Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Text Studies in the Tradition of Talmud

Hillel Foundation's Text Studies in the Tradition of Talmud:

Here it is using

Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream"

A Tale of Two Anthems: Hatikvah & Psalm 126

United States of America Constitution Preamble

The First Amendment

The First Murder and Evil Inclinations

The Declaration of Independence

Eshet Chayil

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Dealing with Missionaries

Usually these are Christian missionaries, some of whom claim to be Jews. Here are some web links which may be helpful:

Jews for Judaism
Online Publications:
# The Real Messiah
# Counter-Missionary Handbook
# Missionary Impossible

My friend Michael Cook's faculty webpage:
Here are some of his articles that are available online at his webpage:
* "The Bishop's Cop-Out" in The Forward (site registration required) (2004)
* "Some Jewish Reactions to Mel Gibson's film, The Passion of the Christ" (2004)
* Excerpts from Postings Concerning: 'Our Gibson Strategy,' including a 'Checklist' of 48 critical motifs to look for in the Mel Gibson film, The Passion of the Christ" (2004)
* "An Insider's Account of the Mel Gibson Ordeal," Chronicle Issue 63 (2004) - available in PDF format
* "Jewish Understandings of the New Testament," Chronicle Issue 58 (1999) - available in PDF format

Noachides (Righteous Gentiles) & the 7 Noachide Laws

Want to learn about the Noachide covenant and the Seven Noachide Commandments?

Here is an article from January 2006 -
Arutz Sheva: Sanhedrin Recognizes Council to Teach Humanity ´Laws of Noah´

Here are some websites about Noachides:

Ask Noah

Bnei Noach (UK)

Ahavat Israel - The Seven Noachide Laws - Universal Laws for Humanity

Jews and Hasidic Gentiles—United to Save America

JLaw: The Obligation of Jews to Seek Observance of Noachide[1] Laws by Gentiles: A Theoretical Review
by Rabbi Michael J. Broyde

Here's Where It All Comes From:

Genesis Chapter 9 - JPS 1917 Translation:

8 ¶ And God spoke unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying:
9 'As for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
10 and with every living creature that is with you, the fowl, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that go out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.
11 And I will establish My covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of the flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.'
12 ¶ And God said: 'This is the token of the covenant which I make between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
13 I have set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth.
14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow is seen in the cloud,
15 that I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.'
17 And God said unto Noah: 'This is the token of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is upon the earth.'

Monday, December 12, 2005

Why religion and politics should never mix

Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks is the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. This article was in The Times Online (UK) on December 10, 2005:

Different freedoms, or why religion and politics should never mix
Credo by Jonathan Sacks

THE election of David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party has quickened the pulse of British politics, and though I believe profoundly that religion and politics should never mix, there are times when it is important to say something religious about the political process itself.

In 1996, when one party had been in power for almost a generation, I asked a civil servant in an unguarded moment which he thought more dangerous for a nation: the coming into office of a party most of whose members had no experience of government, or the lack of a credible opposition. Without hesitation he chose the second. Politics lives, he said, on the existence of alternatives, the clash of opinions, the cut and thrust of debate. Without that, democracy dies.

In a flash I realised that he had clarified for me the profound difference between religion and politics and why neither must ever invade the territory of the other.

Democratic politics — the worst system ever invented apart from all the others — is more than the rule of the majority. That, as Alexis de Tocqueville rightly said, can lead to the tyranny of the majority and the loss of rights on the part of minorities. Its virtues are that it allows for the non-violent resolution of conflict. It makes possible a change in government without revolution or civil war. Most importantly, it safeguards the free expression of dissent.

Politics turns into virtue what religions often see as a vice — the fact that we do not all think alike, that we have conflicting interests, that we see the world through different eyes. Politics knows what religion sometimes forgets, that the imposition of truth by force and the suppression of dissent by power is the end of freedom and a denial of human dignity. When religion enters the political arena, we should repeat daily Bunyan’s famous words: “Then I saw that there was a way to Hell, even from the gates of Heaven.”

This is easily said, but behind liberal democracy lies a long and bloody past. Twice in the history of the West, religion discovered its inadequacy as a means of conflict resolution. The first occurred in the first century CE, when Jews began their disastrous rebellion against Rome. It failed because of internecine rivalry between Jews themselves. The result was the destruction of the Second Temple and an exile that lasted almost 2,000 years. It was Jewry’s worst self-inflicted tragedy.

The second took place in Christian Europe between the Reformation in 1517 and the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. For more than a century Europe was convulsed by religious war, Christian fighting Christian as Jew had once fought Jew. Out of these experiences, first Jews, then Christians, eventually learnt to separate religion from politics, influence from power, the noble dream from the willingness to compromise that alone allows us to live graciously with those with whom we disagree.

It may seem odd to say that the most important feature of liberal democracy is its modesty. Humility is a virtue not always associated with politicians. Yet it is built into the system. The secular democratic state has no ambitions to proclaim the truth, fulfil the metaphysical longings of the soul, or pass judgment on the great questions of ethics. It is there to help us get along with one another, making our several contributions to the common good. It is the best way yet discovered of allowing us all to feel heard, our views considered if not always accepted, and of constructing a society we see as tolerable if not ideal.

There is something noble about this self-limitation. Liberal democracy does what few great religions have ever achieved. It makes space for difference. It honours the person regardless of his or her beliefs. It allows societies to negotiate change without catastrophe. It teaches us the difficult arts of listening to our opponents and — in Isaiah’s phrase — “reasoning together”. These are modest virtues but necessary ones.

We are living in an age in which, not just in Britain but throughout the world, many people are disillusioned with secular politics, and are turning to religion instead. In itself that is a blessing. Religious faith is our noblest effort to understand ourselves and our place in the universe. The expansive air of the spirit redeems the narrowness of the material world. But to expect it to solve political problems is to invite disaster. Religion becomes political at its peril, and ours.

posted by American On Line

Friday, December 02, 2005

More Pagan Stuff to Ban

This began as a comment I posted at Pam's House Blend:

While the wingnuts are busy banning Harry Potter and other pagan things, they might want to consider dropping use of the names of the days of the week (from pagan gods) and months of the year (from pagan gods, festivals and emperors).


Unless Noted Otherwise, These Definitions are from and Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

Sunday : \Sun"day\, n. [AS. sunnand[ae]g; sunne, gen. sunnan, the sun _ d[ae]g day; akin to D. zondag, G. sonntag; -- so called because this day was anciently dedicated to the sun, or to its worship. See Sun, and Day.] The first day of the week, -- consecrated among Christians to rest from secular employments, and to religious worship; the Christian Sabbath; the Lord's Day.

Monday : \Mon"day\ (m[u^]n"d[asl]; 48), n. [OE. moneday, monenday, AS. m[=o]nand[ae]g, i.e., day of the moon, day sacred to the moon; akin to D. maandag, G. montag, OHG. m[=a]natag, Icel. m[=a]nadagr, Dan. mandag, Sw. m[*a]ndag. See Moon, and Day.] The second day of the week; the day following Sunday.

Tuesday : \Tues"day\ (t[=u]z"d[asl]; 48), n. [OE. Tewesday, AS. Tiwes d[ae]g the day of Tiw the god of war; akin to OHG. Zio, Icel. T[=y]r, L. Jupiter, Gr. Zey`s;, cf. OHG. Ziostac Tuesday, G. Dienstag, Icel. T[=y]sdagr. [root]244. See Deity, Day, and cf. Jovial.] The third day of the week, following Monday and preceding Wednesday.

Wednesday : \Wednes"day\ (?; 48), n. [OE. wednesdai, wodnesdei, AS. W[=o]dnes d[ae]g, i. e., Woden's day (a translation of L. dies Mercurii); fr. W[=o]den the highest god of the Teutonic peoples, but identified with the Roman god Mercury; akin to OS. W[=o]dan, OHG. Wuotan, Icel. O[eth]inn, D. woensdag Wednesday, Icel. [=o][eth]insdagr, Dan. & Sw. onsdag. See Day, and cf. Woden, Wood, a.] The fourth day of the week; the next day after Tuesday.

Thursday : \Thurs"day\, n. [OE. [thorn]ursdei, [thorn]orsday, from the Scand. name Thor _ E. day. Icel. [thorn][=o]rr Thor, the god of thunder, is akin to AS. [thorn]unor thunder; D. Donderdag Thursday, G. Donnerstag, Icel. [thorn][=o]rsdagr, Sw. & Dan. Torsdag. [root]52. See Thor, Thunder, and Day.] The fifth day of the week, following Wednesday and preceding Friday.

Friday : \Fri"day\, n. [AS. friged[ae]g, fr. Frigu, the goddess of marriage; friqu love _ d[ae]g day; cf. Icel. Frigg name of a goddess, the wife of Odin or Wodan, OHG. Fr[=i]atag, Icel. Frj[=a]dagr. AS. frigu is prob. from the root of E. friend, free. See Free, and Day.] The sixth day of the week, following Thursday and preceding Saturday.

Saturday : \Sat"ur*day\ (?; 48), n. [OE. Saterday, AS. S[ae]terd[ae]g, S[ae]ternd[ae]g, S[ae]ternesd[ae]g, literally, Saturn's day, fr. L. Saturnus Saturn _ AS. d[ae]g day; cf. L. dies Saturni.] The seventh or last day of the week; the day following Friday and preceding Sunday. WIKIPEDIA: Saturday is the day of the week between Friday and Sunday. Its name is unique among the names of days, in that it is derived from the Roman god Saturn, while the other six names are derived from Saxon gods.

See also


Unless Noted Otherwise, These Definitions are from and the Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

January : \Jan"u*a*ry\, n. [L. Januarius, fr. Janus an old Latin deity, the god of the sun and the year, to whom the month of January was sacred; cf. janua a door, Skr. y[=a] to go.] The first month of the year, containing thirty-one days.

February : \Feb"ru*a*ry\, n. [L. Februarius, orig., the month of expiation, because on the fifteenth of this month the great feast of expiation and purification was held, fr. februa, pl., the Roman festival or purification; akin to februare to purify, expiate.] The second month in the year, said to have been introduced into the Roman calendar by Numa. In common years this month contains twenty-eight days; in the bissextile, or leap year, it has twenty-nine days.

March : \March\, n. [L. Martius mensis Mars'month fr. Martius belonging to Mars, the god of war: cf. F. mars. Cf. Martial.] The third month of the year, containing thirty-one days.

April : \A"pril\, n. [L. Aprilis. OE. also Averil, F. Avril, fr. L. Aprilis.] 1. The fourth month of the year. WIKIPEDIA: The name is derived from the Latin aprilis, either from the Latin word aperire which means "to open", probably referring to the "opening of the light in the days, and of the life of the leaves, and of the voices of the birds, and of the hearts of men", or from the Etruscan name Apru for Aphrodite.

May(mā) pronunciation n. The fifth month of the year in the Gregorian calendar. [Middle English, from Old French Mai, from Latin Māius (mēnsis), (the month) of Maia, from Māia, an Italic goddess.]

June (jūn) pronunciation n. (Abbr. Jun.): The sixth month of the year in the Gregorian calendar. [Middle English, from Old English Junius and from Old French juin, both from Latin (mēnsis) Iūnius, (month) of June, from Iūnō, Juno. See Juno.] Ju·no (jū'nō) pronunciation n. Roman Mythology. The principal goddess of the pantheon and the wife of Jupiter, worshiped as the goddess of women, marriage, childbirth and the moon, and as the protector of the state. She came to be identified with the Greek Hera. [Latin Iūnō, from iuvenis, young (probably from her association with the new moon).]

Ju·ly (jʊ-lī') pronunciation n. (Abbr. Jul.) The seventh month of the year in the Gregorian calendar. [Middle English Julie, from Old North French, from Latin Iūlius, after Iūlius Caesar, Julius Caesar.]

August is the eighth month of the year in the Gregorian Calendar and one of seven Gregorian months with the length of 31 days. August starts in Leo and ends in Virgo. In the wheel of the year August begins at or near Imbolc in the southern hemisphere and a few days before the midpoint between winter solstice and spring equinox. In the northern hemisphere it has a corresponding position with respect to Lughnasadh, between summer solstice and spring equinox. August was named in honor of Augustus Caesar. The month reputedly has 31 days because Augustus wanted as many days as Julius Caesar's July. Augustus placed the month where it is because that's when Cleopatra died. Before Augustus renamed August, it was called Sextilis in Latin, since it was the sixth month in the Roman calendar which started in March.

Sep·tem·ber (sĕp-tĕm'bər) pronunciation
n. (Abbr. Sept.): The ninth month of the year in the Gregorian calendar. [Middle English Septembre, from Old French, from Latin September, the seventh month, from septem, seven.]

Oc·to·ber (ŏk-tō'bər) pronunciation. The tenth month of the year in the Gregorian calendar. [Middle English Octobre, from Old French and from Old English October, both from Latin Octōber, eighth month, from octō, eight.]

No·vem·ber (nō-vĕm'bər) pronunciation n. (Abbr. Nov.): The 11th month of the year in the Gregorian calendar. [Middle English Novembre, from Old French, from Latin November, ninth month, from novem, nine.]

De·cem·ber (dĭ-sĕm'bər) pronunciation
n. (Abbr. Dec.): The 12th month of the year in the Gregorian calendar. [Middle English decembre, from Old French, from Latin December, the tenth month of the Roman year, probably from *decemmembris, from *decem-mēnsris : decem, ten + mēnsis, month; see menses.]