Temple Shabbat Shalom Announces
Notes for an empirical check list of Torah and her teachings:
A Get REAL project!
(Not for the fearfull and fainthearted)
Listen I do know that this is way too much. But I must teach!
The 14 Books of the Mishnah Torah are based on an outline of the 613 Commandments. They are not in the order of The Five Books of Moses. They are The Fourteen Books of Moses2.(Maimonides)
We set sail on the sea of this Mishna and discover the First 13 of the 613:
1.) To know God exists.
2.) To know God is One.
3.) To Love God.
4.) To be in awe of God.
5.) To serve God by prayer.
6.) To cleave to God.
7.) To swear only in Gods Name.
8.) To walk in God’s Way. (Jewing)
9.) To Sanctify God’s Name.
10.) To proclaim God’s Oneness.
11.) To study and teach Torah
12.) To focus your minds eye with Tefillin.
13.) To wear ritual fringes (Tzitzeet)
Up to number 11 these basics of Torah are truly universal. These positive commandments are basically held dear by all who seek God’s presence.
Is Jewing only for Jews?
Are we righteous if we master the basics?
What about the particulars peculiar to the Jews?
Remember Tefillin are Rabbinic Judaism’s black box solution of what the Greatest Commandment means by the teachings being Totafot
or frontlets between our eyes. Hold on a second I am not sure what frontlets are.
A brow band. A Phylactery. Rashi says the word is Coptic (Egyptian) and African. This is as odd as the black boxes we wear. Not for everyone.
On the other hand the greatest of the commandments teaches an obligation to affix a Mezzuzah to our doorpost. Christians and Muslims take note. The Mezzuzah is a universal symbol of a house dedicated to God. While the teaching is part of Jewing it is also generic and universal.
Commandment Number 13 is telling. Jews wear fringes. When I pray or lead I wear fringes on my prayer shawl. The more observant wear four cornered undershirts so they feel obligated to wear the fringes at all times. Good for them.
I am still Jewing when I do the Mitzvah as I understand. I confess to being heartbroken when I stand with Christian clergy who wear a vestment prayer shawl with no Tzitzit. Since the Tzitzit represent the 613 teaching I am saddened by those proclaiming no interest in any of them.
Christians, we know, so far, are at least 10/13.
Christians avoid idolatry and believe in prophecy so they may be uplifted by just how “Jewish” Christianity is according to Maiminodes count. Jews take note. You also are doing well on the tally.
The ways part a bit when we study the Commandments concerning the Sabbath and biblical holydays. This is a challenge to Jews who have no Shabbat. Be uplifted that you include yourself in community worship during the high holydays.
Read The Book of Holiness and see that the commandments are more universal than particular once again. 37 Commandments forbid illicit intercourse. These are universally observed. Male homosexuality is forbidden, but the Torah does not mention lesbianism. I believe this type of intimacy was unimaginable to Ezra or whatever males compiled the list. The list of 613 is not the final reality of what is right and wrong,
nor are the verses that inspire the prohibition.
Included in the list of 613 is the prohibition to intermarry. A closer reading in Maiminodes Code defines no intermarriage with the Seven Nations, an Israelite may not marry a pagan. Does this means a Jew and Christian may not intermarry?
This is open for discussion. I sanctify, as Holy, (by officiating) a marriage between a Jew and Christian. We are both Israelites. The Code, The Mishnah Torah defines the Commandment as a marriage between an Israelite and a pagan. Remember our theological dispute with the Church used to be about whom the heir of the Promises is, given to the person Israel. (Jacob). I believe both Jews and Christians are children of Israel, spiritually and genetically. As a later day authority I argue my position despites its unorthodoxy. I also will happily sanctify a marriage between an Israelite and a Muslim, all being Children of Abraham Sarah and Hagar. Since Hindus and Buddhists are not pagans they are also accepted by this rabbi. Even though Mormons consider me a gentile I accept them as non pagans.
We are all heathens and idolaters until we share Gods vision of a united humanity.
As we sail through the Mishnah Torah food and beverage laws are next. We are commanded not to drink wine with an idolater. This seems reasonable. We all know there are many bars we should avoid. In my opinion Christians are not idolaters so Christian Brothers wine is as kosher as Manischevitz
We know we cannot define our righteousness by how many do’s we do or don’t do’s we don’t.
Unless you are a Nazarene you do not need to avoid all wine and Welch’s grape jelly. I find no commandment to be a Nazarene. Tally ho.
The 613 are an outline more than a checklist. Perhaps we may all be righteous.
In Laws Concerning Murder and the Preservation of Life we find 17 Commandment, a mix of the particular and universal. The prohibition of murder is a commandment along with prohibitions against any activity that will harm others. In fact one legal definition of a righteous person is anyone who does no harm to his neighbor.
The Torah Commands Good Samaritan laws including helping anyone you meet on the road whose animal is burdened by its load. Application of this law today would mean an obligation to help anyone with a flat tire. Jewing commands we help. This may be a bit much for the averagely ethical person, who might consider this peculiar and particular.
Book 14 begins with 26/613 on establishing the Jewish Commonwealth, when the Land of Israel contains the People Israel; when the holy land
is peopled with the righteous who will inherit it forever.
Appointing a leader is a commandment. Eradicating the Seven Nations and Amalek is a Commandment. Suing for Peace is a Commandment, even with the Amalekites. Looking at the Commandments as an outline gives only a sketch of the teachings of Torah. On does not master a book by knowing the outline. Time to go and learn the teachings of Jewing. This means studying the entire Mishnah Torah, not just the outline.
Finally we get to the end. No Commandment to believe anything about the Messiah is listed among the 613. In fact, the essence of Maiminodes personal views were censored by Jewish and non Jewish authorities. You may want to begin adding to our discussion after you see the censored sections.
Maiminodes lived at a time of Crusade, Jihad, and Holy War. He used his pen as a sword to console his powerless people. Maiminodes does not get the last word. His text begins our discussion and must be updated.
Jewish Universalism based on Torah includes a world filled with the Peace Judah brings. The Coming of Shiloh (Sealah) means a messianic leader who ignites the sparks of messiah in everyone’s soul. This is our inheritance.
Next step, then, must be dialogue and trialogue.
This has been a rational and empirical discussion of a religion called Judaism. Those who follow the path defined by the Torah and Rabbis are best described as Jewing, the noun defined by doing. The Verbal.
We are gerunds.
When we review the outline of Jewing, the 613 Commandments, we see we are doing much better than our dark critics think.
We who question orthodoxy are not wicked. We love God and exist in every denomination and schism that orthodoxies always inspire.
We are wise. We know that to love God we are commanded to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, one of the 613.
We honor all who are grounded in this God of being. Let God do the judging.
Judge all humans as being righteous. God will take care of the wicked. This is what it means to be a JU, a Jewish Universalist. This is the essence of Realigion and Jewing.
Rabbi Elijah Aryeh Laurence. The R.E.A.L. GET IT!?
About Rabbi Alpern
Temple Shabbat Shalom
Sealah Free University