It’s a good thing . . .

. . . that I’m not drinking Dr. Pepper now, because most of the few stores in Israel that sold it have removed it from their shelves. It seems there is a kosher issue, of sorts.

Don’t be alarmed, the formula of the sweet delight hasn’t been changed. It’s still the pleasure that you remember,  even if you prefer Dublin Dr. Pepper over Dr. Pepper.  (If you don’t know what Dublin Dr. Pepper means, skip over it for now.)

You can read some blog reports about what happened to Israel’s limited supply of Dr. Pepper, but I’ll thumbnail it for you here: The Dr. Pepper company in Britain, which apparently is a major importer to Israel, has a hechsher (kosher stamp) from an organization that “certifies” OR “approves” items as kosher. There’s a difference, and this is where it can get tricky.

“Approves” means that based on an interview with the company the supervisor determines the product is kosher. “Certifies” means the kosher supervisor actually visits the company and inspects the product to determine it is kosher. In a case where the supervisor certifies an item as kosher, that certification is valid only in Britain. Thus when the certified cans of Dr. Pepper were shipped to Israel, the certification became invalid. The end result of this discovery (the illegitimate kosher stamp) was that the London-sourced cans were removed from the shelf, leaving mostly French or Polish made Dr. Pepper. And, who wants one of those?

For those with no experience with kosher rules and/or practices, this may sound really strange or overbearing or unnecessary. But in the Orthodox Jewish world, following the dietary rules isn’t something left up to chance or personal choice.

If you have little or no idea what kosher is, you can read more in this article by the Kosher London Beis Din, “. . .  one of the world leading kosher certification agencies operating in 50 countries across 6 continents.. . . “

Here’s a Test of Significant Proportions

According to Israel National News, a group of Jews have petitioned the Jerusalem District Police (again) to allow them to make the biblically proscribed Passover lamb sacrifice ON the Temple Mount.

In some sense this petition will once again be a test of Israel’s sovereignty over the Temple Mount, but to what degree is unclear because of the issue of political expediency. I don’t believe for a minute that the government of Israel is willing to face the wrath of the Islamic world in order to allow a minority Jewish group to practice a religious ceremony on the Temple Mount. They haven’t in the past, and I don’t expect that to change in  the near future.

Recent history (only the last few months is necessary) gives us a small example of what would happen if such a ceremony were to take place: Jews arrested for praying on Temple Mount, or declaration of Israeli heritage sites in Bethlehem and Hebron sparks clashes.

And it should be noted that if the ceremony is allowed to happen, the opposition will not be from the Islamic world alone.

The Four Species

Leviticus 23:40 (NKJV) – “And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the [1] fruit of beautiful trees, [2] branches of palm trees, the [3] boughs of leafy trees, and [4] willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.”

The four items noted above are called the Four Species and can be seen being used (in the photo below) in a celebration/prayer ritual at the Western Wall during the Feast of Tabernacles.

Day of Atonement: Kaparot

Kaparot is a controversial practice among some orthodox Jews whereby they sacrifice a chicken prior to the Day of Atonement. It is controversial in many quarters: among the animal rights activists, among the religiously non-observant, and among biblicists.

The animal rights activists are against this practice for a variety of reasons: the most obvious reason being that the chickens’ throats are being cut with a razor blade. However, they also protest this practice as being cruel because the chickens are reportedly kept in small boxes standing in the sun without food or water sometimes for up to a few days. Some also suggest that the way the chickens are secured by their wings being held back, can only cause pain and distress for the chickens.

The religiously non-observant see this practice as ghoulish and cruel, suggesting that placing sins on someone else is unfair or silly. Some simply protest it as nothing more than superstitious cruelty.

The biblicist finds this practice controversial because it sort of resembles the Day of Atonement ritual in that it captures the element of substitutionary atonement, but misses most of the details: The biblical practice of which this is a derivative is described in Leviticus 16 and includes a priest, sacred clothing, incense, a holy place, a bull, a ram and two goats; none of which are either available for or used in the kaparot ceremony.

WARNING: The video is VERY graphic!

Why Do They . . . ?


I can’t begin to guess how many visitors have asked me, “Why do they grow those side-curl things?” For those who haven’t been around this type of religious Jew before, the sight of “peyos” can be quite fascinating. And I have to admit, even though I have been quite exposed to “peyos,” I find the variety of peyos fascinating.

Apparently, there are many ways to observe the commandment,”You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard (Leviticus 19:27, NKJV),” because in Jerusalem, one can see all types of peyos: short, medium and long peyos; straight, curled and unkept peyos; clearly visible and peyos that are hidden around the ear or under the skullcap.

The longest peyos I’ve ever seen dropped to the young man’s belt. I wonder if he ever struggled with pride in having the longest peyos in Jerusalem.

Clearly, peyos are an effort to fulfill a commandment, but they also seem to serve as a comforter because I often see men nervously playing with their peyos, which usually involves repeatedly wrapping and re-wrapping them around the index finger. Sometimes I see men chewing or sucking on their peyos, which is probably some type of comforter, but seems weird to me. Of course, I’ve never had hair long enough to suck on it; perhaps it’s more compelling than I imagine.

Christ Our Passover Lamb

John 19:14-16 NIV

It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews. But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

1 Corinthians 5:7 NIV

For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

Friday Foto: Day of Atonement 2007

Leviticus 16 NKJV

Now the LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered profane fire before the LORD, and died; and the LORD said to Moses: “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.

“Thus Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering, and of a ram as a burnt offering. He shall put the holy linen tunic and the linen trousers on his body; he shall be girded with a linen sash, and with the linen turban he shall be attired. These are holy garments. Therefore he shall wash his body in water, and put them on. And he shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats as a sin offering, and one ram as a burnt offering.

“Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house. He shall take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the LORD’s lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness.

“And Aaron shall bring the bull of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house, and shall kill the bull as the sin offering which is for himself. Then he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar before the LORD, with his hands full of sweet incense beaten fine, and bring it inside the veil. And he shall put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the Testimony, lest he die. He shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; and before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.

“Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness. There shall be no man in the tabernacle of meeting when he goes in to make atonement in the Holy Place, until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself, for his household, and for all the assembly of Israel. And he shall go out to the altar that is before the LORD, and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar all around. Then he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, cleanse it, and consecrate it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.

“And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place, the tabernacle of meeting, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat. Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.

“Then Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of meeting, shall take off the linen garments which he put on when he went into the Holy Place, and shall leave them there. And he shall wash his body with water in a holy place, put on his garments, come out and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people, and make atonement for himself and for the people. The fat of the sin offering he shall burn on the altar. And he who released the goat as the scapegoat shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. The bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. And they shall burn in the fire their skins, their flesh, and their offal. Then he who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp.

“This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you. For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. And the priest, who is anointed and consecrated to minister as priest in his father’s place, shall make atonement, and put on the linen clothes, the holy garments; then he shall make atonement for the Holy Sanctuary,[a] and he shall make atonement for the tabernacle of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year.” And he did as the LORD commanded Moses.

More photos available here.