Sunday, December 28, 2014

The 7th Commandment

The seventh out of Ten Commandment speaks about "adultery". Lets take a look:

‎Exodus 20:14 ‏לֹ֣֖א תִּֿנְאָֽ֑ף׃ ס

The traditional interpretation of  "lo-tinaph" is "Thou shalt not commit adultery.". However, this is an incorrect or rather sloppy definition of the Hebrew word. In reality, the text is saying this:

"Not you shall commit sexual perversion"

Such translation is based on Leviticus 20:10.

If you will look closer at Leviticus 20:10, you will notice that it provides a clarification about the word. As you can see from this verse, if "tinaph" equal "adultery" there would be no need to specify that it is "with a woman of a man" or "with a woman of his associate". In other words, it is clear from this passage that "tinaph" can be committed in other ways than "with a woman of a man". Also, from last two words of this passage (hano'ef vehano'afet) it is clear that "tinaph" can be committed by both man and a woman, which implies "sexual perversion" rather than "adultery", because a man sleeping with another woman is not always considered "adultery" under Torah Law (see Exodus 22:16, Leviticus 19:20)

Jewish Commentaries such as Sforno suggest that the Ten Commandments also signify categories that encompass the entirety of the commandments; thus, the specific commandment was "don't do ne'ifa", but the philosophical category from that illustration is intended to cover all prohibited sexual relations.

Chizkuni and Ibn Ezra says it refers to any prohibited sexual relations(All these sources are in their commentaries on this verse.)

Here is the proper translation of Leviticus 20:10 so you can get a better idea of what I am talking about:
"And a man who commits sexual perversion with a wife of a man--who commits sexual perversion with a wife of his associate--to die shall die the Sexual Pervert and the Sexual Pervertess."
Last, but not least, the 10 Commandments is a "compressed" Torah of sorts (see Ex 34:28, Deut 4:13 and Deut 10:4) which must account for all other commandments in the Torah. And since Torah talks about numerous sexual deviances (such as incest, homosexuality, bestiality, e.t.c) there is no other choice but to understand that "lo tinaph" = "not you shall commit sexual perversion".

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Shabbat Explained

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The 4th out 10 commandments (see this post) speaks about The Day of Rest/Intermission (Shabbat). Let's take a look:

Exodus 31:16

‎16 ‏וְשָׁמְר֥וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אֶת־הַשַּׁבָּ֑ת לַעֲשׂ֧וֹת אֶת־הַשַּׁבָּ֛ת לְדֹרֹתָ֖ם בְּרִ֥ית עוֹלָֽם׃
16: And shall keep sons of Israel the Shabbat to do the Shabbat for their generations as a covenant eternal.

‎17 ‏בֵּינִ֗י וּבֵין֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל א֥וֹת הִ֖וא לְעֹלָ֑ם כִּי־שֵׁ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֗ים עָשָׂ֤ה יְהוָה֙ אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְאֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ וּבַיּוֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י שָׁבַ֖ת וַיִּנָּפַֽשׁ׃ ס

17: Between Me and between sons of Israel sign it is for eternity, for six days was making Yahweh the Heavens and the Earth and in a day the seventh He ceased and was refreshed.

First and foremost, as you can see from the above verses, Shabbat is an Eternal Sign of The Covenant between Yahweh and Israel, just like the Circumcision of males (Genesis 17:10). 

Now, let's take a look at the definition of the Shabbat which can be found in the Decalogues (aka The Ten Commandments/Sayings) (Exodus 20:1-17 and Deut. 5:6-21):

Exodus 20:8-11:

‎8 ‏זָכ֛וֹר֩ אֶת־י֥֨וֹם הַשַּׁבָּ֖֜ת לְקַדְּשֽׁ֗וֹ
9 ‏שֵׁ֤֣שֶׁת יָמִ֣ים֙ תַּֽעֲבֹ֔ד֮ וְעָשִׂ֖֣יתָ כָּל־מְלַאכְתֶּֽךָ֒
‎10 ‏וְי֙וֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔֜י שַׁבָּ֖֣ת׀ לַיהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑֗יךָ לֹֽ֣א־תַעֲשֶׂ֣֨ה כָל־מְלָאכָ֡֜ה אַתָּ֣ה׀ וּבִנְךָֽ֣־וּ֠בִתֶּ֗ךָ עַבְדְּךָ֤֨3 וַאֲמָֽתְךָ֜֙3 וּבְהֶמְתֶּ֔֗ךָ וְגֵרְךָ֖֙ אֲשֶׁ֥֣ר בִּשְׁעָרֶֽ֔יךָ
‎11 ‏כִּ֣י שֵֽׁשֶׁת־יָמִים֩ עָשָׂ֨ה יְהוָ֜ה אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְאֶת־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֶת־הַיָּם֙ וְאֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־בָּ֔ם וַיָּ֖נַח בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֑י עַל־כֵּ֗ן בֵּרַ֧ךְ יְהוָ֛ה אֶת־י֥וֹם הַשַּׁבָּ֖ת וַֽיְקַדְּשֵֽׁהוּ׃ ס 

8 Remember a Day of the Sabbath, to sanctify it.
9 Six days you shall serve, and do all your work:
10 And day the seventh is a Sabbath to Yahweh, your God. Not you shall do any work, you, and your son, and your daughter, and your servant, nor your female-slave, and your animals, and your sojourner who is in your gates:
11 For six days made Yahweh the Heavens and the Earth, the Sea, and All which is in them, and He rested in a day the seventh: therefore blessed Yahweh a Day of the sabbath, and hallowed it.

Let's go word by word and verse by verse:

Verse 8: 

Traditional "remember"(זכור) replaced with "guard" (שמור) in the Samaritan Pentateuch. However, it only means that text of the Ten Commandments was redacted. However, since the word "guard" is used in Masoretic Text in Deuteronomy I do not see any problem with such reading. 

"To sanctify it" (lekadsho לקדשו) - This means to abstain from "work of service"/"slave work"(מלאכת עבדה) (this will be explained below). And by slaughtering a slaughter to Yahweh (Numbers 28:9-10). This word also used in the description of the Shabbat during Seven Days of creation (Gen 2:3). In Exodus 19:10 and Exodus 19:14 there is an implication of washing one's garments as well. 

Verse 9

"Six days you shall serve, and do all your work:" תעבד (taavod - you-shall-serve) is an expression of paramount importance, which provide the clue to the whole Shabbat issue. As you can see, we are required to perform "work of service" (slave work) (מלאכת עבדה) six days a week. 

Verse 10

"And day the seventh is a Shabbat to Yahweh" - Shabbat(שבת) = a Day of Rest or a Day of Intermission

"Not you shall do any work," - This means that "all work" (כל מלאכה), namely all "work of service"(מלאכת עבדה) is prohibited. This is obviously deducted from the previous verse, where is says "serve"(תעבד). Thus, it is not just "any"/"all" (כל)  work that is prohibited on Shabbat, but rather ONLY "WORK OF SERVICE" (מלאכת עבדה). Please see detailed explanation below.

"you, and your son, and your daughter, and your servant, nor your female-slave, and your animals, and your sojourner who is in your gates:" - Many interesting things here... First of all, "your wife" is not mentioned. This is because Shabbat commandment, aside being a communal commandment, is also a personal commandment and it is directed toward both a man AND a woman. Secondly, everything that is in ones' gates (aka say a fence surrounding the property or a house) is required to be released from "servile work"(מלאכת עבדה). The absence of a mention of a "hireling" is also perhaps due to the fact that if all would observe the Shabbat, there would be no one to hire.

If you are still unconvinced that Torah speaks only about "work of service"(מלאכת עבדה), consider this: In Leviticus 23:2-3 the Shabbat is called "miqra qodesh" (מקראי קדש) (meeting of holiness). In most instances where "miqra qodesh" is mentioned the text speaks ONLY ABOUT "WORK OF SERVICE" (מלאכת עבדה) and NOT about "ALL WORK" (כל מלאכה).  See Ex 12:16, Lev 23:2-4, Lev 23:7-8, Lev 23:21, Lev 23:24, Lev 23:27, Lev 23:35-7, Num 28:18, Num 28:25-26, Num 29:1, Num 29:7, Num 29:12.

One argument that is usually presented is that the text using an expression "all work" (כל מלאכה) only in regards to Shabbat and Yom Kippur. However as the Decalogue implies, it really talks about "all work OF SERVICE". My theory that the text was edited and the word "service" was omitted. Here is why: In Exodus 12:16, the text clearly states that during "miqra qodesh" (meeting of holiness) "all work" is prohibited, except for "which is being eaten by every soul, it alone shall be done by you." So as you can see the term "all work" here implies "servile work" and cooking/food is not considered "work".

It may seem that Exodus 16:23 prohibits cooking but this is just one possible and incorrect interpretation. We are not commanded not to cook on Shabbat. We are commanded to leave the remainder of raw manna for the next day (Shabbat) and eat it on Shabbat. Exodus 16:23 does not prohibit cooking but rather gathering of manna as explained further in Exodus 16:25.

Another clue is that Exodus 12:16 speaks about 1st day of Passover and uses the above mentioned "all work" (כל מלאכה) expression to define it. However, the other references to the 1st of Passover provide completely different information. In Lev 23:7-8 it says "any work of service" (כל מלאכה עבדה ) and in Deut 16:8 it simply says "work" (מלאכה) without "all" (כל) or "service" (עבדה).  However, I found one manuscript of the Masoretic text where it says "work of service" in Ex. 12:16, instead of current "all work". And Samaritan Pentateuch says "all work of service" in Deut 16:8 (see Kennicott Vetus Testamentum). This inconsistency is clearly due to editing of the text or perhaps (un)intentional mistake, so the correct understanding of prohibition should be "all work of service".

There is also inconsistency between Decalogues (Ex 20, Deut 5) and Ex 23:12, Ex 31:15, Ex 35:2. What is prohibited? "all work"(כל מלאכה), "work"(מלאכה) or "deeds"(מעשיך)???

One last argument that usually comes up is that only Shabbat (שבת) (Lev 23:3) and Yom Kippur (Lev 23:32) is referred to as Shabbat (שבת) and therefore "all work" is prohibited on Shabbat, while during other "miqra qodesh" only "work of service" is prohibited. This is true and it is a good argument, but only somewhat. Shabbat and Yom Kippur are not the only days that are referred to as "Shabbat"(שבת). In Lev 23:24 Torah calls Yom Teruah "shabbaton"(שבתון). Lev 23:39 is even more interesting as not only it calls Sukkot 1 and 7 "Shabbaton"(שבתון), this word is also being used instead of the expression "mikra qodesh" in Numb 28:25, Num 29:12. And from Lev 25:4-6 we can conclude that expression "shabbat"(שבת), "shabbat shabbaton"(שבת שבתון) and "shabbaton" (שבתון) mean the same thing. So as you can see, Shabbat and Yom Kippur are most definitely considered "mikra qodesh"(מקראי קדש) and therefore only "work of service"(מלאכת עבדה) is prohibited and NOT "ALL WORK"(כל מלאכה)

Now, lets take a look at further clarifications of the Shabbat commandment provided in the Torah:

Exodus 35:2-3


‎2 ‏שֵׁ֣שֶׁת יָמִים֮ תֵּעָשֶׂ֣ה מְלָאכָה֒ וּבַיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֗י יִהְיֶ֨ה לָכֶ֥ם קֹ֛דֶשׁ שַׁבַּ֥ת שַׁבָּת֖וֹן לַיהוָ֑ה כָּל־הָעֹשֶׂ֥ה ב֛וֹ מְלָאכָ֖ה יוּמָֽת׃
‎3 ‏לֹא־תְבַעֲר֣וּ אֵ֔שׁ בְּכֹ֖ל מֹשְׁבֹֽתֵיכֶ֑ם בְּי֖וֹם הַשַּׁבָּֽת׃ פ

2 Six days shall be done work, and in a day the seventh it shall become for you a holy sabbath of cessation to Yahweh. Everyone Doing in it work shall be put to death.
3 Not you shall eradicate fire in all your dwellings in a day of the sabbath.
Verse 2

This verse delineates punishment for the violation of the Shabbat. Its death. As you can notice, Torah does not provide any information as to how Shabbat violators were to die. I will discuss it in more details below. Please note that in this verse it says simply "WORK"(מלאכה) and NOT "ALL WORK"(כל מלאכה).

Verse 3

Exodus 35:3 is one of the most famous and oldest mistranslation of the Torah. The traditional interpretation of "lo-teva'aru" (לא תבערו) is either "do not kindle" or "do not burn". Therefore, most religious Jews either do not kindle fire on Shabbat or do not burn it at all. This is of'course not only a major misunderstanding of the commandment but it is also a source of very bizarre observance of the Shabbat, as well as a huge inconvenience. I.e. eating cold food or not using electricity/fire e.t.c. So as you can see, traditional translation and interpretation of this verse is grossly incorrect. And here is why:

First and foremost, the fire is not mentioned in the Decalogues and in all other places in the Torah where Shabbat commandment is repeated. Under traditional interpretation one would think that its a great omission because traditional interpretations make fire issue almost a definition of the Shabbat, therefore just this fact alone seems very strange and not in favor of the traditional interpretation.

Secondly, the proper form that would imply burning/kindling is tisrof baesh (תשרף באש) (burning in fire) (Ex 12:10) instead of "baer baesh"(בער באש) (consuming in fire) (Ex. 3:2-3). However Torah chooses "tevaaru" (תבערו) (you shall eradicate).

In most places in the Torah where form of the root "baer"(בער) is used, its meaning is that of "eradication" and not of "burning"/"kindling". Check out these verses: Ex 22:4-5(5-6), Ex 35:3, Lev 6:12, Num 11:1, Num 11:3, Num 24:22, especially Deut 13:5, Deut 17:7, Deut 17:12, Deut 19:13, Deut 19:19, Deut 21:9, Deut 21:21, Deut 22:21-22, Deut 22:24, Deut 24:7 and a similar form in Deut 26:13-14.

Grammatical argument:

1 Exodus 3:2 בֹּעֵר burn qal
2 Exodus 3:3 יִבְעַר he is being burned qal
3 Exodus 22:4(5) יַבְעֶר he is causing to graze down hiphil
4 Exodus 22:4(5) וּבִעֵר and he eradicates piel
5 Exodus 22:5(6) הַמַּבְעִר the one causing to graze down hiphil
6 Exodus 22:5(6) הַבְּעֵרָה the burning noun
7 Exodus 35:3 תְבַעֲרוּ you shall eradicate piel
8 Leviticus 6:5(12) וּבִעֵר and he eradicates piel (although it is possible that it is qal "and he burns")
9 Numbers 11:1 וַתִּבְעַר and she is burning qal
10 Numbers 11:3 בָעֲרָה she burned qal
11 Numbers 24:22 לְבָעֵר to to be eradicated piel
12 Deuteronomy 4:1 בֹּעֵר burning qal
13 Deuteronomy 5:23 בֹּעֵר burning qal
14 Deuteronomy 9:15 בֹּעֵר burning qal
15 Deuteronomy 13:5(6) וּבִעַרְתָּ and you eradicate piel
16 Deuteronomy 17:7 וּבִעַרְתָּ and you eradicate piel
17 Deuteronomy 17:12 וּבִעַרְתָּ and you eradicate piel
18 Deuteronomy 19:13 וּבִעַרְתָּ and you eradicate piel
19 Deuteronomy 19:19 וּבִעַרְתָּ and you eradicate piel
20 Deuteronomy 21:9 תְּבַעֵר you shall eradicate piel
21 Deuteronomy 21:21 וּבִעַרְתָּ and you eradicate piel
22 Deuteronomy 22:21 וּבִעַרְתָּ and you eradicate piel
23 Deuteronomy 22:22 וּבִעַרְתָּ and you eradicate piel
24 Deuteronomy 22:24 וּבִעַרְתָּ and you eradicate piel
25 Deuteronomy 24:7 וּבִעַרְתָּ and you eradicate piel
26 Deuteronomy 26:13 בִּעַרְתִּי I eradicated piel
27 Deuteronomy 26:14 בִעַרְתִּי I eradicated piel

So as you can see, in Exodus 35:3 "baer"(בער) should be translated as "eradicate" or "burn down/up/away/out" and not as simply "burn" because it is INTENSIVE form of the verb "burn".
From the table above we can come to a conclusion that qal form of the verb "baer" means "burn", hiphil form means "cause to consume/eaten/grazed" (since it is more intensive as we are causing it). And piel form of the verb means "eradicate"/"destroy", since it is the most intensive form.

It is interesting to note that Samaritan Pentateuch uses hiphil form of "baer" - Taviru (תבעירו) meaning "you shall cause to consume/eaten/grazed" which is clearly in error.

Contradiction can be found in mentioned verses of Exodus 12:16 and Exodus 12:10. These verses speak of 1st of Passover when a lamb was to be slaughtered, cooked and burnt. Since 1st of Passover can most certainly fall of Shabbat, we have no choice to admit that fire is permitted on Shabbat and the proper meaning is that you SHOULD NOT ERADICATE FIRE and NOT "you should not burn fire". Those of you who think that this is an exception, please show me exact verses where such exception is explicitly mentioned (a good example of an explicit exception is Numbers 9:6-14)

This is why the fire issue can't be found anywhere but in Ex 35:3. This is because it is not part of the Shabbat but rather a clarification about a fire. As you know fire is required for heat, cooking, light and protection. Therefore the Torah is telling us that "you should not eradicate fire" so that you are comfortable on your day of rest. AND BECAUSE starting fire from scratch is most certainly "work of service" which is prohibited by Shabbat definition. Starting fire from scratch requires one to go chop or collect wood, arrange it, kindle it and let it burn - definitely "work of service". Therefore Torah tells us that we have to have fire in our dwellings on Shabbat and we should make sure that fire will not be eradicated because of lack of wood, kindling material, gas, coal, electricity, e.t.c.

It was suggested to me that as God would provide a double portion of manna for bread a day before Shabbat (Exodus 16:22-30), so are we required to "not eradicate fire" by preparing a double portion of "fire" wood, kindling material, electricity,e.t.c) so as not to violate the Shabbat by having to do "servile work" (starting fire from scratch).

There is also an evidence in the Jewish tradition. Karaite Jews used to take Ex 35:3 literally and would not allow any fire in their dwellings. They would eat cold food, sit in the dark and cold. Eventually such understanding of the commandment was rejected and replaced with more lenient observance (not kindling fire instead of not burning it at all). This is similar to how Rabbinic Jews observe this commandment. However, there is absolutely no basis in the text to translate "tevaaru" as "you shall kindle" as it does not fit with any verses where the root "baer" is used. From this we can see that the only proper understanding of Exodus 35:3 is "not you shall eradicate fire".

This brings me to the last Shabbat clarification, namely Numbers 15:32-36. I most certainly disagree with the traditional interpretation that it has anything to do with "burning" fire. However, there is a connection.

As you can read from Numbers 15:32, the man that was found violating the Shabbat was violating all of the precepts/clarifications of the commandment. Namely, he was chopping/gathering wood which is most certainly "work of service" and since Torah decided to make an example out of him, it is clear to me that this man was collecting wood with an intent to start a fire from scratch which is also "work of service". Thus, he completely violated the Shabbat.

Another conclusion that can be drawn from Numbers 15:32-34, specifically verse 34, where it says that the man who was violating the Shabbat was left "under guard" or "in charge?" (במשמר) (bamishmar).
As far as I understand the word "bamishmar" it means that there are people present, so it does not just mean unguarded prison, but rather a place which is guarded by people (guards).
As I suggested, the Shabbat prohibition refers only to servile work. Meaning that essential services such as police, medical, fire services e.t.c (or guards in this case) must be operational on Shabbat. At least that is what I deduce from this case in the Torah.

Just imagine a modern town (i.e Jerusalem or New York) without these essential services. It would be catastrophic. I would go even further and say that during the wondering in the desert they surely have had similar services available on Shabbat. Considering that Exodus implies over 2 million people in the desert, some form of these essential services had to be present.

I am not saying that police (or guards) should work on Shabbat. Perhaps they should be on a relaxed schedule but they still should be available.

Important clarification can be found in Numbers 15:35-36. These verses indicate the way in which Shabbat violators are to be put to death. Its death by stoning. This is the only place in the Torah where it is mentioned.

In Numbers 28:9-10, Exodus 30:7-8, Leviticus 24:2-4 and Lev 6:12-13 we can read that they burned fire in the Tabernacle (on the Copper Altar) and "kindled" Menorah and Incense on Shabbat. There was also a "pillar of fire" every night (i.e Exodus 13:21-22). So as you can see, all of these are the arguments in favor of my interpretation, as it would be strange that God would burn fire for Himself and would not allow his servants to do the same so that they are comfortable. And once again, if you think that it might have been an exception, please do let me know exact verses where such exception explicitly mentioned.

Last but not least, in Leviticus 24:8 priests are commanded to bake 12 Showbreads on Shabbat, which means that cooking is allowed as well as fire (since cooking requires fire).

So in summation, Exodus 35:3 can be translated in two possible ways:

1) Not you shall eradicate fire in all your dwellings in a day of the shabbat.
2) Not you shall burn out fire in all your dwellings in a day of the shabbat.

In other words, our God is the Merciful God, so I refuse to believe that He wanted us to freeze and eat cold food 52 times a year. What about people who need fire? Sick, babies, old people? You see the picture...

Another clarification can be found in Exodus 16:29. Here the word ממקמו (mimekomo - from place of him) or מקמ (mikum - place) can be interpreted as a place of dwelling. But it does not speak just about the house or property. This word can also mean a city or inhabited area. In other words, it is ok to travel LOCALY on Shabbat. However, one can't travel long-distance on Shabbat. Modern transportation, particularly intercontinental airplanes, raise difficulty with determining the start/end of the Shabbat due to a time difference and time dilation during travel.

One other important fact is that Torah does not specify the day of the week for Shabbat. It simply says - the seventh day. This means that one can observe the Shabbat on Wednesday if the one wants. Of'course, traditional observance of Shabbat from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset is also acceptable.
In other words, it is unclear if traditional Jewish Shabbat managed to preserve the actual day from the time of Moses when no manna would fall out. 

One can spend money on Shabbat as long as it is not in one's gate (see Exodus 20:10) or house and as long as it is not for "servile work" (i.e business). More specifically, since we do not live by the laws of the Pentateuch, and because we live in exile, there is no explicit prohibition not to spend money on Shabbat. Yes, it may not be very ethical to make non-Hebrews work, but it is acceptable and does not violate any of the Shabbat commandments. And the non-Hebrews would work anyway. This is optional and I myself prefer not to do it unless I absolutely have to. On the other hand, if everyone would live by the Torah and observe Shabbat there simply would be no place to spend money.

Jewish tradition deducts prohibited types of work from the tasks that were required to build the Tabernacle. However, it is a very far-fetched assumption. Yes, in Exodus 36:3 (or Ex. 35:24, e.t.c) it does say למלאכת עבדת (limelechet avodat hakodesh - for work of service of the sanctuary) and yes, the construction of the Tabernacle did involve "servile work"(מלאכת עבדה). However, I do not see direct connection here except for the similar wording. Especially considering the fact that the Tabernacle service would not be interrupted even on Shabbat (i.e Numbers 28:9-10). In my opinion the commandment simply refers to "work of service"(מלאכת עבדה) or work that one would do for money or due to obligations (i.e a slave).

Another interesting observation is that during the Messianic Event (aka Exodus), the Shabbat is being reestablished and renewed. And it would be indicated by a double portion of manna that would be provided a day prior. See Exodus 16:22-23

In Deuteronomy 4:6-8, Torah explicitly tells us that "that is your wisdom and your understanding in the eyes of all the peoples who shall hear of all these statutes and will say: Surely this great nation is a people wise and understanding." As well as "what great nation is there which has statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law that I am putting before you today?". Surely, not burning fire on Shabbat and classifying life-essential tasks such as cooking as "work" will never be accepted by the "nations". There is simply no justification to call current traditional interpretation of Shabbat commandment "wise", "understanding" and "righteous".

In conclusion, I would like to point out that Shabbat was made for Rest from "work of service/servitude" because God brought us out from Egypt, from the house of SERVANTS (עבדים) (Ex 20:2, Deut 5:6). Yahweh gave us A Day of Rest from the "WORK OF SERVANTS" (מלאכת עבדה) one day a week. Therefore, this commandment should be interpreted in such a way as to make the Shabbat as pleasurable and restful as possible, so we can all Bless it and Hallow it just as God did (Deuteronomy 5:15)!



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Two Modern Torah Translations

I would like to direct your attention to two modern Torah translations:

The first is my rather pathetic attempt at absolute literal translation. It is hard to read and it is unfinished but it does provide previously unnoticed insights into text.

Here is the excerpt:
Genesis 1:1 In a beginning created God the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:2 And the earth becomes chaos and emptiness and darkness upon the faces of abyss. And the spirit of God vibrated upon the faces of the waters.
Genesis 1:3 And saying God, "Become light!".And it is becoming light.
Genesis 1:4 And seeing God the light that it is good. And separating God between the light and between the darkness.
Genesis 1:5 And calling God light  "day,"  and darkness call  "night."  And it is becoming evening and it is becoming morning, day one.
Genesis 1:6 And saying God,  "Become shall an atmosphere in the midst of the waters, and it is becoming a separation between waters and waters."
Genesis 1:7 And making God the atmosphere. And They are separating between the waters which is under atmosphere and between the waters which are above atmosphere. And it is becoming so.
Genesis 1:8 And calling God atmosphere  "heavens." And it is becoming evening and it is becoming morning, day two.
You can read the entire translation on this page.


And the second translation is a similar attempt by George Athas

Here is an excerpt:
At first, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was disorder and disarray, with darkness over the surface of the ocean, and God’s wind swirling over the surface of the water.
Then God said, “Let there be light.”
And there was light.
God saw that the light was good, so God differentiated between the light and the darkness. God called the light ‘day’, while the darkness he called ‘night’.
Evening came and morning came: Day One. 
Then God said, “Let there be a ceiling in the midst of the water, and let there be a differentiation between bodies of water.”
So God made the ceiling and he differentiated between the water underneath the ceiling and the water above the ceiling.
And that’s how it was.
God called the ceiling ‘heavens’.
Evening came and morning came: a second day.

You can read the entire translation on this page.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

"The Torah Does Not Command a Temple" Article

Here is an article called "The Torah Does Not Command a Temple" written by my friend, Ryan, about the Tabernacle (Mishkan) and its importance in the Torah.

Here is an excerpt: 
"When we actually attend to the specific wordings of the ceremonial commandments, one notices that these services are worded to specifically apply to the use of the Tabernacle (AKA “tent of appointment”, etc), not to any temple or other facility.  Many times, these commandments are explicitly stated to be an “enactment of forever”, and in the process they very explicitly refer to the Tabernacle.   
For example, Leviticus 4:3-8 refers to the ceremony to be performed when a priest does wrong, and it states that the bull is to be brought to the “opening of the tent of appointment”, then he is to bring its blood “to tent of appointment” and spatter it before the “divider” (a part of the Tabernacle), then he is to take the blood and put some on the altar of incense “which [is] in tent of appointment”, then the rest he is to pour out at the base of the altar at the “opening of tent of appointment”. 
These ceremonies are extremely specific, and they explicitly refer repeatedly to the actual arrangement and structure of the commanded Tabernacle.  Furthermore, there is no command in the Torah given regarding transferring these ceremonies to a temple or any other structure, and such a massive rewriting of the commandments, which would be required to justify such, is surely not what is expected of us.  Should we not obey according to the wordings of the commandments?"
You can read an entire article here


Friday, June 27, 2014

I need your help

I sincerely would like to ask anyone who had enjoyed my work, my blog and my websites to help me to support my project. It had become increasingly difficult for me to pay for all the expenses associated with my blog so I have no other choice but to ask you to please donate whatever you can. This will allow me to continue blogging about Torah and the Tabernacle and to provide you with the cutting-edge insights into the text.

As of 02/20/2016 I have made following significant accomplishments:

1) My Tabernacle Blog that explains every detail of the Biblical Tabernacle. I managed to reconstruct most of the structure. Blog features over 1000 3D artworks, movies, articles e.t.c. Some articles and images have been published in journals and online.

2) First in the world Samaritan Pentateuch Translation in English and Russian, as well as free electronic copy of the text. All people on the internet who are looking for the Samaritan Pentateuch come to my site.

3) Modern Literal Torah Translation. New literal translation of the Torah in English and Russian. I've completed the first book(Genesis). Young's literal translation is over 200 years old, so it was long overdue for a modern literal translation, that would include latest Biblical research.

4) Reconstruction of the original Torah calendar. I am first in the world who has managed to reconstruct original Biblical calendar.

There is much more.

Please use the donation button below or on the right sidebar. 



Any amount would be greatly appreciated. There is no need to register - all you need is your credit card.

You can also contribute by purchasing great gift items from my gift shop or my published books.

Thank you very much and God Bless!


Eternal Tabernacle (Chukat Olam)

One of the blessings of the Torah is that "I shall give My tabernacle in your midst..." (Leviticus 26:11). When Israel returns to the Torah as prophesied in Deuteronomy 30:1-10, and blessings of obedience are upon them, this will also come to pass. The tabernacle will be brought back into existence, and the ceremonies of the tabernacle will come with it.

The other references to the Tabernacle being an Eternal Commandment can be found in Exodus 27:20-21, Leviticus 16:32-34, Leviticus 24:2-4,  Numbers 18:20-24, Numbers 18:31.

Either way, it is very clear from the Torah that the Tabernacle is considered a permanent dwelling of God and all holy service is concentrated around it. All Levitical rituals and service was centered around the Tabernacle and therefore it is our responsibility to uphold this commandment by rebuilding the Tabernacle speedily and in our days!


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How to Observe the Shabbat

FOR COMPLETE ARTICLE PLEASE VISIT ITS PAGE HERE.

The 4th out 10 commandments (see this post) speaks about The Day of Rest (Shabbat). Let's take a look:

Exodus 20:8-11:
‎8 ‏זָכ֛וֹר֩ אֶת־י֥֨וֹם הַשַּׁבָּ֖֜ת לְקַדְּשֽׁ֗וֹ
9 ‏שֵׁ֤֣שֶׁת יָמִ֣ים֙ תַּֽעֲבֹ֔ד֮ וְעָשִׂ֖֣יתָ כָּל־מְלַאכְתֶּֽךָ֒
‎10 ‏וְי֙וֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔֜י שַׁבָּ֖֣ת׀ לַיהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑֗יךָ לֹֽ֣א־תַעֲשֶׂ֣֨ה כָל־מְלָאכָ֡֜ה אַתָּ֣ה׀ וּבִנְךָֽ֣־וּ֠בִתֶּ֗ךָ עַבְדְּךָ֤֨3 וַאֲמָֽתְךָ֜֙3 וּבְהֶמְתֶּ֔֗ךָ וְגֵרְךָ֖֙ אֲשֶׁ֥֣ר בִּשְׁעָרֶֽ֔יךָ
‎11 ‏כִּ֣י שֵֽׁשֶׁת־יָמִים֩ עָשָׂ֨ה יְהוָ֜ה אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְאֶת־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֶת־הַיָּם֙ וְאֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־בָּ֔ם וַיָּ֖נַח בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֑י עַל־כֵּ֗ן בֵּרַ֧ךְ יְהוָ֛ה אֶת־י֥וֹם הַשַּׁבָּ֖ת וַֽיְקַדְּשֵֽׁהוּ׃ ס 
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
So what is Shabbat and what can and can't be done in it?

First and foremost, the Commandment speaks about Rest (or Intermission) from work. But what work?
The clue is provided right in the Commandment text. In Exodus 20:9, the word תעבד (taavod - you-shall-serve) implies that the Commandment talks about SERVILE WORK (or the work of service/servitude/burden). This word is closer in meaning to slave work rather than voluntary work. 

Additional clues are also provided in verses of Lev. 23:7, Lev. 23:8, Lev. 23:35, Numb. 28:18 e.t.c., where it says that you shall not do כל מלאכת עבדה (kol-melechet avodah - ALL WORK of SERVICE). Of'course there is no single explicit verse where it says that in regard to Shabbat. However, in Lev. 23:3 it defines the Shabbat as שבת שבתון מקרא קדש (Shabat Shabaton mikra-kodesh) exactly the wording used in above mentioned verses. I.e Exodus 16:23 where it says שבתון שבת קדש (Shabaton Shabat-kodesh). 

Another explicit clue about the Shabbat can be found in Exodus 12:16. Let's take a look:
‎16 ‏וּבַיּ֤וֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן֙ מִקְרָא־קֹ֔דֶשׁ וּבַיּוֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י מִקְרָא־קֹ֖דֶשׁ יִהְיֶ֣ה לָכֶ֑ם כָּל־מְלָאכָה֙ לֹא־יֵעָשֶׂ֣ה בָהֶ֔ם אַ֚ךְ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יֵאָכֵ֣ל לְכָל־נֶ֔פֶשׁ ה֥וּא לְבַדּ֖וֹ יֵעָשֶׂ֥ה לָכֶֽם׃
16 And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.  
As you can see, cooking is allowed on Shabbat.

A word about inferences and traditional interpretations:

I've already discussed the verse of Exodus 35:3. See this post. In other words, a fire shall NOT be eradicated on Shabbat, meaning that its ok to start/put out fire on Shabbat, especially if we are talking about heating, cooking or other life necessities. 

Another prohibition can be found in Exodus 16:29. Here the word ממקמו (mimekomo - from place of him) or מקמ (mikum - place) can be interpreted as a place of dwelling. But it does not speak just about the house or property. This word can also mean a city or inhabited area. In other words, it is ok to travel LOCALY on Shabbat. However, one can't travel long-distance on Shabbat.

One other important fact is that Torah does not specify the day of the week for Shabbat. It simply says - the seventh day. This means that one can observe the Shabbat on Wednesday if the one wants. Of'course, traditional observance of Shabbat from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset is also acceptable.

One can spend money on Shabbat as long as it is not in one's gate (see Exodus 20:10) or house. More specifically, since we do not live by the laws of the Pentateuch, and because we live in exile, there is no explicit prohibition not to spend money on Shabbat. Yes, it may not be very ethical to make non-Hebrews work, but it is acceptable and does not violate any of the Shabbat commandments. 

Jewish tradition deducts prohibited types of work from the tasks that were required to build the Tabernacle. However, it is a very far-fetched assumption. Yes, in Exodus 36:3 (or Ex. 35:24, e.t.c) it does say למלאכת עבדת (limelechet avodat hakodesh - for work of service of the sanctuary) and yes, the construction of the Tabernacle did involve "servile work". However, I do not see direct connection here except for the similar wording. Especially considering the fact that the Tabernacle service would not be interrupted even on Shabbat (i.e Numbers 28:9-10)

Last but not least, I want to mention the verses of Numbers 15:32-36 as it is speaks about the prescribed punishment for the violation of the Shabbat. Until the incident mentioned in these verses, there are no verses in the Pentateuch that would explicitly state the punishment for the violation of the commandment. In this case, the punishment for violation of the Shabbat is death by stoning.
I disagree with the traditional Jewish interpretations that suggest that this passage has anything to do with fire as the main point of these verses seems to be centered around the punishment and not the definition of the Shabbat. And because as I explained above that the starting of fire is acceptable on Shabbat.

Other minor observations include the first word of the commandment, זכור (Zachor - remember). This wording is very interesting, because from my personal experience it is the hardest part to do. It is hard to remember the Shabbat on Friday and Saturday morning. Therefore, in my humble opinion, this is not accidental and was carefully thought through.

It is important to note that in the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Shabbat commandment (Exodus 20:8) begins with the word שמור "guard" instead of traditional  זכור (remember).

Other thing about the Shabbat commandment, is that the it does not, for some reason, mentions a wife or a hireling. It does not mention a wife perhaps because the commandment seems to be directed to both man and his wife, thus it does not say "your wife" (because if a wife would read a commandment it would not make sense).
The absence of a mention of a hireling is also perhaps due to the fact that if all would observe the Shabbat, there would be no one to hire.

Another interesting observation is that during the Messianic Event (aka Exodus), the Shabbat is being reestablished and renewed by the first day on which a double portion of manna would fall out. See Exodus 16:22-23

What do you think?





Sunday, February 23, 2014

An article and a video about Tabernacle (Mishkan)

Here is a nice article that discusses Tabernacle (Mishkan) structure. It is called "Shaping up the Form of the Tabernacle" by Bohdan Hrobon, University of Zilina, Slovakia.

The abstract says the following:
"Sketches of the Tabernacle based on Ex 26 depend on the understanding of the obscure Hebrew term qršym and the even more obscure v. 24 that describes two qršym of special use. Being a determinative element of a relatively complex construction, the exposition of qršym inevitably involves some discussion of the other components. Therefore, close attention is paid to the arrangements of the tent curtains as prescribed in vv. 9, 12, and 13, proposing an alternative reading of v. 9 and determining the length of the Tabernacle. Consequently, a novel interpretation of Ex 26:24 that contributes to the Tabernacle’s symmetry and plausibility is suggested."
You can download and read the full article right here.

And here is a nice video of a Tabernacle replica. The replica is not very accurate but it is worth to check it out anyway as it would give an overall impression of the size and scale of the Tabernacle. The video is in Russian. Sorry.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Molten Calf

Exodus 32 talks about the so called Molten Calf. Let's take a look:

Exodus 32:4
‎4 ‏וַיִּקַּ֣ח מִיָּדָ֗ם וַיָּ֤צַר אֹתוֹ֙ בַּחֶ֔רֶט וַֽיַּעֲשֵׂ֖הוּ עֵ֣גֶל מַסֵּכָ֑ה וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ אֵ֤לֶּה אֱלֹהֶ֙יךָ֙ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר הֶעֱל֖וּךָ מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃ 
4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
I've discussed in details this story on my NIP page and My Methods page. However, I wanted to add a few illustrations to further my point and to provide an easy way to understand Torah text.

As you can see from the above verse, the traditional interpretation of the word עגל is "calf".

However comparative analysis of the verses of Ex 32:8, Ex 32:19, Ex 32:20, Ex 32:24, Ex 32:35, Lev 9:2-3, Lev 9:8, Deut 9:16, Deut 9:21 reveal that the proper translation of this word should be close to the English word "round". So Hebrews in the desert made something like this (a sphere): 

Or perhaps it was resembling a torus. Like this: 

Either way, as you can see from the images above, the object the Hebrews build was "round" in shape and not an actual representation of an animal (a calf). 

Most likely it was due to the fact that Aaron and the rest of the Hebrews heard the Decalogue at Mt. Sinai and they new very well that they could not make any representation of an animal (as per the Second Commandment - Thou shall not have other gods before me...). So they have decided to sort of "cheat" God by using an abstract figure, such as the sphere, to worship as an idol.

UPDATE 09/09/2014: After reviewing my assumptions I have realized that I may be mistaken and it might have been indeed a "calf" and not a circle/sphere. More research is needed to answer this question.

Also, the word "עגל" is used in Genesis 45:19, 21, 27, 46:5, Numbers 7:3, 6, 7:7, 7:8 to refer to the "carts".

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