Articles by Aaron Eby

Aaron Eby is the Vine of David Director and an author and translator for FFOZ. He was the chief translator of The Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels and works to develop liturgical resources that will strengthen Messianic Judaism.

I Am the LORD, Your Healer

The people who left Egypt were broken and battered victims of appalling abuse. The people who stood at Mount Sinai were regenerated, both physically and spiritually whole. Whether the cure comes in a miraculous way or through medical treatment, we must never forget that all healing comes from God who created us and keeps us alive day after day.


Passover of the Future

On Passover night, we start singing the Hallel, stop and eat dinner, and then sing the rest. This pattern hints at how Moses started the redemption, but Messiah will finish it. A 900-year-old poem lists eleven ways that the future Messianic redemption will blow the exodus from Egypt out of the water.


Ten Tips for a Smooth-Sailing Seder

Passover Seders take a long time. That is a scientifically proven fact. But there is no sense in making them drag on longer than they need to be. And even though they do take a lot of time, they don't have to feel like an eternity.


So You're Hosting Your First Passover Seder?

Planning a Passover Seder can be daunting, especially if you have never done it before. We've put together a concise list of planning tips that can ease the stress and help keep you organized. Plus, we have a brand new Haggadah that was designed with you in mind!


Sayings about Salt

The ancient rabbis quoted the Bible all the time. But they quoted other things, too. Even Yeshua used common aphorisms when they helped make his point. When one of the early sages debated with Greek philosophers, they used a figure of speech that helps unlock the meaning of one of Yeshua’s strangest sayings.


The Enactments of Mordecai and Esther

The Torah says nothing about Purim because the story of Esther did not happen until about a thousand years later. And yet, four mitzvot of Purim are observed today. How could new commandments be given to the Jewish people so long after the revelation at Mount Sinai?


Who the True Mourners Are

Yeshua said, “Blessed are those who mourn.” Ashrei, the word for “blessed,” is a term of congratulations. Mourning is a natural reaction to loss—hardly a reason to congratulate anyone. Should someone really be glad that they are mourning? By comparing Yeshua’s words with a prophecy from Isaiah, we learn that Yeshua is not talking about mourning for loved ones who have died.


Let My Prayer Be Counted as Incense

Just as the sacrifices were powerful and effective in bringing the Presence of the infinite God to our finite earth, so too, prayer draws the Spirit of God into our hearts. When we draw near in prayer we capture the attention of the infinite, all-powerful Being who created us, chose us, and loves us.


Tu Bishvat: Emerging from Dormancy

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.


Let No One Judge You

No more Sabbath? Colossians 2:16-17 tells us not to let others pass judgment on us regarding what we eat and drink or regarding the Sabbath and festivals. When Paul is seen as a faithful and observant Jew, his brilliant teachings such as this one inspire us to pursue Torah with joy.


When Suffering Is Worthwhile

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 Messianic Maccabees

In the wake of the Haskalah, a small handful of Jewish followers of Yeshua independently rejected the idea that they should become like Gentiles. At Vine of David, we like to call them luminaries. These are men and women who envisioned and pioneered Messianic Judaism: a uniquely Jewish expression of faith in Yeshua.


Kislev and the Concealed Light

The winter months bring with them darkness and cold. The same God who forged the light also brought darkness into being. It is the darkness that gives our light context and purpose. On Rosh Chodesh Kislev we remember Chaim Yedidiah Pollack, a great Messianic luminary, and consider his insights into the Hanukkah candles.


Walk This Way

If we are disciples of Yeshua, we should imitate him and do as our Master does. But if Yeshua is Jewish, does that mean his Gentile followers should start living a Jewish lifestyle? Let’s think critically about what it means for anyone, Jew or Gentile, to walk the way Yeshua walked.


The King’s Brothers

If Jesus is our Messiah King, he must not simply have Jewish ancestry; the Jewish people must be his brothers. Do you want to know Jesus better? Meeting a person’s family is a great way to get to know him. You’ll notice traits that they share, as well as what truly sets him apart.


Rosh Chodesh Elul: Confounding the Satan

In the Hebrew Roots world, it is common for shofarot to appear at nearly every function. Shofar blasts introduce the start of everything from Shabbat services to Passover seders, since it supposedly “confounds the Satan.” But by setting the shofar in its proper context, we are able to perceive its powerful biblical messages


Not Just an Admirer of Jesus

If we consider ourselves disciples of Jesus, then we have a job to do. We may not be able to observe him physically, but we must immerse ourselves in his life by reading what is written about him. Our task is to absorb everything he said and did.


The Capital of the Messianic Kingdom

When the Messiah returns, he will establish the kingdom of heaven on earth, which will span the entire world; Jerusalem will be the capital, where Yeshua will establish his throne. By turning toward Jerusalem it places our prayers in the context of the Messianic Kingdom and expresses our hope in the soon-coming Messiah.


The Sabbath of Vision

To see the final redemption, we must begin by recognizing what we are missing without it. Shabbat Chazon is an opportunity to glimpse the world as it once was and as it one day can be. Then we must heed the words of Isaiah and reflect the beauty of Torah in our lives.


The Fast of Tammuz and the Story of Redemption

Today, we observe the seventeenth of Tammuz as a time of fasting and repentance. It commences a three-week period of mourning. Observant Jews refrain from listening to music, conducting weddings, wearing new clothing, and even getting haircuts. These three weeks culminate in the darkest day of the year: the fast day of the ninth of Av when the Temple was destroyed.


The Miracles of Yeshua

Why did Yeshua do what he did? Yeshua was particular in his actions, and there was deep significance behind his miracles. He was unveiling the Messianic Era and urging his generation to join him in its redemption. Explore the parallels of our Master’s work to the prophecies of the coming kingdom.


Dag BaOmer: A Fishy Holiday

Why was the precise number of fish noted in the narrative of John 21:11? Surely it would have sufficed to say “many fish,” or at perhaps “more than 150.” The mention of the exact number seems to imply that there is something significant about that number, especially in such a symbolic and mystical book as John.


Shabbat HaGadol: The Day the Redemption Began

On Shabbat HaGadol, the Sabbath before Passover, we read from the Passover Haggadah. But it is not just a rehearsal for the upcoming seder; it’s a celebration of freedom in its own right! Learn about the miracle of redemption that took place even before the exodus from Egypt.


Parashat HaChodesh: Transcending Time

A great freedom will come with the ultimate redemption. If time equates to freedom, then ultimate freedom will come in a world where time itself is an unlimited resource. The only way to achieve this is with eternal life, a life that transcends time. This is one reason why Shabbat is a “foretaste of the age to come.”


The Fast of Esther and the Spiritual Art of War

On the day before Purim, we fast from the first light of dawn until after reading the book of Esther. This fast trains us in the most ancient of all martial arts: spiritual combat. Even today, otherwise godly people fret about perceived existential threats. While evil must be opposed, let us not forget where the true battle rages.


The Midnight Visitor

The special prayer that our Master taught his disciples can be found in both Matthew 6 and Luke 11. The wording of each varies slightly, but both contain the mysterious Greek word epiousion, the word conventionally translated “daily” as in “daily bread.” So what is “daily bread” really?


The Heartbeat of the Whole Earth

Prayer and sacrifice go hand in hand. The sacrificial service in the Temple somehow caused the Presence of God to connect with a physical place on earth. Prayer has the same effect, except instead of drawing the Spirit of God into a courtyard or building, he takes residence inside our hearts.


Those Days at This Time

Josephus knew of Hanukkah by the name Festival of Lights, but he seems to have hidden the reason why it is called by this name. Perhaps the Hanukkah lights do not just commemorate a past event, but for those who are willing to see it, they provide a glimpse of a far larger revolution.


What Makes Us Weird?

Following Yeshua while practicing Judaism is weird. It’s OK to be weird for the right reasons. But unfortunately, our communities are often also weird in other, needless ways. And this inhibits our ability to function in a way that reflects positively on either Yeshua or Judaism. Let’s imagine what Messianic Judaism could be.


Conversation with the Creator

Over time, poets, prophets, and scholars have composed powerful and inspiring odes, psalms, hymns, and petitions that are treasured by the Jewish community, but the art of simple conversation has never been lost. Constant awareness of God’s presence can make one’s whole life feel like a conversation with our Father in heaven.


Shmini Atzeret: Giving and Completing

Sukkot is seven days long, but oddly, it also has an eighth day. This mysterious holiday called Shmini Atzeret has no special mitzvot, nor is its purpose explained in the Torah. By noting the parallels between Shmini Atzeret and Shavu’ot, we can learn a lot about the meaning of the day.


A Sukkot Field Guide

Looking at a Jewish calendar at this time of year can be overwhelming. There are so many festival days! Where do they all come from, and what do they mean? Here is a simple rundown of each of the significant days connected with Sukkot, sometimes called the “Feast of Tabernacles” or “Feast of Booths.”


The Suffering Messiah in the Prayers of Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is a day of complete fasting and intense prayer. It is the holiest day of the year, when we are purified from our sins. Many traditional Jewish prayer books for the Day of Atonement contain a surprising passage that describes the suffering, forgiveness, and new creation found in the Messiah.


Turn the Other Cheek

In Middle Eastern culture it is customary to use the right hand for most activities. Striking a person on the right cheek with the right hand would require using a backhanded motion. A backhanded slap is considered twice as offensive as an openhanded slap and thus subject to double the fine.


Like Stars in the Kingdom

Yeshua taught his followers that those who keep the commandments and teach others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Is there a ranking system in the afterlife? Ancient Jewish literature provides us with a key to interpretation, based on a mysterious verse in Daniel.


Rosh Chodesh Tammuz and the Summer Harvester

As the summer month of Tammuz begins, we look to the fruit trees expecting an ample harvest. Yeshua instructed us to see the growth of new fig branches as a prophetic sign of apocalyptic events, but this seems like a strange comparison. Insights from Ezekiel and first-century Hebrew provide a new interpretation of Yeshua’s parable.


What Is One Little Goat Doing in My Haggadah?

Just when you think the Passover seder is over, it’s time to start singing some more. One of the most famous after-seder songs is Chad Gadya, which means “one little goat.” It starts out like a silly nursery rhyme, but by the end it takes a dark, mysterious, and prophetic turn.


A Different Night: The Timing of the Seder

In Judaism, time flows like a rolling wave that loops back on itself even as it pushes forward. That means that instead of commemorating the redemption, we have a brief opportunity to re-live it. Instead of rehearsing a future event, we experience a foretaste of it.


The Bible's Prayer Book

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.


What Is the Feast of Tabernacles?

According to Zechariah, there will come a time when people from all nations “will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.” But what is that? Learn about the biblical festival of Sukkot and its meaning for Jews and Christians.


The Day of Remembrance

The Bible says that the first day of the seventh month is a “memorial.” A memorial is a time or place where one calls attention to past events. But what does this day commemorate? Some hints can be found in the ancient prayers that we recite in our synagogues on Rosh HaShanah.


Israel: Light for the Nations

If we wish to hasten the Messiah’s coming we have work to do. Exile and redemption may be national processes, but repentance begins with individuals. Today, the world is still experiencing the exile that began almost two thousand years ago. Yeshua’s teachings hold the keys that will bring that exile to an end.


The Prophetic Implications of the Eclipse

People are taking cross-country road trips to witness what is being called the astronomical event of a lifetime, while an obscure Chasidic text suggests doom for North Korea. Let’s explore the significance of such an amazing sight from a Jewish perspective.


Eight Connections between the Red Heifer and Redemption

As the month of Nisan approaches, in our synagogues we read several special passages that are important for the season. One of these readings, Parashat Parah is the passage regarding the red heifer. This mysterious ritual fills us with anticipation for the final redemption through Messiah.


The Devastating Effect of Canceling the Torah

Imagine if the President declared, "I have fulfilled every aspect of the Constitution of the United States perfectly. Now that it is fulfilled, its authority over this nation has been put to an end in me. Today I tell you, the United States has only one law: that you love one another."


Mind over Mitzvot?

Romans 14 is sometimes pushed as proof that disciples of Jesus need not worry about kosher laws or keep the Sabbath on the seventh day. Did Paul grant people license to eat truly anything? Can any day be kept as the Sabbath? In what sense is nothing unclean in itself?


Thousands of New Testament Scholars Are Wrong

In the Torah, God said to Abraham, “To your offspring I will give this land.” Hebrews says that Abraham was looking forward to a heavenly country, to “the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” Does that mean that the promises of land to his offspring are not to be literally fulfilled?


Jesus, a Friend of Pharisees

The concept that all Pharisees are evil is so ingrained that people often completely ignore or dismiss passages that present Pharisees in a positive light. The Gospels provide both positive and negative depictions of Pharisees. They also assume a cultural setting that esteemed Pharisees, and this fact should mitigate and contextualize the criticisms leveled against them.


Shevat: When the Torah Comes Alive

It was on the first day of this lunar month that Moses began to deliver his final words to the Israelites shortly before his death. He repeated and clarified the Torah to the new generation. This incident was their Sinai experience, the moment when the Torah came alive in their hearts.


A Thousand Messianic Prophecies Are Not Enough

While a compilation of Messianic proof-texts is still perhaps the most common tactic employed by evangelists to Jews, such lists are not effective. In the unlikely case you succeed in convincing a Jewish person that Jesus is the Messiah without first revealing him to be a devout Jew, committed to his people and to the Torah, then what kind of disciple have you made?


A Pharisee Photo Album

Unsavory caricatures of the Pharisees leave people confused about what Yeshua might have meant when he instructed his followers to follow Pharisaic teaching. Was he being sarcastic? Rather than employing a convoluted hermeneutic to resolve this puzzle, it is more straightforward and consistent with history to accept that Yeshua upheld a theory of life and practice that aligned with Pharisaic norms.


It’s Time for the Light of the World to Shine

There are four components to the “light of the world”: the Jewish people, the Torah, the land of Israel, and Messiah. Any combination of these things increases the light of the revelation of God in the world, but the full potential is realized only when all four unite as one.


Sounding an Alarm

When life presents challenges, our first instinct should be to cry out to God for help. One should not be tempted to say, “I got myself into this mess; I’ll get myself out.” When we cry out to God, we confess that he alone has the power to change outcomes.


Wrestling in Prayer

Prayer, from a Jewish perspective, is wrestling with God. It sounds audacious to think we might win. It does not seem appropriate to barge into the heavenly throne room, throw tantrums, and make demands before the King of the universe. But we have no other choice. Prayer is our lifeline.


I Came Not to Bring Peace

When Yeshua says that he did not come to bring peace on earth, people interpret his words to mean that he never intended to bring earthly, political peace but only spiritual peace in people’s hearts. But does this explanation hold up when seeing the Gospels in a Jewish context?


Facing Jerusalem

Jews all around the world turn to face Jerusalem for prayer. This custom has a strong biblical basis and goes back to ancient times. God transcends the universe and the whole earth is full of his glory. And yet Jerusalem is special. It is a place where one can hear the heartbeat of God.


Jerusalem and the Body of Messiah

There is a Jerusalem below and a Jerusalem above. This shows that our Jerusalem on earth is a physical representative of a tremendous spiritual reality. Like other Jews, first-century followers of Messiah faced Jerusalem when they prayed. It represented for them the hope of redemption and the return of Yeshua.


The Weight of Shabbat

Yeshua taught that the weighty matters of the Torah are justice, kindness, and faith. But what about Shabbat, which was given at Mount Sinai amidst fire, smoke, and the booming voice of God? Resting on the seventh day is more than recuperating from work. It’s an expression of faith in the God who created everything.


A Jewish Celebration of Yeshua’s Resurrection

In Messianic Judaism, the resurrection of Yeshua is one of our most treasured truths. How can we give this foundational belief the attention it deserves and yet remain within thoroughly Jewish space? An ancient custom based on the life and death of King David could provide the perfect setting and unite us with the earliest Jewish followers of the Messiah.


Nittel Nacht

Given that Christmas Eve was a favorite time for raids, pogroms, and marauding, certain practices developed in Jewish communities as a result. Some of them were pragmatic, a matter of survival; others were symbolic, to show disdain for the enemies of the Jewish people. May we never see those dark times again.


Four Myths about the Birth of Jesus

The art, music, and drama of Christmas paints an image of the birth of Yeshua that has very little in common with reality. Misconceptions like these can adversely alter our view of who Yeshua was and what he came to do. We would all do well to re-examine our presuppositions every so often.


Astronomy and Prophecy

A complete study into the Star of Bethlehem will take a person into biblical prophecy, rabbinic literature, Jewish history, astronomy, and the complex interaction between the Jewish people and the Parthians who ruled over all the lands of “the east.” Beyond this, it requires research into the methods and concepts of the ancient magi.


Days of Fasting

Although the Torah specifically commands only one fast day, the Day of Atonement, certain other days and times have been marked by Jewish tradition as solemn days—days for mourning, supplication, introspection, repentance and fasting. These days, though not joyous, are also part of our heritage as the Master's disciples.


The Prayer Liturgy of the High Holy Days

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are holidays for which intense liturgical prayers have been written and carry a very different range of emotion. These days (and the days in between) are known as the High Holy Days. In Hebrew, they are called Yamim Nora'im, "Days of Awe."


First Steps in Messianic Jewish Prayer

When I first began to practice and learn about Messianic Judaism, I found Jewish prayer to be fascinating. The expressions and phrases in the blessings and liturgies seemed to transport me to another world. The Hebrew language seemed to sing to me. Through Jewish prayer I felt a connection.


New Messianic Jewish Music: Light of the World

Troy Mitchell has released a brand new Messianic Jewish album entitled Light of the World through First Fruits of Zion’s Zealot Records label. A couple weeks ago on motza’ei Shabbat (Saturday night) those of us from Troy's home congregation Beth Immanuel had a great time singing and laughing around campfires at the release party in...