Yeshua – Preserving Life, Establishing Halacha

As a well known fact, in its history Judaism has struggled with the balance of sanctifying the Sabbath and preserving life. The first book of Macabees gives us one such account of how the Jews in the time of Antiochus IV had to realize that preservation of life in regard to self-defense took precedent over Sabbath restrictions. After nearly being wiped out by the armies of their enemies, the made a determination that they would fight on Shabbat, rather than letting their brothers and sisters be exterminated like vermin (1 Macabees 2:29-41).

In the Gospels (less than two centuries later), there is still a struggle with balancing Sabbath restrictions with compassion for humanity. Yeshua chastises the opposing Pharisees for their lack of compassion and adamantly declares that bringing wholeness to a person on the Sabbath is the overriding element of the normal Sabbath stringencies. Mark records the account of the man with the withered hand as follows: Continue reading “Yeshua – Preserving Life, Establishing Halacha”

Israeli Coffee?

This is really off-topic, but interesting…

Close to a year ago I had to give up coffee cold turkey (ok… I still have an occasional cup, maybe once every 2 to 3 months). Coffee was a love of my life. No, I wasn’t a Folger’s addict (that’s barely classified as “coffee” in my book), but somewhat of a connoisseur of whole bean, organic, medium-dark roasted blends with nice body and a smooth finish. Since that time I’ve really missed my morning coffee. I replaced it with a medley of teas (mostly Chai teas, my favorites being Numi Ruby Chai with Rooibos, and Tulsi Masala Chai or Tulsi Goto Kola). Recently, I came across an herbal “coffee-type” drink (Teeccino Original Herbal Coffee).

Yesterday morning, as I was sipping it for the first time, I had a flash back to when I was in Israel a few years ago on an archaeological dig. Every morning our hotel would serve this delicious “coffee.” At least that’s what I was told, and no one ever made any indication otherwise. Each morning when I drank my cup, I was totally confused. My eyes and nose told me it was coffee, but my mouth told me it was closer to chocolate than coffee. I couldn’t figure it out. As I sip on my “herbal placebo” I really have to think that the main ingredient in this mixture had to have been in the “coffee” I had in Israel.

What’s the main ingredient? Roasted carob (hence the chocolate flavor). Has anyone else had a similar experience? I would love to hear I’m not totally crazy…

The Upside-Down World of the Kingdom of Heaven

This article aims at helping on understanding Yeshua’s statement, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first” in light of the original context of the “rich, young ruler” as well as a Talmudic anecdote involving a near-death experience.

Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”

“Which ones?” the man inquired.

Jesus replied, ” ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.'”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Continue reading “The Upside-Down World of the Kingdom of Heaven”

Ashrei Melody in English

For anyone who is interested, our congregation put together a version of the Ashrei in English sung to a Chassidic melody. In my opinion, it’s really nice. We chant it in our congregation and in our home during the appointed times of prayer.

Special thanks are due to both Sarah Croswell for putting together the initial draft of the English to the melody, and to my loving wife, Sabrina, for all of her hard work in helping me get the melody and creating the lyric sheet.

I’ve attached both the lyric sheet (which includes notes about how to remember the melody, including marking the downbeat) and an mp3 of yours truly demonstrating the melody. I hope you enjoy. (ps. I’ve got a few more things like this that will probably show up soon.)

Right-click (pc) or Control-click (mac!) to download: (links have been fixed!)