We have been devoted to words.
Even here in this rich country
Scripture enters and sits down
And lives with us like a relative
Taking the best chair in the house.
This is my invitation. Come sit. Welcome to my Yeshiva.
I move scripture to a table and offer you the best chair. Now is the time for chavruta. As long as we discuss Torah the Oral tradition of the rabbis will be kept alive. We begin as study partners and then open our study to a forum.
As in Final Testament I will call you Theophilos, a seeker, and lover of wisdom. You may read in any order.
Scripture never entered my home as a child or teenager so I had no real “Bar Mitzvah”. We had no Bibles. I learned the text of my bar mitzvah orally from a record, as I will explain. Since my reading skills were marginal this was a godsend.
My becoming a Rabbi is a bit of a miracle based on a rebellion. As I explain in Final Kabballah part of my rebellion against my father was to embrace a replacement, Orthodox Judaism. Once in Jerusalem, God arranged the giants of orthodoxy for my teachers, including Chaim Brovender, Jay Miler, David Hartman and Adin Steinsaltz.
This is truly remarkable based on my experience of American Judaism. If I
was meant for the rabbinate anyone has the potential to be a rabbi.
My father and God were not on friendly terms. Our home had no Scripture. Adolf the Hitler almost murdered my dad. My father preferred poker to God and religion. Who can blame him? Mom was the standard bearer. Her only script was a good heart. She insisted I be a Bar Mitzvah.
If our Hebrew school had run a contest on the student least likely to be a rabbi I would have won.
I think I was Bar Mitzvah on a Sunday so I have a missing year ( or partial year) of my adolescence since I was “bar mitzvahed” at age 14. Of course this is all fiction, since being born December 23,1950 my actual Bar Mitzvah date was December 30, 1963. (14 Tevet ).
Sunday March 29, 1964 I “celebrated” my bar mitzvah on the second day of Passover. What? No cake? A Bar Mitzvah during Passover, on a Sunday no less?
Our move to the promised land of California took place during this time
which partially explains the providential date and circumstances of my coming of age ceremony.
Being a rabbi, I must teach. According to Jewish law, I did not need to be called to the Torah to be a bar mitzvah. I did not need to recite a blessing. I did not need to be in any Temple. On December 30, 1963 I was in fact a bar, son of, mitzvah the teachings of my tradition. In other words I had attained my majority as a Jewish male. I was obligated to keep the Commandments. I could be counted in a minyan of ten and I could lead services.
This is like some kind of cabalistic secret for many American Jews.
Dues must be paid and Temples maintained and Rabbi’s and Cantors paid so American Judaism is stuck in the myth that bar mitzvah is contingent on the structures of organized Jewish religion. This is not true. In fact, perhaps the best metaphor for many modern bar mitzvahs is a dance around the golden cow. At the base of the sacred ground of revelation the people choose idolatry.
The Rabbis must open the door of the home to invite scripture and mitzvahs into the real sanctuary, the home. Better to close down all the Temples and move observance back to the primary sanctuary’s, the home and heart, than continue the dance around the gilded calf that is synagogue Judaism.
If Rabbis teach the above hierarchy, heart home and Temple, we may return to The Temple. There we must rediscover Torah. This I learned from my providential haphtarah reading on the second day of Passover 1964. I did not know any of this as a 14 year old but the haphtarah reading of my bar mitzvah foreshadowed my rediscovery of Torah. In the Haphtarah an anointed leader teaches Torah and orders the high priests of organized religion remove the idolatry from the Temple. Bravo. I made the right decision as a bar mitzvah. To walk away from American Judaism and to reenter via the orthodox portal of Jerusalem was a wise choice. There I learned Hebrew and and Talmud and personal obligation. I had the best possible rabbinic education. My training to be an orthodox rabbi was simply a training to be a knowledgeable and observant Jew. I was trained to be a living Torah, to count time by the Torah Parsha and to affix a Mezzuzzah to every doorpost of my homesanctuary. The Synagogue for me was a Bayt Midrash, a home away from home of Torah study and interpretation.
My home and Temple life have been devoted to words. This explains why I am speaking to you now.
With this in mind I am reminded that the Torah portion the week I was born was providential and a prediction of my entire life.
The last Parsha of Genesis is called Vayachee, where Jacob realizes his two grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh, not Jewish by modern standards, are in fact children of Israel who inherit in the destiny of Israel. My acceptance of Christians as Israelites is inspired by this Parsha.
Chapter 49 has Jacob calling his tribal sons to his death bed to preview what will happen to their descendants in the course of time, or more literally at the end of days.
Here Judah emerges as the tribe that will produce the future leaders among all of Israel’s children. Verse Ten is key to Jews, Christians and my writings. Links This is my portion. In the beginning is our end,
My job as a rabbi is to teach you how to find the rabbi within. Part of the job description is to inspire you to be rav, which means “Great”. This means we all must be as great as we can be.
This begins, as far as Torah learning goes, with a return to the daily and weekly liturgical calendar. This is why we are creating this website to bring Shabbat some Shalom.
Rereading Genesis 49:10 we have some clues about the future of leadership and religion. The scepter shall not depart from Judah, who will lead until the final tranquility.
Shiloh is a title of the messiah.
All of my writing is Midrash on this word. I translate sylh as similar to slh or Sealah, which others transliterate Selah.
You will cross reference Sealah to many verses in The Final Age Testament.
My real bar mitzvah study began in 1971 at Hartman College (now a think tank). Rabbi Miller insisted I memorize all 613 mitzvahs of the Torah. I repeated to memory all the six orders of the Mishnah. We studied hundreds of pages of Talmud. I mastered all 14 volumes of the Mishnah Torah. I call all this my “Jesuit Rabbinic training” along with my real Bar Mitzvah. Four years of study, and not to be called “rabbi.” This was Torah study for its own sake. Study became worship. The habit of study remains with me to this day and inspired me to be a rose rabbi. My reading of rabbinic text and hermeneutic skills I transferred to my analysis of the Gospels and Epistles which I rewrote as Final Acts. I did not need to rewrite the Quran since I had my own Final Testament.
Theophilos, listen. Jeremiah never taught a new covenant. Chapter 31 verse 31 reads “See, a time is coming (declares the Lord) when I will make a ReNewed Covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah… I will put my teachings in their innermost being and inscribe it on their heart.
I call this renewal Sealah.
Again the entire point of The Final Age Testament is the renewal of God’s teaching, not the jettisoning of everything that comes before.
In the end, nothing is final, and we pray to continue this discussion on the nature of scripture and its study.
Bar Mitzvah study begins with Jewing.