"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Chanukah Shabbat

Our Chanukiah with gelt on the table
It is very nice that Chanukah is here.  It's even nicer that Shabbat arrived last night at sundown. I must make myself forget about cutting wood or doing anything that resembles hard work.  The chickens got extra food last night. Even the dog got an extra full bowl last night.

Since most of my gentle readers may not know, I thought I'd take this occasion to talk about Chanukah.  It must seem odd that this Jewish guy, Moshe Ben-David, recognizes Jesus (Yeshua) as the Messiah, yet clings to the old ways.  What's up with that?  Once you accept Jesus, you don't need any of that Moses' Law stuff, right?

Actually, no.  I've been having this argument with people for several years now, since going back to my Hebrew roots.  I make the challenge over and over again to people who claim the title of Christian: Where in the New Testament, can you point to a clear and didactic statement that Torah ("The Law") no longer applies?  And how do you get around Matthew 5:17-20 and Luke 16:17?  Forget about your church tradition that misinterprets the gospels and especially the writings of Rabbi Paul.  I was on that road for a long time, and I'm not going back there. "The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size."  -- Oliver Wendell Holmes.  Except in this case, I was going back to the source.  Adonai got me alone after all those years of being in all those different denominations of protestantism and told me to just read The Word and don't try to inject meaning from church doctrine.  The only rule is; the meaning you get from one text cannot be in contradiction to any other text, or your understanding of that meaning must be wrong.
Chanukah basket: a gift for each of eight days

Once I began doing that, and searching out the meaning with the idea in mind that Jesus was completely Jewish, that he was considered to be a righteous Pharisee by the Pharisees because he kept ALL of the Law, and that He was simply correcting the misunderstandings of that Law, I felt like I had discovered an enormous treasure vault.  So much made sense now.  So many "Christian" doctrines that didn't square with Scripture just dissolved into dust and ashes.  Rather than feeling like I might be chaining myself to a new legalism, I felt even more free, because doubts that I had had were gone, and questions that used to trip me up with unbelievers no longer were a problem.  I will have to post examples of this as the opportunity or need arises.  Back to Chanukah.

First of all, which is it?  Chanukah or Hannukah?  Ah. Hebrew is a very different language.  Right to left, completely different characters, no vowels, yet since the Masorites we have these "vowel points" called nekudot to tell us how they are pronounced.  In short, Hebrew words that are transliterated from English can sometimes be a matter of preference for the translator.  Most languages are all about phonetics.  How they sound.  Hebrew has what I will call three "H" sounds.  There's the standard H that you hear in "help."  Then there is the H where you let the back of your tongue close the opening of your throat for a slightly raspier sounding H.  Kind of like pronouncing the name Bach, but a little softer.  More like just shoving the H out of your mouth a bit harder.  This is the H in Hannukah or Chanukah, or Chupah, or Chumash.

Our dining room at Chanukah 
Why does Chanukah move around on the calendar?  Because Jews and we Messianics believe that God knows better than man how to mark time.  After all, He created it.  So we keep the calendar He set forth in Torah, which is a lunar based calendar and not an earth orbit/solar based calendar.  The modern world follows the Gregorian calendar.  El Shaddai set appointed feasts to be celebrated at certain times according to His calendar, and He said they were forever.  Funny how He never said anywhere in the Scripture, even the New Testament, " . . . until Messiah comes, then you can stop."  And even though Chanukah became a festival or celebration or "Chag" because of an eight day miracle about 150 years before Messiah came, we celebrate it because in the gospel of John it tells us that Yeshua (Jesus) went to Jerusalem during the Feast of Dedication which is what Chanukah is.  Also known as the Festival of Lights.  If my Master recognized it, I think it's a good idea for me to follow His example.  After all, that's the whole reason for becoming a follower of Yeshua.  Remember the now passé bracelets that people used to wear: WWJD?  What Would Jesus Do?  Jews have always had a form of that as a commandment from Torah which Yeshua wore and religious Jews still wear to this day, including myself.  But that's another post.

Twyla's delicious coconut macaroons

The Food
If there is one thing that Jews and Christians have in common, it's that all religious activity revolves around food, except for Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).  One of the fun and interesting things about being a disciple of The Ultimate Rabbi, and understanding my Hebrew roots is how even the food is meant to make connections to events.  So with Chanukah, because the miracle was done with olive oil (classically representing the Holy Spirit [Ruach HaKodesh]) we are supposed to eat foods cooked in oil.  Latkes (fried potato pancakes, of which mine are AWESOME), Sufganiyot which are jelly donuts, and whatever else you would like to fry up as long as it's not treif (unclean, or not kosher), and no as followers of Yeshua we are not released to eat anything we want.  But that would take another long post to dispel the myth that developed from the "church" misinterpreting Scripture.  I hope to get to that in a few weeks.

Oh, and while some of you are sitting there rolling your eyes and huffing and puffing about legalism, know this: For over twenty years I was involved in the mainstream churches, from Episcopalian to Methodist to Baptist to Pentacostal. I've taught apologetics for twenty years, demonstrating that the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation is the inerrant Word of God.  I'm not only familiar with all of the arguments against what I know to be the truth now, but I used to teach them.  I also was in ongoing debates with my best-friend and brother, twenty years older than I, who was an elder with the Jehovah's Witnesses for over 25 years. Baruch HaShem, he got saved about 8 years before he died. The bottom line: Truth will always win out in the end.  I've had lots of people tell me I'm wrong based on what their denomination of church teaches about doctrine, but I have yet to have them show me why I'm wrong about this stuff based on Scripture alone.

Chocolate marshmallow dreidels.  YUM!

For those few of you still reading now, maybe you are like me and always wanted to know what's up with those dreidal toys, those little finger tops with the funny symbols on them.  Well, because of the evil Antiochus Epiphanes dictate that studying Torah was forbidden under pain of death, the Jews came up with the dreidel game as a cover for when they got together to study Torah. And dreidels actually are used to play a game.  You can read all about it here.

Twyla saw some candy dreidels on the web somewhere and so she set out to make them yesterday afternoon.  The ingredients are: Marshmallows, Hershey Kisses for the pointed end, dark semi-sweet chocolate for coating, and white chocolate for writing the Hebrew characters, and pretzel sticks. It was fun making them together, although Twyla wishes she had just left all the Hebrew letters to me.  I've been writing it for a while longer, but she'll get it in time.  She wanted to make these for a party we are going to tonight.  There are going to be some "Seventh Day Baptists" there.  Ah, they are just scratching the surface.

This last picture is of our table last night as we welcomed Shabbat.  Counter clockwise from the top left: the box to hold the Tsedakah [gift for charity],  the two candle candelabra that we use for every Shabbat. The nine candle candelabra or Chanukiah for Chanukah.  The ram's horn shofar (trumpet).  Below that is the Kiddush cup for blessing.  The basin and bottle of water for doing Netalyit Yaddayim [hand washing]. To the right of that is the silver server that holds the bread.  In this case, challah.  To the right of that is the salt cellar, because all sacrifices are to be offered with salt.  The "coins" are foil wrapped chocolate "gelt" for the Chanukah celebration.

Since I've fixed comments now, if you have any questions, feel free to leave them below.  I will try to answer them within 48 hours.

Chag Sameach!  [Happy Holiday!]

P.S. Thank you, Jaded Haven for posting the pic from my previous post.

 Thank you, Maggie's Farm for posting about Chanukah with the cool picture of a Chanakiah Menorah made to look like the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

1 comment:

  1. An excellent post, Moshe. Thanks for the illumination.


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