Sunday, March 28, 2010

The time is here!

To all of you, my friends who read this blog:

May this zman cherutenu (time of our freedom) be a time when you personally experience God's deliverance of his people--suddenly, and in big ways.

Chag sameach...gut Pesach...happy Passover.


And I saw a lamb, looking like it had been slain

I was struck by this comment from the JPS Commentary on the Haggadah:
What is presumably the major event of the evening--the meal--is unaccompanied, at least in this stage of history, by any texts. This is most remarkable when we realize that the paschal lamb was brought in whole. Bringing a whole animal before the participants must have been a dramatic event.
I had never thought about this before. Curious, I googled "roasted lamb" and found an image that conveys some of the "drama" R. Tabory mentions. (Warning: not for the faint of heart!)

Click here to see a whole roasted lamb...

Imagine your bubbe bringing that to the table!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

April J-BOM: Twerski's Visions of the Fathers

March is flying by! Passover is only one week away, and we're ready to do some serious chametz removal.

So, J-BOM. Aside from my introductory post, I've been falling down on the job. :-( Fortunately I still have another week to try to squeeze in another post or two.

But today I received J-BOM's book of the month for April. I'm really excited about this one, and I wanted to give you a heads up. It's Visions of the Fathers, Rabbi Abraham Twerski's commentary on Pirkei Avot.

It's customary to read Pirkei Avot during the weeks between Pesach and Shavuot. I first read Pirkei Avot last year, and I fell in love with the depth of its practical wisdom. Today I peeked into R. Twerski's commentary, and I can already tell that I'm going to enjoy studying it again. So kudos to Derek--I'm really glad you picked this book for April. (Check out Derek Leman's blog for additional info on J-BOM in April.)

If you're the type that appreciates books that are full of practical wisdom for your spiritual walk, I think you will love Pirkei Avot. And if you tend to go for the more heady theological stuff, I think you will be amazed by the depth of the insights of some of our sages.
Now's a great time to order the book so that after Passover you can dive right in. So go ahead, carpe diem!

Fellow bloggers and free stuff!

Hi friends,
Last weekend I was able to attend the first UMJC conference for the mid-atlantic region in a long time. I was able to connect with some old friends, including a few of my favorites from the Messianic blogosphere.
Here's me with Netzer Chosid, a longtime friend. N''C's posts are few and far between, but they're real gems. Hopefully he'll find ways to continue sharing his insights.

And here's me with Rabbi Russ Resnick, who was one of the speakers for the conference. His talk, called "Walk the Talk," used Isaiah 52:7 as a starting point to talk about what it means to proclaim the gospel with our lives as well as our words.
Currently my havurah is reading Rabbi Russ's new book, Divine Reversal. So far I think it's an excellent examination of the transformational teachings of Yeshua from a Jewish perspective. Rabbi Russ manages to be both accessible and deep--a tricky feat! I'm looking forward to sharing this book with others...

One last (only tangentially related) thing: I arrived home from the conference to discover a funny-shaped package waiting in the mail. I opened it up only to discover...a free t-shirt from CustomInk!
I've used CustomInk twice now to make t-shirts, and they are one of my favorite companies. Their website is so easy to use: I would start messing around with an idea, and before I knew it, I'd be ready to order a t-shirt. And their customer service is top notch too.

I'm not getting anything by saying this (the free t-shirt was just for being a cool customer)--but if you want to order t-shirts for anything, I definitely recommend them.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Charoset without nuts?

Do you or your friends have nut allergies? Consider trying a nut-free charoset recipe this Pesach.

Tablet magazine has the details...

Quote of the Day

Over at the Jesus Creed blog, Scot McKnight challenges the idea that the Bible teaches charity should be left up to individuals, and that the government shouldn't have anything to do with it.
That Jesus didn't speak about electing a government is beside the point; he didn't have that option. He did live in a world governed by a Torah that let the government have laws that mandated care for the poor. He lived in a world that didn't just leave it up to individuals. Sure, there was lots of private charity. That too, on top of laws.
Dr. McKnight asks his readers: "Are you seeing an increasing connection of libertarianism with the Bible? Do you think the Bible is anti-government mandated care for the poor? Do you see a radical voluntarism as the biblical model for caring for the poor?" He also presents "a set of texts that show that the Bible mandated charity and didn't leave it up entirely to individuals to make the decision." Check out the rest over at the Jesus Creed blog.

Dr. McKnight, if you gave this drash at my shul, I'd give you a hearty yasher koach!

Monday, March 1, 2010

J-BOM is here!

J-BOM (the Jewish Book of the Month club) officially starts today. (In case you don't know what I'm talking about, click here.)

Hopefully you've ordered your copy of The JPS Commentary on the Haggadah. I intend to make several posts about the book over the coming month, in connection to the upcoming Pesach holiday.

Here's a taste of what's to come, from the book's foreword by David Stern. (No, not that David Stern.) After opening by talking about how beloved the Passover haggadah is, Stern writes:
[The] proclivity for contemporizing the haggadah can be traced back to the haggadah text itself. In one of its most famous passages, it instructs its reader, the participant in the seder, "to see him or herself as though they had gone out of Egypt." Historically, Jews have fulfilled this instruction in different ways, sometimes even acting out the Exodus by marching around the seder table! Since the early Middle Ages, however, probably the most typical way Jews have made the haggadah speak to their contemporary concerns and needs has been through the act of composing commentaries on it and then drawing on their elaborations and interpretations at the seder. These commentaries have been of every conceivable type--midrashic, legalistic, homiletical, ethical, philosophical, and mystical. And each has added a different and additional layer of meaning to the ritual.
I'd like to suggest that we take Stern's observation as an exhortation: that as we read the haggadah through this commentary, we also engage in creating our own commentaries on the haggadah, commentaries which reflect our own particular story, giftings, and passions.

Should Messianic Jews "Keep the Law"?

Have you ever wrestled over the question of whether Messianic Jews should keep Torah or not?

Over the years, I certainly have. You can read about some of the things that influenced me changing my mind on the issue in the comments section of a recent post at the Rosh Pina Project blog.