When man was first created, God crafted the perfect environment for humans to thrive: a garden—an orchard, really. He was surrounded by fruit-bearing trees. Trees are important in the Torah’s agricultural system and subject to special laws of holiness.
It has been said that the wise man is he who knows his limitations. The way of Christianity for the past two thousand years has seemed right to Christians, but not to those who look at it as hypocritical in its failure to act out its fundamental teachings while such an enormous catastrophe occurred in its midst.
Despite the rabbis’ general aversion to God taking on human form, several midrashic legends constitute a stream of incarnational thinking within the ocean of rabbinic theology. For example, in one midrash, God placed himself into the burning bush to literally feel his children’s pain in Egypt.
Jew and Gentile both need to set aside a holy day for rest and sanctification. We need a time to reconnect, both with our family and with God himself. Sabbath is the day we prepare for ahead of time, so all that we have left to do is to enjoy and delight in this precious gift.
Some people imagine the Beatitudes to be the antithesis of Judaism’s harsh legalism. Those people must not have much real experience with Judaism, however. The teachings of Yeshua in the Beatitudes have numerous parallels in rabbinic literature. He was not contradicting Judaism; he was drawing attention to some of the most important Jewish ideas.
The real issue, as my Rabbi pointed out, is this. How are we going to keep our light burning? How are we going to make sure that we have enough oil to keep shining, keep burning, and keep doing what we need to do to shed a little bit of light in our corner of the world?
Social media is a brilliant tool for exchanging ideas, sharing information rapidly, and keeping connected with loved ones and coworkers. There have been some wonderful innovations that have come through these media. However, although it has brought out some of the best qualities in human nature, it has also revealed some of the worst.
The siege was headed up by the notorious Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar and eventually led to the total destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Therefore a fast takes place every year in the tenth month (Tevet) on the tenth day.
The Psalms are a powerful source of guidance. They make it possible to pray in alignment with God’s will even when words fail us. By virtue of the messianic nature of the Psalms, which are in the voice of Messiah, and which the Messiah surely prayed, we participate with Yeshua in his own prayer.
According to the Rokeach, when we light the hanukkiah each day of Hanukkah we are lighting the light of the Messiah and it is a foreshadow of the return of this great light in the kingdom of heaven. It also adds a bit of a universal flavor to the holiday by connecting it with the creation of man and the light of creation.
According to the teaching about Psalm 82, if the people of Israel had not sinned, they would have retained the status of “gods” and “sons of God.” How much more so should the one without sin deserve to assume those same titles?
We joke that Jewish history consists of three sentences. They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat! So as we huddle in our coats and scarves, and join others at their tables we once again reaffirm our community and our covenantal promises with he who remains faithful, even after so many years.
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday. It’s kind of like, we think, some kind of Jewish substitute for Christmas. They saw all the fun we were having every winter and came up with something a little different that they could do, too. So we imagine them putting Hanukkah presents under the menorah, or maybe a Hanukkah bush of some kind.