Tag Archives: Moses

Today the Jewish people celebrate the first set of guidelines

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In the midst of a pandemic we are making decisions of how we live our lives and move forward with the help of a set of guidelines.  Our leaders are telling us what we need to do to not only live a longer healthier life, but how we need to interact around people, what might help us avoid problems in the future, and what we need to do to take into consideration the needs of others.  We are strongly urged to follow these guidelines.  Some institutions are making them mandatory. Some people are getting mad at others who don’t follow them, while others are attempting to shame people into interpreting them in a like-minded fashion.  In the end people make their choices, sometimes standing alone in their choice, often standing with others.  Sound familiar? It should. It’s the tale as old as time. And starting at sundown tonight, the Jewish people commemorate when it all began.

Shavuot is the holiday in which the Jews celebrate the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai. As Jews we call this the Torah, but in the eyes of many outside of Orthodox Judaism this is when God gave Moses the 10 commandments.  The more expanded understanding in traditional Orthodox Judaism is that all law was given by God at the mountain and that subsequently Rabbinical authorities have interpreted it as to how it applies in day to day life.  Regardless of what you believe was given by God to Moses on this day, what we do know is that from this original set of guidelines entire religious groups were formed, whether it was different branches of Judaism or Christianity, which as we all know began with a group of Jewish people with their own specific account and interpretation of events.

Those who started from the premise that something really did happen on Mt. Sinai have chosen to either base their life, or in some ways structure their lives around some element of these guidelines.  Many feel that following as many decrees put forth by their religious leaders as possible gets them closer to the precise account of the day, while others feel the basic 10 commandments, and even more precisely the 10 commandments speaking to human behavior towards their fellow human being is closest to the original intent.

When all is said and done, each person makes their own choice.  Granted some are born into it and surrounded by it with such intensity that changing direction is anywhere between hard and unlikely, but they have that choice nonetheless. And guess what? There is nothing wrong with that, since if their is one axiom we generally agree on, at least as Jews, is that everyone has free will.

So as some struggle with the concept of guidelines and actions that impact their daily lives, look back and realize that to many, that is what man has always been encouraged, some might say even obligated to do, regardless of whether they like it or not.  But subsequently we need to also remember that it is not our place to judge their choice.  It never was and never will be.

Wishing all my Jewish friends a wonderful, healthy, and meaningful Shavuot and to all of you, happiness and peace.

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From Netanyahu to Netanyahu, there is none like Netanyahu

gif-leaders-netanyahuWhen speaking of the greatness of Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, otherwise known as Maimonides, it is often said, “from Moses to Moses, there was none like Moses.”  This of course speaks to the importance and greatness of Moses in the Bible, the prophet that lead the Children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, and generations later the great impact Maimonides had in his and future generations as a Rabbi, philosopher and physician.

In June of 1976 the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacked an Air France plane en route to Paris from Tel-Aviv and forced it to land in Entebbe, Uganda.  With the support of the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, the hijackers took hostages, separating the Jewish passengers from the non-Jewish passengers and held the Jewish passengers hostage at Entebbe Airport. A group of 100 commandos, lead by Yonatan Netanyahu freed every single hostage on July 4, 1976, going down in history as one of the most amazing rescue missions of all time.  Sadly, Netanyahu, was killed during the mission.  He will always be remembered fondly as a great hero.

38 years later, Yonatan Netanyahu’s brother Benjamin is Prime Minister of the State of Israel during one of its most challenging times.  As is the case with any high-profile leader, Benjamin Netanyahu has his critics on both sides of the spectrum.  There are those who feel he is too compromising, accusing him of not having the willingness or stomach to do what needs to be done to eliminate Israel’s threats regardless of collateral damage or civilian casualties. The other critics go as far as saying he is a war criminal, guilty of leading a genocide against the Palestinian people.

I personally think he is a great man, one whose performance in the wake of tremendous pressure both internally and externally has been nothing short of exemplary.  His priority has been the safety and future security of the citizens of Israel.  He has shown respect for world opinion by publicly clarifying and explaining Israel’s actions, something expected from no other country, possibly with the exception of the United States.  He has displayed a calm leadership during chaotic times.  He has shown strength, reason, intelligence, and the quality he is given the least credit for, compassion.  I believe we are very lucky to have him.

From Netanyahu to Netanyahu, there is none like Netanyahu.

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The Last Seder?

mealDespite my own personal ideological struggles, I am a Jew who believes in the philosophies of Judaism before I believe in those of any other religion.  However, I do feel that now maybe more than any time in history the alliance between Christians and Jews has never been more important.  The rise of Islam, a rise that in many places preaches only Islam, has put the concept of freedom of religion in more danger than any time in modern history.  With that in mind I am making a short post to discuss, and hopefully create a discussion regarding the connection between Passover and Easter.

I often say, only partially tongue in cheek, that there are 2 major differences between Christianity and Judaism.  One is that while Christians are awaiting the 2nd coming, us Jews are still awaiting the 1st.  Either way we are still awaiting the supposed Messiah or Messianic era.  The second difference would be the disagreement over who is the best Jew of all time.  There would be some discussion on the matter, but as a Jew I would put in my vote for Moses, and I would be surprised if I didn’t end up backing the winner.  Christians however, even if they have a fondness for Moses, clearly would pick Jesus.

It is widely believed that “The last supper” was actually a Passover Seder.  Seeing the apparent time of year and the fact that a group got together around the table for discussion, there is much credence to this belief.  Ultimately, those who believe in the Messiah coming in a mystical, ultra spiritual way would see the events celebrated by Christians as a realistic method for the savior to be revealed.  Us Jews however do not believe that has actually taken place.  However, if either belief causes people to behave in ways of peace, love and tolerance, they help the world far more than hurt the world.

What are your thoughts?