I don't know how a book series that entitles each volume with "...for Dummies" could become so popular. How insulting is that? After all, if I lack information or expertise in a certain field, isn't it pretty smart to seek answers and guidance? I don't like labeling someone who hasn't had the opportunity to learn a "dummy."
Torah for Dummies?
Scripture encourages those who need instruction to seek it both from human teachers and the One above:
"For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts." Mal. 2:7
"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." James 1:5
Our Father in Heaven is willing to teach us, whether through insights inspired of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) in personal study, or through the lips of a human teacher gifted to do so. All believers, however, are teachers of opportunity, for each day presents teachable moments between family, friends, coworkers, business transactions, or simply going "along the way" each day.
The only dummies are those who don't seek answers when they perceive a gap in knowledge or those who don't take advantage of the teachable moments in the day.
In a previous newsletter, I wrote about the singing Nazarene Yeshua. In it, we looked at the history of the singing techniques of reading Scripture, preaching, teaching, and translating in First Century Judaism. The singing of the tunes helped the students of the Word to learn. It did not presume they were "dummies," but smart disciples engaged in learning. The teacher used techniques to help the student learn, not to magnify his singing skill or his own vast knowledge. He was cautioned not to sing in such a way as to distract from the words of Torah itself and its Author. To the Author belonged the accolades.
The smart disciple was rewarded with wisdom, for the very meaning of a disciple is a learner. You don't send your children to school (or homeschool them) with the cheery, "Be a good dummy at school today!" No. You say, "Study hard in school today, Sweetheart. I'll be interested to hear what you learn. Play nice with everyone!"
If our children are not labeled dummies for learning, how much more would our Heavenly Father not label us dummies for being His disciples?
If you have not mastered every commandment in the Torah, then you're a disciple who is LEARNING the commandments. In Isaiah 8:16, the prophet says, "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples." Compare that to the saints in Revelation. They have the testimony of Yeshua, and they are sealed at the conclusion of the Sixth Seal. To be a saint is not to have mastered every nuance of the testimony of the Torah, but to have applied one's self TO LEARN in order TO DO. Ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit that will seal that disciple and address any remediation.
A disciple is not a dummy. A disciple's job is to study hard in school...and play nice on the playground.
Disciple, not Dummy.
"The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples,
That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple." (Isaiah 50:4)
What do Isaiah's words teach a teacher?
1. There is a "tongue" of disciples. In other words, there is a way to communicate with a learner that helps the student to learn. A good teacher speaks the student's language.
2. Disciples grow weary, and it is a teacher who knows the "tongue" who can help that student to overcome with the Word. It is the "Lord GOD" who gives this gift of communication to the teacher.
3. The teacher starts each day with an open ear. He tries to put himself in the students' sandals and find ways to help the students to learn. He or she listens as a disciple; that is, the teacher is a student himself/herself.
4. The teacher is less concerned with his own ego than in learning how to help another person to learn. Condescending language is not an option, for as my friend Robin Gould says, "Intimacy cannot grow in the presence of fear." The teacher is concerned with encouraging the students in their journeys, not holding herself up for admiration. She finds what sustains the students, not herself. She fosters the students' intimacy with the Holy One through His Word.
Find a teacher who manifests these traits from Isaiah 50:4, and you have a mother or father in faith. The saints in Revelation who "overcome" are those who have the testimony of Yeshua and the commandments of God. A teacher who nurtures disciples like Isaiah is one who teaches them how to overcome with both the letter of the testimony (Torah) and the Ruach (Spirit) of the testimony. Spirit gives resurrecting life to overcome adversity; the soul (nefesh) merely addresses the appetites, emotions, desires, and intellect that will not sustain indefinitely. It will never be enough.
Yeshua came to save our nafshim (souls) so that they would submit to the authority of the Ruach. A teacher who is not listening daily for the direction of the Ruach HaKodesh will produce disciples who are intellectually angry or proud and who misuse the Word to satisfy their own appetites for righteousness and esteem. This also characterizes a student without a teacher.
The Torah is Light. Light always gives. A student who learns from a teacher more concerned with the student's needs than his or her own need to be seen and respected has found a teacher who can pass on a bit of his or her own spirit to the students like Moses did to Joshua. Is your teacher concerned that your love for your neighbor grows with your love for the Father? Does he or she pray for you that you grow in love commensurately with your expertise in the Word?
Such a teacher is salt and light, and he or she will pass these traits on to the students if they learn the disciplines of the teacher. Discipline leads to discipleship. Because the teacher carefully selects teaching to "sustain the weary with a word," the meals are savory and well-salted, peppered, and spiced. Ask any mother who prepares a Shabbat meal, and she will tell you that the food is seasoned with love.
Kitchen Failure: Chopped!
I recently watched a show on the Food channel called Chopped. The chefs are given identical baskets of ingredients, and they have to prepare a dish to be judged by experts. The one who prepares the worst dish is "Chopped." I've tried to find a pattern in the judging, and what is interesting is that if a contestant can do an outstanding job with seasoning and presentation, the judges might overlook a forgotten basket item.
Yeshua teaches a similar discipline to his disciples. Seasoning and presentation are critical if one is to give Light to the world. If the message can be made palatable in the moment, then cramming everything onto the plate is not needful. There will be other opportunities to incorporate those ingredients in the life lessons of the disciple. Yeshua says,
"Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill." (Matthew 5:11-17)
First, Yeshua reminds the disciples that the prophets tried to teach Israel, yet they were slandered and persecuted. Persistence in the message is a discipline that merits a reward in Heaven.
Second, Yeshua urges the disciples to be savory "salt," not tasteless salt, which does no good for anyone. If the lips of the priest preserve knowledge, a tasteless salt may not be a good preserver of the Torah.
Third, Yeshua pulls the statements together using both metaphors of the commandments of the Torah (lamp and Light: Proverbs 6:23), and a declaration of the Torah as the source of good works.
Yeshua demonstrated his point of being a savory, salty teacher of the Torah. In First Century Judaism, the Torah was known as salt (Soferim 15:8). Later the Oral Law and its commentaries were known as pepper and spices. In other words, HOW one teaches the Torah is the spice that makes it easier and more enjoyable to learn. Yeshua uses a common metaphor of the Torah, salt, to communicate something to his disciples, future teachers.
- Expect persecution. To proclaim the Torah and Prophets is to provoke insults and false accusations. Salt is a purifier, and if evil is present, it will draw it out.
- Remain "salty." In other words, never lose the preservative power of salt. The teacher of the testimony preserves its knowledge and passes it to sincere, seeking disciples, just as the priest preserved knowledge and offered the sacrifices seasoned with salt. If fear of persecution and the relentless assaults of the wicked wear out the saints (Daniel 7:25), they may become indifferent, tired, and apathetic. They just quit. They quit overcoming, and their students cannot learn how to overcome by keeping commandments in the face of adversity.
The teacher would use parables, anecdotes, singing, wordplay, riddles, demonstrations, or questioning to draw out the Light...whatever made learning more savory to the disciple and embedded the precepts within his or her heart. Who wants to listen to a Torah teacher drone on and on disseminating information, but abandoning the student to his or her own ability to grasp and apply it?
- Give light. The Torah is light, and light always gives. In ancient times, salt was also a metaphor for "clever sayings and anecdotes." (Golli, p. 147) Discussion of the Torah was "pilpel," or pepper. To "salt" the Torah was to communicate it in a way that GAVE light to the listener. Salting the Torah was to do as Isaiah said, to put one's self in the learners' shoes and let the Ruach teach the teacher how to teach!
A teacher who can teach a word of Torah that students learn and apply with a heart to give that Light to others will not be chopped for leaving out the other 612 commandments. A salty teacher measures out the words in well-presented, savory meals that nourish the student, not the teacher.
The Holy One calls disciples, not dummies. He calls teachers who persist in presenting well-seasoned lessons that invite and encourage the learner to be a disciple of Yeshua. The Holy One sends his Ruach HaKodesh to both teacher and student, giving them the courage and wisdom "morning by morning" to persist in the face of insults and slander.
The Torah definitely is not for dummies. The Torah is for disciples.
Pass the salt, Sweetheart. And play nice on the playground.
It's Finally Here!
The first BEKY Book is now available in the Kindle format. The print version will follow shortly. We could use some readers and some positive amazon reviews.
The BEKY Books series is designed to encourage and invite curious Christians and newcomer Messianics to explore the topics for which they typically would like to have more information. These are not church-bashing or rabbi-bashing books, but a series designed to INVITE and ENCOURAGE with a simple presentation of the truth of the Scriptures.
BEKY Books are written for a middle school to high school reading level, so they are also appropriate for homeschoolers. Each booklet contains a glossary and Study Review Questions that encourage the reader to internalize the important concepts.
Each booklet is around 30 printed pages, although some are a bit more. We intend to purchase several print copies for our congregation to have as a resource to give visitors. I can't wait to introduce you to some of the lady authors as we release each volume.
Look for additional titles in the series to be released soon; the volumes in the pipeline include the topics:
Kosher eating and Scriptural feasts
Rosh Chodesh (New Moon in Scripture)
Introduction to the Jewish sources
How to read a Jewish calendar
Truth vs Tradition
Messianic Shabbat Service
Scriptural Pattern for Divorce
The Menorah: Feasts and Yeshua
Pharisees: friends or foes?
Standing With Israel
is now available on
for smartphone, tablet, desktop/laptop. The value added over the paperback version is study questions over each chapter, so it is suitable for group Bible study or even a homeschool reading project.
If you already have the paperback on amazon.com and would like the additional material in the Kindle version, the book is enrolled in Matchbook, so a verified amazon purchase qualifies you to purchase the
Standing With Israel offers a new look at Cornelius' and Peter's prayers that opened the door to fellowship between Jewish and non-Jewish believers in Jesus.
Standing With Israel explains the events of Acts 10 in the context of the Amidah, the Standing Prayer prayed three times daily by observant Jews. An in-depth study of the prophetic nature of the prayer demonstrates how the Judges of Israel and the infirm woman that Yeshua healed explain the resurrection of Messianic Judaism, growing Christian interest in their Hebraic roots, as well as the "spirit-filled" movements of the last century. Jewish and non-Jewish believers alike are urged to take hold of the unifying prayer to build a house of prayer for all nations.
Standing With Israel would make a good gift for your Christian friends, for it is written for newcomers. The workbook will be a more advanced work for those who walk in Torah.
Thanks so much to our monthly supporters & those who responded to our appeal for tuition and a cow. The tuition money has been disbursed, and we believe we will be able to send the money for the cow in the near future. Baruch HaShem, and thank you.
To donate for monthly expenses at the LeMalah Children's Centre, via PayPal,
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