(by Christopher Fredrickson from Brutal Planet, The PaRDeS Radio Torah Portions and Torah Portions for Christians)
This walk of the striving of observing the commandments of Hashem is filled with instances where a student puts their hand to the their forehead and pull a Homer Simpson style "doh!!". I had one of these moments today as a matter of fact. I have started doing my personal studies on my own time reading from the Hebrew or Aramaic side of the pages in my Stone Edition Tanach or my Aramaic English New Testament. And I have been doing this for several reasons, the first being, pertaining to the old quote, "you don't use it you loose it" so I needed to brush up. Secondly I have discovered through my studies that often times if a word is written with a differentiation in a Hebrew letter it is to convey something, this often happens with the sizes of letters, often times whether it is bent or upright, open or closed and so many things are involved. So I have found myself reading from the Hebrew and Aramaic side of the pages in personal study because of these reasons.
Through that time I would see a word and say "why is there not a footnote on this one cause there is something incredible going on here because this tzaddi is bent" or "the word for rain has the word for light in it" etc. I would then pull out all the translations I own in hardback form and on my iPad and not totally satisfied with the English. And because of that I have found myself becoming one of those annoying guys who says, "I don't like how 'translation X' renders this word". And I was discussing this with a close personal friend who was a former orthodox rabbi and he said, "oh you are getting away from reading chumash", and I know what chumash was but I was silent for a second thinking to myself, "has my friend lost his mind? What is he talking about?", I said, "can you explain". And he said "surely you don't think your favorite translation or any English translation is without error do you; and that it brings the full meaning of each word or concept?" I said, "of course not, I like the Stone Edition and there have been other translations I have liked and I do not find them to be 100% without error in the English side of the page in fact I think we are only getting roughly 10% of what the text is saying in the English". My friend then said, "it is because you have been used to reading chumash" and I am still not getting the entire cut of his jib and I said, "no I have been reading the whole thing, not just a fifth of it". Cause Chumash means 5th. He then explained to me if a text has even the slightest error then it is "chumash" but "Torah" refers solely to the scroll that your rabbi rolls out at the beginning of service and it is 100% without error. Now Torah can also refer to actually doing mitzviot, or discussing parshyot or discussing halacha, the english text you have in front of you is not "Torah" it is "chumash".
I remember years ago when I would say to orthodox friends, I would refer to myself as "studying Torah" and they would laugh at me and I never understood why and now I do, cause I was not studying "Torah" with my English text I was studying "chumash". And in the revelation of this I am gonna make a conscious effort to adjust my vernacular in future teachings cause I realize that I was in error for referring to my English text as that of "Torah" and in some way I was diminishing from something so sacred as to say that something copied by a machine in mass quantity is equal to that of the scroll a student will write the entire Torah upon without error by hand in Hebrew. I think this is something many of us have picked up on when we initially learned Hebrew and Aramaic from a good source to read the actual texts as opposed to seeing the English text inerrant and working backwards with a text like STRONG'S, that is just bad scholarship and a bad way to learn Hebrew and Aramaic and you will really mess yourself up by doing such a thing.
But I wanted to bring you all this revelation of our terminology of major part of our text we use when we read and study and please do not take this as a demand to follow suit with me on this fact that I am gonna refer to the English not as Torah but rather "Chumash" (pronounced (a phlegmy) ch-u-mish). I only wanted to bring this up for those of you who like myself may not have realized this like I didn't for a long time in terms of the terminology yet I know the best English translations have some slight issues every couple of verses in their rendering and I must say for the most part Artscroll and Netzari Press with the Stone Edition Tanach and The Aramaic English New Testament do help with their massive footnotes in understanding a little closer to what the "Torah" says in terms of English and the words within the New Testament but it is still lacking a bit. And there is not a "perfect translation" out there. If there were, then one page of the English text would have roughly 5 pages of footnotes just to give you a basic understanding of the Hebrew or Aramaic actually says. And this is why Torah She Be'al Peh is so important cause even for those who only know the English we had some great sages and Rabbis who also picked up on these things who spoke Hebrew and Aramaic fluently and who have studied from the actual Torah scrolls many years and them explaining an upright tzaddi as opposed to a bent tzaddi in a verse in Deuteronomy is to them like an architect showing a middle school student how to use a protractor. And it is important to realize until we can speak Hebrew and Aramaic fluently and see these things in the text and find out what they mean, we are that middle school student who has only seen a protractor, we have never seen it even used we don't even know what it really is or it's purpose, yet we at times pretend like we are experts and scholars and this as well is dangerous.
Look, I realized something many years ago. And this is not a bad thing, this is a good thing and if you feel the same way in my next and final statement then you are on the right path in your walk. I have come to realize that the more I learn the less I actually know. Many within their own vanity may say, "may it never be" but let me tell you, this is good thing. Why is it a good thing? Cause we realize we are always pursuant and we realize that Hashem has much much much more to reveal to us each year as we study the chumash together, as we study the New Testament together. And this rings true what it is our sages say when asked how many interpretations there are to each line of Scripture, they argue a bit, and the number keeps climbing and then the final rabbis say, "There are an unlimited number of interpretations of each passage of Scripture that is correct, it is however dependent upon what it is the bat kol or the Ruach HaKodesh wishes to reveal to you at that time". It makes for an amazing journey and an exciting one, that never ends, we mustn't ever become comfortable with where it is we are at we must always wish for Hashem to show us He is bigger than we could ever imagine and see him in every area of life and every motion we make. He shows us this through the Torah scroll a great deal.
(by Christopher Fredrickson from Brutal Planet, The PaRDeS Radio Torah Portions and Torah Portions for Christians)
When I was 15 years old I attended my first concert, I had the cassette tapes and CDs that contained my favorite songs such as "Right Now", "Can't Stop Loving You", "Jump" and "Not Enough". If you haven't guessed it my first concert was on the day before my 15th birthday and it was to see Van Halen on the Balance tour. The thought goes through a person's mind who lived in a world before the internet age, "will they play the songs I like?", "Will they sound like they do on the CD?", "How many songs will they sing?" etc. I went with my dad to this concert and had the time of my life I was singing the songs and I even said, "They sound better in concert than they do on the CD". I was so taken by the guitar playing of Eddie Van Halen and I remembered I wanted a guitar so bad I could taste it. I remembered the exact one I wanted too, I wanted Pevey Wolfgang, the same kind that Eddie played yet I was given a Fender acoustic guitar and I remember my parents telling me, "learn to play this first" year later I then bought my own Ibanez stratacaster and I practiced, and played in many bands and everyone would tell me I was difficult to write songs with because all my playing sounded like Eddie Van Halen. And the reason was, I studied his guitar playing, I bought all the books on how to play like Eddie Van Halen I got the concert video tapes and I studied it intensively and learned to play guitar that way. That love for the guitar and playing it was because of that one concert, I saw Eddie as the coolest dude on the planet and I was a young kid who wanted to be just like him. Now Eddie would never say anything on stage he focused in on his guitar playing and in 1995 he was without a doubt the best. Many of the big name guitarists at any point in history will say they have influences people that caused them to gravitate towards the instrument. In many ways you can reach a person and inspire them without words.
Now that I have grown older and have not played a musical instrument in 7 years my liking of music now is of the jazz greats such as Jim Hall, Diana Krall, Miles Davis and Candy Dulfer each of them equal if not more superior to that of Eddie Van Halen. If I were to see them in concert at the age of 15 they would have inspired me to maybe play something else. But lets get to the reason of this story.
Often times we try and make the case for Torah and Messiah through saying the right things, winning the argument. We treat our faith like one side of the political isle in a round table debate. The question is have any of us ever seen an episode of "Meet the Press" or "Crossfire" or "The Five" or any political talk show where person on one side of the isle then says, "you know what? You have given me sufficient evidence and I see I am wrong and you are right, I am going to go and change my voter registration tomorrow" that my friends has never ever happened. Bob Beckle will always think those suspenders look good on him even when studies have shown that 100% of the population says suspenders do not look good on anyone.
So my question then becomes how in the world can we expect to bring people into the truth of Torah and Messiah by learning the correct Scripture to recite, using the right sources in terms of theology when there is always someone on the other side who thinks their evidence for their belief is either equal or far superior? The fact is this is a style of witnessing that is not the way those in the Ketuvim HaNetzarim, the Ketuvim of the Prophets and the Chumash (Torah) witnessed. This instead is a quest for validation, a quest for self exaltation, a quest for an extra gold star on the teacher's reward board. Yet this is like hard core David Lee Roth fans and hard core Sammy Hagar friends yelling at each other as to who is better. And it turns into this "my religion is better than your religion and you are n idiot cause you don't see it". So the question is......how should Netzari Jews witness?
Refer back to the Eddie Van Halen story, did Eddie Van Halen come out on stage, speak even a single word? Well the answer is no, so he certainly did not come out and give a speech as to why he is better than any other guitarist in the same genre. He played his tail off, he instead ripped through the solos and was able to do things with the guitar no one else has been able to do. Then he went off the stage and went to the next gig. People respect him as a guitarist and are fans of his because he plays the guitar amazingly. So therefore, what is the evidence that we know what we are talking about in Netzari Judaism? We could write up a press release and say, "we know what we are talking about and everyone else is an idiot" which is essentially what social media has turned into and which is one of the main reasons I personally left social media. The evidence that matters does not seem to exist. And the goal of the ministries associated with Nazarene Media (PaRDeS Radio, YeshuaCast and NazFlix) are here to show you how to change that.
Our witness does not come from offering answers to questions not asked, or trying to put a piece of meat under a box with a piece of string and a stick just waiting to snag the animal that goes after the meat. When you have a room full of sick people all infected with a plague and one person who is not infected with a plague the question then becomes "how come this person was not infected....we need to find out what we did wrong and what they did right". Young people who choose a major in college are inspired by someone and they search out how to get into the field of the person who inspired them. If a man tries to replace a radiator fan in his car and fails, yet his neighbor can replace a radiator fan in 5 minutes and he has seen him do it, the neighbor is prone to ask..."how do you do that?".
I am often reminded of Avraham Aveinu, whom you did not see chasing people down, our sages say that Avraham at that time was a revolutionary figure in the theological sense because he was the worlds only monotheist at the time. So we see just how bad everything was then, he was the only one essentially worshiping the God of Creation. But the thing we keep seeing in Avraham Aveinu's life is that he had one attribute that set him apart that people actually saw, we did not see him in theological debate, no where is is said he debated anyone, instead we see he was the embodiment of chesed (loving kindness). In the Parsha Toldos, in the first few verses we see that Avraham stopped his prayer midway through his conversation with Hashem to tend to the needs of 3 men (whom were actually angels yet Avraham did not know this). Through his actions and by doing what he did not out of zealousness, not out of ego, not out of self gratification, but he did it for the sake of Hashem and the love of Hashem is mirrored onto how it is a person treats others. We see Avraham Aveinu is the kind of servant Hashem wants all of us to be. And our Messiah Yeshu as well showed this to be the case when he said above all mitzvios is to love Hashem and to love your neighbor. That is essentially the umbrella over all the Torah. Yeshua also told Keefa he would make them fishers of men. Now if you hang a hook out of your boat with nothing on it do you expect a fish to put his bite down on a naked hook? Of course not. They put instead some kind of thing that a fish, they are hoping to catch, that would be like a sirloin steak to them to get the fish to swim towards the hook. Instead, in the Netzari Faith we tend to be like slick used car salesmen, "you don't want to drive that car you have now it sucks, what you want is the new model......and it has.......and I am gonna throw in a special deal just for you......". And this is the major problem. So how do we break away from even acting like this? Habits are sometimes hard to break.
There is something studied often in Mathematics, Science, and even Social Sciences called Chaos Theory, and Chaos Theory has an element of truth in it on a much gander scale. This can be shown in the book of Esther where we do not see Hashem mentioned anywhere in Esther yet we see the puzzle pieces come together in everything he orchestrated that each motion we take in our life has an impact in some way or another, that every word as the chassidics say is suspended and in existence somewhere in the universe and it has an impact on someone or something living because words are manifestations. When a mitzvah or a mitzvos is fulfilled that is like comparing a butterfly flapping it's wings and how it affects the cosmos and a bowling ball going 90 mph to some bowling pins (yes I know they don't go that fast but I think you get the cut of my jib). Whether you know it or not people are watching you, from up close and from a distance every kind act and ever commandment fulfilled by you each day has a major impact cause those whom you think are watching from farther and farther away in your mind are actually putting you under a microscope and they are seeing if you know the key to changing the the spark plugs that went bad in their life. They are looking for someone with the answers, someone whom inspires them when you think no one is looking believe me you have many friends and family members looking at you. The time you are discounted is when you feel it necessary to go on the defensive and butt heads. For a human being knows that if a person must make a straw man argument he only does so because he does not have a case to make for what it is he believes and it is obviously not in his actions. Therefore, we must look at the Torah much differently than we are accustomed to and in away that many do not wish to teach it. And that is by looking at it introspectively, instead of hoping it convicts someone else, ask for Hashem to convict you each time you read the Chumash, the Writings of the Prophets or the Writings of the Netzarim. Then and only then can you inspire, and you will inspire because of the fact you will be a mirror image of the God in which you serve. Let us stop using the Torah to condemn, rather let us put the Torah inside of us let us instead eat of the scroll and grow within us. As opposed to taking it tearing it up rolling it up into little balls and sticking it at the end of a straw and blowing it out at other unexpectedly. Instead let us be on a constant never ending journey to connect with Hashem and have Him convict us each and every day and ask Him to help us become better servants each and every day and then one day as the prophet said, we will turn around and behind us will be a "gentile pulling on the tzitiot of a Jew saying teach us for we know Hashem is with you". Notice we did not go out searching for the goy, for instead they came to us and they know the fruits that we have produced through Yeshua and they know it was good, and because it is good we say "it is because of Hashem it is good, yet it is not by my hand that it is good but by Hashem's". Happy Hanukkah everyone.
Theological Insights from Rabbi Eved Banah the North American Rebbe of Ani Judaism