The Humility of a True Champion

When Lee Sodel, the winner of 18 World Championships in the Chinese game of Go, a game played by over 8 million South Koreans alone, walked into the room for his first game with DeepMind’s AlphaGo program (in a best of 5 matchup), he was totally convinced he would win 5-0. gallery-8

When he lost the very first game and was in total shock, at the press conference he honestly admitted and accepted his loss and then paid respect to the team that created AlphaGo.

He stated: ‘I would like to express my respect to the team for creating such an amazing program AlphaGo.’ This is an example of the great humility of a true champion.

And then in the second game when AlphaGo makes a move that no human professional Go player would make (AlphaGo calculated that the likelihood of a human making this move was 1 in 10,000), Lee Sodel considers this shocking move and said that it was ‘creative and beautiful’, and ‘it was a very meaningful move’.

Again, a true champion and a humble human can recognize value even in his most difficult competitor or challenger.

After it was all finished and Lee Sodel had lost 4-1 he spoke very highly of the experience and said he had learned a lot. He stated: “I will make something out of it with the lessons I have learned… it has been an unforgettable experience.”

And this reminds me of the great statement by Tom Watson, the founder of IBM: “To succeed, double your failure rate.”

gallery-9

 

I recommend the movie – https://www.alphagomovie.com/

 

Advertisements

The Betrayal of the Jewishness of Jesus

isaiah signatureI would like to suggest what the core elements are to this betrayal are, and some pointers to how this developed historically, and then finally to how we may be able to come ‘back from the brink’ that such betrayal may well lead to.

I suspect that many, if not most who are actually guilty of this betrayal have absolutely no idea that this is the reality, but rather imagine something almost the antithesis of such a statement.

My first and foremost witness alongside our recently improved knowledge of the historical background to this development is the late, great Professor Flusser.

Flusser[1] is in my view undoubtedly the greatest scholar on the life of times of ‘Jesus’ there has been at least in recent times if not for the last 1800+ years.

But Flusser was even more than that because  he approached those who have betrayed ‘Jesus’ with such compassion and sensitively which included referring to this Jewish man whose name was actually Yeshua by this Greek invention of a name ‘Jesus’[2].

And it is in fact Flusser himself who has made this very argument so powerfully and with such solid conviction from a very deep and broad appreciation of the relevant facts.

Flusser (who was an orthodox Jew, just like Yeshua and Rav Sha’ul – the Apostle Paul[3]) has stated that: … I know that it is not so easy for Gentiles to accept the thorough Jewishness of Jesus. Because then it would mean that they had received a foreign god and not their own ancient pagan gods. So they have to assimilate Jesus to the Greek gods.”

Again, most reading this who may be part of this betrayal may still not see how Flusser could possibly be speaking to and about them, but please bear with me as the deception is so strong and so deep, with a very extensive and sad history.

But another quote from Flusser should begin to make  the connection and inference clear. Flusser stated: As far as you depart from the Hebrew background of the Gospels as far as you go farther from the Jewish origin of the Gospel and of the Jewishness of Jesus by this I would even say you betray Jesus himself.”[4]

flusser

So what has caused this departure from the Hebrew background of the Gospels, and the Jewishness of Yeshua?

To set the scene we need to reflect on what we now know regarding Israel in the time of Yeshua. Our understanding of Israel 2000 years ago has been dramatically altered over the last 50-70 years as a result of the findings of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other related recently discovered ancient scrolls such as those in the Cairo Genizah.

It is now very well established that the ‘lingua franca’ of Israel in the early 1st century was Hebrew, not Aramaic, not Latin and certainly not Greek

As Flusser states as well: “It is very improbable … that he (Yeshua) has spoken Greek. … He knew both languages of the Land: both Aramaic and Hebrew. But when he taught, he taught clearly only in Hebrew.

For instance, the saying ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ doesn’t exist in Aramaic. All the parables in the rabbinic literature are in Hebrew…. And my experience is that it is impossible to translate some of the words of Jesus into Aramaic.”

So what is the new evidence that has lead to such a strong conviction amongst the experts on this matter that Hebrew was the primary language of Yeshua and all his early disciples.

A century ago this was not the accepted wisdom.

The revelations from the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls were most convincing and dramatic. Because of their influence, the highly respected The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, which in its first edition, in 1958, had stated that “Hebrew had ceased to be a spoken language around the fourth century B.C.”, revised this statement in its third edition (1997) to instead state: Hebrew continued to be used as a spoken and written language…in the New Testament period.”

Prof. Gary Rendsburg of Rutgers University is a leading expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls (also known as the Qumran Scrolls and dated from around 250 BCE up to 50 CE) states that: Of the 930 assorted documents from Qumran, 790, or about 85% of them are written in Hebrew (120 or about 13% are written in Aramaic, and 20 or about 2% are written in Greek). Of these 930, about 230 are biblical manuscripts, naturally are in Hebrew, so in actuality the percentage of Hebrew texts is 80%.

On the other hand, our Hebrew texts are the longest ones, such as the Temple Scroll, the Community Rule, the War Scroll, and the Hodayot—with only the Genesis Apocryphon as a lengthy Aramaic scroll.

This might, of course, be the accident of preservation—that is to say, the Aramaic documents are much more fragmentary than the Hebrew ones—but in general we may state that the language of choice for the Qumran community was Hebrew and that the percentage of Hebrew material among the Dead Sea Scrolls is actually higher than the aforementioned 80%, perhaps even approaching 90%.”[5]

But there is much, much more.

The Tosefta preserves a tradition that the famous sage Rabban Gamaliel I (1st Century C.E. and the teacher of Rav Sha’ul, the Apostle Paul) once banned (from use in the Temple) a translation of Job into Aramaic (Tosefta Shabbat 14:2[6]).

But why? Why would he speak so derisively of this translation?

Apparently in the synagogues when the Tanakh was being read and spoken out loud to the assembly, the Hebrew text was sometimes translated into Aramaic ‘on the fly’ and spoken in Aramaic. As Aramaic grew in popularity and as a common language, especially in some areas of Israel like the Galilee, and also in the Diaspora, this become a well-known practice.

I don’t know if Gamaliel objected to this at all, but apparently the written Targum versions, while being highly accurate with 80-90% of the Hebrew text’s linguistic information – morphological, syntactical and semantic’[7], they also contained a lot of midrashic or ‘paraphrastic’ commentary (i.e they were an ‘amplified’ version, or paraphrase like ‘The Message’ is a paraphrase of the NT).

If so, it is understandable that this senior and very revered Rabbi might object to such versions being used in the synagogues at least, even if they were popular as it appears, with the general population.

The book, ‘Targum and Scripture: Studies in Aramaic Translations and Interpretation in memory of Ernest George Clarke’[8], edited by Paul V M Flesher, also makes the very significant point, that “The Palestinian Talmud [more commonly known as the Jerusalem Talmud] even contains a passage that forbids the use of written translations in the synagogue (Y Meg. 4:1, 28a or 74d).” (p 62).

And “Third, Willem Smelik has recently shown that in the early rabbinic period, the Palestinian rabbis did not like translations into Aramaic. Their remarks in Palestinian rabbinic texts repeatedly indicate that the rabbis reject the targums (Aramaic translations) usefulness and validity.”

And for how long did this primacy of Hebrew last? It would appear at least until 130-135 CE and the time of the Bar Kochba revolt. The esteemed LXX scholar Emanuel Tov also argues that Hebrew remained the language of the Rabbi’s through to at least 135 CE:

“Since the only text quoted by in the Rabbinic literature and used for the base for the Targumim and Vulgate is the MT [Masoretic Text – written in Hebrew], it stands to reason that it was the text embraced by the Rabbis. Furthermore, all the texts used by the religious zealots of Masada and the freedom fighters of Bar Kochba found in all other sites in the Judean Desert except for Qumran are identical with the medieval MT.” [9]

The evidence is now very strong that Hebrew continued to be used for Bible commentary and liturgical texts to military communications and legal documents through the time of Yeshua and even for centuries afterward. Judean coins from the period of the Great Revolt (70 CE) and of the Bar-Kochva Revolt (135 CE) also bear Hebrew inscriptions.

I give much more detail on these recent findings in my book The New Testament: The Hebrew Behind The Greek’ https://www.amazon.com.au/New-Testament-Language-Mindset-Hellenistic-ebook/dp/B009XO0NQU/

One of the realities that also comes out of our greater knowledge of these times is that even if Yeshua actually used Aramaic when he was teaching, it was evidently at the same moment translated into Hebrew, because from this time we have virtually no sayings or teachings from Israel recorded in Aramaic.

So what does all this really mean?

It means the original writings of the Good News of the Kingdom of God that were recorded as a result of the life, death and resurrection of Yeshua were written in Hebrew, to a Hebrew audience with a Hebrew and therefore Torah-centric mindset.

The evidence is also very well documented now that there were virtually no Gentile converts to the faith of Yeshua until at the very earliest around 45 CE (with Cornelius the Centurion). Therefore, the earliest versions of the Gospel were all in Hebrew with the Greek version of Matthew for example most likely not written until after 70 CE.

Flusser make this point quite forcefully in his argument that that the Greek Matthew was written after 70 CE by a Gentile/Greek person who did not have the best understanding of Jewish practices.

Amongst the evidence he cites is the use of the Greek word ‘phylacteries’ meaning ‘protective devices’ in Matt 23:5 which clearly indicates that the editor in translating the Hebrew ‘tefillin’ did not really understand what these tiny scrolls really were![10]

So what does this mean and what has happened since to bring about this betrayal of Yeshua?

Simply Gentiles somehow managed to remove all (or perhaps ironically ‘bury under the rubble’ as per Rabbi Gamaliel) the original Hebrew recordings of the Gospel of Yeshua and then used poor Greek translations to slowly and subtly, but very significantly alter the core message and introduce a great many falsehoods into the original faith of the followers of Yeshua.

It would be much more accurate to label this faith as ‘Yeshua Judaism’[11] (as opposed to the modern faith of Israel which is more accurately labelled ‘Akiva Judasim’ as it essentially follows the dictates of Rabbi Akiva).

It is past time to try to return to this faith.

This in part requires both a recognition of what these falsehoods are[12], but also to replace the Greek and Hellenistic mindset that mainstream Christianity has adopted with the Hebraic Mindset and Torah-centric value system that Yeshua and all his early disciples and followers had.

Part of the approach is to reject that argument from one of the founders of the Protestant movement in Martin Luther that the Epistle of James is an ‘epistle of straw’[13] and instead to revaluate the centrality and true meaning of the message in this great letter of Ya’acov (James) the brother of Yeshua.

For example, among many things Ya’acov speaks out against:

  • a superficial hearing of God’s Word;
  • pious speech but little practice of the same i.e. hypocritical behaviour;
  • the error of being dogmatic about Scriptural teaching, yet not fully understanding proper practice.[14]

But most crucially, Ya’acov calls for an obedience to Torah, and this means living righteously:

“22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;
23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness—and he was called a friend of God.
24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”
– Ya’acov 2:22-24 (ESV)

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him demonstrate it by his good way of life, by actions done in the humility that grows out of wisdom.” – Ya’acov 3:13

I think that one of the biggest challenges to mainstream Christianity recognizing how much it has betrayed Yeshua and bringing about such a huge change in his focus and message, is for the academics and preachers within Christendom to look outside of their very narrow ‘echo-chamber’ and look to scholars like those at the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research for guidance in the much needed re-evaluation of their reliance on Greek as the text through which to translate and understand the Gospel message.

And there are a great many Jewish scholars who are more than willing to help with this re-alignment and re-evaluation, such as Prof. Mark Nanos (perhaps the leading scholar on the Apostle Paul alive today), Prof. Pamela Eisenbaum of ‘Paul was NOT a Christian: The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle’); Prof. Adele Reinhartz of ‘Befriending The Beloved Disciple: A Jewish Reading of the Gospel of John’ and Prof. Amy-Jill Levine of ‘The Historical Jesus in Context’ with Dale C. Allison & John Dominic Crossan’, to name just a few.

Also, the New Testament texts need to be restored to the underlying Jewishness and Torah-centric message that they originally conveyed. Such a vital and challenging task is also being undertaken by the Jewish translator Uriel Ben Mordechai[15] who has already translated three of the NT letters, namely Hebrews, Galatians and Romans and is currently working on the Gospel of Yochanan (John).

Sadly, I am not optimistic that this transformation will occur.

The academics and preachers within Christendom (the use of ‘Christ’ instead of Messiah or Mashiach is so indicative of the significance of the problem) have such a huge vested interest in maintaining the status quo and at the same time have, for the most part, huge blinkers on that appear to prevent them from even considering the thesis of the article and instead reacting to it by either totally ignoring it, or trying through many methods such as the logical fallacies of ‘appeal to authority’ and ‘genetic fallacy’ to delegitimize this whole argument.

So to try to overcome these vested interests and centuries of inherited bias perhaps we need to ask, how much do you really want to know and follow Yeshua?

How much do you really want to know the Almighty and if you do, how willing are to listen to Him?

When Moses spoke with the nation of Israel as Yehovah directed him  he said Hear (i.e, listen very carefully and HEED what I say) O’Israel, Yehovah is our God, Yehovah is ONE. And you shalt love Yehovah your God with all you heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.’

If you can hear this call today and this is truly your heartfelt desire, would it not be incumbent upon you to seriously question how well you know Yeshua, who and what he was, and  in turn what Yehovah desires of those that truly know Him to the point of loving Him?

If so, then please take the message shared here seriously enough to be open to considering it; to doing the research and study required to properly evaluate the claims made here and decide for yourself who you are called to follow, the Hebrew Yeshua or the Greek Jesus? vatican1

To finish and to affirm my great admiration for the lifetime efforts of Prof. David Flusser, I conclude with his words:

“The purified Judaism of (Yeshua) is one of the few hopes…probably the only hope to live in our world.”

Paul Herring
June 2018

 

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/news/2000/nov/14/guardianobituaries

[2] I will use his actual Hebrew name from here on in this article.

[3] See my book ‘Defending the Apostle Paul: Weighing the Evidence’ – https://www.amazon.com.au/Defending-Apostle-Paul-Weighing-Evidence-ebook/dp/B009TLLK0U/

[4] https://www.jerusalemperspective.com/14412/

[5] http://jewishstudies.rutgers.edu/docman/rendsburg/396-qumran-hebrew-studies-on-the-texts-of-the-desert-of-judah/file

[6] “It once happened that Rabbi Halafta went to Rabban Gamaliel, to Tiberias, and he found him sitting at the table of Johanan ben Nezif, with the Targum (i.e. Aramaic translation) of the Book of Job in his hand. Rabbi Halafta said to him: “I remember that Rabban Gamaliel the Elder, your father’s father, would sit on a stair of the Temple Mount. They brought before him the Targum of the Book of Job, and he said to the builder, ‘Bury it under the rubble.” – Tosefta Shabbat 14:2

[7] http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/27823855?q&versionId=33577534

[8] ibid

[9] http://www.emanueltov.info/docs/papers/11.large-scalediffs.2008.pdf?v=1.0  (p14)

[10] For more detail on this and many related issues please see my book ‘The NT: The Hebrew Behind the Greek’.

[11] As suggest by Bruce Barham of http://torahofmessiah.org/

[12] I detail some of them in my book ‘Doctrinal Pitfalls of Hellenism’ – https://www.amazon.com.au/Doctrinal-Pitfalls-Hellenism-Studies-Greek-ebook/dp/B00DO17CK8/

[13] Luther called it “a right strawy epistle in comparison with the writings of Paul, Peter and John.” –http://www.biblicalstudies.com/bstudy/expostudy/james.htm

[14] For details on the central and powerful message of Ya’acov please see my article at circumcisedheart.info ‘James The Just – Re-evaluating His Legacy’ – https://goo.gl/1N2vR9

[15] http://www.above-and-beyond-ltd.com/store/books/if.html

Two Re-Translations of John 1: A Comparison

By sheer coincidence I recently returned to an article I wrote some 4 years titled The Torah Dressed Itself in Flesh’. I then went to find the reference by Dr Jacobus (Coos) Schoneveld that I had based much of this article on.

In his article, produced as part of a 1990 journal to celebrate the 70th birthday of the great scholar Prof. David Flusser,  the late Dr Schoneveld gives his own re-translation of Yochanan (John) 1 based on his understanding of the Torah-centric nature of the text.  I had not read his version for some time. But now it really jumped out at me as to how similar it was to the very recent re-translation from Papryrus 66 produced by Uriel Ben Mordechai.

My article ‘The Torah Dressed Itself In Flesh’ is available at this link: https://goo.gl/3D2L98

Dr Schoneveld’s article here –  http://www.etrfi.info/immanuel/24/Immanuel_24_077.pdf   and some of my previous explanatory commentary on Uriel’s re-translation here –  https://globaltruthinternational.com/2018/02/03/the-yochanan-narrative-series/

I have provided a line by line comparison of the first 12 verses on the next page. Apart from the newer version of Uriel’s translation of Yochanan 1:1 which he provided some years ago in his outstanding book  ‘If: The End of a Messianic Lie’, (see older version after the comparison verses) there is an amazing similarity.

Close inspection will also reveal some very significant differences with most modern versions based on Greek  translations and Hellenistic-centric understandings.

vatican1

First the verse by Dr Jacobus (Coos) Schoneveld & then the version by Uriel Ben Mordechai

(1)    In the beginning was the Torah, and the Torah was toward God, and Godlike was the Torah.

1)      Essential for creation was the Torah, and the Torah was in the presence of G-d, and a godly object was the Torah”

(2)    It was this which was in the beginning toward God.

2)      This object stood with high honor, in harmony with G-d.”

(3)    All things emerged through it, and apart from it not one thing emerged.

3)      All things came into existence because of IT, and outside of IT, not a single notion came into being that was fashioned.

(4)    What has emerged in [or: through] it, was life, and the life was the light of the human beings.

4)      IT was for life and this life was for the illumination of mortals.

(5)    And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not take it away.

5)      And this illumination was made to radiate in the face of the blackness. And that gloominess will never defeat IT!

(6)    There emerged a human being sent forth from God, his name was John.

6)      A man came out, sent by G-d — his name: Yochanan.

(7)    It was he who came to witness, in order that he witnessed about the light, in order that through him all would be faithful.

7)      This man ended up becoming positioned as an eyewitness, for the purpose of giving testimony with reference to the illumination, so that all might come to trust, owing to IT

(8)    Not he was the light, but [he was there] in order that he witnessed about the light.

8)      In that place, the illumination wasn’t there. All the more reason for giving testimony concerning that illumination!

(9)    [The Torah] was the true light that enlightens each human being coming into the world.

9)      IT has been the genuine illumination, which enlightens all humanity entering into the world.

(10) In the world it was, and the world emerged through it, and the world did not recognize it.

10)   IT was present within the world, and even the world came into existence by virtue of IT, even though the world did not acknowledge IT

(11) To that which was its own, it came, and those who were its own, did not take it up.

11)   In the midst of this one special people, IT ended up being deposited, especially to this one chosen people; the same which they embraced.

(12)But whoever took it, to those it gave power to emerge as children of God, to those who were being faithful to His Name:

12)   As many as did take hold of IT, IT gave them prerogative to emerge as children of G-d; to those who are trusting in His Name, …

 

Uriel Ben Mordechai’s earlier version of verse 1 is also a closer match to Schoneveld’s version: “In the beginning was the Torah, and (the) Torah was for the sake of (the) G-d, And godly was (the) Torah.” [from the book ‘If: The End of a Messianic Lie’]

What really strikes me is how very similar these two versions are and what I think is the significance of this. As far as I am aware, Schoneveld did not base his translation on the earliest extant Greek manuscript, nor did he have access to the Hebrew version now available in the Vatican’s online library. Neither did Ben Mordechai  use Schoneveld’s version.

That these two versions have such a consistency of understanding of the references to Torah seems to offer a strong sense of fidelity in the early transmission of the text, along with supporting this Torah centric understanding.

And finally, in support of my article’s title and inference Schoneveld translated verse 14 as: (14) And the Torah emerged as flesh and tabernacled among us — and we beheld the glory of it, glory as of an only one from Father — [it — the Torah — was] full of grace-and-truth.

yochan 1 comparison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1)    (13) not from blood, nor from the desire of flesh, nor from the desire of man, but from God they have been caused to emerge. (14) And the Torah emerged as flesh and tabernacled among us — and we beheld the glory of it, glory as of an only one from Father — [it — the Torah — was] full of grace-and-truth. (15) John witnesses about it and has shouted saying: it was this of which I said: “The one who is coming after me has emerged before me, because my principal he was,” (16) because out of its fullness we all took even grace upon grace, (17) because the Law was given through Moses. The-grace-and-the-truth emerged through Jesus Christ. (18) God — nobody has ever seen Him. As an only son,11 ever at the Father’s bosom, it was he who showed the way.

Searching for the Soul

Pesach/Passover and Easter are here and it’s Shabbat as well, so it seems a good time to reflect on Redemption, both in the story of escaping to freedom and to God, as well as seeking His Kingdom and righteousness through the power of His Messiah.
 
So as I pause from a very hectic last few months and contemplate the next few months that look to bring some very challenging times of both great loss and exciting new beginnings laid out before me, I wish to share a little from a book I am currently embracing.
In her great book ‘Einstein & the Rabbi: Searching for the Soul’, Rabbi Naomi Levy recommends we ask ourselves 4 very significant questions, and that as we seek to ‘find our soul’ we re-visit and ask these questions repeatedly.
 
1. What has my soul been trying to say to me that I have been ignoring;
2. What activities and experiences nourish my soul that I don’t do enough of;
3. What does my soul want to repair that my ego is too stubborn or fearful to repair;
4. What does my soul want me to reach for?
 
Firstly if you have not thought deeply and studied widely on the subject of the soul you may find these questions strange. Also for those of us who have a good grasp of the Yetzer HaTov and Yetzer HaRa (the good and evil inclinations) we may instead see question 1 as the yearnings and calling of our Yetzer HaTov, and question 3 as the voice of our Yetzer HaRa trying to restrict our growth by being too heedful of our fear and anxieties.
 
However you come to these questions, and at whatever stage of your journey you are on, a journey that has its straight and easy paths, its steep hills, its backwaters of seeming stagnation and its roller-coasters or joy, I think these questions are well worth pausing to reflect upon and choosing to regularly revisit.
soul1
 
Let me unpack them a little, at least from my perspective though I do strongly recommend taking the time to read Rabbi Levy’s book.
 
Question 1 and 4 are clearly very connected. Your soul cries out to you, though extremely subtly, to face truths and circumstances that when confronted should lead to a much greater revelation of what your soul yearns for the most.
 
There is no doubt that we all long for security, for love, for great friends and family, for joy and peace every day and for little pain, yet each of us is unique and we have been given unique skills, passions and positions in time and place to do something worthy of being created in the image of God and becoming more united with the Oneness of the Almighty and the Universe through which we connect with Him and our fellow souls.
 
In seeking to answer question 1, assuming you are at a time and place where you sense its importance to you, try to meditate on what activities you find yourself most at peace in. When is it that you sense you are most connected with your world and most true to yourself.
 
Perhaps you can’t answer this question right now – perhaps you first need to give your soul the permission to speak more strongly to you so that you can begin to hear this call. And also then, what might be your higher calling, that is the work that you are called to be most involved in at this time to share in ‘Tukkin Ha Olam’ (repairing the world).
 
Please see the last two pages of my article ‘Amazing Grace’ (https://goo.gl/4y87Kf) where I discuss the fascinating story of Avraham and the burning Palace and how this leads to the great truth that we are all called to become partners with the Creator in ‘building the world with grace’ (Psalm 89:2).
 
Question 2 may be a little easier to answer, but even here, as you grow, as your life unfolds, this too may change.
 
For now though, try to be real with yourself. What really uplifts you? When do you feel most at peace, not necessarily most joyful or happy, but most connected to your environment and those people you share life with. It may even be a time and place where you are alone in some way so that you can first re-connect with yourself and with your God (that is with your current perception of the One True God, whatever that may be). Perhaps you need to be alone to properly and fully appreciate those who normally surround you – to see and hear their souls, their true deeper selves, their true hearts and not necessarily the external nature and behaviours you generally see which may be distorted by the daily challenges of life. See the soul within, see the person they can be and then in turn see the person you can be.
 
Question 3 may be the hardest of all. We have all damaged our souls. We have all done things that were wrong, that we regret, that may even be irreparable, at least in this life. Can we be honest enough with ourselves to see where we need to forgive, both others and ourselves. Perhaps especially ourselves.
 
We all think we could do better if we had a second chance. Yet in life we don’t always get second chances and perhaps even if we did, would we really do better – have we grown and matured enough to really choose a better path with better outcomes?
 
We really can’t go back in time, but we can make today and our future better, especially of we heed the lessons of our mistakes and our successes.
 
One of the things that can really hold us back is holding on to hurt, leading to bitterness and deep anger. For example, if we have been seriously betrayed in our past, and we still feel the pain from that betrayal I would argue that we have not truly forgiven either that person or persons who betrayed us or our ourselves.
 
I have written in more depth on the challenges of forgiveness – see my article ‘Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness’ – https://globaltruthinternational.com/2013/08/16/darkness-cannot-drive-out-darkness/
 
So please consider these four questions and then make a note or set an alarm to revisit them in a few days and again in a few weeks. It may be best to record your initial thoughts each time and the you will be more able to see if your thinking has grown.
 
It is (almost) never too late to try to go deeper with your soul. It is never too late to look beyond the exterior of those around you and see their souls. Take a step back if you can, and appreciate ‘the heart of gold’ buried within – maybe only you can see it, even when they can’t. Maybe you have the strength, when no-one else seemingly does, to allow your soul to look beyond the exterior and connect with their soul and to some degree allow the two to become one.
soul3
 
Finally, as Rabbi Levy explains so eloquently, this truly is a process as we ‘search for our souls’. And it is a twofold one as well. We need first to allow the One True God to remove our ‘stony heart’, to reduce the power and control of our Yetzer HaRa, so that He can replace it with a heart of flesh – a heart and soul in tune with our nature, our uniqueness, our world and also our God.

” …and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”  Ezekiel 36:26b

Jacob, a Role Model for overcoming a life of struggle

Jacob, a Role Model for overcoming a life of struggle

Some years ago I wrote an article on this week’s Torah Portion [Vayishlach: Genesis 32:4-36:43], around the issue of being distressed by the loss of life – see https://globaltruthinternational.com/2012/11/30/distressed-by-the-tragedy-of-loss-of-life/

But I think this Torah Portion has a much more powerful message to share, and it’s that Jacob is really a great role-model for those going through struggles in the lives, which of course is all of us at some time!

And why is Jacob such a great role model in this regard?

I would suggest for two main reasons. Firstly, he epitomises fallibility and secondly, I think he epitomises someone with a diminished sense of self-worth.

As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks states Jacob was “…The man who, more than any other, epitomises fallibility is Jacob…. His life was a series of struggles. Nothing came easily to him…

There are saintly people for whom spirituality comes as easily as did music to Mozart. But God does not reach out only to saints. He reaches out to all of us. That is why He gave us Abraham for those who love, Isaac for those who fear, and Jacob/Israel for those who struggle.

Hence this week’s life-changing idea: if you find yourself struggling with faith, you are in the company of Jacob-who-became-Israel … and the father of the 12 Tribes.

So while his life was a life of struggle, both with man; with his brother and his family; but also with God Himself, ultimately he saw great reward and redemption in that all his children stayed within the faith.

Sacks: According to the pain is the reward’ – Mishnah, Avot 5:23. That is Jacob.”

So while Jacob struggled he was eventually triumphant. This should encourage all who struggle – don’t give up, there is light at the end of the tunnel; it will be worth it; the pain will one day pass; the Olam HaBah (the Kingdom of God) will one day appear!

And how does a low sense of worthiness come into it?

I think that Jacob may well have had some sense of unworthiness, after-all he really knew that he was the 2nd born and that he had stolen the birthright of his older brother Esau. Not only did he pay a heavy price for this deception, his mother did as well[1], and surely this would have impacted him.

How does this impact and exacerbate the life of struggle?

I discuss this in my blog post ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ which highlights the work of the social researcher, Brene Brown.

See – https://globaltruthinternational.com/2017/05/27/the-power-of-vulnerability/

Her argument is that those who don’t feel worthy are more likely to fall for addictions; to feel dis-connected (which is not at all the same thing as enjoying solitude), to struggle to find joy and happiness. Someone who feels worthy is more easily able to be vulnerable, and in turn such people are more easily able to ‘hear’ the lessons that God gives us every day and grow from them.

A lack of a sense of worthiness in turn leads to placing barriers and walls which not only lead to disconnection but inhibit any openness to growth and learning.
1971-1
Perhaps Jacob also struggled in this way, and yet he persevered and broke through. You can too!

[1] I have written at length on this. Please see ‘Feeling For Rebekah’ – https://goo.gl/YtMqfi

The Ten Happiness Principles – Facebook Live

Please find below a developing series of Facebook Live sessions exploring in some more depth, the Ten Happiness Principles.

First things first though – thanks Danny!
I decided to do these FB Live recordings after encouragement from Danny, a good friend who is an entrepreneur, Social Media wiz, Life Coach and International Businessman
– check him out below:

I created a Udemy Course on the Ten Happiness Principles a couple of years ago – accessible here


So I will post below the series of Facebook Live recordings as I work through presenting again, The Ten Happiness Principles!

Introduction:

fb live intro

Happiness Principle #1 – Give Thanks

fb live no1 thanks

 

And a little more thanks!

 

The Paradox of the Rebellious Child – an Impossible Outcome

This weeks Torah Portion, Ki Tetzei (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19) has some very challenging passages – at least when first read on a fairly superficial level, but even perhaps still challenging after deeper reflection!!

It starts off with the narrative about the beautiful woman captured in wartime (Deut 21:10-14).

I love this answer as a great lesson in confronting our ‘evil inclination’, our Yetzer haRa, http://www.aish.com/tp/i/wbr/48922022.html

It goes on to discuss the ‘rebellious child’.

Rabbi Ari Kahn has a good explanation in one of his commentaries regarding the case of the rebellious child, who is to be stoned to death!
“Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death …” Deut 21:21
Rabbi Kahn states: “As the Sages see it, the rebellious child does not develop in a vacuum; he is the result of a dysfunctional home. … Interestingly enough, the Rabbis felt that there never was and never would be a “real” rebellious child.
 
This is not to say that such a child never existed.
 
Rather, the courts could never successfully prosecute and adjudicate such a case, due to the myriad conditions required for a conviction …”
Ari Khan shows here that the proper understanding of this passage is in what it actually teaches, and therefore in what should be avoided, and not in some strictly literal and seemingly incredibly harsh condemnation of a rebellious son.
A shocking scenario is painted with a consequence that very few would ever see as just or fair and certainly one appearing to display a total lack of true grace.
Yet this reality, this commandment, was never, and would never be enacted because it requires both mother and father to speak with one voice, and such unity of parenthood could not result in a rebellious son! (Read Ari’s article here for the full picture).

Thus those who dismiss the Tanakh and it’s teaching because of their rejection of a text they take in a very literal and simplistic manner are really shown to be both ignorant and arrogant in their approach.

I have also written briefly on this Torah Portion in an earlier blog post, ‘Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness’ here.

Dysfunctional Relationships by Rabbi Ari Kahn:  http://www.aish.com/tp/i/moha/54308942.htl