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Showing posts from July, 2012

Dreams of a Future Temple: The 9th of Av and Dispelling Hatred With Love

On a trip to Israel, when I was 21 years old, I had my first religious experience. I was standing on a balcony overlooking the Western Wall (aka "The Wall") in the in the Old City of Jerusalem when it happened. At that point in my life I was not very fond of religion (I looked at religion as an irrational throwback to humanities primitive and fearful past), and I wasn't planning on having a religious experience. In fact, moments before as I was descending the steps to the Western Wall Plaza, where the Wall is located, I said to myself, "I am going to see a really big wall, made of really big bricks, that is really old, and nothing is going to happen." Upon entering the plaza I had decided I didn't even want to buy into the silly "religious" tradition of going up to the Western Wall, which is why when I got there I went only to the balcony. So what came next was a surprise to me.
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Comparison of Exodus 32 and Numbers 14

New article by Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor. Moses filled many roles in the wilderness context. He was a military leader, lawgiver, judge and prophet, but if it were not for his role as intercessor, Israel would not have survived the ordeals of the wilderness. I have found parallels of Moses’ intercession in Exodus 32:9-14, 32-33 and Numbers 14:11-24. Both of these episodes occur after a great breach by the Israelites. In Exodus this concerns the Golden Calf, and in Numbers the story of the spies.
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What got Galileo in trouble?

In The Fabric of Reality, physicist David Deutsch equates knowledge with better explanations. Accurate predictions, he writes, are a byproduct of explanation and very important. But Deutsch insists that explanation is more crucial to understanding than prediction. He notes that the 17th century Catholic Church hierarchy okayed the publication of Galileo’s heliocentric theory because they welcomed its predictive benefits. What frosted them – and led to the famous heresy trial, conviction, and recantation – was Galileo’s contention that universal mathematical laws based on empirical observation had more explanatory power than Holy Scripture. That, not prediction, is what upset the Church hierarchy. (On Value and Values: Thinking Differently About We In An Age Of Me, by Douglas K. Smith © 2004, 2011; iUniverse, Inc., Bloomington, IN; p. 51)

Waiting for the “End of the World” as We Know it

Dr. James Tabor wrote a very interesting blog about apocalyptic beliefs in the Jesus movement.
“The adjective “apocalyptic,” refers to the notion that the hidden realities of the unseen world are being revealed in an imminent and unfolding manner at the “end of the age.” It is not the “end of the world,” but rather a dramatic reversal and transformation of life as it is lived on planet earth.
The “apocalypse” (literally “the revealing”) is good news and bad news, depending on ones stake in the present and ones attitude toward the new future–a future that ushers in the “kingdom of God.” This reign of God involves a complete reversal of the failed and flawed “rule” of humanity over the planet. The Hebrew Prophets picture it as an ideal time of peace, in which justice and righteousness fills the earth, and evil no longer holds sway. It is well summed up by the urgent plea in the Lord’s Prayer:
Let your kingdom come! Let your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!
I am convinced that the …

Jesus as the Good Shepherd instead of the Universal Savior

How Christians view Jesus determines what they do. If you have been reading our articles and newsletters for very long, then you know there is a big difference between the Jewish Jesus we read about in the Synoptic Gospels and doctrinal Jesus created by generations of church theologians. The primary difference between the two is that the Jewish Jesus focused on what people are to do now, while the doctrinal Jesus focuses on what people will do in the hereafter.
One of the most revealing teachings of the Jewish Jesus is that he has come to fulfill the role of Ezekiel’s “Good Shepherd.” Pay close attention to what Ezekiel wrote about what the Good Shepherd will do.
The word of YAHWEH came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them: “To the shepherds – thus says YAHWEH; “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not shepherds feed the flock?You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the c…

The man that links Adam & Abraham

I love to work on my genealogy and when family members want to know something about our ancestors – they call me. I guess this is one of the reasons I love the genealogies preserved in the Bible. I understand that there are textual variations that raise certain challenges, but the traditionally accepted versions reveal some very interesting things.
When we read the book of Genesis we first learn about a man traditionally called Adam in the first four chapters. Almost eight chapters pass before we are introduced to Abraham. There are lots of events that happen in those eight chapters, including the Great Flood.
How did Abraham learn about Adam and the Great Flood? One possibility is that he learned it from Noah or his son Shem. Noah was 892 years old and Shem was 390 years old when Abraham was born. Did you get that? They were both still alive! Abraham was 58 years old when Noah died and 110 years old when Shem died.[i] Lamech, Noah’s father, was alive for the final 58 years of Adam’s …