Thursday, September 26, 2013

What is the "Everlasting Covenant" of Isaiah 55?

On the last day of Sukkot, Yeshua quoted Isaiah 55:


John 7:37-39  "37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified."

Isaiah 55 says:

1Come, everyone who thirsts,     come to the waters; and he who has no money,     come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk     without money and without price.

NOTE:  Scripture compares Torah to wine, water, milk, and even the Ruach.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,     and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,     and delight yourselves in rich food.Incline your ear, and come to me;     hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
    my steadfast, sure love for David.
    my steadfast, sure love for David.Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,     a leader and commander for the peoples.Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,     and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,     for he has glorified you."

QUESTION


What is this "everlasting covenant"?

It may be significant that Isaiah mentions David.  Note the similarity with the following passage in Ezekiel 37:

Ezekiel 37:24-26  "24 “‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. 25 They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever."

Also significant is how Scripture compares water to both Torah and the Spirit.  And this is something that we see in the prophecies dealing with the New Covenant:

Ezekiel 36:24-28  "24 “‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 2I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. 



Jeremiah 31:9  "...I will lead them beside streams of water..."
Jeremiah 31:12They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion;     they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord— the grain, the new wine and the olive oil,     the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden,     and they will sorrow no more"        Jeremiah 31:31-33“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,     “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel     and with the people of Judah.32 It will not be like the covenant     I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand     to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant,     though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel     after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds     and write it on their hearts. I will be their God,     and they will be my people.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A One-Law Midrash About Shemini Atzeret (UPDATED)

NOACH

1 Peter 3:20 says that there were eight souls saved in the ark through water. Thus, we see that eight is the number of the covenant and that it includes all of humanity.

NOTE:  Seventy nations come from Noach (Gen. 10).

AVRAHAM

Circumcision occurs on the eighth day.  Why the eighth day?  Because Avraham was supposed to see all of humanity as potential proselytes who would join his family and come under the covenant.  Avraham was not only the model proselyte but also the model proselytizer, bringing with him "many souls."

MOSHE

The dimensions of the Holy of Holies are based on the number eight.  

Moshe appointed seventy elders to the Sanhedrin.

YESHUA

On Sukkot, a festival for which Torah requires seventy sacrifices which symbolize the seventy nations of humanity, Yeshua quoted Isaiah 55, a passage that talks about an everlasting covenant being made with all peoples:

John 7:37-39, "37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified."
Isaiah 55, ""Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples. Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor."
CONCLUSION

There's an old Jewish midrash that says the seventy sacrifices of Sukkot represent the nations and the single sacrifice on Shemini Atseret represents only Israel.

Here's a One-Law midrash:
"The seventy sacrifices of Sukkot represent all of humanity; the single sacrifice of Shemini Atseret represents all of humanity becoming one."
On that Great Day His People will be one even as He is one.

Shalom,

Peter



Sunday, September 22, 2013

Shemini Atseret/Simchat Torah: Selected Readings


Encyclopedia of Judaism (Wigoder)

"Shemini Atseret ('Eighth Day of Solemn Assembly').  Festival observed immediately after SUKKOT (Tabernacles), i.e., on 22 Tishri, as laid down in the Pentateuch:  'On the eighth day you shall observe a holy occasion ... it is a solemn gathering (Atseret); you shall not work at your occupations' (Lev. 23:36; cf. Num. 29:35).  The term Atseret (lit. 'concluding festival') is also applied to the last day of PASSOVER (Deut. 16:8) and, by the rabbis, to SHAVUOT (RH 1:2; Shev. 1:1).  A parallel function may thus have been served, in biblical times, by the Atseret of Passover (Shavu'ot) and the Atseret of Sukkot (Shemini Atseret).  The rabbis treated the eighth day as a festival in its own right, and the liturgy indicates this independent status through appropriate references in the AMIDAH and the KIDDUSH.  Shemini Atseret is distinguished from Sukkot also in that the FOUR SPECIES are no longer utilized after HOSHANA RABBAH and Kiddush on the eighth day is followed by the special SHE-HE-HEYANU benediction, which can only be recited for a new festival and not merely for the conclusion of Sukkot.
By rabbinic decree, the annual cycle of Pentateuch readings is completed and begun anew on Shemini Atseret.  For this reason, the festival is known also as SIMCHAT TORAH, the Rejoicing of the Law."

"SHEMINI ATSERET--EIGHTH DAY OF SOLEMN ASSEMBLY

Other names:  Yom ha-Shemini
Hag ha Atseret (Eighth Day Concluding Festival)
...
Torah & Prophetical Readings (in Diaspora):
Deut. 14:22-16:17; Num. 29:35-30:1 (Maftir); 1 Kings 8:54-9:1 (Ashkenazi Haftarah); 1 Kings 8:54-66 (Sephardi Haftarah)
Scroll:  Ecclesiastes (if there is no Intermediate Sabbath on Sukkot)"

---------------------

The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion:

"SHEMINI 'ATSERET....The striking difference between the number of sacrifices offered during the previous seven days, which total seventy in all (Nm. 29.12-32) and the solitary 'one ram, one bullock' of this festival (Nm. 36), is the basis of a midrash to the effect that they seventy sacrifices correspond to the 'seventy nations' (i.e., humankind), while Shemini 'Atseret symbolizes the special relationship between God and Israel."





Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Pauline Paradox as it Relates to Paul's Rule in 1 Corinthians 7

So you've all heard about the "Pauline Paradox"(see Gager at the very bottom), how Paul seems to say contradictory things about the Law and Israel.  A subset of this apparent Pauline paradox, and the issue which is of great interest to non-Jewish Believers, is how Paul "rules" on non-Jewish circumcision in 1 Corinthians 7.  For an articulation of this latter issue, here's Thielman:


"In the course of his admonition that no one should change his status with respect to circumcision, Paul explains that the rite is unimportant:  'Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything, but keeping the commandments of God [teresis entolon theou]' (7:19).
The phrase 'the commandments of God' is frequently used in the Jewish and Jewish Christian literature of Paul's time to refer to keeping the law of Moses....Matthew translates Jesus' reply to the rich young man's question about how to obtain eternal life as 'Keep the commandments' (tereson tas entolas), a clear reference to the law of Moses, as Jesus' list of commandments and summary of the first table of the law from Leviticus 19:18 demonstrate (Mt 19:17-19).  Moreover, the Septuagint's translation of Ezra 9:4 uses the phrase 'commandments of God' as a synonym for the law of Moses.  The phrase Paul has chosen to refer to God's commandments, therefore, is one that in his cultural context clearly referred to the Mosaic law.
If this is so, how can Paul contrast the irrelevance of circumcision with the importance of God's commands?  Circumcision, is, after all, a prominent requirement within the law of Moses (Lev 12:3; compare Gen 17:10-27).  Although Paul offers no explanation for his startling statement, it significantly preserves the same paradox we have seen in Paul's allusive references to the law..." pg. 101 of Paul and the Law by Thielman

Footnote 3 on pg. 264 "Peter J. Tomson believes 1 Corinthians 7:19 supplies evidence that Paul believed the Jews should keep the Mosaic law and Gentiles the Noachian code....The only principle clearly articulated in 1 Corinthians 7:19, however, is that circumcision is ultimately irrelevant to obedience to God."

QUESTION:


What are your thoughts about Thielman's conclusion that 1 Cor. 7:19 is evidence that Paul viewed circumcision as "irrelevant to obedience to God"?  Does he adequately resolve the apparent contradiction?



NOTE:  Here's a quote from Gager which summarizes the so-called Pauline Paradox:

"...Paul's letters offer up totally contradictory evidence.  To illustrate these contradictions, I put forward two sets of texts, drawn from his letters.  I will label one set anti-Israel ["or antilaw]...the other, I will label pro-Israel ["or prolaw"].

The Anti-Israel Set

"For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse" (Gal. 3.10).

"Now it is evident that no man is justified before God by the law" (Gal. 3.11).

"For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation" (Gal. 6.15).

"For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3.20).

"Israel who pursued righteousness which is based on the law did not succeed in fulfilling that law" (Rom. 9.31).

"As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God, for your sake" (Rom. 11.28).

"But their minds were hardened; for to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.  Yes, to this day, whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their mind; but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed" (2 Cor. 3.14f).

The Pro-Israel Set

"What is the advantage of the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?  Much in every way" (Rom. 3.1).

"Do we overthrow the law through faith?  By no means.  On the contrary, we uphold the law" (Rom. 3.31).

"What shall we say?  That the law is sin?  By no means" (Rom. 7.7).

"Thus the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good" (Rom. 7.12).

"To the Israelites belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the Temple, and the promises.  To them belong the patriarchs and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ" (Rom. 9.4).

"Has [God] rejected [His] people?  By no means" (Rom. 11.1).

"All Israel will be saved" (Rom. 11.26).

"Is the law then against the promises of God.  Certainly not!" (Gal. 3.21).

Now suddenly the problem emerges.  Point by point, the two sets appear to contradict each other:  Circumcision is of great value; it counts for nothing.  The law is holy; it places its followers under a curse and cannot justify them before God.  All Israel will be saved; they are the enemies of God and have failed to fulfill their own law."  (pg. 5, Reinventing Paul by Gager)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

HAPPY SUKKOT!

Thanks, dear readers, for visiting this little blog and talking Torah with us.  With all the divisions currently facing our Messianic movement, it's nice that there is at least one place on the internet where all views are welcomed and uncensored, where we can try to find common ground and work past all the hard feelings.  May there be a reunification in our time!

Until then...

Happy Sukkot to all!

Shalom,

Peter

Sukkot: Selected Readings

"Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength. Put on your garments of splendor, O Jerusalem, the holy city. The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again," (Isaiah 52:1)

PREFACE:  If you examine these readings about Sukkot then you should have a good grasp on its Biblical origins, its rationales, its customs, etc.  The relevance of Sukkot to "One Law" should be self-evident.  However, I'll eventually do a separate post explaining the significance of Sukkot for One Law.



FROM:  The Sukkot and Simchat Torah Anthology by Goodman

pg. 1  "The festival of Sukkot is rooted in the Bible, which delineates its basic laws and recounts the historical events related to it.  According to the Pentateuch, Hag ha-Sukkot (Feast of Booths) or Hag ha-Asif (Feast of Ingathering), as the holiday is alternately termed, is one of the three festivals on which the Israelites were enjoined to make a pilgrimage to the chosen place in Jerusalem.  It prescribes the manner of observance--dwelling in booths, prohibition of work on the first and eighth days, offering sacrifices, use of the Four Species, and rejoicing over the harvest.
The people were commanded to assemble and hear the reading of the Law of Moses every seventh year, on the Feast of Booths.
The dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem during the reign of King Solomon took place on Sukkot, and this historic event is described in detail in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles.  First Kings also describes the rebellion of Jeroboam against Rehoboam, King Solomon's successor.  To show his independence, Jeroboam, among other changes, moved the date for the commemoration of the feast.
The biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah contain accounts of the reinstitution of the celebration of Sukkot in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile.
The prophet Zechariah foresaw a period when all nations will worship one God and will observe the Feast of Booths.  The idea of a universal religious brotherhood is confirmed in the rabbinic dictum:  'On the Feast of Tabernacles, the Israelites offered seventy bullocks for the seventy nations of the world' (Midrash Tanhuma on Pinhas).
THE FEAST OF INGATHERING

"Three times a year you shall hold a festival for Me:  You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread--eating unleavened bread for seven days as I have commanded you--at the set time in the month of Abib, for in it you went forth from Egypt; and none shall appear before Me empty-handed; and the Feast of the Harvest, of the first fruits of your work, of what you sow in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in the results of your work from the field."  Exodus 23.14-16

"After the ingathering from your threshing floor and your vat, you shall hold the Feast of Booths for seven days.  You shall rejoice in your festival, with your son and daughter, your male and female slave, the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow in your communities.  You shall hold festival for the Lord your God seven days, in the place that the Lord will choose; for the Lord your God will bless all your crops and all your undertakings, and you shall have nothing but joy.  Three times a year--on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, on the Feast of Weeks, and on the Feast of Booths--all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place that He will choose.  They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed, but each with his own gift, according to the blessing that the Lord your God has bestowed upon you."  Deuteronomy 16.13-17

THE FEAST OF BOOTHS

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying:  Say to the Israelite people:
On the fifteenth day of this seventh month, there shall be the Feast of Booths to the Lord, [to last] seven days.  The first day shall be a sacred occasion:  you shall not work at your occupations; seven days you shall bring offerings by fire to the Lord.  On the eighth day you shall observe a sacred occasion and bring an offering by fire to the Lord; it is a solemn gathering:  you shall not work at your occupations....
Mark, on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the yield of your land, you shall observe the festival of the Lord [to last] seven days:  a complete rest on the first day, and a complete rest on the eighth day.  On the first day you shall take the product of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.  You shall observe it as a festival of the Lord for seven days in the year; you shall observe it in the seventh month as a law for all time, throughout the generations.  You shall live in booths seven days;  all citizens in Israel shall live in booths, in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I the Lord your God.
So Moses declared to the Israelites the set times of the Lord."  Leviticus 23.33-36, 39-44.
THE PUBLIC ASSEMBLY

"Moses wrote down this Teaching and gave it to the priests, sons of Levi, who carried the Ark of the Lord's Covenant, and to the elders of Israel.
And Moses instructed them as follows:  Every seventh year, the year set for remission, at the Feast of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place which He will choose, you shall read this Teaching aloud in the presence of all Israel.  Gather the people--men, women, children, and the strangers in your communities--that they may hear and so learn to revere the Lord your God and to observe faithfully every word of the Teaching.  Their children, too, who have not had the experience, shall hear and learn to revere the Lord your God as long as they live in the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to occupy."  Deuteronomy 31.9-13.
THE TEMPLE DEDICATION ON SUKKOT

Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the princes of the fathers' houses of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion.  And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the Feast [of Booths] in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.  And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark.  And they brought up the ark of the Lord, and the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the Tent; even these did the priests and the Levites bring up.  And king Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, that were assembled unto him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude."  1 Kings 8.1-5.

....

ALL NATIONS TO OBSERVE SUKKOT

And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.  And it shall be, that whoso of the families of the earth goeth not up unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, upon them there shall be no rain.  And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, they shall have no overflow; there shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the nations that go not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.  This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations that go not up to keep the feast of tabernacles."  Zechariah 14.16-19.

....

THE HISTORIC ASSEMBLY ON SUKKOT

"....It is the duty of the king to read before the people, the reading to take place in the Women's Court of the Temple.  He can read while sitting, but it is deemed praiseworthy if he reads while standing.  He reads from the beginning of the Book of Deuteronomy....
In what manner is the reading done?  They blow the trumpets throughout Jerusalem and erect a large, wooden platform in the center of the Women's Court.  The king seats himself upon it so that his reading could be heard, and all Israelites who have made the pilgrimage for the festival gather about him.  The minister of the synagogue takes a Scroll of the Torah and gives it to the chief of the synagogue, and the chief of the synagogue gives it to the prefect, and the prefect gives it to the high priest, and the high priest gives it to the king.  This procedure is followed in order to honor the Torah in the presence of the multitude of people.  The king receives the Scroll while standing, and, if he wishes, seats himself, and opens the Scroll and pronounces the benediction customarily recited by all who read from the Torah in the synagogue.  He then reads the chapters indicated above and pronounces the closing benediction as it is customarily recited in the synagogue.  Following that he adds seven benedictions....
This commandment is to be observed at the time that Israel is upon its land."  Sefer ha-Hinukh 612. 

FROM:  The Minhagim by Chill

[Ushpizin]

Pg. 223  "The Jew begins the celebration of all other holidays by reciting the Kiddush.  On Sukkot, however, when he enters his sukkah he begins not with the Kiddush but with the Kabbalah-inspired custom of inviting the Ushpizin, the guests.  Who are these guests who are invited to join him in the sukkah?  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron and David.  Each day, as he enters the sukkah, he welcomes one of these seven great ancestors."

"Why are these seven singled out for this honor? ....[W]e invite these exalted and noble guests as an exhibition of the supreme contribution that they made to the welfare of mankind.  Abraham invited every stranger into his home.  He taught each on of them the meaning of loving-kindness.  Isaac was prepared to submit himself to be offered to God as a sacrifice.  He exemplified unparalleled heroism and commitment to God.  In willingly accepting menial labor, Jacob displayed the quality of humity.  Joseph overcame the drive of his passions in the incident with the wife of Potiphar.  He taught the world a lesson that man, if he so desires, can conquer his basest instincts.  Moses and Aaron exemplified the concept of service to God.  Without the illumination of these two contributions, the world would be in darkness until this very day.  Finally, David, the Psalmist and Sweet Singer of Israel, established a dynasty which ruled in the past and will rule in the future with untainted justice and awe-inspiring dignity."  

[Arba'ah Minim:  the Four Species]

pg. 226  "In addition to the observance of the mitzvah of dwelling in the sukkah with respect to eating, drinking and sleeping there, we perform during this period the ritual of the Arba'ah Minim, the 'Four Species.' ....The fruit of goodly trees [Lev. 23:39-41] is identified as the Etrog; branches of palm trees, the Lulav; the boughs of thick trees, the myrtle (Hadas); willows of the brook, twigs of the willow tree (Avravot).

[General reason for this mitzvah:]

pg. "...Sukkot occurs in the fall on the threshold of the rainy season.  Rainfall is vital for human existence:  if it is abundant it means prosperity;  should there be drought, famine is the result.  The Four Species are especially dependent on rain for their growth.  Holding them in our hands we beseech God to grant us sufficient rain just as He did for these plants."

FROM:   The Biblical and Historical Background of Jewish Customs and Ceremonies by Bloch

pg. 184  "THE NEED FOR PILGRIMAGE

Pilgrimages to the Sanctuary were essential to the survival of Judaism.  In the absence of synagogues, schools, and influential local religious leaders, it was important to maintain physical contact between the people and the ecclesiastic leadership of the Temple.  Jerusalem was not only the religious and cultural capital of the nation but also its political center.  The pilgrimages to Jerusalem helped keep ancient traditions alive and also enhanced national solidarity.
While the purpose of pilgrimages is self-understood, one may still wonder what was the reason for three annual pilgrimages and why they were timed with the three festivals....
The answer to this question must be sought in the context of the unremitting struggle of monotheism against pervasive paganism.  The celebration of Passover was central to that contest.  The paschal lamb was an annual reminder of an ancient decisive triumph over idolatry (Exod. 12:12).  The reinactment of the Passover pageantry also served as a reaffirmation of the ancient covenant which God had concluded with the exodus generation (Lev. 26:45).  The paschal lamb, like all sacrificial offerings, could not be slaughtered beyond the precincts of the Temple (Deut. 16:5).  For that reason alone, it was necessary to proclaim Passover a pilgrimage festival.
The uprooting of pagan practices also motivated the selection of the other agricultural festivals for pilgrimages to Jerusalem.  The seasons of harvest and ingathering were occasions for folk celebrations in many parts of the ancient world.  Most of them were characterized by excessive feasting, orgies, and pagan rites.  There is an indirect allusion in the Bible to one of these repulsive customs.  The proclamation of the pilgrimage festivals is followed by a commandment to bring the bikkurim to the Temple and the admonition 'Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother's milk' (Exod. 23:19, 34:26).  According to Maimonides, the admonition was motivated by the need to uproot the revolting pagan custom of serving kids boiled in their mother's mild at harvest feasts....
The utilization of the pilgrimage as an important weapon against paganism is reflected in the sequence of the twenty-third chapter of Exodus.  The portion which proclaims the three pilgrimage festivals is concluded with the warning:  'Thou shalt make no covenant with them [the native heathens], nor with their idols' (32)....the purpose of the pilgrimage festivals is to reinforce the faith and reaffirm the covenant with God."
[What the Sukkah illustrates:]

pg. 189

" A PROVIDER OF SHADE

The sukkah is a memorial to the shelter which God provided in the desert to protect the Jews from the heat of the sun.  Only a people which had experience the broiling desert sun and the debilitation of a tropical climate can appreciate the life-saving qualities of shade....

THE SUKKAH AS A HOME

The sukkah must become one's 'home' for the duration of the holiday.  Al functions normally performed in a home, such as eating and sleeping, must take place in the sukkah.  To give a sukkah the appearance and atmosphere of a home, one should move fine furnishings and dishes into it.  Beautifying the sukkah with fruits is a custom which dates back to talmudic times.  

A TEMPORARY ABODE

The sukkah, a memorial to the movable sukkot in the desert, must not take on the appearance of a permanent home.  A solid ceiling disqualifies a sukkah.  The covering is designed to screen out the sun but it must not block the visibility of the stars.  Despite the temporary nature of the sukkah, it must be sturdy enough to withstand ordinary winds and to last at least for seven days.

ENJOYING THE SUKKAH

If one suffers physical or mental discomfort in a sukkah, he is exempt from the obligation of dwelling in it (Sukkah 25b).  The sukkah, a memorial to God's protection, is designed to enhance the joy of the festival.  If the element of joy is missing, the mitzvah of dwelling in a sukkah is suspended....

THE FOUR SPECIES

The identity of the four species was transmitted by oral tradition, dating back to the earliest period of Jewish history.  The species are indigenous to the Holy Land and were readily obtainable for the performance of the ritual.
The biblical description of the species is vague, and the talmudic sages had to reconcile the oral tradition with the biblical terminology.  The four species are described in the text as follows:  'And you shall take on the first day the fruit of the tree of hadar ['pleasant'], branches of palm trees [kapot temarim], boughs of thick trees [anaf etz avot], and willows of the brook [arve nachal]' (Lev. 23:40).
[Waving the Four Species]

pg. 192 "The ancient ritual of the waving (naanuim) of the four species, sideways, forward and backward, and up and down, was an outgrowth of the new rabbinical perception of the rationale of the lulav.  Rabbi Jose b. Rabbi Chanina (3rd Cent.) explained that the saving is demonstrative of one's prayer to God to keep out damaging winds from any direction and harmful deposits of dew (Sukkot 37b).
The ritual of waving was not exclusive to the lulav.  There is a precedent in the Bible in the offering of the Omer on Passover and the two loaves of wheat on Shavuot (Lev. 23:11, 17).  In both instances the waving is inherent in the terms vehenif and tenufah ('lift up'), which are traditionally interpreted to mean 'and he shall wave' and a 'waving.'  Rabbi JOse's statement that the waving is a prayer for protection against harmful winds was originally made in reference to the Omer and the two loaves of bread (Menachot 62a).  It was subsequently applied to the waving of the lulav.
The term tenufah does not appear in the text of the lulav ritual.  INstead, the text employs the term ulekachtem ('and you shall take').  It is obvious that the requirement to wave the lulav is not based on a textual implication but on an analogy of this agricultural rite with the other two agricultural rites of Omer and lechem tenufah.  Thus the three agricultural seasons--Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot--have similar prayers for protection against inclement weather elements which might be detrimental to farming....
The view that the ceremony of the lulav is intended as a prayer for proper climatic conditions seems to be inconsistent with the biblical intimation that it is an expression of joy....a dissenting opinion [therefore] associated the joy with the waving of the lulav [as a] ritual of thanksgiving (Jer. Sukkah 3:11)."
CONCLUSION:

What significance might Sukkot have for those who believe in One Law?  I'll do a special post on that later...  Sukkot might actually be the strongest argument for One Law.  Oh, and the other special day coming up is Simchat Torah.  I'll do a special post on that as well since I was born on Simchat Torah.

: )

Have a Happy Sukkot!

Peter

Sunday, September 15, 2013

When Messianic Worlds Collide in Church

This might be a first:  I've actually asked some pastors to mediate a conflict I have with someone in the UMJC.  What possible sort of conflict-resolution jurisdiction might those pastors have, you ask?  Well the conflict occurs at their church and involves people involved with their church.

Now, I feel like this type of conflict resolution is beyond man's capabilities.  But maybe if you readers out there pray hard enough then G-d can make changes even where man is unable (or unwilling).

Shalom,

Peter






Thursday, September 12, 2013

Prayer Request

Please pray for a Croatian reader who is contemplating making aliyah.


Has It Started Already?

Funny thing happened earlier today.

I had been thinking about going from church to church, giving talks about how Believers can bless Israel and seeing how much interest exists for a Messianic fellowship.  For some reason, I had the idea in my head that African American churches would be a great place to start.  Well...so I'm at the library and overhear this African American lady mention the church where my family visits.  So that started a two-hour conversation.

Here's the synopsis:

She's one of the teachers at her church (which is a different church than where my family visits).  She said they were very pro-Israel, said I should talk to the pastor, visit the congregation, said it was a great idea to start a Messianic fellowship, that lots of people would be interested, etc.  She was VERY enthusiastic (even gave me the pastor's card and wrote her name on the back, telling me to reference her).

So has it started already?

Guess I'll have a lot of work to do after Yom Kippur...     : )

Shalom,

Peter

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Why Does Paul Say "Our" Fathers in 1 Corinthians 10:1?


Peripateo as Halacha in Acts 21:21 and Philippians 3:17: Did Paul Instruct Non-Jews at Philippi to Keep Messianic Halacha in the Same Manner as Messianic Jews?

Here's two possible parallel passages:

"And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk [peripatein] after the customs," Acts 21:21
"Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk [peripatountas] according to the pattern you have in us," (Phil. 3:17)

It's interesting that Paul tells his primarily non-Jewish audience at Philippi to "walk" according to Paul's pattern.  After all, Acts 21 tells us that Paul's pattern was to keep Jewish Law and Jewish Custom.  




Establishing Healthy Messianic Congregations by Sam Nadler

Has anyone read this book?  I just discovered it on the Word of Messiah Ministries site:

CLICK HERE FOR LINK

Looks promising...

Does the Evidence Show that Paul was a Torah-Observant Jew? (Responding to David Rudolph and Anonymous)

Earlier today an anonymous commenter said the following:

Lastly, regarding Acts 21. I have, of course, read it many times. The fact that Paul was willing to pay the expenses to end the vow, aka to prove he kept the law may simply be his willingness to do what he said he was willing to do..."be all things to all people."

My response:

Anonymous,
Let's get back to the discussion. You say you've read Acts 21. Now, Acts 21 says: 
"Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law." 
So here's our options:  
(1) Paul intentionally deceived the council, pretending to be obedient to the law when, in reality, he was against the law; 
(2) Paul was truthful. 
So let me ask you: do you think Paul was a liar?

That's some pretty solid evidence that Paul was a Torah-Observant Jew, right?  Well, not according to David Rudolph:

"In chapters 2-5, the objective is not to prove that Paul was a Torah-observant Jew (this is beyond the scope of this study and perhaps the available evidence)," (pg. 18 of "A Jew to the Jews" by David Rudolph).
What???

In reality, Acts 21 contains evidence that conclusively establishes that Paul was a Torah-observant Jew.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Prayer Request

Trying to collaborate on building a Messianic fellowship in Richmond, Virginia at the moment, talking to a wide variety of Messianic and Christian leaders in the area.  I expect the enemy to hit us pretty hard because this will eventually be a massive collaboration between Messianics and Christians.  So keep Richmond, Virginia in your prayers please.

Shalom in Yeshua Our L-rd and Messiah,

Peter

Monday, September 9, 2013

Yom Kippur: Miscellaneous Readings

READING #1

"DAY OF ATONEMENT---YOM KIPPUR
Other names:
Yom ha-Kippurim (Ashkenazim)
Kippur (Sephardim)
Yom ha-Din (Judgment Day)
Shabbat Shabbaton (Sabbath of Solemn Rest/Sabbath of Sabbaths)
Hebrew Date: 10 Tishri
Pentateuchal & Prophetic Readings:
Morning: Lev. 16:1-34; Num. 29:7-11 (Maftir): Isa. 57:14-58:14 (Haftarah)
Afternoon: Lev: 18:1-30; Book of Jonah; Micah 7:18-20 (Haftarah)" (pg. 203 of The Encyclopedia of Judaism)

READING #2

"Once as Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai was coming forth from Jerusalem, Rabi Joshua followed after him and beheld the Temple in ruins.
'Woe unto us!' Rabbis Joshua cried, 'that this, the place where the iniquities of Israel were atoned for, is laid waste!'
'My son,' Rabban Johanan said to him, 'be not grieved; we have another atonement as effective as this.  And what is it?  It is acts of loving-kindness, as it is said, For I desire mercy and not sacrifice' (Hosea 6.6).
For thus we find concerning Daniel, that greatly beloved man, that he was engaged in acts of loving-kindness.
Now, what were the acts of loving-kindness in which Daniel was engaged?  Canst thou say that he offered burnt offerings and sacrifices in Babylon?  What then were the acts of loving-kindness in which he was engaged?  He used to outfit the bride and make her rejoice, accompany the dead, give a perutah to the poor, and pray three times a day--and his prayer was received with favor.
The Fathers according to Rabbi Nathan," pg. 32 of The Yom Kippur Anthology by Philip Goodman.
"At this time, when the Temple no longer exists, and we have no atonement altar, there is nothing left but repentance.  Repentance atones for all transgressions [Mishneh Torah, Law of Repentance 1.3, 2.1, 9, 10]" pgs. 44-45 of The Yom Kippur Anthology by Philip Goodman.

READING #3

"Penitence, prayer and charity are the three principal keys to salvation.  Confession is an essential prerequisite to penitence.  In the words of Maimonides:  'How does one confess? One msut say, 'O Lord, I have sinned, I have strayed, I have transgressed.  I have done such and such.  I repent and I am ashamed of my deeds and I will never do it again'' (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Teshuvah 1:1).
  The Bible stresses the paramount role of confession as a preliminary to atonement.  'When a man or a woman shall commit any sin...they shall confess their sin which they have done...besides the ram of atonement whereby atonement shall be made for him' (Num. 5:6-8).  According to rabbinic interpretation, confession is an independent rite, mandatory even when there are no longer any sacrificial offerings (Zevin, Moadim BaHalachah, p. 63)," pgs. 174-175 of The Biblical and HIstorical Background of Jewish Customs and Ceremonies by Abraham Bloch

READING #4

"How does one achieve repentance?  All the great theologians throughout the centuries agree on one procedure:
(a) Hakkarat Ha-Het, 'acknowledgement of the sin.'  Oft-times people rationalize that what they are doing is not sinful.  Thus, the first step in repentance is to concede that wrongdoing is synonymous with sin.
(b) Vidduy, 'confession.'  The second  step in reaching a state of repentance is to confess one's sins.  The sinner manifests his grief and sorrow over his deplorable way of life when he proclaims:  'I have sinned.'
(c) Kabbalah le-Haba, 'resolution.'  It is not sufficient for man to proclaim his wrongdoing and transgression.  What is even more important is that he must realize and resolve, without any mental reservations, that he will not revert to his errant ways."

READING #5

"Before leaving for the Synagogue both men and women attire themselves in white garments.  There are two reasons for this custom:
(a) White is the color of the attire of angels.  On Yom Kippur, when the Jew observes a day free of sin, he is compared to the angels.
(b) The white clothes worn by women and the kittels worn by men should remind us of the shrouds in which the dead are laid to rest.  This should stir us to even greater efforts in prayer and repentance," pg. 200 of The Minhagim by Abraham Chill

READING #6

"That [hattat] sacrifices purify the sanctums on behalf of persons reveals the human factor in the dynamics of the sacrifice:  it is people who cause the impurity in the sanctuary; that is, when they sin or suffer severe impurity, the sanctuary is soiled.  People do not have to be in the sanctuary area for this pollution to occur; it occurs aerially.  This pollution follows a graded scheme according to the gravity of the impure situation.  The more severe the sin or impure situation, the more extensively the sanctuary is polluted.  Permissive tolerance of severe impurities and inadvertent sins committed by individuals pollute only the outer altar (cf. Lev 4:2-35).  Sins by the community in concert or by the high priest pollute the incense altar and the shrine (4:2-21).  Intentional sins and presumably other unrectified sins and impurities pollute the adytum and the [kapporet] and implicitly the ark.  This is evidenced by the term [pisehem] 'their crimes' in Lev 16:16a, which seems to refer to brazen, deliberate sins (cf. Num 15:30-31) and which, together with impurities, is the express evil removed from the adytum.  In view of this scheme of pollution, the purpose of the Day of Atonement ritual becomes lucid:  while throughout the year the impurity of individual or community sins may be purged as they arise (Leviticus 4), once a year a special rite must be performed that cleanses the sanctuary of impurity from deliberate sins and from any other lingering impurity not yet rectified.  The implication following from this is that were the sanctuary left sullied by these impurities, God's presence, which manifests itself in the tent, could not dwell there and would leave (cf. Ezekiel 8-11)," (Anchor Bible Dictionary) 
"...The Scapegoat Rite.  At the beginning of the rite two goats brought by the people were distinguished by lot, one for the Lord and one for Azazel, an attenuated demonic figure living in the wilderness perhaps representing in the present text more a geographical locale than an active supernatural figure...The goat designated for the Lord is offered as a [hattat] sacrifice...the one designated for Azazel is the scapegoat, which bears the people's sins to the wilderness to Azazel....Carrying sins to the wilderness removes the cause of impurity [from the sanctuary] to an innocuous locale," (Anchor Bible Dictionary).

[DISCLAIMER:  The above readings contain opinions that do not necessarily reflect my own]
















Saturday, September 7, 2013

Book Reviews


Fellowshipping with the Pastor on Erev Yom Teruah

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path," (Psalm 119:105)

So we were at the Wednesday night dinner at a certain local Baptist church and it was erev Yom Teruah.  We were in the gymnasium seated at a table, me, my wife and daughter.  Then I looked up and saw the head pastor and his wife, approaching our table.  The pastor smiled and asked if he could join us.  "Of course," I said.

At some point in the conversation, after talking about the church's involvement in various Messianic ministries, I asked him about his philosophy on all of that and whether he had a long-term vision for the church.

His response (paraphrased):

"Peter, my philosophy and long-term vision is simple:   
Obedience.   
Obedience to wherever G-d leads.   
There was an archeologist in Israel who was on a dig and he uncovered a very small lamp.  Someone remarked what a small lamp it was and said, 'Why have such a small lamp?'  The archeologist replied, 'To see the next step.'  I think that's the way G-d is leading us right now, one step at a time.  We don't really know where this will lead.  All we know is that we have to be obedient each step of the way."
I like this guy!

We also attended the Rosh HaShanah event at this same church yesterday evening.  I couldn't believe how many people were there!  Maybe a hundred?  Pastors from different churches were there blowing shofars!

One last thing, a good friend of mine who lives in a different state said that he started visiting a Messianic fellowship that meets in a Baptist church!  This is the Ruach at work.  These sorts of things were unheard of when I was growing up (which, incidentally, was also a Baptist environment).  

Shalom and Blessings to the True Brothers and Sisters in Yeshua,

Peter