Shalom Rabbi Kadden:
I wanted to express to you and the entire assembly the pleasure, appreciation, welcome, and sense of sharing in the worship of the Eternal One; may His name be blessed! I must say that I didn't quite know what to expect beforehand, considering this was my first experience attending a Jewish synagogue However, I wasn't really too surprised by anything but more importantly, I was not disappointed. The small group seemed quite cordial, attentive and devoted during the non-stop two hours of service, and the Torah portion was memorable.
All the Hebrew that I heard on Shabbat was certainly a lot more that I receive at El Shaddai Ministries, and it seems the pronunciations were more phonetically correct. I felt as though my head was going to explode and that I had Hebrew coming out of every pore of my body (smile). Anyway, if you don't mind, I do want to share some thoughts on the discussion of the Torah portion about "An Eye for an Eye." You included the words of Jesus [Yeshua] in Matthew 5: 38-42, and it is appropriate in this reading because in the first place, Jesus [Yeshua] was a Torah-observant Jewish Rabbi.
One of the problems in orthodox as well as traditional Judaism in my opinion is that since Christianity claims Him as The Savior [Messiah] and Son of God, then you won't have anything to do with Him; especially since the Jews have been unfairly condemned as a people of being "Christ-killers." The words of this Northern-Aramaic Teacher from Nazareth of Galilee should be read within the context of Jewish History, social experience, culture, and religious tradition [Mishnah, Talmud, Targums, Halakah, etc.]. In all due respect to the many learned Jewish Rabbis throughout the centuries, Exodus 21: 12-27; Leviticus 24: 19-20; and Deuteronomy 19: 21b (??), specifically dealt with acts of violence, vengeance, justice, and retribution; where the quotation from Deuteronomy fits into this teaching is not at all clear.
The narrative in Matthew 5 is the "first" rather lengthy public Sermon or discourse by Jesus [Yeshua], notwithstanding His reading from the Isaiah scroll at the local synagogue in Nazareth during the celebration of the "Jubilee Year" when these passages from Isaiah 48: 8-89; 61: 1-2 are spoken. The entire tone or theme of His message from the mountain can be summed up in Matthew 5: 1-12, and the religious threshold is cited in verse 20, which reads: "For I say to you, unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven [God as their Sovereign King ruling over them].
An Eye for an Eye is the principle of rendering good for evil; presuming that one is the "innocent" party in the matter. Rabbi Jesus [Yeshua] is bringing out the fullest meaning of Torah ["Instruction"] to let people know not to just be satisfied and content with fulfilling the minimum requirements but go beyond that to embrace the real "Spirit" of the Law, which is forgiveness, reconciliation, mercy, and above all, Love." Outward observance of Torah is one thing, but having a far richer and deeper relationship with "The Eternal" is reflected in how we feel about and treat one another.
Even the great rabbi Hillel summed up the entire Law in these words: "And what is harmful to you, do not do to any person, this is the whole Torah and the rest is commentary." Lastly, even the Apostle Paul [Rav Shaul], who was a very zealous Pharisee (Cp. Acts 23: 6b; 26: 5; Philippians 3: 5), from the city of Tarsus in Cilicia [near the region of Anatolia, Turkey] (Cp. Acts 21: 39), and was brought up at the feet of [taught by] the famous Jewish teacher [Rabbi] Gamaliel (Cp. Acts 22: 3), clearly understood this principle by what he penned in
Romans 12: 17-21, which says:
"Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for the good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but neither give place to wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the LORD (Cp. Leviticus 19: 18). Therefore if your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head (Cp. Proverbs 25: 21-22)." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. This is exactly when Rabboni Yeshua [Jesus] was trying to expound to the people nearly two-thousand years ago.
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May 1, 2010
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