The Good Inclination, Yetzer HaTov (Pt. 1 of 2)

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The Good Inclination, Yetzer HaTov (Pt. 1 of 2)
By: William J Jackson
https://www.facebook.com/CenterforTanakhBasedStudies

Because of free will, men and women have the right to follow our good or bad inclinations. In Hebrew, this is “Yetzer HaTov” (good inclination) and “Yetzer HaRa” (bad inclination). This article is dedicated to the explanation of our good inclination, and how we can feed it to offset our bad inclination. In short, how do we strengthen ourselves to battle against sin? For a better understanding of the bad inclination, please refer to the previous article “The Evil Inclination, Yetzer HaRa” (1)

The general understanding is that the yetzer hara (bad inclination) is older than the yetzer hatov (good inclination) (2). The reason why is because we are born with the yetzer hara ( Genesis 8:21, Job 15:14, 25:4, Psalm 51:7). But, we do not gain the yetzer hatov (good inclination) until we reach the age of accountability. The age of accountability is when a young adult can make moral decisions that are not self focused. In Judaism, the “age of accountability” is traditionally 13 years plus one day for boys, 12 plus a day for girls(3). As far as the Torah is concerned the age of accountability appears to be 20 (Exodus 30:14, Leviticus 27:1-3, Numbers 1:3, 18).

From a scientific standpoint, the human brain has a growth spurt in the frontal cortex, just before puberty. This is at the age 11 in girls, and 12 in boys. So, between the ages of 13 and 18 the brain is maturing (4). In theory the Jewish ages of 12 and 13 would be the earliest stages of mental adulthood, whereas Tanakh’s age of 20 years would be a safer bet, taking into account late bloomers. We also know that the moral reasoning in adolescence follows us into adulthood (5). This would be the yetzer hara (bad inclination). Much of our adult life is fighting these negative impulses or adopting a yetzer hatov (good inclination) .

When viewing our biblical ancestors (the Patriarchs) we can see this pattern. Jacob exhibit’s a lot of the yetzer hara (bad inclination) while he was in his fathers home. In Genesis 25:29-32 Jacob manipulates his brother Esau’s birthright for a bowl of food. Later, Jacob lies to his father for the same birthright Genesis 27:5-29. All this conniving causes Jacob to flee. In Genesis 28:12-14 Jacob is introduced to HaShem. From this point over the course of 22 years Jacob matures. In Genesis 32:29 Jacob is now named Israel “because you have shown your strength to both God and men and have prevailed.” The same thing with Abram. He got the call to serve Adonai in Genesis 12:1-3, but it took 24 years for his name change to Abraham, “…because I have made you the father of many nations.” (Genesis 17:5). Through these accounts, adopting the yetzer hatov (good inclination) , appears to be more of a process then an immediate change. Some like David appear to start out strong in in the yetzer hatov. But unguarded and not maintained the yetzer hara (bad inclination) cane overtake it. This is evident as we see with King David’s affair with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). InPsalms 51 King David is trying to regain his yetzer hatov (good inclination) . He is repentant with prayer to YHVH for the sin he committed.

One of our best poster boys for the yetzer hatov (good inclination) is Joshua and Caleb. We see in Numbers 14:22, 26-27 Adonai had it with the Israelites complaining, testing Him and their contempt. As punishment he would not let them come into the promise land (Numbers 14:23, 28-30). The exceptions were Caleb “…because he had a different Spirit with him and has fully followed me…” (Numbers 14:24), and Joshua (Numbers 14:30). Interestingly, the Israelites under the age of 20 were allowed into the promise land (Numbers 14:29). This supports the argument for the age of accountability.

Conclusion:

The answer here is to have a circumcised heart (Deuteronomy 10:16, 30:6, Leviticus 26:41, Jeremiah 4:4, 14) So what does this mean? Looking at these verses it means to love Adonai, clean sin out of your heart and don’t resist. Another way of saying it is to return to the Lord, YHVH, through the fulfillment of Torah, and its commandments (6). Repentance is a crucial part in this process (Isaiah 6:10, Jeremiah 31:18, 34:15, Ezekiel 14:6, 18:21, 28, Ezekiel 33:11, Proverbs 1:23, Job 42:6).

Proverbs 9:9 –

Give to a wise man, and he grows still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will learn still more.

References:

(1) By William J Jackson, (March 23, 2015) The Evil Inclination, Yetzer HaRa, Center for Tanakh Based Studies

(2) By Jeffrey Spitzer, The Birth of the Good Inclination, MyJewishLearning

(3) Bar Mitzvah 101, Chabad.org

(4) By Sarah Spinks, Adolescent Brains Are A Work In Progress, PBS.org

(5) By Kendra Cherry Psychology Expert, Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development, Stages of Moral Development

(6) Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, Chassidic Discourse on Circumcision, Chabad.org

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20 Weeks Past the Cross (Everything is a Lesson)

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20 Weeks Past the Cross (Everything is a Lesson)
BY: TCLeach at http://throughanewlens.blogspot.com

This morning found me on top of the world! I got a huge (and very emotional) project done for the magazine I write for, all of my daily chores  completed, and had a deep and meaningful Scripture study. I was delighted in the day my Creator had made! The next thing on my list was to check the mail, and as I hopped up into my van using the steering wheel to assist me, I heard (and felt) a loud pop, originating between my shoulder blade and neck. Suddenly, I found myself unable to turn my neck even enough to check for traffic before I backed out. Now, I am typing with an ice pack nestled between my neck and my pillow, with a dose of aspirin working its way into my system. Ugh! Isn’t that the way it always is? As we go about our merry way, one thing can knock us down. One nano-second can cause something we will have to spend much time dealing with. The whole incident caused me to chuckle, albeit softly, so my head wasn’t engaged, LOL! Does my chuckle surprise you, friend? It did me, and so I began to investigate the feelings behind the unexpected moment of humor.

A year ago, something like this would have found me blaming “satan” and his minions for my moment of physical calamity. Back then, I believed that I was constantly at risk of being devoured by the enemy of my God, Yehovah.  How naive I was to think that there was an entity able to wrestle me from my Father’s grip! How frightening it was to think that invisible personifications of evil were constantly nibbling at my heels, and whispering into my ear! Some days back then, I spent more time and energy in “spiritual warfare” against this man-made enemy than I did studing the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings! Christianity was clever to have its followers walking in fear of this “devil”. Controlling others using fear as a motivator is how terrorism works! I’m so glad that twenty weeks ago today, I walked away from the religion based on fear.

Most Christians and Messianics (who are Christians that believe Torah is still relevant) would argue that their doctrines are not based on fear. When I walked on the same path, I would have argued it, too. Retrospect, though, has a way of clarifying things. How does the old adage go? Hindsight is 20/20, that’s it! My walk in Christianity, and subsequently my walk in the Messianic movement, was based on fear. My fear was that I could never stand in front of my perfect Creator on my own merit, flaws and all. According to Christianity, Jesus was the only one who could stand in my place. It didn’t make sense to me then to think that, but Christianity, I was told, had to be accepted on faith, not fact (or common sense). The fear of spending an eternity without my Heavenly Father was also very real, and supported by the Christian writings they call the “New Testament”.  The whole gospel can be summed up in one sentence. Accept and worship Jesus Christ or suffer through eternity in a pit of fire. Fear. The Hebrew Bible, commonly called the “Old Testament” says something different, doesn’t it?

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12-13 KJV)

I love the verse that follows it! It answers the “why” question, instead of giving an “or else!”

“For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Vs 14)

My fear of God, when I know I am walking within His statutes, is like the fear a child holds for their loving Father. It’s not a fear of being beaten to death (or tortured by minions for eternity) but a fear of the consequences of stepping out of the guidelines in place for my own safety, health and well-being. It’s a fear based in love and not based in…fear!

As I switch my ice-pack for a heating pad, I can know that my neck hurts because I somehow twisted it wrong while climbing into the van. There was no dark force conspiring against me! I wasn’t under a satanic attack! I moved wrong, it’s that simple. I know that there are days when an adversary will come against me, but I do not fear them or “him”. On this side of the cross I can be sure that any adversary has been sent by my Creator, or at the very least, allowed by my Creator to impact my life. It is not a scheme to keep me out of my Father’s Kingdom, or to damn my immortal soul! My adversary brings me opportunites for refinement, maturation, and advancement on this Narrow Path. The truth is, I am the only thing that can keep me away from what The Father has for my life. My own pride is what can keep His face from me. My own disobedience is what allows me to fall from His grace and mercy. There is no adversary powerful enough to “devour” me against God’s will. If my face is on Yehovah, and my feet are firmly planted in His Way, I can be assured that every bit of everything that happens to me has a spark of good in it, and can be used for my benefit!

Off I go to see which grandkid is willing to rub this knot out of my shoulder, LOL! I’m thankful for the lesson my little incident this morning brought up in my spirit, and for the opportunity to share it with you. I’ll “see” you next week, and will remember you in my prayers until then. Shalom🌺

The Parents of Christianity, An Odd Couple

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Judaism  and Hellenism Meet

https://www.facebook.com/CenterforTanakhBasedStudies?fref=ts

By William J Jackson

When we open up a Christian bible there is an unaccountable span of time. This period is about 400 years.  The gap is between the last pages of the book of Malachi and the New Testament.  I think we can all admit that four centuries is a pretty good chunk of time.  For example, in our own history, less than 400 years ago the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock 1. Amazing when you think about it, America started with 100 individuals seeking religious freedom and became the world’s Superpower2  in under 400 years.  So, being analytical, we will use an evidenced based History to fill in the gap to gain a better understanding as to what changed from the final page of Malachi to the first pages of the Gospel3.

After Malachi was written and before the Christian messiah was born, early in the third century BCE, Alexander the Great conquered most of the known world.  In doing so, he ushered in Hellenism into these occupied territories, which included Israel4.  So, what is Hellenism? It is the Greek mindset, a mixture of their thoughts, science, art and culture5. At first the Jews welcomed these concepts but with each new generation of Greek leadership Hellenism was increasingly forced on the Jewish people.  Although some of the Jews resisted as we can see with The Maccabean Revolt6.  This was not always the case, sadly a large population of Jews embraced this new Hellenistic persona.  Thus was coined the name “Hellenistic Jews”. Disappointingly, even Jewish High Priests took part in these identity makeovers7.

Alex the Great in Jerusalem

Alexander the Great entering Jerusalem 332 BCE

So, why can’t these two cultures become blended? Simple, it is not like combining colors to form a new hue, it’s more like mixing oil and water, they just don’t mix.  This is because Hellenism and Judaism are diametrically opposed cultures and cannot mix.  In fact, trying to mix them would cancel out one or the other. When we study it out, we find that Christianity was born from these societies; a Jewish faith combined with a Greek Philosophy but this makes more of a mutation than a high-bred.  Let’s discus the differences, and in doing so we will see the flaws that surface in the Christian religion:

Judaism verses Hellenism8

  1. One G-d vs gods
  2. Man in the Image of G-d vs gods in the Image of Man
  3. The Beauty of Balance vs Beauty as Ideals
  4. God or gods

The Greeks worshipped gods, which makes them polytheist.  Whereas the Jews recognize only one God, YHVH, this makes them monotheist.  Although Christians call themselves monotheist like their Jewish forefathers they are really polytheist.  For example, the Trinity (Matthew 28:19, 2 Corinthians 13:14, 1 John 5:7-8).  One of the reasons why the trinity fails when comparing it to the Tanakh is the Holy Spirit or “ruach”. In the Tanakh (Old Testament), the ruach is listed numerous times9 but it is never worshipped, yet the New Testament gives it an equal placing with Hashem (Matthew 12:31-32, Luke 12:10, 2 Corinthians 13:14).  Also, although Christians insist that their messiah and YHVH are one the New Testament clearly states that they are separate; John 8: 15-18, Acts 7:55, 56, Colossians 3:1, Revelations 5:7.  Again Christians are insistent on believing in one God because they know this is the right answer (Exodus 20:3, Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiah 43:11) , but ask them to deny the holy ghost and their messiah and only accept the one God YHVH and see where they stand.

Trinity

The Trinity

Adding to these three is the forth Christin god, Satan. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true. The New Testament gives Satan equal footing with their other three gods.  Look at 2 Corinthians 4:4 and 1 John 5:19, it claims that Satan is the god of this world. This is in contrast with the Tanakh (Old Testament) where Adonai is responsible for all things, good and evil, (Isaiah 45:7, Amos 3:6, Ecclesiastes 7:13-14).  As we can see in Job, Satan is not a god but is relegated to working for God (Job 1:12, 2:4-7).

satan god of the world

“…the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19

  1. Image of God or Man

We know that we cannot see YHVH, (Exodus 33:20), however in the Greek culture they can see their gods as depicted by their statues such as Zeus and Hercules (Heracles).  Christianity, like the Jews, lays claim that they cannot see God (John 1:18, 1 Timothy 6:16, 1 John 4:12), they also say that God and their messiah are one.  As we know Jesus of Nazareth is physical and can be seen.  When you truly examine it, it appears the Christian messiah more resembles a human deity than the Creator of the Universe. Research it, further Jesus’  life strongly resembles many of the Greek gods such as Odysseus, Dionysus and Hercules.

 Statue Heracles                Statue Jesus

Statue Hercules                    Statue Jesus

  1. Balance or Dualism

In the Hellenistic understanding everything has an opposing concept.  This is called dualism.  Another way of saying this is everything has an evil and good contrast.  Here are some dualism examples of good versus evil; white vs. black, day vs. night, tame vs. wild… etc.  The problem with “across the board” dualism is that it can cause one to villanize anything you may not agree with or understand 10. In dualism theology we are more apt to externalize problems (it’s Satan or the world) verses internalizing solutions ( I am responsible).

Thus in Christianity we become victims of Adam eating the forbidden fruit.  In sermons we hear this action introduced an evil strain into our DNA.  So what’s the antidote? As is taught, Jesus of Nazareth is, so if we accept him we will become saved.  Confirming this Ephesians 6:12 tells us “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”. In short, it is not our fault we are born into a broken world. The New Testament again and again beats home the message if we accept the messiah, thus turning away from Satan, we are saved, (Acts 26:18, Ephesians 2:2, Colossians 1:13). In the dualism of Christianity God is not the master of everything, He has an evil twin brother named Satan that competes for our souls thus polarizing the world. This is also the form of dualism taught by the Hellenistic period Greek Philosophers.

Whereas with Christianity sin is seen as a disease that needs a remedy, the Tanakh teaches that sin is not a virus but a challenge that needs to be mastered.  If you recall, HaShem told an angry Cain “…if you don’t do what is good, sin is crouching at the door — it wants you, but you can rule over it.”” (Genesis 4:7). Hmm, HaShem didn’t tell Cain He was going to send him a savior, or to surrender his sin to Him, He told Cain that he was responsible for his own actions so deal with it.  It sounds blunt, but remember the Master didn’t set Cain, or us, up for failure, He gave us an owner’s manual, His word.

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Cain and Abel

As we see in Genesis 6:5 HaShem acknowledges the evil in the world. He then floods the world, many of us assume that He was destroying the evil but after the flood subsides HaShem acknowledges evil within man still exists (Genesis 8:21). So there is no mention of a savior that will eliminate evil.  Evil is not an external influence that can be eliminated, it’s internal to man, a simple byproduct of free will (yetzer hara 11).  The challenges is how do we handle it in our lives, and the battle of mastering over sin becomes our maturing process.

Conclusion:

We need to remember that the Greeks believed in syncretism 12.  Syncretism is the combining of religions, i.e. “you can keep your God but you will add our gods”.  We have an example of this in the New Testament. The Christian evangelist Paul did this in Athens, (Acts 17:22-31).  The process of syncretism is prevalent throughout Christianity. Let’s take the case of the Holidays commanded to be done in Leviticus 23. In Christianity, Passover is replaced by Easter, the other six are not performed and the pagan holiday of Christmas is added, this is syncretism at its finest.  But it doesn’t stop here, in Christianity there is the dominance of a human deity over God, the changing of the Sabbath, and the minimizing of the Torah (Ephesians 2:15, Hebrews 8:13, Galatians 3:10), the list goes on from here. In short the fingerprints of Hellenism are all over Christianity, what causes the contrast in Christianity are all the books before Matthew.

Paul unknown God

Paul and the unknown god

References

(1) By Christopher Klein, (November 21, 2012), the Real Story Behind Plymouth Rock, History.com

(2) By Jonathan Adelman, (November 24, 2013), Why the U.S. Remains the World’s Unchallenged Superpower, Forbes

(3) What year was Jesus Christ born? When was Jesus born? GotQuestions.Org

(4) By Rabbi Ken Spiro, Alexander the Great, the Jews, and Hellenism

(5) HELLENISM, The unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, Jewish Encyclopedia

(6) By Mitchell G. Bard, (2008), the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Middle East Conflict. 4th Edition. NY: Alpha Books

(7) Ancient Jewish History: Hellenism (2008), Encyclopedia Judaica, the Gale Group.

(8) By Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald, Judaism vs. Hellenism, NJOP (National Jewish Outreach Program)

(9) Ruwach H7037, Strong’s, Blue Letter Bible

(10) By R. J. Zwi Werblowsky, (2008) DUALISM, Jewish Virtual Library

(11) By William Jackson, (March 23, 2015) The Evil Inclination, Yetzer HaRa, Center for Tanakh Based Studies

(12) By Prof. Christine M. Thomas, (2003), Religion in the Hellenistic Period, Religion and Western Civilization: Ancient