Torah Pearls #48 – Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9)

Torah Pearls Shoftim, abominable practices, abominations, atonement ritual, authority, bribes, cities of refuge, forbidden worship, grace, Harry Potter, Hebrew collective singular, Jacob’s pillar, judges, justice, king, Messiah, Pontius Pilate, prophet, prophet like Moses, prophets, rabbinical authority, sacred pillar, shoftim, skiviti, skiviti plaque, standing stone, supernatural, three witnesses, Torah Pearls, two witnessesThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9). As the trio begins this portion focusing on judgment and law, Gordon shares the origin of the Hebrew word for “grace.” Discussions include: Must we always have two or three witnesses? Who has the authority today? Are we guilty of rejecting Yehovah as King? What of the Harry Potter question and how far do we take Deuteronomy 18:9-14? Who is the prophet likened unto Moses? Was God’s eye sparkling when he accepted Jacob’s pillar—a thing he hates? Who now has the authority to judge difficult things? What first-century Roman is infamous for mocking an atonement ritual? Who’s the original tree-hugger? With differing views, the trio debates whether certain cultural practices are abominations and Gordon provides an eyewitness account of Deuteronomy 19:1. Showing no fear, the trio concludes by examining the weirdest thing in the Bible. Continue reading

The Book of Jasher Exposed

Hannibal-Crossing-Alps-Wikimedia300pxIn this Raw Stream of Torah Consciousness on The Book of Jasher (Sefer HaYashar), I reveal whether the book of Jasher published in 1625 could be the same one mentioned in Joshua and 2Samuel. I had no idea what I would find when I began my research and am relieved after all these years to finally have a definitive answer. If you have wondered whether the Book of Jasher we have today is the ancient book referred to in the Tanakh, have a listen to the evidence I share in this episode. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #47 – Re’eh Bonus (Isaiah 66:1-24)

Jerusalem_Western_Wall_Isaiah_verse_closeup_crThis week's bonus episode of Prophet Pearls looks at Isaiah 66:1-24. This section is read in synagogues around the world whenever the weekly Sabbath coincides with Rosh Chodesh (New Moon Day). Yoel Halevi of Hebrew in Israel, joined me in a riveting discussion about what Isaiah has to say concerning Resurrection of the Dead, God's role as our Heavenly Mother, and eternal Hell-fire. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #47 – Re’eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17)

Torah Pearls Re'eh, abomination, altar, altars, antinomianism, Asherim, belial, beliar, beliyaal, blessing and curse, clean and unclean, commandments, Do not boil a kid in it’s mother’s milk, Egypt, evil eye, Exodus, feast of booths, feast of tabernacles, Feast of Weeks, idolatry, Israelite, Israelites, Jerusalem, kid mother’s milk, kosher, mount Ebal, mount Gerizim, pagans, Passover sacrifice, Pentecost, re’eh, Sabbatical year, Shemitah, son of God, sons of God, spiritual mixing of seed, Sukkot, tithe, tithes, Torah Pearls, unclean birds, worship, yoke of TorahThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Re'eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17). We focus on Moses’ command to “see”—to clearly understand that life gives us only two choices—to create a god from our own hearts or to obey and worship the true God—His place, His time, His way.  The trio explores the following questions: Where did God choose to place his name and can a GPS get you there? What’s the biblical way to dispose of an idol? What does it mean to be without the yoke of the Torah and does the New Testament refer to this malady? What’s an “evil eye”? Why were Jews in the Middle Ages forced to choose between begging and banking?  Who are the sons of Yehovah? Do some translations attempt to make bacon kosher? What’s at the heart of the issue of boiling a kid in its mother’s milk? What’s so dangerous about high mountains and green trees? Ten times three equals thirty... right? Is night time the right time for a Passover sacrifice? In addition to many other insights into the original Hebrew language and context, Gordon provides an example of the meticulousness of the scribes who preserved for us an imaginary bird that we couldn't eat even if we tried. Can one worship the true God without adhering to His commandments? What of the altars other than the altar? Who exactly were the corrupt men of “beliya’al”? Where is the son of God mentioned in the Old Testament? What kind of birds are the Ra’ah & the Da’ah? How can we possibly understand the deep & complex riddle, “Do not boil a kid in it’s mother’s milk”? Are there three tithes or only one? When did the Israelites leave Egypt, by day or by night? Continue reading

Hebrew Voices #51 – How Do I Convert to Judaism

In this episode of Hebrew Voices, Nehemia Gordon talks with Dev Daniel about a question they get asked all the time: "How Do I Convert to Judaism?" They leave behind man-made religious systems, look at what the Tanakh says about becoming an Israelite, and learn from Dev’s personal conversion experience. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #46 – Eikev (Isaiah 49:14-51:3)

Prophet Pearls, comfort zion, eikev, eikev haftarah, eikev prophets portion, ekev, ekev haftarah, gather kibbutz, god as mother, haftarah, hebrew gender rules, hebrew grammar, Ingathering, isaiah, Isaiah 49:14-51:3, jeremiah, Keith Johnson, nehemia gordon, Parsha, parshas, parshat, Prophet Pearls, prophets, Torah PortionThis week, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Eikev covering Isaiah 49:14-51:3. The gender rules of Hebrew grammar are explored in this portion as well as Isaiah’s (and Moses’) metaphorical references to God as a mother. We learn that the suffering servant’s message is one of great hope—that we can fully trust and lean on God. In addition to grammar goodies, word studies include “gather/kibbutz”—as we see nations gathering in the Land—fulfilling God’s word to Isaiah. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #46 – Eikev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25)

Torah Pearls - Eikev, 40 days, 40 nights, abominations, arrogance, awesome, bees, Birkat HaMazon, blessing, blot out, Circumcised heart, collective blessing, cows, curse, cursed thing, eikev, fasting, first person, God of gods, gods, golden calf, grace, grace after a meal, hornet, idolatry, Jesus quotes Torah, Karaism, karaite, Karaites, land flowing with milk and honey, meal, Moses intervened for Aaron, name, on the heels of, plagues, Prophecy, search scriptures, seven species, staple crops of Israel, tablets, tablets of stone, Ten Commandments, Tetragrammaton, Torah, Torah Pearls, walking the landThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Eikev covering Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25. Using language, history, context and common sense, Gordon provides insight into Hebrew slang as well as certain words from the portion, including “because,” “disease,”  and “hornet.” The question of when to say grace leads the trio to discuss the powerful implications of lifelong learning—“little by little.” Johnson relates how Jesus’ intimacy with the books of Moses draws him to the Torah. The trio answers: What Hebrew word describes both “God” and “desert?” Does God set time limits on wickedness? What things are abominable? What is the danger of arrogance? Who hewed? And who wrote? Gordon discusses the irony that scripture and Jewish tradition consider the blotting out of a name to be a curse. And in contrast to the practice of only using the Tetragrammaton, Gordon reads Deuteronomy 10:17 in Hebrew to reveal the alliterative beauty of the verse and the power unleashed when the great, mighty and awesome name is spoken. Continue reading

Tefillin (phylacteries)

Set of Tefillin (phylacteries). Attribution: Black StripePopular legend has it that the Karaites, and the Sadducees before them, interpreted the words "and they shall be for Totafot between your eyes" literally, and as a result wore Tefillin (Phylacteries) right above their noses.  One version of the story claims that the Sadducees were wiped out because of this practice.  The legend goes that they kept bumping into walls and since their Tefillin were between their eyes (instead of on their foreheads), their noses were sent shattering into their brains, killing them instantly.  The Karaites and other deniers of the "Oral Law" are portrayed as bumbling idiots who through their foolish practices wiped themselves out.  The message of this story is that it is impossible to live (literally) as a Karaite, and therefore we need the "Oral Law" to save us from this savage extinction. Continue reading

Hebrew Voices #50 – My Favorite Bible Verse

Young boy reading the Bible in bed.In Hebrew Voices, My Favorite Bible Verse, Nehemia Gordon talks about the first verse his father ever taught him, and why he suspects his favorite verse might have also been one of Yeshua’s favorites, and quite possibly the last words on Yeshuah's lips. This episode is available as a video and as a podcast. Continue reading