Tag Archives: Torah

No Traditional Yom Kippur

Our Hebrew observance of Yom Kippur is not what you’ll find in the search engines; the current traditions that have been set for many years are not followed among our people.

In fact, I was astounded to see a search option come up to show that the scapegoat was taken to its death on this Holy Day.

Not so.

In fact, as I pondered on that change to the commands, it occurred to me that my picture of that scapegoat was also in error.

When the bull and the two rams were chosen for Yom Kippur, it would not be clear which of the rams was to be the offering and which was to be the scapegoat, as the lots had not yet been cast by the High Priest.  The rams would have both been choice, healthy and vigorous animals.  Fit, without blemish, choice for offering to Almighty.

The ram that was sent away with the sins of the community figuratively upon its head would have been capable of survival in that wilderness, should it make it past the predators in the early time period.  Accustomed to domestic life, there would be a quick learning curve – or death.  But the ram was not sent to die – rather it was released to freedom, to a clean slate.  Its choices would determine its future.

So it is for us, should we follow the commands – the command to refrain from work and the command to afflict our souls.

Unlike the days of unleavened bread, where we’re commanded not to eat leaven, we are not commanded not to eat on Yom Kippur.  We’re commanded to afflict our souls.  That is a hard concept and leaves some room for translation.  To my mind it means to reflect, to self-examine and find my inner motives, my inner workings and check them against Torah expectations to see where I find myself lacking.  It’s also to recall where I’ve made outright errors according to the Torah laws and to acknowledge that guilt, that fault that should have already had restitution made and to bring that to the forefront as an item that would today be released.

And so the day began.  A pot of coffee to stir the mental works.  A bit of rest upon the cozy sofa as the achy morning muscles and joints stirred and loosened.  A little bit of music once the brain cells were beginning to fire.

Then the journal and favorite pen were pulled out and the commencement of self inspection began.

Well timed, the Holy convocation – the meeting with the community – was announced and began, only moments after the pen was set aside and just after I had snacked on curry seasoned cashews.

We discussed our perspectives on the day.  We talked about the happenings of the week, and a few current events.  We discussed concerns over family, and life.  And then we spent some time talking of those joys we’ve had, those things we look forward to and relish, and how thankful we are for those.

After the convocation, a quick lunch and a short walk for the dog, I returned to the inspection and discovered a few more items for which I could find reason for relief of guilt, for cleaning the slate.  Items that I could improve upon.

Not every moment of the day has been spent wallowing in self pity for wrong doing – and moments outside of the meeting and the self inspection were not swept away by napping.

I set a bluegrass station on the stereo as background and did some wishful thinking, some reading, and some thinking about the fall weather approaching.

And look forward to the evening and a clean slate – and a full return to the rituals commanded by Almighty.

 

Hebrew Community Bonds

Fragmented communities, one of the hardest obstacles in today’s Hebrew life, become a very sobering circumstance when there are dangers to parts of the community based on their geographical location.

It’s difficult navigation on a day to day basis.  But an impending natural disaster situation for a small portion of the community makes you stand up and take note of your real community bond.

We don’t see each other, except on Holy days when the budgets and the timing works out.  Technology allows us to assemble otherwise, to keep in touch and to keep a finger on the pulse of our connections, our commitment to Torah.

Irma threatened my family.  Firstly, my Torah family, but also my extended family – and my friend’s family.  I could do no more than sit from very safe sidelines and worry as I watched the mesmerizing giant wheel storm approach.  As I kept myself busy with my housekeeping tasks, I kept the radar going, with a commentary running on the speakers – touch-points, an audio and visual perspective to those spaces that contained a portion of my important peoples.

All have reported in safe, and I’ve yet to hear all of the damage reports – but it seems to be minimal.

But I’m changed a bit.

My disconnect, my aloofness, my resolve to be independent of My Almighty and never make requests has been shattered.

I cried, and I asked for Mercy for my connections, my Community.  My priorities became more clear than ever.

That, I need to remember.  My bonds.

 

 

 

Rights? What Are Rights?

I keep hearing ‘God-given rights’.

I want to know:  what are those rights?  Seriously?!

If those rights are based on something that isn’t factual, frequent repetition of those words doesn’t by default make them law.

If those oft-repeated rights are based on something seemingly factual but being attributed to the God of Torah, the God of the Old Testament, then the title of God has been taken in vain.  Dangerous ground there, slippery slopes and all.

God given rights are to breathe, to multiply, and to die. Given equally to mankind, to animals as well as to plant life (breathe termed in alternate forms) and organisms.

Choice is an option given mankind. Not a right, an option. People often choose to be emotionally driven.

Right to live?  Well, until you die… sure.

Liberty? No, not a right that Almighty granted, but seemingly a cultural perception graced upon society in general.

Pursuit of happiness? Whatever. That’s another cultural perception of mankind, not a God-granted right.

The words of Torah, the history of Tanakh comes to mind… 

People were born poor.

People were in situations where there was no food, no water.

People died.

People were born into slavery.  All colors.

People were isolated into groups.

People were restricted and persecuted for their beliefs, their race, their cultures.  Across the earth.

These situations are often the direct result of consequences.  Choices made and consequence of choice being the equal and opposite reaction.  Assigned situations based on circumstance and consequence.

Breathing.

Reproducing.

Dying.

 

Rights equal to all.

The rest is conceptual. Even if penned by founders.

 

Sh’ma Yisra’eil: Return to the Law

altar rock color

Sh’ma Yisra’eil – Return to the Law.

Torah Law, that is… the religion of the Hebrews.

I can keep it, it’s not terrifically hard, but it doesn’t matter.

Outside the land – It doesn’t matter.

I can live my life restrained only by civil law – eat, drink and be merry.  An ocean away, across the border, on the moon… as long as I’m not in the land chosen by Almighty, the Law is not a matter to much concern me.

So why am I so morose, so concerned with doing what YHVH commanded?  What keeps me on course, holding the line, standing apart and keeping separate from everyone and everything I know?  Why do I not just blend in, become a comfortable fit with society, with culture, with family and friends and community?

If nothing else, so that I can sleep well at night, so that I can practice what I believe with all of my heart.  Even if my obedience makes no difference, none.  Inconsequential, insignificant.  Important only to me.  Important only that by extension, I hope to revere YHVH by keeping the commands.

Truly, YHVH said I will bless them that bless you and curse them that curse you – by you all of the families of the earth will be blessed.

Not me.  Almighty didn’t say that about me.

Not anyone outside the land.  Other nations didn’t get this condition, this special selection.

Only Israel.  Chosen resident of the land.

So hey there Israel – Are you listening?!? – people in the land, citizens, strangers, residents of all shapes, sizes and beliefs – do you not believe YHVH?

Are you fearless, thinking Almighty, YHVH will not require?  See Numbers 35.

לג  וְלֹא-תַחֲנִיפוּ אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם בָּהּ, כִּי הַדָּם, הוּא יַחֲנִיף אֶת-הָאָרֶץ; וְלָאָרֶץ לֹא-יְכֻפַּר, לַדָּם אֲשֶׁר שֻׁפַּךְ-בָּהּ, כִּי-אִם, בְּדַם שֹׁפְכוֹ. 33 So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are; for blood, it polluteth the land; and no expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.
לד  וְלֹא תְטַמֵּא אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם יֹשְׁבִים בָּהּ–אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי, שֹׁכֵן בְּתוֹכָהּ:  כִּי, אֲנִי יְהוָה–שֹׁכֵן, בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.  {פ} 34 And thou shalt not defile the land which ye inhabit, in the midst of which I dwell; for I the LORD dwell in the midst of the children of Israel.’

The land is chosen, deliberately; forever claimed by YHVH – a possession only lent to others as punishment to those peoples who defiled it, those who denied that YHVH owned the land.

Israel – pay attention before you also are spewed from the land!  Please!

There are terms.  There are conditions.  Go back and search for the God of your father Abraham.  Look to the ancients, those Hebrews who came out of Egypt to serve your Almighty, and repair your ways.  Strip your extraneous laws and traditions and return to YHVH who chose you  – to be the blessing, to dwell safely in the land, to become the rightful servants of YHVH.

Look closely at Leviticus 26.  Is the land and its people truly blessed?

ג  אִם-בְּחֻקֹּתַי, תֵּלֵכוּ; וְאֶת-מִצְוֺתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ, וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם. 3 If ye walk in My statutes, and keep My commandments, and do them;
ד  וְנָתַתִּי גִשְׁמֵיכֶם, בְּעִתָּם; וְנָתְנָה הָאָרֶץ יְבוּלָהּ, וְעֵץ הַשָּׂדֶה יִתֵּן פִּרְיוֹ. 4 then I will give your rains in their season, and the land shall yield her produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
ה  וְהִשִּׂיג לָכֶם דַּיִשׁ אֶת-בָּצִיר, וּבָצִיר יַשִּׂיג אֶת-זָרַע; וַאֲכַלְתֶּם לַחְמְכֶם לָשֹׂבַע, וִישַׁבְתֶּם לָבֶטַח בְּאַרְצְכֶם. 5 And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time; and ye shall eat your bread until ye have enough, and dwell in your land safely.
ו  וְנָתַתִּי שָׁלוֹם בָּאָרֶץ, וּשְׁכַבְתֶּם וְאֵין מַחֲרִיד; וְהִשְׁבַּתִּי חַיָּה רָעָה, מִן-הָאָרֶץ, וְחֶרֶב, לֹא-תַעֲבֹר בְּאַרְצְכֶם. 6 And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid; and I will cause evil beasts to cease out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.
ז  וּרְדַפְתֶּם, אֶת-אֹיְבֵיכֶם; וְנָפְלוּ לִפְנֵיכֶם, לֶחָרֶב. 7 And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.
ח  וְרָדְפוּ מִכֶּם חֲמִשָּׁה מֵאָה, וּמֵאָה מִכֶּם רְבָבָה יִרְדֹּפוּ; וְנָפְלוּ אֹיְבֵיכֶם לִפְנֵיכֶם, לֶחָרֶב. 8 And five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand; and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.
ט  וּפָנִיתִי אֲלֵיכֶם–וְהִפְרֵיתִי אֶתְכֶם, וְהִרְבֵּיתִי אֶתְכֶם; וַהֲקִימֹתִי אֶת-בְּרִיתִי, אִתְּכֶם. 9 And I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you; and will establish My covenant with you.
י  וַאֲכַלְתֶּם יָשָׁן, נוֹשָׁן; וְיָשָׁן, מִפְּנֵי חָדָשׁ תּוֹצִיאוּ. 10 And ye shall eat old store long kept, and ye shall bring forth the old from before the new.
יא  וְנָתַתִּי מִשְׁכָּנִי, בְּתוֹכְכֶם; וְלֹא-תִגְעַל נַפְשִׁי, אֶתְכֶם. 11 And I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you.
יב  וְהִתְהַלַּכְתִּי, בְּתוֹכְכֶם, וְהָיִיתִי לָכֶם, לֵאלֹהִים; וְאַתֶּם, תִּהְיוּ-לִי לְעָם. 12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be My people.

Not according to Torah.  Is the land and its people truly in the midst of punishment?  It appears clearly so to me.

לז  וְכָשְׁלוּ אִישׁ-בְּאָחִיו כְּמִפְּנֵי-חֶרֶב, וְרֹדֵף אָיִן; וְלֹא-תִהְיֶה לָכֶם תְּקוּמָה, לִפְנֵי אֹיְבֵיכֶם. 37 And they shall stumble one upon another, as it were before the sword, when none pursueth; and ye shall have no power to stand before your enemies.
לח  וַאֲבַדְתֶּם, בַּגּוֹיִם; וְאָכְלָה אֶתְכֶם, אֶרֶץ אֹיְבֵיכֶם. 38 And ye shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.
לט  וְהַנִּשְׁאָרִים בָּכֶם, יִמַּקּוּ בַּעֲוֺנָם, בְּאַרְצֹת, אֹיְבֵיכֶם; וְאַף בַּעֲוֺנֹת אֲבֹתָם, אִתָּם יִמָּקּוּ. 39 And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.
מ  וְהִתְוַדּוּ אֶת-עֲוֺנָם וְאֶת-עֲוֺן אֲבֹתָם, בְּמַעֲלָם אֲשֶׁר מָעֲלוּ-בִי, וְאַף, אֲשֶׁר-הָלְכוּ עִמִּי בְּקֶרִי. 40 And they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, in their treachery which they committed against Me, and also that they have walked contrary unto Me.
מא  אַף-אֲנִי, אֵלֵךְ עִמָּם בְּקֶרִי, וְהֵבֵאתִי אֹתָם, בְּאֶרֶץ אֹיְבֵיהֶם; אוֹ-אָז יִכָּנַע, לְבָבָם הֶעָרֵל, וְאָז, יִרְצוּ אֶת-עֲוֺנָם. 41 I also will walk contrary unto them, and bring them into the land of their enemies; if then perchance their uncircumcised heart be humbled, and they then be paid the punishment of their iniquity;

Find your priests, the sons of Aaron.  Ask them to take their stand, to resume their eternal inherited positions.  Support them.  Give them reason  to seek YHVH, to inquire of, and worship YHVH as they have been commanded.  Ask them to seek out the old ways, the ways of Abraham.  Ask them to become servants of YHVH, as designed.

Do your part – clean house, prepare yourselves and the tabernacle of Almighty – set yourselves straight.  Accept the punishment and ask YHVH to Remember – to Remember the Covenant with Abraham – to Remember the Covenant with Isaac – to Remember the Covenant with Jacob – and to Remember again the Land.

מב  וְזָכַרְתִּי, אֶת-בְּרִיתִי יַעֲקוֹב; וְאַף אֶת-בְּרִיתִי יִצְחָק וְאַף אֶת-בְּרִיתִי אַבְרָהָם, אֶזְכֹּר–וְהָאָרֶץ אֶזְכֹּר. 42 then will I remember My covenant with Jacob, and also My covenant with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.
מג  וְהָאָרֶץ תֵּעָזֵב מֵהֶם וְתִרֶץ אֶת-שַׁבְּתֹתֶיהָ, בָּהְשַׁמָּה מֵהֶם, וְהֵם, יִרְצוּ אֶת-עֲוֺנָם; יַעַן וּבְיַעַן–בְּמִשְׁפָּטַי מָאָסוּ, וְאֶת-חֻקֹּתַי גָּעֲלָה נַפְשָׁם. 43 For the land shall lie forsaken without them, and shall be paid her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them; and they shall be paid the punishment of their iniquity; because, even because they rejected Mine ordinances, and their soul abhorred My statutes.
מד  וְאַף-גַּם-זֹאת בִּהְיוֹתָם בְּאֶרֶץ אֹיְבֵיהֶם, לֹא-מְאַסְתִּים וְלֹא-גְעַלְתִּים לְכַלֹּתָם–לְהָפֵר בְּרִיתִי, אִתָּם:  כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָה, אֱלֹהֵיהֶם. 44 And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break My covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God.
מה  וְזָכַרְתִּי לָהֶם, בְּרִית רִאשֹׁנִים:  אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִי-אֹתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לְעֵינֵי הַגּוֹיִם, לִהְיוֹת לָהֶם לֵאלֹהִים–אֲנִי יְהוָה. 45 But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.

Kick those rabbis to the curb.  Eject them from the land if you have to, if they, like others before them, refuse to honor the established hierarchy set forth by YHVH.  If they continue to usurp the position of authority, the priesthood, set forth by YHVH, then send them away.  They lead you astray.

The rest of us are counting on you – whether we know it or not – our future hangs in the balance, waiting on you.  All of the families of the earth are looking and hoping for a thing that will not happen without you.

Save yourselves, and allow us to rejoice in your resumed status, as Chosen of YHVH, rightful residents of the Land of Israel, Land of YHVH.

Not for me, not for the Sojourner.  I have no position.  I just have great hope for your future.

 

Atonement

Oh Almighty, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

I and my predecessors and my offspring have sinned and done exceedingly wrong before you.

Your laws have been spurned and cast aside, your priests denied and your dwelling treated as naught.

Your creation has been given no rest and your land is profaned.

Your people no longer know your Law and your Priests no longer know your people.

Justice is treated as wrong-doing and wrong-doings are treated as just.

Knowledge has become base and lawless and laws of men exceed all boundaries.

Men think themselves  gods and make mere men their gods.  Is there no hope for mankind?  Is there no turning back to do right?

I see people whose intents seem good, yet they know you not.  Will they get the chance?

Will you remember the Land and remember the Covenant?

Is there yet a remnant left to glorify Almighty God?

Are there yet punishments to be dealt and accepted?

Praise you, oh Almighty God – your mercy gives me hope, although my transgressions are many!

Thank you for Yom Kippur and the yearly cleansing of our souls.

May your established laws and statutes be forever known and kept to make difference between the clean and the unclean and the Holy and the unholy, to show glory to Almighty, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Chag Sameach Pesach

Happy Festival of Passover.

On the fourteenth day, at dusk, we eat the lamb with unleavened bread and bitter greens, with feet shod and loins girded.  And any lamb left over from the whole roasted lamb, is not to remain until the morning, it is to be burnt entirely in the fire.

That’s what I recall from the reading.

And that’s why I don’t keep the feast, just the remembrance.  I don’t have the means to roast a whole lamb, and I don’t have a physical community with which to share the extra meat.

I have purchased unleavened crackers.  And I will rid the property of items that contain leaven tomorrow, as the First Day of Unleavened Bread, Hag HaMatzot, begins at sundown and will last for seven days.  I will also bake unleavened bread tomorrow, using a favorite recipe.

Just like any other restriction, just before the deadline, you’ll find me cramming in samples of the restricted item, slice by slice, piece by piece, bit by bit.  I’ve enjoyed buns and pound cake and toast and cookies and crackers this week.

Over-enjoyed, really.

It will be good for me to refrain for seven days.  Likely a shock to my system, considering the past month of over indulging on bread and baked stuffs.  I’m ready though.

I’m somber already, as the Holy Days always strike me as such sorrowful times.  I simply don’t consider them to be the celebrations they were meant to be, when I’m living in exile.

But I’m extremely thankful to be able to observe the Holy Days.

Todah YHWH!

Preparations: To Look Ahead

A signal for special Hebrew preparations, the twelfth new moon sighting was recently announced.  That triggers my attentions to my larder, my pantry.

As commanded in Exodus, the new year will begin soon.  It’s signaled by the first moon during or after the aviv stage of the barley in Israel.  From Wikipedia, ” aviv is the stage in the growth of grain when the seeds have reached full size and are filling with starch, but have not dried yet “.

This twelfth month means that soon there will be teams searching to determine the barley stage just prior to the next new moon – if the majority of the barley is at aviv, then the new year begins with the next new moon.

That means that Pesach/Passover and Chag Ha’Matzot/Unleavened Bread would follow shortly after.  Time for me to begin using up what I have of leavened items/leavening in my cupboards.

Last year, I was not as prepared, and tossed out nearly $100 worth of prepared foods from the outer food storage areas:  deep freezer and pantry.  It’s what had to be done.

This year, I’m trying to be less wasteful.  It’s so hard to remember when I’m at the store, buying in excess – “no, the remaining panko breading is enough to get through the next six weeks”.  I hope I’m not talking out loud when I remind myself, but that seems to be one of my recently acquired skills.  Ah, the freedom of age, eh?