The Blurred Line between Angels and Men

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https://www.facebook.com/CenterforTanakhBasedStudies

By: William J Jackson

In our quest to understand Hashem’s word, the Torah, we are always on the lookout for those hidden pearls of knowledge that present themselves during our studies.  It’s so euphoric to have that “eureka!” moment when either we or somebody else comes up with a unique point of view that fits into our mind like a puzzle piece “clicking” into place.  However, sometimes our desire for these nuggets cause us to “over spiritualize” other passages or messages in the bible. So what is “over spiritualizing”, and is it bad? The definition of “over spiritualizing is “scriptural interpretation that exceeds its intended meaning” (1). It is bad because it causes us to see or even invent things in scripture that really are not there.  You see this a lot in the Christian religion with “Christohanies” (2) which are nothing more than supposed Christ sightings in the Tanakh. This is another form of adding to Hashem’s word (Deuteronomy 4:2, 13:1-10, Proverbs 30:5-6) and with it will come a curse.

 

That being said, many times we see mortal men who are doing the will of Hashem spiritualized into angels either through teachings or scriptural translations.  We will discuss two stories in the Torah that are branded as talking about angels.  I present to you “Abraham’s Visitors” and “Jacob’s Wrestler”: 

Abraham’s Visitors

 abraham 

This is the legendary story where Father Abraham is visited by three men and/or Adonai. It starts in chapter 18 of Genesis with  “Adonai appeared to Avraham…” (Genesis 18:1).  In apparent contrast, the next verse refers to Abraham’s guest Adonai as “three men” and continues to refers to the guest/s in this context (Genesis 18:2,5, 8, 9, 16, 22) but goes back and forth also referring to them as Adonai (Genesis 18:3,13, 14, 17, 19, 20, 22, 26, 27, 30, 31, 32, 33).  The natural assumption, or easy fix, is to assume that these men are angels, simply because in the next chapter there are two angels that rescue Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah.  How do we know this?  Because they are called angels in chapter 19, (Genesis 19:1, 15).  They are not however called angels in chapter 18, they are called “enosh” (3) which is Hebrew for “mortal man” verses “malak” which is the word for angels (4) found in chapter 19.  How do religious sects handle this transition?

 

Christian: In many Christian commentaries in order to bridge the gap between chapter 18’s men and chapter 19’s angels they make two of the three men to be angels and the third to be Adonai (5). Some have pushed it a step further and made the three men symbolize the Christian trinity.

 

Jewish: Since Adonai cannot be seen (Exodus 33: 20), the rabbinical writings do not compromise Torah by making one of the men Adonai.  They do however make all three men angels and actually name them Raphael, Michael and Gabriel, something that is not done by the Torah (6).

Instead of coming up with a “spin” to understand this transition isn’t it possible that there is no transition.  Just maybe the men in chapter 18 are men, and the angels in chapter 19 are angels.  Think about it, Adonai doesn’t just use angels to communicate His message, He has used objects before like a flaming torch, a smoking fire pot (Genesis 15:17), a flaming bush (Exodus 3:2-10) and even a donkey (Numbers 22:28).  Adonai’s power isn’t just limited to these things, He has even used mortal men to perform His will.  For example, when Moses parted the Sea of Reeds (Exodus 14:15-16, 21) and when Aaron made his staff turn into a snake (Exodus 7:8-13) was this done by their own will or the will of Hashem? Yes, it was solely Hashem but since these men performed these feats on behalf of the Almighty does this make them angels?  No it doesn’t and neither does it make the Prophets, Kings David or King Solomon angels.  Adonai reserves the right for mere man to do His bidding, if we are so honored.

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Jacob’s Wrestler

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 In Genesis 32:25-33 Jacob wrestle with a man.  Some say this is either Adonai or an angel.  As for Torah, it refers to this unknown figure as a “man” 5 times (Genesis 32:25, 27, 28, 29, and 33).  Since we know that we cannot see the face of Hashem the quick fix here is to turn this man into an angel. But why not just call him an angel?  The Torah identified an angel earlier that day (Genesis 32:1), why mask the identity now? Also we need to remember the man denied telling Jacob his name (Genesis 32:30).  It was “Jacob” who makes the assumption “…I have seen God face to face…” (Genesis 32:31) not the writer of the Torah. It also said that the “enosh” (mortal man) named Jacob Israel. ….Wait a minute here, didn’t Adonai name Jacob Israel? Yes, He did, but named him Israel much latter. Actually after Jacob returns to Bethel, (Genesis 35:10).  

 

I think the burning question for all of us is “is it really possible to wrestle with Adonai or even an angel?” When many of us first read the story we had a hard time imagining a physical fight between Jacob and the Master of the Universe, I even had a hard time believing it could be between Jacob and one of Adonai’s angel, not to mention… all night long, and… losing?  So why couldn’t the fight with Jacob be exactly what Torah says, a mere man.  An “enosh” doing the will of Adonai.

 

Conclusion:

Adonai is actually known for using surrogates. If you remember, Adonai used a stranger to redirect Joseph when he was trying to find his brothers, (Genesis 37:13-17).  Also, in Egypt the midwives were rewarded by Adonai for saving the Hebrew babies (Exodus 1:15-22). Certainly the Creator of All could guide a lost Hebrew boy or save Israelite babies from a Tyrant but He chose to engage us.  Additionally, there appears to be a sub-culture of Adonai’s subordinate leaders that arbitrary appear throughout the story of Israel.  Think about it, King Melchizedek “Adonai’s most high Priest” (Genesis 14:17-20) and “the commander of Adonai’s army” (Joshua 5:13–14).  There is a lot more to Torah that meets the eye and generating angels to cover the gap could steal from the message. 

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References

 

(1) By Pastor S. E. Ray, (Feb 27, 2010), Christian Over-Spiritualizing Defined, Discerning the Truth

 

(2) What is a theophany? What is a Christophany? GotQuestions.org

 

(3) Strong’s Lexicon 582. Enosh, Bible Hub

 

(4) Strong’s Lexicon 4397. Malak, Bible Hub

 

(5) Genesis 18:16-22, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

 

(6) Three Angels, Ask a Rabbi, Aish.com

 

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Angels

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https://www.facebook.com/CenterforTanakhBasedStudies By: William J Jackson

It’s funny how the unanswered questions of our own youth return to us. Our Granddaughter, Lyric, asked me what angels were. Instead of handing her a fairytale answer, I turned to Hashem’s word to find the right answer, His answer. I will have to admit when I first pondered the question, images of angelic creators fluttered around my head.  In my research I would discover that these images were put there by writings, artisans and cinematography found in our culture and not the Tanakh.

What’s in a name?

An angels purpose is found in the name.  The Hebrew word for angel is “mal’ach” (1).  This word more accurately means to dispatch as a deputy; messenger, representative and ambassador (2). In fact “mal’ach” is used interchangeably throughout the Tanakh as angel, messenger and ambassador.  To better understand this diversified word, and its purpose, let’s use an illustration. On a smaller scale, we can see this relationship with our civil servants.  For example, the Chief of Police doesn’t usually make the arrests, the Commander and Chief doesn’t lead military attacks, and the Principle doesn’t teach the classes, they all have delegates (policemen, soldiers and teachers) to execute their authority.  Yes, these Department Heads and Commanders could do the tasks at the lowest level but why, everything has its own purpose (Isaiah 45:7, Amos 4:13, Psalm 33:14-15, Proverbs 16:4).  Well we know what mal’ach means, so where does the word “Angel” come from? It derives from the Greek word “angelos” which pretty much means the same thing as the Hebrew word “mal’ach” (3).

Also, did you ever notice that Adonai not only used angels but sometimes used other things like people (Genesis 14:18-20, 37:13-17, Joshua 5:13–14) and objects (Genesis 15:17, Exodus 3:2-10, Numbers 22:28) to communicate His message. Why couldn’t he just have a direct man to man conversation with us? This is because Adonai cannot be a man (Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29, Hosea 11:9) nor can a man see Adonai (Exodus 33:20, Deuteronomy 5:24, Isaiah 6:4-5).  Unless he wants to suffer the consequences of death (Exodus 20:16, 33:20, Judges 13:22). Even the Christian NT admits that Adonai cannot be seen (John 5:37; 1 Tim. 6:16; 1 John 4:12).  This creates a conundrum within their own culture since they believe in a mortal deity who is supposed to be the Elohim they admit they cannot see. This is why many Christian sects believe that their messiah is actually an Archangel (4).  It’s an attempt to make the Christianity consistent with its own theology.

 

What do Angels do?

So let’s determine the specific functions of these delegates of Hashem.  Angels are mentioned 106 times in the Tanakh.  With such a vast representation of these lofty helpers let’s narrow our focus just on the Torah.  These are the actions that angels have done on behalf of Adonai;

Commanded: Genesis 16:7-12 Hagar to return to Sarah, Genesis 31:11-13 Jacob to return to Canaan, Exodus 3:2 Moses to lead Israel, Numbers 22:21-35 Balaam to give YHVH’s message

Rescued: Genesis 19:1-15 Lot, Genesis 21:15-19, Hagar and Ishmael Genesis 22:11-12, Isaac, Genesis 48:16; Jacob

Guided: Genesis 24:7 Eliezer to find Rebekah, Exodus 14:19, 23:20, 23:23, 32:34, 33:2, Numbers 20:16, Israel through the desert.

As we see, angels have specific functions and in doing so become extensions of Hashem.

What do Angels look like?

So what does an angel look like?  Although our tendency is to perceive angels as angelic beings (such as the word) they are anything but little and cute.  They are powerful agents and messengers of Hashem that are formidable in their own right (5).  In the Torah, the angels were nameless figures, but later in the books of the Prophets they seem to gain names (Michael, Gabriel, Raphael… etc.) and personality.  Also, with the Prophets, we start to see features in which we can relate to such as wings (Isaiah 6:2, Zechariah 5:9) and human characteristics.  Many commentators believe that angels were either without gender or were males, but the Prophet Zechariah in Zechariah 5:9 states that there were also female angels (6).  Probably our most detailed description of an angel comes from Daniel 10:5–6.  Here they are depicted as human like Super Heroes.

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Where do people get confused?

Cherub

Many people confuse cherub or cherubim with angels.  As we know cherubim first appeared on guard duty in the Garden of Eden after the newly expelled tenants, Adam and Eve, left (Genesis 3:24). About two millenniums later the cherub found itself incorporated into the design of the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:18-22) and later in the Temple (1 Kings 6:23-35). Ezekiel does a thorough job of describing these complex creatures in Ezekiel 10:1-20 . After reading Ezekiel’s account you will find they don’t resemble the cute little chubby childlike creatures painted by Raphael.  Although cherubim may have been a form of an angel, they appeared to be more focused on the praise and worship of Hashem (7).  They don’t appear to be as involve in influencing men and women as the before mentioned angels.

Ralpheal Cherub

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (Raphael) painted 1512 CE

Independent Angels

Many people may believe angels act independently, like a “free agent”.  The thought might be that angels are out randomly helping humanity in the name of Adonai.  This might be inspired by the Christian verse Hebrews 13:2 where it states we may be unknowingly entertaining angels. Also, we can find in the in rabbinic literature, angels sometimes show some independence of mind (1). Although these are romantic concepts that intrigue our imagination, this artistic licensing with Hashem’s word does more harm than good.  For example, if angels roam from their mission and become independent (although be it good natured) creatures, this would distract from the glory of Hashem.  Using our previous example; if a policeman, a soldier or a teacher practices their craft apart from their employer it means they are working for somebody else, even if that somebody is them.  Just remember Satan is an angel (Zechariah 3:1, Job 1:6) and Hashem had control over him (Zechariah 3:2, Job 1:12, 2:6).

Satan Before the Lord by Corrado Giaquinto, c. 1750

Man or Angel

 

In our quest to understand angels the line can become blurred between angels and men. Even in some translations of the Tanakh the translators have superimposed their understandings sometimes turning men who are doing Hashem’s will into angels.  These liberties blot out and confound Hashem’s word and our understanding.  On Tuesday we will talk about some lectures and sermons we have all sat through and discuss the subversive spin on the truth.  On June 30th, 2015 we will post “The Blurred Line Between Angels and Men”.

References:

(1) By Rabbi David Wolpe, Angels in Jewish Tradition, Beliefnet.com

(2) “Mal’ach”, Strong’s Lexicon H397, Blue Letter Bible

(3) By Rabbi Lewis Jacobs, Angels, MyJewishLearning.com

(4) “Archangel”( July 2, 2014) Online Etymology Dictionary

(5) By Jack Wellman, What Do Angels Look Like? A Biblical Analysis, whatchristianswanttoknow.com

(6) By Whitney Hopler, Are Angels Male or Female? (What Are Angel Genders?), AboutReligion.com

(7) What are cherubim? Are cherubs angels? GotQuestions.org

15 Weeks Past the Cross (Fearfully and Wonderfully)

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BY: TCLeach at http://throughanewlens.blogspot.com

 

The dog days of summer have arrived in many parts of the country, even though we’re not even through June yet! I’ve been making the most of the hottest hours (11am-3pm) by dedicating my time to study and prayer. Before that, though, you will find me outside. This heat-wave got me thinking about how fearfully and wonderfully we are made, as a cool glass of water replenished me, and a small breeze refreshed me as the morning temperature climbed. I forget to be thankful for things like that. I forget to pay attention to the wonder and awe that makes up this functioning body, the mind attached to it  and the spirit that fills it.  I am, we are, indeed, fearfully and wonderfully created!

There is a physical condition that limits my ability to walk. It’s caused by a sum total of the years I neglected to make healthy choices. Since the beginning, The Father has given us clear healthy eating Instructions, and commanded us not to be gluttonous or lazy. His Instructions teach us to be disciplined and strong and to get wisdom and understanding. Not everyone has limitations that were (over time) self-inflicted, but if you do, perhaps you can identify with this statement: It’s not a wonder that I am walking with a limp, but a wonder I am walking at all! And so, when I am in prayer, I give thanks for still being able to get everything done in the day that is set before me. During the several breaks that I have to take before I walk forward again is a great time for me to think about the fact that I am learning to walk in HaShem’s Statutes and Commands! I share this personal information with you because I believe that as I do my part, He will bring healing to me. Fearfully and wonderfully, these bags of flesh are designed to heal. Wounds close, scabs protect, new skin recovers. Our organs keep everything in balance, and can be kept healthy by proper nourishment, or made healthy by the same thing. Constant renewal occurs in our bodies, something to be oh, so thankful for!  And don’t even get me started on my gratitude for tastebuds! He didn’t have to create us with them…but He did. Enough said. Every day, I will be thankful for the body I have, and yield it to The Father, for He knit it together Himself. ‘Tis a gift to open our eyes each morning, may we never cease to be thankful for it!

The most complex thing we have to be thankful for bounces around between our two ears. In a time when Alzheimer’s Disease is rampant, and that mental disorders are at an all-time high (with new names added to the spectrum often) I am learning, albeit slowly, to be thankful for this functioning brain. Like our bodies, our brains require nourishment and exercise.  Studies even show that  a high sense of self-awareness is combative against Alzheimer’s Disease, and an array of other disorders. We  must think about the fact that we can think! How fearful and wonderful is that? For many years, I let my thoughts run rampant, not knowing that they belonged to me. I believed, in my immaturity, that my thoughts came through me, but not from me. Once I took hold of them and began learning to master them, I noticed my own brain in a whole new way. I can learn, I can clearly express myself, and I can discern when my thoughts are going in the wrong direction, and set them back on track. I learned to do this by studying Scripture, where I find fear of The Father, the beginning of all understanding. Since I stepped away from idolatry, HaShem has had me studying my own being (through my new lens) and studying the countenances of others, their being.  I am watching for signs of His light in them, and in myself. This both exercises my brain AND helps me to be more aware of others, as well as myself, and the needs that are common or unique to us all. Look for more to come on that subject in the near future. Yep, that gray matter in our heads is a gift, let’s take good  care of it and may we never cease to be thakful for it!

Fearful and wonderful is this inner self of mine…and yours! Call it spirit or soul. Calł it essence or Divine Spark. Call it tears or laughter. It is who we are by design, and not accident.  It is here that we are created in HaShem’s image, if you ask me. Since He has no form or shape, our limbs are not in His likeness. So what is? This. The part of us that loves. The part that sees beauty. The part that mourns or dances with joy. I am appreciating a different and new facet of this soul of mine, since being out of Christianity. I am seeing how my soul operates in the here and now, which I know is connected to the eternal. I am learning about the strengths and weaknesses that are all part of who I am. Thankfully, our soul has a sense of humor, another attribute we can know is in His image. The things about us that can’t be seen define us just as much as our physical traits. I am so thankful I am created to be kind, gentle, full of mercy and justice and loving. Made in His likeness, we have the capacity cultivate them all. May we never cease to be thankful for all of the invisible traits bestowed upon us!

Oh, I’m learning so much as I learn to be thankful in a whole new way! Being truly thankful to be alive is how I plan to start each day from now on. We’d do well to pay attention to the things we have the capacity to do, learn and feel. Certainly HaShem merits our on-going gratitude for these abilities. Certainly He deserves our honor and praise for how we’re designed. And most certainly He is worthy of all glory for making us fearfully and wonderfully! “See” you next week, stay cool and stay thankful!

Abraham Our Model for a Selfless Host

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https://www.facebook.com/CenterforTanakhBasedStudies

By: William J Jackson

Now here was Abraham relaxing in the heat of the day (Genesis 18:1) probably recovering from his resent surgery (Genesis 17:24).  “Oy vey!” circumcision at 99 years of age. Anyhow, three strangers show up out of nowhere.  You would think father Abraham, a wealthy man (Genesis 13:2), would have sent a servant out to welcome his guest.  If not that, you would have thought he might have called out in spite of his healing wound.  But no, he does neither, instead he runs out and welcomes them in person (Genesis 18:2).  He beseeches them to get out of the heat and entices them with a light snack (Genesis 18:5). The men comply but instead of giving them just a little bread, Abraham conjures up this great feast (Genesis 18:6-8).  His guests then deliver both good and bad news.  The good news is the foretelling of his son Isaac (Genesis 8:10) and the bad news is the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Abraham after going well out of his way for his guest and appreciating the good news of his son to come now pleads for the righteous people of that wicked city (Genesis 18:23-33).  This guy is like the epitome of selflessness!

We could learn a lot from Abraham.  This begs the question of ourselves, how do we view the patriarchs, matriarchs and heroes of the bible? Are they lofty people whose standards are beyond reproach or are they examples we need to live up to. Based off the fact that their flaws are certainly not hid from us I would assume that their good qualities serves as our example.

Most religions really put the effort into creating an inviting environments.  When a new comer comes into their folds they treat them like royalty making them feel welcome.  In the spirit of Abraham we need to also be gracious hosts. Rabbi Tovia Singer makes a joke that if a new comer comes into a synagogue somebody will usually welcome them with that four word greeting… “you’re in my seat”.  But seriously, we need to be good at welcoming and encouraging people who are interested in our walk.

Another point we can draw from Abraham is his willingness to intercede for others.  This is definitely a sign of selflessness.  Many of the great people in scripture exhibit this wonderful quality. For example this was prevalent with David, Samuel, Hezekiah, Elijah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Moses was another one that championed his fellow man in intercession with Hashem and prayer (Exodus 32:7-14; Numbers 21:7; Deuteronomy 9:8-9, 12-20, 23-27; Psalms 106:23).  In fact, not to intercede for others could be in considered contrary to YHVH’s will. “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you” (1 Samuel 12:23).

In summary to quote *Lubavitcher Rebbe “because of Abraham’s immense humility, he considered himself only a tool for performing G-d’s will. His life’s work was teaching G-d’s Oneness to the world. Any honor given to him personally, Abraham automatically attributed to G-d and credited himself with nothing”.

*Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory (1902-1994); seventh leader of Chabad-Lubavitch

14 Weeks Past the Cross (Summer Upon Me)

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BY: TCLeach at http://throughanewlens.blogspot.com
14 Weeks Past the Cross (Summer Upon Me)

Did The Father stop you in your tracks at all this week? Did you have to set The Scriptures down to think over something you’ve read an hundred times, but just noticed that day? Did you catch yourself looking up and saying “Thank You!” ? I sure hope so! I think about you, dear reader, in between our “visits” here 🙂  Those who walked away from the cross before me have been a fountain of encouragement, wisdom and understanding along my journey. Those who walked away at the same time as me are valuable sounding boards and unending support as I navigate through all of this new information. And those who are walking just behind me (or even just glancing toward my path) keep me motivated to share my journey. Not because my story is special, but because it’s good to know what to expect when you decide to walk away from the cross. It’s good to know that struggles are common, even in the life of believers! Unique in their form, yet common in their occurrences.

This marked my fourteenth week of walking away from Christianity in any form. If you’ve been following along, you know that I have been living in a whirlwind of new concepts. I realized I had to tear out even my foundations to begin rebuilding my own spiritual identity in HaShem alone. Without question, my task is taking time, but I am getting there. I think that it’s significant that HaShem called me out right at Pass Over time. I discern in my spirit that this first cycle of Feasts is very important and symbolic for me  in my journey. I was called out at Pass-Over, I stopped eating leavened bread, spiritually and physically for the Week of Unleavened Bread,  and I received HaShem’s Word at Shavu’ot at the base of Mt Sanai. I am very much looking forward to fall, and to experiencing those Feasts! The first will be Rosh Hashanah, marking the “Jewish” New Year, and then will come the one I am waiting for most, the one  I think will be a turning point for me in the unseen realm. Yom Kippur, the day for atonement. It is circled in red on my calendar! I love the little word play here: at-one-ment…atonement, at-one-ment with HaShem!  This will be a highly personal experience for me, my first ever. There are no words to express how important it is to me this year.  After that, I’ll be having a week-long celebration observing Sukkot! Somewhere in there, a new Torah Cylcle will begin, and I will begin it in right-standing with God, because of the Day of Atonement.  For me, this yearly cycle of Feasts hold such personal meaning, beyond what they represent in Scripture. They are my mile-stone markers in my very first year of calling God ONE. Oh, yes, I believe the Fall Feasts will bring me to a new depth of relationship (and covenant) with Him! In the mean time, I have this chunk of summer to prepare myself for all of the upcoming Appointed Times, and I have purposed in my heart to use my time wisely.

I intend to spend the summer in study, finishing up some projects I’m already committed to, and beginning others that pertain to this new perspective that I am seeing in Scripture through this new lens. I am almost half done with a macro-study of the Tanakh (reading it in 68 days), and am still in the beginning of a micro-study on Job. Although I am not compelled to convert to Judaism at this time, I’m still investigating the history of things like The Talmud, Jewish Tradition and the Oral Law. Any opinion I may have held concerning them before now was stained by the “two-gods-in-one” theology I have just walked away from. I am looking at the concept of Kabbala, and studying the moon cycle and what astrology means here on this side of the cross. I am trying to fit in some lessons on the Hebrew Language in, but that project is slow going! I am doing all of these studies with the Torah as my starting point, center point, and ending point. It is my ultimate authority. I know if I keep up with the weekly Torah Portions, I am being exposed  to The Father’s Statutes and Commands, His will for His creation.  It is the my path’s light.  But none of the studies I have ever done or will ever do are to be a replacement for an up close and personal relationship with The Father!

The layers to His Scriptures seem endless, don’t they? Perhaps they are. I intend to spend the rest of the summer, and of my life, peeling those layers back.  I always have to remind myself, though, that there was a time when the Words weren’t yet written. The only way to walk with HaShem then was to actually do it! Spending more time with Him is my biggest “study” goal this summer! I know from experience that whenever I take the time to get alone with Him, and I get quiet, I become aware that He is. Often, these quiet moments are when I receive direction, or even a concept that is new to me. This is when I’m happiest that the Words have been written, and that I have unlimited and extensive access to them!

I hope you intend to walk closer to HaShem this summer, and that He will bless your endeavors to do so. I’ll be here, waiting for the Fall Feasts…

Is Anger a Sin

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https://www.facebook.com/CenterforTanakhBasedStudies

By: William Jackson

Anger conjures up emotions that are less than godly, yet isn’t anger a natural feeling?  If somebody or something hurts us it is our “knee-jerk” reaction to retaliate, “is this wrong?” Didn’t Hashem put these feelings within us to respond against perceived injustices?  We do know that if we are passive to those that take advantage of us it invites more of the same.  Then there are those that say we should just surrender these feelings, but what if that doesn’t work?  A lot of times in our need to appear godly, we suppress these feelings pretending to be over issues when in truth those feelings are deep within us brewing.  I don’t think stifling ourselves is a solution, but not being taught the correct coping skills we are at a dead end.  Not to worry, relief is at hand, Hashem gives us the solution in His word.

The Jewish people have developed a list of 613 Mitzvot (commandments) from the Torah.  At least eleven of these deal with our relationships with other human beings (1).  These Mitzvot are drawn from just three simple verses in Torah, Leviticus 19:16-18. For help on this topic King David and King Solomon pass on methods of being successful in dealing with the earthly emotion of anger in their Psalms and Proverbs. The good news is that anger is not a wrong feeling. Just remember, you are not responsible for the bad things people do to you, however you are responsible for how you react.

There is an old joke that goes;

A man was bothered by a loud noise coming from his car engine.  He asked advice from a friend, the friend was quick to respond “that’s easy, just turn up your radio”.

We have all heard this joke; but as silly as it sounds, many of us have (or) do deal with anger issues the same way.  In this joke, and in life, we do know that this inner noise will eventually end up causing bigger problems regardless of how much we distract ourselves.  The right answer is to fix the problem that creates the noise.  Our anger is no different.

The key verse here is Leviticus 19:17;

“‘Do not hate your brother in your heart, but rebuke your neighbor frankly, so that you won’t carry sin because of him…”

By rebuke Hashem doesn’t mean “chew-out”.  The Hebrew word is actually “yakach” which means to decide, adjudge, prove or simply said to address the issue. In Proverbs 20:3 it states that it brings honor to not argue because fools explode with anger, also Proverbs 15:18, 29:22. So from this point of view we are not to argue the point, we are to simply address the issue.  This may require a little mental rehearsal and prayer if time is available.  These are few bullet comments that will help us the keep confrontation in the context of resolution verses retaliation.

  • Keep it private
  • Be respectful, whether they deserve it or not.
  • If time is available put yourself in the right mindset, pray first.

Many times we don’t want the confrontation, whether because of fear, not being heard or retaliation.  If we become stuck at this point we do not have the license to find counterproductive method to retaliate.  It is better to be in neutral going nowhere then it is to go in reverse thinking you’re making progress. Park it in neutral and go to Hashem in prayer, than come back to it.  Remember we are to emulate our Creator.  Scripture repeats that Hashem is slow to anger (Psalm 86:15, 103:8, Jonah 4:2) so we need to be slow to anger (Ecclesiastes 7:9, Proverbs 14:29).

Roots of Anger:

Another concern is where is the anger coming from?  There are two forms of anger we will label them “warranted” and “masked”.   Warranted is the easiest one to define and usually the easiest to resolve.  This form of anger is typically when somebody deals us an injustice whether intended or not.  Some examples of warranted anger are being betrayed, harmed, robbed and somebody gossiping about you.   We need to confront these problem by solving them not attacking them.

Masked Anger:  

Masked anger is a lot more allusive and can distort the problem if it is addressed incorrectly.  This is anger whose roots are found in other emotion.  The Hebrew word for anger ” ka’ac” and this not only means anger it means sorrow and grief (2). International author Liza Palmer, takes it a step further and says that “Angry is just sad’s bodyguard.” (3). A lot of times we need to evaluate what our anger is really masked as.

Impatience = Entitlement

Intolerance = Arrogance

Anxiety = Fear

For example, let’s take “impatience”, when we are behind somebody in traffic or at the “check-out” counter sometimes our anger can ferment anger.  Is it really because of that person or is it something else.  Sometimes it’s because we are running late or maybe it’s because something else happened that day and this has become a catalyst for your anger. Yes, many time we have the right to be motivated by impatience, intolerance and anxiety but if we come across as entitled, arrogant or fearful we are not going to be affective in “yakach”/proving (4) our point of view.

Conclusion:

As we view Ecclesiastes we see that “ka’ac” is beneficial for wisdom and making us a better person, Ecclesiastes 1:18, 7:3.  Blotting out these feelings aside from deny us maturity and growth, can be counterproductive.  Just consider that anger is much like fire, it can be used for good.  However, like with fire, if it’s uncontrolled it will destroy, but harnessed it can forge steel.  Learning to harness our anger is critical in our development.

Making the Right but Unpopular Decisions: You’re Not Alone

Rockwell_1943_'Four-Freedoms'_Speech

https://www.facebook.com/CenterforTanakhBasedStudies

By: William Jackson

Have you ever found yourself getting resistance from people just because you follow Hashem’s word?  You know, because you actually choose to live a life believing that Torah, the word of YHVH, is actually an established standard.  A lot of the reason behind this resistance is because YHVH’s word confronts hot topics like sexuality (Exodus 20:14, Leviticus 18:22, Job 31:1), appearance (Deuteronomy 22:5, Leviticus 19:28, Ezra 10:11) and conduct (Leviticus 19:12, 16-18, Proverbs 23:20-21). It’s surprising, but I have even meet “religious” folks that figure the unpopular precepts of YHVH are out of date, and anyone who chooses to believe in them are just narrow minded. The one thing that we all agree on is that if Hashem did not hand down all these laws (1) it would make it so much easier to just “go with the flow”, but that’s not what we are called to do (Leviticus 19:2, 20:7, 26)

Our confrontations with those that live by their own rules are not so unique.  They are reminiscent of Numbers 16 where Korach (Korah) and 250 other Israelites rebelled against Aaron and Moses. These men tried to take over the leadership of Hashem’s chosen people. They felt they had a better understanding of Hashem’s will for the people than Moses did, Numbers 16:3, 12-14. This move showed a lot of “Chutzpah” and begs the question “who was Korach and his posse?”  Well one thing is for sure, Korach certainly wasn’t a “no name” face in the crowd.  If we look in Exodus 6:18, 21 and later on in 1 Chronicles 6:2, 18, 33-38, 23:12 we see that Korach was the great-grandson of Levi (the patriarch).  Because of this, Korach had status and worked in the tabernacle (Numbers 16:8-9).  Also, he was related to Moses and Aaron, he was their cousin (2).  As for the 250 that supported Korach and the rebellion, they were not an unruly rabble.  They were “leaders of the community… key members of the council (and)… men of reputation”, (Numbers 16:2) pretty impressive resumes, huh.

So this mob of pedigrees decided to take over at a time that all the hard work was done.  “Think about it”… At the beginning of Exodus, Moses was burden with the role of leading the Israelites out of enslavement; he dealt with Pharaoh and the plagues (Exodus 7:14-12:36 , Deuteronomy 11:3), the crossing the Sea of Reeds (Exodus 14:26-29, Deuteronomy 11:4), the trials and tribulations of the desert, and of course the handing down of YHVH’s law (Exodus 20:1-17, 34:28, Deuteronomy 5:4-21).  Yet, now this band of entitled ruffians wanted to take charge.  As we analyze their motives we find the problem the 250 had was perception.  They thought they were going up against Moses’ leadership but what they were really going up against was Hashem’s authority, (Numbers 16:11, 26:9). Reading on we discover the fate of the 250.  It was a fiery slaying at the hand of Hashem for the disrespect of HIS law, not Moses’.  So did Moses smugly say “well, they got what they deserved”? No, he fought for their lives up to the last minute (Numbers 16:20-22) as was his nature.  We should remember this aspect of Moses and his righteousness when we come up against those that try to combat our beliefs.

the-rebellion-of-korah-dathan-and-abiram

The Korach Rebellion is similar to when we discuss YHVH’s laws with others. We are sometimes criticized much in the same way Korach’s gang attacked Moses, but it is really Hashem’s law they are up against. This is why we should not argue, if we are not being heard we need to show discernment (Proverbs 10:23, 11:12, 14:33) and respectfully disengage.  But if we are in a mature discussion we need to remember we are there to represent Hashem’s word not our opinion. Once our audience see our lack of objectivity and sense us making it personal, we become no better than Korach.

Going back about 20 years from the rebellion (3), the Israelites did not want to have a direct relationship with Hashem, they wanted a “go-between” and they made that conduit Moses, (Exodus 20:16 Deuteronomy 5:5, 18:16 )  Although this appears to be mostly motivated by fear, it does make it convenient for people when they want to challenge what’s being said; better to challenge a man than Elohim. Maybe that’s why many people of faith even today feel more comfortable with following a religion with its leaders and books beyond Torah. Establishing a relationship with the Maker of the Universe by just going to His word is intimidating but it has the highest dividends.  Korach confused Hashem with religion, we do not need any new religions, we need to remove the obstacles between us and Hashem.   

References

(1) A List of the 613 Mitzvot (Commandments), Judaism 101      

(2) Korah’s Rebellion, Chabad.org

(3) Bible Timeline, Bible Hub