This Made Me Smile

I was going through my files and ran across this valentine that Grace made for me this year. It made me smile.

She signed her name right to left with reversed letters, which shows the influence of her Hebrew studies.

Certified Kosher


This is the kosher certificate for a fruit and vegetable vendor in the Jerusalem market. Without one of these he would do NO business, so it is surprising to me to see one in such disrepair.

Learning the Language

We recently received a family update from friends who live in Spain. Like us, they are Americans living abroad in a primarily non-English environment. Also like us, they have a child that is just starting school, and the language of instruction is not in English, the language of the home.

They wrote of the challenge their son is having at school because he doesn’t understand the language, but added, “…hopefully in time, that will improve…” In most cases that I’m aware of, it does improve, and usually pretty quickly. We have the same hope for Grace and some of her friends who are going through this transition.

At this moment, Grace is sitting at the kitchen table looking at a book, pretending to read Hebrew. She’s making Hebrew sounds and occassionally offers a complete sentence that she remembers us reading to her from one of the Hebrew books we have recently given her. Now, she’s hollering into the other room in English: “Mama, come here, please!”

Our friends asked us to continue prayng for their son, “that he’d pick up the language quickly.” And we offer the same prayer request to our friends: that Grace will pick up the language quickly.

Jewish Star – Star of David

I received the following email from a friend who thought I would enjoy it. So, I offer it for your consideration.

“Even if you are not Jewish, this is really amazing. The Jewish Star (of David) is also referred to as a MAGEN DAVID.

ALL 24 LETTERS OF THE HEBREW ALPHABET ARE FOUND IN A MAGEN DAVID (Star of David).

THERE IS NO SUCH THING IN ANY OTHER LANGUAGE.”

For those that don’t know Hebrew, the aleph (first letter, top right) is a bit of a stretch, but the other letters seem to be more or less accurate.

Interestingly, the original author mentions 24 letters rather than the standard count of 22 because he is counting the altered form of the “mem” and “nun,” which occurs when either of those letters are the last letter of a word.

I’m not sure if there are any big implications in this, or if it is just an interesting coincidence. I’m sure some will see this as a sign of something. But what? If you see something, please let me know.

Silver and Zahav Part 1

One Means One, Or Does It?

I received some excerpts of a paper by Eliyahoo Silver and Isaac Even Zahav in which they intend to explain why Jews categorically don’t accept the New Testament or Christianity. Unfortunately, I have been unable to acquire the complete 20-page document and only have small excerpts.

Apparently, the authors are no longer circulating their polemical piece, if “they” ever were: I have reasons to doubt their existence as actual people. However, the arguments put forth in their paper are fairly common issues that surface in Jewish Christian dialogues.

I have been asked to respond to their points, and the following is my offering to that end.

According to Silver and Zahav, “The Jewish God is one, as it is written: ‘Hear Israel, Y-H-W-H is our God, Y-H-W-H is one’ (Deut. 6:4). So according to the Bible there is one God, and that one God is one. One means one; not two, not three, not three in one, not two in one, not three divisions of one, but ONE WHOLE ONE ALONE…”

Deuteronomy 6:4 is a great starting point for this discussion because it is so familiar to Jewish people. In fact, it would be hard to underestimate its familiarity. Among Jews, it is commonly offered as the definitive statement on the oneness of God and is known as the “Shema.” Almost every Jewish doorpost is decorated with a small box containing this verse and frequently one can even see cars decorated with bumper stickers displaying the “Shema.” It’s everywhere. Don’t be fooled, though, the fact that this verse is so well known, shouldn’t suggest that everyone understands what it actually says. This is the case regarding Silver and Zahav: Their rendering of Deuteronomy 6:4 is accurate, but misleading because it leaves the reader with the wrong impression. (Their additional commentary is simply wrong.)

The reason I suggest their translation is accurate, yet misleading is because in Hebrew there exists two different words that are translated as the English word “one.” The word “yahid” means an absolute or single one. For example: a steel ball, a rock, or a son. The word “echad” means a composite one. For example: an egg (three parts: shell, white, yolk), an automobile (thousands of parts make one unit), or a cluster of grapes.

The following biblical examples of “yahid” and “echad” help clarify the distinction: Gen 22:2 – “Take now your son, your only (yahid) son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah. . . “Judges 11:34 – “Now she was his one and only (yahid) child; besides her he had no son or daughter.”Ps 22:20 – “Deliver my soul from the sword, my only (yahid) life from the power of the dog.”Ps 25:16 – “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely [alone] (yahid) and afflicted.” Genesis 1:5 – “…there was evening and and there was morning, one (echad) day.”Genesis 2:24 – “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one (echad) flesh.” Ezra 2:64 and Nehemiah 7:66 -“… forty two thousand three hundred and threescore stood as one (echad).”
I will render Deuteronomy 6:4 so you can see what Moses actually wrote: “Hear Israel, Y-H-W-H is our God, Y-H-W-H is ECHAD.”

If God wanted to communicate that “one means one; not two, not three, not three in one, not two in one, not three divisions of one, but ONE WHOLE ONE ALONE…” then it seems that He would have used the word “yahid” and NOT “echad”.

God chose “echad” because He wanted to communicate that His oneness includes the unity of His composite. We learn from a survey of the Jewish Bible [Old Testament] that God presents Himself in three persons: God you can not see face to face and live, God you can see face to face and live, and the Spirit of God. Christians refer to this as the Trinity.

To be continued…

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