Thursday, December 29, 2016

Judaism is Fundamentally a Religion of Practice

An article I read about an interview with Noam Chomsky inspired me to write this blog. Before I knew anything about Noam Chomsky, I was introduced to the work of his father William Chomsky through his book Hebrew: The Eternal Language. It contains a wealth of knowledge about the culture behind ancient Hebrew words. It wasn’t until I returned to college and began taking linguistics courses that I learned about Noam. He is a professor at MIT and is considered the “Father of Modern Linguistics.” In an awards ceremony at MIT, he was introduced as the “world's most cited living scholar.”  He is also known as “the world's leading political dissident,” which often makes him an unpopular figure to those on the right and left.

In a December 14, 2016 interview with Daily Mirror, Noam Chomsky was asked: “And your views on religion, you were born into a Jewish family and raised . . . .” His answer brought back some old memories for me. I grew up in a town that did not have a synagogue and I did not personally know any Jewish people until I began my research on the Jewish Jesus in my mid-30s. The first Jews I met practiced ultraorthodox forms of Judaism. Since I came from a fundamentalist Protestant Christian background, it seemed to me that we shared a lot of things in common – belief in one God, belief in the Scriptures, etc.

Later, I got to know another group of Jews who made it clear to me that they were atheists. Now I knew a lot of “former Christians” who were atheists, but this group did not identify themselves as “former Jews;” they made it clear they still Jews. But even though that gave me something to think about, what they did simply did not compute – they kept the Shabbat, went to synagogues on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and did other “Jewish” things!

Why would people who didn’t believe in God do those things? It took me a long time to finally understand. Chomsky’s response to the question above reminded me of that period in my life and that’s why I decided to share it with you. (I added underlines to highlight points).

Well, remember that Judaism is fundamentally a religion of practice, more than belief. So, say my grandfather, who was basically still living in the 17th century Eastern Europe was ultra religious. But if I had asked him, did you believe in God? He probably wouldn’t have known what I was talking about. Judaism means carrying out the practices. My father was basically secular, but deeply involved in Jewish life. If you go to a New England church on Sunday morning, you would find people who are deeply religious, but not believers. Religion to them means community, associations, helping each other, having some common values and so on. Religion could be all sorts of things. But to me, it doesn’t happen to be a value; if other people do, that is their business.”

Judaism is “fundamentally a religion of practice.” Keep that in mind when you read about the life and teachings of the Real Yeshua. His message and movement was about what people do, not what they believe.

This has definitely been an exciting and challenging journey. If you found this information useful, please let us know by going to The Real Yeshua Facebook page by CLICKING HERE and “Like it.”

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Shalom,
Jim Myers


Friday, December 23, 2016

Who Founded Christianity? Jesus, Paul or Neither? The Answer Will Surprise You

Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus or Paul say he is rejecting Judaism and starting a new religion. In fact, the term “Christian” doesn’t appear at all in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), which chronicle Jesus’ spiritual mission; and only later, three times in the rest of the New Testament. If Jesus conceived of a new church, why did he spend his life religiously celebrating the major Jewish holidays in the Temple in Jerusalem? And we must remember that throughout the years Jesus prayed, preached, and read from the Torah in a synagogue on the Sabbath. Read the complete blog at -- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bernard-starr/who-founded-christianity_b_13821370.html

Thursday, December 22, 2016

"DO TZEDAQAH (righteousness)" - Yeshua’s Primary Message

The following is from a book we highly recommend – There shall be no needy: Pursuing Social Justice through Jewish Law & Tradition by Rabbi Jill Jacobs © 2009; Jewish Lights Publishing, Woodstock, Vermont; pp. 80, 84-85. Rabbi Jacobs is providing information from sources much later than Yeshua, but I have no doubt that he would be in complete agreement with her message. The information below has been edited and highlighted to make specific points related to the teachings of Yeshua.
 ___________________________________________________________________________

The theme of JUSTICE remains central to the understanding of TZEDAQAH (righteousness). Support for the poor is understood as an obligation and as a means of restoring justice to the world, and not as an altruistic or voluntary gesture.

If the poor are entitled to the same dignity and quality of life as the wealthy, and if the fortunes of the wealthy and the poor are understood to be interconnected, then it stands to reason that the better off would be expected to care for the needs of the less well-off.

In contrast with philanthropy or charity, TZEDAQAH (righteousness) specifically refers to financial support for the poor. Other kinds of giving – to communal institutions such as synagogues, museums, schools, and cultural organizations – are important responsibilities, but are not necessarily considered TZEDAQAH (righteousness).

The goal of TZEDAQAH (righteousness) is, first and foremost, to lift individual people out of poverty and to create a more equitable world. At the same time, giving TZEDAQAH (righteousness) should also increase our own awareness of the world around us, and should arouse in us compassion for those in need.

Conditioning ourselves to give TZEDAQAH (righteousness) can bring us into a closer relationship with God and has the potential to increase the sense of divine compassion in the world as a whole.

TZEDAQAH (righteousness) is obligatory upon every member of the community, even those who themselves accept TZEDAQAH (righteousness):

(1) A person who has lived in a community for thirty days becomes obligated to contribute to the fund used to provide food for the hungry.

(2) Someone who has lived in the community for three months must donate to the fund that gives financial assistance to the poor.

(3) Someone who buys a home, thus declaring an intention to stay in a given community, becomes obligated to contribute to these funds immediately (Talmud, Bava Batra 8a).

Every member of the community of the community is required to contribute according to his or her ability. Specifically, there is an expectation that each person should give at least 10 percent of his or her yearly income to TZEDAQAH (righteousness).

According to traditional sources, you should not give more than 20 percent of your income to TZEDAQAH (righteousness), lest you find yourself dependent on the communal fund.

The message of Yeshua can be summed up in two words: DO TZEDAQAH!



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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Have You Met Rabbi Yeshua?


Is understanding Yeshua as a rabbi more important than "believing in Jesus"? The role of Yeshua as a messianic figure gets much more attention than his role as a rabbi. The Synoptic Gospels, however, provide a wealth of information and highlights his activities as a rabbi. Interestingly, and as surprising as it may seem, we have a record of more of the sayings and the deeds of Yeshua than any other 1st century rabbi. Learn more about Rabbi Yeshua at -- 


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Go and Learn What This Means

Over the past 2000 years there have been many opinions about Yeshua, but I believe almost everyone will agree that he was a good teacher. His followers were known as “disciples,” which Dr. Ike Tennison likes to call “learners.” “Go and learn what this means” has to be a clue about something that was very important to Yeshua, and something he wanted his disciples to learn. What did he want them to learn? Was it the meaning of this – I desire mercy and not sacrifice?” Click here to find out -- http://www.biblicalheritage.org/go_and_learn_01.html

Friday, December 9, 2016

Who were the Poor in Spirit?

Dr. James H. Charlesworth, is the George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature and Chairperson of the Department of Biblical Studies at the Princeton Theological Seminary. In his book, Jesus Within Judaism: New Light from Existing Archaeological Discoveries, he provides very important insights into the meaning of two technical terms Yeshua used in his teachings – the Poor in Spirit and the Poor. The follow is from his book, which I highly recommend.

Some passages suggest that Jesus may have been influenced in a positive fashion by the Essenes. The very first beatitude in the Sermon on the Mount is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3). The meaning is now supplied in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The terms, “poor in spirit’’ and “poor,” are technical terms used only by the Essenes to describe themselves. 1

The Poor in Spirit” and “the Poor” signified that they had renounced all worldly possessions and dreams so that they might be members of God’s lot, and the remnant of God’s chosen elect.

According to our existing sources, the Qumran community and no other group used these technical terms to refer to itself.

For our present purposes it is not necessary to discern whether Jesus uttered a blessing upon “the poor in spirit,” as in Matthew, or upon “the poor,” as in Luke. Studies of these passages suggest that the traditions arise ultimately from Jesus. We are confronted, thence, with an intriguing possibility:

Was Jesus referring to the Essenes, “the Poor,” and praising their absolute allegiance to God and desire to be purified and holy?

The first beatitude would be in harmony, then, with many of Jesus’ sayings regarding the cost of discipleship; for example, Mark 10:21, “go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Like the Essene, such a follower would have become poor for the sake of God’s Kingdom.

It is conceivable, therefore, that Jesus could have been positively influenced by the Essenes’ dedication. Perhaps the first beatitude originally meant something like the following:

“Blessed are you Poor — who like the Essenes live only for God — for you already possess God’s Kingdom.” 2

SOURCE:
Jesus Within Judaism: New Light from Existing Archaeological Discoveries By James H. Charlesworth © 1988; Doubleday, New York, NY.
1 page 68
2 page 70


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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What Kind of Jew was Yeshua?

Today, almost everyone agrees that Jesus was a Jew and an increasing number of people understand that his name was actually “Yeshua.” People often describe him as an “observant Jew.” When asked what that means, people usually reply by describing what it means to be an observant Jew today as a member of Rabbinic Judaism in American democracy. There are three very big problems with that understanding of Yeshua.

(1) Rabbinic Judaism didn’t exist at that time.

(2) America did not exist.

(3) Judea wasn’t a democracy.

Yeshua lived during the final decades of the Israelite Temple Period, which began with the portable Tabernacle of Moses and ended with the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem about forty years after he was crucified. There was no separation of church and state. Jerusalem wasn’t viewed as a religious center. Yeshua was a member of an Israelite Temple nation that was occupied and controlled by the Roman Empire.

The best example I can think of that reflects how Yeshua and his fellow Judeans would have understood their world is by viewing Jerusalem this way.

Picture Washington D.C. with a complex that houses the equivalent of the Vatican, Congress, Supreme Court and Federal Reserve System under the occupation and control of a foreign nation.

It is a grave mistake to view the role of the Temple as simply a religious center, Judea as an independent state or Yeshua’s movement as a religious movement like American Rabbinic Judaism. Yeshua’s teachings focused on areas that we would call religious, political and economic.

The primary goal of his movement was to create SHALOM on earth – totality, health, wholesomeness, harmony, success, the completeness and richness of living in an integrated social milieu. He taught that as a result of doing acts of that created SHALOM on earth, people would enter eternal life at the final judgment. His mission and message is summed up in this line from the prayer he taught his disciples –

Your will shall be done in heaven and on earth.”


This would be a good motto for Christians and churches today. It would definitely transform their understanding of their mission and make lives much more SHALOM. This is what Yeshua would not only want -- he would expect it of his followers.


Very few Real Yeshua Blog readers ever donate.
Will you be the person that cares enough to help?
Your decision means a great deal more than just the money to us –
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Friday, December 2, 2016

The Real Ten Commandments

Think about the Ten Commandments. How many sermons have been preached, books have been written, movies have been made, monuments have been constructed and court cases tried in which the focus was on the Ten Commandments. Now what would you say if I told you they weren’t about the actual Ten Commandments. Are you ready for a surprise?


What they called the Ten Commandments in the examples above were not the commandments written on the two stone tablets Moses received at the top of Mount Sinai and brought down to the Israelites! If you are willing to follow Moses up and down Mt Sinai, you will discover when he received the stone tablets and what was written on them. The journey begins by going to – http://www.biblicalheritage.org/ten_commandments_p1.html

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