Monday, May 30, 2011

They Were...

A Poem for Family Patriarchs and Matriarchs.

They Were…
Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr – Kris Shoemaker

They were the glue.
They were the coagulate.
They were the bond.
They were the adhesive.
They were the hub of gravitational centrifuge.
They were the captain of a crew on choppy waters.

They have dissolved, disintegrated and disappeared,
And we were flung as stars across the heavens,
As mud from a halted spinning wheel.
We spin and fly away from one another like soap dispensing oil upon water,
We drift and ebb away from each other like the rippling tide of a stone that breaks the surface of the deep.

The memories of our revolutions together around the patriarchal and matriarchal nuclei are but a series of faded photographs; memories frozen in time, fading like a dream.

We have damned ourselves to solitude and obscurity.
Going our separate ways like the droplets which dissipate from the watery crown of that stone that broke the water.
We did not implode and fix another to be the familial nuclei.
We respected them and not ourselves and thus had no one to take their place.
As a result we are as those who have been separated from the pride and are as aimless rogues die a slow suicide.

Their deaths cause a hole, but why not a black hole that would draw us together once again?
Revolving around memories is better than being aimlessly adrift to nobody or nothing.

They were the glue.
They were the coagulate.
They were the bond.
They were the adhesive.
They were the hub of gravitational centrifuge.
They were the captain of a crew on choppy waters.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sorry Just Doesn't Cut It

RaYBaSH’s Ponderings of the Pentateuch
Parashah # 35: Nasso “Make and accounting”
B’midbar/Numbers 4:21-7:89
By: Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr

This Parashah deals with the Levitical Priestly duties, the Priestly Aaronic blessing, and the census of eligibility of those for Levitical Priestly service. This Portion also touches on uncleanness, restitution for wrongs, wives suspected of adultery and most famously this Torah Reading is known for the Nazarite Vow.

In past Parashot I have dealt extensively with  the Nazarite Vow and thus will focus my attentions elsewhere in the Torah Portion.

Lev. 5:5-10 And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing: And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin. And if he be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass, which he hath committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the LORD; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering. And he shall bring them unto the priest, who shall offer that which is for the sin offering first, and wring off his head from his neck, but shall not divide it asunder: And he shall sprinkle of the blood of the sin offering upon the side of the altar; and the rest of the blood shall be wrung out at the bottom of the altar: it is a sin offering. And he shall offer the second for a burnt offering, according to the manner: and the priest shall make an atonement for him for his sin which he hath sinned, and it shall be forgiven him.

We live in a culture where apologies and alligator tears are in vogue. Use to, you had to twist some ones arm until they said “Uncle” before one would say, “I’m sorry.” But TV evangelists, politicians have paved the way for athletes, actors and actresses as well as rock stars to sin secretly, be exposed and televised before millions confessing their sin and saying, “I’m sorry.” And some crank out the tears in hopes to come across more sincere and gain sympathy. After all our fallen flesh loves a good juicy scandal and we tend to sympathize with those who have the same vices as we do.

With spy ware, closed circuit cameras and phone bugs it’s hard to live lives of secrecy when you are a public figure and so instead of tried and true strategy of deny and pass the buck society has opted to now admit that there is no where to run or hide so might as well confess and say, “I’m sorry.” 

Like “Abra-Kadabra” or “Open Sesame,” “I’m Sorry” is like a magic word that makes it all better, right? WRONG! Talk is cheap and such public apologies are nothing more than double speak that says between the lines, “I am not sorry for what I did, I am only sorry I got caught.” Now thanks to the media apologies come a dime a dozen and are scrutinized and analyzed by professionals who deem them sincere or a sly PR ploy to smoothy over a career gone south.

Hollywood and politics need to take a cue from law enforcement. “I’m sorry” will not get you out of a traffic ticket. “I’m sorry” will not keep a murderer or rapist from a stripped or orange jumpsuit with numbers on it and a urine stained mattress behind iron bars. Law enforcement knows a penalty and restitution has to be made.

I recall one time my daughter was very young I had to teach her the difference between saying “I’m sorry” and true repentance.

One afternoon when I picked up my daughter from school I could see clear dread on her face. I knew she had somehow gotten in trouble.

Come to find out she had not been paying attention in class and was goofing off with another little girl at her table. She was pretending to be a dog as the other little girl put her finger in front of her face as my daughter pretended to snap at it. This went on until she had accidentally bit the little girl’s finger. Knowing it was an accident all she got was a talking to by the principal.

Nonetheless I was furious. But when we got home and as I was about to give her a good tongue lashing I stopped myself.

I gently explained to her and asked if she understood that it was wrong for her to not be paying attention in class and as a result she unintentionally hurt another person. I asked her is she had apologized to the little girl, and if she asked G-d to forgive her. She said that she did. Then I gently told her that did she realize that just saying “I’m sorry.” For a Jew is not good enough?

I saw the look of shame and bewilderment on her face as I began to explain that as a Jew G-d holds us to a higher accountability than the Goyim. I told her that if at all possible G-d expects us to fix, to repair to make better what we did wrong. This I told her was the definition of truly being sorry; this was what we Jews call “Teshuvah” (Repentance).

I then asked her what she could do to fix the situation. I asked her if she could heal the little girl’s finger. She said no, and then her little mind began to spin. “I could make her a “Get Well Card, because people give other people cards when they are not feeling well. And even if I can’t heal her finger, G-d can and I can help by putting a bandage in the card. And when I get hurt a piece of candy always helps me feel better. So I’ll staple a piece of candy in the card.” So she began digging out her paper and crayons and started work on the card. We gathered all materials and she excitedly worked on her “tikkun” (fixing what is wrong) project.

When she was all done she felt much better and couldn’t wait to go to school the next day to give her card with the bandage and piece of candy to the little girl.

In this Torah Passage, “I’m sorry” doesn’t cut the mustard and we learn that if one steals from another after confessions and apologies are made, restitution is required and thus the proof is in the pudding when it comes to repentance. Actions speak louder than words. The thief has to restore the stolen or destroyed good with interest of 5% of the value of the item. Have you ever seen a fallen TV evangelist, politician, athlete, rock star or actor do that? If so, it is extremely rare.

Everyone should take away from this passage that “sorry” isn’t enough, one must find out what is necessary to make things right again. Once again, talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words.

Judges 13:2-25 is our Haftarah  reading but I want to look at other passages in the book of Judges.

Jud. 14:1-20

If you will recall, Samson was a Nazarite from birth and was prohibited from touching anything dead, partaking of any grape products and he was not permitted to cut his hair. Along with this he was bound by the rest of Torah and one such prohibition was marrying outside of Israel unless the betrothed was a convert.

In Judges 14 it is clear Samson broke his Nazarite Vow by scooping honey from the carcass of a lion and hence the reason he did not tell his parents where he got the honey from. Also, he married a pagan woman and the passage implies possibly that Samson also got drunk at the wedding which would have violated another Nazarite prohibition.

Jud. 16:4-22

Samson ended up marrying another pagan woman after the first was given away to another man and Samson broke another aspect of the Nazarite Vow which ended up being his demise. He got a haircut!

Jud. 16:28 And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.

Notice the narrative, Samson never said that he was sorry for what he had done, nor did he make restitution for breaking his vow which instructions are found in Num. 6:9-12.

Samson only was sorry that he was caught and selfishly wanted vengeance, but his selfish request for vengeance would end up making up for all he should have done as a Judge over Israel which I believe is why YHWH answered affirmatively Samson’s selfish prayer.

Jud. 16:28-30 And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.
In the Brit Chadasha, Luke 19:1-10 most everyone remembers the story and songs about the famous little tax collector Zacchaeus. This section in the Besorah (Gospel) of Luke in the Brit Chadasha (N.T.) shows how Zacchaeus understood repentance and restitution in regards to his dishonesty and thievery. It is thought by his confession of intentions to restore that which was ill gotten was the equivalent of the value of a sheep according to Exodus 22:1

Exodus 22:1 If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.

Yeshua agrees with Zacchaeus’ intentions and accepts his genuine repentance and plans of restoration and did not correct him in any way, but said…

“This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.” – (Luke 19:9)   

Shabbat Shalom and Shavuah Tov!
-         Rabbi Yehudah

Missions Trip to Nigeria in November

Shalom dear Family and Friends,
As many of you know I am working very closely with the Igbo tribe of Nigeria who is actually a portion of the lost Biblical tribe of Gad. You can read more about this on my website under “Tribe of Gad” tab and its sub-tabs.
I have been offered a temporary casual job from June until August. Hopefully this will allow me to save up funds for my return trip to Nigeria this November. However, I still need the financial assistance of others to help make this trip possible. If you wish to help me fund this trip, it would be much appreciated. You would be actively participating in the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy in these last days in seeing a lost tribe of Israel come back into their own. Do not worry about the amount, every little bit helps! You can donate by finding the donation button on the home page of my website:
Or make checks payable to “Kris Shoemaker” and send it to:
PO BOX 763
Ft. Fairfield, ME. 04742
 PS: Please forward this to all Rabbi's, Pastors, synagogues, churches, and ministries who would be interested in helping.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I’m Going to be a Jew on my Own Terms

I’m Going to be a Jew on my Own Terms
Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr

Many have wondered where I have been. I am on Sabbatical and still am. I am briefly popping my head out of my cave in order to make a personal, revelatory proclamation and go back inside until I feel HaShem telling me to go out again. So I suspect I will be on sabbatical for a while longer.

I am sure there will be some out there who totally miss the point of my rant and take out of context my words that I am screaming from the entrance of my cave.

I’ve had this phrase repeat and resonate in my spirit the past few days.

“I’m going to be a Jew on my own terms!”

Shocking perhaps, coming from a progressive orthodox Rabbi. It could be misconstrued and taken as rebellion or arrogance. But these motives are the furthest thing from my spirit right now. During this sabbatical I have been crushed, warn down, rubbed raw and broken and this cry of my spirit is coming from a disgust and anger at myself for getting caught up in the politically correctness of traditions and the religion of Judaism along with its myriad of useless debates that, I for a time, was foolishly mistaking for ministry and relationship with the Divine and others. It has gotten me nowhere but dashed against the rocks. Serves me right!

I’m done! I’m not going to bow to the whim of the public consensus any longer of what others think a Rabbi should be. If I try and live up to this faulty expectation of others I will always fall short and let myself and G-d down. I am going to be a Jew on my own terms.

Messianic and Natsari, Torah Obedient believers in Messiah Yeshua (of which I am one of them) are becoming a cult! We can be the most two faced, double-standard hypocrites on earth, who go from railing against the stuffed shirt traditions of the papal hierarchy of the Christian Church to embracing almost without question the traditions if the Jewish shul. From bucking the system of Christendom to woefully wagging the condemning finger to those who question or even color outside the lines of Jewish Orthodoxy.

I’m going to be a Jew on my own terms. I’m done being a hypocrite. I was this Christian rebel who turned into a whooped Jew. No longer! My Exodus to freedom began at Pesach this year. I’m going to get reacquainted with the Messiah who brought me out!

Look, I have the 613 Commandments and I do my best to walk in the footsteps of Yeshua HaMoshiach and I live by a halacha which may or may not line up with yours, or meet your personal convictions and criteria and that’s okay. I am not answerable to your halacha, nor are you to mine. I do not sit on a Beyt Din against you, nor you me. Though we are one body and a community, I am not answerable to you personally nor are you to me. We are only answerable to G-d and our local community and Beyt Din. If we must we will agree to disagree agreeably. I will no longer put out fires others foolishly create. I will let my teachings speak for themselves. I haven’t the time for useless debates. I’m done. I’m going to be a Jew on my own terms.

Tired of Christians not coming around to your way of thinking? With the way we act and carry on I can’t say that I blame them. Mohammed of Islam got tired of Christians and Jews not listening to him or bowing to his way of thinking and his solution was to convert by knife point or kill them! Ironic, Catholicism did this to Jews also. How many steps away are we from such hypocritical lunacy!?  Debates and arguing rarely win anyone. However, love does.

Prov. 10:12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent love among yourselves: for love shall cover the multitude of sins.

I’m done with the loveless version of Natsari Judaism. I will not be labeled a hatemonger or a cult.

If Natsari and or Torah Observant Messianic Judaism doesn’t change course soon it will either become a cult (if it hasn’t done so already) or assimilate back into Christianity or melt into non-believing Judaism.

It’s time to be like our Rebbe Yeshua and stand up to our own Jewish faith when necessary and sit down at the well and love those Samaritans; who to us are those of Christendom. It’s time to stop being angry and arrogant toward them on account of the same ignorance they are in bondage to, that we were once blinded by.

You don’t kick a frightened child out from under a gloomy bed, you gently and lovingly coax them out with the light. My Adon! Whose blood has unwittingly soiled our hands!?

God is NOT a Pagan Title

God is NOT a Pagan Title
Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr

I’m sore! My arms have been pulled out of their socket in this tug-of-war between those who say, “Don’t say the Sacred Name!” and “You must say the Hebrew Names and Titles of YHWH!” The shear lunacy of it all! Look, I do not care if you say what you think the Sacred Name is or not. I don’t care if you say “Elohim” or “God.” Heck, you even have those who claim “Yahweh” is a pagan name. You can’t please anyone, no matter where you turn you feel that you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t; you will always have some one wag their finger at you condemning you. I am so tired of people condemning others for saying the English word “God” or “Lord” and people saying that they are pagan names. HOGWASH! You are comparing apples to oranges. First off, God is not a name but a title. Second to say that the English word “God” comes from the name of a pagan deity in another language just because it is phonetically similar is illogical, linguistically and grammatically deficient on so many levels. If this were true Jews today would not use or say such titles, they would be replaced with something else. What I am about to say may offend some, though this is not my intention. My intention is to make an extreme analogy so as to highlight the absurdity and flawed logic of those who dogmatically teach that “God” is a pagan name. It’s just as absurd as claiming that the Greek word, “pisto or pistis” meaning “faith” is where we get the English slang word for urine which is “piss” and that we shouldn’t say “piss” or “pissed off” because it is a crass or a “cuss” word, but because when we use it, we are renouncing or “casting off” our faith by equating our faith with bodily human waste. See how cultish and illogical such thinking can be!?

It may shock you that before G-d revealed His true Name He was known by “pagan” names! Since Canaan was a descendant of Hamm, one of Noach’s three sons, and was the Land and People whom Israel (Shem’s descendants) conquered, and seeing as they were distant relatives of one another, it stands to reason their language, culture and expressions for and worship of the Most High were similar, even after the incident at Babel.

“In archeological and critical historical religious literature the authors (usually agnostic, atheist or secular) often attempt to make one believe other cultures are older and predate that of Scriptural writ, simply because physical evidence found is often older than the earliest Biblical manuscripts. They claim that the Biblical writers took traditions and stories from these so called older cultures and adopted them as their own creation story and flood account and so on. However, if one believes the inerrancy of Scripture one would easily realize that the entire world was at one time one people, language and culture until the confounding of the languages at the Tower of Babel. Thus, in the post Babel world everyone took the shared traditions and legends from the Creation to the Flood and all the prophecies of redemption and messiah that lies therein and molded into what each people group has become. This is why every people group has a creation and flood story.  Just because most all cultures have legends of virgin births, god-men messiahs, and just because they appear in Christianity and Nazarene Judaism in the truthful events does not mean they were gleaned from a pre-Biblical pagan culture of Mesopotamians, Canaanites or what have you. No, we did not rip stories from them and claimed them as our own holy history, they ripped stories from us.”
-- Where Did Paganism Come From? By Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr

Even with Abraham, G-d was not known as YHWH.

Exd 6:2-4 And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I [am] the LORD (YHWH): And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by [the name of] God Almighty (EL SHADDAI), but by my name YAHWEH was I not known to them. And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers.

In other words, G-d was known to Abraham by one of His Canaanite, generic “pagan” names, another common one was El Elyon (G-d Most High). El Shaddai was letting Abraham know that He was displeased with the Canaanites and He was planning on giving their land to him and his descendants.

It is no surprise G-d had so-called “pagan” names like El Elyon and even sometimes Ba’al (Lord). These were more titles and descriptions than they were proper names.

Bottom line is, that the English title “God” is NOT pagan.

Is the Cross Pagan?

Is the Cross Pagan?
Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr

You remember the 1980’s movie the Gremlin’s? Remember how Gremlins came from furry, cute, cuddly and benign “Gizmo”? How if you broke the rules and fed Gizmo after midnight or got him wet spore like eggs would pop from Gizmo’s skin and produce the Gremlins? Well, the Christian Cross is that sort of metamorphosis.

Many argue that the Christian cross was adopted and used as the symbol for Christianity during the time of Constantine, the pagan Emperor who only made Christianity legal and was said to have converted to one himself only as a political stratagem so as to unify his empire; to unite pagan and Christian by “Christianizing” the pagan holidays of the empire. Constantine used the symbol of the cross on his army’s shields.

However, the cross in use prior to the time of Constantine and may have been used to symbolize the first century Natsari movement because the symbol has been found on Hebraic ruins in Bethany that date back to the time of Yeshua. How could this be you may ask? Isn’t the cross a pagan Roman symbol? Yes, and no. Yes the symbol of the cross does have pagan roots, but no, in the sense that it equally has Hebraic roots. You see the cross in the ancient (paleo) Hebrew is the last letter of the aleph-bet, which is the “tav” and it was used in the time of the prophets.

Ezk. 9:4 And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.

That word “mark” in Hebrew is… yep, “tav” which looked like an “x” or a Roman cross set on its side. Some fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls found among the Qumran Community speak of this “tav” being used as mark made from ashes which was placed upon ones forehead. Hmmm, we see this in the papal religion during lent; yet another thing the papacy ripped from ancient Judaism, perverted and claimed as their own, just like their religious officials wear a type of kippah and a sash around the shoulders that looks an awful lot like a stylized tallit.

So it was this “tav,” that was apparently used as a symbol used with in the first century movement of Torah obedient believers in Yeshua that found prophetic fulfillment in the cross Yeshua died upon and was eventually officially adopted as the symbol of modern day Christianity after the gentile believers broke away from the movement that was firmly rooted in Judaism.

There is also ancient Roman graffiti that pre-dates Constantine that shows people making fun of the Torah obedient first century believers and their beliefs by drawing a man on a cross with the head of an ass saying that this is the god that Christians/Messianics (a word used as a slur at that time) worship. Or it said that they (Christians/Messianics) worship a dead god.

So we see that the Hebrew “tav” has morphed into the pagan Roman cross we see symbolize Christianity today. From Gizmo to Gremlin if you will.