ( Megilla 12:72).

The term יהודים appears in the book of Ester forty-four times, six times the word is written with two Yods-יהודיים . What is the meaning of this phenomenon? In their interpretation the Sages do not give a clear picture. Some dismiss this occurrence as just some typo, other give it more credence saying that these are the people who attached themselves to Israel.

And today, the question of "who is a Jew" still is not settled and causes great controversy.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ester 8:17; What is the meaning of מתיהדים Part 1

".ורבים מעמי הארץ מתיהדים כי נפל פחד היהודים עליהם ..."

"...And many among the peoples of the land became Jews, for the dread of the Jews had fallen on them." ( NASB).

In the Hebrew the verse states : עמי הארץ--a term used in Scriptures mostly, not always, a multitude of strangers, or for regular people with no identifiable nationalistic or social standing ( Deut. 28:10; Josh. 4:24; 1 Kings 8:60). The term is also used to distinguish between the lower, and higher rungs of society ( 2 Kings 11:14).
The Sages also used the term עם הארץ to describe a lower status within the society (Bava Batra 8:71; Pesachim 49:72). This hard approach by the Sages demonstrates the complexities they encountered and the lack of patience they display. Many, many followed their interpretation of the term without really examine these complexities, especially the Sages' disdain from the pluralism of society of their times.

Rashi, in his interpretation, and commentary of the book of Ester, refers to the term מתיהדים as a process of changing one's religion. He uses the term מתגירים --to denote conversion. But his interpretation is not at all conclusive since the Term גיור-conversion as we know it today was not known in Bible era. The term לגייר-to convert, does not exist in Scripture. On the other hand, we can find many mentions of the term גר -with all its obscure interpretations. Rashi interpret גר in ( Ex. 22:20) as "A person who was not born in the same nation, but came from another nation to live there." It is of course inconclusive to interpret גר as someone who changed his/her religion. (For more on גר see Tim Hegg's Fellow heirs).

The LXX interprets מתיהדים as "circumcised themselves". Josephus expounded on that and wrote "Many from other nations circumcised themselves from the fear of the Jews" ( Antiquities of the Jews 11,6,13).

To join the people of Israel ("to become Jewish" as allegedly the Ester verse is interpreted) Out of fear, not from love, does not correlates with the views of mainstream Judaism which insists on גיור לשמו -conversion for the sake of conversion, not from any other outside motives. (Yevamot 24:72).

The difficulty to acknowledge converts who converted from fear led some commentators to interpret that מתיהדים only means "profess to be Jews," but were not true GERIM.
Eban Ezra interprets the verse: Ones who return to the Torah of Judah or are attached to Judah to save themselves." Other commentators interpret the term as "who made themselves to look like Jews, changed their clothing, but really are not full Gerim."

More to come.....

Friday, August 13, 2010

Shabbat Shalom

One of my favorites:


Shlomo Gronich Is my Favorite Israeli singer of all time. Here is something he wrote and sings from the Shabbat Siddur:


Have a great Shabbat you all. Isn't having God in our life great?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

And a convert shall lead them.....

Disclaimer: This blog is not written from Malicious purposes. It was designed to make people think.

So, on my daily stop at Derek Leman's blog, he point me to another blog, Ovadia's, Here:http://orgadol.wordpress.com/2010/08/11/the-messianic-liturgy-introduction/
Since Derek's wish is my command...I hurry to click and arrive at Ovadia's blog where I read quite an interesting, and ambitious plan from a convert who wants to teach Jews how to be Jews. Kind of like teaching the father how to make children....

Among others Ovadia writes: "I believe the way forward for Messianic Judaism is the way back to the roots of the broader, deeper, more ancient pattern of K'lal Israel, not forward into more of what Messianic Judaism has been doing the last 30-40 years."
Hmmm...And I thought that Messianic Judaism before 40 years was part of K'lal Church, not K'lal Israel?

In his ambitious plan, Ovadia, likes to rearrange a whole shopping list of Jewish liturgy (I wonder how this is going to play with Kinzer and the gang...)
One Item on Ovadia's list is the Siddur. In the Shacharit part of the siddur there is a blessing that goes like this:" Blessed are you Hashem our God, for not having made me a Gentile." I wonder what goes in Ovadia's and Derek's mind when they encounter this blessing every morning. Are they satisfied with a Judaism that has this in their liturgy?

I know that there is a rabbinic ruling for them to simply avoid saying the blessing, but I would like to know what goes in their minds and heart, also other converts?

Monday, August 9, 2010

What is a "sect?"

Shaye Cohen's definition of a "sect":

"A sect is a small, organized group that separates itself from a larger religious body and asserts that it alone embodies the ideals of the larger group because it alone understands God's will." ( From the Maccabees to the Mishnah P. 120).

I like this definition. So the questions rise:

Is Messianic Judaism UMJC style a sect?

Is messianic Judaism MJAA style a sect?

Is MJTI a sect?

Is Hashivenue a sect?

Is One Law a sect?

Is the "Divine Invitation" group a sect?

Is the Two-House group a sect?

Care to have a discussion?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Is a meaningful dialoge possible? You bet!

8 years ago we bought a new house. I remember when the walk through the day before we moved in. Four months we were watching the house being built and now the time has come. As we toured the house along with the Customer service representative. we could smell the fresh paint and the aroma of a new carpet, and the next day we moved in with joy.

As the days passed we discovered the true meaning of the phrase, not everything that glitters is gold. It seems that every day we discovered another defect or imperfection. countless calls to the customer service office yield nothing, they promise to come but never did. Hey, what did they care, we have already bought the house. Calls to the corporate office were never returned. With the time we found out that the problem is not only with us, many of our neighbors went through the same thing.

Then, one day, the sun came out shining. The company replaced the existing incompetent CS representative with a new one. The new guy was like a breath of fresh air, his attitude was magnificent, he did not leave one stone unturned. He went from house to house and solved all problems. He even identified defects in our house we weren't aware of.

It turned out that this beautiful person is a Mormon. When he found out that I am a Messianic we hit it off. It led to a great friendship were we used to talk a lot, mostly theology. That is were the mistake was, discussing theology led to a parting of the ways.
But God in His mysterious ways had another plan. About two years later, arriving home one day we discovered a note stuck in the door from my old friend. He asked me to call him and of course I did, the friendship was resumed. As we met again we agreed to talk about the things that unite us, not the things that divide us that led to us parting ways. It is now about two years since then, we meet every Thursday in my house, we pray together, study together, mostly the Tanach, since as a Mormon he hardly had any exposure to the Hebrew Scriptures. It has been just great.

This is not the end of the story. Not by a long shot. A while after we resumed our meetings the Church our community was renting a space from for our services lost their lease and we had to leave. We were assembling at our house as we searched for another place. We were rejected by 31 Churches in town. Some wanted high rent that we could not afford, other Churches did not want anything to do with Messianics. I related this in passing to my LDS friend. Two weeks later he told me that he spoke to the leaders of his church an they would like to meet with us. They said that they would be honored to have us worship in their Church, they cannot charge us any rent, and what else can they do for us. We were in shock of course but gladly accepted their offer.

I don't know what God is doing here, and what is His plan in all this, but today, in the LDS church near our house, there is an ark with a Torah scroll, I teach Hebrew to a class that is predominantly Mormons, and in our last Passover seder (which was conducted in the LDS church) we had close to a hundred LDS people as our guests. They were so blessed, since none of them attended a passover seder before.

Yes, God works in mysterious ways and with Him everything is possible, even a meaningful dialogue between us poor Messianics...Yes, I can have a civil, meaningful dialogue with Kinzer, Rudolph, Derek, and Yahnatan. Gene Shlomovitch? Ehh...Just kidding, you too Gene. All we need is to find the things that unite us and discuss them first. We all seem to understand this and we keep dancing around it, afraid to engage, so I have a suggestion.

The first thing on the list on things that unite us is of course, our Master, Yeshua. He is the center of our faith. We all know that Derek's book on the life and times of Yeshua will be published soon. Why don't we follow the J-bom Model and start a D-Bom club (don't swell up Derek..LOL!) Let us discuss the book as we read it. Can there be anything better than discussing the life and times of our Messiah Yeshua?

Let us make the turn, start working toward unison, not division, And the blessings of God will follow. Do you guys think I am naive?

Monday, August 2, 2010


Some years back in his response to Tim Hegg's "Is the Torah for Jews?" Russ Resnik wrote:

"Finally, Hegg faults me for describing Messianic Judaism as a " Jewish people movement for Yeshua." I use this phrase to draw the contrast with believers' movement for Torah. Such a movement may be a LEGITIMATE AND BIBLICAL EXPRESSION, but reflects a different vision from Messianic Judaism as we understand it. (Emphasis mine).

Hammm...Is there anyone in BE/DI movement today who agrees with Mr. Resnik?

Resnik continued with this:

"Hegg seems to picture Messianic Judaism as a Jewish-Gentile believers movement for Torah or for Jewish roots. WE DO NOT NECESSARILY OPPOSE SUCH MOVEMENT, but are called to foster a Jewish movement for Messiah because Scripture gives the warrant for an ongoing Jewish identity." (Emphasis mine).

I do not think that Resnik consulted Gene Shlomovitch on the matter....LOL! But I have the feeling that now, as the rift has grown Resnik would have liked to take some of his words back? What do you think?

In his fine article " Paul's "rule in all the Churches...." David Rudolph writes his interpretation to 1 Cor. 7:19:

"What were the "commandments of God" for Gentile believers? Given that Luke portrays Paul as delivering the apostolic decree to Gentile believers, and the likelihood that Paul wrote 1 Cor. after the Acts 15 Jerusalem Council decision (Acts 18:1-18), it is reasonable to assume (from a canonical perspective) that keeping the commandments of God included the responsibility to "obey the regulations", the four "requirements" listed in the apostolic decree." ( See note 39 Pg. 10).

In his response to Baruch Maoz's " Is Judaism Jewish," a few years back Mark Kinzer commented on 1 Cor. 7:19:

"...But keeping the commandments of God." Paul acknowledges with these words that the Torah commands Jews to be circumcised and to keep the Mitzvot given to Israel, but expect non-Jews to keep only those commandments given to all human beings.

Two different opinions coming out from the MJTI?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Holding my sides.....

I just discovered this. Some of you might have read it before. I think it is hilarious. Reminds me of some of our arguments....


Tim Perry

Suppose you're traveling to work and you see a stop sign. What do you do? That depends on how you exegete the stop sign.

1. A postmodernist deconstructs the sign (knocks it over with his car), ending forever the tyranny of the north-south traffic over the east-west traffic.

2. Similarly, a Marxist sees a stop sign as an instrument of class conflict. He concludes that the bourgeoisie use the north-south road and obstruct the progress of the workers on the east-west road.

3. A serious and educated Catholic believes that he cannot understand the stop sign apart from its interpretive community and their tradition. Observing that the interpretive community doesn't take it too seriously, he doesn't feel obligated to take it too seriously either.

4. An average Catholic (or Orthodox or Coptic or Anglican or Methodist or Presbyterian or whatever) doesn't bother to read the sign but he'll stop if the car in front of him does.

5. A fundamentalist, taking the text very literally, stops at the stop sign and waits for it to tell him to go.

6. A preacher might look up "STOP" in his lexicons of English and discover that it can mean: 1) something which prevents motion, such as a plug for a drain, or a block of wood that prevents a door from closing; 2) a location where a train or bus lets off passengers. The main point of his sermon the following Sunday on this text is: when you see a stop sign, it is a place where traffic is naturally clogged, so it is a good place to let off passengers from your car.

7. An orthodox Jew does one of two things:
1) Take another route to work that doesn't have a stop sign so that he doesn't run the risk of disobeying the Law.
2) Stop at the stop sign, say "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast given us thy commandment to stop," wait 3 seconds according to his watch, and then proceed.
Incidentally, the Talmud has the following comments on this passage: R[abbi] Meir says: He who does not stop shall not live long. R. Hillel says: Cursed is he who does not count to three before proceeding. R. Simon ben Yudah says: Why three? Because the Holy One, blessed be He, gave us the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. R. ben Isaac says: Because of the three patriarchs. R. Yehuda says: Why bless the Lord at a stop sign? Because it says: "Be still, and know that I am God." R. Hezekiel says: When Jephthah returned from defeating the Ammonites, the Holy One, blessed be He, knew that a donkey would run out of the house and overtake his daughter; but Jephthah did not stop at the stop sign, and the donkey did not have time to come out. For this reason he saw his daughter first and lost her. Thus he was judged for his transgression at the stop sign. R. Gamaliel says: R. Hillel, when he was a baby, never spoke a word, though his parents tried to teach him by speaking and showing him the words on a scroll. One day his father was driving through town and did not stop at the sign. Young Hillel called out: "Stop, father!" In this way, he began reading and speaking at the same time. Thus it is written: "Out of the mouth of babes." R. ben Jacob says: Where did the stop sign come from? Out of the sky, for it is written: "Forever, O Lord, your word is fixed in the heavens." R. ben Nathan says: When were stop signs created? On the fourth day, for it is written: "let them serve as signs." R. Yeshuah says: ... [continues for three more pages]

8. A Pharisee does the same thing as an orthodox Jew, except that he waits 10 seconds instead of 3. He also replaces his brake lights with 1000 watt searchlights and connects his horn so that it is activated whenever he touches the brake pedal.

9. A scholar from Jesus seminar concludes that the passage "STOP" undoubtedly was never uttered by Jesus himself, but belongs entirely to stage III of the gospel tradition, when the church was first confronted by traffic in its parking lot.

10. A NT scholar notices that there is no stop sign on Mark street but there is one on Matthew and Luke streets, and concludes that the ones on Luke and Matthew streets are both copied from a sign on a completely hypothetical street called "Q". There is an excellent 300 page discussion of speculations on the origin of these stop signs and the differences between the stop signs on Matthew and Luke street in the scholar's commentary on the passage. There is an unfortunately omission in the commentary, however; the author apparently forgot to explain what the text means.

11. An OT scholar points out that there are a number of stylistic differences between the first and second half of the passage "STOP". For example, "ST" contains no enclosed areas and 5 line endings, whereas "OP" contains two enclosed areas and only one line termination. He concludes that the author for the second part is different from the author for the first part and probably lived hundreds of years later. Later scholars determine that the second half is itself actually written by two separate authors because of similar stylistic differences between the "O" and the "P".

12. Another prominent OT scholar notes in his commentary that the stop sign would fit better into the context three streets back. (Unfortunately, he neglected to explain why in his commentary.) Clearly it was moved to its present location by a later redactor. He thus exegetes the intersection as though the stop sign were not there.

13. Because of the difficulties in interpretation, another OT scholar emends the text, changing "T" to "H". "SHOP" is much easier to understand in context than "STOP" because of the multiplicity of stores in the area. The textual corruption probably occurred because "SHOP" is so similar to "STOP" on the sign several streets back that it is a natural mistake for a scribe to make. Thus the sign should be interpreted to announce the existence of a shopping area.

14. A "prophetic" preacher notices that the square root of the sum of the numeric representations of the letters S-T-O-P (sigma-tau-omicron-pi in the Greek alphabet), multiplied by 40 (the number of testing), and divided by four (the number of the world--north, south, east, and west), equals 666. Therefore, he concludes that stop signs are the dreaded "mark of the beast," a harbinger of divine judgment upon the world, and must be avoided at all costs.