A Sneak Preview of the upcoming BEKY Book:
Readers of the New Testament can find its treatment of tradition confusing. Many of the customs in its pages are Jewish, and therefore foreign to non-Jewish believers. Yeshua (Jesus) sometimes corrected those observing religious customs, yet at other times he said they SHOULD have observed them. Paul appears to do the same in his letters, and twice he instructs non-Jewish believers to keep the Jewish customs he passed on to them. Is there some way to determine which customs are "good" and which are "bad"?
The methods used by the prophets of the Older Testament (TANAKH) as well as the writers of the Newer Testament (
) did leave readers guidelines to divide the seed of truth from tradition, and then to separate a tradition grown from truth from a "taredition" grown from a different seed. The most important consideration in the prophets', Yeshua's, and the apostles' instructions is the sincere heart that holds justice, mercy, and faithfulness as the weightier matters of any religious custom.
By evaluating the traditions that one chooses to observe or not observe, the individual can avoid the lament:
O Lord, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: 'Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies, worthless things in which there is no profit.' (Je 16:19 ESV)
Because it is human nature to focus on the exception or worst example of something, it is tempting to read the Brit HaChadasha (New Testament) as a collection of books and letters that condemn all tradition. In fact, Yeshua and his apostles at times practiced different local customs because they were from Galilee, and the Judean Jews' practices were sometimes in conflict with their own, creating religious animosity. This is not unusual, for the Jewish Oral Law (
) records everyone's opinion. Judaism very freely looks at a question about the Torah from many angles. It also is not unusual among Christian denominations today to have religious animosity.
The advantage of studying Yeshua's judgments on questions of Law and tradition is that it gives every believer an empirical method to evaluate one's own traditions for potential abuse or circumvention of the Torah's weightier matters of justice and mercy. When a practice or tradition grows from the actual seed of the Word, then the disciple will grow good fruit instead of a taredition.
 BEKY Booklet
Pharisees: Friends or Foes? gives more details about the rival sects of First Century Judaism, but an example of the Galilean-Judean tension is recorded in John 7 where the Galileans are seen as inferior by "The Jews," which is a confusing translation, for both groups are Jewish.
Monday Night Online Torah Class
I am planning to begin a Monday night online class via WebEx after Sukkot. We will use the Creation Gospel 5 Torah commentaries as a "jumping off place" for the class, which will look into the weekly Torah portions. The class will run from 9:00 - 10:00 pm EST on Monday nights. If there is enough interest in Europe, Africa, etc., I may try to schedule an additional class at an alternate time. This class will not require homework, although there will be suggested study assignments and students will be encouraged to connect for extra study on the portion.
Depending on the number of students who enroll, the cost will likely be $20 per month. I'll need to compare the final number to my current WebEx plan to ensure we cover costs. Students will need to install WebEx on their computers, but the system also accommodates phone logins, which is handy when traveling. Students will have access to the video files of each class for up to one month following, so when life gets in the way, the lesson can be watched or listened to at a later time.
If you are interested in joining the class, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and email address for updates. An informational email will be sent out by the end of September for those who send an email.
LaMalah Children's Centre
We can't thank our donors enough for their monthly support of the Children's Center in Kenya. We are now trying to add some extra cash to our monthly minimum so that the believers there may have a Sukkot celebration with adequate food. If you can help, please click on the link below: