Sunday, January 30, 2022

Parshat Shavua Mishpatim, עבד "Evved," Slave or Just Employee?


פרשת משפטים Parshat Shavua Mishpatim

Shmot Chapter 21:1

"And these ae the laws..."

Parshat Shavua Mishpatim begins with laws about employment, the rights of the employee. OK, I know that everybody else translates עֶ֣בֶד as "slave." But last week as I read over the chapters before attending our local zoom parsha class, the meaning seemed very clear. The avaddim aren't slaves like the Africans who had been brought to America to work for the Europeans were until Abraham Lincoln had them freed. 

What's called the evved Ivri, Jewish/Hebrew slave wasn't a slave "imported" from another location bought at an auction or from some agent. He/She was someone who was poverty stricken and couldn't live off of his land. Remember that the Land of Israel had just been divided among the tribes, and each tribe had gotten its portion and each portion was to be divided among the clans. The laws here had been designed by Gd for the Jewish People in their Holy Land. I like to try to understand the Tanach and Hebrew according to how life was at the time.

Some of us have worked at jobs with difficult conditions. Many Sabbath observers who made it to America had to start new jobs every week, since they were automatically fired when they left early on Friday after announcing that they wouldn't be showing up on Saturday. I don't now about you, but employment conditions at some of my old jobs gave me a choice of very difficult hours/conditions or being fired. 

Few jobs allow employees to take vacation whenever they want and for however long they want. Keep that in your head when Moshe and Aharon demand that all the workers should leave at the same time.

And changing work conditions... I remember when the high school where I had been teaching English suddenly gave us fewer hours per week to teach the same material to the same number of students. After that they gave two double lessons on consecutive days instead of spreading out the teaching hours to give the students, especially my weak ones, a chance to really absorb the curriculum. Yes, that's like how Pharaoh told them to make bricks without providing the necessary straw.

Here Gd is demanding humane working conditions for employees. Proof that there's nothing slave-like in being an "evved" is that their employment contract is mandated by Gd to end after a maximum of six years. 

Think about it. That's not slavery!

Monday, January 24, 2022

Did Anyone Really Think Bibi Would Admit Guilt?

Just to make it very clear, I don't vote Likud, and I really felt that we needed a change in government. BUT the only moral turpitude I saw was the years long search for a crime to pin on then Prime Minister Binyamin Bibi Netanyahu.

Investigating a Prime Minister, or anyone, just to discover skeletons/crimes as a way to get him out of office is immoral.

In the Friday papers here in Israel there were articles claiming that the "plea deal" with Bibi to admit to some guilt and pledge to leave active politics for a set number of years was almost signed. A few hours ago I had wanted to write an article about the subject, but I couldn't find anything up-to-date. Then just a few minutes ago I did, Netanyahu rejects plea deal with clause that would ban him from politics.

I'm not surprised. I jut don't see much merit/justification in the cases against Netanyahu. I'm more bothered by how he and the chareidi parties had been manipulating the electoral system to stay in power perpetually sans coalition. That's neither democratic nor moral. But it's legal, technically at least. 

In the Jerusalem Post there's an opinion piece trying to guess why Prime Minister Naftali Bennett abstained on a vote about the investigation of Netanyahu, Why did Bennett avoid making a decision on Netanyahu probe? - analysis. I have a different read on Bennett's vote. Maybe he sees what I and others see, that targeted probes/investigations against government officials can be used against anyone when elections don't give the results certain powers want. The anti-Bibi faction failed at the ballots, so they tried a more devious method. Bibi's no Ehud Olmert, so things are far more complicated. 

I'm not going to try to predict what's going to happen. As far as I know, Binyamin Netanyahu isn't the type to cop a plea. He'll fight to the end.

MK Bibi Netanyahu in his previous time as Leader of the Opposition

Saturday, January 15, 2022

COVID Corona Update-- Almost Two Years and...

The photo above shows people/cars gathered at the Shiloh COVID Corona testing site. 

getting COVID vaccine #4
aka booster #2
Numbers of "positives," whether with symptoms or asymptomatic are skyrocketing. I have my theories...

From what I understand most of the "positives" would never have gotten tested if the "law" hadn't demanded it. They had/have no symptoms. Here in Israel at least, many people need to be tested for work, studies, visiting the vulnerable, such as those in old age homes, or because they'd been identified as exposed to someone sick with COVID Corona.

This latest version of COVID Corona is much milder and less dangerous than the previous ones, otherwise the hospitals/healthcare system would have totally collapsed. I'm not surprised.

Epidemics like COVID Corona usually last about two years, and  it looks like the virus is getting less dangerous, though spreading easily.

IMHO we're getting to the time when the vaccine and booster will be recommended periodically, and COVID Corona will join the flu and common cold as part of life.

I also think that some of us will keep masking in public and closed places. It's a relatively easy precautionary measure against all air-borne viruses. 

What do you think?

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Lighting Up The Nations, A Book Review

Lighting Up The Nations: Jewish Responsibility Towards the Nations Today and in the Messianic Era Edited by Rivkah Lambert Adler Ph.D is a fascinating and varied collection of essays about how Jews should react to Christian interest in the Jewish Bible and theology.

In the past half a century quite a number of Christians have begun to doubt their own theology. Careful reading of the Jewish Bible make it clear that their religion goes against basic principles, Saturday Sabbath and more. Even more confusing for them is the survival, growth and military victories of the State of Israel and the fact that the Jewish People have somehow gotten stronger after the Holocaust. Christian doctrine makes it clear that the Jewish People would cease to exist. But we haven't cooperated. Thank Gd we're thriving instead.

How are Jews supposed to react to Christians who want to ask us questions? The tradition response was that it's forbidden to enter such dialogues with Christians because they must certainly have an ulterior motive to convert us, Gd forbid. But now things are changing. There are rabbis and knowledgeable Jews willing to dialogue and even teach Noahide Laws and Jewish Thought to searching/curious Christians. This sometimes even results in Christians converting to Judaism.

As a forty year resident of Biblical Shiloh, I'd find it ironic that davka church groups from all over the world were enthusiastically flocking to Tel Shiloh, the site of the Biblical Tabernacle, when Jews were ignoring it. We used to host groups in our home and led them on tours of the ancient site. Every time I go for a swim in nearby Ariel I'm reminded of them,  because the swimming pool I go to in Ariel was funded by Christians in honor of Billye Brim, who had been a frequent guest of ours. 

The essays in Adler's Lighting Up The Nations were written by a number of people, not just Adler. I'm not listing my "favorites," because I highly recommend that one real all the chapters. Granted this isn't light reading, but each chapter contributes something important. Read at your own pace. 

Some chapters deal with Noahides, converts, Torah learning with Christians, and others correct the bad translations that Christians follow to reinforce their theology. Of course we shouldn't forget that quite a few Christians end up converting to Judaism as a result of their serious Bible studies.

I hope you get much out of Lighting Up The Nations, as I have.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Geula Watch Press (September 27, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0999378937
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0999378939

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Save The Date: Women's Rosh Chodesh Adar Alef Prayers


Since we're in the Jewish Month of Shvat, that means Adar is next. This year there will be two months of Adar, Alef and Bet. Adar is traditionally a month of joy, culminating in the Purim Holiday which will be in the middle of the second Adar.

Shiloh Hakeduma aka Tel Shiloh is the actual location of the Biblical Shiloh where the Tabernacle stood for almost four hundred 400 years predating Jerusalem as the Jewish Capital City. It was Shiloh where Jews came to pray, most notably Chana, who prayed for a son. Today Shiloh Hakeduma is a well-developed archeological site with activities suitable for all ages. You can easily spend the day there happily. For more information: call 02-5789122 Fax: 02-9948011

Join our Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayers. For more information Subject: Rosh Chodesh

תפילת נשים

שילה הקדומה

ראש חודש אדר א

יום ג' 1\02\2022

ל' שבט תשפ"ב 

כולן מוזמנות