Quote of the Day

Sep 30, 2009 at 10:50 PM

The reason we seem to be talking past one another is an inverse view of our values. Christian values focus on Beliefs, then Belonging, and finally Behavior. You first want to make sure you believe the same things and go down a checklist of beliefs, then you look at where a person belongs, i.e., what church they attend. Behavior is not heavily stressed, because it is not as important to you as Beliefs and Belonging. You don’t worry about behavior as much because you consider yourselves “forgiven.” In this idea, an axe murderer could go to heaven if he believes. For Jewish people, our values system is reversed. Behavior is what we look at first. We don’t talk that much about belief, because talk is cheap. How a person lives, expresses their values and treats other people is what matters most to us. Belonging is also important to us. Where we relate, and with whom we associate also matters to us. Belief matters as well, but we don’t throw our beliefs in everyone’s faces. They are deeply held convictions we share only when we know someone well. The problem in our communication is that you want to talk about your beliefs as soon as we meet, and we don’t know you well enough to have that kind of conversation. We want to see your behavior. We want to know what kind of person you are. What effect your beliefs have on your actions. If you are kind and ethical, we have something upon which to build a friendship. If you only want to share your beliefs and challenge ours, you are invading our privacy and showing disrespect for our beliefs. I don’t believe that is your intent, but it is the result of your actions. If you want our friendship, learn to communicate with us. Respect our values. We don’t talk so much about faith, but we express our faith in giving to charity, helping others, and acts of kindness. To us, that is doing Torah.

- Rabbi Dr. Michael Schiffman, in An Open Letter to My Christian Friends

Quote of the Day

at 4:38 PM

[F]or the most part the Messianic community in Israel is made of upstanding citizens (most of whom were born Jewish) who go into the army (unlike most of their haredi antagonists), pay their taxes, vote, are peaceful, and lead a quite Jewish lifestyle. Their situation forces us to ask the uncomfortable question: Should people who have chosen to practice and interpret their Judaism differently from the majority (which itself was never hegemonic or monolithic), live in a (Jewish) state of fear and persecution?

- Roi Ben-Yehuda, in Israel's State-Sanctioned Persecution of Messianic Jews Must End @jewcy.com

Quote of the Day

Sep 25, 2009 at 10:38 PM

"Messianic Judaism will always provide its own distinctive interpretation of Judaism, centered in the teaching, example, and redemptive work of Messiah Yeshua. In this way it seeks to renew, develop, and contextually reapply the rabbinic Judaism that is the common heritage of the Jewish people as a whole."

Awesome Days

Sep 24, 2009 at 10:10 AM

We are currently in the Yomim Nora'im - the 10 days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur - known as the Days of Awe.

During these 10 days, we are focused on Teshuva (Repentance) and preparation for Yom Kippur. Special insertions are added to our daily prayers which focus on the themes of G-d as King, G-d's judgement, and G-d's holiness. We also recall prayers referring to the Book of Life.

Remember us for life, O King Who desires life, and inscribe us in the Book of Life - for Your sake, O Living G-d ... Who is like You, Merciful Father, Who recalls His creatures mercifully for life ... Blessed are You, our G-d, the Holy King. (From additions to the Amidah during the Days of Awe).

These 10 Days of Awe (and the whole High Holiday period) are meant to recall G-d's mercy. As Rabbi Wayne Dosick notes, although our "prayers are solemn and serious, they are also filled with joy and with hope. For Judaism teaches that G-d is ready and very willing to forgive the transgressions of those who come in sincere repentance."

HaShem's desire is for relationship with us. And the High Holidays are opportunities to meet with G-d in the most intimate of times. The 10 days help us to more intently focus on those things which hold us back in life, and from the presence of HaShem.

Although we should be focusing on repentance, forgiveness, and overcoming life's obstacles every day - G-d, also knowing the procrastinate nature of humanity, has built into the calendar specific times in which we are obligated to deal with those shortcomings. Otherwise we might just continue to sweep them under the rug. For most of us, the last thing we want to do is go to someone we may have hurt in the last year to seek forgiveness. Or confront a person for the hurt they have caused us. But by doing so, and allowing forgiveness to take place, we remove more of those spiritual stumbling blocks. We are able to break free of the weight of guilt, shame, anger, and inadequacy.

The Days of Awe are awesome days because they are what you make of them. My deepest prayer would that they would be for you a time and blessing and restoration.

Shabbat Shuvah

The Shabbat that always falls between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur is very special, and called Shabbat Shuvah (literally, the Shabbat of Repentance). This Shabbat continues those themes which started during the month of Elul, flowing through Rosh HaShanah, and the 10 Days of Awe. Special prayers are added to the liturgy, and special readings for the Haftarah are read - emphasizing the themes of repentance and forgiveness.

The special Haftarah readings for Shabbat Shuvah are from Hosea 14:2-10, Joel 2:15-17, and Micah 7:18-20. Each of the readings emphasize repentance, preparation, and G-d's readiness to forgive.

G'mar Chatimah Tovah - May you be sealed for a wonderful New Year!

Quote of the Day

Sep 22, 2009 at 4:29 PM

As a follow up to our prior discussion on Jewish liturgy, here's a voice from the church pews:
If church leaders try to establish a style of worship based upon their preferences or based upon satisfying congregants' competing preferences, then the church will inevitably be torn apart by the politics of preference. But if the leadership is asking the missional questions of "Who is here?" and "Who should be here?" in determining worship styles and practices, then the mission of the church will enable those leaders to unite around gospel goals that are more defensible and uniting than anyone's personal preference.

- Bryan Chapell in Transcending the Worship Wars

Quote of the Day

Sep 14, 2009 at 1:48 PM

Only the Lord himself can send the Ruach, of course, and that’s where Pentecostal-Charismatic movements often go astray, by trying to institutionalize or package what only God can do. But this is no worse than the other extreme of creating a safe and sanitized religion that works just fine without the presence of the Ruach at all.

- Rabbi Russ Resnik, UMJC Executive Director


Sep 11, 2009 at 11:12 AM

Parshat Vayelech from G-dcast.com

More Torah cartoons at www.g-dcast.com