(by Christopher Fredrickson from Brutal Planet)
Last night I got home from work, I did my live Garden of Peace teaching for the international affiliate and I decided to wind down with Netflix. Now I have had this documentary in my instant cue for a few months and never sat down and watched it but I really meant to. Well last night, I curled up in bed started the documentary titled "Don't Stop Believing" about Arnel Pineda the new lead singer of Journey. With my popcorn and diet Dr Pepper in hand. I was tired but I was blown away by this guy's story. And I made this connection through watching this documentary about something I had been teaching for a while on the Garden of Peace, which is the concept of gratitude. What does this have to do with the film? Well I remember in the 90s when Steve Perry rejoined Journey and they released a new song entitled "When You Love A Woman" it was an incredible song, got lots of airplay. But soon after the success of the Greatest Hits package that included that song, Steve Perry disappeared once again to do his solo thing. And I remember outside of "Oh Sherrie" Steve Perry never had a hit without Journey. So why would he leave this band that took him to the height of his career? From hearing interviews with Steve Perry when I was younger, you really get the sense that Steve is rather an egotistical guy. He really didn't appreciate all he had received and what his fan had given him. He had this ideal that Journey was nothing more than a backup band for his voice. We will get to why this is spiritually significant in a moment.
After more than 10 years without an official lead singer, Journey started to drift into obscurity. Neal Schon, the guitarist fir Journey was looking for a new permanent lead singer for Journey and ran across Arnel Pineda on YouTube of him singing "Faithfully" one of Journey's biggest songs in the 80s. He saw that Arnel had that something that the band needed and contacted him to fly him out to the United States for an audition for Journey. And Arnel's story is rather interesting as you will see in this YouTube clip below: (But I would encourage you to check out the documentary "Don't Stop Believing on Netflix)
One of the things you notice in these clips of his story, is the amazing gratitude and humility that is within Arnel. To be able to sing with people he has great respect for and whom he looks up to. And I saw the look on Arnel's face all through the Netflix documentary and I said to myself, this is how our face needs to light up with the gratitude we have towards Hashem, and for one's wife. Because the stories are very similar.
I remember in the episode I did on gratitude (which actually went into several episodes) Rabbi Shalom Arush said for a person to write down all the little things one's wife does for them. No matter how small or how minute it may seem, one should grab a note book and document every time she makes dinner, every time she takes the children to school, every time she does his laundry, every time she offers a kind word, every time she does the smallest thing and you will see how much gratitude your wife deserves.
Gratitude is the key to resisting and starving the yetzer hara, it is what brings a man from egotism to humility, and in the case of Arnel Pineda, blessing is also very humbling. Cause as our sages say in Pirkei Avos, "be not like a servant who serves for the sake of receiving a reward, rather be like a servant who serves not for the sake of receiving a reward". This principle is embedded deeply in the words of our Melech Messiah Yeshua, when he said, "if you want to be greatest in the Kingdom then you must be a servant". When we see gratitude first hand and when we provide for someone who isn't able to provide for themselves, we make that connection with Hashem and we see the humility and the thing we learn about becomes real, and it becomes something that sticks with us, and becomes a part of us. Thus when one gives and is a servant to one's wife they are indeed being a servant unto Hashem because they acknowledge whom had given them their spouse. Praise to Hashem is then given and the systematic order of the world makes sense. And we realize how Hashem is at work 24/7 in our lives, through providing the oxygen that we may breathe, by providing the animals and the plants for us to eat, the rain for us to drink etc. This is a very Chassidic thing, the ideal of acknowledging that God is constantly at work and constantly providing for us.
Instead we tend to focus on the knowledge and becoming smart. Yet the right path of Torah observance is not really written in a manual, it is not stereo instructions. This is why each year when I have done the Chumash Hashavuah readings in the Chumash (Torah) Hashem shows me something different depending upon what is going on in my life that time. The same message is not given year after year yet we are reading the very same thing year after year. We see there is complexity but the ideal is not to fill our heads with knowledge as to what it all means but rather how it is we apply and experience and also how it is we adjust to bring shalom bayis. The absence of ego allows that, it is through being grateful and taking the next step of observance in shalom for the sake of Hashem as opposed to for the sake of self.
We can look at Arnel's story and say this is a story about a man who went from poverty to fame and fortune. I think that is a very linear way of looking at it and an incorrect way of looking at it. Instead what we should see is a man, who was provided an opportunity that was life changing, and as you can see in the clips....he is grateful. Now one might ask, with the egotistical ways of Steve Perry, if he were to rejoin Journey when they were looking for a new singer....would it have lasted? Chances are it would have been like the last time and lasted a year and then he would be gone again. Now the question then becomes given the humility of Arnel as you can see in these clips, do you think he would ever leave Journey to pursue something else and think he was too good for Journey? Chances are no. He has found his home and he is grateful. This is also one of the issues we see in the Hebrew Roots and how we see television stations, online ministries, terrestrial ministries, radio stations etc destroyed because we have too many Steve Perrys and not enough Arnel Pinedas. Our first and foremost message should be of the inner battle between the yetzer hara and the yetzer tov, as opposed to "Is Torah for Today", let us all start at step one. Let us purify ourselves before we step into the Bayis Hagmigdash, let us come to Hashem with a pure heart before we think it is our time to teach Torah. Let us be grateful to Hashem for all He has done, let us be grateful to our spouse then....we can learn Torah because then we can properly apply it. Cause Like Arnel, Journey wanted to make sure they could work with him, he could have had the greatest voice in the world, but the thing the band members wanted most, was someone they could work with. Be that person someone can work with and you will be blessed, your marriage will be blessed and every aspect of your life will be blessed.
by Christopher Fredrickson from Brutal Planet
Sometimes we tend to see the enemy as being an entity that is solely external with a pitchfork a tail and some horns. This is what we have become accustomed to, an ideal of something purely external. Yet, I find it interesting considering that in Genesis 1:31 it says, "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." And in Ephesians 6:10-12 it says "Finally, my Brothers, be strong in our Master (Y’shua), and in the energy of his power: And put on the whole armor of Elohim so that you may be able to stand against the strategies of the Accuser. For our conflict is not with flesh and blood but with principalities and with those in authority, and with the possessors of this dark world, and with the evil spirits that are under heaven."
When we then look at the story of the nechash (serpent) in the garden, we see that yes indeed there is an external force just as we see in the book of Job as well. The thing we must get at is look at the history as to why a serpent and not an elephant or that of an alligator or a spider, what is so special of the nechash that would cause this external force to take the body of the said animal in the historical account? What do we know about a serpent? What does it do? It is a cunning creature as we know as well from the Scripture in Matthew 10:16, "Behold, I send you as lambs among wolves. Therefore, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves." the serpent also has another aspect that is physical as well. It interjects venom. A bite from a highly poisonous snake can cause a person to fall to an agonizing sickness and then die. Romans 6:23 tells us "The wages of sin is death" . We then start to see what essentially happened in the Garden when we look at Ecclesiastes 10:1 which states, "A fly placed in the perfume causes the whole bottle to stink".
There was a venom (which is symbolic of the serpent) that was placed into Adam and Hava when they ate of the tree of good and evil in HaGan Edhen (The Garden of Eden) also known as the Garden of God in the Hebrew. The sages say that when Adam and Hava ate of the fruit their skin became callus and tangible, because they were essentially beings of light before they ate of the fruit. Which makes sense considering in Romans 6:23 it is noted that "The wages of sin is death". So what we see is that there was an external force which influenced the internal. And we can prove this from what it is we noted previously in Genesis 1:31, because upon creation it was said that it was tov (good). Mark 10:18 says, "And Y’shua said to him, “Why do you call me good? There is no one good, except Elohim.". We see in the book of Bereishis, in the first parsha of the Chumash cycle, we see how quickly us as human beings fall, how quickly we can become influenced by the external. The external forces can take root and grow within a person to where the external is no longer needed. We see this very same concept of the yetzer tov and the yetzer hara within that of the historical, biblical account of Essau and Jacob. We have the original Jekyll and Hyde story. Considering it says in Genesis 25:23-25 that we have both in the womb at the same time and in Hosea 12:3 it says they fought in the womb, we see there is a message of a spiritual condition between that of the yetzer tov and the yetzer hara. The enemy is actually not exclusively external after he injected the human race with his venom. The enemy is within. Now do I mean in terms of possession? No psychologists explain it the best they can with the thought process known as the id, the ego and super-ego. In psychology they say the id wishes to be pleased and the ego then gives options that are polar opposites (good and bad), and the super ego carries it out. We in the Torah where the book of Bereishis it says, "The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her,“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:22-23). The Torah reveals to us the two entities, one of which being the product of the venom passed down from the serpent that is within each human being. This is why this history played out like it did. This was a story of the satan that is within each of us, the yetzer hara that must be killed and defeated daily.
A person must fight against their inner satan, their own adversary that is the venom of the serpent each and every day. It is easy to say that the enemy is only external and comes from no where to attack us at random. It takes away personal responsibility and makes a person the victim as opposed to allowing one to grow and and starve their yetzer hara, because then it is no longer their fault for all the bad that happens in their life. Let us remember there is the external enemy at the same time but most of curses brought upon us we bring on ourselves. Not all of them, but most. The mature person will look at their situation, their failure, their misdeeds and say first, "what did I do wrong?" as opposed to blaming everything on "the devil" like Christians do.
(by Christopher Fredrickson from Brutal Planet)
Got a very interesting question as to why chesed is parallel to gevurah on the sefiros. This is actually a very good question and the answer is actually something that comes about through application. Chesed as you know signifies loving kindness, gevurah signifies judgement. So what is the parallel here? The answer is within that of the word tzaddik. Now did you know this word not only signifies righteousness but judgement as well? For this is why Yeshua said "judge rightly". Yeshua himself was pointing out both chesed and gevurah. For we are supposed to give loving kindness and it is the foundation of all of Torah learning. Now can a person "judge rightly" if they have the opposite of chesed within them? Of course not. And this gets into something called mishpatim law or social law in the Torah. We see that Yeshua was showing this as well in terms of our response. For he said, "when someone slaps you on the right cheek offer him your left". He was showing that we have an opportunity to show mercy as opposed to doing evil. To carry out Torah law, especially mishpatim law it is important that we must pass through the three pillars in how we carry something out in terms of judgement we must first be in the state of chesed and then move to the middle pillar of tiferet which signifies spirituality, balance, integration, beauty and compassion. So chesed must move through tiferet until a judgement can be carried out they also can pass through Da'at to get to gevurah because Da'at is interconnected as well with chesed and gevurah in the sefiros. And da'at signifies knowledge. So if a person takes the knowledge after attaining chesed then they carry that with the attribute of da'at or tiferet they will get the same outcome in gevurah and judge rightly. This is also alluded to the in Torah when we see it says "the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob" Abraham exuded chesed, Isaac exuded tiferet and Jacob was the encompassment of gevurah.
Now it is important to not go right to left in terms of the sefiros. One must always go left to right, for it is the way Hebrew and Aramaic read so in the Jewish mind a person starts at the left pillar of the sefiros and moves to the right. For can a person obtain chesed after they have judged and have judged rightly? God forbid. For going left to right manifests shalom and right to left manifests hara. I pray this was helpful.
It must also be noted that if you wonder "do I go chesed da'at then gevurah or chesed tiferet gevurah" it would depend upon the person. If one is nieve then the person must go chesed da'at then gevurah in judgement. But if a person was blessed intellectually then they go chesed tiferet and gevurah so that his intelligence does not manifest his yetzer hara in judgement causing him to forget chesed. Now is that to say the one who goes through tiferet is more blessed than the one of limited intelligence who filters through da'at? Heaven forbid. No, Hashem has given each person a unique spark, the one who passes through da'at doesn't have the burden of ego like the one who must filter through tiferet. The middle pillar is our safeguard. This is why the rabbis and sages say in Zohar 221 that "the Son of Hashem is the middle pillar of the sefiros" and they come to this conclusion with the misplaced et in Bereishis 1:1 that is the 4th word in the Hebrew scroll out of the 7 on the first line of the text which makes up the first verses of the Bible.
(by Christopher Fredrickson from Brutal Planet)
In Luke 6:43 our Melech Messiah Yeshua tells us that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. In Matthew 7:17 Yeshua says the same thing just in a different way. Is it possible that Messiah Yeshua was pointing to an actual fruit that is mentioned in Jewish tradition as being the "good fruit"?
www.myjewishlearning.com says this on their website, "The product of the hadar trees was understood by the rabbis to be the etrog, a citrus fruit that looks like a lemon, and the boughs of leafy trees are understood to be myrtle branches. So on Sukkot we wave the palm branch, myrtle branch and willow branch together with the etrog. The Talmud specifies that these four species should be attractive and of good quality, but the etrog in particular should be beautiful (Sukkah 35a). As a result, there are many people willing to spend a lot of time and money acquiring an especially good specimen of the etrog.
Ok....so Christopher you think this may be an etrog that Yeshua was alluding to....do you have anything to back this up? Well we must go to the first century and ask, was the etrog a part of Sukkos during the 1st Century or was it just palm branches as the Karaites claim? The answer can be found in the accounts of Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews "During the celebration of Sukkot the offerings are waved with the branches of the palm tree, the lulav and the etrog". "Ok Christopher I am convinced you have my attention, but the question is....so what?"
What makes the etrog different than any other fruit? And what is it's message to us in terms of the words of Yeshua? The thing that is incredible about the etrog is it is in season for 5 years. The etrog will stay and grow on the tree for 5 years or until it is plucked. This amazing fruit will continue to grow and fertilize in any weather, in any season, no matter if there is heavy rain, or a drought, if temperatures are below freezing or top 100 degrees. The etrog is in season until the weight of the etrog is too heavy for the tree to continue to support it. This is much different than say an apple or banana or any other fruit that has a one season life cycle. The etrog consistently grows on the branch. Which should really be significant given what it is that we are as Netzari Jews. Given the fact that the root for Netzari is "branch" (Netzar). Given the fact that we profess this faith as Netzari Jews it is important to realize the attributes of the etrog is what we are called to be when we look at the Scripture given what the text says about "the branch" and the "branches" and how it relates to "the bride of Messiah" when we realize the significance of Sukkos.
This from www.NetzariJudaism.com
"For we have found this man to be an assassin, and one who does treasonous work among all Yehudeans in the whole land: for he is a ringleader of the sect of the Netzarim."
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Netzer (sprout) shall grow out of his sheresh (roots): And the spirit of Hashem shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Hashem; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of Hashem: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears” (Isaiah 11:1-3).
“Netzarim” is derived from the word “Netzer” in Isaiah. The Netzer represents the Kingdom of Elohim which is offered in Mashiyach Y’shua. These spirits (attributes) of Hashem are imparted into the souls of those who follow Mashiyach and permit the Ruach haKodesh to write Torah upon their hearts. These character attributes of Hashem are revealed by Mashiyach through the Torah (righteous instruction) of Hashem according to His Word. Hence the Kingdom is represented by a sprout that grows to fill the whole earth…which is why haSatan (the adversary) has counterfeited Netzarim Faith with all manner of religious substitutes. Y’shua said:
“I am the Vine and you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, this man will produce plentiful fruit because without me you are not able to do anything” (Yochanan 15:5)
Aramaic “shebista” is the word for “branches”; however, the Netzer/branch of Isaiah 11:1-2 is implied. Netzer word-plays with haNatzrati “the Nazarene” and haNetzarim, “the Netzarim.” Rav Shaul was branded a “ringleader” of the Netzarim: “For we have found this man to be an assassin, and a mover of sedition among all Jews in the whole land: for he is a ringleader of the sect of the Netzarim” (Acts 24:5). The Netzarim designation clearly implies the “Tree of Life” which serves as a reminder of the Eternal Kingdom that was offered to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The term netzer (sprout or branch) is also the root word for the City of the Branch Netzeret (Nazareth); “They said to him, ‘Y’shua the Nasraya.’ Y’shua said to them, ‘I am he’” (Yochanan 18:5). The designation of “Nasraya” serves as a reminder to his followers, not that he dwelled in Netzeret but that his “dwelling” (the Spirit of Mashiyach) is within his people.
“For, if the first-fruits (are) Set Apart, then the rest of the dough (it came from is) also: and if the root is Set Apart, then also the branches” (Romans 11:16)
This is the root of the Renewed Covenant that is altogether righteous, Set Apart, just and good, which is built according to the Spirit of Mashiyach that is the Word of Hashem which is forever revealed through the Father Hashem to mankind."
Therefore, was the "branch" of that of a random tree? Or would it be referring to the attributes of a tree that remained constant, who's faith weathers any storm, come times of plenty or times of drought an hunger. The sect of the Netzari are called to be "the good fruit" the etrog. The thing that is constant in observance, constant in loving kindness, constant in it's servitude. For the fruit Yeshua was talking about could not have been a fruit that was only good when the weather permits it to grow, that is dependent upon how comfortable it is. This would be like your believers who show up to the synagogue only during Yom Kippur and Pesach, these are your apples and bananas and limes and peaches. For these are not constant and they are unreliable. We are called to be "good fruit" we are called to be the etrog on the branch.
(by Christopher Fredrickson from Brutal Planet)
When I was young I remember my great aunt got me hooked on coffee by giving me coffee from a spoon, obviously my parents, being good parents, objected. But despite their objection I loved coffee from a young age, and my mother would say when I would ask for coffee at the breakfast eateries, my mom would say, "you can have hot tea". Later on I was able to get the coffee. I later managed many coffee places and even owned one for a period. I have always loved a good cup of coffee. Through the years I got to visit many specialty coffee roasters and I saw a major difference in your bigger roasters and your smaller ones, not only in their roasting but in the taste of their product. And this is something I wish I would have seen the parallel to early in my ministry work with Nazarene Media and my radio programs as well as my personal observance and application of things I had learned.
In visiting larger scale roasters, I remember noticing that there was a list of instructions for the roaster that consisted of making sure that the most amount of coffee was put out within a certain time frame and that the instructions were not really modified because of humidity or if the roasting was done during the morning or the afternoon. The roaster would not check the coffee beans very often to make sure the coffee was being roasted properly. Instead the larger companies would focus in on the oils that were used and making sure they had the best machines for mass production. The ideal was quantity and not so much quality.
The smaller roasters however, the experience was much different. The roasters were trained extensively and had a love for what they do and they took pride in their product. Every batch was tested by the employees to see if the roast was deemed worthy to put the badge of that particular company on the bag it is enclosed it. When these coffees were made it was with a loving nature and precision and a status of excellence that went to a person's pallet when they tasted the coffee.
What does this have to do with our faith and our observance of Torah? When we started Nazarene Media and YeshuaCast the ideal was to get the big names, get them involved. It was about building something big. In my own walk it was about learning more than the next guy. But not necessarily applying what it is I learned. Before Schtix and Stones turned into Brutal Planet, it was essentially that, we had a massive audience for a show that fueled the masses in the Hebrew Roots. But then, my theology started to change. No longer was it shows for mass consumption, no longer was it about "the paganism of...." but instead it became about, "lets learn to apply the Netzari faith and Judaism in our lives and lets make it real, lets put it into action, let's make the connection of the heart instead of only the mind". With that come challenges, the audience dropped off cause we didn't try and replicate what others were doing. Yet for the first time, real connections were made, lasting connections.
I listened to someone say today as a matter of fact, that a person influences on average 200 people in their lifetime, they impact the lives of 200 people in a real life changing way. I heard that and I said, "wow". Yeshua walked with 12 talmidim. There were many more who followed him but there were these 12 whom were his students. And I then ask myself, "what real changes are being made with hundreds or thousands?". Many want those big numbers, they want the mega-ministry, they want to be bigger than what it is they are. I say again, "Yeshua had 12 talmidim". The impact he had on those 12, changed the world. Like the small coffee roasters, I used to tell my customers, "you try Batdorf and Bronson's coffee in the french press you will never buy Foldger's again". I still run into some of my old customers and they tell me they have still, may years later, been ordering Batdorf and Bronson's coffee from their website every other week, because that coffee they cannot get at the grocery store and they have not had a better coffee. In a small way that coffee changed a part of their routine. It changed their coffee habits, which may not seem like much to others but for that person when the UPS guy knocks at their door and there is a package from Atlanta, or Olympia there is an overwhelming sensation within them that they got their favorite coffee.
Brethren, advancing the Olam Haba is not through how big your ministry is. And yes, you have a ministry, whether you know it or not. Your daily dealings with people, the way you treat people, the attributes of chesed (loving kindness) that is within you that is displayed in many ways is your ministry. For does not the Scripture say, "The body is a temple with the indwelling of the Ruach HaKodesh?". The casing of your body is where the Spirit of Hashem dwells, his Divine Presence is with you and the Bayis Hagmigdash that is your body is called to be in full sanctification in all you do. And the things you conduct with your hands and with your lips, are things that what are to give glory to Hashem and for others to see the God you serve within you. You have the ability to influence a small few that will in turn influence a few more, who will influence a few more and before you know it unknown to you, you have changed the world. Just like Yeshua and those 12 did. Hashem has put within you all a very specific brand of insight that is displayed through your own individuality. There are people that only you can reach that I cannot reach. There are people that someone else can reach that you yourself cannot because of what the Rabbis and Sages note as that "divine individual spark" that was put within each and every single human being that is obtained only by the one it was given to. There is something divine in you that give you the ability to reach some whom no one else can.
When we try and "reach the masses", we instead deny Hashem's divine spark and we see it as a puzzle of talking points that we need to regurgitate that should will someone into submission to Torah and Messiah. Yet, let us remember each person has a divine spark and not each person likes Foldger's coffee. The lasting impact will not come from the mega-ministry. And a note to the leaders in the "Messianic faith" the "Hebrew Roots" and the "Netzari Faith" don't be like the big coffee companies. Build lasting relationships, close relationships. It is not a one size fits all thing. Find that divine spark, find your message that Hashem has given you.....and make a lasting impact on your talmidim. It's not about numbers, it is not about fame, it is not about big buildings. It is about a lasting, and real impact. This is why one of the core elements of Judaism is finding your divine spark and what it is Hashem has put within you as an individual and your emphasis in the body.
Theological Insights from Rabbi Eved Banah the North American Rebbe of Ani Judaism