Innocent Trust

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Innocent Trust

The following words are not addressed to Tzahi Shapira. These words are also not directed to those religious leaders who endorsed him and presented him to the public as a scholar. I am writing to those who do not readily have the ability to evaluate the teachings of Shapira but instead rely on the evaluation of their leaders.

Your leaders are making a laughingstock of you.

I have already pointed out (https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/spiritual-responsibility/ ) how Shapira emphatically argues that a particular Hebrew word must be translated in a certain way. He makes this argument against a respected translator of the Bible. We would assume that he did not make this argument lightly. If he is going to discard the work of scholars we would expect that he researched the matter thoroughly and only then did he come to his dramatic conclusion.

But these assumptions would be dead wrong.

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King in Israel

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

We added a new video to the collection on Judaism Resources – it is entitled “King in Israel”

http://www.judaismresources.com/video-and-audio-lectures.html

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Myth versus Reality

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

The Myth of “Post Temple Judaism”
Versus the Reality of Post Pauline Christianity
The Tannaitic and Amoraic periods of Jewish history parallel the first several decades of the Common Era. The classical works of the Mishna, the Talmud, and most of the midrashim were formulated in this era. The authors saw it as their holy duty to preserve the spirit and the soul of Judaism for future generations. They saw no need to discuss Christianity with their readers. They were Jews, they lived and breathed Judaism, and their focus was on the faith of their ancestors.

During the same period, the founders of Christianity were doing their work. The Christian scriptures and the writings of the early Church Fathers were also formulated in the first several centuries of the Common Era. These people saw it as their holy duty to preserve the spirit and the soul of Christianity for future…

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Covenant and Embrace

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Covenant and Embrace

The point of a covenant is the preservation of a relationship. The two parties recognize that they share a bond with each other. The two parties also recognize that the awareness and the appreciation of the bond between them may grow dim with the passage of time, so they seal a covenant. They promise to each other that they will remain faithful to their shared bond and they bind themselves to each other in a union that cannot be broken.

There are different types of relationships that covenants can possibly attempt to preserve. Some of these run deeper than others. An alliance between two nations can be called a “covenant”, but in no way can such a covenant compare to a covenant of friendship between two people who would die for each other. The deepest covenant that exists between people is the covenant of marriage. Not only…

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Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery

Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery

The act of adultery is a violation of a commitment. But this aspect of adultery should technically be covered in the range of the prohibition against stealing. If one member of a partnership committed themselves to the agreement under the belief that the other member would maintain their part of the agreement, then when one partner violates the deal, the other partner’s commitment was falsely obtained.

But adultery goes further than the violation of a commitment between two partners. Adultery is the violation of humanity. When a person puts his desire for physical pleasure above his desire to keep a solemn commitment he has identified himself more as an animal and less as a human. One who commits adultery tramples upon honesty, honor, human dignity, kindness and integrity all for the sake of a crass physical pleasure.

With this understanding of the prohibition against adultery in mind we can see how the spirit of the seventh commandment extends far beyond the actual act of violating a marriage vow. Any activity that redefines a human according to the qualities that we share with animals and tramples on the qualities which separates us from animals is a violation of the spirit of this commandment. It makes no difference if the human we are redefining is ourselves or if it someone else.

This would obviously include a situation where a person allows lustful thoughts to consume their minds and hearts. One who does so diminishes the noble side of man, the side which appreciates justice and honesty, the side that is impressed by kindness, selflessness and integrity and cultivates the animal side of man, the side that has no problem with selfishness and greed. But this also extends much further.

Defining people according to attributes that we share with animals, be they physical beauty, brute strength, cunning, agility and athletic prowess diminishes humanity. This is not to say that we should ignore these gifts, but they should not be the defining factor. The human is a being that appreciates truth, loves kindness and despises greed and pettiness. That is who we are. Identifying ourselves or others according to animal-like qualities is a diminution of the human being.

The spirit of the commandment that prohibits adultery is a guide to life. It calls us to be noble and to see our fellow humans as noble beings. And it would have us draw away from anything that would lessen the dignity and nobility of the human being.

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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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Thou Shalt Not Steal

Thou Shalt Not Steal
The narrowest definition of the word “steal” refers to an action of taking possession of someone else’s property through dishonest means. The spirit of the law goes on to include any deception or dishonesty which causes loss to another or brings us benefit. But the spirit of the law encompasses so much more. The spirit of the law encourages us to desire honesty and despise greediness. Let us consider some of the applications of this commandment.

Public property belongs to everyone. And the individual’s right to use it is limited to the usage that the public designated this property for. Using public property for a use that was unintended by the agents of the public is a form of stealing.

Keeping money that was not justly earned is also stealing this includes charging for a service or a product and not delivering exactly what the customer was lead to believe that he or she would be getting. This would also apply to an employee wasting time that they are getting paid for. An employer who demands work or time from his or her employees that goes beyond the original agreement without just compensation is also stealing.

There are many types of deception that fall under the broad category of this commandment. Convincing an investor to put time and money into a business by painting a picture that is different from reality is dishonest. Encouraging an employee to join the workforce of a given company by insinuating that he or she will benefit in ways that do not match up with the facts on the ground is also stealing.

Then there is stealing time. Causing people to waste their time would also fall under the scope of this commandment. And there are so many ways that this injustice can be done.

Deceiving people into giving you recognition or honor that you do not deserve by projecting qualities that you do not possess is unjust. And withholding respect from people that do deserve respect is also dishonest.

Wasting someone’s emotional energy isn’t much different than needlessly wasting a material resource of your fellow man. And again, there are so many ways that this sin could be committed.

The commandment which prohibits us from benefiting from dishonesty is endless. The illustrations listed here barely scratch the surface of this broad directive. One rule of thumb that could guide us as we seek to become more just and more fair, is to remember the simple and obvious fact that we are biased when it comes to ourselves. In a situation of dispute between ourselves and another we cannot expect the disputants to be objective because we are all human. The rule of thumb would tell us to acknowledge the possibility that out perspective may be rooted in our own self-interest and be willing to consider another angle.

The eighth commandment is a general directive in life. It is an arrow pointing away from greed and pettiness and pointing toward the beauty of honesty and the light of justice. The journey demands attention, alertness and the ability to admit to mistakes. But it is the only path of life.

If you found this article helpful please consider making a donation to Judaism Resources by clicking on the link below.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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Thou Shalt Not Murder

Thou Shalt Not Murder
Is this injunction limited to the actual act of terminating a human life? or is this commandment a heading for a general concept?

The nation to whom this commandment was addressed understands that both are true. There is one specific action that is directly addressed in this commandment, and there is also an additional layer of meaning that lies beneath the surface. And we do not need to wander far to find this additional meaning.

The commandments are a reflection of the conscience that we as human beings are blessed with and by using this understanding we can easily see a much broader application to this commandment, an application that goes far beyond restraining ourselves from murder.
If murder is terrible, then wouldn’t it follow that saving a life is wonderful? And why stop at “saving” a life which is threatened with death? Supporting life, cultivating life, helping life flourish, develop and grow are all actions that stand in opposition to murder. And cultivating life includes education, emotional support, financial help and so much more.

Violating this commandment most directly would involve a brutal act of murder. But shouldn’t carelessness that might lead to other people’s death, not be an extension of this commandment? Murder would mean snuffing out the complete continuation of someone’s life, but limiting someone’s life is also a branch of this commandment. There are so many ways of harming people that fall short of actual murder but point in the same direction of destroying other people.

There is physical harm which would involve wounding the other person. There is the example of limiting a person’s freedom by locking them up. There is harming other people by affecting their livelihood or by ruining their social standing. And then there is emotional harm. There are so many things we can do, or words we can say that hurt other people.

But let me go back to the act of murder itself. This act is not limited to the person that actually pulled the trigger or the one that swung the knife. What kind of respect for human life was this murderer exposed to? What kind of respect for law and order did this murderer see in the hearts of his fellow citizens?

Distancing ourselves from murder means cultivating and developing a respect for the nobility of man and sharing that respect with the way we speak, the way we act and the way we live our lives. Distancing ourselves from murder involves building a respect toward the concept of justice and toward those who try to maintain law and order in our society.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much to learn and there is so much that we can yet grow.

The commandment: “Thou Shalt Not Murder” is not just an arrow pointing to one particular action. It is an arrow that should guide us throughout our journey of life; an arrow that points away from cruelty and evil and towards goodness and love.

If you found this article helpful please consider making a donation to Judaism Resources by clicking on the link below.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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