Tag Archives: Torah Law

Love Thy Neighbor

An oft bandied phrase, one that has been ping-ponging in and out of my thoughts for weeks, months even:  Love thy neighbor.

How do I treat the woman next door who is sneaking out the back door to go cheat on her husband?  How am I supposed to love the two men at work who just announced their sexual relationship?  I believe those things are against Torah, so how am I supposed to love these people?

The attached condition, “as thyself’ also gives me pause.  How do I apply that if I don’t so much love myself?

I did an online search and looked at the context of the Law:  18 ‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.

Ah, some context is now given.  It’s not simply a willy-nilly overview of how humanity should be each others’ doormats; to the contrary, this is a simple provision that it’s not up to me to take the matter of law/justice/judgement into my own hands and apply as I desire, angrily so.

Additionally, the condition defines that I’m not to act by my own determination against the sons of my people – against my tribe, so to speak.  This certainly isn’t an obligatory statement regarding the whole of humanity.  The whole of humanity is not addressed by Torah, just the nation of the Hebrews and those who would take that citizenship.

By extension, this relieves me of an obligation to pass judgement, to call to attention a broken Law of Torah unless the violation is made by a fellow Hebrew.  I can point out the matter to the violator, or serve as a witness when it’s my fellow tribesman, but assignment of the duty of repayment and the pronouncement of recompense is not mine to dole.

This also means that I should not take vengeance or bear a grudge against myself, right?

Not as simple.

When my guilt is intertwined with that of the culture in which I’ve been raised, the separation of the threads of real guilt and perceived and societal guilt is an intricate and timely endeavor.

Not truly an easy task, that:  cleanly separating what would be expected of me should I truly live in a Torah community, and take an active part in the scales of justice that would prevail there.  In order for a release from guilt, there is a penalty to be applied.  Justice served, penance done, go on and live your life.  Complete.

In absence of that community – well, what then?

So, I continue to live the Law as best I can, in a society not understanding of that Law, not conducive to the keeping of that Law.  I keep to myself, do my best to get along with others, because I have no need and no right to judge others’ choices or to preach my beliefs.

And wonder:  will there ever be a day that I could wholly practice this simple phrase?

Community Life and The Holy Convocation

An integral part of living the life of the Hebrew is the observance of the Holy days, primarily Shabbat – the Sabbath.

The seventh day, observed from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.

A day of rest, to do no work.

A day to assemble as a community.

A day to touch base with the lives of the other believers, to recap the week, to share and to care.

A day that reminds us how important we are to each other.  A day that reminds us of the connection we have to one another:  Almighty and the Law of Torah.

We often talk for hours.  Some talk more than others, we’re just like everyone else in that aspect.

We talk about the week, our ups and downs.  We talk about joys, kids and grandkids and accomplishments.

We talk about disappointments, and hard times, and challenges.  We talk about Torah and the world around us – how those things are often at odds.

Sometimes, we talk about troubles between us, the differences we may have, or our contrasting opinions.

Most importantly, we talk.

Our time is mostly free for the talking.  Sometimes, we have other items on the schedule – family time, or time to gather with friends who believe differently.

Sometimes, there is simply a need to recharge with silence.

We’re so much like others, you see.

Except, we’re different.

🙂

Narrowing It Down: Define The Hebrew

Of all of the religions, all of the religious groups, and all of the belief systems that exist, the Hebrew religion – the Hebrew people – may be defined very simply.

Torah.  Only Torah.

No Talmud.

No Prophets.

No additives, no chemicals, no preservatives.

No heaven to aspire to.

No hell to be damned to.

Seriously, the basis for the Hebrew belief is that following Torah, in its pure form, is the requirement.

This presents a new twist on religion, a new but old thing which typically sends minds reeling from the shock.  Hebrews rely on the priest to deliver the Torah information, as defined in… (wait for it… you might already know this… ) Torah!

Just as Torah describes, the Aaronic priest is born into the duty, born into the hierarchy, to lead the Hebrews in their religious life.  The priest directs the community, according to Torah.  The Levites are directed to serve the priests, and to carry the Tabernacle (yes, tabernacle not temple) and Courtyard and Articles.

I don’t have a need to do Torah readings, Torah studies, although I spent nearly twenty years doing just that.  As my priest told me, “you know Torah, just go live Torah.”

Had I been a true member of a Hebrew community throughout life, or came upon such during travels, I would have been exposed to the Torah by the priests there.

Some of the differences between a Hebrew and nearly every other religion:

  • We work to accept our punishment.  The reality dealt to the Hebrew people and their generations for their refusal to keep Torah Law.
  • We do not ask of Almighty, YHWH.  This means we do not make prayer requests.
  • We, the congregation, do not read the Law.  We rely on the priest for matters that are too difficult.
  • We accept that we do not have the right to live in the Land.  We’re in exile, see the first point.
  • We are not commanded to ‘go forth and gather people’ to believe as we do.  You either believe as we do or you don’t.  Each and every human being has the right, the ability to choose.  If you choose differently, so be it, you are allowed to do so.
  • As exiled people, we recognize that the land we live in is not up to us to rule.  We are subject to the laws of the land we’re in.
  • A Hebrew may or may not be genetically tied to the original people of Torah.  The only difference for the Hebrew who voluntarily joins the community is that they don’t appear to be included in land inheritance.
  • There is no satan, no messiah, no king, no temple.  Our sole worship, our sole belief is in Almighty and the hierarchy set down by Almighty.  The anointed one is the High Priest.
  • The commanded Dwelling is the tabernacle and the enclosure – to keep out any but those who are of the tribe of Levi.  The priests are the only who offer, and the only who enter the tabernacle.  Only the High Priest enters the Holy of Holies.
  • It is up to the community to freely give items for construction of the tabernacle, the enclosure, the cloths and coverings, the Ark, table, lampstand, priestly clothing and articles of the clothing and tabernacle.
  • There are elders chosen who take the message of the priest to the community, should the community be too large for adequate delivery.
  • Only Hebrew Priests are allowed to say the blessing.  As described in Torah.

Those are the primary differences, for any who were wondering.

 

Hillbilly to Hebrew

I recall during the early years of grade school, a teacher had asked us to find out about our ancestry. So, I went to my best resource, Mom.

I asked “what are we Mom?”

Well, she must have been in fine humor that day because she answered me “hillbilly”.

And that’s what I reported back to the class.

I’m really glad that I don’t recall the reaction, as I’m certain that teacher was moved to either shock or laughter!

Seriously!

I thought Hillbilly was my label for a long while.

It did make sense, somewhat.

The family reunions for Mom’s side were happy, musical affairs, always including acoustic guitars, tambourines, banjos and mandolins. Bluegrass was always the theme, and quite a few of the relatives could play and sing.

There’s a small town (population 200 or so) that several of the relatives call home, so when we all assembled to enjoy each other’s company, moving from house to house – mostly barefoot – it seemed like it was “our town”.

They’re fabulous memories to have: My hillbilly memories.

For the record, it turns out I’m mostly German/English.

Whatever that means.

You see, I’ve transitioned.

I don’t want to be thought of as hillbilly

or German

or English.

I have a preference now, and no – it’s really not Hippy either, hehehe.

Because I’ve taken the label of Hebrew – in fact, it was a label that was given me by my Priest.

Accepted; willingly, eagerly, and with great respect for the serious implications that it requires.

You see, I have agreed to keep the law of Torah as best I can in a world that is not conducive to Torah.

It’s sobering.

It’s complicated, yet breathtakingly simple.

If only all things were so simple!

Shadowed Rituals

Funerals are never on the top list of things to do. Not the ‘I wanna’ list anyway.

But when a death occurs in the family, or in the family of a dear friend, you offer your support: attend a ritual to help the living move forward and let the dead lie.

That’s how I found myself inside a catholic cathedral last year. (I’m not christian, in case you’re just stopping by – used to be, was trained to be, but then I discovered my beliefs – long story  – follow along if you’d like to know more).

Life in a primarily christian surround becomes an ever-present obstacle course of fluxing themes and cultural inheritances; a deluge of seasonal visual and audio barrages that keep me reeling from sensory overload and instant transport back through my memory banks. There are times when I find myself with a hymn stuck in my head. Damn!

I digress. Back to the funeral. Not where I wanted to be, for certain, but where I went to give formal support to my friends.

There is a definite shadow of Torah upon which the catholic religion is based. I say shadow not to incite, but because when we’re talking about an entirely different god, I cannot with good conscience say that it is built on Torah. Structured to resemble/shadow, yes. Definitely. When you see a good thing… why reinvent the wheel, right?

So I’m watching the incense burner ritual, noticing the priest’s clothing, the washing of hands. I look around me at the grandeur, imagining that there is, at the very least, gold-plating on the vessels. Also, the physical structure of the cathedral, the massive columns, the intricate designs, the lavish shine and polish a replica of the temple built once kings were placed in an unwarranted position and allowed to replace the importance of the priesthood.

Suddenly, I feel the loss of what Almighty designed. The tears I shed are not the same as those shed by the people around me.

The loss of Torah, the exile, is more poignant when you have such a visual reminder.

Granted, those specific rituals would NEVER have been seen by the community. They were not available to the common man or to the Levites. Only Priests entered the Mishkan, and only the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies. The only things that may have been witnessed by the community were the sacrifices on the main altar, which stood outside the Mishkan.

The rituals served to bring back to mind the words of Torah, the commands in place for the structures, the rituals, the Priestly commands.

Catholicism has at least retained a decent copy of the hierarchical structure commanded by Almighty. Warped and extremely faulty, in my opinion, but a reminder, nonetheless, of the place Priests were given in Torah. The importance of an eternal heritage, a constant position to serve Almighty and to give the people a conduit for serving Almighty.

These thoughts were forefront as I contemplated the end of my life, in comparison.

What end-of-life closing rituals will I, or should I employ when I feel my life slipping away?

I have no need to accept a savior. I have no hell to fear, no heaven to which to aspire. I’ve no last rites or rituals commanded.

Those commands that I’ve broken are to be atoned as soon as I know them, and restitution made where required. Those commands that I’ve broken unknowingly are graciously covered annually through Yom Kippur.

What I will have is the ending of what I am now.

I reflected on the fact that I hope to have 30 to 40 more years of this life. A lot of time to live the example of my beliefs and to hope for an inheritance to share. A lot of time to watch the world go ticking along, for better or worse. A lot of time to put words on pages. A lot of time for pain, for sorrows, for hardships. A lot of time for beauty and joy and laughter. A lot of time for family and friends and food and work. A lot of time to consider my end.

And at the end, if the time of my end becomes clear to me, I hope to call a dear friend. I hope to make connection with my Priest and to tell him I’m ready for Almighty to give me Shalom. And I hope to sleep with my ancestors.

Intro

Understandably, my voice is only truly important to me. But part of that importance is that I share.

Silly, I know.

A bit surprising, admittedly.

Apparently my ego is a bit larger than I thought. This is my little act of voyeurism.

Posts will be about a variety of things.

I may post about steps I’ve taken along the way to find myself.

Expect to see a lot of belief based, Almighty based, Creator based posts.

Sometimes I’ll be on my soapbox, and sometimes I’ll pour my heart out.

All of it will be important… to me.

So.

There it is.

Your warning.

Bail now. 😉