Kohelet to Malachi


1.) Forty years ago, in Jerusalem, I remember asking the Dean of the Rabbinic College how Kohelet, Ecclesiastes, was chosen as the Scroll to be read at the end of the days of Awe on the holyday of Sukkoth. The dean admitted the inclusion of Kohelet in the Tanach was assured only with the last lines assumed to be a summation:

The end of the matter; all is heard, God is to be feared, the commandments observed, for this is the reason humans were created. God will judge everything, including the hidden, the good and the evil.

2.) Ramban believes Solomon is the author of Ecclesiastes.

If so, is he reviewing Greek teachings to be refuted by the above quoted verse?

3.) The rabbis tell us in our prayers that on Rosh Hashanah the judgment is written, and on Yom Kippur the judgment is sealed. Scholars know that the final judgment is actually the end of Sukkoth, around  the time when we read Ecclesiastes. We prayed we would be written into The Book of LIfe. If all was once recorded in a Book, we can imagine that all is literally recorded in our time.

Since, in our time, not much is hidden from the camera, an updated version of “The Book of Life” is the ever recording eye of the camera.

Are we are ready for the sobering teachings of Kohelet?

4.) Just how Greek are we? May those who pray towards Jerusalem learn from Athens?

Not so Greek  that Kohelet is acceptable, without the summation, as The Dean said?

5.) Where did we get the idea that study is equal to all the commandments?

Is “Talmud Torah caneged coolam?

All the other commandments have chapter and verse. What is the scriptural basis of this rather Greek idea?

6.) Is all assimilation to be avoided?

7.) What is Greek, and what Rabbinic, to you?




The Song of Songs

1.) Being a wedding rabbi I hear readings from the Song of Songs often. When I was an orthodox rabbi I read this text every week before the Sabbath. At weddings I explain that Friday evening is Mitzvah night, the Mitzvah of the night being to “Be fruitful and multiply, so reciting The Song of Songs might be considered a type of foreplay.

2.) But what are we to do with all of the “breasts” in the original? Is this a groom praising his bride, or God praising Israel?

I adore the rabbis creative reading that the two breasts that are “two fawns, twins of a gazelle” are  also the Two Tablets of Testimony, but I wonder if we should not also just let the breasts be breasts. Another reading has them as Moses and Aaron.

3.) The Song of Songs is the text that completes Passover. We read the song aloud, assuming the rabbinic notion that the contents are a review of all of Israelite history. The Midrash reads a prayer in the final verse:

4.) May Thou hasten the advent of the redemption and cause the Shechina to dwell on The Mountain Moriah and rebuild the Temple speedily in our time.

5.) We also have a custom to recite the Song of Songs at the beginning of Passover in the home. Before we rebuild the Temple we consecrate our homes.

6.) My reading  of the song is as a love song for two voices. At every wedding I wonder how enduring passionate love is once the finger is ringed. In the end only the spirit triumphs over the material. We break a glass. We wrinkle and sag and die, but true love endures forever.

This is true Chassidic religion.

This is all I have to add to the Song.

See also, A Song of passing over and of Spring, and

Pesach Seder Song.



Isaiah: Review

1.) From Kings to Isaiah, our devotion moves from monarchy to prophecy, from priestly religion to Ashlamata.

2.) Our Rabbis, of blessed memory, were as devoted to Isaiah as to Moses.

3.) Rabbinic tradition is Isaiahic as much as Mosaic.

From week to week, new moon to new moon, year in and year out the rabbis complete the Torah reading with insights from the  Isaiahic.

4.) We will turn to Rabbi Abraham Joshua  Heschel to understand Isaiah and prophecy in general.

5.) In the Tanach, the Hebrew Scriptures, the bible ends with Chronicles. Jeremiah foretold the restoration of the  Temple, after seventy years, and  Cyrus invites all Israel to the Aliyah, the ascent, to Jerusalem.

7.) Truman proclaimed himself a modern Cyrus and invited all to establish a renewed  Israel. Aliyah once again.

8.) Ending with The Hebrew  Bible with Chronicles is a reminder of hope and renewal and the continuation of the story that begins in the Book of Genesis , into our time.

9.) Presenting as history, Chronicles is as much Midrash as history.

10.) The Midrash begins again with Adam and rehashes all the biblical begats.

11.) Jack Miles in his God, A Biography , a must read, points out that the order of the Hebrew bible moves, through the holy days, into an endlessly recurring rehearsal and reliving of history.

12.) I offer a reliving of our history in the Alpern Seders.

13.) We spiral towards redemption via rituals and repetitions. Professor Miles suggests that the Tanach defeats its own death, and the death of God in the ending verses of the two books of Chronicles. He has a point. The pattern is set. The First Temple falls and God gives her children a second chance. The Second Temple falls.

14.) Will we be given a third chance?

15.) For Christians Christ is that third chance.

16.) Ending the Christian “Old” Testament, the prophet Malachi announces the “Son” religion.

17.) The very design of the canon announces the different directions of the Israelite religion seeking a new way to fulfill the Torah.

18.) To this days Christians await their second chance in Christ, and the Jews try to make sense of the modern Aliyah back to Jerusalem and how to deal with the latest monotheism on the block and its claim to have the newest  version of the truth and the Final Testament.

19.) It will take an Isaiah to make sense of Zion.

20.) Our rabbis of blessed memory have a very strong summer reading of Isaiah.

21.) The only chapter they (the rabbi’s) really dance around concerns the identity of the suffering servant.

22.) We turn to Heschel, a footnote, (Second Isaiah, note two) in The Prophets, to begin to understand the “suffering  servant.”

23.) Who is the suffering servant? This is the question most discussed in biblical scholarship.

24.) I believe the short answer is: The People Israel, and The Messiah of Israel. The people and the Person. 

25.) Dr. Littell, as a Tikkun, focuses on the People.

26.) See The Crucifixion of the Jews, to me the most important book of the 20th Century .

27.) Dr. Heschel also sees Israel, the people as the suffering servant of Isaiah.

28.) My focus, as you well know Theo, is also on the person.

29.) Let The Dialogue begin.

Littell’s evaluation of Islam is also now open for discussion.

30.) Is the Quran a Final Testament?




Jeremiah and Lamentations

1.) The Book of Jeremiah does not read like a coherent composition. Our Rabbis  of blessed memory teach that there is (often) no chronology in Torah. This makes reading Jeremiah confusing, at times.

2.) Jeremiah is a Devar Jonah prophet, some of the book is transcribed while he was incarcerated. Not all of Jeremiah was written by the prophet.

3.) Dr. Heschel, in his chapter on Jeremiah, makes a number of crucial points.

Jeremiah was a realist and an astute reporter of his times. Jeremiah knew the other prophets were “ windbags ”(5:13) and that he would be misunderstood.

Heschel teaches that Jeremiah was not a prophet of wrath. He did live in a time of wrath. Jeremiah taught that “it is in love that God and Israel met.” Jeremiah knew the Temple would fall. He knew that greater than prophecy would be the complete transformation of every person.  This renewal will translate the exile into a blessing and inspire the understanding that God sends “sufferings from love.”

4.) Jeremiah offers more than Lamentation.


1.) First we turn to the Soncino Books of the Bible, the baseline for all these studies and conversations. In an essay in the volume on The Five Megilloth, “The Midrashic Approach to the Book of Lamentations”, page 189, Rabbi A.J. Rosenberg  quotes the 16th century Rabbi Yosef Taitatsak who explains what is unique about the Scroll of Lamentations.

Kings record only victories over foes. They  record success, not failure.

The Holy One who is the King over all Kings is different, inspiring Jeremiah to record his lamentations to memorialize the day of Israel’s defeat.

2.) See the Seder for the 9th of Av.

3.) See The Prophets once again, by Heschel, and read at least twice, Chapter Nine.

Heschel asks: Why are so few voices raised against the idolatry of might?

4.) Why are so many ready to die and kill at the call of Kings and Generals?

Generation to generation throughout history individuals and nations go mad.

5.) Why is the world so ugly and mad?

6.) Why the voice of the prophet so shrill?

7.) Why is our affect so dull in the face of all the killing?

8.) Who speaks for God today?

9.) How do we awaken from the nightmare that is history?

10.) What saved the prophets from despair? 

11.) Do you agree with Heschel that their messianic vision and call to repentance may also be our hope?

12.) Another illuminating insight of Heschel, who to me is a type of modern prophet, is that the ancient prophets never taught that God and history are one. History is more the chronicle of humanity defying God. Hence, Lamentations.
















Ezekiel brings us to an article by Elie Wiesel, in Congregation, edited by David Rosenburg. I also recommend another anthology edited by Rosenberg , Communion  and the essay on Ezekiel by James Carrol. Take note that Heschel does not have a chapter on Ezekiel in his magnum opus, The Prophets.

Talking Points:

1.) Wiesel concludes that everything in Ezekiel is dated except the vision of the dry bones. Resurrection is undated. What does Torah have to say about Resurrection? Is it mentioned in the Five Books?

2.) Our rabbis of blessed memory wisely avoid Ezekiel’s metaphysical dreams in their choice of prophetic readings, except for Pentecost. The mystics had some influence.

3.) Remember the teaching of my three times great  Uncle Samson Raphael Hirsch that the calendar is the catechism of the Jews. I can only add that the Master guide to the calendar  is found in the prophetic reading that define the sanctity and message of each calendar event. A Haftorah is an ashlamta.

4.) The prophet Ezekiel perfects our understanding of Passover by being chosen to give his sermon on the Sabbath in its midst.

5.) Ezekiel 36:37 has us flocking back to Jerusalem. Then we chant the vision of the fleshing out of our history at the end of time. The graves open and the resurrected return to The Land.

6.) In my congregation we add verses fifteen to seventeen of chapter 37 since it is a Devar Jonah and Shabbat Shalom prophecy. Jews and Christians will stop beating each other over the head with theological sticks and stones and will be one in, and one, Israel, once again.

7.) This means this study will be supplemented by the insights of the rabbis as we move back, yet forward, to the biblical calendar jettisoned by the Church fathers.

8.) This brings us to my Jesuit brother James Carroll and his sermon on the dry bones.

He calls himself a writer now, and not a priest, and I also am more a writer than a rabbi.

9.) Truth be told we both are still true to our callings. While James was turning the heart of his father concerning war, I was in Jerusalem writing my thesis on selective conscientious objection in Jewish law. I argued that it is a religious obligation not to go to a war you do not believe in. The sources, remarkably, argued my point.

10.) We have Ezekiel to thank for a vision of resurrection as history ends, and we count  all the dry bones of all of our wars.




















Talking points


1.) While Daniel is included in the “Writings” section and not the “Prophets” in The Hebrew Tanach, his text will be treated as a type of prophecy by later authorities.

2.)We will see that the censored section of Maimonides on the laws concerning The Messiah relies heavily on the Book of Daniel. Before diving into Maimonides creative reading of the Book we turn to Alan F. Segal and his chapter on Daniel in Rebecca’s Children, Judaism and Christianity in the Roman World. This book is must reading as we approach our Rubicon of the study of the later books of Torah.

3.) Dr. Segal places the Book hundreds of years later than the narrative of the plain meaning of the text. I agree. Just as Swift and Arthur Miller use fictional facts to safely approach their times, the Book of Daniel comments on the Maccabean uprising, and Chapters 7-12 are close to the time period of Judah Maccabee.

4.) Now, as Moshe Herr, argues convincingly, Judah Maccabee may be thought of as our first rabbi.

5.) The chain of tradition repeated in the Mishna Avot is clearly broken in the time of Judah.  The Oral Tradition fictionally received on Sinai did not speak to the issue of self-defense on the Sabbath. An oral law might actually begin with Judah’s instruction to the troops to defend themselves on the Sabbath. This was not the reading of the Chassidim cowering in their caves. Judah taught the Torah was given to live by, and not to inspire death.

6.) Yet Judah and the Maccabees will not become the heroes of our biblical story.

7.) Note the absence of the Books of Maccabee’s from Tanach and the protestant canon.

8.) One of my genius students includes Maccabees in his updated version of the bible. This  updated  testament has many insights into the spirit of God’s word, but its narrative loses it way, as did other canons, that read Maccabees as holy writ.

9.) Salo Baron traces the origin of the first crusade to the holy warriors of the Maccabean dynasty. Nachmanides explains, in his commentary on Genesis (49:10) that the Maccabean Priests seized executive power and were corrupted by this non separation of church and state. The Church, with political and priestly power, lost its piety. The Holy War Crusades are launched.

10.) The Maccabean revolution set many dangerous precedents. Zealots at the time of the ministry of Jesus looked to Judah Macabbe for inspiration. A Holy War mindset infected the dagger men (sicari) of the time. The rabbinic peace party, Jesus among them, were against the uprising. With 20/20 hindsight we know this was the truer reading of Israelite history.

11.) Daniel as a proof text for Maimonides censored opinions on messianic pretenders In his legal compendium The Mishna Torah intrigues. I have dealt with this elsewhere, in Book One of the Final Age Testament, Chapter heading Censored.

12.) Notice my omission when quoting from Daniel. The quote is from Daniel 11:14.

13.) Rereading this chapter in Final Testament, I understand that Maimonides sees all of history as part of a divine plan. In the end the righteous will be vindicated.

14.) I am not aware of any Talmudic source reading that identifies Daniel 11:14 with Christianity.

15.) Are Christians “children of the violent”?

16.) Daniel, in my opinion, was not commenting as a prophet on Christianity.

17.) What do you think?

18.) Talmudic experts: we await your comments.




The Twelve

Talking Points

1.) We note in the Christian Canon The Twelve Prophets precede the Twelve Apostles soon to follow in the Later Books of Torah, beginning with Matthew. The last of the Twelve Prophets (none of whom are minor) is Malachi.

2.) Imagining a biblical phonebook you would not look up Malachi in the M’s.

3.) You might try the yellow pages under M for messengers, for Malachi is a title, like Christ.

4.) The final message of the messenger is addressed to me personally. Teach Torah to my son. Turn your heart, and give instruction.

5.) Until Elijah arrives, let this conversation be a repentance.

6.) The divorce of Judah and Israel inspires lost tribes and broken homes. The time of reconciliation is here.


1.) Hosea shows up every week at my weddings. See Chapter Two and focus on verses nineteen and twenty. Marriage is forever. Marriage is based on righteousness and judgment. Marriage is done in love, and with compassion. Marriage is complete in faithfulness. In marriage we acknowledge God. Three or seven circles are here, depending on how you count.

2.) In the context of chapter two this covenant love is betrayed by the idolatry of adultery. After adultery comes estrangement, separation, and eventually divorce.

In the end a reconciliation comes.

3.) The covenant is reaffirmed that begins in the natural world and teaches humans not to act like beasts.

4.) War is abolished and  all dwell in Shalva and Shalom.

5.) Then we are married forever and the circle complete.

6.) The rings please!

Once the fingers are ringed and seven blessings said, it is time for reality.

7.) The trope of our world is the real meaning of the breaking of the glass. To know God we must love one another. Adultery is idolatry, in fact they hold hands on the Tablets, teaching two and teaching seven. The Two Tablets of testimony shatter when this covenant is broken.

8.) The World of Brokenness is created. Olam Hashvira

9.) We turn to Heschel here, the others are often confused by the poetry of our prophet.

First, Heschel  illuminates, in a note, that the conception of Israel marrying God is one of the most important ideas in the history of religion. To Hosea marriage is the image of the relationship of God and Israel.

10.) Heschel imagines love as the most powerful reality between a man and a women.

11.) This explains Hosea’s desire for reunion with his wife even after her indiscretions.

12.) This is the point when we all seem to hit a wall in Hosea studies.

First of all it is one of the 613 teachings not to remarry after divorce.

13.) Moreover, what are we to make of Hosea’s marriage of a women named Gomer, which in context I can only translate as “he is a goner”?

14.) Heschel gives a complete review on this marriage, with a focus on commentators who say the marriage was a dream. Actually it would be a nightmare. Ask anyone who has gone through divorce.

15.) Objectors say we are faced with the same questions even if Hosea’s narrative is a dream.

16.) Others wonder if God really told Hosea to marry Gomer. Perhaps he just imagined.

17.)  I think this all a question of rhetoric.

18.)  I think all the prophets take poetic license to teach in simile and parable.


1.) I hope you all know we really never studied the prophets in rabbinic school.

2.) Our focus was on the Talmud and Codes. This emphasizes the genius of our Rabbis of blessed memory insisting on the system of Haftorah from Shabbat to Shabbat and Holy day to Holy day.

3.) On the Sabbath of Return, before Rosh Hashanah and The High Holy days, we chant the haftorah from Hosea and Micah, and Ashkenazim add Joel 2:15-27. This is to be chanted by The Rabbi or greatest scholar in the community.

4.) The addition makes sense in light of the content:

Sound the Shofar in Zion, Sanctify a fast, announce an assembly, gather the people, prepare the congregation.

5.) Joel continues by praying for pity, asking for prosperity, and a reconciliation so none are ashamed.

6.) This brings us to the path to the Arête, but not an Ashlamta.

7.) This is why it is the Minhag (custom) of Devar Jonah and Temple Shabbat Shalom to add all of chapter 3 of the book of Joel to the haftorah of Shabbat Shuva,  the Sabbath of Return.

8.) Chapter Three announces, as Rashi reads, that in the messianic future God will infuse all flesh with the prophetic spirit, sons, daughters, even slaves and maidservants will be filled with the Holy spirit. Anyone whose hard heart becomes a heart of flesh will be gifted with prophecy, Rashi adds, based on Ezekiel 36:26.

9.) This fascinates. Will messiah found a school for prophets?

10.) Is Joel speaking of the immediate future in his time, or about the times of Jehoshapat, when there were many prophets, and disciples of prophets, like Obadia, who had at least one hundred prophetic disciples we know of.

11.) Now is the time to open the conversation on the possibility of prophecy in our time.

12.) Now is the time to discuss Sealah.



From Amos to Zechariah

1.)From Amos to Zecheriah, none of the twelve shorter books of prophecy is minor, from A to Z.

2.) Amos  is chosen by our rabbis of blessed memory to be the completion of the Joseph saga and the final word on the Holiness code in Leviticus.

3.) The Torah portion in Genesis that begins the Joseph novella ends in the commentary of the prophet Amos. The first transgression of Israel is the selling of Joseph the righteous for silver. This sets a pattern for three more, including the selling out of the poor for pairs of shoes, the next on the list. See Amos 2:6 to 3:8. This will be our talking point for next year.

4.) Read the essay” Amos and James” by Scott Russel Sanders in Communion.

5.) Sanders update of Amos (which I update further) is a synopsis of the book he reviews:

Behold I am setting a plumb line

in the midst of my people America;

I will never again pass by them,

the high place of Washington shall be made desolate,

and the sanctuaries of New York shall be laid waste,

and I will rise against the White House with the sword.”

6.) This year I would ask to begin our talking about the ashlamta of the holiness code by our A list prophet.

7.) Kindly review the holiness code in Leviticus (Chapter 19.)

8.) Kindly review Ashlamta, if you have not read that essay.

9.) As you build your commentary library for this conversation Aryeh Kaplan’s The Living Torah is a must. It is published by Maznaim, Brooklyn New York, 1981.

Kaplan offers a straightforward translation of verse 18, with no note.

“ Do not take revenge, nor bear a grudge against the children of your people. You must love your neighbor as (you love) yourself. I am God.

10.) Amos does make note of the ambiguity in his commentary, as presented in the haftorah.

11.) Amos begins with verse seven of chapter nine to answer a question about Leviticus 19:18.

12.) Just who are the “children of your people”?

13.) The short and simple answer is, your neighbor, fellow Israelites.

14.) The answer Amos gives is more from God’s perspective. All people are God’s children.

“Are you not as the (black) Ethiopians to me, O children of Israel?, says God.

15.) In nine short verses the Hebrew prophet Amos makes it clear that the fallen Tabernacle of David will be repaired with this insight. The World of Tikkun awaits this comment.

If all people are Gods children, all are neighbors, and all are to be loved.



1.) We return to the Soncino Book of the Bible for a reminder that Obadiah is the shortest. One Chapter. One theme. Edom.

2.) Back to Rebecca’s Children, Esau and Jacob. The first born came out reddish, as hairy as a fur coat, and they named him Esau, Red, Edom.

3.) He is also named for the red stew he traded for his birthright.

4.) Red is a bully of a big brother. He becomes the symbolic ancestor of all the Edom’s, starting with the Edomites, moving on to the Romans, the Church in its varying manifestations and perhaps reappearing in our time as the Russians.

5.) Kaplan likes Obadia for the Ashlamta of the Torah portion “ Vayishlach” (Genesis 32:4 where Jacob confronts Esau. This makes sense in light of the conclusion of the Ashlamta, verse 21:

Saviors will ascend Mount Zion to judge the Mount of Esau, and the ruler will be God.

This will be our first conversation.

6.) During the cold war the bear reared up to devour Zion. We  fled and the brain drain left the Soviets all but dead. No evil Esau plans cannot be turned to good by the creator of all.

7.) Now this opens our discussion to who the “Saviors” are that will ascend Zion, and the meaning of the last two thousand years of the rule of “Esau” as Christendom. We are reminded of Maimonides harsh judgment in the censored version of the Mishna Torah, even has he teaches a historiosophy of God being the author of history.

8.) The Jewish Publication translation of our verse have “liberators” marching up Zion, and a note that nullifies any messianic implications. Soncino, in my opinion, is more accurate, based on the traditional commentary of the “Tower of David” by Rabbi David Altschul, translating Mosheem, as saviors, meaning  Messiah and his officers.

From A to Z we will enter the issue of saviors in the Book of Jonah, and discuss Messiah in Micah, Zechariah, and Malachi.  

In preparation, if you have the time try The Messiahs: The Culmination of a History of Messianism and Messianic Pretenders.

9.) Now, on to conversation number two, concerning the judgment of The Mountain of Esau, or the hill country of Esau. This verse rings  in the mind of the traditional Jew as a pivotal quotation in the prayer service of our people. We reach the end of the verses of praise and thank the good Lord that we have prevailed against all enemies since the dividing of the sea. Then the reader chants two combined verses. Obadia 1:21 and  Zechariah 14:9. These verses, walking hand in hand, announce the sovereignty of the only true and real king, our great and holy God, who is the Lord of history. Our Lord will leave us speechless at the end of history, as we recite a half-kaddish of elevation and call all to prayer.

10.) The trope opera of our liturgy is magnificent, if little understood. One subtlety and nuance is that we begin and end with the same teaching. In Alenu we end formal prayers with a declaration that all the inhabitants of the world will pledge allegiance, even the wicked, to the true God. The world will experience Tikkun under the rulership of Shaddai. The proof text, of course is Zechariah 14:9:

And it is said: The Lord shall be king over all the earth; on that day the Lord shall be One and his name One.

11.) Heschel is most helpful here, at the end of his studies, the  chapter on Prophet, Priest and King, he reminds that  separation of power and authority is a fact of the highest importance in the religion of Israel. “The King is neither the son, nor an incarnation, nor a representative of God.”

12.) Ramban gives a real example while commenting on Genesis 49:10. The descendants of Judah Maccabee, Priests, took control of the Kingship and headed Israelite history in a wrong direction.

13.) Remember Genesis 49:10 is read by all as a messianic prophecy, and promise of Sheloh (Shiloh) one of the titles of Messiah.

14.) Another topic Zechariah raises is the meaning of God and his Name being One, on “that day.”

15.) God and his Name are not One?

16.) Just so. The name that divides is not God. Gods name is One. Echad.

In translation? Al-one.

17.) Many speak in God’s name. They speak of, but not for, God.

18.) So Obadiah and Zechariah and Joshua dance towards a scenario of the end of time and the beginning of the peaceable kingdom.

And we have been praying the script, an adoration,written by sublime masterteachers, called rabbi’s, for millennia.

Amen. Sealah.






Devar Jonah

1.) And  the word of the Jonah event goes into the world and bewilders.

2.) Did Jonah bring the word into the world?

3.) Is he ever fleshed out as a prophet?

4.) My final sermon was on Jonah, and then I moved out of the pulpit rabbinate to become the prison rabbi.

5.) The good word that alights on the wings of Jonah, the dove, is that God cares about the goyim.

6.) I read the Book as the ashlamta of Yom Kippur, and added my gloss, that next Yom Kippur every congregant should invite one or two of their goysha friends to services on Yom Kippur.

7.) Evidently floating such an idea was enough of a hearsay to inspire yet another emergency board meeting on the rabbi’s sermons.

8.) From my point of view we had become the most passive-aggressive of peoples.

9.) Imagine, it is Judgment Day and we do not even remind non-jews that they are due in court!

10.) Of course we do pray for every inhabitant of the world in the Yom Kippur liturgy.

11.) Anyway, none were pleased at my chuckling  as I chanted the Hebrew as I experienced the humor of this tale my last Yom Kippur..

12.) (I was composing Finally Eve in my Kabballah book and reading Moby Dick, while on the pulpit, hidden behind my oversized prayer book!)

I left my pulpit to accept an appointment to be a full time Corrections Chaplain.

I was out of the synagogue and into the beast.

After three years I founded my prison ministry which I called Devar Jonah.

This was almost twenty five years ago and I did not realize at the time that the name Devar Jonah was prophetic.

13.) Everything I know about freedom I learned in prison.

I was free to express my every changing world view to inmates and colleagues.

14.) I was free to study the Gospels, write my commentary of the bible called the Final Age Testament .

15,) I was free to write the Alpern Seders allowing inmates to have personal and individualized services.

I was free to modify these services for interfaith couples.

16.) I was free to start Temple Shabbat Shalom.

17.) I am now free to discuss the remarks of Jesus that he came “to bring the Devar of Jonah alone.”

I invite inmates to this forum, for they taught me how to teach in simplicity and with devotion.

18.) I challenge the Jewish and Christian to make resources available to the incarcerated for the study of scripture in Hebrew. I acknowledge that Christians, especially Evangelicals are light years ahead in supplying inmates with books and resources on how to turn a life around.

19.) I challenge the Department of Corrections to encourage interfaith programs in prison.

20.) Prisons are laboratories of redemption and Torah must be taught to all.

We will continue to discuss Devar Jonah in the gospels.

In the meantime read the entire Final Age Testament from cover to cover.

Remember my take on Jesus may have changed since my last commentary.







1.) Micah will be discussed with Joel to compare their Zionism’s. Micah’s gnomologia in Chapter four do lack logical continuity as Soncino comments, but everyone recognizes Micah’s overlay with Isaiah:

2.) For out of Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide concerning many nations far off.

And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation will not lift up sword against nation. Neither shall they learn war any more.

3.) Now listen to Joel (4:9-12)

Sanctify war.

Awaken the warriors.

Let all the men of war draw near.

Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears.

Let the weak say: I am strong.

4.) What is this contrast all about?

5.) A time for peace and a time for war?

6.) History is about the idolatry of power. Might makes right. Joel know that times will come when Israel must live by the sword. But the prophets are the first to proclaim a time for peace. Isaiah and Micah are right in inverting Joel’s metaphor.

7.)  Joel, however, gives the position of a realist.

8.) Will war ever end?

In the meantime we have a few days with Nachum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah

and Haggai until we are A to Z and then finish with Malachi.



1.) Much like the past twelve tribes and future 12 apostles the twelve prophets seem to blend into one another.

2.) While the rabbi’s award the Book Of Nahum  no ashlamta’s, Soncino reminds that in the Hebrew original none excel his power with language and vivid phrases. In fact, the book “contains no superfluous word.”

3.) With all this in mind we update the prophets message:

I sing the burden of Jonah, wing clipped, he flies in circles, was he right?

I sing of the comfort of Nahum and revision the A Ascent to Arête, the good news:

I have ordered your Tables O Yisrael,

so keep your vows,

on fast days fast

and on feast days feast.

On birthdays and weddings

you may also eat cake,

Arete’s frosting!

Pray with your feet,

clap both hands, sing until the vision,

arising from the bloody city, the Devar of Jonah.

The Dove with the branch, where shall she land?

Imagine, this time, the women stand strong, instructing the Zion of Jerusalem,

The rulers sleeping the sleep of death.

The children clapping from heaven to earth.


Embracing Habakkuk

1.) Just in the sound of the name we embrace Habakkuk. Sealah.

2.) So, if we are to imagine a school for prophets, is Sealah the name of the seminary?

3.) Is religion better left in the realms of fiction and imagination?

4.) In other words, is the return to the past a pipe dream? Is Joel wrong on prophecy but right on war?

5.) The nightmare of history continues with those who sanctify war. Crusade. Jihad. Making the world safe for democracy?

6.) So, if some revelation is at hand, is it foreshadowed by the ashlamta of the Jewish Pentecost?

As the Sephardeam read:

When my Lady return to her Holy Home

All the earth is silent.

7.) A prayer in the mode of madness:

I am a child of Israel and have heard the story of Egypt, who oppresses once again, and Yemen and the Arabians, and the spiel of the Purim man.

Must we really play this tune once again? Enough already. We seek your embrace if not your face. Sealah.

8.) We See The Thunder. We hear your lightening’s. Sealah.

A six if not sixty and days of atonements wars. Enough already.


Make our feast steady as the hind on Arete

Sing this song with the musicians of Sealah.

This the revelation at hand. Amen. Embrace.



Zephania:The Hidden One?

1.) For me Revelation is a revelation and not an obfuscation.

2.)  The only  “secret”  kabbalah is history, which remains a mystery.

3.) The outstanding proof text of Zephaniah is chapter three verse nine. Reading first, verses one to eight we see in context a prophet who reminds us we cannot hide from evil. Rebellious Jerusalem is exposed, and arraigned. Her prophets are wanton. Her priests are profane. They do terror to the Torah.

4.) In verse six we hear God speaking, revealing a mystery. Being granted freedom to choose evil and not the good, there remains no evil that a tyrant might do that God cannot turn to good. This mystery is not learned by the wrong doers among the nations. They will never learn the lesson. God promises to personally be the accuser on judgment day, consuming kingdoms in blazing anger.

5.)Verse nine, you may remember is the proof text for Maimonides historiosophy in the censored section of the Mishnah Torah on the messianic and mundane in history.

“For then I will turn to the prophets a pure language, That they all may call upon the name of the Lord, To serve with one consent.”

6.) Maimonides reading is accurate as we see in the remaining verses of chapter three, where the heathen nations release the  captive people  Israel to return to the land of Israel. Israel will have poor and humble folk, they will sing a song of Zion, and then produce offspring who are renowned and famous among all the peoples of the earth.

7.) The mystery of history is solved.

Amen. Sealah.






A Day With Haggai


1.)  The rabbis of blessed memory declared that with the passing of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi the holy spirit departed from Israel.

2.) Jack Miles and his God, a Biography are most helpful here. He explains that Haggai insists God desires nothing more than rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem, even though it was more David’s insistence than Gods command in the story of the first Temple  as narrated in the Book of Samuel.

3.) It appears that Haggai  is insisting on a new understanding of religion. Buildings are now essential. The prosperity of Israel is contingent on building a building. Compare Isaiah Chapter One verse eleven and Haggai  Chapter One verse eleven. This change of heart is intensified in Zechariah 13, according to Miles as Priestly religion insists on supplanting prophecy. This turnabout seems to be working at the beginning of the book of Malachi who argues that God desires burnt offerings, which requires a Temple.

4.) I understand. As a pulpit rabbi I helped put up a building and it unified the congregation with a common purpose. True, once built none could agree on what the building should be used for; but at least everyone showed up to work bingo.

5.) Will we ever learn?










Zechariah and the Menorah

1.) We begin this year with the ashlamta of the menorah and all it represents in the history of our people.

2.) To this day if you ask the symbol of ancient and modern Israelite religion many if not most will answer the Star of David.

3.)Most also identify the menorah as the emblem of the state.

4.) I believe, in the future they will exchange places.

5.) For now the state does well with a symbol of defense and the shield of David. Surrounded by hostile neighbors Israel needs strength before Peace.

6.)  From within many orthodox Jews do not honor the flag as iconic. They understand well that flags are the draperies of nationalism. The 20th century, an age of Nationalism was a century of death. Put a gravestone on black cloth and you have a composite flag for that era.

7.) The flag of a religious Jew is the prayer shawl. Black on white, like  their worldview, each corner has fringes, Tzitzit in Hebrew. They represent all the teachings of the Torah.

8.) The Israeli flag is actually modeled on the prayer shawl. However, one never sees a flag flying that is fringed.

9.) In a way, the flag is a symbol of politics supplanting religion in the saga of modern Jewish history.

10.) Would it help if the Israel flag is fringed and worn for prayer services.

      Perhaps. Will religion supersede politics?

11.) The ultra- orthodox would never wear any prayer shawl not black on white. This may be an argument in favor of wearing the flag.

When Zechariahs menorah is on the flag of Israel the messianic era will be announced.

12.) The question of the final temple will be decided by modern day prophets and not by orthodox rabbi’s.

13.)  Thank God for a secular state.

My Malachi

1.) My messenger and alter ego is Elijah. A lee ya who in Hebrew. I am also a Ya who.

2.) Ya who? Yippy yay o ki yeah! I hear the ancient cowboys (o.k., sheepherders) dancing around a campfire singing. The words are primal and work in all languages.

3.) I am a Ya who va worshiper.

4.) The other primal sound is ah ha.

5.) Moses walked away from the burning bush chanting:

( YHVH is AHYH, )





Ya (Ha)


6.) Listen, Yisrael, Ya who is A lee alone, or as you say in English, Elijah.

7.) In the Name is the message? Is this just my message?

8.) Soncino states the obvious message, that God still loves Israel. (AHVH)

9.) Then Soncino points out what is novel, Malachi’s rhetorical style.

10.) First a truth is stated. Next a midrashic question. Then the facts.

11.) My Malachi sometimes reminds me of my father.

Who can argue with him?

12.) Does he support the Priesthood?

13.) Is he a prophet?

14.) Does he understand he is last in a line?

15.)  His last lines save the day.

16.) They are enshrined for the Great Sabbath, or the Sabbath of the Great.

17.) The six epochs will come to an end. The Sabbath of history is announced.

18.) So we weren’t passed over this time around.

19.) The saga continues.

20.) For our Christian brothers and sisters the final verses proclaim the return of Elijah as John the Baptist.

21.) For me, now the father,

 I turn back to my son

 after two thousand years,

 plus or minus,

 of estrangement.