Friday, December 2, 2011

Parsha Vayeitze, Halacha and Stories

Occupied Miami Leader also leads a Nuke Israel Rally: More anti-semitism,7340,L-4153207,00.html
Please pray for the recovery of Chaim Zev ben Feige Tova
Last Shabbos, I got to see Rabbi Yacov Lustig Shlita after a long hiatus. He asked me a question as follows: You are the first Rabbi that I have seen that puts together the Parsha in one full unit instead of sections but how do you explain the Torah Reading in the days of the Talmud which used to be on a three year cycle? (In the days of the Talmud the Parshiyos were read in a three year cycle pattern. In truth for my own in depth study, I would prefer a three year cycle so that I could learn each smaller portion deeper and deeper and get more and more out of it. On the otherhand, it is nice to complete the full Torah Study once a year.)
Most of Shabbos I thought of an answer. Finally I realized one: The Torah, as our Sages say; neither has an earlier section or a later section but is given by HASHEM in the order that the words were written. The example I gave was last week’s was the fact that in Parsha Chaya Sarah the ending is the burial of Avraham Avinu and in essence he was alive through Toldos until Yacov makes the lentils as a mourner’s dish for Yitzchak Avinu who was grieving for the loss of his father.
I look at the Torah like a Tallis or Yalmulke which is woven together story by story, piece by piece and even letter by letter. For to cut one thread or having a loose threat on a garement one could start to untangle the fabric, so getting back to Torah let us see what the purpose of creation is according to the Torah. Ideally it was one man and one with one positive and one negative mitzvah and the man and woman with the negative one going to be voided after dusk. Adam failed miserably and we thereafter for 20 generations of failure to such an extent that the world is destroyed by flooding and the population dispersed from the original language into at that time 70 tongues and tribes until Avraham Avinu took over. Then the purpose was transferred to Yitzchak with Yishmael missing out and then to Yacov and sons. All the stories are interwoven until all 613 Mitzva Components are complete and the book sealed. The conclusion that I draw from all this train of thought is that the purpose of Creation is the Torah and Mitzvos and failure to comply to this structure means we have not read the manufacturers guide to running the Universe.
An aside note: I saw a family tree of a Randy S which is accurate a number of generations back but then the people adding information to the right or the left would product an inaccuracy. According to his tree he has ancestors tracing their roots through Shem, Ham and Yefet which include Nimrod and others. However, the research appears to be a two ended research meaning working up and working down. In which case as I looked at the names of people who made entries, I wondered how reliable the people were. One places Adam 107 generations ago and another due to the shorter birth span 139 generations ago. However, can I trust a Fatima or a person whom I shall call Shai Gutts as reliable sources for names some 80, 90 or 100 generations past? Still it was interesting documentation of over 1289 people some of whom were documented in the Torah.
Parsha Vayetzei
As we recall from our Parsha last week, Yacov is sent away from the Beer Sheva area towards Padam Aram to look for a Shidduch. Esav instead of fully learning what his parents want from him – marry into a good family – instead of giving up his three wives; goes out and takes a fourth but at least she is from uncle Yishmael so there is Yechus to Avraham Avinu. (If your child would bring home a Mohammed or a Aliya would you be thrilled?)
That there was the above supposed pretext to send Yacov away but the other purpose was to save him from his brother from Esav. The Medrash tells us that Yacov was sent away with Jewels of much worth. Esav sent Eliphaz after him to murder Yacov. Yacov defeats Eliphaz physically but makes a deal with him as follows: Yacov says, if I kill you it does neither you nor I any good. You will be dead and then Esav will send another to kill me. I will tell you what. Take all the jewels that I have and show them to your father keep the value for your personal wealth. I will be completely poor and it says that a poor man is like dead in this world. Your father will be pleased with you, you will be rich and both of us shall live without anybody wiser for it. (What we would call a win-win situation. Yacov will not be the murderer of Eliphaz. Eliphaz will live and even try to comfort Iyov. Yacov will be free from Esav’s murder plots and Eliphaz is now wealthy)
However, Yacov stops off at the Beis Medrash of Shem and Ever to learn for 14 years. Here he is 63 years old delaying his search for a wife and children. He then arrives in Padam Aram at the age of 77 and remains there until his return to Eretz Yisrael at the age of 97 and it takes him 2 years to travel to Beer Sheva making him 99 when he meets his father again. This would make Yitzchak 159. This would place Yacov’s return just about the time of Rivka’s passing according to the Ibn Ezra or 11 years before her passing at 133 according to Rashi’s comments regarding her birth. Since she was righteous I would like to think that she got to see and enjoy her grandchildren and daughters-in-law from proper Shidduch Family before she passed away.
28:10 And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran.
And Jacob left: Scripture had only to write: “And Jacob went to Haran.” Why did it mention his departure? But this tells [us] that the departure of a righteous man from a place makes an impression, for while the righteous man is in the city, he is its beauty, he is its splendor, he is its majesty. When he departs from there, its beauty has departed, its splendor has departed, its majesty has departed. And likewise (Ruth 1:7): “And she went forth from the place,” stated in reference to Naomi and Ruth. - [From Gen. Rabbah 68:6]
11 And he lighted upon the place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took one of the stones of the place, and put it under his head, and lay down in that place to sleep.

And he arrived at the place: Scripture does not mention which place, but [it means] the place mentioned elsewhere, which is Mount Moriah, concerning which it is said (Gen. 22:4):“And he saw the place from afar.” [From Pes. 88a]

And he arrived: Heb. וַיִפְגַע, as in (Josh. 16:7):“and it reached (וּפָגַע) Jericho” ; (ibid. 19: 11):“and it reached (וּפָגַע) Dabbesheth.” Our Rabbis (Gen. Rabbah 88:9, Ber. 26b) interpreted it [the word וַיִפְגַע] as an expression of prayer, as in (Jer. 7:16):“And do not entreat (תִּפְגַּע) me,” and this teaches us that he [Jacob] instituted the evening prayer. [Scripture] did not write וַיִתְפַּלֵּל, [the usual expression for prayer], to teach that the earth sprang toward him [i.e. the mountain moved toward him], as is explained in the chapter entitled גִיד הַנָּשֶׁה (Chullin 91b).

because the sun had set: Heb. כִּי בָא הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ [Scripture] should have written [in reverse order]:“And the sun set (וַיָּבֹא), and he stayed there overnight.” [The expression] כִּי בָא הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ implies that the sun set suddenly for him, not at its usual time, so that he would have to stay there overnight. [From Gen. Rabbah 68:10, Chullin 91b]

and placed [them] at his head: He arranged them in the form of a drainpipe around his head because he feared the wild beasts. They [the stones] started quarreling with one another. One said, “Let the righteous man lay his head on me,” and another one said, “Let him lay [his head] on me.” Immediately, the Holy One, blessed be He, made them into one stone. This is why it is stated (verse 18):“and he took the stone [in the singular] that he had placed at his head.” [From Chullin 91b]

and he lay down in that place: [The word הַהוּא] is a restrictive expression, meaning that [only] in that place did he lie down, but during the fourteen years that he served in the house of Eber, he did not lie down at night, because he was engaged in Torah study. [From Gen. Rabbah 68:11]

As I sat and wrote tonight, I dozed off sitting up and I saw a row of d’s or k’s as my fingers hit keys, so too it was with Yacov as obviously the human body cannot go without sleep but he sleep at night dozing off and catnapping while he kept learning and learning and memorizing the oral tradition going back to Avraham Avinu. For Shem and Ever and even perhaps Avraham had heard it from Noach who heard it from Metushalah who in turn heard it straight from Adam HaRishon and the chain of people were close to the source not like I wrote 107 to 139 generations removed. (For centuries of Torah Scholars there was only oral tradition not interrupted by radio, television, newspapers, sports, telephone numbers, addresses, maps, etc. – but there was news as Avraham did know of the birth of Rivka.)
12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
ascending and descending: Ascending first and afterwards descending. The angels who escorted him in the [Holy] Land do not go outside the Land, and they ascended to heaven, and the angels of outside the Holy Land descended to escort him.[From Gen. Rabbah 68:12]
I heard from Rabbi Simcha HaCohain Kuk Shlita that the angels represented Yacov and Esav. When Yacov was up then Esav was down like a see-saw on the world stage.
13 And, behold, the LORD stood beside him, and said: 'I am the LORD, the God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac. The land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed.

And behold, the Lord was standing over him: to guard him.

and the God of Isaac: Although we do not find in Scripture that the Holy One, blessed be He, associates His name with that of the righteous during their lifetimes by writing “the God of so-and-so,” for it is said (Job 15:15):“Lo! He does not believe in His holy ones,” [i.e., God does not consider even His holy ones as righteous until after their deaths, when they are no longer subject to the evil inclination,] nevertheless, here He associated His name with Isaac because his eyes had become dim, and he was confined in the house, and he was like a dead person, the evil inclination having ceased from him (Tanchuma Toledoth 7).

upon which you are lying: (Chullin ad loc.) The Holy One, blessed be He, folded the entire Land of Israel under him. He hinted to him that it would be as easily conquered by his children (as four cubits, which represent the area a person takes up [when lying down]). [From Chullin 91b]

and you shall gain strength: Heb. וּפָרַצְתָּ, as in יִפְרֹץ וְכֵן,“and so did they gain strength” (Exod. 1:12). [after targumim]

You ae in a special and holy land and only your Kedusha will keep you in the land.

14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south. And in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee whithersoever thou goest, and will bring thee back into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.'

And behold, I am with you: [God promised Jacob this] because he was afraid of Esau and Laban.

It is hard to be a lamb with all the wolves outside trying to eat you alive. Yacov had to used his head, be physically strong and pray for a good defense and now HASHEM is answering.

until I have done: אִם is used in the sense of כִּי, [meaning that].

I have spoken concerning you: Heb. ל, for your benefit and concerning you. What I promised to Abraham concerning his seed, I promised in reference to you and not in reference to Esau, for I did not say to him, “for Isaac will be called your seed,” [which would signify that all of Isaac’s descendants would be regarded as Abraham’s] but“for in Isaac,” [meaning part of Isaac’s descendants] but not all [the descendants] of Isaac (Nedarim 31a). Likewise, wherever לִי, לוֹ, ל‏ָ and לָהֶם are used in conjunction with a form of the verb“speaking” (דִּבּוּר) they are used in the sense of “concerning.” This [verse] proves it, because heretofore, He had not spoken to Jacob.

For Esav will not inherit the land either physically, financially or spiritually even if he conquers it via Rome and the Crucades and therefore Yacov may lose out from time to time but in the end, he will inherit the land.
16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said: 'Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.' 17 And he was afraid, and said: 'How full of awe is this place! this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.' 18 And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. 19 And he called the name of that place Beth-el, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. 20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying: 'If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,

If God will be with me: If He keeps these promises that he promised me to be with me, as He said to me, “And behold, I am with you.” [from Gen. Rabbah 70:4]

and He will guard me: As He said to me, “and I will guard you wherever you go.”

and He will give me bread to eat: As He said, “for I will not forsake you,” for if one must seek bread, he is called “forsaken,” as it is said, (Ps. 37:25): “and I have not seen a righteous man forsaken and his seed seeking bread.” [from Gen. Rabbah 69:6]

He is asking for protection, money to buy food and services for he did not care about luxuries in this world like a fancy tent and bed with a fast camel transportation. Today we laugh at this but a strong large tent was even looked upon as a wonderful thing by the wicked Lybian Dictator and it was filled with a lot of luxuries.
21 so that I come back to my father's house in peace, then shall the LORD be my God,

And if I return: As He said to me, “and I will restore you to this land.”

in peace: Perfect from sin, that I will not learn from the ways of Laban.

and the Lord will be my God: that His name will rest upon me from beginning to end, that no disqualification should be found among my seed, as it is written: “[I will do] that which I have spoken concerning you.” And this promise He promised to Abraham, as it is said (17: 7):“to be a God to you and to your seed after you.” (“Your seed” [means that they should be] of pure lineage, that no disqualification should be found in him.) [from Sifrei Va-etchanan 31]

The eternal pray of the Bnei Yisrael “HASHEM will give strength unto HIS people; HASHEM will bless HIS people with Shalom”.
22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house; and of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee.'
Setting up a place to pray and learn Torah and Tzeduka is the goal of every male Bnei Yisrael and the goal of the woman is to make it so. For a man without his woman is incomplete. Avraham needs Eliezer to do his bidding after Sarah dies. Yacov has his children manage after Rachel dies and in recent times when Aliza Begin passed away the fiery Menachem Begin fell apart.
To be Continued as I drove over 800 miles in a few days enjoyed touring and taking my wife and friends on tour giving her very well deserved vacation as she has been taking care of her parents almost 24/6 even away from them she made calls all over for them and had faxes sent here and there. From this you can learn when our Sages call a woman a Bat or Bas she is a daughter and sometimes she is called Biet or Beis for she is household as the Cohain Gadol on Yom Kippur makes atonement for his Beis and therefore must have a wife. Last but not least she is a help mate for her husband. Making a Shidduch and continuously renewing Shalom Beis is greater than the splitting of the sea according to the Sages. Rashi mentioned in Parsha Lech Lecha that when one is traveling it is hard to make a name for oneself, to become wealthy and produce children so please bear with me as the Parsha may not be up to my usual quality for Beresheis.

Halacha from Danny Schoemann
Living in Eretz Yisrael is a Mitzva. Walking 4 Amot (~2 m.) in Eretz Yisrael is a Mitzva. Even moving to Eretz Yisrael is considered part of the Mitzva. One may not leave Eretz Yisrael except to learn Torah, get married, to escape from danger or for business trips. Source: - Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 248:4 - ספר המצות הקצר - מצות לא תעשה
This week's Parsha we learn that Yaakov said to Lavan's daughters "with all my might I worked for your father". All employees have to work to the best of their ability.
A worker may not take on a extra night job, if that will effect his performance the next day. If one hires out one's animals, then one may not work with them at night if that will tire them out the next day. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 185:6

Picking fruit is forbidden on Shabbat. On Shabbat one may not even remove items hanging from trees. If there's a basket hanging on a tree, one may not even remove items from the basket, nor put items into the basket. If the basket is hanging from a hook that is screwed into the tree, one may not remove the basket (nor hang it up). However, if the basket is hanging from a hook that is screwed into the tree, one may remove items from the basket, as well as add items into the basket on Shabbat.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:60

So, it would seem that if the hammock is tied to hooks that are screwed into the trees - and the trees won't move when swinging on the hammock (as we learnt 2 weeks ago) - it shoud be permissible to use a hammock on Shabbat. Source:
Shabbat Shalom - Danny Schoemann


Chapter 1

Halacha 1

Israel was commanded to fulfill three mitzvot upon entering the Promised Land:

a) To choose a king, as Deuteronomy 17:15 states: 'Appoint a king over yourselves;'

b) To wipe out the descendents of Amalek, as Deuteronomy 25:19 states: 'Erase the memory of Amalek;'

c) To build God's Chosen House, as Deuteronomy 12:5 states: 'Seek out His Presence and go there.'

Halacha 2

The appointment of a king should precede the war against Amalek. This is evident from Samuel's charge to King Saul (I Samuel 15: l-3): 'God sent me to anoint you as king ... Now, go and smite Amalek.'

Amalek's seed should be annihilated before the construction of the Temple, as II Samuel 7:1-2 states: 'And it came to pass, when the king dwelled in his palace, and God gave him peace from all his enemies who surrounded him, the king said to Nathan, the prophet: 'Look! I am dwelling in a house of cedar, ... but the ark of God dwells within curtains.'

Since it is a mitzvah to appoint a king, why was God displeased with the people's request of a king from Samuel? Because they made their request in a spirit of complaint. Rather than seeking to fulfill the mitzvah of appointing a king, they were simply intent on rejecting the Prophet Samuel as implied by God's reply to him (I Samuel 8:7): 'It is not you, but Me they have rejected.'

Halacha 3

As an initial and preferred option, a king may be appointed only by a court of 70 elders, together with a prophet, as Joshua was appointed by Moses and his court, and as Saul and David, were appointed by Samuel of Ramah and his court.

Halacha 4

A king should not be appointed from converts to Judaism. This applies even if the convert's ancestors had been Jewish for many generations, unless his mother or father is a native-born Israelite, as Deuteronomy 17:15 states: 'You may not appoint a foreigner who is not one of your brethren.'

This does not apply to the monarchy alone, but to all positions of authority within Israel. A convert may not serve as an army commander, a leader of fifty, or as a leader of ten. He may not even supervise the allocation of water from a stream to various fields.

Needless to say, a judge or a nasi should only be a native-born Israelite, as it is stated (ibid.): 'Appoint a king over you from among your brethren.' This implies that all appointments must only be 'from your brethren.'

Halacha 5

We may not appoint a woman as king. When describing the monarchy, the Torah employs the male form of the word king and not the female.

This principle also applies to all other positions of authority within Israel. Only men should be appointed to fill them.

Halacha 6

Neither a butcher, barber, bath-attendant, nor a tanner should be appointed king or High-Priest. This is not because of an inherent fault, but because their professions are less prestigious, and the people will always treat them lightly.

A person who has served in one of these professions for even one day, is disqualified for the monarchy.

Halacha 7

When a king is appointed, he is anointed with oil reserved for this purpose, as I Samuel 10:1 states: 'And Samuel took the cruse of oil and poured it over his head. Then, he kissed him.'

Once a king is anointed, he and his descendents are granted the monarchy until eternity, for the monarchy is passed down by inheritance, as Deuteronomy 17:20 states 'Thus, he the king and his descendents will prolong their reign in the midst of Israel.'

If the king leaves only a young son, the monarchy should be held for him until he matures, as Yehoyada did for Yoash. The order of inheritance of the monarchy is the same as that governing the inheritance of property. An older son is given precedence over a younger one.

Not only the monarchy, but all other positions of authority and appointments in Israel, are transferred to one's children and grandchildren as inheritances forever.

The above applies if the knowledge and the fear of God of the son is equivalent to that of his ancestors. If his fear of God is equivalent to theirs but not his knowledge, he should be granted his father's position and given instruction. However, under no circumstance should a person who lacks the fear of God be appointed to any posi-tion in Israel, even though he possesses much knowledge.

Once David was anointed king, he acquired the crown of kingship. Afterwards, the kingship belonged to him and to his male descendents forever, as II Samuel 7: 16 states: 'Your throne shall be established forever.' Nevertheless, his acquisition of the monarchy was conditional, applying only to the righteous among his descendents, as Psalms 132:12 states: 'If your children will keep My covenant... their children shall also sit on your throne forever.'

Despite this condition, God assured David that the monarchy would never be taken from his descendents forever, as Psalms 89:31-38 states: "lf his children will forsake My Torah and cease walking in My statutes ... I will punish their transgressions with the rod and their sins with plagues. Nevertheless, I will not utterly remove My grace from him.... His throne shall be ... established forever.'

Halacha 8

If a prophet appoints a king from any other tribe of Israel and that king follows the path of Torah and mitzvot and fights the wars of God, he is considered as a king, and all the commandments associaed with the monarchy apply to him.

Although the kingship was primarily given to David and one of his descendents will be serving as king, there is halachic legitimacy to the rule of other kings. Behold, Achiyah of Shilo appointed Jeroboam and told him (I Kings 11:38): 'And it shall be that if you obey all that I command you... I will build you a faithful house as I built for David.' Similarly, Achiyah told him (ibid.: 36): 'To his (David's) son, I will grant one tribe, so that David, My servant, will always have sovereignty before Me in Jerusalem.'

Halacha 9

The kings of the Davidic dynasty will prevail forever (II Samuel 7:16): 'Your throne shall be established forever.' In contrast, should a king arise from other Israelites, the monarchy will eventually cease from his descendents. For behold, Jeroboam was told: I Kings 11:39 'I will afflict the House of David.... but not forever.'

Halacha 10

Kings of Israel are not anointed with the special anointing oil, but with Afarsimon oil. Only a descendent of David may be appointed as king in Jerusalem. And only descendents of David are anointed with the special anointing oil.

Halacha 11

The kings of the Davidic dynasty should only be anointed near a spring.

Halacha 12

A son who succeeds his father as king is not anointed unless he assumes his position amid a dispute over the inheritance or during a civil war. Under these circumstances, he should be anointed in order to remove all disagreement.

Therefore, they anointed Solomon because of the claim of Adoniyahu, Jehoash, because of the usurpation of Atalyah, and Jehoachaz, because of [the claim of his brother, Jehoyakim.

My path to Judaism began with the question: What would Jesus do? By Yehudah Ilan

I grew up in a nominally Christian household in Minneapolis. When I was nine years old, my father decided to become more devout. We became very active in the local church and I was exposed to the Bible in a way that went beyond the basic stories I had been told as a small child. I began to read and contemplate both the Old and New Testaments in depth.

As I got deeper into my study of the Bible, I wanted to understand religious thought in a systematic way. To my young mind, it seemed reasonable that since God is perfect, and if the Bible is the word of God, then the Bible must also be perfect – as a holistic system that is rational and verifiable.

Within a few years, I had the majority of the English Bible committed to memory. However, I began to discover contradictions. For example, the Jewish Bible says that God's commandments will never change (Deut. 4:2) and that the Jewish people will never lose their status as a nation (Jeremiah 31:35-36), yet the New Testament says that God created a new “Israel” out of Christians and canceled the Torah. I found many other similar difficulties between the text of the Jewish Bible and the New Testament, and this bothered me, but I figured that with time, these issues would become resolved.

I became very involved with my youth group and found myself spending a lot of time at church, in youth Bible studies, and reading any books I could get my hands on at the church library in an effort to further understand the Bible. I would wake up in the morning thinking about the Bible, and would constantly consider its meaning throughout the day.

By age 16 I was giving sermons at our church and filling in for the pastor when he was out of town. By then I had decided that being a minister is what I wanted to do with my life.

Although I liked rock music and spending time with friends like other American teenagers, I was not so socially active like other young people my age. I remember one Friday night – I was in my bedroom, reading the Bible, with religious music playing. My mother walked by my door and said, “Aren't there any kids you could go hang out with? Maybe some friends that you could go out with?”

We had a local Christian bookstore, in the style of Barnes & Noble, where I would sit for hours immersed in the books. I got heavily into Christian commentaries on the Bible. I became frustrated, however, that these commentaries weren’t going deep enough, nor providing sources for their assertions. In addition, they offered very little historical information or background. Outside of a few points of relatively minor information about the clothing or the pottery used in that time period, these commentaries lacked the deeper meaning that I was seeking.

After high school, I went to a Bible school associated with my church's denomination. There were about 250 kids, mostly from the Midwest, but also from places like Norway and Nigeria. After several weeks of doctrine classes – which relate basic beliefs and dogmas of the Christian religion – I quickly realized that I did not believe much of what was being taught, as I had already come to separate conclusions through studying the Bible on my own. When I began to challenge my teachers and ask pointed questions, I was given non-answers and told that the classroom was not the place for such discussion.

Being largely disillusioned with the school, I began to skip the majority of my classes and spent most of the time in the attached seminary library (in Christian circles, seminaries are pastoral training colleges) researching questions on my own. Many times, I would check out literally stacks of books on a particular subject, then go back to my dorm room and consume the information.

At this point, I took a decidedly more rational approach to Christian practices. For example, instead of believing that Baptism actually conferred eternal life, I understood it as merely a symbol. Also the whole idea of the Eucharist, where the body and blood of Jesus “mystically” inhabit the communion wine and wafers, just didn't sit right with me. I opted to understand these – and many other rites and beliefs in Christianity – as mere symbols.

It was then that I discovered a Christian belief called Five Point Calvinism – a philosophy that claims to weave all parts of Christianity together into an internally consistent, logical system. Unlike most Christian philosophies which reject Jewish law, this theology seemed more consistent in maintaining that the Ten Commandments still apply. But then this led to more questions because of that “pesky” fourth commandment – “Keep the Sabbath” – which clearly refers to Saturday, the seventh day of creation. The Church changed it to Sunday. So where’s the consistency in that? I thought.

Another thing bothered me: When I looked into attending the seminary of my denomination, I found out that nobody was seriously required to learn Hebrew. They were required to take one semester which teaches the Hebrew letters and how to look up words in a concordance. But if the majority of their Bible was written in Hebrew, it didn't make sense that nobody was reading the original language.

Throughout my year at Bible school, I answered many of my questions and asked many more. Several issues, however, stuck out in the back of my mind, and figured that as I learned more the answers would eventually come.

But they never did.

Related Article: The Torah in Our Church this is a story from Hondorus.

Jewish Roots

The best part about Bible school is that I met my wife, and we got married at age 19. She shared many of my religious perspectives, as well as many of my questions and concerns.

We set out to find a home congregation as a new married couple and our singular goal was to find truth. We wanted an authentic religious experience, where the difficult theological ideas were not being whitewashed away.

We tried out dozens of churches and found most of them to be feel-good, but not serious. I recall one that advertised: “Study The Book of Joshua With Us” That’s exactly what I was looking for! I showed up on Sunday morning ready to study – with my Greek Bible, my interlinear Hebrew Bible, and a stack of notebooks and pens. The Book of Joshua begins with the Jews crossing the Jordan River into Israel, and at the first class the pastor stood up and said, “We all have crossover moments in our lives.” Ughh! I thought. Here I am, looking for deep textual study, and he’s going on and on like Dr. Phil. My wife and I got out of there.

Many times, after leaving a church we found to be disappointing, we would go to a local bagel shop and study the Bible together over a bagel and a shmear – a fact that we find today to be an ironic foreshadowing of our eventual conversion.

We wound up settling in with a congregation where I became the youth director. Soon after, the minister had to step down due to health issues and I was asked to fill the position. So at age 21, I became minister of my own congregation.

I needed to prepare an Easter sermon, and I wanted something a bit out of the box. I had a book called Christ and Passover (ironically published by the missionary organization Jews for Jesus). The book explained how the majority of early Christians had been Jewish, and how until the fourth century all Christians celebrated Passover (at which time the Council of Nicea changed the name to Easter and moved the date to the Roman calendar).

This was my first exposure to the idea that Christianity was rooted in Jewish practice. I had always been taught that Jesus himself had formulated Christian theology. But in fact, the majority of Christian doctrine and practice was developed centuries later. When I found this out, I became angry and said to my wife: “We’ve been lied to.”

We didn’t know much about Passover, but we decided: If this is what the original Christians did, and this is what Jesus did, then from now on this is what we’re going to do, too.

The next day I went to a supermarket to buy matzah, and went to a Judaica store near my job to buy a Haggadah and a beautiful Seder plate (which we still use today).

The more I studied early Christian history, the more I found one recurring theme: an attempt by Christian leaders to rid the religion of anything Jewish. This bothered me tremendously. To me, Jesus was the original. Whatever he did, that’s what we’re supposed to do.

Since Jesus put on tefillin every day, I started putting on tefillin. Jesus did not eat shellfish, so I stopped eating shellfish. Jesus knew Hebrew and Aramaic, so I learned Hebrew and Aramaic. The more that I studied the New Testament from a historical perspective, especially the elements of the life of Jesus, the more Judaism I began to practice and the more Christianity I began to doubt or reject.

We were living in mid-central Minnesota in the boondocks, with no Jews for miles, and I would walk around town wearing a kippah and tzitzit. We built a kosher sukkah in our back lot and lit a Chanukah menorah in the front window.

Around this time I rejected the concept of God being a trinity. It became clear to me logically and philosophically that God is One. That was a huge milestone in my journey, because I’d been taught as a child that if you don’t believe in Jesus as a deity, you are condemned to burn in Hell forever. Getting past the psychological effects of that dogma can be difficult.

Slowly, slowly, we were phasing out Christianity. At each stage, as I dropped another of my Christian beliefs, I would take a step back and ask: Where do I now fit into the structured religious world? I knew I was on a path, but who shared my vision?

Since Jesus put on tefillin every day, I started putting on tefillin. Jesus did not eat shellfish, so I stopped eating shellfish. Jesus knew Hebrew and Aramaic, so I learned Hebrew and Aramaic. The more that I studied the New Testament from a historical perspective, especially the elements of the life of Jesus, the more Judaism I began to practice and the more Christianity I began to doubt or reject.

We were living in mid-central Minnesota in the boondocks, with no Jews for miles, and I would walk around town wearing a kippah and tzitzit. We built a kosher sukkah in our back lot and lit a Chanukah menorah in the front window.

Around this time I rejected the concept of God being a trinity. It became clear to me logically and philosophically that God is One. That was a huge milestone in my journey, because I’d been taught as a child that if you don’t believe in Jesus as a deity, you are condemned to burn in Hell forever. Getting past the psychological effects of that dogma can be difficult.

Slowly, slowly, we were phasing out Christianity. At each stage, as I dropped another of my Christian beliefs, I would take a step back and ask: Where do I now fit into the structured religious world? I knew I was on a path, but who shared my vision?

After formally leaving Christianity proper, we began trying various Messianic congregations in an attempt to find others like us, but were quickly disappointed. In fact, we discovered that the vast majority of the movement was a fraud. They dress up like Jews, apply Hebrew terminology to Christian symbols, and even sprinkle in some Yiddish phrases to give it “Jewish” flavor. But it’s really a front to trick Jews into becoming Christians.

We tried one Messianic congregation that referred to itself as a “Sabbath Fellowship” and found a lot of positive there. Many were sincere seekers – they met on Saturday, they tried to understand Christianity from a Jewish perspective, they didn’t missionize Jews, they valued rabbis.

Several like-minded families eventually decided to begin their own community by all moving into the same neighborhood and meeting for prayers in someone's home. We joined them. The holistic, verifiable system that my 9-year-old mind had intuited was gaining expression in our Hebrew prayers, celebrating the Jewish holidays, and observance of Shabbat (saying Kiddush, not turning on lights, not driving, not carrying, etc.). Almost unintentionally, we had slowly drifted toward traditional Judaism.

If you follow all religions back to their historical source, you end up in one of two places: either ancient polytheism, or in Judeo monotheism. The revelation at Mount Sinai turned the world to monotheism, because it is a verifiable historical event that all subsequent monotheistic religions are compelled to accept. So in my quest for authenticity, it's only natural that I would be drawn to the original source.

Further, I was amazed to discover that the Talmud - the main repository of Jewish discourse - is characterized by hair-splitting analysis to ensure that the Torah system is 100 percent accurate and consistent.

In the meantime, we maintained a real respect for this historical person named Jesus, who had an Orthodox Jewish upbringing and inspired a whole movement. So although my religious beliefs did not resemble what had developed into modern-day Christianity, completely rejecting Jesus was a very big step that we did not feel ready to take.

Although the idea of becoming Jewish was somewhere in the back of my mind, we didn’t even speak with a rabbi until seven years into this process. After such a long journey, not fitting into so many places, we developed a sensitivity to rejection. Subconsciously I avoided meeting with any rabbi because deep down I knew that Judaism was the only place we’d eventually fit in. If they’d reject us, where else would we go?

Related Article: God and I this is an article about a woman daughter of an athiests.

On to Milwaukee

Around this time I got a job managing a warehouse for a chassidic man in St. Paul, Minnesota. He told me that my religious observances – only kosher food, observing Shabbat, kippah and tzitzit, etc. – was inappropriate for a non-Jew, and even somewhat arrogant. “You were born a non-Jew and who are you to second-guess God?” he said. He suggested that instead I observe the Seven Noahide Laws that Judaism prescribes for non-Jews.

I loved the Torah and the Jewish way of life very much – our whole family did – but the last thing I wanted to be was arrogant. I was on a mission for truth, after all! I reasoned that since I was only practicing Judaism because I thought that’s what Jesus did, then maybe being a Noahide was the answer to my internal conflict.

I took this man’s words to heart and began to divest all my Jewish affectations. We took down our mezuzahs, gave away many of our Jewish books, stopped wearing kippot and tzitzit, and I gave my tefillin away to a Jew.

Emotionally this was very difficult. I had been so invigorated with my Jewish expression, so to have it all come to a grinding halt was quite traumatic. But I was willing to give this a try.

Although I had given away all my Jewish stuff, I kept one old pair of tzitzit in the back of the closet. One day I went into the closet, picked up the tzitzit and began to cry. I had fully rejected Jesus, and I yearned to be Torah observant – but how could I do so as a non-Jew?

All this came to a head a few months later at Chanukah time. My family was sitting around the living room, trying to enjoy the holiday as much as this group of non-Jews could. My wife made latkes to try to infuse some spirit of celebration. But this was simply not enough. I stood up and announced: “We will not live like this any longer. We’re becoming Jewish!”

Our kids were so excited, they started cheering. We put the mezuzahs back on the doors, bought new sets of dishes, and I got another pair of tefillin.

We were determined to become Jewish but did not know exactly what move to make, so we moved to a small community in Wisconsin and I got a job nearby. At this time we were living in a totally non-Jewish area – no synagogue, nothing. I knew that we needed to make a move, to find a Jewish community and begin the conversion process. But where should we go?

One day we were at the grocery store and my wife noticed a black man standing on the other side of the store –– dressed as an Orthodox Jew. I immediately went over and introduced myself. He said he’s from Milwaukee, a former police officer who had once responded to a call at the synagogue where he met Rabbi Michel Twerski. This sparked an interest that led to his conversion.

When I told him about my desire to convert, he encouraged me to go straight to Milwaukee: “Just show up and don’t worry if they try to push you away.”

So after making an appointment with the Milwaukee Beit Din, we drove to Milwaukee one Friday, with no place to stay and knowing nobody. We went to the kosher grocery store to buy food, and the owner of the store graciously invited us to spend Shabbat at his home.

Shabbat was awesome, and the next day, Sunday, we met with the Beit Din. They checked us out very carefully, to make sure we weren’t some kind of secret missionaries with an agenda. There is unfortunately some of that going on, and I apparently aroused suspicion having come in knowing so much halacha, Midrash, Maimonides, etc.

Thankfully, we were accepted as conversion candidates. We immediately found an apartment to rent, and within three weeks pulled into Milwaukee with all our worldly possessions in tow.

A few months later, we were all dunking in the mikveh, emerging as Jews.

We spent two years in Milwaukee and I had the opportunity to get involved in counter-missionary work. But then we realized – we’ve come this far in our path, why stop here? Let’s take it to the ultimate and move to Israel. So we did that in the summer of 2011 and we love it. The kids enjoy the freedom to go around town by themselves and feel safe. After such a long, long road, we are truly home.

Maimonides writes in Guide to the Perplexed that it’s very difficult to change one’s life course in a direct way. That explains why God led the Jewish people out of Egypt in a roundabout route; otherwise they’d have been discouraged and wanted to go back (Exodus 13:17). So too, God led me on a very roundabout way. Some converts have a very short process of discovering Judaism and changing their life. For me, it was years of gradually phasing out Christianity and phasing in Judaism.

I didn’t choose Judaism out of any dogma – “do this or else!” – but rather out of education and rational thought. I’d like to think this is growing trend and that the days of dogma are over. In the Dark Ages, information could be suppressed. But now with Google, the truth is out there for anyone who wants it.

Inyanay Diyoma

Israel is NATO's defense line:

Armagedden Update:

Israeli Leftists dream on:,7340,L-4153158,00.html
Russia and the US par off over Syria:
Russia is supplying Syria with anti-ship missiles and the situation in Iran is:

Ben S. sent me this: Thought you'd find this interesting:

It seems that since Obama is now so disengaged, his campaign manager David Plouffe, is now , de facto, running the country! This morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, co-host Joe Scarborough talked about President Obama’s terrible poll numbers and said that some think “David Plouffe is now acting as president of the United States."

“This is historic, historically low approval ratings and you look at him in the White House now, I would say that he's more isolated than any president in modern American history,” Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, said of President Obama. “Most of his staff have left. And he's basically in there with one or two people. Some have suggested that David Plouffe is now acting as president of the United States because they are running the campaign. But you look, he doesn't have his close advisers around him. He's got Valerie, but everybody else has scattered.”

The Palestinians resurrect the partition plan by Dori Gold

Whoever thinks that U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181 – the famous Partition Plan – from Nov. 29, 1947, is for historians of the Middle East alone, is not aware of the role that the 64-year-old resolution still plays to this very day. As Israel's ambassador to the U.N. in 1999, I had to deal with an effort by the PLO observer to revive the territorial map of Resolution 181 as a substitute for U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 from November 1967, which had served as the agreed basis of the peace process until then.

This Palestinian initiative began on March 1, 1999, when the German ambassador to Israel, who represented the European Union when Berlin held the EU's rotating presidency, sent a surprising message in a "non-paper" to the Israeli Foreign Ministry. He confirmed that the EU still was of the view that Jerusalem – both east and west – should be a Corpus Separatum (an internationalized separate entity).

This term comes right out of Resolution 181, and apparently still influenced the diplomatic doctrines of some European countries, who believe that at the end of the day Jerusalem should become an internationalized city.

The German message was leaked to the Israeli daily Ha'aretz. Within a few days one the heads of the Palestinian negotiating team at the time, Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala), responded in the Palestinian Authority official newspaper, al-Ayyam, saying that the European note "confirms that both parts of Jerusalem – west and east – are occupied territory."

The Europeans had managed to harden the Palestinian position. Within a short time, the new Palestinian position was taken up in New York by the PLO Observer, Nasser al-Qidwa, who wrote an official letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which demanded that "Israel must still explain to the international community the measures it took illegally to extend its laws and regulations to the territory it occupied in the war of 1948, beyond the territory allocated to the Jewish State in resolution 181 (II). Such a situation has not been accepted by the international community." The areas to which the Palestinian representative was referring included what are today Israeli cities like Beersheba, Ashkelon, Nazareth, and others. They also included Jerusalem.

As with any formal letter to the secretary-general, the letter was distributed subsequently to the representative of every member state of the U.N. The hard-line stand that the Palestinians were now taking on the territorial issue before the entire international community was not the Palestinian representative's idea alone. At the time when he drafted and sent the letter, he was hosting the PLO leader, Yasser Arafat in New York. Arafat went to see Annan and spoke with him about Resolution 181. Upon exiting the secretary-general's office, he held a brief press conference in Arabic and made reference to Resolution 181 (we sent an Arabic-speaking diplomat to listen).

In order to prepare the Israeli response to this new Palestinian move, I needed instructions from the highest levels in the Foreign Ministry. I called Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon, who referred me to the address of Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, to the Knesset on Dec. 3, 1949, at the end of Israel's War of Independence. Ben-Gurion opposed the voices in the international community that were still calling for Jerusalem's internationalization: "...we can no longer regard the U.N. Resolution of 29th November as having any moral force. After the U.N. failed to implement is own resolution, we regard the resolution of the 29th November concerning Jerusalem to be null and void." I took Ben-Gurion's words and put them into a letter to Annan that was distributed to every U.N. member.

It is important to recall that U.N. General Assembly resolutions are only recommendations and do not bind member states under international law. Moreover, the Arab states had rejected Resolution 181 in its entirety, especially its call for establishing a Jewish state. Ben-Gurion understood the moral importance of Resolution 181 because of its recognition of the right of the Jewish people to a state. But he also recalled the failure of the U.N. to stop the aggression of the Arab states in 1948. Moreover, it was not the U.N. that legally created the Jewish state with Resolution 181, but rather Israel's own declaration of independence in 1948 a year later. So what then happened to the borders that Resolution 181 proposed, especially with respect to Jerusalem? Did the concessions that the Jewish leadership made in 1947 survive that period?

When leadership of the Jewish Agency accepted Resolution 181 in 1947, it was willing to acquiesce to its proposal for internationalizing Jerusalem for ten years as an interim measure. This was the price that it had to pay for gaining international support for Jewish independence. But the Jewish leadership at that time also knew that according to Resolution 181, there would be a referendum after the ten-year period, and given the Jewish majority in Jerusalem, the residents of the Corpus Separatum, could seek to be annexed to the Jewish state. In short, the Jewish people had not relinquished their rights to Jerusalem by accepting the Partition Plan.

In any case, the situation with Resolution 181 changed dramatically in 1948. When Jerusalem came under attack and was struck by the artillery of the Egyptian Army to the south of Jerusalem and by the Arab Legion to the northeast, Jewish representatives at the U.N. demanded in March 1948 that the Security Council intervene to halt the shelling of the Old City of Jerusalem, which was concentrated on the Jewish Quarter. Dozens of synagogues and Talmudic study halls were being systematically destroyed. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre and even the Dome of the Rock were hit by the shells of the Arab artillery. Many of the details were presented to the U.N.

In the end the U.N. did not lift a finger to halt the attacks on Jerusalem and save the lives of 100,000 of Jewish residents who were under siege. The only force that came to save Jerusalem from this assault were the Jewish underground armies that became the Israel Defense Forces, after Israel's independence. These were the historical details that led Ben-Gurion to utterly reject the internationalization of Jerusalem, contained in Resolution 181, and move the governing institutions of the nascent State of Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 1949.

The borders proposed by Resolution 181, especially with respect to Jerusalem, were simply superseded by realities on the ground. Those borders simply were no longer relevant. Indeed, the terms of reference of all Arab-Israeli diplomacy changed accordingly, when the 1949 Armistice Agreements replaced the past references to Resolution 181. The point of departure of Arab-Israeli diplomacy changed yet again after the 1967 Six-Day War with U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, which became the only agreed basis for Arab-Israeli agreements.

But these facts did not prevent the Palestinians from taking Resolution 181 out of the archives, even though they had rejected it along with the Arab states when it was adopted. In light of recent Palestinian statements about Resolution 181 beginning in the 1990s, it is especially important to look at the letter Mahmoud Abbas gave to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-.oon on Sept. 23 of this year, which requested that the U.N. accept a Palestinian state as a full member. Abbas notably based his request on Resolution 181 and didn't write a word about Resolution 242.

True, in the address he gave at the U.N. General Assembly that very same day, Abbas stated that the Palestinians were seeking a state in the territories that Israel had captured in the Six-Day War. But if his U.N. speech is taken together with the language of the letter that he submitted, it is clear that Abbas aspires to a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines, without conceding his "rights" to the territories that he insists were allocated to the Palestinians under Resolution 181.

Wishing everybody a wonderful Shabbos and I will be taking a few vacation days here and there between now and Chanucha so some weeks will be double and then next one or two weeks may be without a Drasha. Be well to you all, Rachamim Pauli