Author: Troy

The Hebrew Calendar

The Hebrew Calendar

For people who have embraced Torah observance later in life rather than having been born into it, the Hebrew calendar can be confusing, and even a point of contention. We want to observe the appointed times correctly, but the Torah does not provide calendar calculation specifics.

Established Israelite communities today (the various flavors of Judaism and the Samaritans) generally do not question the calendars they follow, as they have been in place for centuries. But are they correct?

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The Chosen Place is not Jerusalem

The Chosen Place is not Jerusalem

According to Judaism there is only one place where offerings to YHWH can be made–the temple in Jerusalem. Without it, Jews are not authorized to bring offerings at all. This understanding comes from the book of Deuteronomy, which over 20 times mentions a “chosen place” as the only location for offerings and pilgrimage feasts.

Surprisingly, an objective read of Deuteronomy itself, paired with ancient manuscript evidence, a verse from the Song of the Sea in Exodus, and confirmation from the Judean book of Joshua, shows the chosen place is NOT Jerusalem! It’s startlingly simple to confirm, but difficult to see because most of us have simply never had reason to question Jerusalem as the chosen place.

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What about the Lunar Sabbath?

What about the Lunar Sabbath?

A number of people seem to be convinced that the Sabbath (Hebrew: Shabbat) cycle must be based on the cycle of the moon, rather than repeating seven day weeks. The lunar Sabbath theory seems to be driven by the fact that most of the other appointed times (Hebrew: mo’edim) such as Pesach, Chag HaMatzot, Yom Teruah, Yom HaKippurim and Sukkot are all set on specific days of specific months.

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Was Jesus the Jewish Messiah?

Was Jesus the Jewish Messiah?

The idea of a “Messiah” is found outside of the Torah. The Torah does not promise a “Messiah”. I personally do not consider anything but the Torah inspired or authoritative, so therefore I don’t accept that there even needs to be a Messiah. However, if you do accept the Judean writings (i.e. the rest of the Tanakh/Old Testament after the five books of Moses) to be inspired and/or authoritative, did Jesus fulfill the requirements necessary to be the promised “Messiah”?

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Answering Tovia Singer on the Oral Torah

Answering Tovia Singer on the Oral Torah

A friend recently suggested that Tovia Singer had some convincing arguments in favor of the oral Torah, so I pulled up a short video of his, documenting some of those arguments, and decided to write this response. I place a high value on the work of Tovia Singer, and have watched and appreciated many of his videos. However, when it comes to the oral Torah, I’m simply not in agreement. I will detail the reasons for this as I examine each claim made in the video below.

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Is the Oral Torah Divine?

Is the Oral Torah Divine?

Today’s rabbinic Judaism is governed not just by the Hebrew Scriptures, but also by the Talmud, a written collection of oral traditions. After the destruction of Jerusalem in the first century CE and the exile of the Jewish people, it was feared that Jewish tradition would be lost, and around 200 CE Rabbi Judah the Prince redacted the Mishnah.

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Does Forgiveness Require Death?

Does Forgiveness Require Death?

In the New Testament book of Hebrews, we find this well known Christian assertion:

Indeed according to the law almost everything was purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Heb 9:22 NET)

Is this actually true? This idea is often cross referenced to the following “prooftext” from the Hebrew Scriptures:

for the life of every living thing is in the blood. So I myself have assigned it to you on the altar to make atonement for your lives, for the blood makes atonement by means of the life. (Lev 17:11)

Taken out of context, you might agree with the assertion given in Hebrews 9:22, but there are a few easily overlooked problems that arise if one jumps to this conclusion.

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The Problem with Christian Holidays

The Problem with Christian Holidays

25 years before my deeper study of the scriptures prompted me to leave the church, I had already developed strong convictions against Christian holidays. There is virtually no-one, not even among conservative Christian scholars and apologists, who denies the pagan origins of Christian holidays. The question is: what, if anything, is wrong with co-opting pagan practices?

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Are we Free from the Law?

Are we Free from the Law?

It is a Christian concept that Jesus has freed us from the law. By law we mean the law of Moses, called the Torah. When you see the word law in english translations of the Hebrew scriptures, the Hebrew word that has been translated such is the word Torah, which literally means instruction. Etymologically it comes from an archery term meaning “to hit the mark”.

Torah, as a body of instructions, was given by YHWH to the nation of Israel through Moses at Mt. Sinai (see Exodus 19). The famous 10 commandments are but a small subset of Torah. There are many instructions contained in the books of Moses. Rabbinic Judaism has counted 613 of them. We may not agree exactly with their count, but it serves to show that there are many more than 10.

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