The holiday season is upon us and for Jews this means that the festival of Hanukkah will begin on the eve of December 16th. Hanukkah is an oft misunderstood holiday outside of the Jewish community. Christians in the community usually mistake the holiday for the Jewish equivalent of Christmas. These two holidays do indeed fall within close proximity to one another and there are superficial similarities such as decorations of a festival nature. These similarities are as far as these two holidays come to being parallel. Unlike Christmas, which is a significant holiday to Christians, Hanukkah is a minor and insignificant holiday for Jews. The theme of the holiday is not so much supernatural as it is based upon the ancient battle against oppression and persecution that was fought against the Assyrian Greeks by the Jewish Maccabees.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
“The first step to the knowledge of the wonder and mystery of life is the recognition of the monstrous nature of the earthly human realm as well as its glory, the realization that this is just how it is and that it cannot and will not be changed. Those who think they know how the universe could have been had they created it, without pain, without sorrow, without time, without death, are unfit for illumination.” –Joseph Campbell
Posted by Unknown at 10:58 PM
Throughout the world there is a cry for redemption. This cry is expressed in a variety of ways. For Jews it is the coming of the Mashiach, for Christians it is the return of a Savior and for Shi’ite Muslims it is the 12 Imam who is known as the Mahdi.
Posted by Unknown at 6:37 PM
Friday, November 21, 2014
I would like to call attention to the possible benefit of Atheism and its challenge to religious people around the world. I know you're thinking that there cannot possibly be any benefit to the antagonistic rants and political challenges of these "saints of skepticism." The modern Atheists have garnered much media attention as of recent and are on an enthusiastic evangelistic campaign to spread their gospel of disbelief. Most people in society are put off by their tactics and offended by their forthright language of religious opposition, which has earned them the title of being called the "angry atheists." In truth, most of the Atheists are quite angry. The reason for this is psychological in nature for whenever a person feels mislead or lied to, in this case by a religious community, they search for enlightenment elsewhere. This so-called enlightenment may take the form of another manifestation of religious ideology or in the case of the Atheists an ideology which believes in the absence of Theistic religion. New converts of any faith are generally over-zealous and in the context of Atheism they perceive religion in any form to be the ultimate "evil" of the human experience and the de facto cause of all of the world's pain and suffering. In a sense they are correct but not entirely as common-sense dictates that human suffering is rooted in human nature itself and evil has been manifested in its most extreme forms even in the absence of religion (i.e. Communist countries, Utopianism ideology).
Posted by Unknown at 6:25 PM
Thursday, November 20, 2014
You have questions concerning the incredible mythology, legends, historicity and obscure details about the Bible but you don't know where to find answers. Religious leaders all teach the same mundane stories and present the tired old arguments and scripted answers to challenging questions.
Now you have a resource to answer your questions…
Posted by Unknown at 12:12 AM
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
|A depiction of Jesus in an ancient synagogue|
Recently on the comments section of a news agency I responded to an article written by a gentleman who was expressing his opinion on the nature of Biblical interpretation. The article itself wasn't very interesting but the comments section is always the place where most of the debate and excitement occurs. A Christian commented that Jesus had nothing even remotely to do with Judaism and that there is no apparent connection between Judaism and Jesus. Predictably the comment section lit up with the opposition pointing out a myriad of examples concerning Jesus' Jewish nature and the indispensability of the "Old Testament" in the understanding of the purpose of Jesus.
Posted by Unknown at 9:36 PM
Sunday, November 16, 2014
In fundamentalist traditions of faith it is taken for granted that Moses was the author of the Torah. The Rambam even declared that Moses was the sole author of the Torah who wrote it down as directly dictated to him letter for letter by God. This bold assertion by the Rambam doesn't hold up to scrutiny though and previous to the Rambam the Talmud declared that the authorship of Moses doesn't apply to the last eight verses of Deuteronomy which describe in detail the death of Moses (b. Baba Batra 15a). Later, Rabbis would also exclude other verses from being penned by Moses such as Ibn Ezra (1089-1164) who wrote in regard to Genesis 12:6:
Posted by Unknown at 2:00 AM
Thursday, November 13, 2014
The re-establishment of the State of Israel in the modern world is the most significant event to have occurred to Judaism in, well… 2000 years! However, most people are completely unaware that 20 years before the rebirth of Israel there was another Jewish home established by the name of Birobidzhan. The region of Birobidzhan is in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast which was founded by Stalin under his nationalist philosophy in 1928. Stalin designated a large land-mass on the eastern border of Russia neighboring China to be the home for Yiddishkeit and subsequently encouraged many thousands of Jews to relocate therein. The region became a place for Jewish autonomy, Yiddish is the official language, and Jewish culture was the dominant expression (i.e. Jewish theater, Yiddish schools, streets are named after Yidden, and Jewish monuments fill the public spaces).
Posted by Unknown at 2:11 AM
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
I will admit that there are times when leaving home that I wear a hat or something that doesn't make me the obvious Jew in the crowd. If I am out in public and look the Jewish part by wearing a kippah instead of a hat for example then I will be approached on occasion by individuals who feel compelled to speak to the Jew. Sometimes it's pleasant and sometimes unpleasant. A while back someone approached me with an idea that they apparently believed was a major revelation and no doubt they believed that if they shared this great epiphany with me then I would accept Christianity and convert. The chance to win a Jew to Jesus was apparently fairly exciting to them and this zeal overcame their ability to have tact as they approached me with an attitude of triumphalism. Their intentions were evident to me before they even spoke.
Posted by Unknown at 3:05 AM
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Henna is a small flowering shrub which grows throughout the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa. As far back as human history has been documented this plant has been used to dye skin, hair and nails. The first observed usage goes back to ancient Egypt as archeologists have discovered mummified remains that have various body parts dyed with henna. A popular example of this is the mummy of Rameses II whose hair and nails are dyed with henna. Interestingly scientists have analyzed the hair of Rameses II and determined that his hair was originally red and they suggest that the use of henna as a hair dye was to perpetuate the reddish color of his hair in order to maintain a youthful appearance.
Posted by Unknown at 9:53 PM
"(5) portrays the five directions of this world, for there is a spiritual dimension in addition to the four directions of physical expanse. The fifth dimension is the spiritual core of existence; it focuses the four diverse sides into a single entity, by infusing the world with purpose. Hence the fifth dimension is the intangible spiritual element to life."
* 4 is considered the number of exile and 5 is the number of redemption.
* 5 is the number of books in the Torah of Moses. The 4 books of Genesis, Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are unified by the fifth and central book of the Torah- Leviticus. It is through the Torah that the universal rectification occurs.
* The soul has 5 components- Nefesh (living/animal soul), Ruach (intellectual soul); Neshama (Divine Spark); Chayah (Life force) and Yechida (Oneness).
The Hamsa also has a central eye located in its palm. The eye is indicative of Objective reality that exists within the completion and unity of the 5.
The Hamsa is commonly used as a lucky charm, decoration or as jewelry. The reality of the Hamsa is much greater than the superstitious misuse of it. It is a universal symbol of spiritual knowledge and wisdom.
Posted by Unknown at 4:26 AM
Monday, November 3, 2014
Saturday, November 1, 2014
The Term 'Elohim' is used for many objects in the Hebrew Scriptures- i.e. human rulers and judges, heathen deities and for the Supreme Deity or His Council. The term is generic and is used in both plural and singular forms.
Elohim, when referring to God is distinctly used in a singular sense and literally means "Supreme Deity" or "Greatest Deity". I'll explain grammatically below.
Posted by Unknown at 10:42 PM
Friday, October 31, 2014
Posted by Unknown at 7:15 PM
The story of Jonah is an interesting one in that it presents a familiar albeit impossible narrative. The story recounts that Jonah was charged by God to go to the sinful city of Nineveh to cry out against it. But Jonah was not too thrilled at the idea of going to Nineveh and indulge himself in rabble-rousing, so he hopped the first available ship out of Joppa that was headed for Tarshish in attempt “to get away from the service of the Lord.” The Lord sends a storm that frightens the ships sailors and being superstitious they figure the gods are punishing them. This is when Jonah explains to these frightened men that he is to blame for the storm and that they should throw him overboard for their own protection. The sailors refuse to follow Jonah's advice but when the storm persists they reluctantly throw Jonah overboard and this is when a giant fish swallows Jonah and carries him in its belly for a period of three days until it arrives at the shores of Nineveh at which point the fish vomits Jonah out.
This is a fantastic story that contains a very unbelievable narrative. Jonah was swallowed by a fish or a whale as some contend and yet there isn't a fish/whale in existence that could swallow a man whole. Some have suggested that the Sperm Whale could have been the culprit however this variety of whale, which has the stomach to accommodate a human, does not possess a throat large enough to swallow a person. Further, no aquatic species, including whales, have air space in their stomachs which would be necessary for breathing and the story says that Jonah prayed in the belly of the animal which means he had to breathe. This story presents many problems and the question we need to address is whether the story is meant as a literal event or if the story represents a legendary tale that is meant to be taken as an analogy.
Rarely considered in Judaism is the fact that in older Greek mythology the demigod Herakles (Hercules) was also swallowed by a whale, and he too had departed from Joppa. Add to this curious coincidence that it was at Joppa also where, in Greek myth, Andromeda was bound beside the sea as a sacrifice to a sea monster. So where was Joppa located? In Greek myth Joppa was located in Aethiopia. Aethiopia is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew geographic location called Kush. Joppa was the capital of that region and a seaport city.
Like many Biblical stories, there are preceding myths of other cultures upon which they are based. This means that the book of Jonah is another tale utilizing coded elements from pre-history wisdom. The Sea Traders of the time were Phoenicians, and like their close kin the Philistines, they worshipped Dagon, who was depicted in his statuary as a Fish God. Recall that another story occurs in 1 Samuel relating that after the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant and placed it inside the Temple of Dagon that twice the effigy of Dagon fell before the Ark. The Philistines were Israel's premier enemy in the ancient world and the Ark story is a narrative crafted to demonstrate that Israel's God is greater than the God of the Philistines. The Jonah story is a narrative crafted from earlier stories because it served the same purpose- demonstrating the superiority of Israel's God above the Phoenicians, which was the same idol of the Philistines.
Is it possible that any part of this legend might be literally true? It's improbable but a bit of deductive reasoning with a healthy dose of speculation can be applied to maintain a literal reality.
Let's surmise that Jonah took passage on a Phoenician ship, to escape God's mission for him. The Phoenicians had great carved prows on their ships, in the likeness of their Gods. This we know, from Archeological remains. So what happens when the Phoenicians realize that Jonah is the spokesperson for the Israelite God- YHVH?
Would they throw him overboard? It's very doubtful and the narrative of the story describes their reluctance. Seamen are superstitious, but not that superstitious. They threw him into the belly of the great fish, which was their ship as it was in the image of Dagon (Fish god) and likely named after him. Jonah remained in the ships belly for the designated "quarantine" spell of 40 days (also the designated fasting time for Holy festivals). Then fearing the wrath of his God, as soon as the proper formalities were out of the way, they threw him up from the fishes belly, at first landfall. Being in the belly of the ship he likely remained wet through the duration of the trip which caused his skin to prune and whiten in its appearance.
It's easy to see where over the years, even though the details of the story may have been confused, the allegory still remains at its heart.
Posted by Unknown at 5:09 PM