Tuesday, September 28, 2010

To Oneg or not to Oneg

Discussion are going on in our community. Some people say that the Shabbat should remain holy, citing 1 Cor. 11:22; 11:34.

I would like to hear your opinions on the matter, fine blog readers?

Disclaimer: We do Oneg in our community, and will continue doing it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

שמחת בית השואבה--Simchat beit Hashoeva

Every year at Yom Kippur I do this: I read the greatest repentance Passage in the Bible, Psalm 51 of course.

When Sukkot arrives I always read John 7. There is, for me, something majestic in this passage. We first read Yeshua's brothers urging Him to go to Judea. They said if you are real, then go up to Judea and show your stuff...His own brothers were skeptical of Him. Yeshua rebuked them and told them His time did not yet come, and yet He went up anyway, in secret. The text then tells us that in the middle of Sukkot He went into the Temple and begun to teach. Didn't He say that His time has not come yet? Refusing to go, going up in secret, coming out in the open to teach....

He kept arguing with the Temple attendees and many wondered at His knowledge. Then came the last day of the Sukkot festival.

Sukkot is called also, Chag Ha'asif-the festival of harvest. It was customary to thank God for the produce of the past year, and also to have prayers for the upcoming winter rains. according to the Talmud, there was a custom developed in the second Temple period which was created to illustrate this truth.
A priest would go down to the pool of Shiloam, fill up a pitcher of water and carry it back to the temple. The crowds lined up behind the priest forming a procession. They were dancing, chanting the Hallel Psalm (Ps. 118) as they enter the temple mount.

On each day of Sukkot the processional would circle the altar one time and then the Priest poured the water at the altar. On the seventh and last day, Hoshanna rabah, the processional would circle the altar seven times to magnify the joy. The response of the crowed as the Priest poured the water was so immense that the Talmud says that whoever has not been in Jerusalem for the ceremony of Simchat Beit Hashoevah (The rejoicing of the house of drawing water) has never experienced real joy.

Such a joy for the hope of the coming rain? Let's hear Isaiah who shows us a deeper truth: " Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation." (Isaiah 12:3) ושאבתם מים... Simchat beit Hashoeva is pointing to the days of Messianic redemption when the water of the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon all Israel.

So now the reading of John 7 is much more magnified. It happened on the last day of Sukkot, and this young man is confronting all the people and their leaders, speaking of the living water, rivers of living water: " If any man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water." How meaningful, how profound, how majestic.

May He dwell in your Sukka all seven days.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Yeshua in context.

I have the book. "Yeshua in context" by Derek Leman.
I actually received it before Rosh Hashannah but waited just before Sukkot to comment, since Sukkot points to Mashiach dwelling with His people. So far I have read about half of the book and by what I read so far I don't think the second half will disappoint me. Thus, my comments.

Let me tell you first what the book is not. The book is not an exegetical study in Christology, meaning a detail study on the Person and work of Yeshua. Anyone who's been looking for that will be disappointed. The book to me is about impressions.

Derek is using a refreshing approach in letting the reader in on his understanding of what the Gospel writers experienced, understood and convey to their readers of certain events in the life and times of Yeshua. For me, the book points to new avenue to consider in my understanding of these certain events Derek chose to convey. After being mired in theological discussions day in and day out, this book is a well worthy pose, it presents, for me at least some spirituality which lately I lack.

I definitely recommend the book and invite whoever read it already to add their comments. ( Derek, I was planning to comment on your blog, but again i cannot get in). I think Derek put together a well written book, that maybe can bring us together. If Yeshua cannot do it, who can?

Well done Derek.

May Messiah be a guest in your Sukka every day, fine blog readers.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Introduction to Yom Kippur

The five years old boy was playing in the back yard when his father came out and said:" Let's go to the Shuk (market) and buy ourselves a Kaparah (atonement) for Yom Kippur." The boy held his Father's hand as they walked to the open market that assembled once a week on the soccer field in the middle of the Moshava (a large village). (all this happened many, many years ago in Israel which at that time was still Palestine).

The Shuk was something to behold. People came from the neigbor Moshavot, and from the surrounding Arab villages, to sell vegetables and fruit they were growing, and many sold livestock, roosters, hens, Chickie's, Calv's, and a cow or two. At that time they did not have yet supermarkets as we have today where one can buy poultry, and meat all nicely wrapped and frozen. To make chicken soup a woman had to buy the chicken live, go to a shochet to slaughter it, pluck all the feathers off it, and then cook it from scratch. After a few rounds among the sellers, the father found a nice fat chicken and announced to the boy, "we got our kapara." The boy was ecstatic, he had a new friend, a chiken named Kapara

As they got home, the boy observed his father takes a rope and tied one of Kapara's legs to the kitchen table leg. Put two bowls in front of her, one with grains, and the other filled with water. It was a few days before Yom Kippur so the boy got to play with Kapara in the kitchen treating her as his pet.

A few days passed. The kid was playing in his room when he heard his father calling him to come to the kitchen. As he entered the kitchen, the boy saw his father holding Kapara with her neck bent backwards in one hand and a razor knife in the other. In one move of his hand, over the kitchen sink, the father proceeded to slash Kapara's neck, the kid watching in horror as the blood was gashing out. The father, then proceeded to wave the rooster around his head as he was chanting the זו חליפתי-זו כפרתי "this is my substitution, this is my atonement, this rooster will go to death and I will enter long, and good life and peace."

By that time the kid was in an advance stage of panic and horror screaming at the top of his lungs: "He killed my Kapara," "he killed my Kapara!!" and then ran to his room to hide.
By now you probably figured out, the young kid was me. The year was 1947. You see, my parents came to Israel in the 30's as חלוצים-pioneers. They came to built up a land for the Jews, but they did not come for religious reasons, their reasons were nationalistic. They, and thousands like them did not have time for God, their task was to built a nation. But somehow, as Jews do for generation all over the world, my father, who smoked on Shabbat, who never went to Shul, somehow, in his own way tried to keep the traditions. Right way or wrong way he knew that keeping tradition is the Jewish way, as secular as he was.

Today, so many years later, looking back it is a bitter-sweet memory, my first introduction to Yom Kippur, and Judaism.

May you all have an easy fast.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

L'shanah Tovah

The high holidays season is upon us again. A time of reflection, search and repentance. As we look back on the year that passed we aspire to restore our relationship with our fellow man. How can we stand in front of our creator and ask Him anything if we are not willing to do the same to our neighbor.

As we love Hashem with all our heart, mind and strength, we cannot forget to love our neighbor as ourselves. Our Master, Yeshua, said that on these two commandments hang all the other. as we begin a new cycle, let me extend my love to everyone here and on the blogsphare, and beyond. To all the people who I might have hurt or offended (there are multitudes of you, so take a number...LOL!) Please forgive my silliness.

Let us make a new beginning. May you all be enveloped in the blessing of the Father, the Son, and ruach Hakodesh. Happy Yom Teruah everyone.

Friday, September 3, 2010

What next, Burkkas?

This is what we can look forward to in a future "Halacha Nation."


Shabbat Shalom everyone.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


This is a continuation to my previous blog entry. I am attempting to show that beliefs like Rabbi Shapira's of Israel are embedded deeply in the halacha of the ancient and mid-age Rabbis and Sages. But doing that without quoting the many statements that speak good of Gentiles will only show bias which I am trying to avoid. The fact is, there is much confusion and difference of belief in rabbinic writing on the subject (on every subject for that matter) that leaves us totally dazed asking the question, were these people knew what they were doing? So, I will quote tit for tat.


"R. Jeremiah said: Whence can you know that the Gentile who practice the Torah is equal to the High Priest? Because it says, 'which if A MAN do, he shall live through them' (Lev.18:5). And it says, 'This is the Torah of man' (II Sam.7:19). It does not say: 'The Torah of Priests, Levites, Israelites,' but, 'This is the Torah of man, O Lord God.' And it does not say, Open the gates, and let the Priests and Levites and Israel enter,' but it says, "open the gates that a righteous Gentile may enter' (Isaiah 26:2); and it says, 'This is the gate of the Lord, the righteous shall enter it.' It does not say, 'The Priests and the Levites and Israel shall enter it,' but it says, 'The righteous shall enter it' (Psalm 118:20). It does not say, ;Rejoice ye, Priests, Levites and Israelites,' but it says, ' Rejoice ye righteous' (Psalm 33:1). And it does not say, ;Do good, O Lord, to the Priests and the Levites and the Israelites,' but it says, 'Do good O Lord, to the good' (Psalm 125:4). So even a gentile, if he practises the Torah, is equal to the High Priest." (Sifra 86b; Bava Kamma 38a).

A qualification here: Since the connection is made to Lev. 18:5, it seems that the Torah which is referenced here for a Gentile are only the Moral Laws. Sanhedrin 58b is very harsh on a Gentile who does not become a proselyte but keeps the Shabbat and other ceremonial laws. (As if the shabbat is immoral....).


Sanhedrin 59b posted opposite opinions on the matter. We read the first one that a Gentile who studies the Torah is likened to a High Priest. Here is the opposite opinion:

"R Jochanan said: ' A Gentile who studies the Torah deserves death, for it is written, " Moses commanded us the Torah as an inheritance, it is OUR inheritance, not Theirs.'" (Sanhedrin 59b).

the Rabbis of course had all the answers. In order to settle these conflicting statements the Talmud answers:

"In this case he is engaged in the seven Noachide commandments. (Sanhedrin 59b). The Tosaphot on Avoda Zara 3a adds that a Gentile is permitted to study those specific seven Noachide commandments-and if he learned more than this, he is punishable by death.

The Rambam gave it his own stamp of approval:

"A Gentile who engaged in Torah is punishable by death. he should not engage in anything other than their seven commandments alone." (The Laws of Kings chapter 10, halacha 9).

So, fine blog readers (Judah do I have to pay royalties?)here you have it. Please let me know if you would have liked to read some more.